Bend Over and Open Wide, Mr. Eskimo
Posted by PintofStout on February 2, 2006
On NPR today they had a story that shined a light on the medical/dental/[insert licensed profession here] monopoly. Like any monopoly, in the common connotation of the term, these licensing monopolies use the force of government to establish, enforce and extend those monopolies. In Alaska the American Dental Association is trying to keep dental therapists, people who have training from outside the country, far cheaper than an undergraduate degree and then full blown dental school, from cleaning teeth, giving fillings, and extracting teeth. The ADA would like to put a stop to this because they are breaking the monopoly. Who are they asking to be the muscle behind this monopoly? Yes, the government. And since the State government already approves of the dental therapists, the ADA is appealing to Congress.
Everywhere we hear of shortages of doctors, nurses, and dentists. The demand for such services is rising continually. Without going into the reasons why the demand is rising (also a problem with the “system”), the supply of these services is limited and controlled – driving the price up. The same phenomenon is the result of all licensing requirements. No matter what degree of care you need, you’re paying for your medical professionals English Composition course, their Physical Education course, and especially the advanced medical classes that your small problem won’t touch. Now, I’m not arguing against advanced medical training; rather, I’m arguing against paying for that every time I go to see a doctor. Everywhere in our society the division of labor works on the many levels of complexity, but the medical profession – and all licensed professions (not to mention a minimum wage) – stop at a higher level and take out all the bottom rungs. A monopoly forcibly excludes competition and makes the consumer vulnerable to exploitation. The force behind the monopoly is government.
So who is the making the money in this monopoly? The licensed professionals make more money; did people aspire to be doctors before licensing? Many people aspire to the medical professions because they are affluent and wealthy people; that wasn’t the case 100 years ago. But most licensed professionals also pay high costs to even break into the fields. Who do they pay? Colleges, licensing boards, and test prep companies all get paid substantially more in a monopoly system than without.
The ADA is appealing to fears of horrible care and dangers of not having “their” trained professionals do the work to make Congress, who reacts to fears more than any one person in the country, pass the legislation restricting the market in the ADA’s favor and thus wield the club for the monopoly. There is always a chance of dangerous situations and bad results, licensed or not. If our venerable crooks in Congress worried about their real jobs and stopped trying to wipe all our noses like some overbearing mothers, we could be free to choose our own care and the cost associated with it.