John Stossel

"When I called (the commission) in 2005 on two separate occasions, they did tell me that, but then when I called (again) ... the cosmetology lady told me that the situation had changed and that I needed to go to school now and get a license."

No customers complained, but a competitor did.

One cosmetologist claimed that if she didn't go to school she might make someone bald.

But this is nonsense -- hair-braiding is just ... braiding. If the braid is too tight, you can undo it.

The cosmetology board told Jestina that if she wanted to braid hair without paying $18,000 to get permission from the board, she should lobby the legislature. Good luck with that. Jestina actually tried, but no luck. How can poor people become entrepreneurs if they must get laws changed first?! Jestina stopped working because she can't afford the fines.

"The first offense is $1,000," she said. "The second offense and any subsequent offense is $2,000 each day."

"It is not unique to Utah," Avelar added. "There are about 10 states that explicitly require people to go get this expensive, useless license to braid hair."

Fortunately, IJ's efforts against such laws have succeeded in seven states. Now it's in court fighting for Jestina, which, appropriately, means "justice" in her native language.

Once upon a time, one in 20 workers needed government permission to work in their occupation. Today, it's one in three. We lose some freedom every day.

"Occupational licensing laws fall hardest on minorities, on poor, on elderly workers who want to start a new career or change careers," Avelar said. "(Licensing laws) just help entrenched businesses keep out competition."

This is not what America was supposed to be.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate