Occupational Licensing

Giving Advice Is Not a Crime

But over-regulation makes it one.


Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the "Car Talk" guys, offer advice on the radio and in more than 300 newspapers across the country. For such a heinous crime, perhaps they should go to prison.

This is the logical extension of a letter Kentucky officials sent to John Rosemond a couple months ago. Rosemond is a family psychologist who writes the longest-running advice column by a single author in the United States; his column appears in more than 200 papers, including the Lexington Herald-Leader.  (It once appeared in The Times-Dispatch.) Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology contend that publication of Rosemond's column in Kentuckyamounts to the illegal practice of psychology because Rosemond – who is licensed as a psychologist in North Carolina – is not licensed in their state.

Conway and the Board have threatened legal action, which carries the possibility of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Per column.

Rosemond has sued, with the help of the Arlington-based Institute for Justice – which notes that byKentucky's reasoning, "it is a crime to say things that are 100 percent true ('I am a family psychologist') and a crime to express an opinion in a newspaper without government permission."

Conway and the Kentucky Board have not threatened the Herald-Leader. Yet.  But if Rosemond is committing a crime, then the newspaper is aiding and abetting. Without its megaphone, Rosemond's voice would go almost entirely unheard.

The same holds true for, say, Dr. Phil. As the Institute for Justice points out, if Kentucky can prohibit Rosemond from offering advice in the newspaper then "it could prohibit Dr. Phil from identifying himself as a psychologist in books offered for sale in Kentucky or ban the Dr. Phil show from being broadcast in Kentucky."

Kentucky does not license auto mechanics, but some other states do. By Kentucky's reasoning, the Magliozzis – Click and Clack – are committing the same sort of violation Rosemond ostensibly is. Many other advice columns and shows offer tips on gardening, dieting, animal care, and other activities whose professional practitioners are regulated by the states. (Nationwide, more than 100 occupations are licensed by some or all of the 50 states; roughly a third of Americans hold jobs that need a government license, up from 5 percent a half-century ago.) Here at the Times-Dispatch, health reporter Tammie Smith sometimes answers reader questions on issues such as how much water one should drink. Though she has a master's degree in public health and consults with doctors on her answers, she is not a physician. By Kentucky's reasoning, she's practicing medicine without a license.

On Thursday the Bluegrass State appeared to climb down – but only a bit. Eva Markham, the chairman of the psychology board, snippily told "CBS This Morning" she thought it was "fascinating that this has turned into the First Amendment."

Turned into? It was never anything but.

Rosemond "can say anything he wants to as long as he is clear that he is not a psychologist in Kentucky," Markham says – now. But that's not what the letter from AG Jack Conway said when it ordered him to cease and desist. To pretend otherwise now, says IJ's Paul Sherman, is reminiscent of the schoolyard bully who "pick[s] on the little guy until someone shows up to defend him, and then . . . act[s] like nothing happened."

Were this an isolated instance, it might not merit much attention. But it is not isolated. The Institute for Justice also has defended a North Carolina blogger whose dietary advice offended the state's Board of Dietetics, and a Texas veterinarian whose online advice drew the attention of the Lone Star State's veterinary board.  (The boards didn't suggest the advice offered was dangerous, fraudulent, or even wrong – they simply objected on bureaucratic grounds.)

Local and state governments use more than occupational-licensing regulations to silence free speech. Across the country, cities and counties – including Richmond, Henrico, and Charlottesville – have used public-safety fig leaves to prohibit panhandling. Public colleges and universities designate First Amendment ghettos they call "free-speech zones," and impose speech codes that make even racy jokes off-limits. Politicians and campaign-finance "reformers" have banned in the past, and hope to ban again one day, political speech about political candidates by private citizens.

Even signs seem to fall afoul of government censors: Not only is Norfolk, Virginia, trying to seize the property of Central Radio, it has declared the protest sign put up by the company's owner verboten. Norfolk's signage ordinance is 11,000 words long. That makes it 10,955 words longer than the First Amendment, which plainly states that government shall abridge neither the freedom of speech, nor of the press. Period.

Kentucky officials trying to tell Rosemond what he can say in the newspaper  should familiarize themselves with it. That seems like good advice, wouldn't you say?

This column originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

NEXT: Abandoned Chickens on the Rise in Northern Virginia

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  1. The First Amendment doesn’t mean what you think it means. It means what they feel it means.

    1. I’d say you’re right but since I don’t have a law degree, I’ll say that there is an appearance that you are right.

      1. Not good enough, sorry. And FYI practicing law without a license is a dronable offense.

  2. Well, an elected official of my state has done something stupid. So I guess that means I agree with it. Yay, regionalism.

