>Kevin Carson on Regulation as Cartelization


A good example is in the building trades, where the regulatory entry barrier enjoyed by licensed contractors “reduces and cancels opportunities for the otherwise much more efficient self-builder.” Construction codes prevent most self-building, and drive the cost of professionally built housing to excessive levels. So called “safety” regulations have the actual effect of prohibiting simpler and more user-friendly technologies that might be safely managed by an intelligent layman, and mandating far more complex technologies that can only be safely handled by members of the licensing cartel. The powers that be actually select against simple technologies that can be safely controlled, and in favor of complex technologies that can only be safely wielded by a priesthood. For example, in Massachusetts, as late as 1945 around a third of all single-family houses were self-built. This number fell to 11% by 1970. But as [Ivan] Illich pointed out, by 1970 the feasible self-building technologies could have been far safer and more user-friendly than in 1940, had not the building trades actively suppressed them.
His book is a critique of conventional right-libertarian views on corporate size, large scale economic organization and employee-employer relations as inevitable (and worse yet, desirable). Both a theoretical broadside against popular errors of positive claims on political economy, as well as a bold normative statement on the condition of the individual employee under state capitalism, this book is not to be missed. So don’t miss it.

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