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Practice Debate: SkepticalMetal vs. Wheylous on Healthcare

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Wheylous Posted: Sun, Oct 7 2012 11:12 PM

Starring Wheylous as the progressive and SkepticalMetal as the libertarian. This is to see how good SM is at countering the arguments (in retrospect, bad abbreviation).

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Healthcare in the US is in a terrible mess. No one would disagree that our costs are exploding out of proportion and we're not receiving what we're paying for. The US spends more on healthcare than any other nation and we still have millions upon millions of uninsured people who do not receive treatment. Furthermore, insurance companies are able to deny people coverage for preexisting conditions. What if a middle-aged, uninsured, single working-class woman comes down with cancer and no insurance will cover her? We need government to help to cover these people. While the rich can keep whatever healthcare they want, everyone else should be able to access healthcare backed by the government unconditionally. The rich have a large amount of money - why can't they give up a part of that to people less fortunate than them? We need a system of universal healthcare for households than earn less than $50,000 per member. Look at Scandinavian countries for example. Their healthcare spending is only around 9 or 10% per GDP and everyone there can go and get treated.

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By stating that we need universal healthcare for all households that earn less than 50,000 dollars per member, you are implying that health care is a natural right for the less fortunate. If we believe in self-ownership, then the idea that you are suggesting regarding the responsability of the rich to pay for the poor's healthcare goes against that very principle. If one does not pay his or her taxes to pay for somebody else's care, then that person is automatically punished for not giving out the fruits of his or her labor. That person earned that money, and regardless of who the money would be given to after the theft, we cannot have the dillusion that it is anything other than what it is - theft. A better word to use would be slavery. And I might also add that in places where universal healthcare does indeed exist, such as Canada (which is often cited as a good example), because of strict regulation on the matter, waiting lists are created, even for people who have extreme illnesses such as cancer. Many have died because of these long waiting lists, and were restricted the right to find private care because of laws that made privately-owned health institutions illegal.

It's certainly no secret that the healthcare system in the United States is no good, but we must not forget that many years ago, BEFORE government intervention in the matter, the United States was looked upon as having the best healthcare system in the world, as it was completely free-market. More advances were made in medicine. Because it wasn't monopolized, competition was allowed, which resulted in increasingly better quality care.

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Would you like us to critique after a few exchanges?

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Sure, why not.

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Is there not free market competition in healthcare industry today? Many insurance companies compete for customers.

“Since people are concerned that ‘X’ will not be provided, ‘X’ will naturally be provided by those who are concerned by its absence."
"The sweetest of minds can harbor the harshest of men.”

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In many cases yes, but what I was referring to was the traditional doctor-patient relationship that has been lost over the years because of government regulation and the progressive argument that government should intervene more in healthcare.

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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 12:07 AM

Skeptic,

You start off with a fairly strong moral critique which starts to devolve the moment you throw out the word "slavery". Rember how arcane and possibly even absurd this argument is going to seem to both your opponent and bystanders, and if you're not very careful then you're going to sound crazy. You should build up more to the conclusion that "slavery is taxation" through reasonably argument, even if you're more or less restating what you've said, make sure that the reasons for the equation are extremely clear.

Your economic critique is rather weak. You don't go into much detail or explain what the government has done, you're not exploiting any of the massive amount of material you have to draw on. The common claim that the U.S has a free market in healthcare IS A LIE, a flat out lie. Government stepped in and has been increasingly and it's been making things worse. At best your economic analysis makes it seem like Canadian healthcare is slightly worse than a free market system. There's so much you could draw on right off the bat that it's almost criminal you do not.

From a stylistic standpoint your critique has a very positive factor to it, and that is that it is direct and to the point, but with this said you're summarizing the matter of a nation's healthcare system into a paragraph and a half. Make sure it's clear that wheylous is the bad guy, not only is what he talking about theft, but what he advocates will make things worse. You do care for the sick and about healthcare, and that is part of why you advocate for free markets. Pull on that pathos and go into more depth with what is causing it, simple cause and effect common sense statements will work just fine here and if you play your cards right then you can make Wheylous look like a fool.

Rating: 3.75/10

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Neodoxy pointed out most weak points I think.  If you're going to tackle the issue of 'rights', you should do this by explaining that any 'right' imposes an obligation on another party, and that a 'right' to healthcare means forcing someone to treat you.  Now in that argument there's little point claiming that such a practice is in itself immoral if your opponent disagrees with you, so you should simply put the question to them: 'Do you think you should be allowed to force other people to provide you with goods or services?'  If they do, there's no point calling it slavery, since they evidently have no problem with slavery.

But yeah, on the healthcare issue your main point should be that the lack of a free market is the problem, and list all the ways in which the state controls the market, explaining how such controls cause problems.

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Jargon replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 1:36 AM

Some tips:

What kinds of things does the government do to increase demand? What do they do to restrict supply? How did people cope before regulations? Were people about to solve their own problems before a regulation? Who wanted said regulation?

The first two are absolutely key in providing any decent economic argument and many poster have many times posted such arguments.

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The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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So much for Wheylous vs. SkepticalMetal...

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How does the responsibility of the rich toward the poor violate self-ownership? No one has violated their person. We are merely taking part of the large sums of money that they do not need and giving it to those people whose lives are threatened by disease.  Since we're using the money to save lives, what we are doing is in fact reaffirming self-ownership by placing life on a higher value scale than mere money and helping the poor. Furthermore, you can hardly say that the rich person earned all of that money with harder labor than the poor person. Many rich people just put their parents' money into some general stock funds and let it accumulate without really caring too much for it.

