Because conservatism is the ideological inclination much more inclined towards purges of the unfaithful message discipline, reformist conservatives, when given the opportunity, flog orthodox messages with a little extra zeal; thus, this broadside which is purportedly against me but is really a way to shore up a rightward flank. Not that I think Conor doesn’t believe what he wrote, I’m sure he does. But there’s a little extra spice in there. I hardly can blame him. I’m happy to take a little fire.
Almost all of what Conor is addressing is a straw man, of course, as I never proposed close to what he’s suggesting I did, and most of it doesn’t follow logically at all. The idea that, perhaps, we should have regulatory standards if you want to call yourself a licensed personal trainer doesn’t even come close to suggesting that everyone needs a personal trainer to work out, that everyone who wants to be paid to show other people how to work out would need to be licensed, or that Congress would sit around writing regulations themselves. (Does Conor think the House is actually performing drug trials in their spare time, because they theoretically empower the FDA?) The failure is in the fact that people want to go to personal trainers who have some sort of license, and personal trainers want to be licensed to do better business, and yet the lack of clear standards on even a state-wide basis makes this impossible for both and invites abuse from unscrupulous people. Incidentally, you might want to ask Conor how far he takes this “hey, bad stuff happens” attitude. Houses fall down, regulations or no, so perhaps we shouldn’t have building codes. People die from drug interactions no matter how much testing we do, so we should abandon testing them. People die in burning buildings, no matter what, so we shouldn’t have fire codes….
Look, conservatives love to rail against bad regulations because it’s easy; find one or two examples of poorly conceived or implemented regulations, and the posts write themselves. It’s a much different thing when you’re actually governing, and people are being injured and killed because of a lack of enforceable standards. But then there again we see the context in which these debates operate. As liberalism is the default ruling ideology of the United States, conservatives don’t actually have to govern, merely critique. And my liberal peers are more than happy to go about the business of actually making society work.
Update: This is how I put it in the comments of the original post:
I don’t think you should have to have a license to show someone how to work out; that’s unenforceable, even if we wanted to do that. Consumers want there to be such a thing as a licensed personal trainer so that they have a little peace of mind that the person they hired knows what he or she is doing. Trainers want to be able to be licensed so that they can use that as a selling point. What exists now is a chaos of different certifications and licenses which don’t mean anything to most people, and which aren’t even enforced with the same standards within the same certifications. Many personal trainers claim to be certified when what they have amounts to a piece of paper they made in Microsoft Paint.
What I’d like is that, if you want to have your cousin train you on the side, and you’re comfortable with that, go for it; we couldn’t possible enforce it if we wanted to stop that sort of thing. But if people want to use a licensed trainer, knowing it’s more expensive, and if trainers want to get licensed in order to give people more assurance about their capabilities, and thus charge more, we should have some sort of consistent standards. And as the industry is most certainly not providing such standards now, I think it’s sensible to ask government to create such licensing standards.