“Surely Clarity is the Most Beautiful Thing in the World” (Chapter 10)

The prompt for today’s lesson asks for a dense argument, so obviously the first thing I thought of was the current debate about health care reform. There are so many different notions and ideas floating around about it that it seems like no one has any kind of definitive idea of what it will actually mean for America. I basically just picked the first article that came up. Let’s see what we can do with this article.

This study indicates that for most Americans, the bill will have a modestly positive impact on their premium costs. For the remainder, more will see their costs go down than up,” he said in a statement.

But critics found grist in the CBO report for their own talking points. After trillions in government spending, new taxes, and cuts to Medicare, most people “will end up paying more or seeing no significant savings,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, in a floor speech today. “This is not what the American people are asking for. And it’s certainly not reform.”

The CBO report is highly qualified. Any estimates of the impact of such substantial changes in the health insurance and health care sectors must reflect “considerable uncertainty,” the report concludes.

But the nuances quickly fell out of the political firestorm around healthcare reform.

To the insurance industry, today’s report confirms that “the current health care reform proposal fails to bend the health care cost curve and will result in double-digit premium increases for millions of Americans,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, in a statement.


This seems to be going back and forth; it will raise costs, oh wait, no it won’t. Let’s get down to what they really mean.

(1) <This bill will bring most people’s premiums down moderately.> (2) <After all the additional costs, we will see a lot more charges and very little savings.> (3) <The report is very accurate.> (4) <The report reflects considerable uncertainty.> (5) <This report confirms that the proposal will not help keep health care costs down.>




/   |   \

(1) (2) (5)

The first premise (3) is not very reliable, because it is not supported by the conclusions. Also, it is coming from politicians, who have a reputation for dishonesty.

The intermediate premise (4) is reliable because it makes only a moderate claim, which is substantiated by all the other evidence we have.

The three conclusions all seem accurate on their own, but when compared and contrasted to each other, they fall flat because they contradict each other. After analyzing all of these things, we see that this is a very weak argument.


So what does this really tell us? Basically, this article with all it’s back and forths and contradicting of itself is telling us all what we already knew– that no one really knows what the effects of this bill will be. We just have to cling whichever confident but unsure politician we chose to side with and hope for the best. But we didn’t need an analysis to tell us that.


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