You cite Canada as a supposed example where there are long waiting lists. But nowhere did I state that Canada has the best system possible. There are many ways to improve their system. For example, this website says that there are ways to improve the public health system by making adjustments to it. In the age of modern technology, we can surely analyze the system to find places for speedup. Moreover, the same page claims that wait times in parallel privatized systems are as long or longer, directly countering your point. Even if I concede that, you say that many have died because of the long waiting lists - even if that's so, what about all the American poor that die because they can't afford healthcare. You're so ready to blame the Canadians without seeing the sin in your own system.

You mention a time "BEFORE" government intervention, but you give no dates whatsoever. You just make a very bold claim that the US was looked upon as having the best healthcare system in the world.

As it stands, you made a weak moral argument, a factual claim directly refuted above, and then a baseless claim. You're obviously trying to cover up your lack of understanding or compassion with vague words about evil foreign socialist governments and some imaginary awesome free market.

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I ask other posters to refrain from helping either side. This is a test of skills for SM, not a test of skills for the libertarian hivemind.

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So if the poor are entitled to health care, please tell me what else they are entitled to. A swimming pool? A car? Personally I'd like to have a government supply of sunscreen, because that is a part of my essential needs if I go to the beach on a regular basis.

Without healthcare, the majority of people won't die for quite some time. Without food or water however, everyone will die in a matter of weeks. So isn't food and water more urgent then healthcare?

So under your logic, wouldn't food and water be of much more importance? So I guess we also have to have government running the food and water production, like in the Soviet Union where there was mass famine, or like North Korea today. Regardless of how the rich earned their money, if they earned it fairly, then to extract money from them is indeed theft. And if you say the poor are entitled to health care, doesn't that mean that doctors should be forced to serve those who have a right to it? Nobody is BORN with a responsability to anybody else. But your argument suggests that basic human compassion would cease to exist when there is no coercion from the state.

Also, I'd like to say one other thing - we do not have anything near private healthcare in America, contrary to what you believe. Government is ALREADY majorly in healthcare. These is strict regulation by the FDA which makes the process of releasing of new drugs and healthcare technology very expensive to the consumer. So much for those evil insurance companies making everything expensive. And, there are strict regulations prohibiting international drugs and healthcare services provided to the nation in general.

IP laws negatively affect the industry by hampering innovation, and the ability for religious organizations and non-profits to provide free or low-cost healthcare has been restricted.

More regulation will just create more malfunctions of the market. As it turns out, the socialization of dentistry in Britain has plunged them back over a century in tooth care. People pull out their own teeth because of the waiting lists that are mandatory with socialized medicine.

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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 12:38 PM

Wheylous,

The point of "testing one's skills" is to get better at these skills. We are giving Skeptic advice which he acquiesced to us providing to help show him what we believe that he could improve on so that he could get better. I believe this will be more helpful for him than letting him go it his own. It is precisely because we want SM to get better, to better understand his position, that the "libertarian hivemind" is stepping in and, not debating you, giving SM the answers, or even giving him a clear outline of how to structure his responses, merely giving him advice as to the limits of his own argument, which is better than getting smacked down or merely having flaws go unchallenged in a mock debate which I find useless. If you're trying to get some humility beat into you or really attempting to understand not only the arguments of, but the mindset behind the other side, then have a real debate with someone who actually believes what they advocate, if you're trying to get better at debating and understanding the reality of your own position then get as much feedback as possible from a mock debate. However, if you reaffirm the fact that you do not want us critiquing his posts then I will refrain from doing so.

I'd also like to throw this one out there, Wheylous, that you're not exactly using a normal statist argument either, if what you're trying to do is to prepare him for such an encounter.

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I'd like it to get to the point to where I can debate Cenk Ugyur, also known as Al Gore's buttplug.

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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 4:23 PM

A mentally retarded chimp is past the intellectual milestone where he is fit to debate Cenk.

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I think if I remember correctly, Cenk cut Peter Schiff's mic and then kicked him off the show. Even though Schiff made infinately better arguments, I do admit that he was inturrupting Cenk at every turn.

Regardless, I still think Cenk is a massive tool.

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The point of "testing one's skills" is to get better at these skills. We are giving Skeptic advice which he acquiesced to us providing to help show him what we believe that he could improve on so that he could get better.

Yes, but please let's save it for after the show. I have peppered in some mistakes that I want him to spot, not ones I want you to give him for free. After a few rounds we can discuss some of the ways the arguments could go. I would appreciate it, however, if at least for now we could do this by ourselves with commentators not helping either side. Sowwy :3

I'd also like to throw this one out there, Wheylous, that you're not exactly using a normal statist argument either

It's fairly standard for now. I am considering throwing in some non-standard stuff, but I gues I should reconsider it.

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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 5:10 PM

He's the epitome of a democrat. That's to say a liberal who does nothing other than address talking points and the most superficial of issues citing the most recent report that he saw or unintelligent mainstream book he last read without ever looking deeply enough into matters to say anything of true merit. And he thinks he's smart. And he thinks his opponents are stupid and not as smart as him... And he does this for a living.

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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 5:12 PM

Aight then, even though I have to say

"How does the responsibility of the rich toward the poor violate self-ownership? No one has violated their person. We are merely taking part of the large sums of money that they do not need and giving it to those people whose lives are threatened by disease.  Since we're using the money to save lives, what we are doing is in fact reaffirming self-ownership by placing life on a higher value scale than mere money and helping the poor."

