Licensing Death Spiral

Frequent readers will remember that licensing is one of my big pet peaves, so it will not surpise anyone that I enjoyed TJIC's article on the licensing "cycle of suck"

Here's the cycle of suck:

  1. a guild of professionals decides to drive up their wages by limiting the supply through accreditation
  2. to put teeth in the accreditation, they complain to the politicians
  3. politicians see a chance to scratch a back (and get theirs
    scratched in turn) and pass regulations limiting the practice of the
    profession by the non-accredited
  4. the price rises and the supply drops
  5. marginal consumers can't afford the price
  6. politicians see a chance to scratch a back (and get theirs
    scratched in turn) and use taxpayer dollars to increase the supply of a
    service"¦but just to a target consumer group

Hair braiding or delivering cows, its all the same phenomena.  As usual, I can't make a post on licensing without a quote from Milton Friedman:

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason
is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for
the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are
invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of
the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone
else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is
hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary
motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who
may be a plumber.

More of my posts on this topic indexed here.



    The most insidious part of the Cycle of Suck is how tempting it is to buy into it.

    I've watched my best friend go thru 4 years of Naturopathic Medical schooling. She trained to be a full-blown doctor, as naturopaths are trained to do everything MDs do.

    For four years, as a student, I listened to her rant about how the ADA had successfully lobbied to create licensing standards in all 50 states effectively limiting or barring naturopaths from practicing. She held this as unfair barriers to entry and complained it restricted her earning power. Right she was.

    Funny thing now, though. Now she has graduated. She's in a state where she can legally practice because of a legal loophole. Guess what... now she's all for licensing. True, she wants naturopaths to be included, but now that she stands to profit by limiting others' access to the field, it doesn't sound so horrible. And this is from someone who prides herself on her intelligence and fairness.

    Go figure.

  2. LJK:

    As a previous member of the fitness industry and a current member of the parks/recreation industry I can attest to this. Accreditations and certifications have destroyed both fields. For example, I went to school for four years to learn how to properly create and instruct fitness programs, but that isn’t enough. Someone with a certification by the National Strength and Conditioning Association can become a respected (and demanded) personal trainer much quicker than I can. The NSCA doesn’t require a degree for their certification. An applicant merely has to memorize their version of a fitness program, which is scientifically unsound. Meanwhile, to prove my knowledge, I have to attain a certification from the American College of Sports Medicine. Although the ACSM is (mainly), only for professionals who hold a degree, employers hold an applicant with an ACSM certification and one with an NSCA certification in the same regard.

    I can’t speak for the legal aspect, but I can say in civil lawsuits a trainer that holds an NSCA certification is much better protected than an uncertified college graduate, regardless respective knowledge. I went back to graduate school rather than compete in a corrupt industry, but even if I had received an ASCM certification, it would not have been a testament to y knowledge or skills. It would merely have proved that I had a degree and memorized the ASCM’s version of a fitness program.

    I’m studying parks and resource management now, but I see the same problems. There are certifications and accreditations for so many areas. Non-certified agencies or personal are either prohibited from doing business or forced out of business (or into expensive certifications) due to liability issues. It is a racket abetted by the government and it gives the consumers a less choices, particularly in the fitness realm. The best and brightest people I knew in college have given up and concentrated on advancing their careers with college and professional athletes.