One of the best permission-society examples involves occupational licensing. If you want to earn a living in any number of fields, you’re required to spend thousands of dollars in government-dictated training—much of it irrelevant to the job you want to perform—and then get a permit. These rules apply not only to highly skilled professions such as surgery, but to fields such as hairdressing and tree trimming. Keep in mind that a competitive market—not government rule-making—does the best job of assuring that people have necessary skills.

Instead of making it easier for people to work, our state government is ramping up its undercover stings so that it can arrest people for committing these victimless crimes. Not only must we ask permission first—but we risk fines and arrest if we don’t. That’s true even though most licensing rules are not about protecting the public’s safety, but about established industries using their political clout to pass laws that limit the competition.