Industrialized Education / Industrialized Medicine

We’ve had two threads on one of my mailing lists, and they converged for me when we started grousing about ineffective American education in one and expensive corporate American health care (which is not really health-care, but disease management via magic bullets) in another. Here’s my two cents:

It’s not so much that corporations control education or medicine.

American education and American medicine were systemized at the same time, and very purposefully, by the same people, as industrial capitalism was. Certain sets of principles and beliefs were chosen to codify and expand, and any competing systems were deliberately wiped out.

American education and American medicine aren’t controlled by industrial capitalism, they are industrial capitalism. Industrial capitalism controlled the way these public issues were systemized, setting up the ground rules, creating the playing field, and deciding how we keep score. We keep score in two ways: public good (as measured by folks hired by capitalists) and profit, how much money the capitalists make.

I don’t say this as a value judgement, just as a statement of historical fact. If we understand better how we got here, maybe we can influence the future more effectively to make things better for everyone.

There is a lot of good that comes from the industrial heritage, along with some bad things.

Good things:

  • systemized and standardized
  • universally available (to more or less practical limits)
  • proven effective by measurement and goal-oriented improvement

Bad things:

  • reductionist instead of holistic
  • mechanist instead of humanist
  • monoculture – measurement is good for averages, but not individuals or outlying groups
  • goal-orientation is sensitive to who chooses the goals

So, I see good news from this look back. The systems we’ve got now are huge and deeply integrated into our system of capitalism, but, they were not instituted thousands of years ago and baked into our DNA. They’re not immutable natural laws. They were catalyzed only a hundred years ago, by a few people spending lots of John D. Rockefeller et al.’s money.

Those folks had a lot of leverage then because they were on the cusp of a system change into industrial capitalism, but I think we’re in the middle of the same sort of sea change as the world saw with the Industrial Revolution. If you know your purpose, it’s a good time to act.

Additional reading material:

The Underground History of American Education, by John Taylor Gatto

Also see the history tour on the same site.
Rockefeller Medicine Men: Medicine and Capitalism in America, by E. Richard Brown

Rockefeller Medicine Men at Amazon

Full text of Rockefeller Medicine Men at the Soil And Health Library

Scanned images of Rockefeller Medicine Men at Dr. Rath Health Foundation
Mr. Gates’s Summer Vacation, by Charles S. Bryan, MD

Focuses on Frederick T.Gates role in creating American medicine, check out the chart labelled “Gates’s 10 Basal Facts about Medicine”
The Drug Story, by Hans Ruesch

About the Rockefeller drug empire. I can’t vouch for this publisher, but the story is worth checking out.

Comments (2)

  1. It is a good time to act. The Internet enables anyone with a vision to build a web site and invite people from all over the world to take a look. If you’re a well-known person, you’ll probably get a lot more initial response than someone who has no public visibility. However, if what you have on your web site has no value, people will not return or tell friends to visit. If the ideas do have value, the number of people who visit can grow and they can change the world.

    I use the and web sites to show how volunteer based tutoring/mentoring are a form of civic engagment and a strategy for workforce development that any business leader should be willing to invest in.

    I also use the site to help people understand that education reform is at least two conversations, not one.

    One group of people uses images of poor, minority kids to draw attention to school funding issues. In Illinois hundreds of schools that do a good job of educating kids are operating in red ink because of funding issues.

    However, changing the amount spent per student by a few dollars a kid won’t do much to change the baggage kids living in concentrated inner city poverty bring to school with them every day.

    Most people who vote for school policy and support concepts like No Child Left Behind never lived in inner city poverty and only understand the problem by sound bytes provided by the media. Only through involvement in the lives of kids and families can a person’s understanding become more sophisticated and his/her commitment to change become more personal.

    That’s why I promote tutoring/mentoring.

    I started putting this message on web sites in 1998 and have recorded more than 120,00 visitors since then. That’s probably low for most businesess who have millions to spend on advertising. But for small non profits, with no advertising dollars, it’s probably pretty good. If you search tutor mentor on Google, we come up first.

    This means people from around the world are coming to our web sites and looking at the information and links posted.

    That’s good, but not enough. I’m hoping that I can find bloggers who already have the same commitment that I have, who will begin to use their blogs to connect those who can help with information that can inform people’s actions, and with organizations in poverty neighborhoods where help moving kids through school and into jobs needs to be more strategic and long term.

    I hope you’ll take a look at our web sites and give us some feedback or support.

    In May we’ll be hosting conferences and econferences. It’s a place where bloggers can get connected with the T/MC and tutor/mentor programs. Details at

    We can change the world by building a better operating system and making it work.

    Daniel F. Bassill
    Tutor/Mentor connection

    Friday, April 8, 2005 at 11:47 #
  2. Sarah wrote::

    I think that you have a point but the problem is the result. And as a result I see not sufficient knowledge and general outlook of the postgraduates and not affordable medical service.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 08:49 #