This is like no statist argument I've ever seen

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This is nothing new, progressives have always been an arrogant bunch. No offense, progressive Wheylous.

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Now you're just being silly. Of course we do not need the provision of sunscreen unless it is specifically for some condition you know needs sunscreen as part of the treatment (possibly strong burns). What I'm talking about is the provision of necessities which people cannot afford.

As to food and water production, we obviously don't want to be like the Soviet Union or NK - they're military dictatorships! I don't want that!

Do note, however, that we do have food stamps today, and utilities are heavily regulated by the government - not exactly free market dog-eat-dog, is it? Regardless, I hope it's quite easy to see that healthcare and food are quite different things. Why, for example, is my side not advocating governmental provision of bandaids? Because bandaids are cheap and plentiful and there's no really asymmetry of power of production of bandaids. Healthcare, on the other hand, is very complex and hardly something that a consumer can understand all by himself. The point is, it's extremely expensive, unlike food. Remember, too, that we have soup kitchens providing food to poor people - while not enough, it's something. We certainly can't have random people set up stands and give out pills for free to the poor, can we?

Call taxation what you will, but you cannot deny that it's more desirable to take money from people who can afford to lose some and to give it to other so they can live. To ask a hypothetical, would it be "immoral" to take even one single penny from the rich man to give it to the poor to save him? Seriously? What if we took a penny from every household that earns over $200,000 and use it to buy the medicine for a family infected with a disease that is easily treatable through antibiotics which they cannot afford?

You mention strict regulations by the FDA - well, never did I say that the governmental process cannot be improved - in fact, I said it above! I believe in actively reforming government programs, not removing them completely so the poor are left on their own. We can find ways to streamline the process and have the FDA approve safe drugs faster. We can also decrease patent times so that companies can make gigantic profits for less time. We should also fund more research so that we can get more medicine in the public domain. But your argument implies that all the costs of healthcare come from just drug costs. What about procedures? You fail to cover that completely.

And with your Britain example you once again are focusing in on specific policy. The point is to have dynamic, adapting government policy to see what works and what doesn't.

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I'm ready for some criticism now. I just have no idea how to reply.

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At this point you need to challenge the idea that bureaucracy can do any of what he claims, and argue that innovation and lower costs can only come from the free market, that state programs get captured by special interests, and that central planning suffers from problems of information which mean that it simply does not have the feedback to respond to the different needs of all the different individuals in society.  You will need a bit of theory, but the more actual examples of free market innovation and lower costs vs. bureaucratic stagnation the better.

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This is like no statist argument I've ever seen

Sorry, but I took it and ran. Yeah, it's not totally standard, but I tried to do a fairly shallow analysis of the statement. Maybe I should have asked more about it before addressing it. Anyway, it's a small part of the debate.

And SM, no offense. I'm just gonna tax you more.

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Why don't we go to another subject? This isn't really one I'm comfortable with. What are some other idiotic progressive ideas that I could challenge? Be Cenk Ugyur for a bit.

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Bert replied on Mon, Oct 8 2012 5:44 PM

Remember when you could debate someone one on one and you had a seperate thread for all the criticism and remarks?  Maybe a time when people could read?

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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Statists 1 Libertarians 0

Woop!

Anyway, ok. Would you like me to go over what I would have said in response? It would be my pleasure.

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Yes.

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I'll get you in a few hours. Atm I have to go eat.

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I just ate. Non-breaded spicy chicken with vegatables. Starting the paleolithic diet now.

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My first post:

Healthcare in the US is in a terrible mess. No one would disagree that our costs are exploding out of proportion and we're not receiving what we're paying for. The US spends more on healthcare than any other nation and we still have millions upon millions of uninsured people who do not receive treatment. Furthermore, insurance companies are able to deny people coverage for preexisting conditions. What if a middle-aged, uninsured, single working-class woman comes down with cancer and no insurance will cover her? We need government to help to cover these people. While the rich can keep whatever healthcare they want, everyone else should be able to access healthcare backed by the government unconditionally. The rich have a large amount of money - why can't they give up a part of that to people less fortunate than them? We need a system of universal healthcare for households than earn less than $50,000 per member. Look at Scandinavian countries for example. Their healthcare spending is only around 9 or 10% per GDP and everyone there can go and get treated.

First of all, point out that insurance against pre-existing conditions is a contradiction of definitions. It's not insurance (which, by definition, is against a possible future risk) if we're sure they have the condition. At that point, it's socialized healthcare.

Next, sidestep the whole argument about the government providing healthcare better than the free market - initially. Start off by using this article: http://mises.org/daily/6014

Essentially, healthcare costs rose with CPI before medicare and it exploded afterwards. Now, this is not by itself a 100% sound argument, because correlation is not causation. But then you could look at other theoretical Austrian arguments for why government spending explodes costs. You could, for example, show that artificially increasing demand increases costs. Currently, 50% of healthcare spending is done by the government. Another thing you could point out would be the IP arguments - which you did later, which is good.

As to Scandinavia: http://mises.org/daily/4146

They are more free-market than you expect, PLUS, all they "prove" (even if the claim is correct), is that their socialism is better than our socialism - something entirely possible. The article says 'This is the simple reason why the Scandinavian welfare states appear to "work well": because most alternatives are even worse, and in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.'

