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Of Irish Beer and Canadian Haircuts

Of Irish Beer and Canadian Haircuts

2 Mins
January 3, 2014

This is a post about craft brewers in Ireland and barbers in Ontario. Maybe it’s about your business too.

Rick Levert, of the Kinnegar Brewery , Rathmullan, County Donegal, would like to sell his beer himself, by the glass. “If we had a small tap house here, we could serve real Irish beer to visitors and tourists,” he says. Levert, originally from Boston, is the man behind one of more than 20 recently opened Irish microbreweries, and brewery owners complain that licensing laws are impeding their growth. Levert says the license required for the tap house would cost too much. Presumably, that license was designed for full-scale bars.

Sean Gibson, president of the Ontario Barber Association, says he’s not going to stop working as a barber voluntarily: “They’re going to have to arrest me and drag me away in handcuffs.” He wants the Canadian province to stop classifying barbers as hairstylists and resume recognizing them as a distinct trade.

If you’re scratching your head over why that matters, barber Sina Kamali explains that in order to become a barber, you may need a year’s worth of training—and you can’t get it in school in Ontario, because it’s no longer taught there, he says. But Kamali did take a 10-month hairstylist course, more than half of which, he says, he doesn’t use. Hairstylists, apparently, use chemicals that barbers don’t; barbers know specialized cutting techniques that may be unknown to hairstylists.

When a government sets up a licensing scheme, it has to have some specific idea of what it’s licensing—an understanding (good or bad) of what a certain activity is, how it’s done, what preparation one needs to do it competently, and so on. Otherwise, it couldn’t specify who needs the license or how to get it. If you want to do one of the things the government licenses, just the way the government had in mind, the licensing process may be costly and certainly embodies a bad moral principle , but at least it marks a path in the direction you want to go.

But when you think about how to apply your own talents and resources to create value—and when you think about what sort of value creation you enjoy—the vision of your own work that you come up with may not match the government’s vision. Then the licensing scheme may obstruct your work even more, just because your plans aren’t the ones the government had in mind.

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