Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Princess Bride" and Obama's press conference on oil spill cleanup

The following parallel came to mind today while listening to the President's press conference on the Gulf oil spill.

Princess Bride excerpt

Prince Humperdinck: Every ship in my armada waits to accompany us on our honeymoon.
Buttercup: Every ship but your four fastest, you mean. Every ship but the four you sent.
Humperdinck: Yes. Yes, of course. Naturally not those four.
Buttercup:  You never sent the ships. Don't bother lying. Doesn't matter.

Thu, 27 May 2010 Obama press conference excerpt

President Obama: We will hold BP accountable for every last penny of damages.
Injured parties: Every penny except for the billions of dollars that exceed the $75 million cap on liability the U.S. government grants to oil companies, you mean. Every penny but the ones you excluded.
Obama: Yes. Yes, of course. Naturally not the billions of dollars we excluded by the federal cap on liability.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dr. Brester and the value of professional licensing

Following is a letter to the editor I just submitted.

For additional background, the following Google search links to a handful of current news articles on this story.

brester "bean blossom" OR "brown co OR county" incompetence - Google Search

From:  Bill Starr
To: Bob Gustin;
Sent: Sun, May 23, 2010 8:40:04 PM
Subject: Letter to the editor: Brester and professional licensing

From a pro-liberty perspective, most of the recent articles I have read about the beleaguered Brown County veterinarian, Dr. Brester, have served to reinforce questions I have about the role of professional licensing in today's society.

Specifically, why have we as a society vested so much weight on professional licensing?

In the practice of veterinary medicine, as with just about any other business venture, the power of word-of-mouth referrals and complaints is about as powerful a form of business regulation as one could imagine or hope for.

The businesses that provide a useful and desirable product or service at a reasonable price quickly enjoy new and repeat business, as long as they continue to please their customers. Conversely, those which are perceived to provide an inferior or overpriced service are apt to receive less new and repeat business. This voluntary, free-market form of regulation is a great alternative to that which government proposes to furnish us at our expense.

As have many animal owners, our family has made use of Dr. Brester's services for our pet cats and dog on multiple occasions. Based on word-of-mouth referrals from friends, and then on our own experience, we have voluntarily exchanged payment for services that we have found to be worth our money.

It seems odd that, as a society, we would place more weight on the opinion of a handful of people working on behalf of the government than we would on the cumulative opinion of all of the past and present satisfied customers who have been very pleased with the value they have received in exchange for the money they voluntarily exchanged for Dr. Brester's service.

A simple Google search reveals a number of convincing articles that show that state regulation, licensing, and certification is often as much about protecting established businesses from competition as about genuine concern for the welfare of customers of would-be new, competing businesses.

As just one example, the following article points out, "while the promise of occupational regulation is great, research shows that it is rarely fulfilled... These regulations typically raise the price of services without significantly raising service quality... One of the most well-known effects of occupational licensing and regulation is reduced competition."

Does Occupational Licensing Protect Consumers? | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

The closing line from this article expresses my convictions on the matter quite well.

"The best way to protect consumer health and safety would be to let them choose their own services in a free market."

It's time to ask our state legislators to consider rolling back overzealous occupational licensing.

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Sun, 23 May 2010, 8:40 pm EDT

You have my permission and encouragement to publish this as a letter to the editor.