The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

My 101st Debate: Universal Health Care

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: Select Winner
Started: 11/5/2014 Category: Health
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,420 times Debate No: 64643
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (75)
Votes (1)





This is my 101st debate. Uchiha has been eager to get this debate done, and I look forward to taking it up with him. Hopefully I can have more luck defending UHC this time than previously. Uchiha may not accept this debate before 1:00am, DDO time, on Nov. 8th, or he auto-loses the debate. I thank him in advance for accepting, and look forward to an interesting discourse.

Full Topic

A just society ought to provide universal healthcare for its citizens.


Ought - moral desirability
Universal Healthcare (UHC) - "refers to a health care system which provides health care and financial protection to all its citizens. It is organized around providing a specified package of benefits to all members of a society with the end goal of providing financial risk protection, improved access to health services, and improved health outcomes. Universal health care is not a one-size-fits-all concept and does not imply coverage for all people for everything." [] Universal healthcare benefits need only be extended to those without insurance, and need not necessarily be extended to those who have or opt for private schemes.


1. No forfeits
2. Any citations or foot/endnotes must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No "kritiks" of the topic (e.g. challenging a core assumption of the resolution, arguing outside of the grounds provided by the topic, etc.)
6. No trolling
7. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss


R1. Acceptance
R2. Constructive Cases are Presented
R3. Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case
R4. Pro defends Pro's Case, Con defends Con's Case
R5. Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case, both Crystallize

Thanks... Uchiha for this debate! I am sure it will be a fun and memorable discussion.


Thanks to Bsh1 for the challenge :D
I have no further definitions or terms I would like to add, and as such, I accept the debate.
May the odds be ever in your favor! (and mine too, preferably)
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to Uchiha! I am looking forward to a great debate--hopefully I can do better at affirming this topic that I did previously.


To know what a just society ought to do, we must first know what a just society is. Merriam-Webster writes that the term just denotes "conformity with what is morally upright or good" as well as that which is "reasonable." [1] So, the logical follow-up query is "what makes a society upright or good." In this sense, because we're talking about UHC, which specifically entails government action--if the insurance is found in the private market, it's not UHC. So, we can perhaps re-frame the question to what makes a government upright or good, as the government is the representative of society as a whole.

George Kennan writes, "the functions, commitments and obligations of governments are not the same as those of the individual. Government is an agent, not a principal. Its primary obligation is to the interests of the national society it represents, not to the moral impulses that individual elements of that society may experience. No more than the attorney vis-a-vis the client, nor the doctor vis-a-vis the patient, can government attempt to insert itself into the consciences of those whose interests it represents." [2] Gary Woller adds, "Appeals to a priori moral principles...often fail to acknowledge that public policies inevitably entail trade-offs among competing values. Thus since policymakers cannot justify inherent value conflicts to the public in any philosophical sense...the policymakers' duty to the public interest requires them to demonstrate that...their policies are somehow to the overall advantage of society." In other words, governments cannot fairly or justly make decisions by engaging in ideological favoritism; they must back up decisions with hard facts.

Thus, we should evaluate this debate through the lens of cost-benefit analysis.


There are myriad problems that the uninsured face due to a lack of coverage. The problems include an inability to afford and fill prescriptions, greater difficulty (3-4 times) in obtaining needed care for even serious ailments, a lack of a regular place to go to seek care (40% of the uninsured don't have such a place), a 50% less likelihood to receive preventative care, a tendency to delay seeking care (the uninsured are 1.5 times as like to be diagnosed late for many types of cancers), and reduced quality of care. All of these factors "translates into 18,000 excess deaths for people between age 25-64 per year, which is of comparable magnitude to the number of people in this age group who die each year from diabetes, stroke, HIV, and homicide." [3] Other reputable studies place the number of death from a lack of insurance closer to 45,000 per year. [4]

Clearly, the uninsured face dire problems regarding the quality of medical care they receive--if they're luck enough to receive any at all. This poor quality or nonexistent care in turn has an alarming impact on the death rate among the uninsured. Fortunately, UHC presents a solution to the problem. It seems fairly obvious, intuitively, that covering everyone will reduce, if not end, the problems that have arisen due to a lack of coverage. Logically and empirically, this intuitive truth is borne out.

One empirical example evidencing this truth is that of Massachusetts. MA instigated a UHC program for its citizenry before the rest of the U.S. had, and so it provides an interesting test-case for UHC. After it implemented UHC, it's death rates dropped by 2.9%. [5] That's 320 lives saved each year in one state alone. Moreover, "A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2010 found that there were fewer hospital visits after the state's reforms. Another study, released last year, showed that between 1 and 2 per cent of Massachusetts residents reported better health statuses." [5] Infant mortality is also higher in the U.S. than UHC countries. [6]

If we look at the World Health Organization's rankings of national health systems, 8 of the top 10 are systems with UHC (the two that aren't are micro-nations--San Marino and Malta--that can probably use other means of ensuring their smaller populations are well-covered.) Of the top 40, just 6 do not have UHC. Of the top 50, just 10 do not have UHC. [7, 8] It seems then that there is a link between UHC and the quality, comprehensiveness, and life-saving capacity of a medical system.


First, high uninsurance causes a variety of problems, including high bankruptcy rates, job lock, poor work performance, and unnecessary use of the ER. Let's look at each one of these points in turn:

High Bankruptcy - Recent research indicates "that more than half of all US bankruptcies are due, at least in part, to medical illness or medical bills." [9] In fact, medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. [10] "15 million people will deplete their savings to cover medical bills. Another 10 million will be unable to pay for necessities such as rent, food and utilities because of those bills...More than 25 million people are skipping doses, taking less medication or delaying refilling prescriptions to save money." [10]

Job Lock - "Job lock refers to the idea that people stay with their jobs when they would rather work elsewhere because their current job offers health insurance...Although the number of people who would be self-employed if there were universal health care is controversial, one study from 2001 put the number at 3.8 million Americans. This loss of entrepreneurship is a real economic cost in a society that is relying on start-ups to offset the loss of jobs that are moving offshore." [?]

Performance At Work - Firstly, it's logical to assume that there will be higher rates of absenteeism in a sicker society. [11] If I am sick more often, I will come into work less, and thus my productivity is reduced. Even if I did come into work, I would likely to be able to function at peak levels, and could possibly infect colleagues, impacting their productive capacity in turn. Secondly, people who are chronically ill due to lack of medical attention will live shorter lifespans. It stands to reason then that countries with poorer medical infrastructure will, on balance, have people who live fewer years than in more advance countries. This shorter lifespan phenomenon is economically costly: "the annual cost of diminished health and shorter life spans of Americans without insurance is $65-$130 billion. People who do not live as long do not work and contribute to the economy as long." [?]

Unnecessary Use of the ER - When uninsured people cannot see normal physicians, they're forced to use the ER. "An average visit to an emergency room costs $383,11 whereas the average physician’s office visit costs $60.12 It is estimated that 10.7% of ER visits in 2000 were for non-emergencies, costing the system billions of dollars." [?]

I have already demonstrated the success of UHC systems to provide high-quality care, and this care will in turn create a healthier population that will address the issues listed above.

