Tennessee Is Criminalizing Shampooing

 

shutterstock_281446382In a new column over at Forbes, Nick Sibilla from the Institute for Justice (IJ) details the case of Tammy Pritchard, whose attempt to earn a better living as a part-time shampooer in a friend’s beauty salon in Tennessee has been stymied by the state’s restrictive occupational licensing laws.

“Unfortunately for Tammy, unlicensed shampooing is a crime, punishable by up to six months in jail. The Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners can also impose civil penalties as high as $1,000 for those who dare to lather, rinse and repeat without a license…

“Before she can legally wash hair at a salon, Tammy must finish 300 hours of training on “the practice and theory of shampooing.” In a course more fitting for Greendale Community College, prospective shampooers learn about the “chemistry and composition of shampoos and conditioners,” “shampooing and rinsing foreign material from hair,” and “shop management,” which covers remedial skills like “answering phone, scheduling appointments, ordering supplies.” After completing the class, shampooers then have to pass two exams, one on “theory,” the other practical, to obtain their license.”

Three-hundred hours of training to shampoo another person’s hair, an activity that takes most people a matter of minutes to do for themselves.

According to Sibilla, one school previously charged over $3,000 for the course, which is itself a significant obstacle for most workers, particularly those of minimal financial means. But the key word is “previously,” as there are no such courses to be found in the Volunteer State right now. Instead, Sibilla explains, prospective shampooers must complete training for an even broader cosmetology license, which requires not 300 hours of instruction, but 1,500 — roughly equivalent to nine months full-time work.

“I feel like that’s an injustice,” Tammy is quoted as saying. Can a reasonable person argue with this?

When we refer to “overcriminalization,” this is but one onerous example. Overcriminalization alludes, not to some esoteric, loosely-defined legal concept that some critics of criminal justice reform don’t even believe exists, but to situations precisely like the one Ms. Pritchard finds herself in, and many others like her: the persistent use of criminal law to crack down on behavior that, in and of itself, isn’t morally blameworthy. Shampooing hair. Bartending. Tree trimming. Interior designing. All of these occupations, according to a landmark study by IJ in 2012, require often-times expensive licenses in many states before people may perform them, where the consequence for failing to obtain one is frequently that of criminal penalties.

Has society benefited by wielding criminal or regulatory statutes in such a manner? Certainly, Ms. Pritchard hasn’t, who must now wade through months of arduously slow civil proceedings, by the end of which she hopes to be allowed to earn a simple living that government has chosen to make elusive.

She’s not the only one, either. A 2015 report by the Brookings Institute shows that while less than 5 percent of US workers were required to have a license for their job in the early 1950s, that number had spiked to an estimated 29 percent in 2008. The trend is quite clear: an increasing number of people must ask government’s permission to work every year.

This case comes at a time when there is much debate about how to ease various barriers into the workforce — particularly for ex-offenders returning to society, but more broadly, for everyone else as well. It’s common for those who are sympathetic to a strong, centralized government to argue that they’re the ones who go to bat for “the little guy”; that government has a responsibility to leverage its influence to create desirable outcomes for the working poor, the disadvantaged, or indeed, ex-offenders. What’s ironic is that this very sentiment so often leads to policies that end up doing just the opposite. Ms. Pritchard, as a young, part time-working mother, is certainly someone that leftist policies have been purported to help but have actually handicapped instead, making it nigh on impossible for her to participate freely in a market and profession of her choosing.

Expansive government has a habit of this, and frankly, can do no better. It isn’t equipped to meddle in the concerns and intricacies of business. It operates best where it operates the least, which is why conservatives are so adamant about government staying to its core competencies: protecting individual rights — including economic liberty, something Texas’s Supreme Court has recently affirmed in a similar case to Ms. Pritchard’s, to their credit — and securing level playing fields. Not wielding the threat of fines and six months’ worth of imprisonment for the grand transgression of failing to ask its permission to give someone a ten-minute shampoo.

There are 23 comments.

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  1. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    anonymous:How many hours of instruction are required in Tennessee to carry a badge and gun and employ lethal force against citizens?

    “But consider all the people accidentally drowned receiving shampoos!”

    Its not the drowning John. Its the bombs or possible acid shampoo attacks. So dastard and daring are the shampoo criminals….

    • #1
  2. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    anonymous:How many hours of instruction are required in Tennessee to carry a badge and gun and employ lethal force against citizens?

