Friday, July 26, 2013

Bad 18th Century Laws Not Yet Buried in Louisiana in the 21st Century

Ben Kilpatrick reports in The Pelican Post (‘Louisiana News and Commentary’) HERE 
Louisiana embalmers and funeral directors among those seeking to bury consumers under a mountain of bad laws
“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”― Adam Smith, from An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations
In Louisiana, it is illegal to sell a casket unless you are a licensed funeral director. Though making it illegal to sell what is essentially a fancy box strains credulity, no one had challenged the law prior to 2007 when, in a move intended to allow themselves to support their monastery and contemplative life, the monks of St Joseph’s Abbey began marketing to the public the coffins which they themselves had used for decades.
So what’s the problem with this? In the United States, the average metal casket costs nearly $2,300. On the other hand, the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey sell two models of caskets – one costs $1,500 and the other costs $2,000. To put it simply, offering families a less inexpensive burial option allowed grieving families to make an economical and dignified choice in a time of need and great stress.
When they first announced their intention to sell caskets on All Saints Day of 2007, the monks did not mean to incur the wrath of the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors (LSBEFD), but that is precisely what happened. Slightly more than a month later, they received a cease-and-desist letter promising a number of dire penalties including fines and prison time. This was followed by a formal complaint filed by Boyd L. Mothe, Jr., the owner of several funeral homes in the West Bank area of New Orleans, that stated in part, ‘Illegal third party casket sales place funeral homes in an unfavorable position with families. They are quick to become defensive and threatening when they cannot get what they want.’ In other words, families become upset when they are forced to purchase a product they don’t want at a price they often can’t afford.
Over the next several years, the monks tried to change the laws.
After funeral directors showed up en masse, none of their proposed reforms even made it out legislative committee. In 2010, the Institute for Justice came to the aid of the monks and helped them to begin fighting back against those who would destroy their business in order to protect their own bottom lines”.
What need I add?
Smith said it all in the quotation from Adam Smith’s Wealth Of Nations that Ben Kilpatrick placed at the head of his article. (Do I detect someone of Scottish descent in the author’s name?)


Blogger airth10 said...

Apropos of something else, Gavin, you might have missed this:

3:31 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

airth 10
Thank you for the reference which I read with great interest.
I intend to respond in detail after I return to Edinburgh this evening from France, as mentioned in the post.

9:46 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home