Tooth whitening is not brain surgery. It is neither dangerous nor complicated, and indeed simple enough that, if you so desire, you can do it yourself.
And yet . . . the regulation of tooth whitening is the subject of a legal case that has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (which could hear it or deny the appeal of a lower court ruling). The case originates in Connecticut, where salons were offering the service for around $150, while dentists were charging $350 for the same service.
You know where this is going–the dentists didn't want the competition. George Will writes:
The Connecticut State Dental Commission, which is run by and for dentists, is empowered by law to write whitening regulations. They can subject salon operators to fines up to $25,000 or up to five years in prison — per customer — for the crime of giving customers assistance (applying the whitener, positioning the LED light in front of the customers’ mouths). This is pure rent-seeking — a politically connected faction bending public power for its private benefit by crippling competitors.
The Institute for Justice, a premier defender of economic liberty, is representing the whiteners. Will notes:
The institute reduces the case to its essence: “It is unconstitutional to require someone to have eight years of higher education [college and dentistry school] before they can point a flashlight at someone’s teeth.” If the Supreme Court rejects this patent truth by allowing the Second Circuit’s conclusion to stand, the rational-basis test will become a charade, which will effectively mean the end of judicial review of economic regulations. This will become an unlimited license for government to impede access to professions, reward rent-seekers, and punish consumers, thereby validating Americans’ deepening disdain for government.
In addition to the issue of economic liberty, the matter of jobs is front and center. Regulations, such as the ones the dentists want enforced, prevent others from having work. Entrenched interests often use government to kill competition that could give the public more choices and less expensive services.