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Resolved; The United States Government ought to guarantee Universal Health Care to its Citizens

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/6/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,604 times Debate No: 37450
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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I affirm
"Universal health care" (hereafter called "UHC") is a system wherein the government provides health care for its citizens.
"Health care" is the promotion of health via the administration of medicine and the provision of amenities such as birth control.

I value Morality as prescribed by the word "ought."

In matters of morality, we look first to harms and benefits because the capacities for suffering and enjoyment is what makes a being worthy of moral consideration.
The capacity for suffering and/or enjoyment or happiness"is not just another characteristic [This] capacity is a prerequisite for having interests at all. A stone does not have interests because it cannot suffer. Nothing that we can do to it could possibly make any difference to its welfare. A mouse, on the other hand, does have an interest in not being tormented, because it will suffer if it is. If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration.

The absence of harm is good in itself, while a benefit has to be enjoyed by someone to be good, therefore harms outweigh benefits in moral consideration

Consider pains and pleasures as exemplars of harms and bene@257;ts. It is uncontroversial to say that (1) the presence of pain is bad, and that (2) the presence of pleasure is good. However, such a symmetrical evaluation does not apply to the absence of pain and pleasure, (3) the absence of pain is good, even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone, whereas (4) the absence of pleasure is not bad unless there is somebody for whom this absence is a deprivation.

the absence of [pain] is ensured by not making a potential person actual this absence is good when judged in terms of the interests of the person who would otherwise have existed. We may not know who that person would have been, but we can still say that the avoidance of her pains is food when judged in terms of her potential interests

Benatar Continues:
Once a life reaches a certain threshold of badness no quantity of good can outweigh it, because no amount of good could be worth that badness. Compare two lives"those of X and Y"and consider the amount of good and bad X"s life has (relatively) modest quantities of good and bad"perhaps @257;fteen kilo-units of positive value and @257;ve kilo-units of negative value. Y"s life, by contrast, has unbearable quantities of bad (say, @257;fty kilo-units of negative value). Y"s life also has much more good (seventy kilo-units of positive value) than does X"s. Nevertheless, X"s life might reasonably be judged less bad, even if Y"s has greater net value, judged in strictly quantitative terms. This shows why the assignment of calues in a system of positive utilitarianism must be wrong

Because of the suffering that is inherent to life, coming into existence is always a harm and thus reproduction must be immoral
Benatar 2
We tend to ignore just how much of our lives is characterized by negative mental states. These include hunger, thirst, tiredness, stress, and discomfort. For billions of people, at least some of these discomforts are chronic. These people cannot relieve their hunger, escape the cold, or avoid the stress. However, even those who can @257;nd some relief do not do so immediately or perfectly, and thus experience them to some extent every day. In fact, if we think about it, signi@257;cant periods of each day are marked by some or other of these states. People are so used to the discomforts of daily life that they [often] overlook them entirely [but this] does not mean that our daily lives are not pervaded by them. The negative mental states mentioned so far, however, are simply the baseline ones characteristic of healthy daily life. Chronic ailments and advancing age make matters worse. Aches, pains, lethargy, and sometimes frustration from disability become an experiential backdrop for everything else. Now add those discomforts, pains, and sufferings that are experienced either less frequently or only by some (though nonetheless very many) people. These include allergies, headaches, frustration, irritation, colds, menstrual pains, hot @258;ushes, nausea, hypoglycemia, seizures, guilt, shame, boredom, sadness, depression, loneliness, body-image dissatisfaction, the ravages of AIDS, of cancer, and of other such life-threatening diseases, and grief and bereavement. The reach of negative mental states in ordinary lives is extensive.

Benatar continues:
The positive features of life, although good for those who exist, cannot justify the negative features that accompany them. Their absence would not have been a deprivation for one who never came into existence. It is curious that while good people go to great lengths to spare their children from suffering, few of them seem to notice that the one (and only) guaranteed way to prevent all the suffering of [your] their children is not to bring those children into existence in the @257;rst place. There are many reasons why people do not notice this, or why, if they do notice it, that they do not act on the realization, but the interests of the potential children cannot be among them, as I shall argue. Nor is [and] the harm produced by the creation of a child [is not] usually restricted to that child. The child soon @257;nds itself motivated to procreate, producing children who, in turn, develop the same desire. Thus any pair of procreators can view themselves as occupying the tip of a generational iceberg of suffering. [If] each couple has three children, an original pair"s cumulative descendents over ten generations amount to 88,572 people. That constitutes a lot of pointless, avoidable suffering.

The only way we can prevent all this suffering is by not reproducing. Thus, the only useful criterion can be Lowering Birth Rates.