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Your post:

By stating that we need universal healthcare for all households that earn less than 50,000 dollars per member, you are implying that health care is a natural right for the less fortunate. If we believe in self-ownership, then the idea that you are suggesting regarding the responsability of the rich to pay for the poor's healthcare goes against that very principle. If one does not pay his or her taxes to pay for somebody else's care, then that person is automatically punished for not giving out the fruits of his or her labor. That person earned that money, and regardless of who the money would be given to after the theft, we cannot have the dillusion that it is anything other than what it is - theft. A better word to use would be slavery. And I might also add that in places where universal healthcare does indeed exist, such as Canada (which is often cited as a good example), because of strict regulation on the matter, waiting lists are created, even for people who have extreme illnesses such as cancer. Many have died because of these long waiting lists, and were restricted the right to find private care because of laws that made privately-owned health institutions illegal.

It's certainly no secret that the healthcare system in the United States is no good, but we must not forget that many years ago, BEFORE government intervention in the matter, the United States was looked upon as having the best healthcare system in the world, as it was completely free-market. More advances were made in medicine. Because it wasn't monopolized, competition was allowed, which resulted in increasingly better quality care.

Let's break it down.

First of all, you go straight for the throat with the slavery argument. This is not something many people would buy. I do, but I am already a libertarian. Furthermore, you run the danger of them taking the logical conclusion and then asking you whether you believe in anarchy, thinking that they have you in a reductio ad absurdum. This is bad because then they have tons of arguments left open, such as justice, roads, and national defense. The problems there would be 1) The fact that you're diverging from the issue at hand (healthcare), and 2) That your task becomes exponentially harder. It's unfortunate that some libertarian arguments mutually support each other (anti-tax, anti-IP, anti-defense monopoly) to make the system work nicely, but you'll have to restrain the arguments you can use so as to not spread yourself too thin.

Next, you bring up waiting lists, however you are just making an assertion. As a student of economics, I understand why the assertion is true, but the general progressive will not. If you want to use this argument, either cite a good empirical study to back your claim up about assertions or explain the Austrian theory of socialist calculation briefly.

Next, you talk about the time before government intervention. This is very good, as I pointed out above, but 1) you speak about it as if there used to be a completely free market, while the data you will actually be citing will be more of a free market but not a completely free market as you claim. Note, for example, the AMA (discussed here: http://mises.org/daily/6099).

You talk about monopolization and competition - if you want to do this, you should consider giving a quick breakdown of what competition is and how it works in a microeconomics perspective.

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My reply:

 

How does the responsibility of the rich toward the poor violate self-ownership? No one has violated their person. We are merely taking part of the large sums of money that they do not need and giving it to those people whose lives are threatened by disease.  Since we're using the money to save lives, what we are doing is in fact reaffirming self-ownership by placing life on a higher value scale than mere money and helping the poor. Furthermore, you can hardly say that the rich person earned all of that money with harder labor than the poor person. Many rich people just put their parents' money into some general stock funds and let it accumulate without really caring too much for it.

You cite Canada as a supposed example where there are long waiting lists. But nowhere did I state that Canada has the best system possible. There are many ways to improve their system. For example, this website says that there are ways to improve the public health system by making adjustments to it. In the age of modern technology, we can surely analyze the system to find places for speedup. Moreover, the same page claims that wait times in parallel privatized systems are as long or longer, directly countering your point. Even if I concede that, you say that many have died because of the long waiting lists - even if that's so, what about all the American poor that die because they can't afford healthcare. You're so ready to blame the Canadians without seeing the sin in your own system.

You mention a time "BEFORE" government intervention, but you give no dates whatsoever. You just make a very bold claim that the US was looked upon as having the best healthcare system in the world.

As it stands, you made a weak moral argument, a factual claim directly refuted above, and then a baseless claim. You're obviously trying to cover up your lack of understanding or compassion with vague words about evil foreign socialist governments and some imaginary awesome free market.

On the topic of need vs. want, I think JJ would have a good response to that. I, on the other hand, point you to a great piece by David Friedman to counter the idea that the right to life is supreme over all others:

http://libera.me.uk/pub/pub/books/The_Machinery_of_Freedom_.pdf#page=29

About rich people putting their money into funds and letting it grow - that's not a bad thing. Their money isn't just lying still in place - it's being used by other people to drive the economy. Here is a wonderful Milton Friedman video on why soaking the rich doesn't work:

[view:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi-D24oCa10]

As to the website I cite, you should challenge the website. It doesn't cite any studies or provide any logic. It merely makes claims. I bet that they cherry pick.

As to the argument that the Canadian system could be improved - well, that's a valid argument - their system could be improved even within a government framework. However, we've already pointed out that it's government intervention that makes healthcare expensive. Here, you could inject other issues such as war or education as to why Americans don't have more money and experience more growth. Again, this is risky, because while right, you get off-track. You could, however, ask "if socialism is so good in healthcare, why not apply it to everything?" You do that later on, and I respond later, so I will address it there.

My argument that you do not provide sources on US free market healthcare is true - you don't. You should have. I gave you some above. But you ALSO should have called me out on not providing sources for my claims. I did this numerous times and you let it slide.

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Your reply:

So if the poor are entitled to health care, please tell me what else they are entitled to. A swimming pool? A car? Personally I'd like to have a government supply of sunscreen, because that is a part of my essential needs if I go to the beach on a regular basis.

Without healthcare, the majority of people won't die for quite some time. Without food or water however, everyone will die in a matter of weeks. So isn't food and water more urgent then healthcare?

