Iowa moves to deregulate professions

Republicans always want to deregulate things.

The big push started with President Reagan, who deregulated among other things, the savings and loans. While he removed federal oversight, he did NOT remove federal insurance that backed up the loans, so executives made risky loans because they had nothing to lose. They could give away money because no one said they couldn’t, and someone else would foot the bill if they failed. Many of these savings and loans lost their money and then the taxpayer paid off the debt while rich people got richer (The Bush family, for example). Sound like 2008? Same thing happened. However, in 2008 there were regulations, but a lax administration didn’t worry about enforcement.

So, regulation is important if you’re going to provide insurance. I mean, if I give you a loan and need it back, I’m going to want a say in what you do with it. Simple logic and an awareness of human nature. Republicans aren’t so good about human nature. Besides the policies that show this, I see it everyday in friends and family. Republicans tend to believe rich people work hard and poor people don’t. They tend to believe greed is a great leveler, the driver of competition, and unfettered markets will even out in the end (think Ayn Rand). They believe rich people will provide jobs if we give them more money, despite the reality that they instead cut the work force as much as they can (this is the biggest cost of any company) and sock away their extra millions in nontaxable accounts.

This ideology is criminally naive. Unfettered capitalism favors those with influence. Sure, overcoming that influence can be done by masses of “little” people when they protest, form unions, and boycott…you see where I’m going? A Republican who favors the free market and wants the people to participate with their dollars rather than have government regulate things is ALSO the same guy who hates unions as corrupt or unnecessary and whines about protests and boycotts. The Trump administration is even trying to make protesting illegal. No, seriously.

All this preamble is to introduce the idea of deregulation and the problems with it. The Republican congress of the state of Iowa is considering removing license requirements for numerous professions.

The affected professions include respiratory therapists, massage therapists, barbers, funeral directors, mental health counselors, and social workers. But not cosmetologists. CR Gazette

Certification vs license

The argument the Republican congress in Iowa is making is that removing licensing decreases government costs and allows more people to enter these jobs. That is, entering these fields would require no specific training or minimum competency other than what a particular employer required.

Let me tell you how that works in a profession without licensing.

I work in a profession that is not licensed. No state currently licenses personal trainers. Some states have considered it, and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has a stand against licensing. Why?

  • ACSM supports non-degreed personal trainers working in nonclinical/community settings with apparently healthy clients, but does not support the need for them to be licensed.
  • ACSM also provides resources that help employers of fitness centers, wellness centers, worksite health promotion programs and hospitals determine their own hiring criteria for the various exercise professional positions they have available. (bold text my emphasis)

See, certification (not licensing) is a business with no agreed upon standard. Each business — ACE, ACSM, NASM, etc — can create their own idea of what competency looks like. None of these bodies want to give up control or lose money to state governments. THEY will negotiate with employers, trying to influence their choice of standard. So ACE used to be the largest. Through aggressive advertising and spending, NASM may be bigger. And when I say aggressive, I mean it. Their money-focused message was the main reason I avoided certifying with NASM, even though their science is agreeably rigorous.

The price of integrity

Additionally, not even certification is required. Indeed, it couldn’t be or that would be called “licensing”. I could legally train you and charge you whether I had any education or experience. I chose to certify and stay certified because I feel it demonstrates a spirit of excellence. I spend around $800 every two years for 25 hours of CEUs and the re-certification application and another $120 for CPR-First AID certification.

But there are many personal trainers with no certification. They can’t afford it, can’t pass the tests, or just don’t care. They work clubs or mobile training. The big question is do clients or employers care? Some do. Some box gyms require a cert, but they aren’t picky. Any will do so they can advertise this and get cheaper insurance.

Oh sure, even non-certified trainers can get insurance. It just costs more. And still, many trainers don’t even buy insurance.

I have never had a client who says they chose me over another trainer because I am certified. I guarantee the public doesn’t care or just isn’t aware enough to realize their trainer may not be certified. I’ve pointed out to clients that the trainer they had before was not certified, yet they assumed the state actually licenses personal trainers. They assumed they were with someone that possessed a minimum amount of competence as guaranteed by the state.What’s all this mean?

  • It means the profession of personal trainer is a Wild West of talent and safety where big businesses (certifying agencies) gain the most and all the risk falls on the customers and trainer.
  • It means customers choose training based on cost and convenience first and competence or safety least considered. Buyer beware? Sure, but businesses make an effort to muddy the water so the public isn’t clear on what’s licensed.
  • It means the profession will become saturated with lesser aptitude and less dedication.
  • It means insurance costs for the profession will rise across the board. So big businesses thrive. Taxpayers lose.

The fallout for de-licensing is seen in the current state of personal training — unaware public, unprotected public — and we don’t even work with sick people. Imagine the risk that grows with some of the professions the state is considering.


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