The Instigator
FREEDO
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
Sieben
Con (against)
Winning
32 Points

A Full Employment Program Would Be Beneficial for the United States

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
Sieben
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/26/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,431 times Debate No: 13805
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (18)
Votes (10)

 

FREEDO

Pro

"In macroeconomics, full employment is a condition of the national economy, where all or nearly all persons willing and able to work at the prevailing wages and working conditions are able to do so. "
http://en.wikipedia.org...

RESOLVED: The United States should establish a program to supply all willing and able civilians with a job. Any adverse effects of such a program would be out-weighed by it's benefits.

Debating begins in round 2.
Sieben

Con

Too often, politics is debated in a vacuum of intellectual fantasy where the self flattering visions of children become indistinguishable from the dreams of madmen. The following are intended to impose the gravity of reason in debate.

BOPs:

1) Pro wants to do a cost benefit analysis. Because we have to know what the net benefit is, he has to provide a weighing mechanism.

2) Pro writes that the US should establish "a program". Because there are many different ways to skin a cat, with many different results, he must specify how this is going to be implemented.

3) Pro must also specify an agent of action because policy does not enforce itself. If his recommendations run counter to the incentives of his agents, it won't be implemented properly. For example, a program where "serial killers voluntarily stop killing" won't work.

Con Philosophy:

The resolution is underspecified, so I'm agnostic about it. All other things equal, full employment is probably beneficial, but it all depends what we have to trade to get it.

I use a combination of Austrian economics, anarchist political philosophy, and Shaolin Crane Style Kung Fu technique http://www.shaolin.com.au....
Debate Round No. 1
FREEDO

Pro

I thank my articulate opponent for accepting this debate.

He probably has the advantage because I don't know Kung Fu.

=== IMPLEMENTATION AND FUNCTIONS ===

A Federal Full Employment Program would be instituted and enforced by the United States government for the purpose of ensuring all able and willing civilians easy access to a job paid at minimum wage.

There are various ways this can be done. I will focus on one of them, which I shall demonstrate would be more beneficial than detrimental if instituted and enforced than if things in America were to stay as they are. The way I am presenting is for any willing and able unemployed civilians to be offered a job in the public sector. There are other ways, such as requiring employers to hire any worker that asks for a job but I shall only be focusing on the one.

There may be exceptions to the program such as excluding criminals, the mentally unstable, those who don't live the United States, children, etc.

There is already a law in the United States that requires the Federal Reserve to pursue the lowest unemployment it can as one of it's top priorities. However, this law is completely meaningless and is never enforced.

=== ARGUMENTS ===

1. Reduction/Elimination of Poverty

Poverty is a major problem in the world, even in the United States. Poverty in the United States is cyclical in nature with roughly 13 to 17% of Americans living below the federal poverty line at any given point in time, and roughly 40% falling below the poverty line at some point within a 10-year time span. [1,2] The minimum wage was set up to help fight this fact but it doesn't go far enough and some would even argue that it raises unemployment which would worsen poverty. The unemployed do not receive the minimum wage. If a full employment program was instituted it would ensure that everyone is receiving the minimum wage. If the minimum wage is high enough to get someone out of poverty then a full employment program would completely eliminate poverty.

2. Boost to the economy

With money in everyone's pockets there will be an increased amount of spending in the market-place thus giving a much needed boost to the economy. The condition of an economy is often measured by the rate of unemployment. A program which ensures full employment is essentially a program which ensures a better economy.

3. Creation of competition between employers for workers which improve the condition of workers

With the unemployed flocking to the public sector, the private businesses will need to compete, not just with the public sector but between themselves, so they may have employees. Wages will rise, contracts will be made more fair and working conditions will improve to draw in workers seeking a more satisfying job.

4. Increased Standard of Living

With much less poverty; with a better economy; with better working conditions; with higher wages; with people able to afford things they could not before such as a higher education which would result in even higher paying jobs; with all these things the living conditions in the Unites States shall be dramatically increased.

5. So what's the catch?

Higher income taxation. Yep, that's about it. As long as the new wages these people are receiving aren't being completely taxed back away from them then there is much more benefit in having the program. It's a great thing that we have a progressive income tax. [3]

=== SOURCES ===
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. Zweig, Michael (2004) What's Class Got to do With It, American Society in the Twenty-first Century. ILR Press
3. http://upload.wikimedia.org...
Sieben

Con

First taking a look at the Con BOPs:

1) Pro has not put forth a weighing mechanism. He cites reduction of poverty, boost to the economy, etc as positive effects, while a higher income tax as a negative. So what's the net benefit? You can't add poverty+economy-taxes, because none of them are in the same units. He needs to present and defend a utility function.

