Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee universal health care for its citizens.
I hate this topic. This should not be a topic at all, let alone an LD topic. It is all sorts of poorly worded. Nevertheless, it’s what we’re stuck with, so let’s break it down.
Parts of Speech
Nouns: United States, universal health care, citizens
Verbs: ought, guarantee
United States – Obviously we know what the United States is. There is no reason to dwell on this definition. Because of the poor wording of the resolution, however, there is tremendous potential for abuse here. The intent of the resolution is clearly to focus on the national government. The question is whether or not the national government to provide health coverage for citizens. Do not try to be sketchy and argue that the state governments will provide it, or that the government will develop employer programs that will provide it. Focus on the philosophical question of whether or not it is a governmental obligation, regardless of the mechanism by which that obligation is carried out.
Universal Health Care – Again, we all know what universal health care is, but there is still a tremendous potential for abuse. Universal health care is, simply put, complete health coverage at no cost to the individual. Again, the particular mechanisms and costs should be irrelevant. The resolution asks the question of whether or not the government should provide it.
Citizens – Again, we all know what citizens are, as defined by the U.S. constitution and its laws.
Guarantee – In this context, guarantee means provide. Essentially, if you’re a U.S. citizen, you will receive universal health care.
Ought – This will be the crux of your case, or at least, it should be. You must develop a framework which you can use to evaluate what government should or should not do. Like resolutions before this, ought should not be defined using a definition at the top of your case. Rather, your value structure will help you determine how we know what a government ought to do.
Alrighty, with those definitions in mind, let’s talk about some potential case positions.
Distributive Justice – Rawls argues that true justice stems from a proper system of distributive justice. Government policy should be predicated about how rights and privileges should best be distributed for all. This evaluation ought to take place behind a veil of ignorance which ignores socioeconomic factors like income or geographical location because that is the only way to ensure a proper distribution. The argument here is that everyone, if placed behind a veil of ignorance, would agree that universal health care is a good thing. If you could wake up tomorrow and be any person in society, you would want to know that your health needs are taken care of. Therefore, proper distributive justice demands that the government provide universal health care for its citizens.
Rights and Obligations – Rights function in accordance with obligations. This is to say that if someone has a right, they must definitely have a corresponding obligation, or a claim that others have on them to act in a particular way. The U.S. government has the right to determine and enforce health policies across the country. It has the right to monetarily regulate the healthcare industry. Therefore, it must necessarily have the obligation to provide health care for its citizens. Otherwise, the right doesn’t really make sense.
Health Care is a Right – I really don’t like this position, but I suppose many people will try to run it. The essential argument here is that health care is a natural right that goes along with the right to life that the government is obligated to protect. If not that, then health care must at least be a positive right which the government ought to provide in order to contribute to societal welfare.
Health Care is Not a Right – This is the direct opposite of the affirmative position. A government is only obligated, as per the social contract, to protect the negative rights of its citizens i.e. the citizens have protections against infringement by the government. Health care is not such a protection, and therefore, the government has no obligation to provide it.
Universal Health Care Violates Capitalism – The United States economy is predicated upon capitalist notions, theoretically. It operates under the belief that free market forces will result in the best outcomes for consumers and producers. Based upon this reality, the free market ought to dictate how health care pans out in the country. If the government provides it, it will be overstepping its boundaries, and the quality of health care will actually decrease.
Universal Health Care is Unconstitutional – The U.S. constitution does not allow any provisions for the government to actually provide health care. The Commerce Clause does not properly justify such a drastic operation by the government.
I hope these positions help get you started. As always, feel free to comment, and I will get back to you!