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true laissez faire libertarianism is dangerous

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/15/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 588 times Debate No: 81030
Debate Rounds (3)
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people will die of food with no food stamps

people will die of disease with no healthcare

people will die of disease with no food regulations

people will die of pollution and the environment will be tainted with no enviro regs

i could go on


I accept and we meet again :)

Pro does not use the term anarcho-capitalism, therefore it is reasonable for me to allow for some government. My laissez-faire libertarian world (LLW) would have a government who's purpose is limited to:

- protection of private property
- legal enforcement of voluntary contracts
- creation & management of money

Note that in my LLW, there is no public property other than the resources used by government employees.

I would also like to point out that the form of government Pro supports is a monopoly that enforces it's edicts by force.

"people will die of food with no food stamps"

Pro refers to what is now called SNAP. It should be noted that members of SNAP purchase their groceries using an EBT card and shop at the same grocery stores the rest of us do. My opponent will need to explain why the absence of SNAP would have the result that people "die of food". Does SNAP dramatically increase the quality of food at grocery stores?

"people will die of disease with no healthcare"

I covered this in our Obamacare debate?

Pro has the burden to show the positive correlation between lack of public healthcare and reduced mortality. I've already shown that the calculation of so-called hazard ratio these studies rely on his dubious. From the above debate:

"Appendix D of the 2002 Institute of Medicine cites only two studies on the topic of deaths from lack of health insurance, Franks et al. (1993) and Sorlie et al. (1994). It adopts the Franks estimate of 1.25 deaths among those without health insurance for every death among those with health insurance without explanation. The problem with this is that Franks" sample assumed that baseline insurance status remained the same for 19 years, an unrealistic assumption, and it excluded everyone covered by government programs. The 95% confidence interval for the 1.25 hazard ratio was 1.00 to 1.55"

From my debate linked above:

"In independent empirical papers, Richard Kronick and David Card and his colleagues find little evidence that health insurance coverage significantly reduces mortality. Former Director of the Congressional Budget Office June O"Neill and her husband Dave also conclude that lack of insurance has little or no impact on mortality."

"people will die of disease with no food regulations"
I'm assuming Pro is referring to the FDA here. But Pro has it backwards. It's the FDA that kills people. In 2005, Dr. David Graham, senior drug safety researcher at the FDA for 20 years, gave an interview exposing issues inside the FDA in relation to approval of the drug Vioxx.

"FDA analysts estimated that Vioxx caused between 88,000 and 139,000 heart attacks, 30 to 40 percent of which were probably fatal, in the five years the drug was on the market."

This drug was approved by the FDA. As Dr. Graham states:

"Since November [2004], when I appeared before the Senate Finance Committee and announced to the world that the FDA was incapable of protecting America from unsafe drugs or from another Vioxx®, very little has changed on the surface and substantively nothing has changed. The structural problems that exist within the FDA, where the people who approve the drugs are also the ones who oversee the post marketing regulation of the drug, remain unchanged. The people who approve a drug when they see that there is a safety problem with it are very reluctant to do anything about it because it will reflect badly on them. They continue to let the damage occur. America is just as at risk now, as it was in November, as it was two years ago, and as it was five years ago."

But it gets even worse than that. Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative, did some research on this subject and found a startling correlation between U.S. mortality rates and the time Vioxx was on the market (keep in mind, it was handed out to about 80 million people):

"We find the largest rise in American mortality rates occurred in 1999, the year Vioxx was introduced, while the largest drop occurred in 2004, the year it was withdrawn," says Unz. "Vioxx was almost entirely marketed to the elderly, and these substantial changes in the national death-rate were completely concentrated within the 65-plus population.
"The FDA studies had proven that use of Vioxx led to deaths from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, and these were exactly the factors driving the changes in national mortality rates."
"Perhaps 500,000 or more premature American deaths may have resulted from Vioxx [my italics], a figure substantially larger than the 3,468 deaths of named individuals acknowledged by Merck during the settlement of its lawsuit."

Pro confuses regulation, which is "a legal norm intended to shape conduct that is a by-product of imperfection" and government policy. Pro assumes that regulation ONLY comes from monopoly government. This is simply false. Why would we assume that individual actors would not get together to address concerns they might have in some uniform fashion? Pro may cry "But that's just another name for government!". No, it isn't. The key here is "monopoly" and "force". These entities, whatever form they might take, would be voluntary in nature, which is the key to their success. Whatever they be, there would be multiple of them and they would need to serve their customers or die, no different than any other business (well, except those wall street banks, and GM and GE, and ... all the other Crony businesses we have today).

