Occupational Licensing

You're Now Free to Have a Hippie, Crunchy Funeral in Alabama

New law ends occupational license-mandated monopoly on casket sales.

|

Caskets
Source: Institute for Justice

Alabama residents are now free to buy biodegradable cardboard caskets, and more importantly, vendors are now permitted to sell them without having to shell out for a completely unnecessary funeral director's license.

Alabama's governor has signed into law a bill that exempts the sales of funeral-related supplies and merchandise from regulations that require a funeral director's license. These rules allowed for a select group of people to dominate the marketplace and drive up prices. Now other vendors will be able to offer cheaper alternatives.

These other options would include Sheila Champion, who sells biodegradable cardboard caskets to folks who either have their budgets or environmental interests in mind. With the help of the Institute for Justice, which fights against unnecessary occupational licensing, she sued the state and forced a change:

Shelia opened The Good Earth Burial Ground just north of Huntsville, Alabama, to provide inexpensive and environmentally friendly interments. Her innovative business aims to help people reduce the enormous expense of funerals, which now cost over $8,000 on average, while returning remains to the earth in the quickest and most environmentally responsible way possible. Her caskets and shrouds may cost as little as a tenth of what people ordinarily spend on a casket.

Shelia sued the Alabama Board of Funeral Service in federal court because Alabama's law was an unconstitutional restriction on her right to earn an honest living. The law created a monopoly on casket sales for funeral directors, which raised prices for consumers and kept entrepreneurs like Shelia from providing inexpensive, innovative products.

"I am so happy that our Legislature saw the light and passed the bill. This is a victory for The Good Earth, every citizen in our state and the entire country. It confirms the other lawsuits that were won throughout the country and highlights the laws that remain to be changed," said Shelia. "The Good Earth will now be able to sell funeral merchandise and you will soon see information added to the website. Death is the one thing we all have in common, and we should have the option to invite the funeral industry to participate, not have it imposed upon us."

The outcome shouldn't be a surprise. The Institute for Justice was previously behind a lawsuit by the monks of the Saint Joseph Abbey in Louisiana, which had similar protectionist licensing requirements to stop independent casket sales. The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors fought against an end to their licensing monopoly for years but ultimately lost in federal courts. They even tried to get the case before the Supreme Court but were declined.

Champion's struggle would prove to be much simpler. She sued only a month ago and now the law has already been changed. Congrats to her and to the Institute for Justice, and to any Alabamans who worry that their deaths might unduly pollute the environment, or just want to save money.

NEXT: After Arresting Driver for Silence, Cops Tell Her She Has a Right to Remain Silent

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I don’t plan to be biodegradable when I go into the ground, why would I want my coffin to be?

    1. You’d deny Gaia your essence?

  2. “Death is the one thing we all have in common”

    Oh, *really*?

    1. #MortalPrivilege

      1. *The* *one* thing?

        What about taxes life and disappointment in the Cleveland Browns?

        1. Something, something, let us down one last time.

      2. Shouldn’t that be #ImmortalPrivilege?

        1. Spoken like a true mortal, ignorant of their privilege. There are less immortals than mortals. Therefore mortals are the oppressive shitlords. Sure, immortals may live forever and never have to deal with death or disease, but there’s more mortals, therefore oppression!!

    2. I can think of a few others.

  3. Cardboard coffins?? Absolutely haram!! Everyone knows the only halal coffins are wood, stone, and crystal.

  4. “Alabama’s governor has signed into law a bill that exempts the sales of funeral-related supplies and merchandise from regulations that require a funeral director’s license. ”

    Good. Funeral parlors have been one of the worst cartels in America for years because of these laws and they prey on people during a time of weakness.

    1. My mother, who lives in Alabama, will be happy about this. She has always said she wanted to be buried in a plain pine box, and I have always said I would make one for her when the time comes. Now I can do that without having to extend a middle finger to the bureaucracy, although I probably will anyway.

      1. You can make it, but you still have to sell it to yourself.

        1. No problem. I will charge 10 million dollars and get rich! And the multiplier effect will lift thousands out of poverty.

    2. You say that, but I bet you change your tune once all the improperly buried corpses re-animate and fuck up your morning commute by shambling across the hiway.

