Chronicles of the Unnecessary looks at branches of the California bureaucratic tree that should be pruned.
The Bureau of Behavioral Sciences (BBS), a part of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, regulates several professional designations: Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Educational Psychologists, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors, MFT Interns, Associate Clinical Social Workers and Professional Clinical Counselor Interns. It does it ostensibly to protect consumers.
I’m not so sure. If the BBS is out to protect the consumer, why is it going about suspending the license of any of these professionals if they fail to pay their state taxes? Yep. That threat is the big news on the home page of the BBS website. If the BBS were protecting consumers, they wouldn’t be brown shirts for the tax collectors, they’d be champions of consumers who just might die if they are denied access to their tax-dodging marriage counselor or educational psychologist.
Which brings me to the larger point. If this agency weren’t here and some clinical counselor or associate clinical social worker went off the reservation and told their client to ignore his or her inner voice instead of listening to it, or they said “And how does that make you smell?” instead of “And how does that make you feel?” would anyone die?
Of course not. So why do we need the state licensing these people? Let the good ones advance and the bad ones fail based on the recommendations of their supervisors or the sharp judgments of the free market. Or, if the profession really feels a need to certify its members, let their professional association handle it, without taxpayer support.
Of course, cutting BBS wouldn’t do much to remedy California’s $20 billion budgetary nightmare. It received a paltry $7,775,000 in the 2011-2012 state budget. But indicative of Gov. Brown’s inability to put a fiscal lap band on Sacramento, he’s recommended $8,153,000 go to the BBS in the 2012-2013 budget, a five percent increase.
The increase is particularly suspect because BBS is supposed to be merged into Brown’s new mega-anti-business agency, the Business and Consumer Service Agency, which is supposed to make government more efficient. Since when is needing five percent more to run a place a sign of greater efficiency? Oh, that’s right. This is government. It defines efficiency a bit differently.
Here’s what I wrote about Brown’s new Business and Consumers Service Agency in Crazifornia:
A new motivation for companies to leave California lies about as well hidden as a body in a very shallow grave in Gov. Brown’s 2012-13 budget proposal. It is the governor’s latest reaction to California’s business exodus: a new mega-agency, the Business and Consumer Services Agency. Brown hyped it as an effort to downsize government through consolidation, but it’s really something much more sinister: a consolidation of anti-business attitudes into a new mega-agency. One look at its structure and it’s evident the Business and Consumer Services Agency will “service” businesses in the way male farm animals “service” female ones.
The agency will combine habitually anti-business state departments handling consumer affairs, “fair” employment practices and various business licensing and inspection functions, creating a concentration of the state bureaucracies that are most inclined to make things harder for business owners. Into this fetid anti-business environment Brown plans to drop, quoting from his budget summary, “the newly restructured Department of Business Oversight.” Restructured from what? The department doesn’t currently exist, so it appears that Brown is creating an entirely new arm of government, surrounding it with anti-business zealots and charging it with increasing the amount of oversight directed at California businesses that are already suffering from acute oversight poisoning.
So, let’s cut the BBS BS and make California a teeny bit more efficient. How does that make you feel?