"They're cutting into our profit"


As Jacob Sullum noted earlier this month, the Institute for Justice recently filed a major economic liberty suit against the state of Louisiana for its draconian restrictions on the sale of "funeral merchandise." Among other things, the law currently prevents a group of Benedictine monks from building and selling simple, hand-crafted caskets at a low price. Naturally, the state's funeral directors favor the law, since it prevents competition from the monks. Keep in mind that building and selling caskets poses no health or safety risks to the public, unlike embalming or other funerary practices which can be legitimately regulated. So how does Louisiana's "casket cartel" justify the state's ridiculous infringement on the right to earn an honest living? The Wall Street Journal's Jennifer Levitz found out:

"They're cutting into our profit," says Leonard Dunn, the owner of Serenity Funeral Home, located a short drive from the abbey. He adds. "I don't think the monks are actually making the caskets—I think it's a marketing gimmick."

Recently, the abbey's woodshop was buzzing, with two deacons and two novice monks sawing pieces of wood for the caskets.

Boyd Mothe Jr., a member of the fifth generation of his family to run Mothe Funeral Homes outside New Orleans, says Louisiana's law should remain on the books because licensed directors have the training to sell caskets—transactions he calls "complicated." For instance, he says, "a quarter of America is oversized. I don't even know if the monks know how to make an oversized casket."

But some local morticians are mortified by all the fuss. Darin Bordelon, the owner of LaVille Funeral Home in Ville Platte, La., says the state board should be ashamed of its campaign against the monks.

"They're making us all look greedy," he says.

For more on the case, see this video from the Institue for Justice:

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  1. The monks are using the caskets to smuggle altar boys into the monastery. It’s the hookers who should be complaining.

    1. Did you touch yourself as you typed that, Maxie?

      1. Scary thing is that it’s one of the better posts made under the Max handle.

        1. Bet Max wouldn’t dare say that about Muslim clerics.

          C’mon, candyass… do it.

  2. You just posted that vid the other day, clowns

    1. You admit via your screenname that you like 80s music and you’re calling other people clowns.

      1. That’s… perceptive

        1. Ahh the 80s, when Gay was cool and men too sported the perm

  3. Keep in mind that building and selling caskets poses no health or safety risks to the public, unlike embalming or other funerary practices which can be legitimately regulated.


    C’mon, time to clean house like they did over at Cato.

    1. Not only is he supporting professional licensure, there is the 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion .

    2. We did all the housecleaning we needed. The trade of Julian (who I like) for Balko was brilliant.

  4. “I don’t even know if the monks know how to make an oversized casket.”

    Right, because there are no oversized monks.…..r_logo.jpg

    1. Dammit, I am not “oversized” I am fat.

    2. Well, making a bigger box to put a fatter guy in such a tremendously difficult task. I mean, if you’ve got the box part figured out, it might take you years to figure out how to make a bigger one.

      Obviously, the geniuses who have come up with the necessary skills to make larger boxes deserve to have their ingenuity rewarded, right?

    3. If they can run a chainsaw, I see this problem fixing itself.

    4. I also didn’t realize that everyone who makes caskets is obliged to make caskets that will fit every American. The funeral homes should be happy that fat people will still need their services.

  5. Oversized caskets? You’re dead, does it really matter if you’re crammed into every last inch of your wormbox?

    1. We have ways to make him fit. Hey Chumley, pass me that meat saw.

    2. A couple of extra 2×4 bracing pieces and dozen more square feet of plywood should do the trick.

      Jesus was a Carpenter – though probably not unionized.

      1. Crucify all scabs.

  6. Yeah, it’s kinda funny – most people think lawyers in general are greedy, opportunistic, money-clawing scumbags who would not hesitate to take advantage of someone else’s misfortunte or grief to make a few more bucks. And in fact, some of them are.

    But I think there is decent evidence that many in the funeral industry are even worse. My college roommate has been a trust and estates lawyer for over 20 years and he’s got a few stories that are amazing, of funeral service companies really trying to egregiously gouge the grieving family. He told me years ago that in his experience, the funeral directors are worse than lawyers, but people just don’t realize it.

