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The Contender
Con (against)

Should college and healthcare be government-controlled?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/27/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 246 times Debate No: 93156
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
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Economics has shown that capitalism always brings out the most efficient use of resources and allocation. However, history has shown that unregulated Laissez-faire capitalism has its own downfall as well. Therefore, it's important for the government to control certain aspects of the market, such as defense and infrastructures for the common benefit of every citizen. However, I also argue that "humanitarian" institutions such as college and healthcare should be controlled too. Here are some of my reasons:

1. Unlike a business transaction for the selfish interest of oneself, college and healthcare exist in the first place to make humanity better as a whole. College is a place for intellectual stimulation and discovery of new knowledge. Sure, college can make you more marketable in the professional field, but the institution exists in the first place to enhance the betterment of a society as a whole, not because someone is chasing after the money. In regards to healthcare, it is meant to save those who are ill, which is somewhat similar to defense; it is there for the common interest of people. To me, it would be absurd to say that you don't get the protection from the police or military because you're poor. Similarly, it would be absurd to say that, no matter how smart you are, you don't deserve to go to college because your parents can't afford to pay. Or even worst, no matter how bright your future can be, you don't get treatment because you don't have the money.

2. If the government has a complete control over college and healthcare, the cost can be significantly reduced since the government is a mega business entity itself. This is not to be confused with the government paying for college tuition and health insurance because the respective colleges and insurance companies can charge as much as they can and still ask the government to pay for it, which of course is bad. What I'm saying is that, the government should have a complete control over colleges and healthcare industry to make these services accessible to every citizen while significantly reducing the cost and eliminating any profit-making opportunity in those industries that are meant to serve the common interests of the people.

3. When it comes to sustainability of a nation, having a college degree would be the most ideal solution to a long-term economic growth. For example, in the U.S., most of the manufacturing and non-skilled jobs were sent abroad to cut down the labor cost. On the other hand, most of the PhD candidates in the STEM fields are rewarded to foreigners each year because America doesn't have enough qualified domestic students to fill those seats. Instead of fighting over those cheap manufacturing jobs with foreigners, why can't we, as a nation, educate the people to compete in the professional world?


In reply to paragraph 1:
First I want to challenge a few of the premises here. I'd argue that college is indeed a transaction. The student wants to learn, and pays the institution to teach them (or gets a scholarship, etc.). This can be done to increase pulling power in the job market, or for purely academic purposes, etc., but it is still a transaction. On the subject of healthcare I'd also argue that your premise is incorrect - not all healthcare is meant to save those who are ill. We also have preventive care and palliative care, and - side note that I'll reference later - many argue that an increased focus on preventive care would save money in the long run.

To address another premise, I believe the analogy to the police or the military isn't an accurate one. Safety is required for a productive society to exist - no one would be able to go to work if every time they left the house someone came and burned it down, or stole all of their possessions, unless they could afford private security. The same applies to preventing foreign invasion - a functioning society has to be safe, so to speak, on both international and domestic levels. These things clearly benefit every individual in society in a way that universal healthcare or education do not - person A may or may not be adversely affected by a lack of formal education or access to healthcare in person Z, or indeed in themselves, but definitely will be adversely affected without some kind of legal and defense system.

On the point made in your final sentence, that it would be absurd to say that one can't have medical treatment because one doesn't have the money - I don't think that's an argument for government controlled healthcare. We currently don't have government controlled healthcare in the way that you mean, and yet anyone with a health problem who walks into an ER will be treated. On the similar point about college being denied to those who can't pay, let's go back to your original definition of why college exists: 'a place for intellectual stimulation and discovery of new knowledge', that doesn't exist 'because someone is chasing after the money' i.e. wants to be marketable for jobs. If we aren't concerned with improving chances at attaining a job in this case, then the actual college degree is irrelevant. Again we can find an alternative to government control of college if our goal is to provide intellectual stimulation and new knowledge to people - we can even do this online for free if we'd like. And, as a last point, no one says that no matter how smart you are you don't deserve to go to college because you can't pay - colleges offer scholarships to such students.

