Is healthcare a fundemental human right?
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|Updated:||4 weeks ago||Status:||Debating Period|
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Debate Rounds (4)
So, the big question that needs to be answered here is; what is a right? Classical liberal philosophy as well as common sense would argue that a right is a moral or legal entitlement that every person, whether they be Nelson Mandela or Adolf Hitler, is born with, and these natural rights should not be infringed upon by the government. The "big three" rights that people are born with are, according to the Constitution of the United States of America and American influences like John Locke, the rights to life, liberty, and property. Now, if life is a guaranteed right that every living person has, than aren't people entitled to healthcare programs? To establish why this is not the case, the difference between negative and positive rights.
Negative rights, which are also commonly referred to as liberties, are rights that cannot be violated by people or the government. The "big three" mentioned before are examples of these negative rights. Positive rights, which are commonly referred to as claim rights, are rights that require other people and/or the government to provide for you. Many people argue that healthcare is a positive right.
Now that the definitions are clear, the main argument against government-provided healthcare is as follows; never, and I mean never, are you entitled to another person's goods or services. Positive rights are a fallacy, nothing more, nothing less. The idea that individuals and/or the state is obligated to give to you is self-centered and morally reprehensible. To give you an example as to why negative rights in all situations trump positive rights, let's pretend that I have running shoes, and that my opponent doesn't have running shoes. Since I am entitled to my right to property, as are all individuals, I can do whatever I want with my running shoes, and if someone takes my running shoes away, I can take action, either by asking the thief to give me back my shoes, or by heading to the local authorities. If my opponent wants running shoes, I can lend them to him or let him borrow them, but the act of giving my running shoes to him is my choice. If we were to implement positive rights, then because my opponent wants the running shoes I have, not only am I obligated to, but I am forced to give my running shoes to him because if I didn't, I would be violating his right to other people's stuff. All individuals are entitled to not having their rights taken away, but no individuals are entitled to violating other's rights in order to fulfill their desires. Therefore, I am entitled to buying health care if I want, and nobody should be able to take away my health care, but nobody is entitled to having the government raise taxes on everybody else to have their own healthcare.
Going by my opponent's argument, implementing positive rights will have everyone to have running shoes. As he has only one pair, nobody will make him give away his shoes. In such a hypothetical situation, he, along with all other citizens, will have to pay an amount that is lesser than the price of the running shoes (as some people already have them). Now, let's take healthcare. Let's face it- the people who REALLY need healthcare are very few, all the others already have access to it. According to a statistics check,' the % of persons who failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost: 5.3%'. (1)
So, the price each citizen has to pay for these running shoes that only 5.3% of the people actually require will be so abominably small, and in return, one gets the moral satisfaction of providing healthcare. If such a small amount is a huge financial burden for one, then don't worry, they will fall under the 5.3% and get benefited. So, this Government Healthcare System is the ideal robin hood- where Robin Hood steals a cent each from the rich to give to the poor. This would achieve a situation of equality. In my arguments, I will expand on this.
A few quick facts on why this works-
A study on UK vs. USA converted UK taxes to USD-
(In the United Kingdom) 'up to about $60,000 USD - you pay 20%, above that you pay 40%. On someone who earns $100,000 USD - you pay a total of about $30,000 USD (which is almost EXACTLY the same as the US Federal Income Tax)...On top of that, you pay National Insurance. Now, this is specifically for Healthcare and your state-pension. Think of it as Social Security. This is an additional 11% - BUT it occurs AFTER tax, and there is also a maximum. There is also a discount if a person decides to 'opt out' of the pension of approximately 2%... people in the UK pay NOTHING for health insurance on top of what the National Insurance pays. They pay $10 for ANY prescription - no matter how many pills. The National Health system has been in operation since 1948 and is extremely healthy.' (2) British citizens have achieved a great security system for their health just by paying a little bit more.
This system is effective. And similarly, a system with substantial coverage of all citizens to provide them with access to healthcare would work wonders.
My opponent said that no one is entitled to having something through taxes on others. But isn't that the concept of any tax?
According to Wikipedia, 'a tax (from the Latin taxo) is a financial charge or other levy imposed upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state to fund various public expenditures.'(3)
Note the term 'public expenditures'. In any tax, the rich will be benefited less. It is rational and practical.
