Free Market

The Crime of a Commercial Exchange

When Jestina Clayton was threatened with legal action for braiding hair, bureaucrats made clear that her supposed crime was that she had been braiding hair for pay. Think about that for a moment: it was legal for her to braid hair for free, but as soon as money became involved, she was being required to spend 2,000 hours in cosmetology school, seek the state’s permission, pay fees, and meet other requirements.

Why does the exchange of a few dollars in this simple transaction make an otherwise legal action illegal?

Of course, this is not an issue only in regards to hair braiding. Most occupational licenses involve a form of labor that can freely be done without pay, but which becomes criminalized when money is involved—unless the government has, with issuance of a license, given its blessing.

You’re free to give your spouse or friends a massage for free, but if you begin accepting money in exchange for your services without obtaining a license, you are suddenly committing a class A misdemeanor. You can purchase a cow in conjunction with your neighbors, take care of it, and then divy up the milk, but if you exchange money in the process it is an illegal “cow share” program. Perhaps your handy neighbor can fix your sink or rewire your kitchen lights, but if you pay him in the process you’re turning him into a criminal. A woman can do her friends’ nails all fancy and for free, but she better not think about accepting money without first going to hundreds of hours of school, paying a fee, and requesting an official government permission slip.

This could be a very long list, and it ranges from common actions such as cutting hair, to controversial ones such as prostitution. (Fornication is actually illegal in Utah, but prosecutors are unwilling to see the law challenged and therefore do not enforce it, making it effectively legal.) Suffice it to say, there are many things that you can legally do for free, that would be illegal to do as soon as money changes hands in the process.

If an action violates one’s life, liberty, or property, then by all means criminalize it—and enforce the penalties. But conditional criminality, such as with the case of a service being compensated monetarily or not, is a preposterous notion that should be rejected by any freedom-minded individual. The government only legitimately exists to protect people, not impose economic protectionism.

Commercial exchanges of services aren’t inherently criminal, just as free exchanges are not. What matters is the actual action. Killing somebody is wrong, whether you’re doing it of your own volition, or as a hired hitman. Stealing a vehicle, whether for the thrill or as part of a car smuggling ring, is likewise a criminal action. When a violation of rights occurs, it doesn’t matter if money was paid or not—wrong is wrong, regardless of incentives or compensation given.

The same holds true in the inverse. If an action does not violate somebody’s rights, then it does not matter whether money was exchanged. If two people engage in a commercial transaction based upon mutual consent, whether for construction services, cosmetology care, medical consulting, or any number of other issues, then the action is not criminal and the government’s prohibition is illegitimate.

Utah must work towards informed consumerism, enabling individuals to make their own choices and reap the consequences of that process, whether good or bad. And the government that rules over them must refrain from threatening fines and jail time for simply compensating another individual for services rendered.

  • AaronSellers

    Great points! Some will argue that a person that does not have a licence or training or certification or whatever could pretend to have such in order to get business without the expense. But this is not a problem. It’s already a crime to commit fraud and if someone is doing business under false pretenses, they should be prosecuted for THAT, NOT for doing business without a license.

  • David Wayne Dommer

    Exchanging in honor in kind with another individual is the only way we can lawfully exchange, barter, money or ? in commerce period! Contracts are fluid and dynamic, contract is law as law is contract period. But the corrupt system has taught and imprinted upon us that we can contract with a corporation, a creature of man, it is not remotely possible because it is not a flesh and blood entity period. Corporations were designed by man to take away accountability, veil the truth, for profit, contracts etched in stone!? The original jurisdiction of the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Lamd precedes “ALL” creatures of man, all corporations! Again, the very essence of the argument of government and it’s Rightful role of Justice or injustice period. The Supreme Court has ruled that “the States habitually violate the Rights of the People!” see Speck vs. Jensen. We have been given Rights from our Creator and man has as throughout history figured out how to usurp those Un- lean- able Rights and offered in exchange Privilages!? We Have The Right To Run An Enterprize However We See Fit, and here is the caveat; AS LONG AS WE DO NOT VIOLATE ANOTHER PERSON OR THEIR PROPERTY WITH NO INTENT TO INJURE ANOTHER OR HIS RIGHTS TO PURSUE HIS OWN HAPPINESS PERIOD!!! It is high time WE as a people get the truth, the facts that support the truth, the law that establishes truth and the evidence to in support thereof! Thank God for the efforts of this Institute that is doing as Christ would admonish; through gentle persuasion teach all truth! We as the a People have all of the Power only “IF” we are willing to learn and Understand our Rights and therefor having the foundation, we can stand upon our Gifts, our Rights from our Creator. Every great civilization has been destroyed by mans greed through subversion of these Rights! Look around people!? We are directly
    In 3rd Nephi! And yes the state churches, all of them are 501(c)3 corporations and yes there is corruption in all of these churches because they have to play by the rules of an unrighteousness right usurping governmen! And Ether, chapter 8 clearly defines the consequences once you WAKE UP and find yourself in this, your AWFUL STATE!!! I see Libertas Institute as a modern day SAMUEL THE LAMANITE! He was addressing the body of “The Church!” and look what those good church folks had in mind for him! Quit lying to yourselves and pull up a chair with an open heart and allow ALL TRUTH to permeate your consciousness! Truth in “All Things” has always existed whether you believe it or not!?!? The teacher is ever present, where are all of the students? Sometimes the TRUTH seems so far fetched because of IMPRINTATION IMPOSED UPON ALL IN GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED SCHOOLS AND MEDIA!!! Be extremely careful what you take in to your consciousness! There are threads of TRUTH in much hearsay! Allow the Holy Spirit of Truth and Promise assist you as PROMISED BY OUR CREATOR! Peace.

  • Wow, that post is AMAZING.Thanks for posting that