So under your logic, wouldn't food and water be of much more importance? So I guess we also have to have government running the food and water production, like in the Soviet Union where there was mass famine, or like North Korea today. Regardless of how the rich earned their money, if they earned it fairly, then to extract money from them is indeed theft. And if you say the poor are entitled to health care, doesn't that mean that doctors should be forced to serve those who have a right to it? Nobody is BORN with a responsability to anybody else. But your argument suggests that basic human compassion would cease to exist when there is no coercion from the state.

Also, I'd like to say one other thing - we do not have anything near private healthcare in America, contrary to what you believe. Government is ALREADY majorly in healthcare. These is strict regulation by the FDA which makes the process of releasing of new drugs and healthcare technology very expensive to the consumer. So much for those evil insurance companies making everything expensive. And, there are strict regulations prohibiting international drugs and healthcare services provided to the nation in general.

IP laws negatively affect the industry by hampering innovation, and the ability for religious organizations and non-profits to provide free or low-cost healthcare has been restricted.

More regulation will just create more malfunctions of the market. As it turns out, the socialization of dentistry in Britain has plunged them back over a century in tooth care. People pull out their own teeth because of the waiting lists that are mandatory with socialized medicine.

At the beginning you begin nicely, but the argument is easily countered, as I showed. The David Friedman argument I link above is stronger.

Good that you question the idea of production of food and water privately since healthcare is so good with socialism. I counter this in my next post, so I will tell you how to counter that in the next section.

Good point on the doctors being forced to give healthcare. The counter to that would be "we don't need to force doctors to do things, we need the money of the rich to give to the doctors." The counter to THAT would be "mental experiment: what if there are no rich to take money from? Do we force the doctors to operate if they do not want to?" THIS really is obvious slavery, and they will likely concede that you do not want to. Here is the crack in their belief in universal healthcare that you can exploit, because you've found a weakness in their moral system you can use to break it completely apart and have it LEAD to you argument that taxation is theft.

Good on mentioning the regulations of the FDA, but that is easily deflected by saying "oh, we'll fix that."

Good IP argument, although you provide no sources or arguments as to why you're right. It's a mere claim. You can find sources on that somewhere on this site. I don't have good ones, atm. Maybe Kinsella. Again, however, this is dangerous ground - you might not want to open the IP can of worms.

Interesting claim on the Britain dentistry, but it needs a source. Also, easily countered with "yeah, we'll fix it."

----------------------------------

My final post:

 

Now you're just being silly. Of course we do not need the provision of sunscreen unless it is specifically for some condition you know needs sunscreen as part of the treatment (possibly strong burns). What I'm talking about is the provision of necessities which people cannot afford.

As to food and water production, we obviously don't want to be like the Soviet Union or NK - they're military dictatorships! I don't want that!

Do note, however, that we do have food stamps today, and utilities are heavily regulated by the government - not exactly free market dog-eat-dog, is it? Regardless, I hope it's quite easy to see that healthcare and food are quite different things. Why, for example, is my side not advocating governmental provision of bandaids? Because bandaids are cheap and plentiful and there's no really asymmetry of power of production of bandaids. Healthcare, on the other hand, is very complex and hardly something that a consumer can understand all by himself. The point is, it's extremely expensive, unlike food. Remember, too, that we have soup kitchens providing food to poor people - while not enough, it's something. We certainly can't have random people set up stands and give out pills for free to the poor, can we?

Call taxation what you will, but you cannot deny that it's more desirable to take money from people who can afford to lose some and to give it to other so they can live. To ask a hypothetical, would it be "immoral" to take even one single penny from the rich man to give it to the poor to save him? Seriously? What if we took a penny from every household that earns over $200,000 and use it to buy the medicine for a family infected with a disease that is easily treatable through antibiotics which they cannot afford?

You mention strict regulations by the FDA - well, never did I say that the governmental process cannot be improved - in fact, I said it above! I believe in actively reforming government programs, not removing them completely so the poor are left on their own. We can find ways to streamline the process and have the FDA approve safe drugs faster. We can also decrease patent times so that companies can make gigantic profits for less time. We should also fund more research so that we can get more medicine in the public domain. But your argument implies that all the costs of healthcare come from just drug costs. What about procedures? You fail to cover that completely.

And with your Britain example you once again are focusing in on specific policy. The point is to have dynamic, adapting government policy to see what works and what doesn't.

I begin my countering your "necessities" argument about pools and sunscreen. Wasn't too tough.

My rebuttal on Soviet Union and NK are also semi-valid.

I mention food stamps. You could let this slide or you could mention that state welfare is terrible and can be replaced by private welfare: http://mises.org/journals/jls/21_2/21_2_1.pdf ($5 taxed for every $1 given).

On the point of utilities being regulated, try http://mises.org/daily/5266/ (utilities worked fine before regulations).

On the point that healthcare is expensive but food is not, HERE is where your argument about socialism hits. You argue "if socialism is so good for healthcare, why not everything?" I reply "well, we don't need it." IMPLICIT to this reply of mine, is an idea that THE MARKET IN FOOD WORKS. Push me to answer WHY it works. Make me write out the micro scenario. Make me argue for the market in food production or almost any other commodity. That way when I argue that we need socialism in healthcare specifically I will have to fight my own arguments for the market in other commodities. This is the heart of the debate. The calculation problem. You really need to learn this argument. It's the heart of most Austrian analysis.

