The news item reads, “UP makes it mandatory to obtain license for home bar.” It’s just one more small step on the road to serfdom.

The population should be alarmed at the proliferation of the license mandates and the steady encroachment by unaccountable bureaucrats into the private lives of citizens. The license-permit-quota-control raj continues relentlessly imposing its will on a powerless people. This would not be tolerated by any population that values freedom — which in our case we do not have.

Licenses and permits may be justified only under specific circumstances. For example, if the activity could lead to harm to others, it would be permissible to require that a person is sufficiently skilled in the activity. An untrained operator of heavy construction or transportation equipment could kill innocent people. Pilots of commercial airliners must be certified to fly.

But questions remain. Should the government require commercial pilots to be licensed? A bit of pondering the question leads to the answer “no.” Why not? Because the government does not have a dog in that fight. Therefore it’s not some government bureaucrat’s business to decide what level of training a pilot must have to fly a plane. Airlines could require pilots to have licenses but not the government.

The people who do have skin in the game are the airlines. Accidents are costly. Whether or not the government mandates licenses or not, no airline would like to employ untrained pilots (unless of course the airline is owned by the government — in which case, they don’t care whether planes crash since it is not their money.)

The simple rule here is to hold corporations liable to damages they impose on people. Simple tort law should be enough to ensure that corporations take appropriate precautions. You break it, you pay for it.

What about driving licenses? They are required by every state. But there’s actually no need for that either. If a person causes an accident through negligence or incompetence, the person must be required to pay the damages. And then of course there’s automobile insurance for that. It is for the insurance company to require that the driver is competent–  skilled drivers would get lower premiums than less skilled drivers. The state doesn’t have to get into the business of licenses and permits; only that the legal system exists that implements tort.

How about licensing of medical doctors? Not needed. Just the old rule: if you cause harm, you pay for it. Get yourself insurance if you need it. Else do what you will.

In most cases, all you need is a well-function court system to decide on tort cases. No licenses required. Market processes will deliver the socially optimal level of skilled operators.

In light of the above discussion, I think it makes no bloody sense for the state to impose its will on who can have how much alcohol in his home. A person decides what he does with his hard earned money — to buy whatever he wants. What gives a bureaucrat the right to decide who may or may not do what he wants in his home.

Not just people who like to drink alcohol, even committed teetotalers should push back against stupid laws like the one in UP. Indians should oppose bureaucratic tyranny. But I am afraid that it has never happened in the past, and it is not going to happen in the future. Indians are like that only, as they say.

Opposing tyranny is a moral imperative. Let me close with this important quote from a 1857 speech by Frederick Douglass:

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Indians tolerate all variety of tyranny. Their endurance is legendary. So tyranny advances and the people retreat. It’s all karma, neh?




Author: Atanu Dey


One thought on “Licenses”

  1. Learnt a new term today. Tort cases. Thank you Atanu.

    On a slightly unrelated note, Yogi Adityanath government has imposed a non-vegetarian ban on Vrindavan in Mathura district. The azaan on loudspeakers is not banned anywhere in India.

    It is extremely interesting to note that we ban what we should not ban, and allow what we should ban.


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