IM Debate Competition - Fuchs

4/23/08
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Christoph Fuchs IM Debates            

In the first debate I argued against mandatory health care. This debate quickly became a pro/con argument of the Democrat's Universal Healthcare plan. In my attack on Universal Healthcare, I began by acknowledging that our current system is broken, but that mandatory health care is not the solution. I argued that it would result in a poorly run government system, infringe on the right of young adults to opt out of health care to save money, eliminate competition, and reduce the incentive of pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs. While I didn't develop these arguments as well as I could have, they were pretty effective because they pointed out specific weaknesses in Universal Healthcare. The strongest portion of my argument was my contention that government healthcare would be of inferior quality. I felt that this was the best portion of my argument because I was able to bring in stories from my Canadian teammates' experiences with their national system and my own experiences working in a German hospital. These personal stories exposed some of the flaws in nationalized healthcare systems, and the fact that I had first hand experience in this area gave my arguments some credibility.            

In the second debate, I debated in favor of Universal healthcare. I argued that the current system is in dire need of reform and that Universal healthcare would provide necessary insurance for the 47 million uninsured. I also stated that the US is the only industrialized nation not to have some form of universal healthcare and that we as a society are obligated to provide healthcare for everyone. I felt that I did a much better job in the opening argument, using a fact based approach in which I first showed the extent of the problem and then the costs that the Universal healthcare solution would entail. Having a lot of supporting facts, decent organization, and then introducing the moral argument that it is our obligation to provide all Americans with healthcare, made it a pretty strong opening case for Universal Healthcare.            

I ran into trouble in both debates because of several major shortcomings including poor structure, not following arguments to their logical conclusion, and not arguing in an energetic and persuasive manner. I think that the most important thing I need to improve is my organization during speaking. There were many points were I wasn't sure where to go next, and ended up saying filler material, stuttering, or pausing awkwardly. Next time I debate, I need to have four or five primary arguments and prepared responses to anticipated counterarguments.            

In the debate against Jackson, I was stymied by his debate theory and constitutional arguments. I should have responded to the debate theory argument by saying it's irrelevant. There aren't any real rules for this debate, so based on the fact that Universal healthcare is a current issue regarding mandatory health insurance, this is a valid topic to debate. In response to his constitutional argument against mandatory health insurance, I should have invoked the interstate commerce clause to argue that in fact my plan is constitutional. If he kept arguing it, I would respond by saying that it has been carefully written so that it is constitutional. Then, having responded to his main attacks, I should have reiterated my main points why Universal health insurance is necessary.

I also need to make a conscious effort to fully develop my arguments. Both of the judges told me afterwards that I made some good points, but did little to develop them. They felt that I argued by stating multiple arguments, but never advanced past the basic details. For example, one of my arguments against Universal Healthcare was that it would decrease the incentive of pharmaceutical companies to research and develop new drugs. However, as the judge pointed out, I only said this would slow the development of new drugs, neglecting to mention that this would lead to the weakening of the pharmaceutical industry in the US. I also did not mention that this would harm our economy and cause the US to lose its position at the pinnacle of drug research in the world. The judge also pointed out that I could have argued that in reducing profits for these companies, Universal Healthcare would cause them to lay off thousands of workers and make their tens of thousands of shareholders lose money. I now realize that in order to make my arguments more convincing, I need to spend some time carefully laying out all of the consequences of certain actions instead of assuming that they are understood.

Finally, I need to focus on improving my argumentative tone and actions. Rather than being repetitive and unfocused, I need to speak in an organized, clear, and confident manner. I also need to improve my body language including using my hands to gesture and emphasize points.