nota bene


Freddie deBoer used to blog at, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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49 Responses

  1. mike farmer says:

    Information is so prevalent now, I seriously doubt that with a little due diligence a consumer cannot find a trainer who is qualifed — like here —

    • Freddie in reply to mike farmer says:

      I’m sorry, Mike, but that’s not the case. I have a good deal of experience in this area. There are literally dozens of certifications that I’ve seen, and as I alluded, within those certifications there are often many different class and testing standards actually applied. To say that the NCCA is a universally or even predominantly recognized standard just wouldn’t be true. It’s been a problem widely acknowledged within the industry, but one which hasn’t gotten better despite years of attempts from interested parties. And why? Because it’s far easier and cheaper for gyms and trainers to claim that they are certified when there aren’t any kind of widely recognized standards. And I think if you look, you’ll find many news stories about exactly this phenomenon. You’ll also find stories from people who faced disastrous consequences because they received training from someone who was simply unqualified to offer it.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Is there *ANYTHING* the government doesn’t know how to do?Report

    • Freddie in reply to Jaybird says:

      Sure. Can government come up with some basic standards for a certain profession, or at least nominate a regulatory body full of people who know what they’re talking about. Yes, indeed, they can, and they do. The American Medical Association, for example, does fantastic work. And most municipal building codes actually do a fantastic job of keeping buildings from crushing innocent people. Imagine that. I’m sorry that this doesn’t conform to libertarian orthodoxy, but sometimes, government works, and sometimes, markets don’t produce optimal outcomes.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

        This is one of those wacky things.

        I wonder if you honestly think that, without municipal building codes, corrupt builders would start building houses that collapsed as soon as a toddler took a step inside.

        But, again, we’re not even talking about houses. We’re talking about working out… and how, of course, the government is best positioned to pick and choose people who will be best positioned to pick and choose people who can tell you how to work out.

        A better comparison, if you ask me, would be operating systems… and how, without government intervention, they might be allowed to bundle software like “internet explorer” that will create problems for competitors.

        For my part, I see the government happening to pick the licensers who have the best lobbyists.

        Do you, honestly, see a different outcome?

        I mean, Netscape had better lobbyists than Microsoft in the early 90’s… and, wouldn’t you know it, what happened to the bundling thing?

        And how many lobbyists does Microsoft have now?

        And do you honestly think that we are better off for giving the government power to grant cartelization power to any corporation with sufficient lobbyists?

        Note: This is not me saying “I think that people should hurt their backs because I hate people and hope that they all have bad backs from unlicensed personal trainers.”

        It’s me asking if you honestly think that better personal trainers will be the result of this thing you’re suggesting.Report

        • Freddie in reply to Jaybird says:

          I wonder if you honestly think that, without municipal building codes, corrupt builders would start building houses that collapsed as soon as a toddler took a step inside.

          Absolutely, that would happened, and has happened when people have committed fraud to circumvent the building codes we have now. Yes, it’s true! Sometimes greedy people do unscrupulous things! Sometimes the market doesn’t correct all criminally dangerous behavior! What a world, huh?

          This is why libertarianism, incidentally, is not a mature ideology. See if you can find me someone, anyone, who argues that all regulation is effective. See if you can find someone, anyone, that argues that all regulation is beneficial or necessary. See, even, if you can find someone who doesn’t take pains to say that there are many problems with regulation, many instances where regulation has failed, or has been captured, or isn’t to the benefit of society. I admit exactly that. I don’t know a liberal who doesn’t.

          Contrast that to the never-ending stream of conservatives and libertarians who react to all talk of regulation as a dog whistle, who think that government can never properly regulate something, or who have such an incredibly high bar to be supportive of regulatory efforts that the are in effect opposed to all regulation. It happens all the time. Or simply look at the relationship between your own incredulity to the idea of government working well compared to your credulity to the ideas of markets working well, when we have plenty of examples for this very issue where people have suffered permanent injury or even death because of a lack of adequate regulation.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

            “It happens all the time.”

            Arguing against someone who is not holding the position you are arguing against because there are plenty of people who do argue that sort of thing and you just want to get it out of your system is about as weak as focusing on a part of their post that is obviously not the main thrust of the argument they are making as if it is the only part worth answering.Report

            • Freddie in reply to Jaybird says:

              You did or did not just frame that previous comment as a damnation of all regulation? Because regulation “grant[s] cartelization power to any corporation with sufficient lobbyists?”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

                I’ll bust out the Jefferson.

