Licensing is Anti-Consumer

The whole topic of licensing as anti-consumer efforts to restrict competition is a long-running one here.   Since I am sort-of-kind-of not-blogging right now, I won't excerpt or comment on it a lot, but this is a very interesting piecelooking at internal documents of the American Dietetic Association discussing their efforts to pass laws in various states that essentially ban anyone but their members from giving diet and nutrition advice.  It is one such law in North Carolina which required that Steve Cooksey take down all his blog posts about his dieting experiences (since he is not licensed by the state, it is illegal for him to speak on the topic).

The funniest part for me in the ADA materials is that they constantly seem to be put out that their efforts to  ban competition from anyone outside of their organization are described by critics as creating a monopoly.  Who, us? Monopoly?  We are just trying to help customers.  Missing in all this, of course, is any evidence of a grass roots effort by nutrition customers.  I will remind everyone of this great Milton Friedman quote:

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.


  1. IGotBupkis, Serial AGW Denier and Bon Vivant:

    >>>> It is one such law in North Carolina which required that Steve Cooksey take down all his blog posts about his dieting experiences (since he is not licensed by the state, it is illegal for him to speak on the topic)

    And how is this NOT a blatant free-speech violation? Giving "dietary advice" in a professional capacity is hardly the same as expressing one's own experiences with the topic. This seems likely to be a clear target for any number of civil rights attorneys.

  2. John Moore:


    Something I find odd is the vast number of health scams I see advertised on cable TV. The FDA puts drug manufacturers through a grueling process in order to bring their products to market, and controls the content of their ads. But if XYZ scam company wants to sell pills to magically let you lose weight or restore virility, they don't seem to be stopped at all.

    It seems like we need one regime or the other, but this is absurd.

    I would prefer that the FDA be an advisory agency only - no police powers, but only a budget to spend researching drugs and publishing their results in ways the public can understand.

  3. Bob Smith:

    One of the problems with the FDA is that their compliance costs are not proportional to the market for a drug. It costs a billion dollars whether you have 50 million customers or 50 thousand.

    Second, the FDA demands extreme safety regardless of the disease under consideration. Do you think a pancreatic cancer patient, who has a 95% chance of dying, really cares if a drug has a 1%, or even a 10%, kill rate, so long as it got rid of the cancer if it didn't kill you? For the FDA, saving you from drug risks is more important than saving you from disease. A drug that kills 5 for every 50 it saved from otherwise lethal disease would not be approved.

  4. me:

    Yuck. I am beginning to think that it's worth moving to a relatively freshly reformed country (think post-war/post-collapse) just to avoid the cruft that older nations accumulate. Licensed dog grooming, five year mandatory courses to be allowed to give dietary advice...

    The other interesting observation is that for all the great advice those folks give, there is not that much in terms of results (ie effective weight-loss is still hard to achieve).

  5. me:

    Speaking of restrictions:

    Good thing we're protected from those horribly dangerous grenade-like objects... then again, maybe those foreign children are simply much less coddled?

  6. JB Kame:

    Off topic but I thought you might be interested in this scandal in the California Parks system:

  7. MingoV:

    The ADA lobbies governments to give them the sole privilege to provide diet information. Such restrictions are bad because they violate free speech rights. Even worse is that much of the diet information from the "professionals" is harmful.

    Example 1: Telling everyone that they should be eating a low fat, high carbohydrate, moderate protein diet is the primary cause of the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes mellitus in the USA. People with insulin resistance (~25% of Americans) gain weight and become diabetic on high carb diets.

    Example 2: Telling everyone that they should be on a low salt diet harms the following groups: athletes or manual laborers who sweat heavily, people taking lithium for mood disorders, and the small group of people with calcium-sensitive high blood pressure. (The only people who need a low salt diet are those with sodium-sensitive high blood pressure.)

    Example 3: Telling everyone they should reduce cholesterol intake provides no benefit for the many people whose cholesterol levels are unrelated to dietary intake and is harmful to some elderly patients whose cholesterol levels fall so low that they cannot properly maintain their cell membranes (especially in nerve cells).

    Example 4: Promoting the consumption of fruits is harmful to those with insulin resistance because almost all fruit calories come from sugars.

  8. Smock Puppet, Like... Duh?:

    >>>> just to avoid the cruft that older nations accumulate.

    I've often thought that there should be a Constitutional provision that placed pretty much EVERY law -- state, federal, and local -- on the chopping block after 20 years. The same language cannot be re-submitted for passage, either, the entire law must be re-approved using the same techniques that every new law must follow.

    This would be true of ALL laws, including even murder, rape, and so forth.

    Along with the absolute requirements for GAAP in governmental accounting, come the Revolution, I'd say these represent two of the most important, needful additions to The Constitution Mark II.

    Not only are they almost certainly a good idea, they're sure to be much less controversial than the decadal Decimation of the Lawyers Lottery that I'd propose.

  9. me:

    @Smock Puppet: Right on! My version has long been a total upper limit for the number and length of actual laws. Want to pass a new one? Sure, pick one to replace it with :)

  10. mochasumo:

    Thought-provoking post , Apropos , you are interested in a SSA-3381 , my family filled out a blank version here