I love the game of Monopoly. The hope that I will land on expensive properties first, the poker-esque bluffing, and the art of deal-making with unsuspecting friends makes for a great game night.

Even though I love Monopoly, I don’t always enjoy it. When I’ve missed out on important properties and am mortgaging the few I have left to pay the winner, I’m not having any fun. When it’s obvious I will not win and I slowly move from competitor to benefactor, I’m not thankful and neither are others facing a similar end.

I think this distaste says something obvious: Monopoly is great for the winner. Crowding out competition and increasing prices because you have the power to do so is good sport for the already-powerful, yet detrimental to the mobility of others.

Monopoly is predicated on our tendency towards self-preservation and self-centeredness. This tendency, utilized for recreation in Monopoly, is manifested in Alabama through our occupational licensing laws (also known as permission-slip-to-work laws).

Take locksmiths, for example. Established in the late 1990s, the Alabama Electronic Security Board of Licensure regulates both security alarm installers and locksmiths.

Not a big deal, right?

Wrong. Wrong because Alabama is, as shown in a recent report, one of only 15 states that licenses locksmiths. Wrong because being in such a minority mandates we ask, “Why do we license locksmiths in the first place?”

Robert Burns describes his experience as a locksmith in a video recently published by the Alabama Policy Institute. In it, he suggests that the licensing of locksmiths was established in Alabama to protect the power of practitioners – not the safety of the public – and that it makes becoming a locksmith more difficult than necessary.

Before any Alabamian can work as a locksmith they must pay fees, pass tests, and wait to be approved by the government.

In most of the country, these hurdles are nonexistent and residents hoping to work as a locksmith can do so when the private sector (through employers and training), not the government, deems appropriate.

In Alabama, however, tendencies that should be reserved to a board game – tendencies to concentrate power towards ourselves and restrict competition – have been allowed into our occupational licensing structure. We must make every effort, therefore, to identify where licensing exists only to disincentivize entrance into a profession and to eliminate regulations where necessary.

This op-ed was originally published on Yellowhammer News, Alabama Today, and the Birmingham Business Journal.


MORE ON Economic Freedom

API on Viewpoint Alabama: 2019 Legislative Recap

API Director of Policy Strategy Phil Williams was interviewed for a June edition of Viewpoint Alabama, an Alabama radio show that is broadcast on over sixty local radio stations weekly. During the interview, Williams the important issues of the 2019 Legislative Session including abortion, the Accountability Act, free speech on campus, the gas tax, and the […]

MORE ON The Forum

MOBILE RADIO: How does ‘school choice’ = ‘tax choice’ in Alabama?

API Sr. Fellow Rachel Blackmon Bryars appeared on Mobile’s 1410 AM 94.5 FM LA Catholic Morning radio show to discuss how Alabamians can help low-income students who are stuck in low-performing schools by redirecting some of their income tax liability to a program that funds scholarships. It costs nothing but a few minutes and is […]

MOBILE RADIO: An update on Alabama’s pro-life bill

API Senior Fellow Rachel Blackmon Bryars provided an update on Alabama’s landmark abortion bill that is being considered in the state Senate today. Listen to the segment on 1410 AM/94.5 FM WNGL Archangel Catholic Radio:

MORE FROM Parker Snider

MOBILE RADIO: New marriage laws in Alabama

API director of policy analysis Parker Snider recently appeared on Mobile Radio to discuss the shift in Alabama’s marriage laws from marriage licenses to marriage certificates. Snider answered questions about how this change will affect new marriages in the state, whether or not other laws were changed as well, and no-fault divorce. You can listen […]

Mobile Radio: Parker Snider discusses the importance of census participation in Alabama

API director of policy analysis Parker Snider recently appeared on Mobile Radio to discuss the importance of the upcoming 2020 Census to Alabamians. Snider addressed misconceptions of how seats in the House of Representatives are allocated, how Census numbers influence business decisions, and why all Alabamians should ensure they are counted in the 2020 Census. […]

Why limited-government conservatives should participate in the Census

For limited-government conservatives, slamming your door on the person who says, “I’m with the federal government and I’d like to ask you a few questions” may indeed be a natural response. It is not, however, considerably helpful, especially to the conservative cause. In fact, Alabamians failing to be counted in the 2020 Census could fuel debilitating blows to the conservative movement, both in Alabama and across the nation.