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Just a Box

It took a long and lengthy legal battle, but now Catholic monks have permission to sell wooden boxes. This is absurd. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the brothers of Saint Joseph Abbey lost much of the trees on their woodland property that they had previously harvested to sustain their simplistic way of life. They began selling the simple wooden caskets that they had previously made only for clergy, and soon thereafter were ordered to stop creating caskets and threatened with fines and imprisonment.... for selling a wooden box with handles.

According to the state of Louisiana, only people with special licenses from the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors--itself a cartel controlled by existing businesses that do not like competition--are able to sell wooden boxes. In order to get a license, one needs a high school diploma, some college education, special classes on embalming, a year-long apprenticeship, and an official funeral parlor. All the monks wanted to do was carve their boxes and sell them to people. The funeral cartels are doing all that they can to stop this due to the fact that the monks are selling their simple wooden boxes at a far, far cheaper price than the fancy boxes people are forced to pay for elsewhere. Luckily, the Federal 5th Circuit has upheld the right of people to make and sell wooden boxes, with the judge saying that "there is no rational basis" for such regulations on people selling caskets-- again, a casket is just a box. The attorney for the funeral board has said that the state of Louisiana will likely appeal the case, which may then find its way to the Supreme Court.

Good. Hopefully one day all people everywhere will have the right to be able to carve and sell wooden boxes without being threatened with imprisonment.
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Discussions - 3 Comments

This is just an attempt to use the government as a barrier to entry. Many people confuse the capitalist notion of profit with the conservative notion of limited government. Its just no so. If Fed-EX can gain an advantage over UPS via a meddlesome government they will do so.

I've seem some pretty bizarre efforts over the years. One of my favorites was a review board in California that licensed collection agency managers. Sorry, but this was just a way to keep out of state operators out of the market. When the board that granted licenses got killed in a budget battle the California agencies actually offered to fund the board.

It was a total joke. And yet the legislators fall for it all the time. I just don't get it.

Thank God for the Institute for Justice.

I note that the Slaughter House cases which determined that the constitution would be no barrier to government instituted monopoly in the 19th century orginated in Louisiana.

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