2) See Con Arguments Section

3) Pro specifies the USFG as his agent of action. He doesn't explain why this is a good choice.

The Con position is that the USFG would be unlikely to implement his policy faithfully because it is inconsistent with their interests. Pro is offering politicians an opportunity to help poor black people. AT&T is offering them $45,000,000 [1].

Depending on how heavily Pro contests this point, I can dig up more complete evidence showing the ulterior motives of the vast majority of politicians. Pro himself states that there is already a law for lowest unemployment, but that "this law is completely meaningless and is never enforced.". If another law to increase employment goes completely ignored, why would his be any different? Why do we need a new one?

=== Pro Arguments ===

1) Reduction/Elimination of Poverty

Pro thinks that if everyone can get paid at least the minimum wage, it will alleviate poverty. However, the minimum wage is only nominal, so even though he's putting more money in the hands of consumers, he's decreasing companies' net revenue. There's no way companies can expand production. Its like taking water out of the deep end of the pool and putting it into the shallow.

Similarly, if you taxed poor people and gave it to the rich, nothing would change. Sure, the poor would have less money to buy stuff with, but the rich could lower their prices to achieve the same volume. Their profits would be the same because instead of getting money up front, they're just getting a portion of it automatically.

This is why we see no coalition of rich dudes, but rather individual industries lobbying for individual benefits. The only redistributionist policies that can benefit their recipients are asymmetric. i.e. if the money went from all the poor to just a few of the rich. The few rich would also have to lower their prices, but they are getting a proportionately more cash from the redistribution. It is other rich people who would be hurt by this policy, because they must move to lower price levels without compensation.

My point is that wealth redistribution is more complicated than moving around green bits of paper. You have to look at underlying production structures. At best, this achieves a more equal distribution of a fixed basket of goods among consumers. It is unclear if this equality of poverty is preferable to the status quo.

2) Boost to the Economy

The increase in consumer spending is offset by the increase in taxes. So one would expect the net economic effect to be, at best, zero.

3) Creation of Competition and Employers for Workers

Since the new government jobs already pay minimum wage, and there is an infinite supply of government jobs, all minimum wage jobs in the private sector would disappear overnight. The only people working in the private sector would be those who can earn higher than minimum wage. As a result, the private sector would become crippled, and its real productivity would fall.

Even if it doesn't destroy all minimum wage private sector jobs, the artificial increase in working conditions would also raise production costs for employers, increasing the price of goods and services. Higher prices for food and clothing is bad for other poor people.

There's no point in paying higher wages if you're just going to get proportionately higher prices.

4) Increase In Standard of Living

If Pro is right about any of 1, 2, or 3, then yeah. But lets have a look at some numbers.
9% of the US workforce is unemployed [2] and there are 154.5 mn Americans in the workforce [3]. According to the BLS' retarded excel spreadsheets [4], you gotta be rockin' around $25k/yr to be above poverty as a 4 person household.

.09*154.5e6*25e3= $350bn/year.

Now Pro is trying to make his case on humanitarian grounds. According to the Red Cross, it cost less than $1 to save a life through vaccinations [5]. It is unlikely that this will scale, considering that there are not 350 billion people, but there are a myriad of deadly problems that would be very cheap to fix like Vitamin deficiency [6]. Considering that 25,000 people die every day from malnourishment [7], a full employment program for Americans [8] is not anywhere close to the most humanitarian use of money.

5) So what's the catch?

Higher tackses on rich people mostly. If they don't break even on Pro's tax scheme, they will have less money with which to invest. But capital development is entirely dependent upon investment and benefits the whole country by producing greater quantity and quality of goods. For example, if Exxon has to pay more in taxes, it will have less money to produce oil. This will lower the supply of oil, and increase prices for everyone.

Additionally, the higher tax rate reduces the incentive to invest and take risks at all because the payoffs are now lower. So there will be less capital development, like factories and machines. It may also encourage companies to move operations offshore, further harming the US economy.

=== Con Arguments ===

1) Public sector jobs

Are unspecified by Pro. What would people be doing? States cannot engage in economic calculation, because they do not have prices. Because they can never know what enterprises are profitable, they will fail to allocate resources as efficiently as the private sector. They are essentially blind.

AFAICS, this will create a new class of state dependents, with no private experience, and therefore highly diminished marketability. It may even discourage the pursuit of higher education, unpayed internships or apprentice positions, because Pro is providing a permanent easy-mode for everyone.

