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    So many drinks, such pretty flowers

    To show how depressingly little exaggeration there is in my little punch-related joke post the other day, there’s this piece at Reason.com by John Stossel about how licensing laws help established businesspeople stymie competition from new entrants:

    In Louisiana, you can’t sell flower arrangements unless you have permission from the government. How do you get permission? You must pass a test that is graded by a board of florists who already have licenses. To prepare for the test, you might have to spend $2,000 on a special course.

    The test requires knowledge of techniques that florists rarely use anymore. One question asks the name of the state’s agriculture commissioner—as though you can’t be a good florist without knowing that piece of vital information.

    The licensing board defends its test, claiming it protects consumers from florists who might sell them unhealthy flowers. I understand the established florists’ wish to protect their profession’s reputation, but in practice such licensing laws mainly serve to limit competition. Making it harder for newcomers to open florist shops lets established florists hog the business.

    Others states have their own sets of ridiculous licensing rules. In Virginia, you need a license to be a yoga instructor. Florida threatened an interior designer with a $25,000 fine if she didn’t do a six-year apprenticeship and pass a test, at a cost of several thousand dollars. Fortunately, the Institute for Justice got that law overturned.

    Actually, the Virginia bit I can kind of see, given that yoga involves bending yourself around into potentially injurious positions. The rest? Give me a break. Among my people, where bad interior design and flower arrangements are considered worse than murder, we use the “Honey, you should see what that bitch did to Dave and Jeff’s front hall!” method—otherwise known, as Stossel points out, as “word of mouth.” It works, and it’s free.

    16 Responses to “So many drinks, such pretty flowers”

    1. Sarah says:

      Next they’ll want to license writers. No, I’m serious. I can completely see this. A great part of traditional publishers’ annoyance at ebooks is that they can no longer “educate the public taste” (several senior editors have told me this is their job.) I’m waiting till the big conglomerates get the idea of lobbying DC to–

      Uh oh. I’ll shut up now.

    2. Julie says:

      I’m so glad to hear that the residents of Louisiana are protected from the terrifying threat of buying unhealthy flowers or, worse, unattractive bouquets. I feel that removing this licensing process would expose the good people of Lousiana to constant anxiety about the health and welfare and aesthetic unity of their flowers. Don’t you care about their feelings?

      I get the impression that Sarah similarly does not have sympathy for the editors’ sense of superiority. Comments like hers could cause serious damage to what are undoutedly very overinflated egos. They may rupture altogether.

      When you open a business doing something you’re not really good at, and word gets around not to ever buy flowers from that crappy florist who does not know the name of the secretary of agriculture, isn’t that called “the market” or something like that? It seems to me I’ve heard that term used…? Or perhaps it was something like “freedom”…?

    3. Sean says:

      Sarah:
      “A great part of traditional publishers’ annoyance at ebooks is that they can no longer ‘educate the public taste’ (several senior editors have told me this is their job.)”

      …which they do by, like, lionizing Joyce Carol [expletive deleted] Oates (just to pick a long-time un-fave of mine out of the air) and stuff? Yeah. Of course. I wish mass taste favored different authors, too, but my passing social acquaintance with publishers gives me no confidence that they’d do better than the market.

      Speaking of the market….

      Julie:
      “When you open a business doing something you’re not really good at, and word gets around not to ever buy flowers from that crappy florist who does not know the name of the secretary of agriculture, isn’t that called ‘the market’ or something like that? It seems to me I’ve heard that term used…? Or perhaps it was something like ‘freedom’…?”

      I know what you are: one of them ANARCHISTS. Today, you think it’s okay to be a florist without knowing who the state secretary of agriculture is. Tomorrow, what’s it going to be—support for the unlicensed dreadlock-braiders Virginia Postrel profiled in The Future and Its Enemies? Championing the defunding of AmTrak? I mean, really, there’s a slippery slope here, and at the bottom is fewer jobs for bureaucrats. You don’t want to start slidin’ in that direction, do you?

    4. Julie says:

      Yes, I do. Desperately. But don’t tell anyone!

    5. Sean says:

      Mum’s the word.

    6. Julie says:

      I really want to make a bad chrysanthemum pun, but I shall refrain.

      The bureaucracy in Japan did not bother me very much, although probably because I didn’t have to deal with it all that much. I’m not so foolish (probably) as to think that we’re ever going to live in some magical world where there are no bureaucrats at all. The unthinking and self-replicating nature of bureaucracy, though, is concerning. How are people not concerned about it?

      Noam Chomsky once wrote a kind of Pascal’s wager for freedom: believing that people want to be free costs you nothing and allows you to act in such a way as to promote human freedom, but not believing encourages you to act in a way that ultimately promotes tyranny. So, I try to believe. But I’m not really good at this faith thing.

    7. Sean says:

      We-ell, I do think that people want to be free, for the most part, and that they’re better off free in the long term, for the most part. What’s tricky, of course, is the Mancur Olson thing: the short-term gains from entitlement programs that benefit you (the general first-person-singular you, not Julie-you) are a concentrated shot of good that you’re likely to feel enough of an interest in to fight for, whereas the long-term drag on the economy of all the entitlements put together is spread, a little bit each, over everyone, so getting everyone to see why runaway entitlements suck is nearly hopeless. Licensing laws aren’t entitlements, of course, but I think that a lot of times they work similarly.

      I’m not sure that the bureaucracy itself in Japan bothered me so much; it was more the way everyone was brought up to think like a bureaucrat that was the problem.

    8. Julie says:

      I think people want to be free from. I don’t think they even know to want to be free for.

      There are a lot of things about the way Japanese people are brought up that bother me. My husband is Japanese, and I told him that while I would love for our kids to live there for a while to learn the language and all that, I can’t really stomach the idea of sending them to public school. Sure, they would learn a lot, but I fear it would suck the souls right out of them. That is possibly hyperbole.

    9. I told my kids we’d play after I found what I needed. Damnit.

    10. Independent Patriot and other Ashkenazim here, of course you're not in this group, because otherwise you wouldn't be on this wonderful blog. Bataween does a brilliant job of educating us, and as you know, I always link my sources to her on the JPost.The job that we have to do is share, facebook and twitter all her posts with all our friends and acquaintances. Join the Point of No Return facebook page and 'like' every article that's posted so your friends see them too. We have new tools now to educate the masses, so let's use them!

    11. Fantastic blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Thanks a lot!

    12. 17th June 2011 approximately 9.15 pm saw a flash of light with a tail as we were driving along Old Northern Rd at Albany Creek. It looked like it was headed for the ground (earth) in the north east of the sky.It lasted for a few seconds. It was heaps bigger and brighter than any star or planet visible to us not as big as moon or sun obviously.

    13. Julie I am trying to build my audience. However, my address book is in Outlook Express. I export it to csv as FB states, but when I upload it and click on “preview invitation” it just disappears. Any ideas?

    14. Wham bam thank you, ma’am, my questions are answered!

    15. >Well, you already know what I’ve been up to with my writing, but I’ve been lax about visiting my friends’ blogs so here I am! LOL.I do want to paint my kitchen this month and perhaps I can squeeze it in. My aunts (four of them who travel in a pack) are descending upon me around the 4th so I’m hoping they’ll have a bright sunny kitchen in which to cook up their magic! Fingers crossed for your contest entries!!

    16. PerdivaAti vàzut îi am cerut scuze domnului Murdoc… cum îi am spus n-am vàzut IH la început si textul atunci mi-a scapat scopul… multumesc de remarca… de punerea la punct…

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