Sunday, February 10, 2013

PF Mar 2013 Health Insurance - definitions

Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.



The U.S. Government definition:
The United States Federal Government is established by the US Constitution. The Federal Government shares sovereignty over the United Sates with the individual governments of the States of US. The Federal government has three branches: i) the legislature, which is the US Congress, ii) Executive, comprised of the President and Vice president of the US and iii) Judiciary. The US Constitution prescribes a system of separation of powers and ‘checks and balances’ for the smooth functioning of all the three branches of the Federal Government. The US Constitution limits the powers of the Federal Government to the powers assigned to it; all powers not expressly assigned to the Federal Government are reserved to the States or to the people.

should (not)
Merriam Webster
used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency
The past tense of shall: will have to (must)

For more on the definition see this post.
"The word should is used to indicate that among several possibilities one is recommended as particularly suitable, without mentioning or excluding others; or that a certain course of action is preferred but not necessarily required; or that (in the negative form) a certain course of action is deprecated but not prohibited (should equals is recommended that)."

Merriam Webster
1 a: to claim or ask for by right and authority b: archaic: request
2 a: to call for as suitable or appropriate <the occasion requires formal dress> b: to demand as necessary or essential : have a compelling need for <all living beings require food>
3 to impose a compulsion or command on : compel

US Constitution
Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 1:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

health insurance
A type of insurance coverage that pays for medical and surgical expenses that are incurred by the insured. Health insurance can either reimburse the insured for expenses incurred from illness or injury or pay the care provider directly. Health insurance is often included in employer benefit packages as a means of enticing quality employees.

The Meaning of the Resolution

Based on these definitions it is difficult to fashion any meaning for the resolution which is significantly different than the obvious.  Still, I think there are some possibilities where the meaning and intent of the resolution could be construed differently than that which is most apparent.  While there may be some possible motivation to interpret "should not" to mean "must not" in the most obligatory sense of the word, it does not seem like a position that will gain any particular advantages.  I do think, however that the illegality of health insurance will be a difficult debate.  Clearly, the Affordable Care Act is law in the U.S. and the key provisions of the law have been challenged in the U.S Supreme Court.  To hold that the US government should not require health insurance because it is illegal will be problematic at best.  Therefore, it seems the Pro will need to find other grounds for building their advocacy.  I will explore this more carefully when I present the Pro and Con positions.  Moreover, I do not think any claims which interpret US government as the collective state governments is legitimate.  I think we all know the government in the subject of this resolution is the US Federal Government with its three branches.  This debate can more or less be stated: okay, now that the Affordable Care act has been passed, should the US government have mandated health insurance or not?  Pro says no, Con says yes.

A Resurrection Of Sorts

For many teams, this topic represents a kind of topic resurrection.  The November 2012 Lincoln-Douglas debate topic also covered government mandated health care.  You can click here to begin reviewing the facts of that topic.  If your team supports Lincoln Douglas debate perhaps your LD colleagues will be willing to share ideas and evidence.  You will also find links to evidence on the discussion I presented on the topic so you can begin to get a feel for the positions.  I envision, many very LD-like justifications for the positions and arguments.

Part 2, background information is here.


  1. I think "have" is important to define. Does it mean "purchase" or just "possess" because there's a difference there that I think the con can use.

    1. I understand what you mean and agree Con can deflect a lot of cost disadvantages by claiming the resolution does not require citizens to buy the insurance and leaves it undecided who will ultimately pay for the insurance.

  2. For the definition of U.S. government, can we include state government or is it strictly federal?

    1. Perhaps you can find some definition that allows it but I would say no, only the federal governnment is included. I think that is also in keeping with the intent of the resolution.


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