So, the fact that my opponent doesn't want to be taxed on some things but is okay with other things is irrational, especially when it comes to something as essential as healthcare.
Now, for my arguments
Firstly, some definitions:
Fundamental Right (I presume the opposition meant 'fundamental right' and not 'fundemental'):
The UN says that 'human rights should be protected by rule of law'(1) and Wikipedia defines fundamental rights as 'set of basic...inalienable rights...belong without presumption or cost of privilege to all human beings' (2).
Healthcare: the organized provision of medical care to individuals or a community. (3).
Now, for my argument for the second round:
Provision of uniformly and extensively adequate and affordable healthcare to citizens of a state can boost the economy of that state.
Contention 1: Provision of uniformly and extensively adequate and affordable healthcare to citizens of a state can boost the economy of that state.
'Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have'- Winston Churchill
A BBC post reads '...treating the sick and the injured, the old and the infirm, is so expensive that it has become a massive barrier to politicians' and business leaders' efforts to nurse the economy back to health.'(4)
An expert investor in the diagnostics sector says that 'The system is inefficient...especially in the US where it accounts for some 18% of government spending - twice that in most Western European countries, and about 20 times more than in many developing countries.' (4)
'Sort out the inefficiencies in US healthcare,' the investor insists, 'and we can repay half the $1tn (637bn) deficit in a decade.'(4)
Proper healthcare improves the quality of life of citizens, and they become greater contributors to the economy of the state.
A Harvard study says that 'non-communicable diseases have been established as a clear threat not only to human health, but also to development and economic growth. Claiming 63% of all deaths, these diseases are currently the world's main killer. Eighty percent of these deaths now occur in low- and middle-income countries. Half of those who die of chronic non-communicable diseases are in the prime of their productive years, and thus, the disability imposed and the lives lost are also endangering industry competitiveness across borders.' (5)
To make one fully understand the impact, here are just a few implications:
- Cancer: an estimated US$ 290 billion in 2010 rising to US$ 458 billion in 2030.
- Cardiovascular disease: an estimated US$ 863 billion in 2010 rising to US$ 1.04 trillion in 2030.
- COPD: an estimated US$ 2.1 trillion in 2010 US$ rising to US$ 4.8 trillion in 2030.
- Diabetes: an estimated nearly US$ 500 billion in 2010 rising to at least US$ 745 billion in 2030.
- Mental illness: an estimated US$ 2.5 trillion in 2010 rising to US$ 6.0 trillion by 2030. (5)
Providing a substantial system of healthcare could ensure that the workforce of the economy is fit and can provide maximum contribution to the GDP of the country. It will also reduce the cost incurred due to the dependent sectors (Geriatrics and the diseased).
Here are a few sourced excerpts to support my point-
'There's a well-understood correlation that as the economy of a country improves, so the health of its citizens improves. What may be less obvious is that the opposite is also true 'improving the health of a nation's citizens can directly result in economic growth, because there will be more people able to conduct effective activities in the workforce.' (6)
Wold Bank Study-'A recent article by Jakob Madsen convincingly explains how improved health and nutrition conditions in a population can drive economic growth. To reach this conclusion, Madsen constructed a measure of health-adjusted educational attainment among the working-age population (based on their health status during the time they did their education) and assessed data for 21 OECD countries from 1812-2009.
As Madsen's paper shows, the pathway through which health influences economic growth can be better understood when considering the direct contribution of malnutrition and sickness among children on decreased enrolment and increased absenteeism from school. Illness also contributes to reduced concentration in the classroom, cognitive impairment, stigma, and impaired coping skills. Similarly, ideas production as measured by the growth in patents, entrepreneurship and lateral thinking to solve problems through creative approaches, are impaired by chronic health conditions. So, ill health, premature mortality and disability negatively influence cognitive development, learning, the amount of schooling and idea production that is, they undermine knowledge generation and human capital production, which are the core drivers of technological progress for long-term economic growth.' (7)
Thus, to summarize,
Proper institution of healthcare as a right will bring a nation to economic prosperity. This is one of the main reasons and the basis of my argument for this round to treat healthcare as a fundamental human right.
then again, I wouldn't have put a 72-hour time period to post arguments if my schedule was clearer.