                “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

                I mean, sure. The fact that you can read something about people being hurt and then you sit up and say “SOMETHING OUGHT TO BE DONE!” and you can write a post about how we need the government to make sure that people who tell people how to do situps are telling them how to do situps THE RIGHT WAY because you want people who want to do situps and want to pay someone else to tell them how to do them and who will probably be confused by all of the different places that tell people who tell people how to do situps and they won’t know which of those places is the best one for their person to have signed paperwork for to know for sure that they will be told to do situps the right way.

                Dude. I know this. We all know that you’re, funamentally, a good person who wants other people to know that they’re doing situps correctly.

                I just don’t know that putting the government in charge of saying “okay, you’re the AMA of situps!” will result in any real, beneficial, change.

                And, please understand, my saying “I don’t think that it’ll result in any real change” is me questioning whether you’re a good person.

                We all know you are.

                No, I wouldn’t damn all regulation. But getting regulation to the point where lobbyists get to pick the rules of the regulation will lead to corruption and people not being as well off as they could be otherwise.Report

        • Travis in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yeah, sure it would, Jaybird. Why do you think municipal building codes were enacted?

          This is another example of the libertarian fantasy that government regulations exist only to expand government.

          In reality, essentially every government regulation has arisen for a specific reason, to alleviate or correct a specific failing of civil society or the free market.

          Building codes arose because shoddy construction practices endangered their residents and, in the case of fire, cities themselves. The FDA was created because processors were unsanitary and sold adulterated food, while drugmakers sold useless or dangerous concoctions in the guise of cures. The Clean Water and Air acts were written because industrial pollution was destroying human health and the global ecosystem.

          If the free market could take care of itself, we wouldn’t need government regulation. Unfortunately for the free-market fanatics, history has proven that all too many people are willing to risk the lives of other people and the future of our planet in order to make a few extra bucks on the profit line.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Travis says:

            Not the point of the post.

            But I live in a part of town where there are houses that are 100 years old still in the original frames.

            There were, in fact, builders who built houses that they knew people would live in.

            I mean, my god… what keeps you from murdering the people you work with? The law? That’s it?Report

            • Travis in reply to Jaybird says:

              So we should repeal all laws, because moral proscriptions against behavior that harms others is enough?

              Unfortunately, we don’t live in Utopia.

              Certainly, there were builders who built houses responsibly. The vast majority did so. However, a minority did not. Suing someone after a shoddily-built fire escape collapses cannot bring the three people who died on the fire escape back to life. Ergo, we establish regulations to define a baseline for building design and construction, and inspect buildings to ensure compliance. Is the system perfect? Of course not. Have many, many lives been saved? Undoubtedly.

              In the case of workplace safety, pre-OSHA the majority of companies simply ignored occupational safety hazards. When workers died in mine cave-ins or fell into unshielded chemical vats, that was just too bad. Price of doing business. Human life was cheap.

              Our society has, happily, advanced from those days. Sorry if it violates some perfect libertarian fantasy, but government regulation does far more good than harm.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Travis says:

                No, I’m not saying that we should repeal all laws.

                I am, however, asking you if the law is what keeps you from killing your significant other.

                I don’t know that government regulation does far more good than harm. We could have the “more good than harm” discussion, if you’d like, but there are also unintended consequences that, despite being unintended, need to be added to any given accounting.Report

              • Travis in reply to Jaybird says:

                Sure, let’s have that discussion.

                I like clean air, untainted food and safer autos. All of which are the result of governmental regulation to prevent free market abuses and failures.

                Or would GM, Ford and Chrysler have voluntarily installed emissions controls back in the 1950s, if only those bad, nasty California legislators hadn’t forced them to?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Travis says:

                I make distinctions between “corporations” and “individuals”. I also make distinctions between regulation protecting “the commons” and regulation of individuals acting within the privacy of their own homes.

                That said, I look at the three car companies you mention and wonder whether they’d have survived the 80’s, if not the 70’s, without the government “protecting” Americans from cheaper, better-made, cleaner cars.Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to Freddie says:

        I think government can certainly be involved when someone is given bad treatment by a personal trainer. If somebody gets hurt or is defrauded somehow they should be able to pursue justice in civil or criminal court. But I just don’t believe that government will be able to ensure better results from personal trainers. Much more likely such regulations will lead to A) barrier to entry for many possible personal trainers; B) the enrichment of expensive, privately-run “schools” for personal trainers (who benefit, in the end, a great deal more from the regulations than either the consumer or the trainer) and C) tax-dollars diverted from important causes like education and infrastructure to erect instead new regulatory and bureaucratic institutions.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:


