No Design Legislation

Opposing interior design legislation everywhere

New Video – Free to Design: Florida Entrepreneurs Take On the Interior Design Cartel

New video about the lawsuit challenging Florida’s anticompetitive interior design law.

The Institute for Justice’s Clark Neily explains the growth of red tape and licensing laws which have led to an explosion of governmental controls on occupations that were never regulated before. Legislation has always been abused as a weapon to suppress competition, starting with attempting to prevent African Americans from getting a leg up, to now restricting many other people from working in the fields of their choice. It’s an ugly history that has been continued now as a tool of special interest groups who want to exclude others.

In fact, as David Harrington of Kenyon College explains, this sort of legislation is also most likely to exclude minorities and midcareer job changers. See “Designed to Exclude” for more information on this.

Can you say “discrimination”? And “antithesis of the American Dream”? Sure, I knew you could.

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September 3, 2009 Posted by | Florida, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Designed to Exclude Minorities and Career-Changers & Increase Consumer Costs

A new study by economics professors David E. Harrington and Jaret Treber of Kenyon College entitled “Designed to Exclude: How Interior Design Insiders Use Government Power to Exclude Minorities & Burden Consumers” reveals some shocking information.

Not only is interior design legislation anticompetitive in general, but it specifically disproportionately excludes blacks, Hispanics, and midlife career-changers.

Yes, these laws are inherently discriminatory against minorities and older people.

Since minorities are 30% less likely to have college degrees than whites, they are also that much more likely to be shut out of the field.  Likewise, older designers are 12% less likely to have degrees in regulated states, so they too are more likely to be prevented from starting an interior design career later in life.

Such legislation has also been shown to result in significantly higher prices for consumers, as the lower-priced competition is simply legislated out of existence.  Design firms in regulated states have been shown to earn as much as $7,200,000 more in cities of 1,000,000 that in similarly sized cities in states that do not regulate the practice of interior design.

Which is pretty much what we’ve said all along – that the goal of such legislation is to shut out the competition, and will result in increased prices for consumers – and not-so-coincidentally, considerably higher salaries for the few who can meet the requirements – or who are allowed to.

Which is certainly nice work if you can get it, and I’ve got nothing against people earning more money if they are capable of doing so honestly, but shutting out competition by legislating it out of existence, particularly when that legislation clearly discriminates disproportionately against minorities and mid-life career changers, and that there is no valid and documentable other reason is just plain abuse of the legislative system.

Good old supply and demand economics dictates that if you decrease the supply of providers, and the demand for services remains the same, then the prices are just going to go up – which is bad news for most consumers, particularly in this recessionary economy.

Because of the effects of grandfathering, the apparent effects on wages are also likely diluted and thereby understated.  Having a degree also correlates positively with higher wages, at the expense of experience.  This means that even designers with little or no experience but who do have a degree in design could command higher fees than those who actually have the practical experience required to really excel in this field!  In unregulated states, experience counts for more than it does in regulated states, and formal schooling for less.

The costs to entrepreneurs is likewise dramatically higher in regulated states than in those that do not control the practice of interior design.

Furthermore, this study also documents the problematic effects (and attendant costs) of the loss of variety of points of view and styles, and limitations on consumer choice that regulation brings.  Given the diversity of the population as a whole, especially across racial and ethnic lines, and the accompanying range of preferences, it’s important to ensure that designers who cater to unusual and different tastes will be around to serve these groups.

Regulation, as it turns out, also encourages designers to cater more to the tastes of the masses than to different niches, which can only result in a loss of variety and richness in options and spaces.  In a field that is supposed to be all about creativity and options, it would be a tragedy to so restrict the range of options that are available to consumers who are not interested in the status quo.  Uniformity is not an asset in a creative field.

Sadly, this sort of limitation could easily expand if the schools become set up as the sole arbiters of taste and style, which a system of mandatory regulation only encourages.

I saw it myself in my own design school training – we were not only not encouraged to develop our own individual styles, but we were actually penalized if what we produced differed too much from what the instructors’ and the institutions’ tastes and styles were.  The result can be an absolute crushing of a student’s own inherent taste and style, and stifling of creativity, failure to teach how to build on what’s working or to develop any different ideas, etc.  I had to fight hard to break away from that stifling little box and to put it in its place as just another tool I can now draw on now, instead of letting it turn into the sole dictator of what is right and correct, or appealing.  I learned a lot of value in design school – but encouragement and development of my own creativity and ideas was certainly not part of their agenda, and not part of the skill set it helped me develop.  The net result is that design (and architecture) schools tend to crank out students whose work all bears a striking similarity to the work of all other students.  The schools each have their own “look”, and heaven help the student who wants to do anything else.

Please read this excellent study, which draws its conclusions from reputable and readily available data sources, specifically the National Census, obituaries, and others, and from rigorous statistical analysis of the data.


September 1, 2009 Posted by | Institute for Justice, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments