The price of safety is often freedom

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Posted 10/25/16 (Tue)

John-a-Dreams
By John M. Andrist

I visited last week with a retired mechanical engineer who spent most of his life in a Minneapolis business he created.
He must have been pretty good. He had the contract for a lot of work in North Dakota, including the former Farmers State Bank building in Crosby and many much larger projects.
What was unusual was that he was self-trained. He went to college only briefly.
He reminded me of Crosby’s Jerome Knudson, who planned and built one of the world’s most remarkable tractors, mostly through his inborn gifts.
There are a surprising number of craftsmen like this. You could never find better mechanics than the brothers Ray and John Benter in my hometown. Nobody tested them. Nobody had to. Everyone knew how good they were.
Some musicians spend their lives in training, despite the fact there are a few “naturals.” Same in most artistic and scientific fields.
What intrigues me is that some of these geniuses have learning difficulties which made them inept in studying their craft in an academic environment.
It’s getting harder all the time for these unique people to grow, prosper, and perfect their gifts, because of our overly protective society and abusive licensing and regulatory restrictions.
My friend mentioned at the outset of this piece chose to retire early, because he grew weary of fighting the system, which challenged his authority. In most professional fields licensure is based strictly on education and educational theory demonstrated in examinations.
Some require not only the formal education, but long apprenticeships as well. 
This was the personal battle I fought for more than 20 years in my State Senate career, and earlier as a community activist trying to find folks to help us secure professional services. It was a battle in which I failed miserably, I might say.
Most legislators, because we ourselves have knowledge in only a few fields, seem willing to let the professions set their own rules, and alas, those rules are written not to protect people, but to protect the professionals themselves.
And we pay a significant price for this. The reason we can buy medical services through physician assistants and nurse practitioners is because our doctors embraced the idea. 
The reason you can’t have teeth filled and cleaned outside the tight supervision of a North Dakota dentist is because they have decided they don’t want the competition.
The reason it happens in other states is because dentists have yielded and supported legislative approval of the practice.
I never really understood that, because I felt you and I are smart enough to figure out which doctors, dentists, plumbers, and hair dressers do satisfactory work.
We still don’t regulate carpenters, journalists, home repair persons, or most servicing retail stores, but the list keeps getting smaller.
There are more than 50 licensing agencies in the state, almost all of them essentially run by professionals licensing in their own field. 
No matter how good you are, rules don’t permit you to work in most professions without the academic educational and testing by “the system.”
I think it was in the 2013 session when Workforce Safety proposed a bill to permit them to monitor the growing use of opiods by doctors specializing in pain management practices for injured workers receiving benefits.
It looked to the committee who heard and studied the bill that it made good sense, but the medical board went ballistic and got physicians of every persuasion to call their legislators and ask for a no vote.
And they did, and we did. So the opiate abuse only grew as a result.    
There is a difference between inspecting kitchens and foods, and deciding who can run the restaurant.
Some political leaders pay lip service to overregulation, but they still practice it for the most part.
In the name of keeping you safe, they unknowingly make your life more complex and more expensive.
It is the way of a society focused on security and protection, more than freedom and opportunity.