          If the SUCA (Sit UP Certification Agency) has been rubber stamping any schmoe that walks in the door with $35 and these schmoes are harming people, I wouldn’t have a problem with the government seizing SUCA’s assets following the civil cases that demonstrate that SUCA harmed people (perhaps, after taking a little for overhead and a little for the lawyers, those injured might see some of those assets as well).Report

  3. mike farmer says:

    Can you provide some links — this is the first I’ve heard of a widespread problem. Are people suing the trainers? It seems like that would be expensive for the gyms.Report

    • Freddie in reply to mike farmer says:

      Google is your friend. You’ll find lots of injuries and a few deaths. You’ll also laugh aloud as you see the alphabet soup of different certifications– NFPT! AFPA! ACE! NASM! ACSM! AFTA! And on, and on, and on, and on….Report

      • Freddie in reply to Freddie says:

        You might, incidentally, consider the fact that “lawsuits after the fact” don’t actually heal people who have been permanently injured or bring back people who have died. Consider this story, for example.

        This woman’s family can get financial remuneration for her having died; but they can’t actually get her back, and her right to not get killed because of some jackass can’t be restored. This is broadly true of trying to make tort lawsuits a panacea for these kinds of regulatory failures. Consider thalidomide, for example. By the time the deleterious effects were discovered, thousands and thousands of babies had already been afflicted by terrible birth defects. Lawsuits can’t fix that. Note, by the way, that thalidomide wasn’t approved by the FDA, so Americans could only get ahold of it by circumventing our regulatory apparatus and going to another country. And thank god for our regulatory system, or thousands more babies would have had crippling birth defects.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

        What google searches do you suggest? “harmed by personal trainer” doesn’t give me anything. “unlicensed personal trainer” takes me to job websites.

        I spent a little time goofing off and looking up the number of people killed by airbags (as of 1998, it was 115!) but, even so, quickly came to the conclusion that I didn’t know what to google for that would give me a true idea of how necessary government intervention actually was.Report

        • Freddie in reply to Jaybird says:

          Try just “personal trainer regulation,” which will bring you lots of news stories about states trying to pass some of this legislation, and in those stories you’ll encounter reasons why.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Freddie says:

            I put that in. Here is what I see:

            An article discussing California passing a law to regulate personal trainers.

            A blog post.

            An article talking about how there will be new regulations coming down the pike.

            An article from a Canadian website. (Hey! That’s the one you linked to!)

            A fitness webpage talking about the legislation.

            A licensing organization’s webpage talking about the legislation.

            A blogpost discussing a poll approving of passing such legislation.

            An webpage explaining what personal trainers do.

            An excerpt from a book that had been entered into google books.

            That’s the first page. I didn’t jump to the second page.

            Should I have?

            Having googled it using your suggestion, I find myself wondering, again, why this legislation is so absolutely necessary.

            I am no longer wondering why you answered “just google it” when someone asked you for more information, however.Report

  4. mike farmer says:

    I’m sorry, but any number of things could have caused the death, and there is no evidence government regulation would have prevented it. I hate to say, but this is ridicilous. I think if people look after their own safety choosing personal trainers, they will be fine. Asking around — contacting the nearest YMCA — asking a sports doctor — or a high school coach — there are many ways to get good recommendations.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to mike farmer says:

      Perhaps we could have a government agency put in charge of people posting their opinions to the web.

      How many people have been harmed, minds warped, and children hurt because of bad opinions posted to the web? Surely you can’t agree that we should stand idly by while children are harmed!Report

      • Freddie in reply to Jaybird says:

        Of course, that’s nothing like what I’m suggesting, and once again, I’m not trying to coerce anyone into doing anything, actually. But it’s more fun to misrepresent!Report

        • North in reply to Freddie says:

          Freddie, I think a pertinent point is that once such a liscenced group is created the incentive and motive is in place that will push government in a direction that it is naturally inclined to go on the subject of liscencing; increasing benefits for the liscenced group, increasing penalties to unliscenced practitioners leading to where most government liscencing leads: the inability of people to operate in the field without obtaining a liscence. It happened with hairdressers, undertakers, taxiis, auto mechanics etc..

          I don’t like slippery slope arguements but this seems like a slide that government, once it involves itself, is naturally inclined to go with.Report

  5. mike farmer says:

    Are you a personal trainer?Report

  6. Michael says:

    A couple of things.

