Free to Design: Florida Entrepreneurs Take On the Interior Design Cartel


My parents came from Cuba, and they lost everything. I think losing your home and being
sort of uprooted like that in such a dramatic way, it definitely influenced my desire to help people create a beautiful home. -America was once hailed as the land of opportunity, but today it has become the land of red tape
and government regulation. In the 1950’s about 5%
of the American work force was subject to occupational licensing. Today it is nearly 30%. -Our study Designed to Exclude finds that occupational
licensing laws applying to interior designers is more likely to exclude minorities and mid-career
job switchers.
-Eva Locke is a perfect example. After getting a liberal arts degree from Tulane
University and raising a family, she decided to follow her lifelong dream of doing interior design work. But the State of Florida has put many hurdles
between her and that dream, including getting another degree, passing a mostly irrelevant thousand-dollar
licensing exam called the NCIDQ, and completing a four-year apprenticeship under a state licensed
interior designer.
-Working under a licensed interior designer felt like I was an indentured servant. -Eva’s friend and classmate Pat Levenson is another mid-career switcher whose combination
of ability and passion also led her to a career in interior design.
-The results of the aptitude
test were cabinet maker, auto mechanic or interior
designer.
I was producing drawings and even though they’re technical drawings you could
make them beautiful so I got a creative outlet. They take a long time, but it’s rewarding. It’s like a piece of art when it’s done.
-Proponents of
regulation claim the laws are necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare, but there isn’t a shred of evidence to support
those claims, as the leader of the lobbying effort in Texas recently admitted during a
TV news interview.
-Are there any examples in Texas where there has been some sort of a safety
problem because somebody that wasn’t a licensed designer designed? -Actually there are not things that I can document right now. -Abuse of occupational licensing has an ugly
history in America. At first it was used to suppress competition
from newly freed African-Americans, from Asian and European immigrants, and from women. Today it has become a powerful weapon in the
Arsenal of special interest groups like the American Society of Interior Designers, who use it to
suppress fair competition.
-This is supposed to be the land of opportunity and freedom. -There is both the artistic element and
the technical element and I think by combining the two I will be able to achieve to me what is the American
dream.
-The Institute for Justice has filed a lawsuit challenging Florida’s unconstitutional interior
design law. Eva, Pat, and countless other Floridians
want nothing more than to be able to work in the occupation of their choice free from arbitrary or unreasonable government interference.
-I think that would be my version of the American dream.

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