In reply to paragraph 2: The essence of this paragraph is that government can significantly reduce cost.
I think we can very easily dismiss the idea that putting government in charge of something makes it more cost-effective just by looking at real world examples. To give just one, an article from The Fiscal Times (link below) states that between 2002-2012 the US government gave out $688 billion worth of entitlement program payments to the wrong people. Intrinsic to the idea that we should put government in charge of such institutions because it'd reduce costs is the idea that it wouldn't reduce quality. For an example here I'll point you to the recent DOJ report stating that, when agents smuggled fake bombs and guns through airport security, the TSA failed to catch 95% of them. And example of reduced quality / efficiency would be the VA scandal, discussed in more detail below.

The problem with putting government in charge of institutions lies in the incentives. In the private sector if you don't do your job properly you're fired, in government it's typically much more difficult for people to get fired. You're also generally not going to be replaced on an agency level - read about the history of the CIA, for example, and you'll see that if they had been a contractor rather than a government agency they would have been discarded decades ago. Let's wrap this back in to the healthcare question, specific to the VA. The VA recently went through a scandal re: how long veterans had to wait to receive necessary care, with many dying during those waiting periods. At the same time, according to HuffPost's review of an internal audit, the VA was overpaying workers by millions of dollars (see link below). "The jobs of some 13,000 VA support staff have been flagged by auditors as potentially misclassified, in many cases resulting in inflated salaries that have gone uncorrected for as long as 14 years. Rather than moving quickly to correct these costly errors, VA officials two years ago halted a broad internal review mandated by federal law. As a result, the overpayments continued."

You referenced accessibility in this paragraph as well, but let's think about the potential consequences of government controlled healthcare. Is there a concern that, in an effort to cut costs, some patients would be denied access to certain types of preventative care? If that were the case, would it cost more money in the long run anyway? Is it likely that patients would be able to get any sort of treatment they wanted / thought they needed, or would it be subject to government approval? If the employees in charge of approving treatments weren't competent, are we confident that they would be replaced? Would doctor's salaries be reduced, and would that create a concern that over time the quality of doctors would decrease? History has shown us very clearly that government bureaucracy is inefficient and short-sighted, largely due to problems around the incentives, and I think that's sufficient to cast significant doubt on the claim that government would significantly reduce costs, and the unstated but necessary claim that it would not reduce quality of care.

In reply to paragraph 3: Economic growth and sustainability.
You argue that our nation should educate people to compete in the world. The first point is that your original definition of education was based on intellectual pursuits and exposure to new knowledge, with the job market being a secondary concern. The argument you're making here indicates that putting the government in control of college should solve the problem of us falling behind in fields like STEM - here I'll propose an alternative. Computer related fields are perfect for a new kind of trade school - for example, if you want a high paying cyber-security job in certain places, what is required is a certification which in turn requires an 18 month course. What we need to do to catch up in these sectors is to create a demand for trade schools that teach programming, cyber-security, and other skills valuable in the new digital economy. This could be created by the government, or it could not - in either case I'd again ask the question; does our history tell us that the government would do a good job if put in charge of such a task? How does our government perform in its current education role? Beyond that I'll ask you to reconcile this argument with the original point about college being a humanitarian institution.

Debate Round No. 1


perfectjfl10 forfeited this round.


In lieu of a reply from the Pro side I don't have much to add, so I'll await his counter-points in round 3.
Debate Round No. 2


perfectjfl10 forfeited this round.


This is very frustrating. Are you planning on making any arguments?
Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by 3 months ago
Hey Pro,

Just dropping you a note in case you get notifications for these, to remind you that you have < 3 hours left to post a reply.
Posted by eZminT 3 months ago
Pro just lost.
Posted by bballcrook21 3 months ago
I'll accept if you cut it down to 3 or 4 rounds.
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