We’ve just managed to make the British economy a little more medieval, which really isn’t an improvement. A reasonable and useful reading of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is to see it as a railing against the guilds and their control of the medieval economy, followed by an insistence that we must instead have a market economy, one with free entry into lines of work and production. Certainly, this discombobulates the producers who find the protections of their economic rents withering away under the force of competition, but then that’s the point.
It’s more than a little odd that in this neoliberal age we seem to be starting to rebuild those protections. But that’s what we’re doing as estate agents become the latest protected occupation. Mini-driving spivs who show you the front room of a “des res” will have to have a professional qualification. This will mean that showing people around front rooms will become a protected occupation, and only those with the appropriate piece of paper will be able to do it.