    1) I think many libertarians/conservatives (maybe many of us in general) underestimate the benefits we all enjoy as a result of regulation and certification. I am from West Virginia, and I’ve looked at the coroner’s rolls from 1900 or 1910; I’ve read the death records and checked out the causes of death. I cannot adequately describe the number of deaths by crushing or by roof-falls that happened in mines, or how many folks used to get crushed by trains while working for the railroads. (I’d be happy to go back to the record room and give some hard numbers on Monday if anyone wishes.) Those days are mostly (and happily) gone; per capita accidents and deaths in dangerous jobs like this have fallen dramatically. We benefit from regulation and certification when it comes to drivers, food, coal mines, doctors, pharmaceuticals, and the list goes on. My point is that most of us in America in 2009 take it for granted that Dad is not going to die from ingesting accidentally laced aspirin or from having his skull crushed in a highwall mine, and our society is the better for it. What if you were to substitute “airplane pilot” for “physical trainer” in Conor’s post (along with the other appropriate tweaks)?

    Okay, there was my rant contra those who are blind to the benefits of regulation and certification. The comparison at end of the post gets me to my second point.

    2) Some commenters, along with Conor, are I think running with Freddie’s post and taking from it the idea that Freddie has nothing really better or more pressing to write about and that the next, most pressing item on his “To Do” list is getting those damn personal trainers certified. I think this is wrong-headed. As usual, Freddie’s post is meant to tease out others’ rhetorical inconsistencies or identify some other sort of unwitting hypocrisy that the writer has committed. That said, I imagine he would agree that there are more pressing matters to be taken up by (especially our national) legislative bodies. That does not make the benefits and assurances that he alludes to, however, any less real.Report

    • Michael in reply to Michael says:

      I expressed myself very poorly there, using the word “pressing” about a half-dozen times and generally not making much sense at all.

      I think that Freddie is very sensitive about the idea of someone’s dying on account of another’s negligence or incompetence. I share this sentiment to a large degree. Repeatedly he mentions that folks (I’m not sure how many) have actually died because of bad trainers. I think his sensitivity (or am I only imagining such a sensitivity?) is what leads him to claim that “libertarianism … is not a mature ideology.” I agree with this statement, and here’s why:

      Most libertarians don’t take the “life” out of “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” seriously enough; ‘pure’ libertarians don’t take it seriously at all, instead imagining that they would be happier (or freer, I guess) in the anarchic trenches rather than eating, drinking, flying, driving, riding, hunting, fishing safely and responsibly. Thank God I can go to a restaurant in this country and feel reasonably certain that my meat is not going to poison me, rather than absurdly wondering whether the restaurant has calculated the possibility of my dying and their being responsible for it, or the public’s knowing that I had been poisoned, and then deciding whether or not to go ahead and serve me the old meat. Yes, this is ridiculous to ponder, and yes, the mind reels upon considering the weirdness of yoga certificates and seemingly arbitrary hunting regulations or drivers licensing rules. And yes, the line must be drawn somewhere, and even the certified can kill or injure. But at least recognizing this, as Freddie does, is incalculably more intellectually mature than suggesting that an unnavigable, unrecognizable maze of letters and certifications is somehow better just on account of its separateness from the dread state.Report

  7. Ken says:

    What about this approach?

    1. The government says that in three years it will recommend a private licensing agency for personal trainers. It appoints a panel of 20 experts in the field.

    2. Private licensing entities compete to see who can be the most efficient, scientifically-based, and cost effective.

    3. The government panel chooses Private Agency X based on the criteria.

    4. The government, using its bully pulpit, spends 1% of the budget it would have spent to license and regulate personal trainers to run public service ads saying “You might want to use licensed personal trainers rather than unlicensed ones, or, we don’t know, your arm might get torn off or something. A government panel recommended Private Agency X, but look into it and choose yourself.”

    5. At the same time, Private Agency X runs ads saying “Look for Private Agency X licensed trainers.”

    6. Existing law already prohibits false and misleading representations to consumers, such as saying someone is licensed when they aren’t.

    7. Every five years the same government panel checks to see if Private Agency X sucks or not, and pulls their recommendation if it does.