Moreover, UHC will save money. Studies have revealed that various UHC options can "save $320.5
billion...and...$1.1 trillion over 10 years." [12] And, if you look at healthcare spending as a portion of GDP, France--a UHC nation--spends less than the U.S.--a non-UHC nation--does on healthcare. [13] In fact, no country spends more on healthcare as a percentage of their GDP than the U.S., and so UHC countries, like Oman, spend the least on their healthcare programs (just 2.6% compared to America's 17.9%). This same discrepancy holds up on a per-capita basis. [14] So, it seems that UHC actually would reduce healthcare costs. “Overall, US healthcare expenditures are 2.4 times the average of those of all developed countries ($2759 per person), yet health outcomes for US patients, whether measured by life expectancy, disease-specific mortality rates, or other variables, are unimpressive.” [15]


[1] -
[2] -
[3] -
[4] -
[5] -
[6] -
[7] -
[8] -
[9] - Stephanie Woolhandler [Prof., Cuny School of Public Health at Hunter College] and David Himmelstein [Prof., Cuny School of Public Health at Hunter College], “Healthcare Reform 2.0,” Social Research Vol. 78: No. 3 : (Fall 2011)
[10] -
[11] - Dale Murray [Prof. of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Baraboo], “The Massachusetts Health Plan, Individual Mandates, and the Neutrality of the Liberal State,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 36: 466–483, (2011)
[12] -
[13] -
[14] -
[15] - Ezekiel J. Emanuel [MD, PhD; Department of Bioethics, The Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health] and Victory R. Fuchs [Prof. Department of Economics, Stanford University], “The Perfect Storm of Overutilization,” JAMA, Vol 299, No. 23 (June 18, 2008)

The resolution is affirmed--UHC is the beneficial action to take. Thanks again to Con! I turn the floor over to him...


Thank you for your case, bsh!
I have no doubt that this will be a great debate.

== NEG CASE ==

C1) Theft

In order to make this argument, I'm going to to be challenging the framework of the debate set out by Pro. My opponent has done an acceptable job of defining exactly what a "just society" is for the purposes of this debate-- a government which conforms to that which is "morally upright or good". However, he then goes on to claim that because the government is not allowed to engage in 'ideological favoritism', it must by default resort to utilitarian cost/benefit analysis in order to determine what is just. This is blatantly self-contradictory; Pro is simultaneously asserting that the government cannot prefer a single ethical system *and* that the government should prefer a utilitarian system morality. I could just as easily assert that because the government shouldn't favor one ethical system, they should by default resort to the minimalist libertarian role of simply protecting the natural individual rights of its citizens and doing nothing more.

It is true that "public policies inevitably entail trade-offs among competing values". However, this does not warrant Pro's hypocritical solution of then arbitrarily giving absolute preference to a single system of morality. So, unfortunately for Pro, we cannot simply accept his utilitarian framework as readily as he would like us to; due to the ethical nature of the resolution, the debate's moral framework will inevitably be a significant clash-- we must determine what is "morally upright or good" in order to determine what a just government would do. Predictably, I will be advocating for a libertarian rights-based morality. What follows a brief justification of the existence of these fundamental human rights:

One of the fundamental axioms of any ethical system is that every human being has ownership over his or her own person/self. To deny that humans have this personal autonomy is to deny that there is anything morally significant about humans in relation to the rest of the amoral universe, which basically negates the need for morality to exist at all. In other words, the only way to rationally deny that human beings possess ownership over themselves is to take up a nihilistic view, which is disallowed by the nature of this debate. From this concept of self-ownership, we can derive all the major natural rights possessed by humans: life (because life is the most essential component of the self), personal liberty (because that is the definition of having 'ownership' over oneself), and possession of rightfully acquired property (because the self is the ultimate source of its labor and should thus own the products of that labor). These natural rights are characteristics inherent in humans, basically being extensions of their personhood.

Given this premise of inviolable human rights, it would seem that a government, an entity which by definition exists to exert coercive control, could not justifiably exist. However, there is one contractual formulation of government which is compatible with Libertarian morality-- the government, in exchange for limited control over its citizens' liberties (i.e. ability to enforce laws and collect taxes), serves to protect the rights of those citizens. Therefore, any policy in which the government uses the power granted to it for purposes outside of or contrary to the protection of rights is unjustified; it is fairly obvious that UHC falls directly into this category-- it does not serve to protect any natural rights, and it benefits a relatively small minority at the expense of an increased burden (higher taxes) being forcibly imposed upon the entire population. Like many forms of redistribution, UHC can be seen as government-enforced theft; yet such a violation of rights can not be considered something that a 'just government' would do. People cannot be coerced into providing for those who they do not wish to provide for.

C2) Economics

Even presuming a utilitarian standpoint, UHC would still create more problems than it solves, primarily in the form of economic harms. It goes without saying that implementing a Universal Healthcare plan would require a substantial amount of resources; there are typically two methods that governments utilize in order to obtain such resources-- taxation and foreign borrowing. The former is an absurdly futile endeavor which mitigates the whole purpose of UHC in the first place by just draining money away from the very same people that it is supposed to be providing with "free" healthcare... Meanwhile, the latter is widely recognized as being harmful to any country's well-being in the long term, both in terms of economics (from debt) and international relations (from political power) [1].

No matter how much one may support UHC, a brief glance at the question of how such a policy would be funded is quick to bring them back to reality. Virtually no government has the financial capability to successfully run a UHC program without creating large scale economic harms. Another thing we might consider is the general trend among welfare-type policies such as UHC of creating a vicious cycle of dependency among those who receive government aid, ensuring that they indefinitely remain dependent on the government's support and ultimately a burden on society. In 1987, only 18.3% of the people who received welfare benefits actually escaped from poverty, whereas 45% of the impoverished people who did not receive benefits did escape it [2]. The implications are clear-- handing healthcare benefits to the poor is not necessarily the best way to solve their problems. Non-profit healthcare groups are far more effectively able to provide aid to the uninsured where needed without incurring the draw backs associated with government-funded welfare.

C3) Quality

The natural result of extending healthcare to *everyone* in a country is *everyone* taking full advantage of it, thus overloading the country's healthcare facilities and causing extremely sub-par quality healthcare to become a regular feature of countries with UHC. There are quite a few cases studies we could look at in which this problem becomes evident:

1. "In Canada, with a population of 25 million, some 1,350,000 people are waiting for some kind of medical service, with some 177,000 of them waiting for surgery of some kind, of which 45 percent report they are waiting "in pain." For example, waiting periods for health care procedures in Canada average 5.5 months for heart bypasses, 5.7 months for hernia repairs, 7.3 months for cholecystectomies, 6.4 months for hemorrhoidectomies, 8.3 months for varicose vein
treatments, 3.7 months for hysterectomies, and 7.1 months for prostatectomies" [3a].

2. "...out of [Great Britain's] population of fifty-seven million, one million Britons are queued up on extremely long waiting lists to see physicians for both routine and serious conditions, thanks to the rationing that follows price controls and budget caps. Indeed, the British tabloid press loves to sensationalize all too frequently, unfortunately, the deaths of patients still on waiting lists. On an annual basis for example, the number of British patients denied treatment include nine thousand for renal dialysis, as many as fifteen thousand for cancer chemotherapy, as many as seventeen thousand for coronary artery surgery, and seven thousand for hip replacement." [3b].