Humans are not the only ones who suffer because of human existence. The entire natural world is negatively affected by humans" destructive nature.
Kochi & Ordan:
When taking a wider view of history, one which focuses on the relationship of humans towards other species, it becomes clear that the human heritage " and the propagation of itself as a thing of value " has occurred on the back of seemingly endless acts of violence, destruction, killing and genocide. While this cannot be verified, perhaps "human" history and progress begins with the genocide of the Neanderthals and never loses a step thereafter. It only takes a short glimpse at the list of all the sufferings caused by humanity for one to begin to question whether this species deserves to continue into the future. The list of human-made disasters is ever-growing after all: suffering caused to animals in the name of science or human health, not to mention the cosmetic, food and textile industries; damage to the environment by polluting the earth and its stratosphere; deforesting and overuse of natural resources; and of course, inflicting suffering on fellow human beings all over the globe, from killing to economic exploitation to abusing minorities, individually and collectively. In light of such a list it becomes difficult to hold onto any assumption that the human species possesses any special or higher value over other species. Indeed, if humans at any point did possess such a value, because of higher cognitive powers, or even because of a special status granted by God, then humanity has surely devalued itself through its actions and has forfeited its claim to any special place within the cosmos. In our development from higher predator to semi-conscious destroyer we have perhaps undermined all that is good in ourselves

I contend that UHC will prevent untold amounts of suffering by lowering birth rates. This is true for two reasons.

1. Health care is empirically proven to increase education
Those who reported poor childhood health completed approximately 1.8 fewer years of schooling; are almost half as likely to work in an occupation in which the average incumbent has been to college; earn on average $13,000 less annually; and have a staggering $165,000 (77%) less in assets compared to their peers who reported excellent health

Increased education decreases birth rates
Research to date suggests that both age at marriage and age at first birth increase with female education (Bumpass, 1969; Busfield, 1972; Momeni, 1972). Completed fertility, in turn, has been found to be lower among those women who delay age at marriage (or first consensual union) and age of first birth [Also,] Through well-paying jobs open to her [a woman] because of her formal training, she may become self-sufficient and less inclined to early marriage. Furthermore, married and single women with better educations are more likely to find jobs that provide them with satisfactions alternative to children, such as companionship, recreation, and creative activity
Kasarda continues:
Extended schooling beyond the primary grades exposes young women, both formally and informally, to contraceptive information and material not often available through familial or mass media channels. In both developed and less developed nations, knowledge and practice of contraception has been shown to be closely linked to the educational level of wives and husbands (Bhutnagor, 1972; CE LADE and CFSC, 1972; Dandekar, 1967; Husain, 1970b, Kripalani et al., 1971; Miro and Rath, 1965; Sen and Sen, 1967; Yaukey, 1961). Most research supports the conclusion of Ronald Freedman and co-workers (1959), that "the more education a wife or husband has, the more likely that the couple has used contraception, that they began early in marriage, and that they planned their pregnancies and avoided more than they wanted."

Thus, having demonstrated that human reproduction causes suffering and that UHC reduces the rate of reproduction, I urge a strong affirmative vote.


I will present my own case in this round; I will rebut the Affirmative case next round. However, I will provide some definitions of my own at this juncture.


U.S. " the government of the United States. (American Heritage.)
Ought " desirability (Encarta.) Aff defines "ought" as indicating morality, however this is not always the case. For example, the statement "you ought to go left to avoid traffic" is not dealing with morality, but rather with desirability. Therefore, prefer this definition.

Observation One: "Ought" expresses a moral obligation. A moral obligation, according to philosopher J.O. Urmson, is contingent upon capacity. For example, if a man who cannot swim sees a person drowning, the man is not obligated to jump into the pool to save the drowning individual, as that would endanger two lives. It would be unfair to demand that one do something they can"t. But, if one can swim, then one does have an obligation to jump in to save the person. If you have the ability to do good, you ought to do good. Basically, Urmson contends an actor, like the U.S., cannot have an obligation if that actor lacks the ability bear it.

Observation Two: The resolution, by its own wording, is U.S.-specific.

I Value Societal Welfare, defined as the health and safety of a society. Ultimately, this value is intrinsically linked to the notion of healthcare, because of the broad social impacts associated with it. Furthermore, the importance of the community is affirmed by Prof. Jane Dryden, "autonomy"does not provide an adequate notion of the human person as embedded within and shaped by societal values and commitments"we do not choose our values and commitments from the position of already being autonomous individuals; in other words, the autonomous self does not exist prior to the values and commitments that constitute the basis for its decisions. To deliberate in the abstract from these values"is to leave out the self"s very identity, and that which gives meaning to the deliberation."

