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Sarasota Thursday, Jul. 16, 2009 10 years ago

My View

by: Rod Thomson

Sarasota County, ever vigilant of our every tiniest need or desire, just like our federal government, wants to license and regulate tree-care workers.

That’s in addition to already licensing and regulating tree-farm sales, tree services and tree surgeons.

Tree-care workers would be the fourth category of tree-related work requiring a license by the county.

Is there an epidemic of mangled trees that I’ve missed? Perhaps a bevy of injured tree-care workers?

Not really. What there is, apparently, is a lack of uniform standards in tree-trimming, and the Sarasota Tree Advisory Council wants to remedy that oversight.

“We want to raise the level and standard of care and make it more uniform throughout the county,” said Demetra McBride, manager of Urban Forestry Operations. Licensing also allows the county to know who the people are doing this work.

McBride is an earnest and sincere advocate of the value of healthy trees in a community. No one argues with the idea that healthy trees are better than sick trees.

But is there no nook or cranny of life that government does not want to control and “improve”?

By my estimate, according to a drop-down menu of regulated industries and positions on the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s site, there are more than 1,300 types of jobs that require a license. To put it another way, to list all of them like the few listed in the adjoining chart would require more than three, full, open pages in The Sarasota Observer.

Frankly, most anything that you can think to do in business requires you to pay the county for the right to do it. For many, you also need to be licensed by the state.

Some of us have been all worried that the government is going to end up getting involved with every aspect of our lives. Wrong-o. It already is involved with every aspect. The accompanying charts give just the slightest, tiniest, little glimpse into this reality.

It’s groovy if you are a big-government type, the kind of person who wants the cradle-to-grave care that worked so well in the Soviet Union.

Now the dirty little secret about licenses is that many industries want to be licensed because it creates a barrier to entry for competitors. It is certainly an anti-competitive device, and that is just fine with an established enterprise.

But for a long time we have been ruled on the County Commission by 100% Republicans, supposedly the party of small government and more freedom. Doesn’t really look like it.

Rod Thomson is executive editor of the Gulf Coast Business Review and can be reached at [email protected].


The following are some of the industries that Sarasota County licenses and regulates that range from absurd to just flat funny. They include:

Alterations — for protection from high hems?

Rubber stamp store
— so the School Board won’t run out when voting on superintendent proposals.

— for protection from bad prose and mangled syntax?

Flag shops
— there is such a thing?

Clock repair
— for protection from poor timing?

Disc Jockeys
— to protect the public from the misuse and abuse of the Bee Gees.

— for protection from badly trimmed azaleas?

Wig, toupee and wiglet stores
— naturally.

— surely this is a church and state issue for the ever watchful ACLU.

Lamp shades — words fail.


Perhaps this offers a clue as to why local government is so big. The following is a start on the list of businesses, individuals and industries that are licensed and regulated by Sarasota County:

A/C equipment and sales
A/C contractor
Acoustical contractor
Adult day care
Adult congregate living
Advertising agency
Advertising space sales
Advertising specialities
Aerobics classes
Agricultural consultant
Air compressor sales
Air purifier
Aircraft leasing and sales
Alarm contractor
Alarm system sales
Alcoholism counselor
Aluminum work (six licenses)
Ambulance service
Ammunition retail
Amusement recreation facility
Animal clinic
Animal husbandry
Antique auto dealer
Antique repair
Aquarium sales
Art sales
Arts and crafts

…This is just more than halfway through the As.

                                                                                                                                  Source: Sarasota County Tax Collector’s office

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