For Interior Design Protectionism, the Writing Is on the Wall
Recently, the Institute for Justice released a response to criticisms aimed at their ongoing case against the regulation of interior designers. IJ’s original study, Designing Cartels, exposed arguments in favor of certification and licensure as baseless stabs at protectionism by current practitioners. Many objections leveled against the pro-regulation segment of the industry across the nation are identical to those relevant in St. Joseph’s consideration of contractor licensing.
The fact of the matter is, almost any attempt at regulation is orchestrated by industry insiders to address perceived threats to consumer satisfaction or public health. That alone wouldn’t be so troubling if the dangers they warned of were usually substantive. Personally, I see no need to use legislative tools like those that endorse the competency of doctors and nurses as prerequisites to practicing interior design.
In Missouri, interior design certification is handled by the Interior Design Council. Although individuals are still free to make decorating suggestions without the accreditation of a registered interior designer, the regulatory distinctions currently in place deny them the ability to advertise themselves competitively. The differences are akin to the distinction between a bookkeeper and a CPA. In the one case we sacrifice the virtues of a competitive free market to ensure that our bills are handled according to a standard. In the other, we endure higher prices and fewer alternatives in exchange for decorators who have spent superfluous amounts of time fulfilling coursework that is only questionably necessary to their trade.