'Braid Free or Die!' NH Ends Onerous Licensing For Hair Braiding

P. Gardner Goldsmith | June 16, 2017
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Don’t let anyone say America hasn’t made progress.

After years of struggle, lives lost in the Revolution fighting to disconnect from the Brits and their heavy-handed taxes, regulations, invasive searches, copious work to add a Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution, and all the efforts to try to get the politicians to actually conform to their own so-called “rule book," folks can now braid hair for free in New Hampshire.

Earlier this month, N.H. Governor Chris Sununu (son of former Gov. and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu) signed a law that -- get this -- decriminalized unlicensed hair braiding.

As the Institute for Justice (IJ) reports, H.B. 82, a bill sponsored by a friend of mine named Carol McGuire (who is consistently one of the most pro-freedom members of the N.H. House), made New Hampshire one of just 23 states that do not require the expensive licensing that the other 27 states mandate in order to simply braid a person’s hair.

New Hampshire joins South Dakota and Indiana this year as the latest states to pull back from this ridiculous infringement into a voluntary interaction.

The IJ’s Nick Sibilia puts it well:

Unlike cosmetologists, braiders do not use any harsh chemicals or dyes, while many cosmetology schools do not teach natural braiding styles or techniques. But previously, under New Hampshire law, a braider could only legally work if she first became a licensed cosmetologist, which takes at least 1,500 hours of training and can cost nearly $20,000.

Kudos to Carol McGuire and all those who worked to pass this bill, which, really, would not be necessary in a political framework that operated more in line with the ideas of the Founders.

Because, let’s face it: licensing is mercantilism. It's cronyism. It’s the government using mobster-like tactics to give legal oligopoly status to those who already have their businesses up and running. It increases the cost of entry into any field, thus decreasing the likelihood of new competition, and allowing the vested interests the legal power to keep their prices high.

And, just as new hair-braiders should not have to answer to bureaucrats and stuffy politicians who want to make them pay “protection money” to the state, Carol McGuire and those who helped pass this bill should not have had to have spent their time trying to end this corrupt state shakedown. That was one of the major points about the American Revolution: people are supposed to have the liberty to conduct business free of government meddling and favoritism.

Some might look at this particular issue as being inconsequential. But regardless of whether some of us might be out of the market for hair-braiding services, the principle of freedom is key, and, as a result, the opening of this piece is not sarcastic. One really should celebrate the fact that New Hampshire just joined nearly two dozen other states in letting people be free to offer hair-braiding services or payment for those services, while lamenting the fact that others still require licenses.

As Mr. Sibilla noted, a recent study showed that licensing costs 2.8 million jobs and extracts $203 billion from consumers annually.

So this is a major victory for free economics and for principle, which are actually one and the same. All such voluntary transactions – regardless of how dangerous they might be to the willing participants -- have no direct bearing on the safety or property of others. Letting the state demand money just to engage in any such business is reprehensible, and should have been stopped when the American Colonies broke away from England.

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