    And so on.Report

  8. mike farmer says:

    “Freddie’s post is meant to tease out others’ rhetorical inconsistencies or identify some other sort of unwitting hypocrisy that the writer has committed. ”

    Oh, if I had known that’s what he’s up to, I wouldn’t have honestly responded to what he actually wrote and risked being caught. I’ll keep that in mind next time.Report

  9. E.D. Kain says:

    Here’s what I think: as long as personal trainers are not required to be licensed in order to practice, and can still pursue that as a career without licensure, then I see nothing wrong with a state-approved licensing process that various programs could offer. I think this sort of lenience should be applied to many, many other fields as well (florists, hair cutters, etc.) This gives people the choice to invest their time and money into an approved program that ostensibly provides some checks and stop-gates for people. It also allows people to say that they are good enough to practice as a personal trainer on their own merits without a license. I suppose it’s fair to say that there should be some standards, as long as those standards (at least in this case) do not prevent people from doing a job that is fairly basic stuff in the end (not brain surgery). And if it costs more for people to be licensed, well then it also – at least theoretically – makes them more competitive. I think that this is what Freddie was suggesting, but I think maybe it didn’t come across that way. I think offering two tracks in this situation is not a bad idea. I think it still allows for choice.

    I worry about other industries and other regulations more than this. I think that if regulation is ever going to be effective beyond the lobbyists and special interests that attempt to capture it or pass legislation for self-beneficial reasons, we will need to use as limited and sensible and transparent regulations as possible. We also need to constantly evaluate whether those regulations are preventing innovation or creating cartels. I think it might even work in favor for deregulation advocates to push for the two-track systems in other industries as well, giving people the choice to be licensed or not but not requiring it to work and be paid in said field.

    End ramble.Report

    • North in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      A small point E.D. As soon as we create a group of “liscenced trainers” we have created a group that has built in incentives to lobby for higher barriers to entry for people outside of their group.
      As soon as we create a group of government employees who’s job it is to monitor and issue liscences to said group of personal trainers we have created a group of people who’re naturally inclined to be receptive to suggestions that their power and reach be increased. It is a pattern in every industry I am aware of where liscensing has been introduced from building codes to liscensing.

      Now I think liscencing or certification is absolutely necessary in some vital and unavoidable things. I’m a straight ticket democrat for heavens sake. But do we truely wish this kind of government intrusion to become so pervasive?Report

  10. mike farmer says:

    “Most libertarians don’t take the “life” out of “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” seriously enough; ‘pure’ libertarians don’t take it seriously at all, instead imagining that they would be happier (or freer, I guess) in the anarchic trenches rather than eating, drinking, flying, driving, riding, hunting, fishing safely and responsibly”

    I’m interested in knowing what you rely on to come to this conclusion.Report

  11. conradg says:

    I’m one of those liberal dudes who believes in governmental regulation of all kinds of important things, from financial investments to health and safety codes, but even I think one has to draw the line somewhere, and this is one place I’d draw a line. There is simply no good rationale for government regulating who can be a “personal trainer”. We might as well regulate hair cutters and gardeners and auto mechanics. This is something for the free market to work out in the normal human way.

    My understanding of the issue is that various gyms have their own requirements as to what kind of training their trainers must undergo. Good gyms require higher levels of training, and if they want to stay in business, they need to hire the best trainers. If they don’t they won’t do well. While its true that bad training methods can result in injuries, this is true of every dimension of sport. At a certain point in life, people need to look out for themselves. Perhaps I’m more libertarian than some liberals, but I don’t like the idea of the government sticking its nose into every possible situation in which people might end up hiring someone who isn’t qualified for the job.Report

    • Travis in reply to conradg says:

      We do regulate haircutters and auto mechanics, conradg.

      Not saying that means personal trainers should be, but yes, most states have registration and licensing requirements for those two professions.Report

  12. Sam M says:

    “The American Medical Association, for example, does fantastic work”

    But of course… it’s ILLEGAL to practice medicine without this license. So you know, that’s a pretty big incentive for getting people who want to pursue a career in medicine to get the certification. I believe it is also illegal to practice law without a similar license.

    Are there examples of government certification that do NOT act as barriers to entry? This is a serious question. Do such certifications exist? ED brought up hairdressers. Well, at least im my state… it’s illegal to dress hair without the license. So without any regulatory teeth, what’s the point? I am assuming it would cost some kind of fee to get this license. But if other trainers don’t have to get the license, why would I bother paying?

    Beyond that, aren’t there tons of issues like this that we manage to navigate everyday with little or no problem? If I want to lose some weight, I can choose Atkins. Which Dr. Atkins assures me is the healthiest way to lose weight. On the other hand, other people are telling me that all that bacon will kill me. Both side insist that people following the other side’s methods are dying by the score. And someone has to be right. So do we need government licenses for weight-loss advice?

    What about breast-feeding? People who are for it insist that parents who do not breast feed are doing real physical damage to real children. So do we need certification for lactation advice?

