The Tragedy of a Bad Feng Shui

Interior Design Licensure About Reducing Competition, Raising Prices

A bipartisan package of bills in the Michigan Senate is poised to protect consumers from the tragedy of bad interior design. The legislation may or may not succeed in that, but it certainly will protect interior designers from the tragedy of more competition generating lower prices for consumers.

Specifically, Senate Bills 974 to 976, sponsored by Sen. Patti Birkholz, R-Holland, and Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, would "impose licensure and regulation on interior designers, with annual license fees, at least six years of education and/or professional experience prerequisites, testing requirements to standards established by a board of incumbent designers, and more," according to MichiganVotes.org.

If the bills pass — and I wouldn't bet against them — their supporters might want to postpone the celebrations until after a potential lawsuit, because the public interest law firm Institute for Justice has been racking up successes in overturning these anti-competitive laws. IJ describes the campaign for this legislation as "no isolated instance of rent-seeking — where existing businesses use government power to keep out newcomers — but ... instead part of an aggressive nationwide lobbying campaign by industry insiders whose avowed goal was to legislate potential competitors out of business."