Since I'm advocating for a solution to this specific problem minus any government, I will turn to anarcho-capitalism for a solution. Most A.C. theorists today propose a form of insurance company to address these types of needs. The main difference is that their role would change slightly. They would likely take on the role of drug testing for example. They would also assess the risk of drugs and price insurance accordingly. This would have the result of reducing the risk of another Vioxx.

"people will die of pollution and the environment will be tainted with no enviro regs"

Decreases in pollution have been brought about increases in wealth and improvements in technology. These are attributes brought about by the free market. Perhaps Pro has not heard of the "tragedy of the commons". When a lake full of fish sits in a public park, what incentives are in place for fisherman? Of course, they will fish as fast as possible since the cost is low and they know others are coming to get theirs. With this lake privatized, the owner will set a price for taking fish that can be modified as needed to control the population of the fish.

I can address this more in a subsequent round. I'm running out of space.

Debate Round No. 1


food. it's common sense. some people can't afford to buy food, so they die. or they are so malnourished they die or live in a disease ridden state.

health care. it's common sense. you can't afford prescriptions, you die. you can't afford to have your diabetes taken care of, you die. you have no money, have a heart attack, there's no reason for anyone to do surgery, you die. these are just examples.
i dont want to get bogged down with the studies, which by the way i did cite in the debate con cited, when really it's common sense.

food regulations. it's common sense. con just cites an example where the FDA must have made a mistake.... they allowed a drug and people died. how much more would people die if everyone and their mom was allowed to sell whatever drugs they concoct?

pollution. it's common sense. without air standards, people die of pollution. there's actually an allowed amount of people who can die with the standards as it is,,,, it's known that people will die as is. without standards more would die. con cites that decreased pollution came about by incrased wealth and technoogy.... the problem is they had no reason to use their wealth or technology unless the government told them to.

con just made a whole lotta bluster for a whole lotta things lacking in common sense.


Pro has the burden of proof to show that true laissez faire libertarianism is dangerous. Since all of Pro's arguments are for government intervention to prevent this danger, the implication is that laissez faire is significantly more dangerous than the status quo. However, all Pro has done is made assertions and appealed to "common sense". I'd like to address this use of the term "common sense".

If I asked a dozen people a question about some controversial subject asking for "common sense" responses, I would likely get very different answers. Who would be "right"? Is Pro suggesting we have somehow come to the "end of time" when it comes to knowledge, so that currently all common sense positions are correct?

Pro is in the group who agree with the statement "you can't afford prescriptions, you die" and automatically assumes that group is correct. However, no reason has been given for this. If the common sense answer to economic questions was always true, then how would we ever modify our conclusions over time? Marx's value theory of labor was considered "common sense" in 1900, but has been dismissed in modern times.

"Common sense" fails us often. There are only three ways one can work to arrive at the truth of something:
1) common sense
2) careful study
3) a priori reasoning (first principals)

Pro may use #1 if they choose. I choose to use #2 and #3.

"some people can't afford to buy food, so they die"
This is a childish statement. Humans have an innate desire to help others. American's donated 358$ billion to charities in 2014.

The total of means-tested welfare programs (programs that provide low-income assistance) in the U.S. from federal, state and local governments in 2012 was nearly 1$ trillion dollars. Now it's true that a good deal of this money is not targeted to the truly needy. But that's precisely the problem. Governments intent is not so much to help the needy as it is to buy support, so they spread the money around as much possible. Since 1965 government welfare has increased dramatically:

"And, on a per capita basis, that is per poor person, federal spending has risen by more than 900 percent, from $1,625 to $14,848"

But poverty rates haven't budged. In fact, poverty rates were falling naturally prior to LBJ's Great Society:

I would propose that Pro needs to show improved trends in mortality linked to starvation that correlate with the start of LBJ's great society programs starting in 1965. I think Pro will find it difficult to find examples of starvation even during the great depression. In fact, the only mortality link to the great depression was an increase in suicides.

"people will die of disease with no healthcare"
I already covered this in the last round. There is no connection between mortality and federal health care programs. How did we ever survive prior to these programs which had only begun around 1940 and didn't really kick into gear until LBJ? They survived because doctors took it upon themselves to give healthcare to the poor, especially when government programs weren't crowding out private charity.

"people will die of disease with no food regulations"
Pro talks about people as if there are two species: one species is smart enough to regulate the thousands of drugs made by pharmacy companies, but the other is so stupid they would use a drug concocted in a friends basement.

As long as people desire to take drugs to cure what ails them, there will be cases where harm is done. Take the case of Osphena, a drug intended to aid women with Vaginal dryness during menopause. There are already safe, topical solutions to this problem however Osphena carries with it much higher risks, but people just want to pop a pill to solve a problem.