    “But consider all the people accidentally drowned receiving shampoos!”

    Easy for us to say, John.  But consider the danger to the hirsute.

    • #2
  3. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    I live in NJ, and my state also requires people to become licensed ‘shampooists.’ You’d think this would be too absurd to ever become a law.

    • #3
  4. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    California has scores of professions with this kind of nonsense.

    Restrictions on individual freedom are evil.

    • #4
  5. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    anonymous:

    Could Be Anyone:

    So dastard and daring are the shampoo criminals….

    And the real-poo criminals are even worse!

    Next, there will flinging-poo…

    • #5
  6. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    TeamAmerica:I live in NJ, and my state also requires people to become licensed ‘shampooists.’ You’d think this would be too absurd to ever become a law.

    Isn’t NJ the state where you can’t even pump your own gas? Because, safety.

    You know, all those thousands of people who’ve blown themselves up pumping gas in other states?

    • #6
  7. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Activity ==> Moral Protection ==> License/Requirement ==> Crime.

    You are free to choose and do what you want.  Then someone comes along and says it would be nice if people had or did something (insurance or training for example) that would help protect the unwary.  It would cut down on those who get hurt due to incompetence.  People agree, it would be nice.  Someone takes advantage and someone else gets hurt.  “There oughta be a law!”  The the government steps in and creates a mandate.  You will get  licensed; you must have insurance.  Now it’s a crime to not have a license or not have insurance yet still do what you want to do.

    People still get hurt though.  The government didn’t help that situation.  The government does get more license fees, fines and more bureaucrats though.  Success!

    You used to be able to drive a car without a license and without insurance.  Then you had to have a license because there were just too many drivers that didn’t know how to drive. (Nothing’s changed) Then you had to have insurance.  Woe to you if you are caught without PROOF of insurance.  (You may actually have it but just don’t have the card handy.)  You will probably visit a courtroom.  If you don’t have your license with you, you will visit a courtroom.  If you don’t actually have either one you may visit a jail.

    Activity.  Moral Protection. Requirement.  Crime.  The same pattern every time.

    • #7
  8. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Brian McMenomy:

    anonymous:

    Could Be Anyone:

    So dastard and daring are the shampoo criminals….

    And the real-poo criminals are even worse!

    Next, there will flinging-poo…

    And the Oriental version, the Nanki-poo.

    • #8
  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Michael Haugen: The trend is quite clear: an increasing number of people must ask government’s permission to work every year.

    Not only from government, but from pseudo-legal professional organizations which lobby for such laws to govern entire industries and profit from licensing fees.

    Under an ever more centralized crony government, those trade guilds become unaccountable agents of the state. Why exclude a group by law if you can simply exclude them by licensing standards?

    • #9
  10. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I think its been the practice in the world of cosmetology that you must be licensed even if you are an apprentice who just starts out shampooing. It’s part of the process to become a fully licensed cosmetologist. You have to learn about the structure of the head and neck, chemicals, customer care, basic salon operation, etc. It’s really a protection measure for the salon itself as silly as it sounds. Like being an apprentice in any profession, you are licensed according to the state’s laws.  Even nail salons have to do the same.  When people can sue for hot coffee spilling on you, everyone has to follow procedure to protect the business.

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    The people of Tennessee should fix that problem, but the feds should butt out.  (There are some so-called conservatives who think otherwise.)

    • #11
  12. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Cat’s probably right that tort reform would help minimize licensing. I’m sure many judges and juries are willing to play along with the fantasy that a license signifies competence.

    • #12
  13. Michael Haugen Contributor
    Michael Haugen
    @MichaelHaugen

    @The Reticulator: Completely agree. Not only would it simply be bad form for the feds to get involved–what better fix could they offer that the state couldn’t?–it would likely be unconstitutional, anyway. Commerce Clause is silent on intrastate economic activity.

    • #13
  14. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Things like this are why it drives me crazy that some conservative economists still insist that one more tax cut is going to solve all our problems.

    Forget about taxes. The regulatory state is our greatest enemy.

    • #14
  15. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    She:

    TeamAmerica:I live in NJ, and my state also requires people to become licensed ‘shampooists.’ You’d think this would be too absurd to ever become a law.

    Isn’t NJ the state where you can’t even pump your own gas? Because, safety.

