Posted by Charles
What do we think of these e-petitions? Democracy at its finest? A place where the mad, the bad and the rabid can loose off a bit of spleen? Something in between? HM Gov describes e-petitions as “an easy way for you to influence government policy in the UK”. We never supposed our governing class cared so much about what we think.
Topping the charts just now is Convicted London rioters should loose all benefits. You can see the rest here.
Languishing at the bottom we have this: Hook up the national grid to the crematoriums
Also down there is this: Regulation of Funeral Industry
I’ve been monitoring this Regulation petition for a few days. When I first looked it had 5 signatories. When I just looked it had 7. It seems not to have legs.
In a more or less scandal free industry this is to be expected. But when an undertaker screws up, it’s natural that the person who’s been screwed is going to conclude that regulation is the answer. There’s an example of this here.
I don’t think regulation is the answer for three reasons.
First, when someone dies it is their executor who is the lawful possessor of the body, responsible for disposing of it. So the executor is the funeral director. The executor has to register the death. The executor has to apply for burial or cremation. The executor has to demonstrate that he or she saw it through. The role of the undertaker is secondary, subordinate and collaborative. It is to do those things (and only those things) that the executor is allowed to delegate and which he or she doesn’t want to do. Conclusion: if an executor doesn’t need a qualification, why on earth would an undertaker?
Second, professionalising and regulating undertakers can only reinforce the perception that they are the default disposers of our dead and, worse, move them a step closer to being the only people allowed to do so. We the people are the default disposers of our dead. An undertaker is our agent. That is our ancient right, and that right defines our responsibility both to ourselves and to our dead. Our dead belong to us. Let us not give them up.
Third, it is hard to see how nasty undertakers could be transformed into nice ones by government regulation. It doesn’t work like that in any other industry. It doesn’t work like that in America where costs are high and scandals plenty.
Where there is room for improvement—and there certainly is—it will be brought about by clients who exert informed expectations on undertakers. We all have a responsibility to guard our best interests, even at a time like death.
In short, consumer scrutiny is the way to keep ‘em honest. Don’t sign the petition.