Around Halloween time, Salem, Massachusetts, is a popular tourist destination among New Englanders.
The city has capitalized on the notoriety of the Salem witch trials, which creates jobs for the community at about this time of the year. One of the attractions in Salem is a host of different fortune-tellers. However, not just anyone can become a fortune-teller.
To be a fortune-teller in Massachusetts , you must live in the community in which you want to be a fortune-teller for at least one year before applying for the license; you also must pay the town a $50 fee each year for the privilege of being a fortune-teller.
The purpose of the license isn’t safety; the fortune-teller doesn’t conduct brain surgery or do something potentially dangerous. The practice is both ungodly and unscientific, but it’s not a public safety threat. If a fortune-teller touches someone’s hands to see and feel their palms, both people can use hand sanitizer afterward.
If someone wants to move to town and become a fortune-teller, why not let them? Why restrict the opportunity of people to earn a living just because they haven’t lived in town for as long as other people? Perhaps this kind of restriction made sense hundreds of years ago to make sure that people weren’t skipping town and swindling people, but it’s already illegal for a fortune-teller in Massachusetts to use trickery to steal money.
And while the fortune-teller license is not the most burdensome license there is, it’s part of a much bigger problem.