Professions and High Caliber Individuals

I always like to try and find arguments against myself. So I thought I'd ponder the issue of professions. If you're a Libertarian minded person, you are probably against professions. A pharmacist, no matter how valuable their knowledge... really seems more like a glorified cashier.  All their conflicting medication knowledge could pretty much be boiled down to a simple computer database.

Most functions of a doctor could probably be done by lesser health professionals quite easily.  If they can't handle it, they can pass it to a doctor.  Do I really need to book a visit with my doctor so he can prescribe me the same medication he has for the past 10 years?

But then I ask, would we have the high-caliber individuals in these professions were it not for the job protection they receive from state regulation.  Would we get the great brain surgeons or great chemists?   Without a path of excellent set out, how would you get a great brain surgeon?
Would a talented person even choose the medical field if there were no job guarantees?  Would they invest years upon years of education were they not all but guaranteed a decent living?

We can kind of see this issue developing in engineering and software.  As the entry requirements have dropped and there is ever less professionalism.  Talented people shun the field.  The low-level jobs still get done.  But everyone company is desperate for the top engineer and developer and architect.  Where do we get such people?  They don't appear out of nowhere.

So if you hire someone with just enough know how to change some SQL for a database.  They will be cheap for sure.  They will get the job done 95% of the time.  Yet, can you build such a person into a high-caliber individual capable of architecting a distributed database?  Nope.  As this spreads throughout industry... there are fewer and fewer capable of being high caliber individuals.  Those who might be capable are not built to their full potential as it becomes hard to isolate them.

The point is some jobs need high calibre individuals and they cannot be broken down.
You cannot replace a lawyer with a requirements analyst and a team of secretaries.
You cannot replace a good developer/engineer with a product manager, project manager, requirements analyst, a team of mediocre programmers and a million testers.

Just think back to high school.  It's not like you could take 10 C students and if you put them in a group they could somehow solve a complex calculus problem.  Whereas some other A students just 'got it'.
I know my limitation for example.  I'm 'good' but not great.  I'm always amazed at people who understood probability courses.  I never 'got it'.  I got it enough to get through university, but I never felt like I truly got it the way I understand programming or Algebra...

I actually taught computer science to high school.  I was always fascinated by how people learn.  Some 'got it' and some didn't.  Some people can think sequentially and algorithmically.  Some don't understand variables.  I see now people with 10 years experience who still seem to suffer these problems.  I'd love to know how people's brains are shaped to think in such a way.  I don't know.  I can't explain how some people understand calculus and derivatives...  while others can go through all of high school, attend university, and still can't do fractions. 
In any case, it is all besides the point.

Now a very legitimate counter-argument to this is that this is only a problem because high caliber individuals have easy alternatives.  They can shun engineering and software because there is still a guaranteed path for them in the medical profession, legal profession...  If we lived in a libertarian world, they would not have this easy path and they would be in the field and take charge.  I don't know if this is valid or not... but it is something to keep in mind.

Now the Western in general has decided the way to create these high caliber individuals is to not build them in industry, but to build them in the university system.  They do this primarily because it is the only control mechanism they have.  Free trade has all but gutted many industries.  Barriers to entry are seen as preventing business.  So the only avenue left for government support is the university system.

Once again, we have a problem with this... and we can see it play out.  Why are so many grad student in Western universities from Asia?  It's quite simple, most Western people shun the advanced academic streams because it's a pretty ridiculous career path.  Spend the next 10 years in some of the hardest math and science, only to have no guarantee of a job... and unless you're a super high-caliber individual capable of founding your own company, you really don't have an advantage over anyone else.  So they don't make the investment.

It is much easier to make a commitment to a field and grow in it if you have a good chance of a secure long term job,
A young student thinking of medicine might not know if they're capable of being a brain surgeon.  You will never know unless you're pushed and try it out.  But they will enter the medical field knowing they can at least be a decent family doctor.

How would this look in Engineering and software.  Well first of all, all the 'admin' job would have their requirements raised.  So operating a router would require more credentials and training.... not just a CCNA.  This is like your doctor job protection... where only doctors can prescribe and diagnose... even though a nurse could probably do the same job 80% of the time.  From there, you move up to more specialties.

Just pondering.


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