3. "In Japan, government-subsidized physicians commonly have to see more than forty patients a day in order to realize sufficient revenues. Patients covered under government-sponsored health plans often use the private sector for faster, better-quality aid. If they can"t break into the shortage of private health care services, infirm Japanese have been known to pay steep bribes to circumvent the rationed health care system in order to get direct access to health care providers being reimbursed by the government through its global budgeting policies on what it will spend for the citizenry's health care," [3c].

In short, UHC drastically lowers the quality of healthcare in a country, even causing many of the citizens it supposedly benefits to prefer privatized healthcare companies (which implies that they do have some degree of superiority to UHC in terms of flexibility and quality) [3d]. Such a system is patently counter-productive, and by no means can be considered just from a utilitarian standpoint.


First and foremost, UHC should be rejected because it is, at its most basic level, the government abusing its power to forcibly extract resources from its citizens and and re-distribute them, thus violating the social contract underpinning its existence. Moreover, upon examination of the practical aspects of implementing and maintaining a UHC program, we see that such a policy generally causes net economic harm and ends up providing the majority of citizens with sub-par quality healthcare, thus rendering it unfeasible even under Pro's utilitarian framework. Upon weighing it against the alternatives, there is very little question left as to what a "just society" would do. Universal healthcare is untenable.

The resolution is negated.

Back to you, bsh!





[a] Steven Globerman, Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada (Vancouver: Fraser Institute, 1990).

[b] Henry J. Aaron and William B. Schwartz, The Painful Prescription: Rationing Hospital Care (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1984).

[c] Naoki Ikegami, "Japanese Health Care: Low Cost Through Regulated Fees," Health Affairs, (Fall 1991).

[d] John K. Iglehart, "Canada"s Health Care System Faces Its Problems," New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 332, no. 8 (February 22, 1990): 566.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks, Uchiha! I will rebut Con's case at this time.


Con challenges the framework I set out earlier. My first issue with this was that round two was for Con to lay out his case, not to rebut mine. But, since he has used it, in part, as a rebuttal, I'll address his points now.

My Framework

Con accuses me of doing the same type of thing I object too. In fact, what I am objecting to are the use of "a priori moral principles" dictating government policy, as per the Woller card. Using such moral principles is problematic because policies will always have to make value trade-offs; for instance, Medicaid is a policy more liberals can endorse, but most libertarians find it abhorrent. In democracies, there are always going to be values conflicts and disagreements over principles; it is not fair for governments to prejudice themselves in favor of any one such principle. Therefore, we cannot rely on moral principles to make decisions, so we have to default to an objective standard of decision-making, i.e. a cost-benefit analysis. I don't fall prey to my own objection, because I am not suggesting the government adopt any kind of moral ideology, but rather that it act dispassionately toward any morality by using a non-moral, objective, measurable criterion for decision-making.

My opponent seemingly believes that any system of decision-making is necessarily moral, but that's not true. I am talking about pragmatics, not morality. I would also assert that a cost-benefit decision-making system is necessarily amoral because it doesn't proscribe what one ought to do, but rather what it is prudent to do. Moral judgments are not always prudent or pragmatic judgments.

Con's Framework

I have five main issues here:

1. Treating People as Self-Owners with "inviolable" Rights to Themselves as Property leads to Absurd Moral Dilemmas

"Self-ownership conflicts with Pareto-Optimality...[S]ince self-ownership is construed by libertarians as an absolute right, it follows that it cannot be violated even in small ways and even when great benefit would accrue from doing so. Thus...absolute rights of self-ownership seem to prevent us from scratching the finger of another even to prevent the destruction of the whole world. And although the real objection here seems to be to the absoluteness of self-ownership rights, rather than to self-ownership rights as such, it remains unclear whether strict libertarianism can be preserved if rights of self-ownership are given a less than absolute status." [1]

2. Treating People as Property is Morally Problematic

Property is something that can be sold or exchanged. If I own myself, then can I not sell myself? There are some who might be desperate enough for money or to escape their situation that they might sell themselves in exchange for food, money, clothing, shelter, etc. This undermines autonomy, which is the whole basis of Self-Ownership, thus making Self-Ownership self-defeating, and it's also clearly immoral.

3. Non-autonomous Humans

Con writes, "[t]o deny that humans have this personal autonomy is to deny that there is anything morally significant about humans." Firstly, this is just blatantly false, as there are other ways to derive human value (our emotional capacity, our ability to feel pleasure and pain, etc.) But, the main issues here arise when we ask, "what of the status of non-autonomous humans?" A baby, a person with severe mental handicaps, a comatose individual--these are all people who cannot exercise autonomy in the sense Con is using it. Unless Con is prepared to deny all of these agents moral worth--a seemingly disastrous moral conclusion--then he must reject his standard of self-ownership-based libertarianism.

4. Con has not Sufficiently Proven that Natural Rights Exist

Con assumes that we have natural rights, and among them include life, personal liberty, and property. He offers no justification as to why these rights are natural, why they are absolute, or why these rights are the only natural rights. So, he commits a bare assertion fallacy, and uses this fallacy to justify self-ownership. Any conclusion resting on a faulty premise cannot be validated logically. Moreover, if we agree that natural rights exist, why is health not one of them?

5. Self-Ownership Presupposes the existence of a Soul

A thing cannot own itself. For something to be owned, that implies that it is under the control or possession of something else. I own my dog, my dog does not own itself. If that is the case, to say that humans are owned implies that there is something owning us, which implies the existence of a soul. To buy into self-ownership, Con must first prove that the soul exists.

6. Self-Ownership Rewards Luck, Not Hard Work or Autonomy

"Recognizing rights to full self-ownership allows individuals' lives to be objectionably governed by brute luck in the distribution of natural assets, since the self that people own is largely a product of their luck in receiving a good or bad genetic endowment, and being raised in a good or bad environment." [1]


The use of public money for some goal cannot be said to be theft because:

1. In the state of nature land belonged to everyone. Everyone had infinite rights to everything, and it was in forming a society that some rights were surrendered to keep things stable. Since land was owned by no one in the state of nature, people claiming it for their own violates the rights of everyone else to use this land. Taxes are one way of penalizing individuals for stealing otherwise public land, and compensating everyone else for the loss of their rights. Properly understood, then, many forms of taxation are merely equalizers, not modes of theft.

2. Part of living in a community is that one incurs obligations to the community in which one lives. You get benefits from that community, and in return for those benefits, you pay taxes and participate in your civic duties. That is not theft, that is a fair exchange--something any libertarian can applaud.


There are four issues here that I can raise:

1. Pro never describes the scope of the harms. Con just says that the impacts will be significant, but he never tells us how significant. Sure, UHC might lead to some bad economic results, but that doesn't mean that the bad will outweigh the good. Since Con never gives us any concrete statistics as to how much a country will be negatively impacted, it is impossible to weigh Con's nebulous harms against the concrete economic benefits I described. Prefer clear benefits to ill-defined harms.

2. UHC saves millions of dollars in the long run, as I noted last round. Therefore, it actually is more affordable, on balance, and over time, than a more free-market based system like the one currently being implemented in the U.S. Con also provides no warrant for his ipse dixit claim that: "virtually no government has the financial capability to successfully run a UHC program without creating large scale economic harms." UHC also solves many economic problems, like job lock and absenteeism, which I discussed last round.