    Conway is a first class ass, by the way. If you remember the anti-Rand Paul false flag incident before his election where a protester claimed Paul’s security beat them up, Conway was his opponent.

    1. Well, an elected official of my state has done something stupid. So I guess that means I agree with it. Yay, regionalism.

      Some stupidity is more equal than others.

      1. All must share in the blame. All.

        In other news, Against The Grain finally made a beer I liked. Two, in fact. I had the Bo & Luke imperial stout (I know, bourbon barrel conditioning is a pet peeve of yours) and I thought they made a fine Gose.

        1. Ive joked about making a bourbon barrel aged, smoked, imperial coffee stout.

          Its the anti-me beer.

          I think there was another adjective in there too, maybe vanilla.

        2. I thought there Gose was “meh”.

          There have been a couple of german goses show up at Grale recently, I really like them.

          1. I’ve only had German Gose out of bottle. Once the IPA storm passes, maybe Beer Trappe or Arcadium will get one.

        3. Hmm, Against the Grain is a brewery? Also the name of a great album:


    2. So I guess that means I agree with it.

      My mother-in-law disagrees with CHLs. So I guess that means I don’t have one.

      1. Rah, rah, rah!

        1. It beats asserting that Texas and California are politically indistinguishable because such a belief would be collectivism.

          1. You’re just going to be butthurt about this all day, aren’t you?

            It must really sting to suggest that Yokelville, USA isn’t the bestest place ever.

            1. Who’s the one who pulled it cross-thread? Projection isn’t just for progressives.

              1. Yes, you’re the only person who has ever indulged in regionalism, so I have to have been talking to you and only you. Do you often imagine everyone is having conversations about you? Secret conversations?

                1. Careful, Saccharin Man – you’re dangerously close to practicing Psychology in KY without a license…

  3. That makes it 10,955 words longer than the First Amendment, which plainly states that government shall abridge neither the freedom of speech, nor of the press. Period.

    You didn’t get the memo? The Supreme Nazgul in their black robes discovered that the 1A really says “Congress shall make no unreasonable law,” just as the 2A really says “shall not be unreasonably infringed.”

    So if the courts feel that a law is reasonable, then it does not violate the Bill of Rights.

    1. Point of order: The current euphemism is “balance” as in: “we must balance our freedoms against the needs of government to protect us all.”

      1. “Balance” isn’t unreasonable, I suppose.

  4. wait, Conway sent a letter with legal advice to North Carolina, a state he’s not licensed to practice law in?

  5. Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the “Car Talk” guys, offer advice on the radio and in more than 300 newspapers across the country. For such a heinous crime, perhaps they should go to prison.

    They should go to prison for recycling the same damn jokes for 30 years.

    Satellite radio has rebroadcasts of old episodes on in the afternoons. Until you hear a car model year, you can’t tell when the episodes are from. Could be 1991, could be last month. Unless they talk about a 2008 or something, you’ll never know.

    Proletariat radio (especially on the weekend) really seems to cater to the conservative nothing-changes-ever side of the progressive world.


  6. Proposition: Any law that cannot be expressed in 250 words or less is probably a bad law.

    1. Are more crimes possible as time advances or do we simply make more things crimes?
      In other words: is there anything new under the Sun?

      1. John Dewey didn’t think so. That’s why all the computer books get thrown under 000.

      2. As society progresses and becomes more enlightened, we come to understand that there is ever less that we should be free to do.

  7. By the way, this is the “red tape” that the saying comes from.

  8. BTW, from Reason links-
    Awaste of money I can get behind


    1. I always thought that black holes would be a good place to look for alien spacecraft. The light reflecting off them as fall into the gravity well should make them visible forever if the models are correct.

      1. If movies have taught us anything it’s that starships are constantly messing with, and being eaten by, black holes.

        1. Probes and such. And maybe a few boatloads of convicts. Also, a black hole would make a damn fine trash compactor. 5 trillion One Direction CDs should be visible from quite far away.

    2. Before the children went on the trip we signed a consent form that clearly listed unacceptable behaviour and we signed that the children would not bring any foods into the hotel rooms, this is because the hotel it’s self has banned food in rooms and set this rule very firmly to the school.

      Breaking this rule would result in the school not being able to use that hotel again and therefore future year 6 children would miss out on the trip !

      Oh, man, and you believed that shit! In the private sector, we do not miss out on an opportunity to make money because of some nit picking aside like that. It doesn’t do the hotel any social or economic good to behave like school marms themselves. Quite the opposite. No one who behaved that way would last a week in the service industry. You know how much money they stood to lose by banning an entire school who does a yearly field trip? Quite a bit, buddy.

