A Hairy Situation for Barbers


November 22, 2017 12:07PM

Some might question the need for a board to rule barbers. According to the Board, its mission is to protect the public “by ensuring that only qualified persons are certified, permitted, or licensed.” Maybe we need to prevent bad haircuts or maybe we don’t. That’s another a question for another day. A second question is, why do we think we can trust a board – especially one made up of other barbers – to make this call? Many reflexively assume that governments will objectively promote the public good in a way that individuals on their own will not.

That’s debatable. A recent court case revealed corruption inside the Board. A licensing technician “had destroyed a number of cosmetology licensee files and had likely been collecting bribes and fraudulently issuing cosmetology licenses.” Worse still, the Board wants to keep a lid on it. The Board refused a public records request to release an internal audit that would show the extent of the problem. Bribes, forgeries, and cover-ups – these people are supposed to be protecting us. These are the wages of a government doing things it is not supposed to do. Power corrupting and all that. Is it worth it just to maintain haircut standards?

There is an alternative. Us. We can decide whom we want to cut our hair. No boards, no public dollars, no barber-police force to torment barbers (yes, it exists), no fraud, and no bribes. Think about it – we are talking about allowing adults to consent to a haircut. What if that’s all there was? Why do we need government in the middle of that decision? If someone messes up, so what? I’ve had a bad haircut. Check out my prom photos sometime. Look, barbers don’t want to make their customers unhappy. It’s bad for business. Hasn’t Yelp more or less solved the need for a board? What have you checked more recently – a Yelp rating or a sanitation score?

Perhaps this just proves a truth reflected on by President Jefferson: fallen people themselves operate the government. If we can’t trust people to manage their own affairs because people are not angels, then who are the angels we would trust to manage the affairs of others? Let the history of the Bad Haircuts Board answer.