Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

You just can’t win. Well, you can; but if you do win — or even just make a decent go of it — that only proves you’re cheating.

Before you object, please take a breath. Note the sterling sentences, above, with subjects and predicates and everything. I must be practicing grammar without a license! At least, that’s what the charge would be if I were to dispute the syntax of pronouncement from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

See, an official at NCDOT has accused David Cox, a member of a citizens group, of “practicing engineering without a license.” This was not just colorful rhetoric. The accuser filed a complaint with the state licensing bureau.

Cox’s group wants city and state officials to authorize traffic lights at a couple intersections. The Department of Transportation hired an engineering consultant to demonstrate that the traffic lights are unnecessary. In response, Cox helped prepare a sophisticated counter-analysis with diagrams and traffic projections. Cox, a computer scientist, did such a great job that he allegedly crossed the line from legal bumbling to illegal knows-what-he’s-doing.

I shan’t tear this notion to bits myself. You’re no doubt doing so in your head, and without first obtaining governmental permission — you outlaw! I will say that in this case, “practicing engineering without a license” might as well mean “petitioning of government without a license.”

But we don’t need licenses for that. We have the right. A constitutionally recognized right.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Overhaul says:

    I wish you had named Kevin Lacy in your article. Too often these bureaucrats remain anonymous and aren’t brought to account because of it.
    Or were you afraid of being charged with practicing journalism competently?

  2. Howard Bernbaum PE says:

    SZo long as the official merely accusses Cox of practicing engineering without a license, it amounts to nothing more than a taunt such as, “so’s your mother.”

    Most engineers working today throughout the world do no have a license. Engineering is done all the time by people without a license.

    It only gets sticky when a PE puts his seal to a project or when he operates outside his area of expertise. There are many other state ordained caveats but those two are among the biggies.

    If The state guy takes Mr. Cox to court, he should get a good lawyer and anticipate a major settlement for being subjected to a frivolous lawsuit.

  3. Paul Jacob says:

    Good point. I should have named him.

  4. Robert B. Cubley P.E. R.L.S. says:

    In most jurisdictions, you need a license when you offer your services as an engineer or surveyor for a fee. Many, many people with engineering degrees work as engineers w/o a license. I did, until I became the responsible party and had to sign plans and plats. Howard is right. “Sue me”, and then return the favor.

  5. Kenneth H. Fleischer says:

    I retired at the end of 1994 from being a consultant electronics engineer. I worked both in the U. S. and in Mexico, and never needed any form of official sanction other than a passport and a Mexican work permit. Is California a freer state than North Carolina? I guess Baja California is, at least in this respect. I’ve heard nothing of any changes in respect to engineering in either of these jurisdictions since 1994.

    By the way, California law requires a state certification for anyone earning a living while describing himself as a Professional Engineer, which is a licensed profession. Don’t mention that designation, and you’re free to do your work, no license needed.

  6. Government Criticism Without A License…

    That’s really what they are charging this man with when he put together a report proving them wrong in their report showing no need for a traffic light at a certain intersection. Apparently being more competent than they are is……

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