      1. What did you people do with the other comments on this article!?!?!

  9. But I suppose it would be perfectly legal in Kentucky to run columns by Grandpa Jones about how kids today are no good, and we need bring back caning. After all, Grandpa wouldn’t be posing as a psychologist.

    Or maybe Rosemond can post a disclaimer on his columns – “CAUTION: In accordance with a ruling by the Kentucky Board of Psych Examiners, residents of Kentucky should not read this column.”

    “reminiscent of the schoolyard bully who “pick[s] on the little guy until someone shows up to defend him, and then . . . act[s] like nothing happened.””

    And how did they get the impression that they could bully a nationally-syndicated columnist. What was their thought process here – “this guy is probably a pussy, he’ll fold as soon as we send him a threatening letter.”

    While I don’t know for sure, I suspect that Rosemond’s no-nonsense disciplinary approach to childrearing has raised some hackles among the mainstream, “let the kids express themselves” pschologists. And I’m sure professional jealousy for a highly successful colleague has nothing to do with it.

  10. This is just the information I am finding everywhere.Me and my friend were arguing about an issue similar to this! Now I know that I was right.

    1. Has your friend made over $51,782 working just a few hours a week from his laptop?

  11. Rosemond isn’t responsible for those columns because, clearly, he didn’t write that.

  12. Occupations shouldn’t be licensed by the government because they are simply a way to use police powers to restrict supply and jack up prices for incumbents. You can dress it up any way you like, but it’s still just sponsored corruption.

    But, even beyond that, licensing psychologists gives undeserved credibility to the profession. It’s like licensing fortune tellers. If they’re licensed, they must be for real, right? But, people in both professions practice the art of pulling opinions out of their asses and presenting them as truth. The practice of clinical psychology, at its best, is no better than an advice column.

    1. Projection…hysteria…yes, it’s classic.

      Dave, tell me about your relationship with your mother….

      1. My friends think I’m paranoid because I keep talking about how I think the government is collecting information about everything I say and do.

        They also say that my lack of interest in the royal baby shows that I must be living in some fantasy world instead of paying attention to what’s really important.

        I got along fine with Mom, aside from her belief that masturbation was a mental illness (something she apparently heard from a psychologist).

    2. How do you “license” psychology?

  13. A. Barton Hinkleheimerschmidt – are you licensed to dispense opinions about licensing?

    Yeah – didn’t think so…..SHOVE OFF, LAWBREAKER.

    1. Clearly the man is *not* an expert on the issue. I recommend a hefty fine this time, since it’s his first offense and to discourage further fraudulent behavior! To that effect, I will be running for County Treasurer, as I believe that I possess the greatest amount of experience with regards to the oversight of the collection and wise usage of such revenue…er, administration of punitive action.

  14. I wonder if more and more bloggers will be bullied. Sometimes I listen to the ‘gatekeepers’ and their screeds against blogging with much dismay and even fright.

    Among the worst and smug are the sports writers. Jesus me, Wilbon and Costas are ridiculous. It’s not like journalists were doing, you know, their jobs while steroids were in use in baseball. Then they act all indignant and shocked when the story finally and inevitably explodes. All that access and not ONE mainstream journo had the balls the break such a story as the one we saw with McGwire-Sosa-Bonds?

    Too busy texting athletes about their next golf match I guess.

  15. what Jonathan implied I’m surprised that you able to get paid $8990 in a few weeks on the internet. have you read this site… http://www.Can99.com

  16. Jeez-um, dudes and dudettes, when are freedom-seekers FINALLY going to listen to the wisdom of the Church of Scienfoology? ALL you need to do, if you want to freely practice the “science” of psychology, is to turn it into the RELIGION of pseudo-psychology! Just like Scientology, take a hint! Have your customers write in about the behavioral and thinking problems that their RELIGIOUS EFFIGIES have, and give advice to their RELIGIOUS EFFIGIES!!! If readers write in their questions wrong, just re-phrase the question and answer it! Well, ***IF*** you had asked me about your RELIGIOUS EFFIGY bed-wetting all the time, here is what I would say! Dang it, I hate to sound like a broken record player, but WHEN are people FINALLY going to realize that RELIGIOUS FREEDOM can trump all! Follow in the footsteps of Scientology, what am I going to have to do to wake people up?!?!? This excellent idea brought to you by the Church of Scienfoology, see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/ ?

  17. Is it just me, or does Ms. Markham seem like one of those members of European guilds of old, trying to edge out the competitive baker because he hasn’t paid the proper dues to be permitted to sell bread in her little French ville?

    1. Credentialism, rent-seeking, it’s the whole statist shebang

  18. I like this concept and it is a really a good job done by you. Thank you for sharing this information.

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