Licensing

Government authorities at all levels issue licenses to citizens for all kinds of reasons. Usually, the “reasons” are associated with – or, in fact, are proxies for – regulating human behaviors.

Some licenses are sources of seemingly endless controversy while others are accepted, if not endorsed, without question or complaint.

The nation’s First Amendment, for instance, guaranteeing a freedom by negation, specifies that the government won’t require licensing of publishers.

A driver’s license, for most, is an acceptable form of regulation over our otherwise sovereign behavior. As we’re relentlessly reminded while enrolled in high school driver’s ed, operating a motor vehicle is a privilege and not a right.

That motor vehicle operation is not a right is evidence only for the well-known absence of foresight so deeply embedded in the minds of the Founding Fathers.

Among the licenses I possess is one from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), with broadcast endorsement I hasten to add, that afforded me the opportunity to work as an announcer at broadcast radio and TV stations.

This, I know, sounds like bragging. A feature curiously foreign and extraordinarily out-of-place to even the most casual reader of Internet content.

Presumably, my Third Class operator’s license (again, with Broadcast Endorsement) is still in effect. Since I proudly earned it in the early 1970s.

Although, saying “Third Class” out loud doesn’t sound all that impressive, wonderful or great. The “Endorsement” part helps, but I’m still feeling a bit diminished.

Also in my portfolio of licenses is one from the State of New Jersey’s Alcohol Bureau Somethingorother. The organization’s acronym was “ABC,” like the Jackson Five song title.

This license was required in order to enable work at an establishment that served alcohol.

I did not serve alcohol at the establishment, named “Hogan’s.”

Instead, I functioned as a disc jockey, sequestered inside a tiny floor-to-ceiling walled booth with a small horizontal window and equipped with two turntables (devices on which 12-inch vinyl records were played) and a small mixing board.

Obtaining the ABC license required a trip to someplace north of Lawrenceville, N.J., and inside a rather modern, corporate-looking office building that might have otherwise functioned as an insurance agency.

No test was required, as I recall. Though the bureau conducted a background check, presumably to disconfirm the remote likelihood that I would serve six year olds beer.

As with the FCC’s, I happily assume, with no evidence whatsoever, that this license is likewise valid in perpetuity.

It’s always good to have something to fall back on. Should the current profession not work-out.

Proudest in the portfolio, though, is the license I possess from my employer: a “Driver Certification Card.” The credit card-sized card states that it is a “card.” Helpfully.

Handwritten, in blue ink, my name has been entered, a nine-digit certification number (complete with hyphen) is recorded and, sadly, an expiration date: 8/31/2013.

The nine-digit number immediately prompts questions about all those who achieved this status before me. Not so special, I guess.

On its reverse side, printed in a font size only James Bond, with assistance from Q and Miss Eve Moneypenny, could read, are five rules (maybe they’re laws) governing the licensee’s behaviors and requiring my signature.

Inspection today reveals not only the card’s expiration but my failure to have signed it. Add this to the list.

And you? What licenses do you possess? How many have you had and what was being regulated? Expired or not.

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