As I mentioned, I'm no Home Inspector. However, I've dealt with them PLENTY of times. Anyways, at the same time, what does the 'Average Joe' have to go on when it comes time to hire a Home Inspector? (No 'real need' to answer this question; It's really a rhetorical one. Anyways, ...)
The average consumer most likely doesn't even know if the Inspector they choose is an ASHI Inspector (or not), let alone is required to HAVE a license in their state (assuming they need to have one.) What I'm trying to say is really what you're saying. A licensed OR an ASHI Inspector is no guarantee for anything. (So we 'understand' each other on that point.) At the same time, if a consumer is familiar with what an ASHI Inspector IS, then chances are very good that they know they have Standards of Practice and a Code of Ethics. Yes, chances are less that the consumer knows, specifically, what the details of the Practice and Ethics are BUT both have a lot going for them. I have to admit that when I went to buy my first house, I never hear of ASHI until I was handed a pamphlet by our Realtor (among other pamphlets.) When I read a little about what the Inspector wrote about being an ASHI Inspector, I did have a decent level of 'comfort' in knowing that they had some 'rules' to follow. And as you've also written, the consumre STILL should ask questions. But do they? Do they know what kind of questions to ask a proposed Inspector? Probably not, and that's where reading about ASHI comes into play. Since the majority of the public hasn't anything to go on to begin with, at least reading that they're ASHI helps them get to some 'level' of comfort in knowing their Inspector w/o 'knowing' them.
I'm not really disagreeing w/you on your point that because the Inspector is ASHI, one should sit back and 'fagetaboutit'. I think it's reasonable to say that if an Inspector is ASHI Approved, there's a 'higher standard' they're being held to. You know how word travels in your business. Oh, that pamphlet I got from my Realtor about an ASHI INspector DID tell me what to 'ask' other Inspectors I was considering to hire, along with what it meant to be ASHI. I was able to call ASHI (the number was in the pamphlet) to ask about the Inspector. Well, ... 'nough said. Again, I agree w/you on your point. I'd suspect that unless 'you' have an excellent reputation in your business where you're NOT an ASHI Inspector, you don't have to be an ASHI Inspector. But for those starting out, or for those not minding that they be held to a higher standard, ASHI is not a bad 'way to go'.