Letters to the Editor – September 2000

Title: Letter to the Editor

Publication: The Outcrop, September 2000, p. 6

Dear Ed[itor]:

Is it ethical for RMAG to support state legislation for registration and licensing of geologists? My answer is an unequivocal NO.

Licensing means the state granting permission to earn a living. Licensing prevents people from providing needed services to willing customers. These laws are used by governments to gain more revenues and exert more power and control over our lives, by taking our money and telling us what we can and can’t do without their permission, at the point of a gun if we don’t like it.

Do we need licensing to ensure competent and ethical geologists? Last year, Stephen A. Sonnenberg of DPA/AAPG asked the question: “Should geologists join the ranks of other professionals including doctors, lawyers, and engineers whose work requirements, ethics, and responsibilities and professional standards are held accountable by a state board of registration?” Just look at those industries and see how difficult it is to enter those fields, and how much government is controlling them. I would much rather know my doctor is certified through the AMA than the FDA.

I had hoped that privatizing the credentialing process through certification by DPA/AAPG would allow geologists some amount of professional prestige and confidence with the public, but the power of certification is nothing when compared with the power of the state. Ethically, RMAG/DPA/AAPG should oppose all such licensing proposals and promote their own certification as proof of competence. Professionally and scientifically, our organization could run rings around a bunch of government bureaucrats entrusted with the power to “allow” us to work.

Ethically, if RMAG wishes to achieve their promoted goal of advancing the earth sciences, the organization must not promote legislation that would discourage individuals from entering the field and starting businesses. In fact, they should do just the opposite, by promoting ease of entry into the field by apprentice geologists through avoidance of state mandates and by using the organization’s standards to provide the public some confidence as to our competence.

Terry W. Donze