Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Government Licensing Gone Wild: Institute for Justice Fights for Tour Guides in New Orleans



"In New Orleans, it is a crime to charge people for a talking tour without first getting permission from the government. City officials require every tour guide to pass a history exam, undergo a drug test and an FBI criminal background check every two years merely for speaking. People who give tours without a license face fines up to $300 per occurrence and five months in jail.

The First Amendment does not allow the government to be in the business of deciding who is—and who is not—allowed to speak about various topics. That is why four New Orleans tour guides have joined with the Institute for Justice in a federal lawsuit seeking to secure their free speech rights (see video above)."

29 Comments:

At 12/13/2011 11:47 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

And why do we license lawyers?

 
At 12/13/2011 12:17 PM, Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Actually, that is a terrific idea. My wife went to Europe [France, England, Scotland] with the high school band. All of the tour guides were licensed and had to pass rigorous exams regarding the geography and history of their areas. This made the travel portion significantly better... even the high schools students paid attention and enjoyed how the history and geography intertwined.

Nevertheless, we cherish the right to speak stupidly and the right to lead other people astray above knowledge, reason, and logic.

 
At 12/13/2011 12:55 PM, Blogger Joe Bloe said...

Well-educated tour guides are indeed a great thing. If the government wants to get into the business of endorsing tour guides then so be it.

But to ban independent operators to prop up your endorsement monopoly is an entirely inappropriate government action.

 
At 12/13/2011 1:08 PM, Blogger Bruce Hall said...

"Endorsement monopoly?" Then all laws are "special interest endorsements?"

You'll need a better argument than that. All that is required to establish standards is to set the standards which can be independently verified as having been met. The license would be a formality. Isn't that how driver's licensing process works?

 
At 12/13/2011 1:14 PM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from Bruce Hall: ""Endorsement monopoly?" Then all laws are "special interest endorsements?"

All licensing laws are just government enforced monopolies.

 
At 12/13/2011 1:14 PM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from Bruce Hall: ""Endorsement monopoly?" Then all laws are "special interest endorsements?"

All licensing laws are just government enforced monopolies.

 
At 12/13/2011 1:23 PM, Blogger col. whiskey said...

FYI, the Institute for Justice (IJ) is an excellent organization.

 
At 12/13/2011 1:23 PM, Blogger Hans said...

Should not the issuer have their own licence ?

Logic would dictate a licence issuer should be licenced..

Govmobment comes to mind..

 
At 12/13/2011 2:20 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

I want to see the Institute for Justice, staffed by lawyers, go after state licensing of lawyers.

 
At 12/13/2011 2:37 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bruce-

"Nevertheless, we cherish the right to speak stupidly and the right to lead other people astray above knowledge, reason, and logic."

that is an incredibly frightening framing of the issue and could not be less true.

what we cherish is freedom and the ability to hold and espouse views not sanctioned by the government.

you seem to be advocating fascism. the government decides who can speak on specific topics and without a license, you cannot share your views or charge to do so?

if only we all did as bruce liked? who made you autocrat and arbiter of free speech?

consider how wildly inconsistent your position is. it's legal for me to take you around and show you the city for free, but i suddenly lose my rights if i am good enough at it to warrant payment?

how can you possibly square that?

you sound like every other would be dictator who wants to limit what simple services i can or cannot provide/buy without your say so.

if you care about a quality guide, pay more, find someone accredited, whatever, but to take your preference and force it upon others, perhaps at the expense of their livelihood is pure and simple fascism.

on what ethical grounds or under what interpretation of the first amendment can you possibly defend your views?

 
At 12/13/2011 2:51 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

""Endorsement monopoly?" Then all laws are "special interest endorsements?""

bruce, it is you who need a better argument. this does not even make sense.

joe is precisely correct.

if government is the only one who can certify you and make you able to be a tour guide, what would you call it other than a monopoly?

and what does that have to do with most other laws?

a law that says others may not steal you property does not create any kind of monopoly. it defends your rights.

requiring licensee to be a guide does the opposite: it takes them away and grants arbitrary power to the government by taking it away from the people.

if you cannot see that the two are radically different, then perhaps your fascism is just confusion, but you need to really think about that, especially if you are going to use such a clearly absurd and unsupportable argument to claim that others have a weak argument.

what joe said is clear and sensible. your response is incoherent and devoid of any logic.

he seeks to increase liberty and you seek to foist your preferences on others by getting the government to take it away.

 
At 12/13/2011 3:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

This is utter nonsense. Instead of spending money that state doesn't have to enforce unnecessary regulations, they should be helping these companies by supplying easy-to-read docs about local history to pass on to tourists.
Not sure why anyone would need to pass a history test to do a Voodoo or haunted cemetery tour.

The only thing I'd care about in N.O is that my guide was armed so I could make it back to the hotel...if I want complete accuracy, I'll go to the National Parks Service and take their tour. The government is paying them, so they can require any tests they wish.

 
At 12/13/2011 3:03 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Morgan--

Actually, tourism is a bit of exception to free markets. Tourists are often prey, as they are not knowledgeable consumers.

