St. Joseph Abbey

For years the 38 Benedictine monks at St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana paid for their healthcare by selling timber. Then Hurricane Katrina wiped out their timber stand, so, to pay for their healthcare, the monks started building caskets – cheap, inexpensive, wooden caskets.

The monks’ new enterprise got the attention of a local undertaker who filed a complaint against them with the Louisiana Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. The monks, he said, didn’t have a state license. And the Board ordered the monks to stop.

Here in North Carolina, we have 55 of the same type of state licensing boards. Many of those boards are necessary – like the medical board that licenses doctors. But it’s also true many of our licensing boards exist for less public spirited reasons.

According to the Goldwater Institute, a John Locke-type think tank in Arizona, state licensing boards can stifle competition, drive up costs to consumers, and create a “drag on the economy” each year.

A simple first step toward reform – here in North Carolina – would be for the General Assembly to conduct a study to classify licensing boards into one of two categories: Essential (like doctors) or Nonessential.

Then the General Assembly could go to work to figure out which of theNonessential Boards create a drag on our state’s economy and should be reformed or disbanded.

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