The question is how we organize business and law in order to minimize the problem. The FDA has a monopoly on the task of approving drugs in the U.S. This monopoly privilege has severe negative consequences.

In the last round I showed the FDA was not only negligent, they also refuse to accept responsibility for their failure. You can't sue the FDA. Former FDA chief counsel Richard Merrill:

"No FDA official has ever been publicly criticized for refusing to allow the marketing of a drug."

Another problem is that the FDA's incentives are to limit access to new drugs. The FDA makes no money on the drugs it approves, so it makes no difference to them how long the approval process takes. Physician Henry I. Miller, who worked for the FDA from 1979 to 1994, states:

"In the early 1980s, when I headed the team at the FDA that was reviewing the NDA for recombinant human insulin, . . . we were ready to recommend approval a mere four months after the application was submitted (at a time when the average time for NDA review was more than two and a half years). With quintessential bureaucratic reasoning, my supervisor refused to sign off on the approval—even though he agreed that the data provided compelling evidence of the drug’s safety and effectiveness. “If anything goes wrong,” he argued, “think how bad it will look that we approved the drug so quickly.”

Economist Sam Peltzman has studied the affects of the Kefauver-Harris act of 1962, which was the start of the FDA program to "provide proof of the effectiveness and safety" of drugs. Peltzman:

"The number of new drugs approved dropped in half after Kefauver-Harris, there was no equivalent fall in the introduction of ineffective or unsafe pharmaceuticals. All the Congress managed to do was strain out potentially life-saving products"

"people will die of pollution and the environment will be tainted with no enviro regs"

A true laissez-faire system has no public property other than the resources used by government. It also fully protects property rights by law. It is the presence of public property that vastly increases pollution and other environmental problems. Property owners have great incentives to protect their property and will have the law backing them up. I will just site one example of how public property results in the "tragedy of the commons".

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 was greatly influenced by government regulation. First of all, the oceans are unowned. The are no lawsuits made by property owners and therefore the only protection is the limited protection the government itself can bring to bear. Regulations affected this scenario in other ways. The U.S. government initially refused help in the cleanup. It turns out that foreign technology exceeds U.S. technology in cleanup capabilities. Whether this was caused by the Jones Act is up for debate. It could have been nothing more than pride.

The Jones act itself is a ridiculous, protectionist policy, and it likely is the reason the U.S. has fallen behind in oil cleanup technology. The act requires "all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents"

Why is the government, who also takes pride in it's anti-trust policy stance, purposely creating a monopoly?
Debate Round No. 2


perhaps it isn't so common sense that people without food stamps die. maybe i should have gave charity more due. i doubt it is fool proof and that some people would die though. i dont have much evidence other than my common sense ideas, but then again enither do you offer evidence that no one would die.

if you can't afford a prescrition, you dont take it, you die sooner.

you have a heart attack and cant afford a bypass or a stent, you get aspirin. only because of laws do many doctors operate when the patient has no money.

FDA regs.
con just says sometimes the FDA taeskes to long to approve medication. he also says if you are stupid enough to buy from a mom and pop you get what you deserve. that they take too long is just a trade off to ensuring healthy outcomes... if they were too fast, unsafe drugs and food would be allowed. also the problem, is even bigger companies will sell what they can make money on, even if people get sick or die. sure, people will stop buying from the biggest problematic companies, but there will be a lot of trial and error going on when it could just be left to the FDA and cut out the process of people dying.

con just goes on an unrelated rant about the tragedy of the commons. he must have just dropped his argument that more wealth and technology will somehow magically cause pollution and such to be fixed. he ignores that i stated that peopel are allowed to die with the current pollution allowed. if there were no standards, mroe pollution would occur, and more people would die. i dont need to cite anything as this is pretty common knowledge that the EPA and such works within the ocnfines of "how many people are permitted to die"


Thanks the debate dairygirl4u2c!

" i dont have much evidence other than my common sense ideas, but then again enither do you offer evidence that no one would die. "

First of all, I'd like to remind voters that Pro has the burden to show laissez faire is dangerous. I don't have to prove that NOBODY would die unexpectedly under laissez faire. Life is dangerous and millions died directly from the hand of governments in the 20th century. I did provide evidence in the last round that the only mortality increase during the great depression was from a slight increase in suicides. This was prior to LBJ's great society, and a time with little government involvement in health care. Keep in mind the graph from the last round that showed how low welfare spending was at that time. Also remember the generous amount of charitable giving I showed in the last round, which I'm sure would be much higher if not for the crowding out affect of government welfare. With the levels of wealth we have today, which would be even higher under laissez faire, it is hard to imagine anyone dying of malnourishment. And only in a Utopian world of endless resources can we afford to give everyone all the health care they ask for.