If enough tourists get boo-foo'ed, gang-banged or ripped off, the whole tourism industry of a region can suffer.

For example Morgan, if you decided to tour Moscow, but ended up in a unlicensed taxi cab on the outskirts of Moscow, and then left face-down, prone and splay-legged in the snowy forest and in need of a proctologist's services, would you recommend Russia to others?

Why or why not?

 
At 12/13/2011 3:15 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Actually, Benjamin, your description sounds more like New Orleans than Moscow (except that it happens in licensed cabs here) and people still go all the time.
In fact, I think that's part of the unintended consequences of harsh licensing: the majority of people who provide "service" are big companies... and criminals who forge their docs or have an 'in' with someone up the ladder.

 
At 12/13/2011 3:27 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bunny-

that's a bogus argument.

you CAN credential hotels, tour guides, cab drivers, etc, and some people may care about that, but that is not the same at all as claiming that you MUST credential them and taking away the rights of consumers and providers alike.

your cab example seems baseless, inconsistent with the views you usually espouse, and factually inaccurate.

aren't you the one always arguing in favor of jitneys? every town has visitors. so, if protecting them is so vital, aren't you then arguing against unlicensed jitneys etc?

such a view seems paternalistic. you poor dumb tourists are too stupid to make your own choices, so i will do it for you.

further, the single worst cab rip off i have ever seen was in bulgaria, near nyesseber (not sure how to spell it in our alphabet) and was in a LICENSED cab. they tried to charge us something like $50 for a 3 mile drive to slanchav brag. (aka sunny beach, these names are difficult in a non Cyrillic alphabet)

moscow, by contrast, is a really easy place to deal with cars. you'd need to be a fool to trust the taxi licenses. instead, you go with a reputable car service, which, as far as i know, was always unlicensed (i never saw a license or any documentation displayed).

in many places, licensure is just about paying bribes and afford very little (or even negative) safety benefits. a fake elevator certificate (or one acquired through bribery) is worse than none at all.

 
At 12/13/2011 3:43 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

What about concierges in New Orleans?

The New Orleans Concierge Organization requires that a new member be approved by the entire membership. This is another industry organization, that provides an ethical/code of conduct as a pretext for continuing membership.

 
At 12/13/2011 3:50 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Buddy (and all),
Do you think it's a coincidence that LA is one of, if not the, most 'licensed', regulated and exclusionary states - and one of, if not the, most corrupt?

 
At 12/13/2011 3:51 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Morgan-

Then why do you favor licensing lawyers?

 
At 12/13/2011 3:53 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Modification: New Orleans Concierge Organization requires majority approval and not that of the entirety, for membership.

 
At 12/13/2011 3:58 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Mike, the New Orleans Concierge Organization is private, but who knows if the guvmint will do a takeover.

 
At 12/13/2011 4:02 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bunny-

"Morgan-

Then why do you favor licensing lawyers?"

i don't. go back and read that thread. i never said i favored licensing them, only voluntary accreditation.

where is disagreed with you was around the idea that delicencing lawyers would lead to simpler documents and less legalism.

i think the opposite may well be true, but that is no reason to abridge liberty and take away rights.

power should be left with consumers and providers to offer and accept as they please.

 
At 12/13/2011 4:03 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I realize it's private... It's another exclusionary group that holds the right to blackball anyone who may shake things up in a way they don't like.
The mob mentality is ingrained in the culture. Public or private....the two are indistinguishable in the big sleazy.

 
At 12/13/2011 4:14 PM, Blogger Hans said...

It is just another source of revenue for the state..

Let's licence citizenship as well; renewable on an annual bases...

 
At 12/13/2011 4:24 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Hans,
I think we already have that for some of us. I'm wrapping up my fiscal year to see what my dues are.

 
At 12/13/2011 6:13 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Nevertheless, we cherish the right to speak stupidly and the right to lead other people astray above knowledge, reason, and logic.

We cherish the right to make our own private, voluntary arrangement.

There's nothing wrong with having a private certifying body that certifies tour guides. What's wrong is prohibiting someone making a living by offering tours without the certification and preventing people from having the option to employ certified guides.

The more regulations the government imposes, the more options it takes away from you.

Options are valuable even if you never exercise them.

 
At 12/13/2011 6:14 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

correction: to employ UNcertified guides.

 
At 12/13/2011 8:36 PM, Blogger Craig said...

All of the tour guides were licensed and had to pass rigorous exams regarding the geography and history of their areas. This made the travel portion significantly better

Better? Compared to what? Did you also go on tours led by unlicensed guides who, upon research at Wikipedia, proved deceptive?

 
At 12/14/2011 9:30 AM, Blogger Bernardo O'Higgins said...

At 2:20, Benjamin wanted to see the Institute for Justice, staffed by lawyers, go after state licensing of lawyers.

Here you go:

http://www.ij.org/economicliberty/3706

 
At 12/14/2011 10:08 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Freedom is not simply the right of intellectuals to circulate their merchandise. It is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their “betters.”"

-t. sowell

 

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