Looking at this map of state licensing regimes (darker is more onerous, with AZ being the worst), it is hard to correlate with states being Republican or Democrat. That doesn't surprise me, because I have always thought the urge to restrict competition and protect incumbents has always been a bipartisan enterprise.
So I sat and thought for a minute about my home state of AZ. Why is it the worst? We have a pretty good libertarian history here, from Goldwater onwards. We have at least one fairly libertarian Senator (Jeff Flake). So what is the deal?
My hypothesis is that it is related to immigration. The same majority Republican legislators who are generally open to free markets simultaneously have an incredible fear and loathing of immigration. Perhaps our onerous business licensing regime is driven by nativists wanting to protect themselves from competition by new immigrants, immigrants who would struggle to compete onerous licensing requirements?
So what does this map look like vs. immigrant population density? Via Wikipedia, here are the states on density of Hispanics
Hmm, we might be getting somewhere, but its not a perfect fit. So instead, let's hypothesize that business licensing is aimed at non-white, non-hispanic groups in general (similar to early justifications for the minimum wage as a way to keep black workers migrating from the south out of traditionally "white" jobs). I cannot get it by state, but the map below by county looks pretty dang similar to the licensing map. Areas in blue have above average percent of non-whites, red is below average.
Not a perfect fit certainly (one would expect Texas to be more onerous), but perhaps close enough to treat the hypothesis seriously. I had always thought that I would be the last one to play the race card in a policy analysis, but business licensing tends to have an inherently base motive (protect one group from competition from another group) that is pretty easy to square with racial and ethnic fear.
Here is my letter to my Congresspersons:
Senator John McCain
Senator Jeff Flake
Representative David Schweikert
Help! Administration Orders Shut Down of Privately-Operated Parks in National Forest
Parks that require no Federal money, and actually pay rent to the Treasury, are being required to close
My company, based in North Phoenix, operates over 100 US Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas under concession contract. Yesterday, as in all past government shutdowns, the Department of Agriculture and US Forest Service confirmed we would stay open during the government shutdown. This makes total sense, since our operations are self-sufficient (we are fully funded by user fees at the gate), we get no federal funds, we employ no government workers on these sites, and we actually pay rent into the Treasury.
However, today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.
The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the US Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation.
I urge you to help stop the Administration from lawlessly taking arbitrary and illegal actions to artificially worsen the shutdown by hurting innocent hikers and campers. I am not asking you to restore any funding, because no funding is required to keep these operations open. I am asking that the Administration be required to only close government services that actually require budget resources.