3. Con the talks about dependency, and refers to some statistic about welfare. First, these stats are really old (27 yrs.), and from a conservative (i.e. biased) think-tank, the Cato Institute. Moreover, most recipients of welfare are not dependent on it (in 2005, 15.3% received benefits, whereas 3.8% were dependent.) [2]

4. Dependency isn't necessarily the worst outcome--even if we were to believe Con re: how UHC would lead to dependency. Dependency is certainly better than ill-health, letting thousands of people die, and so forth. Remember, Con says one of our most fundamental rights is that of life--surely we should value that over risks of dependency.


I have four issues with Con's arguments here:

1. Con writes that "*everyone* [is] taking full advantage of [UHC], thus overloading the country's...facilities." The agreed definition of UHC states: "universal healthcare benefits need only be extended to those without insurance." This essentially renders Con's point moot.

2. It is better to have delayed care than no care at all, which, in essence, is what this boils down to.

3. Wait times are not necessarily higher in UHC countries. Con cites 3 examples of UHC producing higher wait times, but these are simply cherry-picked. Without any information about all or most UHC countries, we cannot reasonably extrapolate as to wait lines in UHC systems in general. Moreover, recent (2013) data contradicts what Con is saying. "People in many countries that spend far less on healthcare than the U.S. are more likely to say they can usually get a same-day or next-day appointment when they need it, and to say they can get after-hours treatment without going to the ER. This is true for countries that have single-payer systems, like the U.K. (though not Canada), and for many Western European countries that have multi-payer systems like ours." [3] "And even so, people in Switzerland and the U.K. were both still more likely to say they waited four weeks or less for a specialist appointment than Americans were." [3] Prefer my data as it is 22 years more current than Con's most recent statistic.

4. Waiting Times are just one aspect of care quality. On balance, and as my earlier round's evidence shows, UHC nations provide good quality care more often than not. In fact, they provide better care than non-UHC systems.


Last round, all of the [?] symbols should have been [3] instead. Sorry about that...


Con's arguments have no standing. Most are unsupported by evidence, and many are logically un-compelling. The resolution stands affirmed.


1 -
2 -
3 -


Thanks, Bsh!

Since Pro's 'Just Society' framework is only being contested for the purposes of making my theft argument, and since this round is exclusively for rebuttals, I will hold off on addressing the issues regarding it that Pro has brought up this round. However, do keep in mind that Pro has yet to justify his utilitarian framework, and that if I successfully affirm my libertarian framework, I automatically win, since UHC would be an inherently unjust form of redistribution.

R1) Saving Lives

One important observation we must make is that *every* society has a population of unfortunate people who suffer as a result of their poverty; this is true of every society which has ever existed, be it a welfare state, nomadic tribe, or communistic regime. Thus, this argument's success depends on whether or not implementing UHC has a significantly beneficial effect on society's impoverished people. I will aim to show that, at best, the effect is neutral. Pro's argument here mainly consists of a bunch of scary stats showing the supposedly dire state of those who are uninsured, but he never really shows why UHC is necessarily going to fix it

Besides the bare assertion of that it is 'intuitive', he presents a case study regarding how Massachusetts saw a whopping 2.6% decrease in death rates after the implementation of a universal healthcare program. However, this is obviously correlation/causation fallacy-- there is no reason for us to believe that the random (minuscule) drop in death rates is actually caused by the implementation of UHC there. This is especially evident when we notice that the change in death rate is almost negligible; in the United States, death rates easily fluctuate 0.5% to 1% per year, and that there has already been a long-term decline in death rates from the mid-20th century to 2010 [1]. Pro's noted correlation is highly unlikely to be indicative of anything significant.

Thus, Pro has basically done nothing to show that UHC actually fixes the societal problems that he notes. Pro asserts that it is 'intuitive', yet the best empirical example he can come up with is a bare correlation which is so small that it can be considered trivial. No matter how compelling an idea might sound in theory, it is futile if it doesn't work out empirically. There are a few reasons for the UHC's lack of apparent efficacy--

1. Pro's scary statistics aren't actually that scary. "Today, 88 percent of Americans already have health insurance, and of the remaining 12 percent, half are without insurance for less than four months per year due to job changes and so on. Of the remaining uninsured, only one percent of Americans under the age of sixty-five are uninsurable. [2] And most of those who are uninsured lack coverage not because they are poor, which they are not, but because they choose so, realizing that the price is too high for the benefits received. And as the healthy drop their coverage, the premiums rise ever more for those still covered." [3]. Thus, UHC generally doesn't actually help that many people, as most of the people who use it aren't really in dire need of it; this obviously reduces how much tangible benefit UHC is going to show in practice.

2. People tend to use free services to the fullest; this is quite uncontroversial. When healthcare is made free to people, they often do overspend on non-essential medical services, as shown by research done by the RAND corporation on the issue [4]. The effects of this UHC-induced resource overuse are very evident in all the examples I cited last round showing how inordinately long medical wait times and lower overall healthcare quality have become characteristics of UHC countries. Thus, UHC, due to it being free and egalitarian in nature, often fails to sufficiently help those who most need it, thereby mitigating much of its positive impact.

R2) The Economy

1. In order to make this argument, Pro relies on the assumption of UHC having a significant positive impact. If we examine his sub-points, we see that each of them is basically composed of him naming some negative effects of an unhealthy population, and then assuming that UHC will fix this, thus leading to a substantial financial gain. However, the efficacy of UHC has been called into question quite a bit in my own opening argument as well as in my R1; we cannot assume that UHC will serve as an effective solution to any of the health-related economic problems Pro brings up.

2. Pro completely ignores the fact that UHC *costs* money as well. Obamacare, which isn't even a full-fledged UHC program, costed the United States 2.8 trillion dollars in 2012 alone [5] [6]. The "$1.1 trillion over 10 years" that UHC supposedly saves doesn't even come *close* to reimbursing the government for its expenditures. Pro's claims that UHC countries spend less on healthcare is simply false; France spends roughly 40% of its GDP on healthcare, which is over twice that of the figure provided by Pro for the pre-ACA United States [7]. Pro's mention of Oman is simply him cherry-picking his statistics-- Oman's relatively tiny population in conjunction with its booming oil economy ensure that its healthcare/GDP ratio would be low. If we look at more generic, applicable case-studies such as Canada, Great Britain, and France, we see that UHC's economic effects aren't nearly as pretty.

3. Even if we assume that all of the economic benefits of UHC mentioned by Pro are real, we see that most of them only benefit private companies and individuals; thus, they can do very little to balance out the incredible governmental expense of UHC, since only a fraction of private sector money actually goes to the government in the form of taxes. Meanwhile, the huge financial burden on the government can only serve to harm the general populace in the form of higher taxes, foreign debt, and inflation (see constructive case).

With ten minutes left on my argument time limit, I'm going to have to abstain from addressing Pro's individual UHC economic benefits this round... I will try getting Pro's permission to do so next round. Regardless, I have shown that even if we assume that his benefits are for real, they still don't show that UHC creates a net gain for society.

CONCLUSION: I have demonstrated that UHC isn't nearly as effective at saving lives and improving healthcare quality as Pro would like us to believe, and that the economic harms of UHC far outweigh whatever economic benefits it may have.

[2] Jill D. Foley, Uninsured in the United States: The Nonelderly Population without Health Insurance (Washington, DC: Employee Benefits Research Institute, April 1991): 16.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks, Uchiha! Since it seems we're leaving the framework debate until next cycle, I will just defend my case at this time.


