A central plank of the American dream is at stake.

So says The Atlantic in a recent piece profiling the Institute for Justice’s second edition of License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing. The report measures how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs. It studied 102 lower-income occupations across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Too often, occupational-licensing laws are less about protecting workers or consumers as a class than they are about protecting the interests of incumbents. Want to compete with me? Good luck, now that I’ve lobbied for a law that requires you to shell out cash and work toward a certificate before you can begin.

The Atlantic noted how IJ’s “online dataset helpfully allows anyone to search occupations per their interests.”

The article also quoted Texas Supreme Court Justice (and current nominee for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) Don Willet’s concurrence in Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, where IJ successfully challenged the state’s licensing requirements for eyebrow threaders.

As today’s case shows, the Texas occupational licensure regime, predominantly impeding Texans of modest means, can seem a hodge-podge of disjointed, logic-defying irrationalities, where the burdens imposed seem almost farcical, forcing many lower-income Texans to face a choice: submit to illogical bureaucracy or operate an illegal business? Licensure absurdities become apparent when you compare the wildly disparate education/experience burdens visited on various professions. The disconnect between the strictness of some licensing rules and their alleged public-welfare rationale is patently bizarre.

Read the full article here.

Check out the full report here.