Next, on the immorality of stealing a penny - this implies the government can tax a penny and save a bunch of people. However, always remember crowding out. You'll ask, well, how does taxing one penny crowd out investment? Well, what if private people solicited the same 1 penny in donations? They themselves could invest something or save the poor people. You don't need the government. I realize this is a utilitarian argument, but so was my original argument against you - that redistribution is not immoral because it produces good results. Show me that the same results can be achieved with voluntary action.

Next, I block the argument on the FDA by saying "we'll fix it." Push me to tell you how we'll fix it. I won't know. In fact, I don't :P

 

That's about it. Your arguments might be bought by libertarians or conservatives, but make them more rigorous and empirically and theoretically stronger and you will be able to destroy the statist.

I welcome other suggestions. I am sure I missed some weak points in both our arguments. Also, ask me if something is unclear.

 

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My post is pending moderation :\

It's big :D

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Must be, geez.

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Here it is without the links (until the links get approved):

 

 

 

My first post:

Healthcare in the US is in a terrible mess. No one would disagree that our costs are exploding out of proportion and we're not receiving what we're paying for. The US spends more on healthcare than any other nation and we still have millions upon millions of uninsured people who do not receive treatment. Furthermore, insurance companies are able to deny people coverage for preexisting conditions. What if a middle-aged, uninsured, single working-class woman comes down with cancer and no insurance will cover her? We need government to help to cover these people. While the rich can keep whatever healthcare they want, everyone else should be able to access healthcare backed by the government unconditionally. The rich have a large amount of money - why can't they give up a part of that to people less fortunate than them? We need a system of universal healthcare for households than earn less than $50,000 per member. Look at Scandinavian countries for example. Their healthcare spending is only around 9 or 10% per GDP and everyone there can go and get treated.

First of all, point out that insurance against pre-existing conditions is a contradiction of definitions. It's not insurance (which, by definition, is against a possible future risk) if we're sure they have the condition. At that point, it's socialized healthcare.

Next, sidestep the whole argument about the government providing healthcare better than the free market - initially. Start off by using this article: http://mises.org/daily/6014

Essentially, healthcare costs rose with CPI before medicare and it exploded afterwards. Now, this is not by itself a 100% sound argument, because correlation is not causation. But then you could look at other theoretical Austrian arguments for why government spending explodes costs. You could, for example, show that artificially increasing demand increases costs. Currently, 50% of healthcare spending is done by the government. Another thing you could point out would be the IP arguments - which you did later, which is good.

As to Scandinavia: http://mises.org/daily/4146

They are more free-market than you expect, PLUS, all they "prove" (even if the claim is correct), is that their socialism is better than our socialism - something entirely possible. The article says 'This is the simple reason why the Scandinavian welfare states appear to "work well": because most alternatives are even worse, and in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.'

-------------------

Your post:

By stating that we need universal healthcare for all households that earn less than 50,000 dollars per member, you are implying that health care is a natural right for the less fortunate. If we believe in self-ownership, then the idea that you are suggesting regarding the responsability of the rich to pay for the poor's healthcare goes against that very principle. If one does not pay his or her taxes to pay for somebody else's care, then that person is automatically punished for not giving out the fruits of his or her labor. That person earned that money, and regardless of who the money would be given to after the theft, we cannot have the dillusion that it is anything other than what it is - theft. A better word to use would be slavery. And I might also add that in places where universal healthcare does indeed exist, such as Canada (which is often cited as a good example), because of strict regulation on the matter, waiting lists are created, even for people who have extreme illnesses such as cancer. Many have died because of these long waiting lists, and were restricted the right to find private care because of laws that made privately-owned health institutions illegal.

It's certainly no secret that the healthcare system in the United States is no good, but we must not forget that many years ago, BEFORE government intervention in the matter, the United States was looked upon as having the best healthcare system in the world, as it was completely free-market. More advances were made in medicine. Because it wasn't monopolized, competition was allowed, which resulted in increasingly better quality care.

Let's break it down.

First of all, you go straight for the throat with the slavery argument. This is not something many people would buy. I do, but I am already a libertarian. Furthermore, you run the danger of them taking the logical conclusion and then asking you whether you believe in anarchy, thinking that they have you in a reductio ad absurdum. This is bad because then they have tons of arguments left open, such as justice, roads, and national defense. The problems there would be 1) The fact that you're diverging from the issue at hand (healthcare), and 2) That your task becomes exponentially harder. It's unfortunate that some libertarian arguments mutually support each other (anti-tax, anti-IP, anti-defense monopoly) to make the system work nicely, but you'll have to restrain the arguments you can use so as to not spread yourself too thin.

Next, you bring up waiting lists, however you are just making an assertion. As a student of economics, I understand why the assertion is true, but the general progressive will not. If you want to use this argument, either cite a good empirical study to back your claim up about assertions or explain the Austrian theory of socialist calculation briefly.

Next, you talk about the time before government intervention. This is very good, as I pointed out above, but 1) you speak about it as if there used to be a completely free market, while the data you will actually be citing will be more of a free market but not a completely free market as you claim. Note, for example, the AMA (discussed here: http://mises.org/daily/6099).

You talk about monopolization and competition - if you want to do this, you should consider giving a quick breakdown of what competition is and how it works in a microeconomics perspective.

