The Rutherford Institute
May 17, 2018
We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the name of the national good by an elite class of government officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions, and inflicted on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace.
Consider, for example, that federal and state governments now require – on penalty of a fine – that individuals apply for permission before they can grow exotic orchids, host elaborate dinner parties, gather friends in one’s home for Bible studies, give coffee to the homeless, let their kids manage a lemonade stand, keep chickens as pets, or braid someone’s hair, as ludicrous as that may seem.
A current case before the Supreme Court, Niang v. Tomblinson, strikes at the heart of this bureaucratic exercise in absurdity that has pushed overregulation and overcriminalization to outrageous limits. This particular case is about whether one needs a government license in order to braid hair.
Missouri, like many states across the country, has increasingly adopted as its governing style the authoritarian notion that the government knows best and therefore must control, regulate and dictate almost everything about the citizenry’s public, private and professional lives.
In Missouri, anyone wanting to braid African-style hair and charge for it must first acquire a government license, which at a minimum requires the applicant to undertake at least 1500 hours of cosmetology classes costing tens of thousands of dollars. Tennessee has fined residents nearly $100,000 just for violating its laws against braiding hair without a government license.
It’s not just hair braiding that has become grist for the overregulation mill.
Almost every aspect of American life today – especially if it is work-related – is subject to this kind of…