Fortunately, this sort of nonsense has been mostly squelched here in Bama (for now), but, no doubt Blaine Galliher or some other busybody will try to get another licensing regime passed into law that will pass constitutional muster. Here’s the ever-excellent Reason.tv on the horrors of unlicensed interior designers:
The idea that consumers can’t be sure of anything unless some part of the gubmint has given it a green light is patently absurd, but certainly seems to keep cropping up everywhere. I understand why groups like ASID and their bureaucrat enablers would want such regulation, but it amazes me how entrenched this thinking is in folks that I come into contact with. As if not having regulations for buttons, pencils, cars, interior design services, chefs, doctors, et cetera means that people intent on killing everyone will become button makers or chefs and design button bombs or serve poison meals.
Most folks want the same thing: to live a peaceful life and practice their trade freely. They’re not trying to kill you or hurt you because they understand what repeat business means and are willing to check whatever homicidal tendencies (and even bad attitudes!) to make sure that your business experience with them is a pleasant one. The type of folks who spend 30 years crafting their revenge schemes aren’t found in kitchens or repair shops; they’re in comic books and on the silver screen.
I understand why groups like ASID seek state licensing rather than just creating their own safety/professionalism/best practice guidelines a la Underwriters Laboratories. They want to force everyone to follow what in their minds constitutes proper practice of a particular trade because their chosen profession is so important that it cannot be left up to individual interpretation or a difference in opinion. There is only one right way to do this or that and we will not brook any dissent. Part of this stems from the fact that “professionals” believe themselves to be better than those who have chosen a mere “job.” That is, because they have invested time in schooling or in obtaining a particular license, they serve protection from competition by those yahoos who “just think things up” or have not had to go through as much work or have chosen a different path to get where they are. “I have a piece of paper, so I deserve compensation” is the attitude I run across fairly often.
The above brings to mind this excellent passage from Bastiat’s The Law, where he compares bureaucrats to witch doctors [selectively edited by me:]:
This must be said: There are too many “great” men in the world — legislators, organizers, do-gooders, leaders of the people, fathers of nations, and so on, and so on. Too many persons place themselves above mankind; they make a career of organizing it, patronizing it, and ruling it.
Now someone will say: “You yourself are doing this very thing.” True. But it must be admitted that I act in an entirely different sense; if I have joined the ranks of the reformers, it is solely for the purpose of persuading them to leave people alone. I do not look upon people as Vancauson looked upon his automaton. Rather, just as the physiologist accepts the human body as it is, so do I accept people as they are. I desire only to study and admire.
My attitude toward all other persons is well illustrated by this story from a celebrated traveler: He arrived one day in the midst of a tribe of savages, where a child had just been born. A crowd of soothsayers, magicians, and quacks — armed with rings, hooks, and cords [and parchments inscribed with various stamps and seals] — surrounded it. One said: “This child will never smell the perfume of a peace-pipe unless I stretch his nostrils.” Another said: “He will never be able to hear unless I draw his ear-lobes down to his shoulders.” A third said: “He will never see the sunshine unless I slant his eyes.” Another said: “He will never stand upright unless I bend his legs.” A fifth said: “He will never learn to think unless I flatten his skull.” [A sixth said: "How will he ever learn to coordinate throw pillows and rugs unless I teach him for three years and then he pass our village's interior design certification exam."]
“Stop,” cried the traveler. “What God does is well done. Do not claim to know more than He. God has given organs to this frail creature; let them develop and grow strong by exercise, use, experience, and liberty.”