---------------

My reply:

 

How does the responsibility of the rich toward the poor violate self-ownership? No one has violated their person. We are merely taking part of the large sums of money that they do not need and giving it to those people whose lives are threatened by disease.  Since we're using the money to save lives, what we are doing is in fact reaffirming self-ownership by placing life on a higher value scale than mere money and helping the poor. Furthermore, you can hardly say that the rich person earned all of that money with harder labor than the poor person. Many rich people just put their parents' money into some general stock funds and let it accumulate without really caring too much for it.

You cite Canada as a supposed example where there are long waiting lists. But nowhere did I state that Canada has the best system possible. There are many ways to improve their system. For example, this website says that there are ways to improve the public health system by making adjustments to it. In the age of modern technology, we can surely analyze the system to find places for speedup. Moreover, the same page claims that wait times in parallel privatized systems are as long or longer, directly countering your point. Even if I concede that, you say that many have died because of the long waiting lists - even if that's so, what about all the American poor that die because they can't afford healthcare. You're so ready to blame the Canadians without seeing the sin in your own system.

You mention a time "BEFORE" government intervention, but you give no dates whatsoever. You just make a very bold claim that the US was looked upon as having the best healthcare system in the world.

As it stands, you made a weak moral argument, a factual claim directly refuted above, and then a baseless claim. You're obviously trying to cover up your lack of understanding or compassion with vague words about evil foreign socialist governments and some imaginary awesome free market.

On the topic of need vs. want, I think JJ would have a good response to that. I, on the other hand, point you to a great piece by David Friedman to counter the idea that the right to life is supreme over all others:

http://libera.me.uk/pub/pub/books/The_Machinery_of_Freedom_.pdf#page=29

About rich people putting their money into funds and letting it grow - that's not a bad thing. Their money isn't just lying still in place - it's being used by other people to drive the economy. Here is a wonderful Milton Friedman video on why soaking the rich doesn't work:

[view:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi-D24oCa10]

As to the website I cite, you should challenge the website. It doesn't cite any studies or provide any logic. It merely makes claims. I bet that they cherry pick.

As to the argument that the Canadian system could be improved - well, that's a valid argument - their system could be improved even within a government framework. However, we've already pointed out that it's government intervention that makes healthcare expensive. Here, you could inject other issues such as war or education as to why Americans don't have more money and experience more growth. Again, this is risky, because while right, you get off-track. You could, however, ask "if socialism is so good in healthcare, why not apply it to everything?" You do that later on, and I respond later, so I will address it there.

My argument that you do not provide sources on US free market healthcare is true - you don't. You should have. I gave you some above. But you ALSO should have called me out on not providing sources for my claims. I did this numerous times and you let it slide.

------------------------

Your reply:

So if the poor are entitled to health care, please tell me what else they are entitled to. A swimming pool? A car? Personally I'd like to have a government supply of sunscreen, because that is a part of my essential needs if I go to the beach on a regular basis.

Without healthcare, the majority of people won't die for quite some time. Without food or water however, everyone will die in a matter of weeks. So isn't food and water more urgent then healthcare?

So under your logic, wouldn't food and water be of much more importance? So I guess we also have to have government running the food and water production, like in the Soviet Union where there was mass famine, or like North Korea today. Regardless of how the rich earned their money, if they earned it fairly, then to extract money from them is indeed theft. And if you say the poor are entitled to health care, doesn't that mean that doctors should be forced to serve those who have a right to it? Nobody is BORN with a responsability to anybody else. But your argument suggests that basic human compassion would cease to exist when there is no coercion from the state.

Also, I'd like to say one other thing - we do not have anything near private healthcare in America, contrary to what you believe. Government is ALREADY majorly in healthcare. These is strict regulation by the FDA which makes the process of releasing of new drugs and healthcare technology very expensive to the consumer. So much for those evil insurance companies making everything expensive. And, there are strict regulations prohibiting international drugs and healthcare services provided to the nation in general.

IP laws negatively affect the industry by hampering innovation, and the ability for religious organizations and non-profits to provide free or low-cost healthcare has been restricted.

More regulation will just create more malfunctions of the market. As it turns out, the socialization of dentistry in Britain has plunged them back over a century in tooth care. People pull out their own teeth because of the waiting lists that are mandatory with socialized medicine.

At the beginning you begin nicely, but the argument is easily countered, as I showed. The David Friedman argument I link above is stronger.

Good that you question the idea of production of food and water privately since healthcare is so good with socialism. I counter this in my next post, so I will tell you how to counter that in the next section.

Good point on the doctors being forced to give healthcare. The counter to that would be "we don't need to force doctors to do things, we need the money of the rich to give to the doctors." The counter to THAT would be "mental experiment: what if there are no rich to take money from? Do we force the doctors to operate if they do not want to?" THIS really is obvious slavery, and they will likely concede that you do not want to. Here is the crack in their belief in universal healthcare that you can exploit, because you've found a weakness in their moral system you can use to break it completely apart and have it LEAD to you argument that taxation is theft.

Good on mentioning the regulations of the FDA, but that is easily deflected by saying "oh, we'll fix that."

Good IP argument, although you provide no sources or arguments as to why you're right. It's a mere claim. You can find sources on that somewhere on this site. I don't have good ones, atm. Maybe Kinsella. Again, however, this is dangerous ground - you might not want to open the IP can of worms.

Interesting claim on the Britain dentistry, but it needs a source. Also, easily countered with "yeah, we'll fix it."

----------------------------------

My final post:

 

Now you're just being silly. Of course we do not need the provision of sunscreen unless it is specifically for some condition you know needs sunscreen as part of the treatment (possibly strong burns). What I'm talking about is the provision of necessities which people cannot afford.

