I have always been a big fan of Todd Van Beck and his writing and consider him a friend. He was one of the first well known funeral directors to really work hard to bridge the gap between FD's and Cemeterians. The first time I heard him articulate his visioin was in Spokane, Washington sometime in the 1990s and I was impressed.
Thats why I was struck by his recent blog post yearning for the protectionist days of yore when one didn't have any casket competition. It reminded me of a union negotiation during the 1980s. The same union representing the cemetery workers also represented the Budweiser brewerey workers. During a break in the talks, the union leader proudly told me a story.
(Think thick New Jersey accent here) "You wouldn't believe what those guys at Budweiser tried to do to us. See the way it works is, two guys rolls the barrels from the Brewery to the loading dock door, then two other guys take the barrels and bring them through the door to the loading dock. Those bastards took down the wall so the first two guys that bring the barrels from the brewery could walk right out onto the loading dock, it was unbelievable! We were gonna lose two jobs." I asked him what they did, "What we did, what do you mean what we did? We made them put the wall back up!"
Update to today, the plant is closed. The same thing happenned in Detroit and will happen anywhere else when you try to stop time. You can hold things back only so long and then the pace of change will accelerate to makeup for the time you held it back. Trying to be the sole providor of caskets, or trying to keep anti combination legislation on the books or any of these types of anti competitive (and thus anti consumer) actions will distract you from dealing with the current real situation we face. When your wall of protectionism eventually crumbles, you will be that much further behind the curve and the economic dislocation that occurs as a result will be much more violent and disruptive than it would have been had you allowed consumers to excercise the free choice to which they are surely entitled.
Get out there and mix it up in the real marketplace that exists and don't try to create artificial situations that only benefit yourself, I think that's another way to look at serving the public.