George Will devotes this column to highlighting the case of Steve Cooksey, a North Carolina man in trouble with the State government for the “crime” of dispensing dietary advice without a license. A sample of Will’s commentary:
Four years ago, Cooksey [who lives in Stanley, northwest of Charlotte] was a walking – actually, barely walking – collection of health risks. He was obese, lethargic, asthmatic, chronically ill and pre-diabetic. The diet advice he was getting from medical and other sources was, he decided, radically wrong. Rather than eat a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, he adopted what he and other enthusiasts call a Paleolithic diet, eating as primitive humans did – e.g., beef, pork, chicken, leafy green vegetables. Cooksey lost 75 pounds and the need for drugs and insulin. And, being a modern Paleo, he became a blogger, communicating his dietary opinions.When a busybody notified North Carolina’s Board of Dietetics/Nutrition that Cooksey was opining about which foods were and were not beneficial, the board launched a three-month investigation of his Internet writings and his dialogues with people who read and responded to them. The board sent him copies of his writings, with red pen markings of such disapproved postings as: “I do suggest that your friend eat as I do and exercise the best they can.”
Fortunately, the Washington D.C.-based Institute for Justice has taken up Cooksey’s case. Professional licensing laws are sold as a means to help “protect consumers” from unqualified service providers. But Will accurately identifies the true nature of such laws:
Laws like the one silencing Cooksey are primarily rent seeking. They are written to enhance the prestige and prosperity of a profession by restricting competition that would result from easy entry into it, or from provision of alternatives to its services.
North Carolina has a particularly long and ridiculous list of occupational licensing requirements, as Civitas documented recently in this series.