Con writes that all societies have people who suffer, and so UHC's "success depends on whether or not implementing UHC has a significantly beneficial effect on society's impoverished people." Let's put this statement into perspective using an example. Country A and Country B each have 1,000 people. Country A has 2 poor people, whereas Country B has 500 poor people. In Country A, a program has "a significantly beneficial effect on [its] impoverished people" if it lifts just one person out of poverty. Whereas, in Country B, a significant impact might be lifting 100 people out of poverty. Thus, the way Con has explained it, UHC must be examined relative to each country. I disagree with Con's approach on the level that producing any net benefit is good--it is logically fallacious to pass up on a good policy just because it isn't good enough, and, after all, a just society would want to produce good for its citizenry--better to produce some good vice none at all.

Since I didn't use intuition as an argument, but rather as a rhetorical device to transition from ideas, I don't see why Con bothered to even mention it. What is important is my MA example:

1. Con writes that normal fluctuations range between .5 and 1%. In other words, Con admits that a 2.6% drop is not normal, implying that it is not a natural or un-induced fluctuation.

2. It's true that correlation doesn't prove causation, but effects and causes necessarily correlate. Therefore demonstrating correlation is helpful in determining cause.

3. Strong circumstantial evidence points to UHC being the cause. "The researchers found that the state's mortality rate decreased starting in 2006, after the implementation of the new system. The change was more pronounced in lower-income counties, which saw a 3 per cent drop in the death rate compared with just 1.8 per cent for high-income counties. Deaths among people with conditions that would be expected to improve through access to healthcare, such as cancer, heart disease and infectious disease, also dropped by 4.5 per cent." The dip in the death rate began in tandem with UHC, and the death rate fell among those groups who would logically benefit most from UHC.

4. The overwhelming nature of the correlations gives weight to the idea of a strong link between UHC and better care. Not just in MA, but also the fact that 40 of the top 50 (80%) best healthcare systems worldwide are UHC systems lends credence to the assertion that UHC does improve health outcomes for a given population.

Next Con says that my statistics "aren't scary," and that "88 percent of Americans already have health insurance." Let's discuss this:

1. My data notes that, prior to Obamacare, anywhere from 41 to 50 million Americans lacked insurance. [1, 2, 3] That's about 12-16% of Americans, consistent with Con's source. Con seems to dismiss these people because most people are covered, but even if 12% of those are only uninsured temporarily, that is still 36-45 million Americans who are chronically uninsured (but even people temporarily uninsured are vulnerable to illness during their period without coverage, so it's not fair to exclude them). Moreover, under Con's libertarian paradigm, Medicare and Medicaid would have to be curtailed. 1 in 10 recipients of Medicare are solely insured by Medicare, meaning that an additional 4.4 million people would be uninsured in Con's world--these are elderly or disabled Americans (groups highly vulnerable to a dearth of coverage). [4] It is logical to assume many more people rely heavily on Medicare and Medicaid, and could not meet their medical expenses without these programs. So, Con is, in effect, proposing that we hang 45.4 to 54.4 million Americans out to dry. That's definitely scary; remember, the U.S. government has a duty to all of its people, and if it can produce a net benefit by reducing death rates and promoting access healthcare services among these millions of Americans, it ought to do so. Con's world, on the other hand, would actually increase uninsurance, thereby promoting death, disease, and suffering--not exactly what comes to mind when we think of a "just society."

2. Con next posits the argument of overuse. There are several issues with Con's analysis here. Firstly, Con's own source notes that free healthcare had demonstrable benefits, and that "these benefits appeared to be greater among the poor." Turn Con's argument on him: since this analysis was experimental, it does show causation, and totally defeats Con's earlier arguments about how I failed to show causation. Secondly, Con's source is old (1984). So, if none of my arguments regarding how it should be interpreted stand, we should still take this older data with a grain of salt. Thirdly, Con never quantifies the harms of overuse--again, I consistently explain the concrete impacts of many of my arguments. We need to prefer concrete impacts over nebulous harms when weighing arguments. Fourthly, Con's source agrees that free healthcare had positive impacts for target groups (e.g. the poor), undermining Con's claim that overuse harms care quality. Fifthly, even if you buy into Con's argument, my cases' statement re: ER's negates the impacts of Con's argument. If the needy don't have access to free regular care, they will instead resort to ER care, which actually would cost the system more than free regular care.


1. This is essentially Con reiterating his efficacy arguments, which I have already thoroughly refuted. There are some key things to call to attention here. Notice, first of all, that Con never disputes that the issues I raise (e.g. absenteeism) are harms--by "harms" I mean things that we should avoid or work to prevent. Then, Con never disputes that these issues can be traced back to uninsurance--he disputes UHC's ability to solve them, but not wherefrom the problems are coming. Basically, Con drops that uninsurance produces myriad harms that need to be addressed. All I need to do is show that I can solve these problems, which I already did, and this contention flows firmly Pro. Con also drops all the individual harms I name, and so, since he cannot address them next round or last round (as that would constitute making new arguments), he cannot rebut them at any other point during this debate; extend them as clean offense for Pro.

2(a). Firstly I am not ignoring the fact that UHC costs money, as Con falsely charges me of doing. In fact, the $1 trillion number I cite comes AFTER factoring in those costs. It is a NET savings of $1 trillion, so yes, it does fully reimburse the government, and then adds an extra $1 trillion on top of that number. Secondly, please also note that according to Con's Forbes source, Obamacare actually cause healthcare spending by private individuals which boosted the economy. Moreover, Forbes never recommend scrapping the program, but rather amending it, which implies that healthcare-increasing legislation is not bad in itself, when it is carefully crafted.

2(b). Next, Con states that France spends roughly 40% of its GDP on healthcare, and he cites businessweek as his source for this. I went to that link, and did a Ctrl+F search of the article, and couldn't find a single statement to support the claim Con made. In fact, what I did find was this direct quote from the article: "And France spends just 10.7% of its gross domestic product on health care, while the U.S. lays out 16%, more than any other nation." Con's claim is not only blatantly wrong, but his cited source doesn't support his assertion and it makes me worry about where he got his actual figure. I hope it was just a mishap on his part. Moreover, his source CONFIRMS my earlier findings. I wrote earlier: "In fact, no country spends more on healthcare as a percentage of their GDP than the U.S., and so UHC countries...spend the least on their healthcare programs...So, it seems that UHC actually would reduce healthcare costs." Con's source just supports my point.

2(c). The French system, which Con describes as an archetypical UHC system, is actually quite effective. For instance: "the French system may have something to teach the US. Findings published by US journal Health Affairs in 2008, found that...France had the lowest rate of mortality amenable to health care--that is, the lowest death rate from ailments that could probably have been prevented by proper healthcare--of 19 developed countries. The US, on the other hand, came 19th.” [5]

3. A healthy economy produces a better tax base for governments to access, which in turn alleviates many issues governments may have. Surely, higher taxes on a richer population just cancels out, and cannot reasonably be construed as a net harm, as Con attempts to present it as. Moreover, that $1 trillion number is also money saved by governments, not just companies and individual persons.


Many of Con's sources in fact support my case--from noting that, as long as we're careful about it, increasing insurance isn't bad; to positing that the U.S. actually has the highest healthcare spending by any nation as a portion of its GDP; to observing that UHC actually does cause benefits. Given the positive economic, social, and health outcomes I have outline and described thus far in the debate, it seems to me that any just society ought to institute some form of UHC program. The topic is resoundingly affirmed.


