Is this REALLY a Hill Worth Dying on?

I think I can make a very strong case that funeral service as a profession makes a vital social contribution to society. For me that makes it a noble profession. Unfortunately, the profession doesn’t act with nobility as often as so many of us would wish.

Not long ago I spoke of Alpha Dogs and observed that one way to recognize them is their obsession with fighting lost wars. In a very recent Wall Street Journal article was this headline

A Casket Cartel and the Louisiana Way of Death

We have enough strings to push up hill without this kind of publicity:

“It didn’t take a divine revelation to recognize that funeral directors were using the law, the government licensing entity they controlled, and their political clout to monopolize the lucrative casket market…In ruling for the monks this week, however, the Fifth Circuit held that the Constitution prohibits laws that amount to “naked transfers of wealth” to industry cartels.” Quoted from the article

This has to fall in the category of “what are you thinking?” Can’t you come up with something less politically popular to fight about?

Of course, as with Pennsylvania, we should expect this to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Thank you guys for making it harder for the rest of us to earn respect.

By |2018-01-25T20:26:06-04:00March 25th, 2013|Blog, Leadership, The Creedy Commentary|4 Comments


  1. Jeff Staab March 26, 2013 at 10:25 am - Reply

    All the free publicity this case is gigving to the monks just makes the Monks website climb in Google rankings. So the case will help the Monks eventually sell more caskets in the long run. God works in mysterious way’s and Karma will side with the law in this case.

  2. John Horan March 26, 2013 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Laws and regulations are poor ways to limit competition or force consumers to buy our services and merchandise. Increasingly, courts are finding such laws unconstitutional, but I see better reasons to repeal or avoid such laws. The Baby Boomers are redefining the public’s desire for our goods and services and we see a shift from the physical presence of the deceased in a religious context to the virtual presence of the deceased within an atmosphere emphasizing memories and hospitality.

    Here in the western US and in many other areas we increasingly learn that we have to make a little on a lot of things. Receptions, for example. It astounds me that some states have made it illegal to offer such hospitality. We do quite well with our reception centers. I am building a bar in a reception facility now – it won’t be right for everyone, but it will be perfect for many (and another aspect of our ability to be profitable).

    Furthermore, in Colorado I have had the freedom to hire the best and brightest, without the hindrances of licensing laws. While I can make a case for licensing embalmers, my experience has been that funeral directors and people in support roles should be subject to significantly lesser regulation. Colleagues from around the country visit and marvel at the quality of my co-workers, many of whom we hired in their 30’s and 40’s and have helped attend the local mortuary science program – not because it’s required, but because we believe it is important. With proper training, these individuals provide extraordinary care for families, their co-workers, and the company while, in many cases, attending mortuary science college. We are able to pay them commensurate with the higher level of work they do and the results they achieve. In many states (most?), it becomes far more difficult to hire great people with valuable life experience because laws and regulations limit their activities to work that justifies the level of compensation that is inconceivable to great people who have car and house payments, children in school, etc.

    Our laws and regulations across the country were built when the focus was on the the deceased. The future belongs to those who refocus to be relevant and provide value to those who seek to change and adapt.

    • Greg Wright March 26, 2013 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Well said, John. The funeral directors and support staff I know throughout Colorado exhibit the same caring and concern for families as their counterparts in other states that require more licensing. I particularly agree with your closing remark about the need for death care providers to be more relevant to our culture today and in the future.

  3. Jon Zwick April 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    As Mark Jahn frequently comments when this topic is discussed…does a license qualify you for funeral service or do you just need to know how to treat people kindly? Does the license cause you to treat people any more effectively or make you a better listener? Some of the best employees are just like John’s, they know how to treat people and are taught to use their desire and talents to the max…and are non-licensed.

Leave A Comment