You hear it all of the time:

“Our educational system needs reform!”

“The healthcare system is all screwed up.”

When it comes to logical and reasonable discussions about what the solutions to some of our problems in healthcare and education (high costs, low quality, mediocre results…all three), the side of liberty and choice loses when we allow the English language to be stretched and abused to the point where calling the delivery of health care or diplomas a “system.”

network_managementNow think about it. What makes healthcare a “system” but…say…auto manufacturing an “industry?” (One would think that since the Federal Government felt comfortable taking over a good chunk of the car industry, they’d call it a “system” too, but I digress.)

Healthcare and education are systematized because everyone in the United States (presumably) needs healthcare…and (presumably) needs formal education, so the logic is that it needs managing to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

But everyone in the United States needs clothing…shelter…and food.  Are these systematized by Governments and managed systematically?  Well food was for a while. We discovered years ago that price fixing in food markets didn’t help farmers and didn’t help consumers.  But food, clothing and housing are markets.  People pay for them.  They choose what to pay for.

For some reason somewhere along the line, it was decided that education and healthcare needed to systematized and here we are…calling them “systems.”


Education is filtered through governments through taxes (or highly subsidized by taxes in the case of higher education), and healthcare is filtered through a series of governments, employers, and insurance companies. If we aren’t paying for it, then someone else is controlling it, and if “they” (whoever they are) want to change that system, we have to advocate for them to change it in a way in which you feel will help.

But we’ve already lost the argument.  Once we’ve conceded that it’s a system, we have ceded the freedom of individuals to control their own destiny.

Until we explicitly make the statement that education and healthcare need to be treated as free markets, where individuals choose their own destiny and pay the price they’re willing to pay, then we will NEVER gain the liberty we seek on these fronts.

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