2) Depending on how Pro answers above, maybe more. I also don't want to turn this into a character-constrained debate. So I'll end here!

I don't doubt for a second that Pro isn't well meaning, but poverty is a complex issue. My opposition to his policy isn't out of some fetish for Kapitalists or Ayn Rand. I don't like feel-good politics, I like results. I'm not saying "screw poor people", I'm saying this won't work and we need to try something else.

[1] http://www.opensecrets.org...
[2] http://www.google.com...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://www.census.gov...
[5] http://redcrosschat.org...
[6] http://www.oohoi.com...
[7] http://www.newsweek.com...
[8] http://images2.memegenerator.net...
Debate Round No. 2
FREEDO

Pro

FREEDO forfeited this round.
Sieben

Con

Pro's forfeited the round for some reason. Usually this is sudden death at DDO. This effectively cuts us down to 2 rounds... since the first was dedicated to setup. A good debate usually has to be 3 full rounds, but I think the debate is still doable at 2. I don't feel disadvantaged because I have the last word. If Pro wants to give it another stab, I don't think anyone should hold it against him.
Debate Round No. 3
FREEDO

Pro

I deeply apologize for not posting last round. I was not at home. Unless I had typed out my argument on my phone I wouldn't have been able to do it.

It is often true that the forfeiting of a round means sudden death. However, I don't think this is entirely fair. Not posting a round has not effect on the legitimacy of my arguments(unless all rounds are forfeited), it simply means that my opponent earns the conduct vote.

I urge the voters to give my opponent conduct but, please, still consider my arguments as having the same legitimacy as you would have if I had not forfeited that one round.

Thank you.

=== RESPONSES ===

// Pro has not put forth a weighing mechanism. He cites reduction of poverty, boost to the economy, etc as positive effects, while a higher income tax as a negative. So what's the net benefit? You can't add poverty economy-taxes, because none of them are in the same units. He needs to present and defend a utility function.//

Whatever causes the most amount of satisfaction for the most amount of people shall be considered what is most beneficial. Satisfaction has strong associations with financial security in this debate.

//Pro specifies the USFG as his agent of action. He doesn't explain why this is a good choice.//

Whether any other agent should be used has nothing to with this debate. This debate is about whether it would be beneficial for the United States Federal Government to implement a full-employment program as I described.

Furthermore, The United States Federal Government is the most influential and powerful institution in the Unites States and is the source of the most rules and programs, so it is natural that this is what the resolution should be based on. Aside from whether one believes in the Unites States Federal Government and aside from whether someone believes in government at all, the opposition to my position must argue the status quo, not an alternative, as I have pointed out.

//The Con position is that the USFG would be unlikely to implement his policy faithfully because it is inconsistent with their interests.//

This debate is not concerned with whether the program would or would not be implemented or implemented faithfully, it is concerned with whether faithful implementation would be beneficial for the United States.

// If another law to increase employment goes completely ignored, why would his be any different? Why do we need a new one?//

I speak not only of a law but of a specific organized program.

//Pro thinks that if everyone can get paid at least the minimum wage, it will alleviate poverty. However, the minimum wage is only nominal, so even though he's putting more money in the hands of consumers, he's decreasing companies' net revenue. There's no way companies can expand production. Its like taking water out of the deep end of the pool and putting it into the shallow.//

The fact that it INITIALLY reduces revenue in no way erases the fact that it eliminates poverty. Also, whatever revenue lost initially will be regained because consumers will be spending more now that they have money to spend.

Furthermore, you made a poor analogy. If you're going to argue that reallocating money towards the struggling away from the higher-ups is just like "taking water from the deep end and putting it in the shallow end" then you might as well say the opposite is true: that reallocating money away from the struggling and towards the higher-ups would be like taking water from the shallow end and putting it into deep end. This makes it clear how it is a ridiculous assertion. We are not a body of water, we are separate living, breathing individuals with needs that must be met for an enjoyable life.

//Similarly, if you taxed poor people and gave it to the rich, nothing would change. Sure, the poor would have less money to buy stuff with, but the rich could lower their prices to achieve the same volume. Their profits would be the same because instead of getting money up front, they're just getting a portion of it automatically.//

Nothing would change? This is one of the big problems with economics, business condition is often conflated with the total condition of society. Most people aren't businessmen. There is more to it than just business profits. This year has actually marked some of the largest profits ever seen from large corporations, yet the unemployment rate sores, the average American is suffering. [1]

Income equality has a great deal to do with the overall well-being of a society. Denmark has the highest income equality in the world, it also has the happiest population in the world. [2] There are surely other factors involved in their happiness but I don't think this is any mere coincidence.

