Saturday, January 09, 2021

1889 Institute: Gov't permission to be a plumber is unjustified

Do Oklahoma toilets flush better than London toilets where plumber licensing does not exist?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (January 7, 2021) – The 1889 Institute has published “Plumber Licensing in Oklahoma,” the latest in its Licensing Directory series of reviews of licensed occupations in the state. As with every other review of licensed occupations, the conclusion reached is that there is no sound reason to license plumbing as an occupation, keeping in mind that licensing is the most onerous of labor regulations short of outright banning an occupation.

“It’s interesting to note that Great Britain does not require licensing of plumbers,” said Tyler Williamson, the study’s author and Research Associate at the 1889 Institute. “In fact, plumbers in Great Britain use a system of private certification to signal to consumers of their services that they know what they’re doing,” said Williamson.

The 1889 Institute has proposed a policy and has published a model bill that would encourage private certification whereby organizations meeting certain consumer-protection criteria could register with the state and receive criminal fraud law protection from anyone falsely claiming a credential. Consumers would benefit from the resulting competition.

“We’ve made the point before that requiring permission of government to practice a profession not only needlessly blocks opportunity, but also hurts consumers as well by creating an artificial shortage,” said Williamson. “In fact, the entire nation is suffering an artificial shortage of many trades due to nearly universal licensing among the states, with the number of plumbers declining even as demand is growing,” he said.

Williamson pointed out that at least Oklahoma’s plumber licensing law is no more onerous than those of other states, which is only somewhat reassuring. While Oklahoma does not needlessly license as many occupations as many other states, when it does license an occupation, Oklahoma often makes it more difficult to obtain that license than nearly any other state. Nevertheless, the steps required to become a full-fledged plumbing contractor are costly and time-consuming.

About the 1889 Institute
The 1889 Institute is an Oklahoma think tank committed to independent, principled state policy fostering limited and responsible government, free enterprise and a robust civil society. The publication, “Plumber Licensing in Oklahoma” and other reports can be found on the nonprofit’s website at


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