      Amateurs are not going to be able to keep the dead and buried from coming back.

  5. OT: Fuck Elon Musk

    Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has accused politicians of bowing to the “unrelenting and enormous” lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry, warning that a global “revolt” may be needed to accelerate the transition to more sustainable energy and transport systems.

    Speaking at the World Energy Innovation Forum at the Tesla Factory in California on Wednesday, Musk claimed that traditional vehicles and energy sources will continue to hold a competitive edge against greener alternatives due to the vast amounts of subsidies they receive.

    The solution to this energy dilemma, Musk says, is to introduce a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on greenhouse gas emissions or the carbon content of fossil fuels.

    “The fundamental issue with fossil fuels is that every use comes with a subsidy,” Musk said. “Every gasoline car on the road has a subsidy, and the right way to address that is with a carbon tax.”

    1. “”and the right way to address that is with a carbon tax”‘

      So says the guy building even more subsidized electric cars

      1. And apparently oblivious to the secret and cryptically named ‘Fuel Tax’ that gets applied to all *fossil* fuel vehicles (until States and/or the FedGov convert to Mileage Taxes).

        1. Sorry, not *all* fossil fuel vehicles, all fossil fuel vehicles that travel on public roads.

          1. And a lot that don’t. Most people are too lazy to get their fuel taxes refunded for boats and off-road vehicles and equipment. Though you can usually find untaxed diesel pretty easily.

      2. No doubt electric cars, solar panel, and wind turbine manufacturers will be gifted generous credits under a carbon tax regime.

    2. Elon Musk may want to familiarize himself with the “unrelenting and enormous” laws of thermodynamics and economics.

    3. “Speaking at the World Energy Innovation Forum at the Tesla Factory in California on Wednesday, Musk claimed that traditional vehicles and energy sources will continue to hold a competitive edge against greener alternatives due to the vast amounts of subsidies they receive.”

      Completely laughable. With no subsidies fossil fuels crush green energy. What you need to do is look at the amount of subsidization that occurs *per the amount of energy produced.*

      Fossil fuels get about $70 per billion BTUs of energy production, renewables get $1,724.00 per billion BTUs.

      The numbers aren’t even close.

      1. Yeah, he wants to penalize fossil fuels for the “externalities” associated with climate change as well as subsidize his favorite pony. Nevermind that electricity is still largely created with fossil fuels.

      2. Don’t the majority of fossil fuel subsidies go to things like providing heating to poor people so they don’t freeze to death in the winter? I remember seeing that somewhere. Evidently Musk and proggies wants them to die.

    4. Not being taxed is the same as taking.

      1. a lexicon of words with distinct definitions is an outdated, obsolete construct.

        1. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

    5. “The fundamental issue with fossil fuels is that every use comes with a subsidy,” Musk said. “Every gasoline car kerosene powered rocket on the road on the launch pad has a subsidy, and the right way to address that is with a carbon tax.”

      So much for cheap space travel.

      1. It’s even more ridiculous because the argument is that fossil fuels are being subsidized – as in, given money. That is the implication. The solution? Have government then take money off the backend through a new tax. If they are really being subsidized, why not just cut the subsidies? It’s a blatantly dishonest argument. Yet there are a large number of mouthbreathers who will eat it up.

        1. My point was: somebody who makes a business out of repeatedly burning 119 tons of fossil fuels in less than 3 minutes shouldn’t get too preachy about fossil fuel use.

    6. Yes!! If we have subsidies, and those are bad, we need to tax to equal out the effect of the subsidy!!

  6. the enormous expense of funerals, which now cost over $8,000 on average

    Expensive funerals help grievers expedite the stages of grief and just focus on anger.

  7. OT: When did the BBC become so racist?

    http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/how…..ct-negroni

    1. A grocery clerk once recounted being hassled by some old white biddy over their racist inventory. She was upset about the frijoles negros they sold in the canned foods aisle.

      1. Did he say to her, “Lady, you can’t taste racism!”

      2. Had someone turn around quickly and give me an odd look once when they heard me ordering Negro Modelo at a bar in a Mexican restaurant.

        1. This is why there are no Nigerian restaurants in America.

          Well, that and the fact that their food is just starch after starch after starch.

