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Week in Review: This Red Tape is Protecting Industries, Not the Public

February 8, 2020

Are you looking for a new career, one that allows you to work anywhere in the country with a minimum of hassle? As Goldwater Institute National Investigative Journalist Mark Flatten writes, “good luck with that.”

Flatten’s latest research—posted this week at In Defense of Liberty—looks at the professions that require licenses by state (you can access the full spreadsheet with this information here). The research makes it clear, Flatten writes: “[V]ery few of the professions that are heavily regulated by the states pose any real threat to the public’s health and safety, the specter that is used to justify requiring a license. Truth is, they are put in place to protect the industry, not the public.” This latest work from Flatten updates his 2017 Goldwater Institute investigative report,  Protection Racket: Occupational Licensing Laws and the Right to Earn a Living.

In too many cases, Flatten writes, occupational licensing requirements are keeping would-be entrants out of professions, with little to no evidence that these regulations are helping the public. “Research studies cited in government reports show that by excluding the competition that newcomers would bring to the industries, existing practitioners can charge about 15 percent more for their services than they could if they were unlicensed. The reason is that the education, training, testing and licensing requirements all represent a barrier to entry into a profession. Without those requirements, more people could enter a given trade, increasing competition and thereby driving down prices.”

You can read Flatten’s latest investigative work here.

Is Saving for Education “Hoarding”?

Nearly 7,000. That’s how many Arizona families had their personal information inadvertently revealed by the Arizona Department of Education in late January. All of these families make use of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), which allow families to receive a portion of the funding that would have been spent on them in public school and instead put it in a private account for that child to support at-home curriculum materials, special education therapies, private school tuition, and more. And thanks to the Department’s error, these families’ information was made available to the Arizona Capitol Times, as well as to anti-educational freedom group Save Our Schools Arizona.

And this breach in privacy wasn’t the end of the story. Among the information revealed was the balances in each ESA, and outside groups jumped on this information as a way to pass judgment on the ESA program. Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg writes on In Defense of Liberty, “the subsequent insensitivity showntoward the families whose data was leaked by using that very same data to contact them, coupled with the newest line of reporting on ESA family account balances, continues a pattern of antagonism toward the program and those using it to help their children.”

Beienburg continues, “The Capitol Times reports that amid the data divulged by the department, reporters found ‘nine [ESA account balances] accumulating more than $100,000 of taxpayer money over several years.’” (By the way, that comes out to one tenth of one percent of all ESA recipients!) These high account balances are the target of scrutiny, but Beienburg calls this “manufactured hysteria”: “Opponents of the ESA program allege that families are ‘hoarding’ funds. I suppose all those families in America saving for college are guilty of hoarding, too. Read more from Beienburg here.

UC Berkeley Shouldn’t Be So Proud of Its Free Speech History

The University of California, Berkeley was the home of the anti-war movement in the 1960s, and as such, Berkeley is quite proud of its record on free speech. So proud, in fact, that its “Free Speech Movement Cafe” recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its opening on campus. But if recent history is any indication, writes Goldwater Institute Ronald Reagan Fellow Nathan Callahan, free speech at Berkeley clearly isn’t as healthy as the UC Berkeley community might believe.

Threats of violent protests, cancellations of conservative speakers, and even assaults show that free speech has been under attack at UC Berkeley in recent years. “UC Berkeley ostensibly has rules that are supposed to punish those who attempt to interfere with the free speech rights of those wishing to speak and wishing to hear someone speak, but at the moment they appear very hollow,” Callahan writes. “It’s clear that the groups agitating for violence or speech shutdowns are well known at Berkeley and appear to carry out their tactics of intimidation without fear of consequence.” The Goldwater Institute has drafted model legislation to handle campus free speech shutdowns—you can read more about it here.

“Miss Virginia” Comes to Phoenix

The story of a Washington, D.C., mother who fought for greater educational opportunity for her son so he could leave a failing school, “Miss Virginia” is an inspiring tale of the difference school choice can make in a student’s—and in a community’s—life. Recently, the Goldwater Institute and Love Your School teamed up to host a showing of the “Miss Virginia” film for a packed audience in Phoenix.

Based on a true story, “Miss Virginia” tells the story of Virginia Walden Ford’s fight to give parents all across the financial spectrum more say in their child’s education. Her tireless efforts resulted in the creation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program in 2004, providing scholarships to low-income students and making it possible for them to attend private schools. (You can read a full summary of the movie here.) Following the Phoenix film screening, our Director of Government Affairs Jenna Bentley hosted a panel discussion featuring Walter Blanks from the American Federation for Children and Jenny Clark from Love Your School, a group that acts as a resource for Arizona families looking for the best educational options for their children. Blanks, originally from Ohio, is one of six children and received a scholarship to attend a private school. In a Goldwater Institute video, Blanks said that “school choice for me was a way out…a way for me to be put in an environment where I could truly succeed.” (Watch the full video below.)

Read more about our special screening here. And if you weren’t able to attend our showing of the film, you can learn how to watch “Miss Virginia” here.



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