    1. I was arranging my father in laws cremation a while ago. They tried to sell me on a wood box— that ran between 200 and a thousand bucks, that they would put the body into TO BE BURNED TO ASHES.

      I asked them why I would pay more for a box that they were going to burn anyway, and that no one outside of the crematorium employees would ever see. He just kind of shrugged and said “I don’t know.” So the whole point is to take advantage of grief stricken people.

      See also the last part of the Big Lebowski.

    2. Okay, I am a lawyer, and I know of one lawyer who handled an estate for an elderly, lonely woman with only about $20K in assets and no close heirs (3rd cousin who barely knew her or something). The lawyer was one of the few people outside of neighbors in the old age home who attended the funeral.

      However, he was the only one to bill for his time there.


      1. I’ve seen it too, although I’m in a CPA firm.

        Although in your story the guy might have been the executor, and he figured he’d pay his bill any way. 😛

  7. Funeral homes are one of the biggest rackets in the country. I hope they get punched in the nuts as hard as possible.

    1. Another problem solved when we get immortality before we get rid of taxes.

  8. Yeah, I think that was a Mitford sister novel… yawn

  9. “We’re not just going to sit back and let these guys bulldoze us,” says Deacon Mark Coudrain.

    Good, let ’em have it.

    1. I just read a Canticle for Leibowitz and this reminds me of the abbot in the last third of the book, all full of fire.

  10. Selling a casket is a complicated transaction? How is it any more complicated than buying a suit or an entertainment center? You measure up the guy and find a casket that fits.

  11. “They’re making us all look greedy,” he says.

    And how are “they” doing that, Darin?

    1. I think he was referring to the other funeral directors and supporters of the law.

      They are making ALL the funeral directors look greedy, rather than just themselves.

      1. Ah [forehead slap], I stand corrected. Good for him, and I apologize for getting him wrong.

  12. I’d also like to point out that the conflict is Monks Vs (basically) Business Men. They may not be Shaolin Monks right now, but I bet they’ve got the discipline to learn.

    1. They can’t even figure out how to make large caskets. How are they going to learn shadowboxing?

  13. I e-mailed Leonard Dunn:

    “Is it profiting from death and grief that turned you into a greedy, evil, self-serving thief or were you like that to begin with?”

  14. It’s not the monks building the caskets that are the problem.

    It’s the albino monks filling caskets with people who know the Vatican’s deepest secrets that are the problem.

  15. I love this:

    “I don’t think the monks are actually making the caskets?I think it’s a marketing gimmick.”

    Those darn monks! Always coming up with clever PR stunts to get new members and promote their vast business empires.

    1. not to mention their clandestine marketing schemes…”crazy laugh”

  16. The funeral industry is horrible and I will have nothing to do with it. My father died a few years ago and rather than have anything to do with those scum, we gave his body to a medical school. They take it away for free and will return a box of ashes to you when they are done. Seems like a good deal all around. If you don’t have a corpse fetish.

    1. If you don’t have a corpse fetish

      …Oh, nevermind. The name writes its own joke.

  17. “They’re cutting into our profit,” says Leonard Dunn, the owner of Serenity Funeral Home, located a short drive from the abbey.

    Dunn, buddy … You’re not supposed to come right out and say that.

  18. You could always join a monastery.

    1. You ever see a monk get wildly fucked by some teenage girls?

      1. Never.

        1. So much for the monastery.

  19. Really, people? Well, I guess I’;ll have to say it first:

    “Dey took our jobs.”

    Can’t believe the thread made it this far without it.

    1. People demanding government intervention against papists taking American jobs are a time honored American tradition.

      1. Wasn’t that the entire Republican platform in the Nixon v. Kennedy election?

  20. Recently, the abbey’s woodshop was buzzing, with two deacons and two novice monks sawing pieces of wood for the caskets.

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