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Competitors With State Power Try To Block Innovative Health Business
May 29, 2012
After Steve Cooksey was diagnosed with diabetes, he adopted a paleo diet and a caveman-inspired exercise regimen. He shed 78 pounds, stabilized his blood sugar, and was able to get off drugs and insulin. But after he started a business and a blog to help others follow the same path, his state government accused him of practicing dietetics/nutrition without a license -- a crime under North Carolina law.
The Institute for Justice is now representing him in a First Amendment lawsuit against the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition.
It's worth noting who, by North Carolina statute, sits on the board. I quote:
- One member shall be a professional whose primary practice is clinical dietetics/nutrition;
- One member shall be a professional whose primary practice is community or public health dietetics/nutrition;
- One member shall be a professional whose primary practice is consulting in dietetics/nutrition;
- One member shall be a professional whose primary practice is in management of nutritional services;
- One member shall be an educator on the faculty of a college or university specializing in the field of dietetics/nutrition;
- Two members shall represent the public at large.
Thus a majority of the members of the board practice the very profession from which the law gives them the power to exclude others; one provides the training required to join that profession. By violating the right of individuals to work in the profession of their choice, they drive up the prices would-be clients must pay for their services: a sort of indirect robbery wherein coercion is applied to some people in order to extract money from others. And in this case, they are not only restricting the quantity of nutritional advice on the market, but suppressing the supply of unorthodox ideas in the field. If those ideas are right, they could radically improve the services offered to diabetics -- at the price of some embarrassment to existing providers. (If you think the purpose of boards like this is to protect the public, ask yourself why, based on the average in states that license these professions, it takes more days of education and experience to qualify for a license as an interior designer than as an optician, a midwife, a security alarm installer, or a court clerk -- or all four.)
IJ has posted a video explaining the case: