Occupational Licensing Slippery Slope In Action: Send In The Clowns Edition

A Toronto-area woman thinks clowns and shopping mall santas should need licenses:

“Exotic dancers need a permit; so do massage therapists,” pointed out Beaudoin in an interview. “So why not children’s entertainers?”

She has been pushing for this legislation for more than a decade. In November, MPP Vic Dhillon tabled several petitions Beaudoin had collected at Queen’s Park.

This is one of the dangers of bad policy. People tend to assume that whatever exists must exist for a good reason. Consequently, they tend to argue for change by analogy. Her specific idea is that licensed clowns should need to pass a criminal background check. For any given licensed occupation, “let’s ban ex-offenders from doing this” may sound like a decent idea. But people do get convicted of crimes. They serve time in jail. Then they leave. And presumably we want them to go get jobs. Shutting them out of legitimate work is deeply counterproductive.