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The One Minute Case is a collaborative blog which will present a brief argument about a controversial issue that can be read in about a minute. You can read the cases to learn something new about an issue or use them as a source for longer arguments of your own. Everything is Creative Commons licensed, so you are welcome to reuse material.
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Some issues can be summarized in 60 seconds, while in other cases, we’ll try to make you aware of a new perspective. The goal is to encourage critical thinking and discussion rather than present an open and shut case. If you disagree, or think something is missing, comment away!
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The One Minute Case against the Existence of God
A religion is an organized system of belief, most often assuming the existence of a higher power such as a supernatural almighty deity or an ultimate truth, first designed to enlighten humanity on the act of creation and produce specific prophecies that will come true if certain requirements are met. This case argues that supernatural deities do not exist, which entails the fact that all major religions are false and outdated phenomena outstripped by science, serving little other use than hampering additional scientific progress.
The cosmological argument
Some religious individuals argue that whatever begins to exist has a cause and since nothing causes itself, there has to be a First Cause, namely God. There are several objections to this argument, some of them being as following;
– What caused the First Cause? By making use of the cosmological argument one presupposes that an uncaused effect exists, enabling it to cause a chain of effects without being caused itself. Seeing that the argument is reliant upon the premise that all effects have a cause it is in consequence invalid.
– The First Cause is by no means equal to a deity. Even though the origin of the universe remains scientifically unexplained, it doesn’t justify supernatural religious claims.
The Teleological argument [Intelligent Design]
This argument states that some phenomena are too complex, or too apparently purposeful, to have occurred randomly. Therefore, these phenomena must have been designed by an intelligent or purposeful being (God).
– Who designed the designer? If an intelligent designer only is able to design irreducibly complex units, then an even more intelligent designer is necessary to design the original designer. This entails an infinite chain of designers. To counter this counter-argument some individuals make use of the cosmological argument. However, as explained above, this argument fails because it omits why a designer can be undersigned while the universe cannot.
William Paley’s watchmaker analogy makes use of this argument, and is to this date one of the most famous teleological arguments. He argues that there are structures which cannot function unless all substructures are present. By asserting that each substructure constitutes no benefit alone, evolutionary theory is unable to explain the substructures presence. Since the substructures presence cannot be explained, the whole structures presence cannot be explained either. Counter-arguments are as following:
– There is a probability that all substructures came into existence simultaneously.
– Substructures may have changed in function. A gradual replacement by several advantageous substructures’ function can lead to the evolution of structures claimed to be irreducibly complex.
The omnipotence paradox
Most, if not all, monotheistic religions claim the existence of an omnipotent God. This argument leaves the concept of omnipotence as a mere paradox unable to exist in a logical universe. If a deity is in fact omnipotent, then he is able to create a rock he himself cannot lift. Since he cannot lift the rock he just created he is not omnipotent.
Argument from free will
All monotheistic religions claim their god to be omniscient, and at the same time claim to have been given free will by the very same god. These two concepts are incompatible. Here is why: An omniscient being knows everything, including the future will of his supposed free willed- designees. Since the will is already known, it cannot be free at the same time.
Other[inductive] arguments state that a complete being (God) must also be dead or non-existing in order to be fully complete. Furthermore, some conclude that since most theistic religions eventually were regarded as untrue, all theistic religions are most likely to be untrue. Stephen F. Roberts formulated this beautifully by saying:
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
The One Minute Case Against Healthcare Reform
What does the government mean by healthcare reform?
When the Obama administration talks about healthcare reform what they are really talking about is using the coercive power of the government 1) to force healthcare providers to provide services at lower costs 2) to force individuals to choose the least expensive healthcare and 3) to force people who are not receiving those services (aka taxpayers) to pay for them.
Does everyone have a right to healthcare?
Not in the colloquial sense. Everyone does have a right to healthcare, but not in the sense that the administration uses it. The right to healthcare means that man had the right to take the actions necessary (e.g. working) in order to earn money and spend that money as he sees fit – in this case, on his healthcare. It does NOT mean that other people (or the government) must provide him with healthcare.