The Criterion therefore is Rousseau"s Social Contract. It differs from Locke"s insofar as it advocates that government should provide for the public good"not merely three specific rights. As Rousseau himself stated, "The sovereign is thus formed when free and equal persons come together and agree to create themselves anew as a single body, directed to the good of all considered together." This sentiment is echoed across many social contract theories, particularly in the notion that government is there to serve the people, not to serve itself. At the same time though, a government must act pragmatically, for the benefit of the whole, even if this means some harm for the minority. Prof. Gary Woller furthers, "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."

Ultimately then, the government, the U.S., ought to act in such a way as it benefits the most people. It is my belief, that in such stressed economic times, it would be too risky to implement UHC, and thus the U.S. ought not to do it.

Contention One: Universal Healthcare would require the government to exhaust enormous funds that it simply lacks.

Sub-point A: Universal Healthcare would entail massive costs for the U.S.

According to Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel and Prof. Victory Fuchs, "universal health insurance would be underwritten [by the U.S.]"with administrative costs exceeding $145 billion." Professors Chua Kao-Ping and Fl"vio Casoy further, observing that the Institute of Medicine estimated the additional healthcare costs from the presently uninsured being covered by universal healthcare would be around 69 billion dollars per year, and that this number does not even assume that structural changes, delivery financing, scope of benefits, or provider payment might be adversely affected. They go on to state that "there is the possibility that covering the uninsured through a public insurance program may tempt employers to drop coverage and push their employees onto the public insurance program," further increasing the cost of the program for the U.S. According to Reuters, 40 million Americans would need subsidized or free health insurance to be provided to them by the government. As reported by the Tax Policy Center and Reuters, currently, 760 billion dollars in spending and 600 billion dollars in tax cuts are being used to offer like subsidies. That number would need to increase even more should all of the U.S. be covered, and may virtually destroy what is left of U.S. finances.

Sub-point B: The U.S. economy is too fragile to handle the added expenses.

According to Robert Merry, "US public debt exceeds 70% of the economy, nearing the danger point of 90%. With national debt projected to reach 16.6 trillion dollars this year, that ominous percentage looms." The Congressional Budget Office reported that 15 trillion dollars in spending reductions are needed simply to maintain current debt-to-GDP levels. Even more is needed to reduce the overall debt. It warns that U.S. debt may exceed 100% by 2020 and 190% by 2035. Included in its recommendations was a reduction of healthcare subsidies, many of which would be necessary for universal health care. Economists Buchanan, Gjerstad, and Smith, in a study they conducted this year, stated, to survive economically, we must pursue a policy of fiscal consolidation, including a sharp reduction in domestic spending. This would seem to rule out additional healthcare related expenses. They warned "added spending that would naturally accompany any expansion of the system could cause a return to recession. Claims that healthcare would help millions are clearly contradicted by the fact that such a policy could economically harm millions more."

Sub-point C: Such spending would also be fruitless and wasteful even if implemented.

Prof. James Taylor notes that, should Universal Healthcare be implemented, "special interest groups can capture resources through lobbying, perverting them away from their efficient allocation." According to Emma Roberts, universal healthcare would be unsustainable, "countries with universal health care struggle to sustain efficiency. Canada and Australia ranked lowest, according to the Commonwealth Wealth Fund study, in accessibility of physician appointments and wait times for basic medical services, as well as specialist care, tests, etc. Other efficiency issues noted by the study included"misplacing medical records and tests." Prof. Jeffery Miron adds that, "Subsidizing health insurance means that patients and doctors are insulated from the costs of health care, so they utilize too much"often in the form of unnecessary tests or medical procedures."

Sub-point D: Interestingly enough, universal healthcare isn"t really universal.

As reported on ABC News, "A national shortage of general practitioners means that 1.7 million
Canadians don't have access to a regular doctor to go to for routine care. In England, shortages
of dentists have caused hundreds of people to wait in line just for an appointment"One British hospital even tried to save money by not changing bed sheets. Instead of washing them, a British newspaper reported that the staff was encouraged to simply turn the sheets over. At any given time in Great Britain, there are over half a million people waiting to get into a hospital for treatments." The crux of this point is that many of the benefits claimed by proponents of UHC fall short, because UHC is only ensuring a portion of the population.

Essentially, guaranteeing universal healthcare would jeopardize our economy, and is, consequently, not the best course of action for our society. As Urmson notes, moral obligations are contingent on our ability to bear them"and quite simply, we can"t. Prof. Allen Buchanan put it best saying, "a right to healthcare becomes implausible simply because it ignores the fact that in circumstances of scarcity the total social expenditure on health must be constrained by the need to allocate resources for other necessities." Thus, I urge a negative ballot.
Debate Round No. 1
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Debate Round No. 2


Tuft64 forfeited this round.


Extend my arguments! Vote Con!
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by anonymouse 3 years ago
look on the bright side, health care isnt guaranteed to u.s citizens, but incarcerations are
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro failed to refute anything, and dropped out.