MLN Vol.3.No.3

Massage Law Newsletter

Vol. 3, No. 3                                      ISSN 1073-5461                                        April 1998


The Bill was so unpopular that it was soundly defeated and died in committee. It will not go to the House or Senate floor for a vote. There are more than 8,000 legitimate bodyworkers in Oklahoma. More than 200 therapists appeared at the hearing to protest the bill, even though they were given only 20 hours notice of the meeting. Less than 20 people, who had been given 20 days notice, some from out of state, appeared to support the bill. (From AAMP Currents. Mountainburg, AR. Winter 1998)


Albert Schatz, Ph.D.

The king is naked.

The emperor has no clothes.

The public and most professionals believe that occupational licensing protects service consumers against charlatans and incompetents. The evidence reveals licensing to be a mystifying arrangement that promises protection of the public but that actually institutionalizes a lack of accountability to the public. - Stanley Gross in The Myth of Professional Licensing

"Dress a monkey as you will. It

 remains a monkey still.

 SENATE BILL 1171 IS A BUBBLE OF ILLUSION because there is no research which provides well-documented eevidence that its alleged benefits are real.1

The myth of harm

According to the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition. "Licensure is first and foremost to protect the public from harm."

But  Senate Bill 1171 cannot protect the pubic from harm simply  because there is no harm from which the public needs to be protected. On the contrary, massage is safe. In fact,you are:

1. more likely to be struck by lightning than injured by massage.

2. twice as likely to win $1,000,000 in the Indiana state lottery than injured by massage. The odds for that lottery are one in 9,200,000.1 The odds for injury by massage are one in 19,240,000.2

3. more likely to be injured by falling out of bed than by massage.1

4. more likely to be sexually harassed by a male practitioner, if you're a woman, than physically injured by the massage.2

Revealing this myth of harm may be upsetting to   those who are promoting Senate Bill 1171. But SENATE BILL 1171 IS A  BUBBLE OF ILLUSION because Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may deride it: malice may distort it; but there it is. (Winston Churchill)

Other myths about

 Senate Bill 1171

Senate Bill 1171 was sired by the Penn- sylvania Licensure Coalition which was born in April of 1994. That was four years ago.  During these four years, neither the Coalition nor others who have been promoting Senate Bill 1171 have provided any well-documented evidence that Senate Bill 1171:

1. will  result  in more competent practitioners in terms of on-the-job performance.

2. will reduce prostitution.

3. will reduce sexual harassment of women by male practitioners.

4. is needed for processing complaints against practitioners. Present laws already provide for that.

5. has educational requirements that are justified. 

6. will exempt practitioners from complying with local ordinances.

7. will protect the public from incompetent practitioners.

Who wants Senate Bill 1171,

and why?

The history of state massage licensing reveals that it has invariably been promoted by special interest groups, not by consumer protection agencies.

It is obvious that those who want Senate Bill 1171 are those  who will benefit from it. The question then arises, "How will they benefit?"

It seems that proponents of licensing are hopeful that a state license would mean more money, status, and power. (Jerry A. Green, Attorney  for the California Coalition on Somatic Practices)

I think the move toward licensure is regrettable. I believe licensing creates state-sanctioned monopolies ... with the explicit goal of  'protecting the public,' but with the real effect of protecting those who hold the monopolies' respective entitlements, reducing information to the public, and restricting competition. (Don Schwartz, Executive Director, The Trager Institute

$$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$

Senate Bill 1171 is detrimental to the public because it provides special interest groups with monopoly control.

Monopoly control is advantageous to those special interest groups because they make money from it. But monopoly control is detrimental to the public, including bodyworkers, from whom that money is extracted.

The spectre of harm is raised by those who promote licensure of massage because legislators, who don't now that massage does not cause harm, assume that licensure is needed to protect the public from that harm. 

What about other states

that have licensure?

The argument that Pennsylvania should enact Senate Bill 1171 because other states have massage laws implies that Pennsylvania legislators should let others do their thinking for them.


The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not entirely absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible. - Bertrand Russell

Voluntary title


Special interest groups  are  opposed to voluntary title protection because voluntary title protection  does not give them monopoly control.

Voluntary title protection is the democratic way to effectively protect massage therapists from harassment by other professions, if that protection is needed.

Voluntary title protection is democratic because it enables massage therapists, who want state certification, to get it.

It also permits massage therapists, who don't want to be state-certified, to do massage without being state-certified.

With voluntary title protection, two titles avoid confusion, on the part of the public, as to who is and is not state-certified.

 Only those who are state-certified would be permitted to use the title State-Certified Massage Therapist. Others, who are not state-certified, could use the title Massage Therapist or any other title which does not imply they are state-certified.

Voluntary title protection need not concern itself with protecting the public from harm because massage does not injure people.

Senate Bill 1171 would

never exist

if Pennsylvania had a Sunrise Law because a Sunrise law w requires those who promote Senate Bill 117 to provide legislators with well-documented evidence that:

1. The unlicensed profession is a serious danger to the public health and safety;

2. State licensing will adequately protect the public health and safety; and

3. No other means can also protect the public health and safety.

There is no way that those who have been and are promoting Senate Bill 1171 can provide information which meets the requirements of a Sunrise Law.

What have we learned from

Senate Bill 1171?

1. Pennsylvania needs a Sunrise Act so  that legislators would not have to spend time on bills that are bubbles of illusion.

2. Humor heightens our sense of survival and preserves our sanity. - Charlie Chaplin

References: (1) DePledge, D. Hype and disclosure in state lottery ads. Philadelphia Inquirer. Section A3. March 16, 1998.    (2) Schatz, A. The Georgia AMTA's data reveal that massage is safe, not harmful. Licensure is not needed to protect the public from harm which does not occur. Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. 3(2):1-4, 1998.

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