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

USA is world's best country

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 2/28/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 815 times Debate No: 70820
Debate Rounds (2)
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Our politicians are fond of telling us that America is the greatest country that's ever existed. And with elections coming up this year, we can expect to hear it even more.

Can we be honest for a second? It's an obnoxious thing to say. How would you respond to someone at a party who talked this way about himself?

But more than that, it's confusing. Greatest how? The ambiguity gives fodder to both sides of the political spectrum.

To progressives, it's a challenge, an exhortation to fulfill our commitments to our children, etc. (This is the "We're not the greatest, but we could be" sentiment we see throughout Aaron Sorkin's Newsroom.)

To conservatives, it's often a license for passivity. Yes, our education system is wildly dysfunctional and confused, and our health care system isn't much of a system at all. But still, somehow, underneath it all, we remain number one.

And that's the key point: notions about American greatness aren't rooted in evidence.

You see this when Americans get interviewed about the topic. Why is America number one? "We have freedoms that they don't have." Well, lots of Europe seems awfully free as well. "You can start a business really easily." Yes, but because businesses often go unregulated, you can also be screwed when the government lets shady operators frack poison into your groundwater or steal your pension in a trillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. "But we were first -- we gave this democracy thing a shot before anybody else in modern history, and we have this beautiful Constitution that's helped us weather some pretty turbulent changes." Our history contains real achievements, it's true, but what does that have to do with where we are today? Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but I suspect you prefer the iPhone in your pocket.


I thank my opponent for instigating. It seems as though his case rests upon healthcare, education, and freedom. I will address these points in my contentions.

C1) The United States has the Best Healthcare

Most comparisons of healthcare generally rely upon flawed measurements such as life expectancy. Life expectancy is something unrelated to the healthcare system. Race, for whatever reasons, is related to life expectancy. African Americans have a much lower life expectancy whites, Hispanics, and Asians—with Asians and Hispanics living the longest. In Europe, with a predominantly white population, they do not have African Americans and American Indians reducing the average—and no, I am not arguing against multiculturalism. Geography also seems to affect life expectancy, as it varies across the US. A better way to measure the quality if US healthcare is to measure different outcomes with direct links to treatment. A good example of our healthcare system succeeding is breast cancer treatment, “in New Zealand and the United Kingdom nearly half of all women diagnosed with breast cancer die of the disease. In Germany and France, almost one in three dies of the disease. By contrast, in the United States only one in four women diagnosed with breast cancer dies of the disease.” [1.]

Measures to improve US healthcare by nationalizing it—similar to Europe—will inevitably lead to a decrease in health outcomes. Medicare, government insurance for the old, is universal to those who reach a certain age but offers worse healthcare. “Colonoscopy is a procedure that screens for colon cancer and can prevent such cancer from occurring by removing precancerous polyps. Although colonoscopies were widely accepted and practiced by the late 1980s, Medicare did not give every beneficiary access to one until 2001.” [2.]

A recent review of the literature has concluded “the U.S. health care system is the best in the world. … The U.S. has some of the highest breast, colon, and prostate cancer survival rates in the world. … The U.S. is responsible for 53 percent of drug research dollars.” [3.] When actual healthcare measures are utilized, the US healthcare system is the best in the world. We also put the most money into drug research, which is only possible due to some free market forces in our healthcare (though, we are far from a free market healthcare system). The US system is superior to that of other developed countries.

C2) Crime

Many claim the US has high crime, especially when compared to the UK. Indeed, those statistics at a glance are compelling. We have more total homicides, but this is irrelevant as we must remember we have the third largest population on the planet. Total crimes per 1,000, which controls for population, the UK actually has three times more than the United States [4.]. It should be noted that webpage claims the US has a higher murder rate, but this is untrue. The UK murder rate excludes cases which do not end in conviction or where the person is not prosecuted. The US counts both of those instances as murder in their official statistics. If we use the UK’s method of crime measurement and compare it to the US, the US has a murder rate of 2.2 per 100,000 [5.]. The UK often does not include Scotland in their analysis, which “[is] the most violent country in the developed world, with people three times more likely to be assaulted than in America.” It should also be noted, “In 2003, Canada had a violent crime rate more than double that of the U.S. … Australia and England … have the highest rates of robbery, sexual assault, and assault with force of the top 17 industrialized countries.” [6.]

