Don't Touch The Red Button: Why Reform Is Almost Impossible

If you think reforming or shrinking government is going to be easy, check out this story about Florida's efforts to deregulate its interior designer (don't call them decorators!) cartel, er, industry. Right now, you need to spend more time in school than attorneys in order to claim the exalted status of "licensed interior designer." Florida would simply let people hang out their shingles and let the market figure things out. The incumbent designers are naturally upset about the impending end of their sinecures and are predicting doom. Some of this is classic:

(Designers have) stormed legislative hearings to warn of the mayhem that would ensue if the measure passes.

Among the scenarios they've conjured: flammable carpets sparking infernos; porous countertops spreading bacteria; jail furnishings being turned into weapons.

The thought of "someone in my position that thinks they know what they're doing because they watched HGTV for two weeks scares me," licensed interior designer Terra Sherlock said at a hearing in March.

Another licensed designer, Michelle Earley, argued that use of the wrong fabrics in hospitals could spread infection. By deregulating, she told lawmakers, "what you're basically doing is contributing to 88,000 deaths every year," citing a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on deaths from hospital-acquired infections.

Though the CDC study doesn't mention interior design as a cause of infections, Ms. Earley says that bacteria can spread if moisture-resistant fabrics aren't used on things like chairs and mattresses. That, in turn, can lead to urinary tract infections, staph and other life-threatening conditions, she says.

Interior design "sounds like this simple hanging curtains on a wall," said Ms. Earley in an interview. But "it only takes a couple things to go wrong for people to lose their lives."

No matter what the issue, it's always the same. Republicans want to kill people. As part of our Final Solution for America, it is very important that we deregulate Florida interior designers so that 88,000 may die. Ah Ha Ha!

This is, of course, absurd, but also par for the course any time a conservative politician dares to hint that not every law and regulation on the books is absolutely necessary and maybe we could have more economic growth and opportunity with some reforms or, gasp, deregulation. We heard all last week the usual litany from Democrats describing in lurid tones the "America Republicans want to create," that being an America where Big Bird, babies and old people are hand maidens to the "rich."

It's so laughably predictable because we've been through this before. Back in the welfare reform days in the Clinton administration, liberals argued in all seriousness that a million children would starve if welfare recipients were required to get jobs after five years on the dole. Reality begged to differ, as welfare reform ended a profoundly dysfunctional system that blighted literally millions of lives. But, it (unnecessarily) took years and I have yet to hear of any of those doom mongers announcing that they were wrong.

It's apparently going to be hard enough to deregulate the interior designer cartel in a single state. Good luck trying to do something real, like close the EPA.

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