Pro tries to show again that lack of health insurance affects mortality, but I've already shown there is no such link. Pro's first link is interesting, showing that some people don't fill their prescriptions. News flash! Even though I can generally afford them, I almost never fill my prescriptions and I won't unless the doctor tells me I'm in danger unless I do. All that article says is that people will buy more of something that costs less. No kidding - it's an a priori economic truism. If I could spend 10 million dollars lifetime on every person in the U.S. I bet I could raise mortality rates (although likely only marginally).

"you have a heart attack and cant afford a bypass or a stent, you get aspirin"
Government health insurance does not make health care a non-scarce resource. We can't dedicate 75% of our economy to health care and even if we did, we still may not be able to provide every single person every bit of treatment they would ever want. Simply stating "you can't afford X you die" implies a world were scarcity does not exist and that world only existed in Karl Marx's dreams of communism.

"only because of laws do many doctors operate when the patient has no money"
Doctors have been put in a position where they aren't allowed to make decisions about much of anything. They have essentially become employees of insurance companies, and this has occurred because of regulations and costs spiraling out of control because there is no free market to control prices. Doctors don't even discuss price with patients (if they even know the prices)

Besides, this statement is just wrong. I'll remind Pro of the 358$ billion a year donated by Americans to charity. Americans also do substantial voluntary work. Pro must think that none of this includes those who work in health care, but Pro would be wrong:

"With the conviction that healthcare is the right of all and must be provided regardless of socioeconomic or health status, three New York University (NYU) medical students established the NYU Free Clinic Project in the fall of 1999."

Here is the form 990 for Beth Israel Medical Center that includes work from over 1000 volunteers and over 10$ million in contributions and grants. And this is despite the current environment where we all know about all the government welfare available.

This debate has referenced in passing the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986, which obligates emergency care regardless of insurance. Pro assumes both that doctors would not care for indigent patients and that no such law would exists under laissez faire. I don't think either of these assumptions can be made without justification. Certainly I have showed cases where the first assumption is false.

"he also says if you are stupid enough to buy from a mom and pop you get what you deserve"
No, what I said was you assume that people are stupid enough to do this. You also assume, given that such stupidity exists, you can solve the problem with government. Given the FDA Vioxx scenario (and many othes) or the huge problems with consumers abusing pharmaceuticals, clearly this is not true.

"if they were too fast, unsafe drugs and food would be allowed. "
I'm not sure how you can believe this. I can only assume you didn't read my arguments are chose to ignore what FDA insiders say about the culture there.

"also the problem, is even bigger companies will sell what they can make money on, even if people get sick or die"
Pro clearly doesn't understand the ideas behind laissez faire and the meaning of private property, properly backed by law. Pharmacy companies have not only their reputations at stake but also the threat of law suits. I remind voters of my Sam Peltzman arguments from the last round that showed the Kefauver-Harris act of 1962 had no positive affect on the introduction of unsafe drugs. I have shown not only specific cases where the FDA has failed (and thousands of died), along with systemic cultural problems within, but also how it's monopoly privilege protects it from being held accountable. The best solution to these problems is to break the monopoly and allow free competition.

Pro says that my tragedy of the commons example is unrelated. So either Pro thinks the deepwater horizon oil spill isn't related to the environment or thinks this was not an example of the tragedy of the commons. I'll leave it to voters, but my position is clear.

Pro says I dropped an argument from round 1: Decreases in pollution have been brought about increases in wealth and improvements in technology. Ok, in round 2 Pro says:

"the problem is they had no reason to use their wealth or technology unless the government told them to. "

Although I did not specifically state how my arguments link to this, I did provide a reason why businesses would do this: private property. Under laissez faire, a business cannot pollute onto another's property without legal repercussions. Remember, there is no public property except for a limited resources owned by government.

Pro says:

" he ignores that i stated that peopel are allowed to die with the current pollution allowed"

Well, that's interesting. Pro admits that the EPA is allowing people to die by their own current standards. Keep in mind that the EPA, like the FDA, is a government entity with monopoly privilege. I don't think it's much of a stretch to imagine the wrath that would come down on a private entity with such an allowable death rate compared to the sort of reaction we get with government entities: "Oh, well. That's government. Can't live without out! Take the good with the bad!".

Pro says there is no need to state or prove anything. "See, the EPA has allowable death rates so laissez faire would be worse!". I don't get it. The EPA is a monopoly beholden to nobody. When the screw up, there is no recourse. But somehow I'm to believe that with no government involvement, and all property owned privately, that people would not come up with away to protect their property. I don't think so.

Debate Round No. 3
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