Not to be too much of a megaphone for the Institute for Justice, but the "merry band of litigators" has struck again, this time going after the rigid rules stopping Virginians from finding inner peace. It seems that in the fair commonwealth, you need a permit to teach yoga, which process entails paying $2500 and getting your "curriculum" approved by state bureaucrats, as well as other barriers to entry. For more details, see IJ's case page and read this editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Also, check out IJ’s video:
Last month I blogged about attempts by various state governments to regulate yoga instructors by forcing them to obtain a costly government license. Today the Washington Post has a story on Virginia's efforts to place the government boot on the necks of its yogis:
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia recently declared that studios offering yoga teacher instruction must be certified. That involves a $2,500 fee, audits, annual charges of at least $500 and a pile of paperwork.
Let's call this what it is: extortion. And if you still harbor the illusion that bureaucrats don't sit around thinking up ways to pilfer more money from productive members of society, think again:
In Virginia, yoga teacher training first hit the state's radar late last year after a state employee conducting school audits happened upon an advertisement, said Linda Woodley, the higher education council's director of private and out-of-state postsecondary education. Before that, Woodley said, 'I was not aware they existed, and they were not aware we existed.'
Well congratulations, Ms. Woodley -- the yogi community now knows you exist.
Studios can teach lotus poses to as many clients as they like, state officials said. But teacher training programs, which the state views as similar to dog grooming, massage therapy or other classes intended to prepare someone for a job, must be certified under state law. (For instance, Simply Ballroom Dance Teachers Academy, Danny Ward Horseshoeing School and Jiggers Bartending School are certified.)
Virginia citizens should sleep sound at night knowing ballroom dance teachers, horseshoers, and bartenders are government certified.
Woodley said it's also about ensuring that students who plunk down cash for training programs that can run a few thousand dollars are getting their money's worth. Plus, she said, being listed on the government registry will give schools a marketing tool, like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.
Good Housekeeping seal of approval? Ladies and gentleman, this is the mentality of the state bureaucrats that the federal government has tasked with "stimulating" the economy with YOUR money.
The NY Times reports today on various state government efforts to regulate yoga classes by forcing instructors to obtain a government license.
I'm not going to get into why government licensing is a pernicious racket here. Rather, I just want to make a point about the nature of the mini–Washington DCs currently in charge of laundering Uncle Sam's so-called economic "stimulus" money.
From the NYT article:
In March, Michigan gave schools on the list one week to be certified by the state or cease operations. Virginia’s cumbersome licensing rules include a $2,500 sign-up fee — a big hit for modest studios that are often little more than one-room storefronts.
Lisa Rapp, who owns My Yoga Spirit in Norfolk, Va., said she had canceled her future classes and was preparing to close her seven-year-old business this summer. “This caused us to shut down the studio all together,” Ms. Rapp said. “It’s too bad, because this community really needs yoga.”
A nice little story to keep in mind the next time you hear some politician or government apologist claim that the states' current inability to spend as they did before the recession is somehow endangering an economic recovery.
I think what disgusts me the most about this story is the fact that the yoga "industry" opened itself up for attack by creating an online registry "to establish teaching standards in an effort to have the industry regulate itself." As a friend sarcastically intoned to me in an email, "They tried to self-regulate and Leviathan just ended up using it to impose regulation. Brilliant."
The NYT captures the mentality of these bureaucratic thugs:
The conflict started in January when a Virginia official directed regulators from more than a dozen states to an online national registry of schools that teach yoga and, in the words of a Kansas official, earn a “handsome income” in the process...
“If you’re going to start a school and take people’s money, you should play by a set of rules,” said Patrick Sweeney, a Wisconsin licensing official, who believes that in 2004 he was the first state official to discover the online registry and use it to begin regulating yoga teaching.
The bright side is that these yoga instructors are feeling the government's boot on their throat and not liking it:
Brette Popper, a co-founder of Yoga City NYC, a Web site that has closely chronicled licensing developments, said that the yoga community — described on the site as “a group that doesn’t even always agree about how to pronounce ‘Om’ ” — was finally uniting around a common enemy. (Emphasis mine.)
The NYT quotes one regulation opponent as saying the conflict is about “bureaucracy versus freedom.” Amen, my friend. I don't know much about yoga, and I'm as flexible as steel, but today we lovers of liberty are all yoga instructors!