Instigator / Pro

Declining life expectancy in the usa a sign of a dying culture


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Life expectancy in the USA is declining because of hopelessness a clear sign of cultural decline

Round 1
Shame about the forfeit.


The resolution posits not only that American culture is dying, but that life expectancy is indicative of a cultural decline. Pro needs to prove both to fulfill his burden of proof. I need to prove the converse.


Culture is defined by Oxford as:
“…the customs and beliefs, art, way of life, and social organization of a particular country or group.”

C1: Life Expectancy is A Poor Predictor of Dying Cultures

There have been multiple dips in life expectancy since the US was created. The University of California, Berkeley, has documented the life expectancy from 1900 to 1998 and found instances in which life expectancy plummeted for consecutive years. While not comprehensive, (the compiled statistics did not include the Civil War in which over 600,000 Americans were estimated to have died,) the list does illustrate some startling drops in life expectancy (5). For instance, from 1914 to 1918, life expectancy dropped by over 10 years (1). This decline is more impactful than the slight reduction of about 2 years that Pro’s CNBC article shows. Yet, the 1920’s brought upon the US a treasure trove of new scientific discoveries, media, and shifting political ideas. Penicillin, the first discovered antibiotic, was discovered in 1928 (2). Hollywood became a boon for movie-making, accounting for 85% of all movie production in the US (3). The pace of movie production was also rapid, with over 800 movies produced annually in the 20s (3). Prohibition was enacted, compelling people to meet secretly in “speakeasys.”
Not all these changes were necessarily good. Prohibition led to people making alcohol at home, undercutting the effectiveness of prohibition. Additionally, the resurgence of the KKK united millions of under a racist ideology that persists even today, albeit through other groups besides the KKK (4).
The zeitgeist is never composed of purely positive qualities though. Despite the fervent discontent the American public had for the 2016 election (which the US will inevitable experience again in the 2020 election), no one can deny that it was one that was culturally significant. Trump’s brand of nationalism revitalized nativism and became a rallying cry for Americans who perceived that the US was leaving them behind. Additionally, the scandals, lies, and failed policies that marred the candidates in the 2016 elections will probably be discussed in history classes in a matter of decades. In fact, economic downturns and widespread death has led to cultures developing, even if the people suffered. The Vietnam War comes to mind with its chest-thumping, anti-war songs and civil protests. The Great Depression also has a recognizable culture of oppression and cynical rejection of the American Dream. Perhaps the most noticeable culture that developed out of reductive attitudes would be the civil rights movements that inspired minority groups to struggle for true freedom.

My opponent needs compelling evidence to demonstrate how the culture of the US is dying. I posit that if culture can persist through a civil war, boiling racial tensions, and hateful ideologues, then it can survive a drug epidemic and suicide.

C2: Culture is Changing, Not Dying

Culture is not an immutable set of social norms that people adhere to strictly. It constantly redefines itself in the context of new discoveries and ideas. While it is true that life expectancy has declined, this doesn’t represent a dying culture. Instead, it represents an America which values the profit of multinational pharmaceutical agencies over the lives of millions. This isn’t new either. During the Gilded Age, corporations contributed greatly to American culture. People like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie monopolized entire industries to manipulate pricing. The latter experienced a worker’s strike that was resolved with US soldiers (6). Additional strikes included the Railroad Strike, which occurred after wages were reduced by 20% and workers were suddenly laid off without notice (8). These “robber barons” were immensely prolific and powerful. Without trade unions to erode the chokehold on the workers’ livelihoods, people were not properly compensated. Factories often relied on cheap immigrant labor due to the influx of new arrivals in America (7). To any average American, the perceived elite “robber barons” relying on cheap immigrant labor and exploiting the workers should sound familiar. Replace the term “robber baron” with “one-percent” and the situation sound eerily like the situations that many people find themselves in today. Of course, the face of the oppressive elite has changed. Instead of just fighting steel and oil tycoons, we are fighting multinational pharmaceutical and technology firms. Nevertheless, it represents a trend in American culture that refuses to die out, to the chagrin of working-class citizens. This is not the only idea that has persisted, albeit in a different form, over the years. Nativism, racism, fascism, communism, and other ideologies sill exist in the US today. They hardly resemble the form they took 200 years ago, but they’ve adapted with the times to stay relevant. To suggest that America’s culture is dying would be ridiculous when social structures simply adapt with the times instead of disappearing completely.

