Tuesday, January 14, 2014

ALEC Seeks to Eliminate Occupational Licensing for Any Profession

Photo of Tank, the Watch-Cat. Photo taken by Al Griffin

Conventional Wisdom:

A system of licensing agents, oversight boards, and regulators insures that the contractors, builders, and repairmen I hire have met minimum standards. I can trust in a certain level of knowledge, but I’m not naïve. I know that professionals and service providers are not equal. Some are incompetent. A few may even be scam artists, frauds, or con-men--predators hunting for dollars, especially after a natural disaster or in times of emotional stress. As a consequence, whole industries designed to protect me and my dollar have come to life. I can now consult online reviews and even subscribe to lists that purport to offer trustworthy reviews. These resources warn us about plumbers, painters, contractors, attorneys, corporations, local businesses, and physicians who cause harm.

I count all of this regulation and information among my blessings. I live in a nation that will protect me against abuses and incompetence. 


Another of ALEC’s (American Legislative Exchange Council) 2014 legislative goals would tear away some regulation. According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch (27 Dec 2013 online edition), ALEC plans measures “to eliminate occupational licensing for any profession, which help ensure that people who want to call themselves doctors, long-haul truckers, accountants, or barbers meet basic standards of training and expertise to guarantee that consumers are safe and get what they pay for. This extreme bill, called the ‘Private Certification Act’ swims against the current of what most people want, which are [sic] to be treated by professionals who meet standards for competence or safety that have been established by law through the democratic process.”

I must ask: why would anyone want to tear away the protections that we have put in place, protections that we have found beneficial to us all? Can anyone actually believe that human nature has suddenly changed, that men and women will, without incentive or consequence, undertake necessary training and apprenticeship to deliver a service as important as making medicine or performing surgery or installing electric lines. History simply suggests some will not. Ignorance, inexperience, and malicious intent persist, and we should not permit these from overtaking business, service, or professions.

I want teachers to have content knowledge. I want doctors to understand basic human biology and disease as well as effective treatments. I want plumbers to stop leaks, not create them. I need painters to use lead-free paint while avoiding drips and spills onto expensive flooring. I want cleaning crews and pest control workers to comprehend toxicity and pollution. I want clean food, free of chemicals. I want clean air and water. I want it all, and I don’t want ALEC to prevent me from having it