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Thanks Bsh!

I would like to start by giving my sincere apologies to both my opponent and the voters for a mishap with sources that occurred last round. I claimed that France spends 40% of its GDP on healthcare, but that is actually false; in my rush to complete my argument in time (about an hour), I somehow managed to mix up tax revenue with GDP. Please disregard that figure entirely.

Also... due to 1) the fact that I already made a case for the economic harms and ineffectiveness of UHC within my rebuttals to Pro's case, 2) the self-sufficient nature of my theft contention, 3) my infinitely greater passion for philosophy over healthcare policy, and 4) a lack of character space and time, I will be using this round solely to defend my first contention (and framework) from Pro's rebuttals. My utilitarian case against UHC is of lesser importance, and it was much more of a pre-emptive rebuttal to Pro's case than it was an opening argument anyhow.


Pro, again, makes the paradoxical claim that because governments cannot be biased towards any one ethical system, they should default to utilitarian calculations. He claims that this "cost/benefit analysis" is not a "moral ideology", but merely an "objective, measurable criterion for decision-making". This does absolutely nothing to amend the self-contradiction I noted in my argument. Utilitarianism also rests on an "a priori moral principle"-- it assumes that maximizing utility (i.e. net benefit) is inherently good and should be valued over all other factors of ethical relevance. Thus, my opponent's approach of "cost/benefit analysis" is every bit as much of a moral ideology as my libertarian ethical system. Pro claims that utilitarianism is amoral because it prescribes that which is 'rational' rather than that which is 'moral', but that proves nothing, as all ethical systems claim ultimately derive their moral claims from rationality.

So, unfortunately for Pro, he cannot get out of providing an actual ethical justification for utilitarianism so easily. If I can successfully answer all his objections to libertarian morality, my framework is preferable by default, which automatically negates the resolution (following the reasoning provided in my opening argument and my conclusion this round).

1. Moral Dilemmas

Here, Pro attempts to 'debunk' libertarian morality by showing how it conflicts with our ethical intuitions in extreme hypothetical situations. ALL ethical systems will fail in that sense if we test them in absurdly implausible scenarios. For example, consider the hypothetical utility monster, which gains infinitely more happiness from consuming resources than anyone else on the planet; if such a monster were to exist, utilitarianism would morally obligate us to sacrifice everything we can, including ourselves, to it for the sake of maximizing net utility. Obviously, this is completely counter-intuitive and we would think that we should instead just kill the ravenous monster. This monster is no more unlikely than the scenario Pro has described (regarding scratching a finger to save the world). In other words, Pro's objection is non-unique.

2. Self-Property

Pro argues that since self-ownership allows you to sell yourself into slavery, and thus it is immoral. However, slavery very specifically refers to *forced* labor; the coercion factor involved in slavery is what makes it slavery-- that is what makes it 'immoral' to begin with. With someone who 'sells himself into slavery', that coercion factor is completely absent, so it can hardly even be called slavery anymore. Pro does not explain why we should still consider it immoral if the person being "enslaved" is giving up ownership over himself with *full consent*. The fact that such an action is likely to be detrimental to his health in the long run represents a problem with his own decision-making skills, rather than one with the ethical system which allowed for him to do so. Pro's objection here is, at best, an appeal to emotion.

3. Non-Autonomous Humans

Pro claims that there are other ways to derive human moral value than personal autonomy, but he never explains how, and as such, that claim should be rejected. Pro goes on to ask how babies, people with severe mental handicaps, and comatose individuals can still have rights under libertarian morality. In the case of babies and the mentally disabled, they do have a limited degree of personal autonomy, and thus do have some basic rights such as the right to life, but obviously they do not have as much autonomy as everyone else. However, this does not imply anything outside of how we already treat such individuals... even we as a society don't grant them the same rights as everyone else; young children and the severely disabled are considered to be under the authority of their parents/caretakers and do not have the same degree of freedom that we do.

In the case of the comatose, those individuals are obviously still the same individuals they were before entering the coma, and since they did not give up their autonomy before entering the coma, we can presume that their autonomy extends throughout the duration of their unconscious state. It is no different than why someone who is asleep would still have their rights... Pro's objection fails because libertarian morality does not treat these "non-autonomous humans" any differently than how our intuitions would dictate that we should.

4. No Justification

I find it interesting that Pro makes this objection when he himself has done literally nothing to justify his utilitarian framework. In fact, I have justified both self-ownership and the natural rights that stem from it... I spent entire paragraphs on it in the previous round. To re-iterate: "From this concept of self-ownership, we can derive all the major natural rights possessed by humans: life (because life is the most essential component of the self), personal liberty (because that is the definition of having 'ownership' over oneself), and possession of rightfully acquired property (because the self is the ultimate source of its labor and should thus own the products of that labor)." Naturally, if self-ownership is absolute, then the rights that are derived from it are absolute as well.

5. Souls

Pro's objection relies on the bare assertions that "a thing cannot own itself". I see no reason to accept this. The definition of ownership is basically the state of having complete control over something and the freedom to do what you wish with it. There doesn't seem to be anything inhibiting a being from having this sort of control or freedom over itself.

6. Rewarding Luck

Pro is basically just saying that life isn't fair with this objection. So what if some people are born into better environments and have genetic advantages that others don't have? I fail to see how this is a fault of libertarian morality; it seems to be more of an objection to the nature of reality itself...


I. Pro claims that since human societies used to be communal in nature, property rights do not exist. However, this is incredibly fallacious. Just because humans at one point did not recognize the existence of property rights is no reason not to recognize them now. Humans also at one point did not recognize the immorality of slavery or brutal methods of torture, yet it is absurd to suggest that we shouldn't do so now. Property rights are a logical extension of self-ownership, and Pro has done nothing to refute that. Taxation which does not return benefits to the tax payer violates the role of government, and is ultimately a form of theft.

II. Pro claims that individuals are bound by communal obligations. This may be true on a very local level, but it simply doesn't hold true on the national level. The average person has not interacted with or received any benefits whatsoever from the vast majority of the people in their country; to claim that they are somehow obligated to pay for the healthcare of complete strangers on the basis of imaginary "communal obligations" to them is simply absurd. It is especially absurd when we consider that a substantial portion of those strangers require healthcare as a direct result of their own choices; poor lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, risky behaviors, and unhealthy eating habits are the cause of many of the most prevalent health conditions [].


None of Pro's objections to my libertarian moral framework hold up; each one is independently flawed. Moreover, my opponent has declined to justify his utilitarian framework at all, making my libertarian morality preferable by default. And under such a deontological framework, it doesn't really matter that a policy is beneficial if it violates the rights of the citizens; a mild eugenics program can also be construed as having a net benefit, yet implementing one would obviously be unethical. The UHC should be rejected on the basis that it requires the government to engage in unjustified acts of coercion, forcing people to pay for the healthcare of others. Leaving healthcare to private insurance companies and non-profit groups is ethically preferable.
Debate Round No. 4


Thanks again to Uchiha for a stellar debate.


