Never let a crisis go to waste. The depression in Greece has made the old rules unenforceable, and free-market economics has arisen to fill the vacuum.
For proof, see today’s New York Times, which has a heart-warming story about disruptive innovation in the Greek health care sector. Bloated public hospitals have seen their budgets slashed, and one of the results is that overpriced nurses aren't roaming the halls any more, looking for the occasional task to keep boredom at bay. No, there is now a lively market in nursing, where patients are empowered to seek out the nurses at their preferred price point and pay them only for the work they perform.
One of the beneficial byproducts of this development is the undermining of Greece’s system of requiring nurses to attend (equally bloated) universities in order to obtain licenses. Economic theory proved long ago that licensing is simply a ruse that pampered professionals put forward to justify their unearned rents. Once professional work is firmly placed on a market basis reputation will be sufficient to achieve an efficient level of consumer-driven quality.
You might object that the Times story presents these developments as a catastrophe, not a renaissance. That’s because most of their sources are these same moochers from the public trough, while the few hard-working free-market nurses they contacted were clearly intimidated by the threat of reprisals from the all-seeing state. Naturally, those who are disrupted are against disruption: that’s the innovator’s dilemma.
Will it take a depression to bring the same reformist spirit to America? How long must we wait until American hospital patients are free to choose their own nurses and parents are free to choose the teachers and schools they want for their kids?