As to food and water production, we obviously don't want to be like the Soviet Union or NK - they're military dictatorships! I don't want that!

Do note, however, that we do have food stamps today, and utilities are heavily regulated by the government - not exactly free market dog-eat-dog, is it? Regardless, I hope it's quite easy to see that healthcare and food are quite different things. Why, for example, is my side not advocating governmental provision of bandaids? Because bandaids are cheap and plentiful and there's no really asymmetry of power of production of bandaids. Healthcare, on the other hand, is very complex and hardly something that a consumer can understand all by himself. The point is, it's extremely expensive, unlike food. Remember, too, that we have soup kitchens providing food to poor people - while not enough, it's something. We certainly can't have random people set up stands and give out pills for free to the poor, can we?

Call taxation what you will, but you cannot deny that it's more desirable to take money from people who can afford to lose some and to give it to other so they can live. To ask a hypothetical, would it be "immoral" to take even one single penny from the rich man to give it to the poor to save him? Seriously? What if we took a penny from every household that earns over $200,000 and use it to buy the medicine for a family infected with a disease that is easily treatable through antibiotics which they cannot afford?

You mention strict regulations by the FDA - well, never did I say that the governmental process cannot be improved - in fact, I said it above! I believe in actively reforming government programs, not removing them completely so the poor are left on their own. We can find ways to streamline the process and have the FDA approve safe drugs faster. We can also decrease patent times so that companies can make gigantic profits for less time. We should also fund more research so that we can get more medicine in the public domain. But your argument implies that all the costs of healthcare come from just drug costs. What about procedures? You fail to cover that completely.

And with your Britain example you once again are focusing in on specific policy. The point is to have dynamic, adapting government policy to see what works and what doesn't.

I begin my countering your "necessities" argument about pools and sunscreen. Wasn't too tough.

My rebuttal on Soviet Union and NK are also semi-valid.

I mention food stamps. You could let this slide or you could mention that state welfare is terrible and can be replaced by private welfare: http://mises.org/journals/jls/21_2/21_2_1.pdf ($5 taxed for every $1 given).

On the point of utilities being regulated, try http://mises.org/daily/5266/ (utilities worked fine before regulations).

On the point that healthcare is expensive but food is not, HERE is where your argument about socialism hits. You argue "if socialism is so good for healthcare, why not everything?" I reply "well, we don't need it." IMPLICIT to this reply of mine, is an idea that THE MARKET IN FOOD WORKS. Push me to answer WHY it works. Make me write out the micro scenario. Make me argue for the market in food production or almost any other commodity. That way when I argue that we need socialism in healthcare specifically I will have to fight my own arguments for the market in other commodities. This is the heart of the debate. The calculation problem. You really need to learn this argument. It's the heart of most Austrian analysis.

Next, on the immorality of stealing a penny - this implies the government can tax a penny and save a bunch of people. However, always remember crowding out. You'll ask, well, how does taxing one penny crowd out investment? Well, what if private people solicited the same 1 penny in donations? They themselves could invest something or save the poor people. You don't need the government. I realize this is a utilitarian argument, but so was my original argument against you - that redistribution is not immoral because it produces good results. Show me that the same results can be achieved with voluntary action.

Next, I block the argument on the FDA by saying "we'll fix it." Push me to tell you how we'll fix it. I won't know. In fact, I don't :P

 

That's about it. Your arguments might be bought by libertarians or conservatives, but make them more rigorous and empirically and theoretically stronger and you will be able to destroy the statist.

I welcome other suggestions. I am sure I missed some weak points in both our arguments. Also, ask me if something is unclear.

 

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Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck that's a big post.

But seriously, thanks for the advice. I can't believe before this I was asking for places to go debate, and then discovering that at my level I could be used to mop the floor by a hardcore liberal or something.

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:)

Don't worry about it - keep reading and you'll get there. I've been around here for a year and I'm a little more comfortable on my own. Even I had to look up some sources for the info I gave you above - such as the Scandinavian part above (though I had already read a very similar article).

If I were to debate an economist on the issue I might very well lose. I have not read a significant amount of AE and I'm going largely on intuition and my understanding of entrepreneurship and microeconomic competition. Only in the past 2 weeks did I read the article about healthcare vs. CPI. I hope to read MES and a few more books soon to solidify my knowledge on different topics.

While we're at it, here are my healthcare sources:

http://candlemind.com/projects/progclub/file/michael/getEducated.php?listID=29

I have only read maybe 4 of those articles, and I hope to read more soon.

You can use that website to read up on a lot of libertarian positions. I will be adding more very soon (hopefully - right now I am focusing more on user features rather than articles).

It's not bad to want to debate people - I want to do it too. But do try to not embarrass yourself. I had to refrain from debating early in my libertarianism because I was not very great at it. I instead looked at arguments statists presented, brought them here, and had them critiqued. I also did research on my own. For topic X I usually type "mises X" into Google. Recently, I found LibertySearch.info, which searches main libertarian websites only, and it's pretty good. If you do not remember the name, you can just go to my website LibertyHQ and use the search function and if there are no matches the page suggests to search LibertySearch and provides a link.

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Well, getting back to the point of the original thread I made about this, what are some statist sites you could recommend for me to go check out to see what the various arguments are? This time I won't debate like I had originally intended to do - I'll just study and present it over here, like you recommended.

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I draw mine from school discussions (mostly in politics and history classes). Otherwise, current events. I've never been to progressive websites.

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