//The increase in consumer spending is offset by the increase in taxes. So one would expect the net economic effect to be, at best, zero.//

Not so. America has a progressive income tax system. [3] Even though, in it's entirety, the United States has a regressive tax system, the program I propose would be funded only through the income tax. A progressive income tax system taxes a higher percentage of income from the rich than from the poor. I think it's fair to say that essentially everyone who is unemployed and looking for a job is not rich, thus they would indeed benefit economically from the program. These people who would benefit from the program make up a much larger percentage of the population than those who would not. The "upper-class" make up about 1%. [4]

//Since the new government jobs already pay minimum wage, and there is an infinite supply of government jobs, all minimum wage jobs in the private sector would disappear overnight. The only people working in the private sector would be those who can earn higher than minimum wage. As a result, the private sector would become crippled, and its real productivity would fall.//

This is disingenuous, the vast majority of businesses are capable of raising their wages. The Unites States has a relatively low minimum-wage so the vast majority of businesses would still be able to stay in business, the jobs would not disappear.

//Even if it doesn't destroy all minimum wage private sector jobs, the artificial increase in working conditions would also raise production costs for employers, increasing the price of goods and services. Higher prices for food and clothing is bad for other poor people.//

You are forgetting that there is an expansion of public services. These public services are often free to use or at a lower price.

Even if you were correct, they are better off than they were before. High prices money to spend > Low prices no money to spend.

//Now Pro is trying to make his case on humanitarian grounds. According to the Red Cross, it cost less than $1 to save a life through vaccinations [5]. It is unlikely that this will scale, considering that there are not 350 billion people, but there are a myriad of deadly problems that would be very cheap to fix like Vitamin deficiency [6]. Considering that 25,000 people die every day from malnourishment [7], a full employment program for Americans [8] is not anywhere close to the most humanitarian use of money.//

Obviously, in most instances this malnutrition is caused due to these people not having enough money to afford it(that, ignorance, lack of availability and intentional self-abuse are the only 4 options), and this is because most countries with higher malnutrition levels have such low wages and high unemployment. If people had money to spend on a proper diet than there obviously wouldn't be this problem.

Most social-ills occur from poverty. A full-employment program would assuredly eliminate poverty.

I have reached the end of my character space and will provide the rest of my post in the following link:
http://www.debate.org...
Sieben

Con

1)

Weighing mechanism: I'll drop b.c. Pro won't be able to respond to a critique of utilitarianism.

3)

Agent of Action: USFG. Pro doesn't want to debate incentives. This puts us in fantasy land where people do things just because it suits Pro. This is not only unrealistic, it is abusive, because Pro gets to decide who will automatically do what.

I extend my earlier claim that the USFG is a counterproductive agent of action. If they were ever to implement this policy, it would be intentionally used to create dependence and buy votes. This army of welfare voters would entrench established interests even deeper.

Pro also writes that even though the existing law for full employment failed, his program will succeed. Why? Pro says because his is a "program". Actually, the full employment law applies to the Federal Reserve, which is a program too. It doesn't work. As predicted, The Fed represents large banks and financial groups like Goldman Sachs [1].

=== Pro Responses ===

1) Reduction of Poverty

Pro focuses on the time element here, claiming that initial losses will be offset by later gains. This is not my argument. My argument is that if corporations have to pay higher tax rates, their net revenues will decrease. Their net revenues will also increase from more consumer spending. Because the increase in consumer spending is exactly equal to the amount of taxes they have to pay, this policy will have no effect.

Pro criticizes my analogy by attempting to show how absurd the reverse would be. Funnily, I actually made this observation right below my first paragraph in this sub point. If you taxed the poor, they would have less money to spend and business will suffer. But if the tax money goes to business owners, they will make the same profits selling the same volume as before.

Pro's citation showing rich corporations posting record earnings is supposed to be evidence to the contrary. Pro doesn't know that we wouldn't be WORSE off without these corporations. Certainly there would be fewer jobs if they were going out of business... There are many many more arguments, but I don't have space to adequately tackle the whole financial crisis.

Pro cites Denmark as having high levels of income equality and also high levels of happiness. Denmark is also racially homogeneous [2] because its borders are shut to third world countries. This is a rich whites-only club [3].

Also, they don't have a full employment program [4] (7% unemployment).

2) Boost to the Economy

Pro cites the progressive income tax as proof that the poor would benefit from the wealth redistribution. I don't understand how this is a new point. I've been arguing under the robin-hood paradigm all along.

