As some of you may know, I love a good conspiracy. I love getting lost in bizarre corners of YouTube populated with bad Movie Maker “documentaries” about government experiments gone awry, celebrity cloning programs, and CIA mind control. I draw the line at lizard people; lizard people are just stupid. Obviously I realize most of these are absurd, mostly because living in Washington, DC taught me that people who can’t even figure out how freeway merge lanes work are highly unlikely to be able to organize massive plots against the American people. But still, they’re fun to get lost in sometimes.
That’s why when I saw this recent article on the AICPA blog I totally had to share it with you guys. Forget the Philadelphia Experiment, this right here is some primo, paranoid shit.
Writes Skip Braziel, vice president of state regulatory and legislative affairs at the AICPA:
A powerful narrative is taking shape across the country that could define the future of licensure. State legislators are coming together to challenge the necessity and value of occupational licensing.
So far, there have been no direct challenges to whether CPAs should be licensed. However, there’s a national anti-licensure legislative strategy that does not distinguish between occupations and learned professions such as CPAs.
Listen, I understand that our country is in turmoil right now, but I highly doubt the issue of whether or not nail technicians should be licensed is taking priority over, say, immigration or even whether or not trans people should be in certain bathrooms. And even if it were so pressing an issue that it would take precedence over the innumerable other issues facing our country at this particular moment, it’s highly unlikely that the CPA license, of all licenses, would be in front of the firing squad. Hell, I’m a card-carrying Libertarian and even I realize that licensure isn’t so terrible an idea.
There is resistance to the expansion of occupational licensing across the political spectrum. In the 1950s, 5% of workers in the United States required a license, whereas 30% required a license in 2015. The increase leads to a lot of questions about whether licenses are truly protecting the public or whether they are stifling competition. While state legislatures are not looking directly at learned professions — like the CPA — all occupations and professions are getting swept into the legislation.
Again, professional ballsack waxers and public accountants are two wildly different things. And as far as I’m aware, no fringe group is lobbying to do away with public accounting licensure altogether. Well, maybe a group of frustrated CPA exam candidates but that’s temporary and certainly nothing for the AICPA to worry about.
Sure, some critics feel licensure — specifically, its current requirements — creates a barrier to entry that serves as a toll of sorts. And that’s a totally fair assessment. However, some researcher criticizing the 150-hour rule is not on the same planet as a full-scale threat to the CPA profession. Pretending the profession is under attack seriously puts this into sovereign citizen, “the Fed has a bank account in my name I’m entitled to because I’m a United States corporation” territory.
From 2015 to 2018, 34 states introduced legislation related to occupational licensing reform. On both coasts and in every region, state policymakers are seriously considering these reforms. For example, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed an executive order that would allow people to perform services normally restricted to licensed professions, including CPA services, if they had the customer sign a waiver.
It’s worth noting here that New Mexico has the country’s ninth-most burdensome licensing laws, according to a recent report from the Institute for Justice.
I’d be a bad Libertarian if I didn’t point out here that the government really sucks at “its job.” It’s slow, inefficient, and big on good intentions with unintended consequences. Is it really a bad thing for legislators to look at licensing laws to make sure they’re serving consumers in their respective states?
The AICPA recommends CPAs stay in contact with their state boards and participate in state societies’ annual lobbying days (I’ve done Maryland’s a few times and highly recommend it!) to monitor the issue, which is completely reasonable. But come on, don’t we have enough fear-mongering these days without the AICPA adding to the list of potential political bogeymen?
I am fully prepared to eat my End the Fed hat if, say, five years from now some moron governor from a state larger than New Mexico outlaws licensing altogether, but something tells me I’m more likely to get recruited into a CIA mind-control experiment on the deck of the USS Eldridge than that happening.