Regulatory Monopolies and the Arts
The WSJ reports (subscription req’d) on a group that has stormed state legislative sessions to warn of mayhem that a pending bill would cause — but it’s not in Wisconsin and does not involve collective bargaining. It is in Florida, and the bill would de-regulate interior designers, thereby exposing Floridians to a pandemic of bad taste. It’s not just the risk of a pink flamingo lampshade in every living room, say designers. For example, the measure would “contribut[e] to 88,000 deaths” from the use of non-bacteria hospital fabrics,” and lead to “prison furniture being turned into weapons and flammable carpets sparking infernos.”
Until 2009, Florida residential interior designers could not describe themselves as “designers,” but only as “decorators” (that had to hurt!). A federal trial court, affirmed on appeal, found that restriction to be unconstitutional as to residential designers, but not as to commercial designers. There has also been interior designer regulation litigation in Connecticut, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The Florida bill is being actively opposed by big hitters including the mighty American Society of Interior Designers and powerful National Kitchen and Bath Association. Have no fear — the Interior Protection Design Council is hard at work fighting this “full-scale assault on design freedom.” If designing the ideal cubicle is not protected regulatory burdens, then is any form of expression truly free? What other forms of artistic expression trigger or should trigger license requirements? Street musicians? Yoga instructors? And how are standards established?