Further, Russia has a murder rate of 11.2 per 100,000 [7.]. The US has a rate of 4.4, or 2.2 if you use the UK method of measurement.

The UK has a higher police reported crime rate, a higher assault rate, and a higher burglary rate. It should be noted the US homicide rate has been decreasing, whereas the UK crime rate has been stable or actually increased [8.].

We can see the US has a fairly good crime record when compared to other industrialized countries. One of the other peaceful countries, like Japan, do best us. However, some of their crime policies are very similar to ours [9.].

C3) Firearms

In Europe, save Switzerland (and in the Middle East, Israel) firearms are banned or heavily restricted. Although many claim firearms are bad, the existence of firearms actually benefit the US.

In the US, we have adopted many may issue and shall issue concealed carry laws which allow you to carry concealed firearms. This has been associated with reduced violent crime rates on all measures, says a recent literature review [10.]. Thus, our right to firearms ownership gives us a tool to reduce crime and combat criminals, something Europeans cannot utilize.

It should also be noted firearms are often used in defense, some estimates suggesting upwards of two million times per year [11.]. From this, we can see that firearms are a social good. Other countries—again, except maybe two or three—do not benefit from these laws which allow us to carry and own guns. This is a significant benefit the US has.

C4) Taxes

Except for a few outlying countries, the US has some of the lowest income taxes in the world. The top marginal tax rates are about 43%. In the UK, they are 50%. In Denmark the number hovers around 60%. Denmark also has a 25% sales tax [12.].

Only three countries, Canada, Korea, and Spain, have lower tax rates than the US. Even business havens like Switzerland have higher overall tax rates [13.].

C5) Freedom

In terms of economic freedom, the US is 12—so only 11 countries best us [14.].

Social freedoms are higher in the US, as we have free speech codified into our constitution. In the UK, a priest was arrested for saying homosexuality was a sin [15.]. In Canada, opposing gay marriage is considered hate speech in many cases. Christians have had to spend millions of dollars in order to defend themselves in court cases due to discrimination in regards to their beliefs. Schools are requiring children to learn about same-sex marriage and same-sex actions. They also require children to be taught pro-gay lessons. Even if you support gay rights, this clearly crosses the line [16.].

Debate Round No. 1


Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom premiered last night and everyone is talking about protagonist Will McAvoy's tirade on how America isn't the greatest country in the world:

"We"re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories. Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real and defense spending..."

In Sorkin's honor, here are 25 other things America isn't number one in:

America ranks 13th in starting a business, according to the Doing Business rankings compiled by The World Bank.
The U.S. ranks 47th in press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders. So much for freedom of the press.
The U.S. ranks 20th in international trade, according to the Doing Business rankings compiled by The World Bank.
The U.S., which ranks 15th in dealing with debt insolvency according to the Doing Business rankings.
The U.S. is ranked 10th in economic freedom, according to The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. is 25th among 43 developing countries for the best place to be a mother, according to Save The Children.
The U.S. is only the 11th happiest country in the world, according Columbia University's Earth Institute.
There are 21 countries better than America in freedom from corruption, according to
The U.S. was ranked 24th in perceived honesty, according to
America is ranked 39th in income inequality according to the CIA World Factbook.
Need a Hepatitis B vaccination? The U.S. is ranked 89th in percentage of children who have been vaccinated according to the World Health Organization.
The U.S. is only 47th in infant survival? That's true, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Want to live a long life? Don't live in the U.S., which is 50th in life expectancy according to the CIA World Factbook.
How well is our economy growing? The U.S. GDP growth rate is ranked 169th out of 216 countries, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Our GDP per capita is only 12th in the world, behind Qatar and Liechtenstein, says the CIA World Factbook.
Our unemployment percentage is worse than 102 of the 200 countries listed by the CIA World Factbook.
The U.S. is an embarrassing 142nd out of 150 countries in infrastructure investment, according to the CIA World Factbook.
America's budget deficit is ranked 192nd in debt relative to GDP, according to the CIA World Factbook.
The growth rate of our industrial production is ranked 79th, according to the CIA World Factbook.
The U.S. is only 11th in oil exports, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Our oil reserves is only the 13th most in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook.
The U.S. is ranked 192nd, dead last, in the net trade of goods and services, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Our reserve of foreign exchange and gold is ranked 19th, according to the CIA World Factbook, right behind Indonesia.
The U.S. is ranked the 28th best soccer team by FIFA.
In terms of the percentage of women holding public office, the U.S. ranks 79th out of 147 countries, says the IPU.


