Leviathan Strikes Again

It seems to me the Pennsylvania legislature should just get rid of this whopper of a stupid law.

An old state law is coming back to haunt a few of the residents of Pennsylvania: If you sell the belongings of another person, you are required to have an auctioneer’s license. The state issues them as part of a monumentally exhaustive process that can take months and possibly require a formal apprenticeship.

Sounds like a trade group pushed for that licensing to artificially constrain supply in the market for selling other people’s crap, and now are pushing to have that monopoly enforced.  There is no just reason why selling other people’s stuff should require a license from the state.  The free market can sort that one out, and our politicians should allow it to.

13 Responses to “Leviathan Strikes Again”

  1. teqjack says:

    Well, EBay (for example) is called an “auction” site.
    I wonder if it could be circumvented by posting with a specified price and an “or best offer” notice, which I think EBay (not certain, my budget does not allow for much discretionary buying) allows?

  2. Sebastian says:

    It would appear to apply to anyone who acts as an agent to sell someone else’s property.

  3. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Well, it’s alright to sell another person’s possessions assuming they gave permission…

  4. Robb Allen says:

    I have a hard time understanding a single reason why the state has a vested interest in any sort of specialized licensing other that “A License to Perform a Business in the State of X”.

    I’m a photographer (as a second job). At this moment, I don’t need a license to take pictures, but there are plenty of larger organizations and clubs that keep pushing the state to require “tests for licensure “. Because apparently hundreds of orphans die each year due to poor lighting and inadequate photo composition.

    The only license should be that you are allowed to have a business and that the state recognizes you. This is for tax purposes and a basic check that says you’ve not been banned from other states.

  5. Robb Allen says:

    (continued) Because so far, outside of “competition prevention” I have yet to see any benefit to *any* sort of licensing, including doctors.

  6. Sebastian says:

    The state needs to have a compelling reason to license a profession. There shouldn’t be a reason to protect people from bad service, and as best I can tell, this does it. We license doctors because it’s difficult for individuals to obtain enough information about a doctor’s credentials for them to ensure their doctor is capable of practicing his trade at a level where he won’t harm patients. Increasingly, that’s not even true for doctors. But another example is restaurants. I can’t walk into a restaurant’s kitchen to ensure it’s clean and sanitary, the state does that, and the license is a signaling mechanism to let the consumer know they check out, at least at some bare minimum level.

    There’s no compelling reason to license people who sell other people’s shit.

  7. Robb Allen says:

    Sebastian, and that role cannot be fulfilled by the private sector, why?

    I trust a company who makes money by being right about an establishment’s cleanliness than I do a public health inspector. When I had to ask the state for permission to build an addition onto my own house (another laughable concept), the “inspector” showed up at the door, asked if he could take a look, walked to the side of the house, leaned over the fence, and got back in his car.

    If the foundation or structure fails, he pays no price for his incompetence. He could, just because he saw the “I Support Our Troops” shirt I was wearing, deny me the addition.

    As far as doctors, your insurance carrier will do that check much better than any state agency will. And I’m willing to bet actual cash 99.9% of people have no idea if their doctor is accredited or licensed anyway. Where did your doctor graduate medical school? Where is his license displayed? Have you ever checked?

    It’s a “feel good” measure meant almost specifically to stifle competition. I can’t remember the state, but you must have a license to “arrange flowers”.

    The problem, and I wrote about this last week, is that we’ve come to think that state licensing “protects us” and generally see no issues with allowing the state the power to deny us the right to do what we feel. I can even understand a limited set, such as emergency room doctors (who you don’t get to choose nor examine his or her certification), but we seem to never question any sort of licensing.

  8. Sebastian says:

    I think the case for licensing doctors today is pretty slim, but at one time, it was to prevent people from practicing medicine who were unqualified. I don’t agree with licensing professions as a general rule, and don’t think there’s much cause to do it this day in age.

  9. joated says:

    Wouldn’t this put consignment shops for such thing as crafts and antiques out of business?

  10. straightarrow says:

    I don’t think now is the time to fight this battle. How many people really care?

    This isn’t something on which to burn political capital.

    And it would energized the auctioneer segment of the state and could very well cause a backlash among white folks afraid theur stuff would be sold improperly by unlicensed, untrained, sellers of non registered items. Such action by the free commerce people could even cause a political push to close the auction loophole, where unlicensed dealers sell things with no record of the transaction and no background check on the buyer or seller.

    It would be only a short step to imagine an entire black market in the stuff selling business. Esitmates of illegal stuff selling could engender calls for even more draconian measures, perhaps resulting in lawsuits against manufacturers of stuff for the illegal market.

    You’d best leave this alone. This is not the time to take on this battle. We shouldn’t even speak of it for fear of being branded some kind of freedom nuts and losing any chance at support from the average citizen who thinks stuff selling is working just fine the way it is ,or worse, thinks it should be more strictly regulated.

    No, we better leave this one alone. People will start to think we advocate exercising rights over our own property. That’s just inviting disaster.

  11. Robb Allen says:

    SA, for the first 2 or 3 paragraphs, you had me scratching my head and going “WTF????”.

    What is it about not being able to discern between parody and the real thing again?

  12. Sebastian says:

    Actually, I’m not fighting this battle, just highlighting the silliness of the law. I would encourage my senator to support carving out an exception to this law for people selling stuff on ebay, and that’s about as far as it will go.

    Beyond that there’s too many entrenched interests, and no real outrage over licensing of auctioneers to displace the entrenched interests. Would I support an outright repeal? Sure. But you’ll probably never get it.

    Yes, there are some battles that I’m not going to waste time fighting. Freedom is much easier to lose in the first place than it is to get back. It’s worth getting back, but you won’t win by just shouting into the wind and demanding freedom. You have to choose your battles carefully.

  13. straightarrow says:

    NO, you have to fight your battles to win.