Thus, we see that the administrations proposed actions will secure the supposed “right” of everyone to have healthcare paid for by other people by undermining the actual, moral, right of individuals to choose, and pay for, their own healthcare goods/services.
“The end does not justify the means. No one’s “rights” can be secured by the violation of the rights of others.”
“The Cashing-In: The Student Rebellion” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 256.
Should the government use force against its own citizens?
No. The purpose of the government is to protect the private property of its citizens against other citizens (the police) and against foreigners (the army). Any further expansion of the governments power beyond this mandate is not only immoral, but unconstitutional. The simple fact that some group of people chosen by the government (in this case, those without healthcare) would benefit from the governments use of force does not create a moral right to use force. This precept is DeToqueville’s “Tyranny of the Majority” in a practical sense, and is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended to protect us against by founding the USA as a republic backed by a bill of rights, instead of as a direct democracy.
Why is the government’s initiation of force immoral, if the goal is to benefit the “public good”?
“Just as no individual has the right to initiate force against anyone, neither does any group of men, in any private or public capacity. It is immoral to initiate force against any individual for any reason. This includes the initiation of force for “the public good.” The “public” is merely a collection of individuals, each possessing the same rights, and each being an end in himself. Any attempt to benefit the “public good” is an immoral attempt to provide a benefit to one group of individuals at the expense of another. In a free society, no individual benefits at the expense of another: men exchange the values they create in voluntary trade to mutual gain. The rule of law in a free society has just one purpose: to protect the rights of the individual.”
The One Minute Case for Capitalism: HeroicLife
Regardless, can the government lower prices of healthcare services?
Prices are determined by the marginal value of a good/service, not a government edict. If the government forces providers to set the price of a good/service below its cost, providers will no longer provide the good/service. If the government forces providers to lower prices, but not to lower them below cost, the government will be redistributing the profits of the HC provider to the HC consumer – thereby starving the R&D engine of modern medicine of its much needed fuel, capital.
Well then, how can the prices of healthcare be lowered?
The price of HC, like any other good/service, can only be lowered through increased productivity and innovation. Productivity in the production of healthcare goods comes directly from the concerted rational effort of those companies who stand to profit from that productivity – big pharma, providers, payers, etc. Stripping away the reward for their productive achievements – profit – severely dampers the incentives for the companies who provide HC goods/services to continue improving productivity and driving innovation. Thus, the only way to properly incentivize lower HC costs is by allowing entrepreneurs and businessmen alike the freedom to fully profit from the risky investments they make in healthcare innovation and productivity improvements.
What will be the direct results of the governments actions?
First, on taxation. The increased taxes proposed to finance healthcare reform, especially those on the rich (who create most of the value in the USA) will serve to disincentivize productivity and innovation.
Second, on providing healthcare. The proximate result of the governments proposal will be rationing, in its purest sense put forward by Ayn Rand in a letter to a friend “[Rationing means] to distribute [goods and services] in a certain particular manner–by the decision of an absolute authority, with the recipients having no choice about what they receive.”
Rationing, it must be made clear, is not the same as the distribution mechanism that occurs in a free market – where the price of a good determines how it is distributed – primarily because in a free market distribution decisions are made by individuals volitional choices, whereas in a rationed market distribution decisions are made by government edict. The government’s actions, in this case, will effectively eliminate some (if not all) of the choices you have in determining the way in which you receive healthcare.
What, then are the real drivers of our health care problems?
Primarily, that no free market currently exists in healthcare. Massive amounts of regulation by the FDA and other government bodies result in dramatic increases in the cost of medicine. Using Big Pharma as an example, the government has two quantifiable impacts. Directly, the cost of developing a drug in compliance with FDA processes costs roughly ~$1 billion per drug, money that would otherwise be used to fund further innovation or be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices. Indirectly, the extended time it takes for the FDA approval process (roughly 10 years from patent application to market introduction) cuts the effective life of a pharmaceutical patent in half – stripping the PharmaCo of half of its potential profitability.
Barrons, June 2, 2003 Editorial Commentary: Gary Hull: Patent Piracy.