The very first thing my opponent does is start by attacking the hypothetical I gave involving running shoes, but he fails to see how the hypothetical applies to a very small, very fictional situation, and how a translation to the grander scheme of things makes much more sense as to how positive rights are a fallacy and that negative rights are the only true inalienable rights. My opponent says that in reality, in the previously-mentioned grander scheme, people only give money to a small amount of people and in return get the moral benefit of providing healthcare to the needy. However, this argument defeats itself on two fronts: 1) If the amount of people who actually need healthcare is so "abominably small," then why is it that the government should force people who worked hard for their money to give the healthcare to the 1 in 20 people who could, with the wonders of the free market, climb their way up the economic ladder to the point of being able to pay for healthcare without government assistance? 2) Even though there will always be a small amount of people who can't afford healthcare, can't that miniscule group still receive donations from private charities? After all, private charities give the same, if not more, moral benefit to those who give, and they exist solely on the basis of voluntary altruism, rather than forced. And even though this isn't a major point of the argument, Robin Hood did not steal from wealthy, hard-working people and give to the poor; he stole from those with too much political power (King John) and gave to those who were oppressed under the burden of living under big government. Robin Hood, if anything, was a libertarian.
My opponent goes on to show taxes converted from the US to the UK. I would like to remind the opponent that the United States also has a national health care system, so it's not like Britain has the exact same taxes with government-funded healthcare as the United States without government-funded healthcare. And while my opponent praises the 40% taxes exclusively in healthcare and state pensions, which are not the only taxes anyone ever has to pay, the British health care system has denied 100,000 patients for health care in 2009 exclusively, no matter how life-threatening their condition, and that Britain is currently 900 billion in national debt, with a good chunk of it being spending on social programs. If you want to learn more about how bad the system really is in Britain, check out my sources.
Lastly, my opponent says that I don't "don't want to be taxed on some things" and that my opposition to large amounts of government force is "irrational," but this argument consists of nothing but name-calling and a definition from Wikipedia. My opponent says to pay attention to the term "public expeditures," but doesn't recognize the different levels of state and public expenditures that can occur. The three levels are the minimal state (a government with minimal public expeditures), the welfare state (a government that provides more goods and services), and the developmental state (a government with almost complete control). I favor the minimal state, which is a very real political and economic idea. My opponent favors the welfare state, which is made clear by his belief that healthcare is a human right.
Now, to debunk my opponent's other arguments. I would like to apologize if this last part isn't as complex as I envisioned it, but I'm posting this within the last 2 or 3 hours I have left to post this. I will make sure to post my next argument much sooner, and if you would like a more comprehensive guide to my argument, check out my sources.
My opponent starts off with a cheeky Winston Churchill quote (who does not seem to be the type of guy to approve of a national healthcare system), and starts to talk about how low-quality the Affordable Care Act is and how European countries are so much better, which I have previously debunked, showing that taxes are too high and that British healthcare can deny services to anybody if it would cost too much. He also begins to talk about non-communicable diseases and how many people they kill, and then gives the amount of money spent on non-communicable diseases in the United States. However, he fails to show how much spending has been done by the government. To give an idea of the kind of spending that goes on, an agency of the US government once spent $41 million on tobacco research alone. But here's the thing my opponent chooses to ignore, a very crucial aspect of my argument that I have mentioned before; private charities. Countless charities, such as the Free Market Health Institute and the American Cancer Society have contributed billions of dollars into research on both communicable and non-communicable diseases. And as history has shown time and time again, private always does it better than public.
Well, that is my very-rushed argument to start this round. And even though I'm sure we can debate about the costs of government-funded and free market healthcare, I would like to ask my opponent to focus more on the philosophical aspects of the right to healthcare, rather than the practical application of said right; or, in simpler terms, the morality of a right to healthcare rather than the execution of it. To give an idea of what I mean, China had a monstrous overpopulation problem, so they created a law that restricted people to only be able to have one child throughout their entire lifetime. Although it worked wonders, it was highly unethical, and better alternatives could have been seeked out instead. The same would apply to this debate; is the right to healthcare even present is the real question. I won't force my oponnent to stop talking about practicality, but this debate was about the philosophy of positive rights to begin with, so I would still like to keep this theme going strong.
Private Charites That Have Contributed to Health Care:
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