Round 2
The fact that huge numbers of people are dying of drug overdoes and suicides, in what way is that not indicative of a dying culture you explain that to me the burden lies with you , i mean its so obvious  Health Nov 29, 2018 4:33 PM EDT
If life expectancy gives us “a snapshot of the nation’s overall health,” then new federal numbers released Thursday “are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” says Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the government’s annual mortality report, life expectancy in the U.S. overall fell in 2017 for the second time in three years.
The average American could expect to live 78.6 years, down from 78.7 years in 2016, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The average American could expect to live 78.6 years, down from 78.7 years in 2016.
This is the first time since the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 that the U.S. has reported such a trend in lost life, said Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics with the National Center for Health Statistics.
But Anderson said the latest data suggest this mortality trend is heavily influenced by the ongoing drug epidemic and a rising rate of suicides nationwide. And many people dying as a result of those two causes tend to be younger than in recent decades, he said.
My opponent has not addressed my original points. Extend these across the entire debate.


For some reason, my opponent decided to alter the BOP apropos of nothing over halfway into the debate. He never explains why this is a fair maneuver, and instead asserts that it is “obvious.” Normative topics typically have a split BOP, so I don’t know what he means by obvious. He never addresses my framework either, wherein

I describe how the BOP is to be split. Here it is again:

“The resolution posits not only that American culture is dying, but that life expectancy is indicative of a cultural decline. Pro needs to prove both to fulfill his burden of proof. I need to prove the converse.”
Whether something is “obvious” is irrelevant. People can debate the opposite of what is expected. If we didn’t, we would never shed our adherence to the geocentric model of the universe. The Earth being the center of the universe seemed obvious to our ancestors, even if it was false. In much the same way, a cursory glance at the topic might make readers automatically agree with Pro. It is only when we put our ideas under scrutiny that we can determine the veracity of the claim.


Pro utilizes one statistic in his entire case to prove his point. He supports the idea that life expectancy is decreasing, but not that it is indicative of cultural decline. Remember my definition provided in round 1.

“…the customs and beliefs, art, way of life, and social organization of a particular country or group.”

My opponent needed to show how America’s cultural traditions, art, or way of life is dying due to the drug abuses and suicides. He never does that. For all we know, this isn’t indicative of a dying culture, but instead is a sign of a dying population. While there is some overlap in the definitions, they aren’t completely intertwined. Also, as my opponent noted, the US has experienced a dip in life expectancy before and recovered. How do we know that the dip in life expectancy isn’t temporary? Furthermore, was/is American culture always positive? The answer to the latter is no. As I’ve shown through my numerous examples, the US has gone through civil wars, depressions, and draconian working conditions. Culture flourished in the form of books, art, new ideas, and social organizations.
Even if my opponent similarly thinks that the link between his points and the topic is “obvious,” he needs to explain it. Sans any analysis, I implore the judges to strike this point from the flow.

Onto voting issues:

Voting Issue #1: Life Expectancy =/= a Good Predictor of Cultural Decline

I’ve shown that preceding, and even during, some of the worst catastrophes that ever faced the US, culture flourished. I used the pandemic of the early 20th century to show that culture can continue despite mortality rates increasing. This suggests that the resolution should be negated because it demands that life expectancy be tethered to culture.

Voting Issue #2: Culture Changes, it Doesn’t Die

This point has gone unrefuted till now. I show through my “robber baron” example that culture changes. The struggle for worker’s rights in the Gilded Age looks a lot different than the struggle for better wages now, but nevertheless shares similarities in how it is presented in the media. We classify the one percent as conniving, sociopathic individuals who care about nothing but profit. We treated the “robber barons” in the Gilded Age very similarly. People went on strikes, formed unions etc. The culture of fighting the one percent still exists. I don’t see how America’s culture can truly die with this attitude of fighting the powers that be still pervades the conscience of the American public.