My Framework

Con reiterates his attack that "Utilitarianism also rests on an 'a priori moral principle.'" I am not running utilitarianism, and my justifications for cost-benefit analysis don't rest on morality. My framework is not making a moral claim--frankly, I don't care if doing action X is moral (and it might be totally immoral), as long as it promotes benefit, it is something that should be done for objective, factual reasons. I have divorced morality and objectivity, and am using the latter, not the former, to make my case. Con does try to say that I did not successfully complete that divorce, when he writes, "Pro claims that utilitarianism is amoral because it prescribes that which is 'rational' rather than that which is 'moral', but that proves nothing, as all ethical systems claim ultimately derive their moral claims from rationality." But again, Con doesn't seem to understand that I am not arguing for an ethical system. I am not arguing for ethics at all. I am just arguing for a decision-making criterion, which is not necessarily bound to ethics or morality.

That is what Con has utterly failed to understand: I am not making moral arguments. All Con has done is repeated his old attacks on my case, but he has not rebutted the fact that if cost-benefit analysis isn't based in morality, I am not being self-contradictory. Therefore, Con's one attack on my framework totally fails. Extend my framework. He cannot make any more attacks on it at this point, as he is not supposed to be defending his case at this time anyway.

Con's Framework

I will only be defending certain objections, so if I skip one, that's why. I only need to win one of these objections to eliminate Con's framework from consideration, as each one demonstrates self-ownership-based libertarianism's incoherency and/or immorality.

2. Treating People as Property is Morally Problematic

Con says that slavery is necessarily forced, and that choosing to sell yourself into slavery is therefore fine because no such coercion would take place. There are several issues with this:

(a) Coercion is present. If I choose to sell myself into slavery because my situation is so dire that slavery is the only viable way to escape it, I have been coerced by my circumstances to take an action I would otherwise never even contemplate. The absence of a reasonable alternative negates choice. For instance, if my options were to (a) starve to death and (b) to sell myself into slavery, I haven't been given a meaningful choice, and have been coerced by my circumstances to sell myself to slavery. Now, Con might respond that I could have chosen option (a), but that response raises additional concerns. If I was kidnapped by slave traders, I could probably be defiant enough that they would just kill me rather than sell me, so I have that same choice again: die, or become a slave. Surely, Con is not going to say that I wasn't coerced if I gun was pointed to my head and I was told to do something. Similarly, it is absurd to say I wasn't coerced if that gun was instead starvation. In other words, selling myself into slavery is not necessarily un-coerced, and thus violated self-ownership.

(b) Selling myself into slavery, even if it wasn't uncoerced, still invalidates self-ownership. Self-ownership is the idea that we inherently own ourselves and are always our own owners. I cannot give up my self-ownership, because it is innate within me. If I always own myself, than no one else can own me--my right to self-ownership is inviolate, to use Con's term. Therefore, I cannot sell myself into slavery because to do so would be to say that someone else can own me, which they cannot. So, I always own myself. But, what I own, I should be able to sell. This creates a logical contradiction within Con's framework: if I own myself, I can sell myself, but yet, self-ownership says I can't do that.

(c) Slavery undermines autonomy. Even if you don't buy (a) or (b), the idea that I can choose to give up so much autonomy seems to undermine the very point of libertarianism. The idea of self-ownership is that it maximizes autonomy, but yet, with slavery, one decision (the choice to sell myself) prevents me from ever making autonomous choices again. That seriously minimizes autonomy, and seems to undermine the very principle on which self-ownership rests. In other words, this example shows how self-ownership cannot achieve its very own objective, and is thus self-defeating.

3. Non-autonomous Humans

Con implicitly agrees--by his not rebutting my claim that it would be--that it would be a "disastrous moral conclusion" if babies, the mentally handicapped, and the comatose were denied value. Proceeding from there, I have two defenses for this objection:

(a) The slippery slope. If were are going to label some people as having less moral worth than others, we could easily set a precedent for things like, for instance, the holocaust, where Jews, Gays, Blacks, Gypsies, etc. were viewed as less than human. Surely, taking the life of a baby is no worse than taking my life, yet, the point of self-ownership is that autonomy is what gives us moral worth; insofar as I have more autonomy than a baby, it is more wrong to kill me than to kill a baby in Con's world. That's a dangerous precedent to set, esp. when history has shown us how this type of dehumanizing logic has been applied in other historical instances. Even if you don't buy the slippery slope, this would be, as noted earlier, a "disastrous moral conclusion," nonetheless.

(b) The implications of Con's argument are rather ridiculous. Con writes, "In the case of babies and the mentally disabled, they do have a limited degree of personal autonomy, and thus do have some basic rights such as the right to life." A dog probably has about just as much autonomy as a baby or someone who is mentally handicapped. In fact, the vast majority of vertebrate animals have that level of autonomy. Therefore, by Con's logic, we would have to extend them all a right to life. What would we eat? How could we euthanize are pets? How could we cull oversized animal populations? A whole slew of problems ensue if we take Con's argument to its logical next step--it's just ridiculous. I seriously doubt Con would agree that a cow or dog has an inviolate, autonomy-based right to life. If that's true, then he cannot extend the right to life, or, frankly, any rights at all to babies and the mentally handicapped. Again, a "disastrous moral conclusion."

(c) Con's rebuttal fails to address the real issue. Con talks a lot about how society has unequal rights in the status quo--but, unequal rights doesn't imply unequal moral value. In the status quo, killing a baby will result in the same type of murder charge that killing me will. Sure, a baby cannot take advantage of all of his/her rights, but that doesn't mean that his/her worth is somehow diminished. Con writes earlier, that "[t]o deny that humans have this personal autonomy is to deny that there is anything morally significant about humans." In other words, Con agrees that autonomy and moral worth are linked. Babies aren't autonomous in any meaningful sense of the word; they cannot make rational choices. Certainly this is true of newborns at least. They act on instinct and whim, not rationality. Therefore, Con would be forced, by his own logic, to deny that there is anything morally significant about a baby or a mentally handicapped person. His rebuttals focus on rights, but instead he should've focused on moral worth--he has not shown that babies still have equivalent moral worth to me, and so he cannot escape the "disastrous moral conclusion" that I talked about.

4. Con has not Sufficiently Proven that Natural Rights Exist

Con's only real responses to my argument here are that I didn't justify my framework (which I did justify throughout this debate) and that he did justify it. But, all he does is repeat what he already said. And, what he already said is just a bare assertion fallacy. He never justifies why self-ownership only grounds the three specific rights he talks about, and not other rights, like health (why not--health is key to our ability to exercise our self-ownership, and if health is a right, we can turn his framework to affirm UHC). He never explains why self-ownership grounds those few rights he says it grounds; all he says is "from this concept of self-ownership, we can derive all the major natural rights possessed by humans"--that's not logic, that's a bare assertion fallacy. And, he never warrants why these rights are absolute. So, we can dismiss his entire framework for being ipse dixit.


I am just going to defend my second justification, because that's all I need to show that this isn't theft.

Con says communal obligations may hold true locally, but not nationally. So, Con acknowledges that these type of obligations exist--that's an important first step. The next step is to show their national applicability. The taxes I pay to the federal government could easily be used to subsidize roadways in California, or to pay federal employees in Texas. It is flat out wrong to say that, on a federal level, people are not heavily interconnected and linked. Just because I don't meet them face-to-face doesn't mean that we are not deriving benefit from each other--indeed we are. Thus, our giving up resources for each other is a fair exchange, and legitimates the tax basis of UHC as not being theft.


