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"Freedom of Occupation": Excerpt from the Staats-Lexikon: "Trade and Manufacturing" (1845-1848)

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he wants to pursue, and the means to this end is a trade license (patent) that is obtained for a year or longer. The fee that is instituted for the patent simultaneously serves as a trade tax, yet not exclusively, since it would be unjust to tax the smaller tradesmen as much as the bigger ones. Therefore, the assessments for a trade license should not only differ according to the number of souls residing in the respective cities, so that an additional increment should also be paid when there is a move from one of the smaller cities to one of the larger ones, but the estimate should also be appraised moderately out of consideration for the small business, and a proportional taxation can be additionally determined according to the scope of the business establishment, whereby the number of assistants [journeymen], the [size of the] premises, the working capital, etc., serve as criteria. There should no longer be any compulsory regulations regarding the manner and duration of preparation [for a trade]; this should be left up to an open agreement between the parents and guardians of the apprentice and the master craftsman, and no kind of certificate shall be demanded regarding the manner in which the trade was learned. There is just as little reason to have compulsory regulations for the additional training of journeymen, namely with respect to traveling [between the apprenticeship and becoming a master]; the need to attend to one’s own advancement provides a strong incentive for acquiring knowledge and skills in the most appropriate manner. In contrast, those who want to obtain a patent can freely submit to an examination whose successful completion recommends them to the public; but an examination will be called for in those trades whose inept practice could easily cause great harm, e.g., among pharmacists, dyers, blacksmiths, building craftsmen, chimneysweeps and the like. – In most cases, the transition from one trade to another should be linked to no other requirement than obtaining a patent. In most countries where occupational freedom has more or less been implemented, the practice of some trades is made dependent upon a concession, i.e., upon approval from an office of the state, as with operating book printeries, bookstores, public houses and the like. – The concessionary system can only be defended for a few trades, and only when things proceed according to firm principles that rest on the true public interest. It becomes absolutely reprehensible and leads to abuses much more alarming than those of the guild system – not just in economic, but also in political and moral respects – when it is extended to a greater number of occupations and used by the police state as a means to give preference to favorites, to punish honest, independent men and to make them unhappy, together with their families. If we had to choose between retaining the guilds with their compulsion and an occupational code based on the concessionary system, we would safely give preference to the former as the lesser evil. In general, occupational freedom will prove its advantages only in those states where free

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