          1. I don’t believe I’ve ever had Nigerian foods. I might have to go check this place out.

            http://www.intercontinentalnc.com/

          2. I remember when I was a kid, the first time I tried to pronounce “Niger” out loud it didn’t go too well.

        2. Did you pronounce it “neeegro”. Otherwise that seems a bit oversensitive.

          Anyway, since when is “negro” offensive? It makes you sound like you are 100 years old and way out of touch, but not racist.

          1. Nope. Nay-gro

  8. That crunchy funeral won’t be too crunchy after a few days in a cardboard box.

    1. +1 unopened carton

      1. +1 What’s in the box? WHAT’S IN THE BOX!?!?

        1. That was so messed up.

        2. That was so messed up.

  9. I hope Ohio does this. I want a burial-at-highway. Like a burial-at-sea, but my friends kick my shrouded corpse out of the back of a pickup onto an interstate highway and I become one with the pavement. Glorious!

    1. I want a Viking funeral.

  10. Cultural Appropriation

    http://www.foxnews.com/enterta…..tcmp=hpbt4

    1. How long till the first fatwa?

  11. I kinda like the idea of that service where they pack your ashes and a tree see into a container that can then be planted into ground so that a tree grows from your remains.

    1. without more details on the implementation, I’m not sure that would work. Your cremated remains would make a fine soul soil amendment, but wouldn’t work on it’s own. Too basic, possibly even caustic.

      1. Did you just call Stormy basic?

          1. Oh NaOH you did it.

            1. SNaP!

      2. It would work nicely if they turned your corpse into charcoal and mixed it up with some soil, though.

        1. My burial plan: Take the funeral expense money, use is as a donation to an arboretum, have my ashes mixed in the backfill of an newly planted tree.

        2. Most of the carbon burns off. Charcoal isn’t a very useful amendment anyway. Ashes provide K and micronutrients.

      3. That gives me an idea. Render all of the fat from my body. Burn the rest and make lye from the ashes, then make soap from the fat and lye and insist in my will that all my loved ones use it.

        1. The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

    2. How about if they lay your corpse in a young tree and it just grows around and incorporated your skeleton. That would be pretty cool.

      1. I think my tree would die

        1. I want to eat the fruit from Agile Cyborg’s tree. I bet it makes you see God.

          1. See God, no. Make God devise a whole new punishment for mankind, yes.

  12. while returning remains to the earth in the quickest and most environmentally responsible way possible

    Sorry. Mulching. Maybe used in a mushroom farm after that?

    1. I’m going to donate my body to a group of necrophiliacs. They’ll have a great time abusing all of my orifices and I’ll be dead so I won’t care. Hopefully they’ll make a youtube video.

      1. Donate? Why not sell? Make a little extra cash for those you left behind?

        On a sicker note, would it be wrong to sell dead children to necrophiliac pedophiles?

        1. Why waste perfectly good meat?

          1. They’re not going to want to keep them forever.

        2. On a sicker note, would it be wrong to sell dead children to necrophiliac pedophiles?

          Umm, yes.

          1. What about fetuses? /planned parenthood exec

  13. Super and Easiest 0nl!nee Home opportunity for all. make 85 Dollars per hour and Make 6500 Dollars per month.All you just Need an Internet Connection and a Computer To Make Some Extra cash.I4…

    ———- http://www.E-cash10.COM

  14. This guy had the common decency to take care of disposal when he died.

  15. Am I free to have a Viking funeral, sir? Or a sky funeral? Or to have my slaves immured alive with my corpse inside a pyramid, that I may be remembered as long as men walk the Earth? No? THEN I AM NOT FREE, SIR, GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR.

    Related

  16. What if I’m just cheap and have zero reverence for corpses? Can I still have the cardboard casket?

    This is great. I absolutely loathe the funeral industry. This ought to knock them down a peg. The only thing you should be required to do with a dead body is to dispose of it in a sanitary way.

    1. +1 modest receptacle

  17. Shelia opened The Good Earth Burial Ground just north of Huntsville, Alabama, to provide inexpensive and environmentally friendly interments.


    This works too
    .

  18. I want my family to sell my organs on the black market

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.