Regulate Misconduct, Don't Require Licenses

A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 9 2012 1:25 PM

Regulate Misconduct, Don't Require Licenses

A New York Times article about poor working conditions for runway models and exploitation of underage children includes Tommy Hilfiger suggesting the creation of an occupational licensing scheme:

Tommy Hilfiger said he also continues to see models who are too young or too thin. “Eventually, I would like to see models become licensed and registered,” he said.
For decades, there have been efforts to unionize models, but because of the short-term nature of most careers, there has been little movement. After two years of planning, Sara Ziff, a former runway model, started a new group this week called the Model Alliance, advocacy group that seeks to empower models. Ms. Ziff said that problems in the industry, like violation of child labor laws, lack of financial transparency and sexual abuse, extend far beyond Fashion Week. In conjunction with Actors’ Equity and the American Guild of Musical Artists, Model Alliance has formed a grievance reporting system as one of its first initiatives.
Advertisement

I'm much more sympathetic to Ziff's approach than to Hilfiger's. The fact of the matter is that we already have laws regulating child labor and sexual abuse is already illegal and in both cases, rightly so. But those laws are not self-enforcing and it's difficult for dis-empowered people to blow the whistle. Adding a licensing scheme is neither necessary nor sufficient to tackle these issues. Earlier in the piece we learned that the Council of Fashion Designers in America "urged its members to insist on seeing identification from models to prove that they are 16 by the time of their shows." Actually checking IDs seems like a rudimentary first step. If people aren't going to bother to do that, then licensing isn't going to help anything. At the same time, it's difficult to believe that a tough enforceable rule against using kids under the age of 16 as models in high-end fashion shows would somehow cripple the industry.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?