    You know, all those thousands of people who’ve blown themselves up pumping gas in other states?

    Worse than that, when Jon Corzine, a liberal NJ governor and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, suggested at a time of high gas prices that allowing people to pump their own gas would lower prices, you should’ve heard the cries of horror from the timid populace. So we can’t simply blame the politicians.

    • #15
  16. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    Maybe after she has all her shampoo school courses, she can explain how they put shampoo and conditioner in the same bottle. Aren’t those supposed to be separate sequential steps? That’s like putting dirt and soap in the same bottle and claiming you get dirty and clean at the same time.

    Occupational licensing is getting really out of hand. Maybe the current Congress can pass Legislator licenses. Current office holders would be grandfathered in, of course. But future Legislators have to take 300 hours of course work in Constitutional Law, reading comprehension, ethics, more ethics, lectures from 3rd graders about not lying cuz lying is bad, sexual harassment training, etc. They must pass a written exam, then demonstrate proficiency by reading and digesting the entire Obamacare law and discuss at length at an oral examination.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Metalheaddoc: Maybe the current Congress can pass Legislator licenses.

    The current congress has done a lot of bad things, but meddling in this issue is not yet one of them.  However, there are people who think it should.

    • #17
  18. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    This post goes really well with the James Pethokoukis post on Hyack immediately above, particularly Hyack quote #6 comparing the power of a multi-millionaire with the power of a government functionary. [Good job of positioning, editors :-) . ]

    • #18
  19. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Much occupational licensing is nothing more than protectionism for those already in the occupation. Keep the supply of competition low to preserve higher prices (income) for those who have already made it. Sometimes this protectionism is aided and abetted by the people who expect to make money during the credentialing process (the schools).

    Protectionists can always find some rationale to justify their actions (I suppose here it might be something like, “shampooists need to know that shampoo type A might react badly with hair dye type B” or something like that), but the fears and scare tactics are usually overblown.

    • #19
  20. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    She:

    TeamAmerica:I live in NJ, and my state also requires people to become licensed ‘shampooists.’ You’d think this would be too absurd to ever become a law.

    Isn’t NJ the state where you can’t even pump your own gas? Because, safety.

    You know, all those thousands of people who’ve blown themselves up pumping gas in other states?

    Don’t know about Jersey; but, Oregon has a law that you can’t pump your own gas and it’s very annoying.

    • #20
  21. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Full Size Tabby:This post goes really well with the James Pethokoukis post on Hyack immediately above, particularly Hyack quote #6 comparing the power of a multi-millionaire with the power of a government functionary. [Good job of positioning, editors :-) . ]

    No disrespect to Hayek, but Pethokoukis is one of those “tax cuts will fix everything” Republicans I mentioned earlier.

    I dream of a world where the first step of every project is not, “Ask the government for permission.”

    • #21
  22. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    TeamAmerica:

    She:

    TeamAmerica:I live in NJ, and my state also requires people to become licensed ‘shampooists.’

    Isn’t NJ the state where you can’t even pump your own gas? Because, safety.

    You know, all those thousands of people who’ve blown themselves up pumping gas in other states?

    …when Jon Corzine, a liberal NJ governor…suggested at a time of high gas prices that allowing people to pump their own gas would lower prices, you should’ve heard the cries of horror from the timid populace. So we can’t simply blame the politicians.

    I live in NJ, also.  The “problem” is that NJ gasoline prices are already so low that there is no great impetus to change the law and further reduce prices.  Plus, NJ women love that the state is full-service-only.  (This, despite the fact that there are no differences whatsoever between the sexes – go figure.)

    A microbrewery/tap room recently opened in our town.  The license is considerably cheaper than a regular liquor license, but the owners told me that the regulatory hurdles were numerous.  The most ridiculous aspect of NJ microbrewery legislation is that you are required to take a tour of the brewery before you may purchase beer.  Also, I’m not sure if this is the case in NJ, but in some states, you may only fill a growler at a brewery if the growler was sold to you by and wears the logo of that brewery.

    • #22
  23. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Johnny Dubya: Also, I’m not sure if this is the case in NJ, but in some states, you may only fill a growler at a brewery if the growler was sold to you by and wears the logo of that brewery.

    “Fill a growler”? Isn’t that what Leonardo di Caprio did in that movie that came out a few months ago?

    • #23

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