Around Halloween time, Salem, Massachusetts, is a popular tourist destination among New Englanders.

The city has capitalized on the notoriety of the Salem witch trials, which creates jobs for the community at about this time of the year. One of the attractions in Salem is a host of different fortune-tellers. However, not just anyone can become a fortune-teller.

To be a fortune-teller in Massachusetts, you must live in the community in which you want to be a fortune-teller for at least one year before applying for the license; you also must pay the town a $50 fee each year for the privilege of being a fortune-teller.

The purpose of the license isn’t safety; the fortune-teller doesn’t conduct brain surgery or do something potentially dangerous. The practice is both ungodly and unscientific, but it’s not a public safety threat. If a fortune-teller touches someone’s hands to see and feel their palms, both people can use hand sanitizer afterward.

If someone wants to move to town and become a fortune-teller, why not let them? Why restrict the opportunity of people to earn a living just because they haven't lived in town for as long as other people? Perhaps this kind of restriction made sense hundreds of years ago to make sure that people weren't skipping town and swindling people, but it's already illegal for a fortune-teller in Massachusetts to use trickery to steal money.

And while the fortune-teller license is not the most burdensome license there is, it’s part of a much bigger problem.

Excessive occupational licensing and burdensome licensing requirements cost the U.S. about 2 million jobs each year. Trade schools can cost more than $10,000 and hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of people’s time; both the financial and opportunity costs prevent lower-income people from entering professions. They also make some people worse off because if they don’t graduate from the trade school, they get debt and no new skills. Plus, licensing fees are a regressive money grab.

States have many options for how they can do occupational licensing better. They can eliminate unnecessary licenses such as barbers' licenses and hair-braiding licenses; half of the countries in the European Union don't license barbers, and it’s generally legal to cut people’s hair without charging money in the United States. The European Union and American parents cutting the hair of their children and spouses haven’t resulted in an epidemic of haircut accidents. Plus, many states have exempted hair braiding from cosmetology licenses since many Caribbean and African immigrants learned the skill growing up and don't need to pay five figures for a trade school that doesn't even teach the skill.

States should also recognize licenses from other states; if someone can do electrical work in Massachusetts, they should be able to do it in New Hampshire or Connecticut without any problem. States should cut fees for low-income residents to make it easier for them to get by. They should also not require a high school diploma or GED for professions where it’s not necessary; Tennessee eliminated this requirement for barbers last year.

Additionally, states should eliminate good moral character clauses for licensure that make it harder for ex-convicts to get hired and reintegrate into society. Plus, allowing apprenticeship pathways to obtain licenses would make it so that people can earn money while learning a skill rather than paying $10,000 or more. And states should stop revoking licenses for unpaid student loans; this forces people who aren’t doing well financially to take out more loans and go into more debt so they can continue to work.

Occupational licensing is an issue with which politicians on both sides can find common ground. If they can agree that a fortune-teller license and a florist license are absurd, they can work to find even more ways deregulation can improve people's lives.

Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports) is a political reporter for the New Boston Post in Massachusetts. He is also a freelance writer who has been published in USA Today, the Boston Globe, Newsday, ESPN, the Detroit Free Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Federalist, and a number of other outlets.