I thank my opponent for his response.

R1) Ranking

My opponent lists many things—such as education and life expectancy. As noted, life expectancy is a poor metric of the country, and better metrics actually tell us that our healthcare is the best healthcare system in the world.

He says we are lagging in education, but this is not really true. Those rankings distinguish differences on very subtle factors, and the differences are often a few hundredths of a percent. Countries also administer the tests differently which can skew the results. These rankings are unable to inform us as to whether or not our education system is bad. Overall, the differences are so small that the US is pretty much tied with other countries when it comes to these tests [1.].

R2) Shotgun argumentation

My opponent utilizes shotgun argumentation, which is highly unethical. It is *impossible* for me to respond to all of these in in 10,000 characters. The vast majority of them—such as debt—proves my point. You DO NOT want to be first in debt—you want to be last. My opponent then concedes when it comes to debt we are significantly above average.

My opponent claims we are only 13th in oil reserves, but this is totally incorrect. Our oil reserve has increases 60% since 2008. There are billions of undiscovered oil fields in the US. The US is soon going to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer [2.]. Not only is the current rate important, but future growth—and we will surpass everyone.

Who cares about soccer teams.

Europe has better freedom of speech? EU courts are ruling that it is legal to remove google results for the simple reason of being outdated [3.]. In the US, we allow the publication of Neo-Nazi propaganda and, to a lesser degree, hate speech. Europe bans both of these things. From a pure freedom point of view, the rights of the dumb extremists are being violated—thus, the US is the leader of free speech unlike my opponent suggests [4.].

To say we are the lowest on infrastructure investment is not a strong argument—we may not need new infrastructure at the time that statistic was taken. According to my opponent’s source, we are number one in both railway and roadway. We are also number 1 in airports [5.]. So to say our infrastructure is bad is incorrect—it is actually the best!

Being ranked poorly in Hepatitis vaccination is not really something America—as in the USFG—has control over. And again, you dropped (and thus conceded) that we have the best healthcare system in the world, something I established.

How does one rate ‘honesty’? Seems subjective and a really poor indicator as to which country is the best.

Our economy, according to my opponent’s source, the US is actually number 1 [5].

Income inequality is not a bad thing. It is if it is not productive, but our inequality is actually because someone has produced something—meaning it makes everyone richer. There is no relationship between income inequality and economic woes [6.]. This is a non-issue.

My opponent says our GDP per capita is low, by a ranking of 12 is not bad. We do not have to be the best on every measure to be the best. IF we averaged a 12, but the next country averaged a 12.1 (even if their economy was better), we would be the best. Is my opponent willing to argue Qatar is better? Maybe he should move there.

“Happy” is also subjective.

It doesn’t make sense that we are ranked low on trade, when we are rated two on imports and three on exports [5].

Gold backing is irrelevant—we are not on a gold standard (thank god).

I don’t see how women in or out of public offices are good or bad. It would be bad if we prohibited, but we don’t. It should be noted (sadly) that the next president will likely be a female—Mrs. Hillary Clinton.

I responded to the majority, but again, it is impossible for me to respond in full. The use of shotgun argumentation should be given to me.

== Dropped arguments ==

My opponent dropped my entire case. He thus concedes that the US has the best economy, lowest crime, best healthcare, lowest taxes, and best firearms policy.

== Rankings (summary) ==

All of these rankings (or, many of them) use very subjective measurements. The education rankings pretty much tie the US with most other countries. Further, the US DOES NOT NEED TO BE #1 in everything in order for me to win. But I have proven, in most cases, we actually are—or are well above average. As we average extremely high, and no other country does this on as many measures as we do, we are the best country. Further, my opponent HAS NOT offered one superior country.

Resolution strongly affirmed. Vote Pro.

Debate Round No. 2
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheAdamb99 3 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Pro gave a better argument and response and also used more reliable resources. Well done to Con but I think Pro stole it this time!