Why You Can't Braid Someone's Hair In Utah For Money Without First Paying $16k

from the regulatory-control dept

The common wisdom that you'll often hear is that industries hate regulations, and would prefer deregulation. And, in certain areas that's definitely true. But, in others, industries want regulation -- but not for a good reason. It's because legacy players realize two things: (1) they can often "control" the regulatory process (hello regulatory capture) to twist it to their own advantage and (2) it's a really handy way to limit competition. We just recently wrote about some of the more ridiculous factors concerning teaching certifications. Lots of people pushed back in the comments arguing -- correctly -- that just because someone knows something, it doesn't mean they're a good teacher. But... there's another point that we made in the post that many of those people ignored: just because you "certify" teachers, it doesn't mean they're any better at teaching. In fact, as our post noted, the research has shown no noticeable difference between certified and uncertified teachers. So you can make the argument all you want that certification is somehow "needed," but if that certification doesn't seem to help at all, it's wise to at least question the certification process.

The same Planet Money folks who brought us that story recently did a podcast and a NY Times article on another example of regulatory ridiculousness. This one involved a woman who had built a small business braiding the hair of African children in Utah. The woman, Jestina Clayton, grew up in Sierra Leone, where she learned to braid hair, and when she ended up in Centerville, Utah, she discovered there was demand there, due to a large number of adopted African children, whose parents had no idea what to do with their hair. Then, someone threatened to "report" her for practicing "cosmetology" without a license. She checked it out and discovered that bizarre (but all too common) regulation made that true -- but to get her license she'd have to go to school for two years at a cost of $16,000. All to braid hair. And, even more ridiculous, none of the schools taught anything having to do with braiding hair like Clayton did. It would be a pure waste.

If you can, you should listen to the Planet Money podcast on this, because they actually get a spokesperson from the "Professional Beauty Association" try to explain why the government must regulate "professional beauty" practitioners before they kill again (well, only slight exaggeration). She does go on and on about the "consumer safety issues" of the people she's supposedly representing. My favorite risk? "Open wounds." From hair braiding?

Either way, Clayton went before the (I'm not joking) Barber, Cosmetology/Barber, Esthetics, Electrology and Nail Technology Licensing Board of Utah, to try to convince them to let her braid without a license. Apparently this became a big issue and "licensed cosmetologists" came out of the woodwork to argue against her -- and her request was denied.

As the report notes: none of this is to necessarily say that all regulation is bad and that industries don't need some sort of regulation. But, at the very least, if there is going to be regulation, shouldn't there be some evidence that it's (a) needed and (b) effective? Because, somehow, I don't think that there's a big risk from a woman braiding some kids' hair in Utah.

Filed Under: cosmetology, jestina clayton, regulation, sierra leone, utah


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  1. icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), 27 Jun 2012 @ 4:10pm

    _le sigh_

    Monkeys, water, ladder, banana

    Here's a little copy-pasta which is very relevant:
    The Monkey Banana and Water Spray Experiment
    The experiment is real (scientific study cited below). This experiment involved 5 monkeys (10 altogether, including replacements), a cage, a banana, a ladder and, an ice cold water hose.

    The Experiment- Part 1
    5 monkeys are locked in a cage, a banana was hung from the ceiling and a ladder was placed right underneath it.
    As predicted, immediately, one of the monkeys would race towards the ladder, to grab the banana. However, as soon as he would start to climb, the researcher would spray the monkey with ice-cold water.
    but here's the kicker- In addition, he would also spray the other four monkeys…

    When a second monkey tried to climb the ladder, the researcher would, again, spray the monkey with ice-cold water, As well as the other four watching monkeys;
    This was repeated again and again until they learned their lesson
    Climbing equals scary cold water for EVERYONE so No One Climbs the ladder.

    The Experiment- Part 2
    Once the 5 monkeys knew the drill, the researcher replaced one of the monkeys with a new inexperienced one. As predicted, the new monkey spots the banana, and goes for the ladder. BUT, the other four monkeys, knowing the drill, jumped on the new monkey and beat him up. The beat up new guy thus Learns- NO going for the ladder and No Banana Period- without even knowing why! and also without ever being sprayed with water!

    These actions get repeated with 3 more times, with a new monkey each time and ASTONISHINGLY each new monkey- who had never received the cold-water Spray himself (and didn't even know anything about it), would Join the beating up of the New guy.

    This is a classic example of Mob Mentality- bystanders and outsiders uninvolved with the fight- join in 'just because'.

    When the researcher replaced a third monkey, the same thing happened; likewise for the fourth until, eventually, all the monkeys had been replaced and none of the original ones are left in the cage (that had been sprayed by water).

    The Experiment- Part 3
    Again, a new monkey was introduced into the cage. It ran toward the ladder only to get beaten up by the others. The monkey turns with a curious face asking "why do you beat me up when I try to get the banana?"
    The other four monkeys stopped and looked at each other puzzled (None of them had been sprayed and so they really had no clue why the new guy can't get the banana) but it didn't matter, it was too late, the rules had been set. And So, although they didn't know WHY, they beat up the monkey just because " that's the way we do things around here"…

    Well, it seems to be true; not in the exact shape that it took here, but close enough,

    Below is a quotation from the experiment, in scientific Jargon: (sources cited below)

    "Stephenson (1967) trained adult male and female rhesus monkeys to avoid manipulating an object and then placed individual naïve animals in a cage with a trained individual of the same age and sex and the object in question. In one case, a trained male actually pulled his naïve partner away from the previously punished manipulandum during their period of interaction, whereas the other two trained males exhibited what were described as "threat facial expressions while in a fear posture" when a naïve animal approached the manipulandum. When placed alone in the cage with the novel object, naïve males that had been paired with trained males showed greatly reduced manipulation of the training object in comparison with controls. Unfortunately, training and testing were not carried out using a discrimination procedure so the nature of the transmitted information cannot be determined, but the data are of considerable interest."

    Sources:
    Stephenson, G. R. (1967). Cultural acquisition of a specific learned response among rhesus monkeys. In: Starek, D., Schneider, R., and Kuhn, H. J. (eds.), Progress in Primatology, Stuttgart: Fischer, pp. 279-288.

    Mentioned in: Galef, B. G., Jr. (1976). Social Transmission of Acquired Behavior: A Discussion of Tradition and Social Learning in Vertebrates. In: Rosenblatt, J.S., Hinde, R.A., Shaw, E. and Beer, C. (eds.), Advances in the study of behavior, Vol. 6, New York: Academic Press, pp. 87-88:


    That's pretty much why all the "licensed" professionals come out against it--that's right, ice cold water. They need to ask themselves if they'd still be against such deregulation if they were standing on the other side of the ladder.

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