    Finally, who in the government picks the winning “side” in personal training? I assume that in a field that huge, there are different styles of training. What works for me will be seen as hugely dangerous by someone else. What? Training outside in 100 degree heat? Dangerous! Or is it? I guess that depends.

    Seems to me that you do know something about this field. But that’s the danger, perhaps. When we live something we see its complexities up close. But that’s all we see. For instance, I recently had a conversation with someone who works as a guide in Gettysburg, PA. Guess what she said is needed for anyone serving as a guide? Yep. A license. Not that I think she is a terrible, rent-seeking goon. She’s not. But she’s a little too close and a little too opinionated, perhaps.

    And agin, let’s say she gets her wish and there is a license ofr Gettysburg guides. Unless that comes with legislation forbidding unlicensed guides from guiding… how will it have any impact at all?Report

  13. conradg says:

    “We do regulate haircutters and auto mechanics, conradg.”

    I guess some of them, in some states. I can’t find easy answers on the google, but it looks like in general I’m wrong on that score. Still, I have a friend who was a self-taught auto mechanic, got a job with a garage without any license, and eventually opened his own shop. He wasn’t all that good, to be honest, but he made a living at it. I know lots of hair-cutters who aren’t licensed either. But I guess if you open a shop, you need one. Yet, really, is this necessary? It seems mostly to be a job-protection racket. From what I gather, you don’t have to be a good auto mechanic, or a good hair dresser, to get a license. And I bet if you make personal trainers get licenses, they won’t be any better for it. Being good at something is still judged by the marketplace, not by licensing requirements. When serious issues of safety are involved, licensing makes sense, but most jobs, especially something as lame as being a personal trainer, just aren’t that important. In India they license astrologers, with rigorous training. Do you really think that makes them any good?Report

  14. Ken says:

    It’s entirely possible that people are too lazy or dumb to check into whether personal trainers are certified by a reputable privateorganization, and then decide to choose one who is so certified (possibly paying a premium for doing so.)

    But should the government treat people as being that dumb and lazy?Report

    • Bob in reply to Ken says:

      Oh, I don’t know. Are we to restrict our comments to personnel trainers, and possible regulation, or is the entire subject of regulation on the table?

      I’m going to assume regulation is the broad topic. So.

      I guess in a perfect world we all could research and find a suitable PT. Likewise find a reputable builders, hairstylist/barbers, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, restaurants, and on and on. But it really would cut into doing lots of other fun things like earning a living.

      But as pointed out above regulations generally do not spring-up in a vacuum. And the regulations are created by legitimate governmental agencies. And yes, I know regulation are sometimes struck down but those instances in no way damn all regulation.Report

      • Ken in reply to Bob says:

        Well, Bob, I can accept the proposition that in a society that is not purely libertarian, some things will be regulated by the state despite the fact that they could, in theory, be self-regulated. By that I mean vendors could join self-regulating groups and advertise their membership, and consumers could decide to do business only with vendors that did.

        So what things ought to be state-regulated rather than industry-and-consumer regulated? I think the factors you would want to look at include: (1) what is the level of risk presented if the product or service is provided incompetently, (b) is that risk presented only to adults making choices to buy the product or service, or to others as well, (c) what is the level of necessity of the product or service, and (d) is there, for some reason, a barrier to seeking information about the product or service.

        Some things will be close to this line. A personal trainer — which a cynic might characterize as an upper-middle-class affectation — is not one of them.Report

      • Bob in reply to Bob says:

        As a general proposition I don’t object to the criteria you list. But you realize that interpretation of your list will very depending on thinking people bring to the table. I, a liberal, would tend to find arguments and data supporting regulation. You would tend to look for reasons and data to restrict regulation. But eventually we end-up in the political arena. Since the early 20th century Americans seem to be voting for governments willing to regulate, FDA. Folk do want to keep lead out of paint and food served in restaurants cooked correctly, held in proper refrigeration and free of pests. I guess it is what some call the “Nanny State” but regardless I see it as the regulations passed with the consent of the governed. If and when the libertarians/conservatives gain the upper-hand in government, repeal regulations, I will still maintain it was done with the consent of the governed.Report

  15. Bob says:

    “It exists by the indifference of the governed.”

    Hey, thanks. Mind if I use that if the Reich takes power?Report

  16. Sam M says:

    Sure, OK. We need a heavyweight and a superheavyweight division. Where do you draw that line? Where is the cut off? And how to respond to the folks who will inevitably make the same points you are making right now?