The economics debate is being addressed on my case, but Con does drop his quality contention. He can't defend it at this point, so it's conceded.


1. Self-Ownership fails, so you should prefer my framework
2. UHC saves lives - I achieve my framework
3. UHC is economically beneficial - I achieve my framework
4. I have more offense - if you buy neither framework, evaluate off of this

Thanks! Please VOTE PRO!


UchihaMadara forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
75 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
Effect and Causes HAVE to correlate.

If X causes Y, they must have a relationship, and thus a correlation of some kind.
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
"effects and causes necessarily correlate"

Not true. I was writing a statistical analysis as to why that is not always true, but just deleted it, since no one would have cared. Effects generally do correlate, and you were correct in saying correlation DOES matter, but effects do not necessarily correlate as (in many cases) other factors are at play.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
@Uchiha - the delayed reaction :)
Posted by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
oh whoops I didn't see this until just now 0_0

thanks for all the feedback, whiteflame! (and for leaving my self-esteem in one piece :P)
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
Thanks for the feedback, whiteflame. Always appreciated :)
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
RFD (Pt. 1):

As I said in the vote itself, the decision was a given as soon as Con forfeited his final round, so really all I'm going to do here is cover what would have happened if that forfeit hadn't violated the rules.

There are a lot of details to this debate, and if I go through each argument, it will end up taking a tremendous amount of space. Beyond that, I don't feel it's necessary. The debate shakes out rather clearly from a few key points, and so that's where I'll focus my time.

1. Framework

I think it's needless to say since both of you spent a great deal of time here in your final rounds that this was the most important part of the debate, insofar as a decision could be rendered based solely on this. That's not to say that Pro winning this nets him the debate, as there are a enough points from Con on net benefits to warrant a deeper analysis, but if Con was to win the argument that his own framework was superior, then this debate falls to him. This is mainly because, while I buy the argument from Pro that health may be a natural right, I don't think it outstrips Con's argumentation that theft is a violation of everyone's natural right, whereas the provision of health care only benefits a smaller portion of the population. That's how it would shake out if Con's framework appeared superior.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 2)

Pro makes very sure that doesn't happen. The litany of rebuttals and rebuttal defense really make it difficult for me to accept Con's framework as the superior one in this debate. While the rebuttals themselves are substantial, it's not until I see the objections shake out fully in R5 that many of them hit home. Specifically, I'm buying 2b and c (essentially that self-ownership is self-contradictory and therefore that using it as a basis for morality is fundamentally flawed) and 3c (again, showing an inherent contradiction in terms that places significantly less moral significance on certain members of the population) most of all. That's not to say that I don't find the other arguments convincing, but these logical conundrums end up doing the most harm in my eyes.

Basically, at this stage, I'm forced to compare these problems with the ones presented by Con. Con tries to get Pro on a contradiction he perceives. However, I think Pro's response here is pretty solid " he's not advocating for a system of morality, and Con's assumption that a basic evaluation of net benefits equates to utilitarianism is flawed. Even if I bought that argument, though, Pro would only be contradicting his own words, not creating a logical conundrum with his argument. Con contradicted himself as well, and both debaters would then have assumed many aspects of why their moral frameworks are superior. That still gives the edge to Pro's framework, leaving me to evaluate the debate through this lens.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 3)

2. Saving Lives

I see a lot of attempts by Con to mitigate this and obscure it, but nothing that definitively erases it. Con challenges many of the statistics brought forth by Pro, using the correlation vs. causation argument to show that Pro could not definitively say that UHC saves lives. I'm in agreement with this, but I think that's setting the standard too high " actually, impossibly high. Causation is impossible to prove in this case. You can prove a very strong correlation, but to say that you could eliminate all possible variables and come to a conclusion is another story entirely. Moreover, I don't think it's necessary for Pro to prove causation in order to win this argument. He shows, through case studies, that there is a significant improvement through reduced death rates, and that that improvement is more stark in poor populations, further affirming his benefits. That's not to mention that Con practically provides Pro with a measure of causation in his arguments.

The argument that Con's logic could be used to say that other systems like Medicare and Medicaid would have to be rolled back is a good one, if perhaps a bit of a slippery slope. It's sensible to think that much the same logic applies here, and without a rebuttal from Con, it stands as a pretty good argument for larger effect, since these are essentially systems that aim to increase coverage by giving it to those most in need/least able to afford it.

On this contention, the real question is whether or not Con has succeeded in showing that there's harms to be had in extending health care to all comers. Pro gives me enough reasons to prefer his arguments, and I do mainly for these reasons:

1) That his impacts are more solidly quantified and therefore can be measured, something that Con's data never succeeds in doing.

2) That Pro's sources are more up to date and therefore more reliable.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 4)

3) That the same burdens on the health care system currently exist via ER visits, as these people still receive health care and therefore still strain the system.

I do buy that there might be more stress on the system following implementation of a UHC, and that that may result in decreased quality and altered wait times, but I have a difficult time figuring out how that compares to the status quo, especially since Pro is telling me that many of these problems exist now. Do these stresses cause things to get worse, or are they alleviating current pains in the system concurrently, leading to a balance of outcomes? I'm not sure, and that uncertainty leads me to prefer the much clearer case of Pro, and as such that health outcomes are likely to improve under a UHC for many.

Realistically, I could just pull this down as the biggest impact in the debate. While I don't really get any analysis on how I should be comparing health and economic impacts, preferring human life is basically a default. Since the economy has uncertain impacts, while the loss of human life is quite specific and obvious to evaluate, this would be the place that I'd pull the trigger. Nonetheless, I'll go through the economic issues as well.

3. The Economy

There are a lot of holes in Con's argumentation here, specifically with regards to his sources. Con acknowledges, either by drops or by concession, that the current system is extremely flawed. His arguments against Pro's economic analysis miss the point, leaving much of Pro's analysis standing, as he explains in R4.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 5)

But it's probably that 40% statistic that ends up doing the most harm, specifically because Pro ends up using that source to his own advantage. France ends up becoming a massive example of a UHC working well to not only keep costs down, but also to bring down its death rate to very low levels. As I never get a response to this, it becomes a gaping hole in Con's analysis, and at least leads me to the point of uncertainty with regards to a UHC being harmful to the society in which it's implemented. Perhaps it is harmful, but I need reason to believe that the French system is highly flawed and producing major economic harms. I don't see that.

I similarly didn't find the use of Obamacare to be compelling. It simply doesn't stand as a good allegory to a UHC, which would change much of the way that health insurance is done in this country and therefore be markedly different from Obamacare.

All that's left under here is the theft argument. This had a lot more sway under Con's framework than it does under Pro's, because it's difficult to evaluate the impact of theft on society without a moral basis for that evaluation. I can see how it might have been linked up to losses in utility, but I don't see those arguments appearing within the debate. I could also see how it could benefit utility (i.e. many companies being able to shunt funds out of providing health care to their employees and using it elsewhere), but that's also not discussed. So I see theft as a problem, but not as one that's comparable to the larger issues of where funds go in society and how they affect the overall economy.


Generally, I'm just finding little to work with in Con's case. That's not to say that the arguments aren't good, but Pro simply outstripped him. I would have really liked to have seen a final round here where some of those major points from Pro could see responses, but that didn't happen. Oh well, still a great debate guys.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: The vote is a given as a result of Rules 1 and 7. I'll still provide an RFD later based on the arguments given.