3) Creation of Competition

Pro says the majority of businesses could simply raise their wages to compete with government jobs. He has no source for this. I don't understand how wal-mart is supposed to raise the wages of 2.1 million people, when they make 3 cents on the dollar [5]. I guess they could raise prices, but then that would hurt poor people...

Pro says the reduced output of the private sector will be made up by the public sector. See 6). He also says that higher prices are okay if you have more money to spend. It's not if the additional money is exactly equal to the increase in prices.

4) Increase in standard of living

Pro says "If people had money to spend on a proper diet than there obviously wouldn't be this problem.".

Exactly.

The US full employment program is not a humanitarian use of resources. The $350bn he wants to spend on Americans can be used to help many more people in near-death situations. They live in other countries.

5) Pro says the tax program is an even trade off, so there will be no effect on corporate earnings. This is a concession of what I've been arguing all along. Everyone will just break even.

But I prefaced this point with "If they don't break even". In other words, if Pro actually could be successful in redistributing wealth, it would have negative effects on capital. Since he will at least have overhead, this will happen.

6) Public Sector Jobs

A) Economic Calculation

Pro writes that he doesn't know how the public sector would expand. He concludes that "more workers = more work getting done.". Is it useful work? What's the opportunity cost? Without market prices, he can't say.

Resources, including human energy, is scarce. The state's allocation of capital will be totally arbitrary, becoming more divorced from reality as time passes on. Without prices, he can never know if there's something more efficient he could do. Without prices, he'll never know when he's losing money.

B) Crowding Out

I mean really. What would these workers be doing? There is no shortage of unskilled labor. The only "shortages" lefties complain about is health care, and people who can't get a job at minimum wage probably aren't the country's next doctors. He'll have to expand into industries where there is already sufficient employment and capital.

So yes, private firms are competing with the public sector. Except the public sector has unlimited money and can never lose. It is on a mission to employ the unemployable. If firms compete by lowering prices, the public sector will also have to lower prices. Eventually the public sector will be running at a loss and the private sector will go bankrupt. Hmm.

At best, his program would waste $350bn/year. More likely, it will create havoc in the market, discouraging new investment for fear of competing with the undying zombie shops propped up by Pro's full employment program.

*** Voting Points ***

1) Reality Check

Pro's been running his case like the USFG will automatically do what he tells it to do. i.e., incentives for government don't matter. But for some reason, incentives for the market do matter. Shenanigans.

If he's allowed to play puppet with the government, why can't I do it with the market? "Yeah the market should give everyone jobs and free money and be nice". You all wouldn't buy it for a second. Pro obviously intended the resolution to be like this, but its still grossly unfair.

Even if you don't buy the "Abuse" claim, he's still taken his plan completely out of reality. So no matter what, the real consequences of his plan will be drastically different from what he's claiming here.

2) I can out-lefty Pro

The most humanitarian use of funds is to the least fortunate. A full employment program benefits Americans, but Americans are not the most needy. They reside in other countries. Pro doesn't answer my objections about malaria vaccines or vitamin deficiencies. If we're going to steal from the rich to give to the poor, let's save as many poor people as possible.

3) This is a Zero Sum Game

So, if you steal from the rich to give to the poor only so the poor can give it back to the rich, you aren't doing anything. The increase in taxes on the rich will be directly equal to the increase in spending by the poor. So you won't be able to increase total sales of consumer goods.

At best, Pro only succeeds in spreading the poverty since the same volume of goods is spread among more people. So this welfare is basically paid for by other poor people. Way to reinforce the cycle of poverty.

Counter-intuitive? He hasn't changed capital structures at all. Go figure.

In closing, seriously don't punish Pro for missing a round. I actually thank Pro for creating the new thread in order to extend his response – quoting me made it much easier to follow.

Thanks Freedo for a good debate. I'll see you on the forums!

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.workpermit.com...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 4
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by lovelife 6 years ago
lovelife
vote bomb countering
Posted by FREEDO 6 years ago
FREEDO
damnitdamnitdamnitdamnitdamnitdamnit I was away from home. Sorry.
Posted by FREEDO 6 years ago
FREEDO
That's ok. Better hurry.
Posted by Sieben 6 years ago
Sieben
Heyy, sorry for the long delay. I have a response typed up, I just want to proof read it. This week has been very hectic, because it is the last week of school, and all the students and professors have signed a suicide pact, in which we all die from the avalanche of homework and projects we have to do/grade.

I will post something tomorrow night after "Sh*tstorm Frenzy: Part 4".
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
Wow, I've never heard that one lol. It sounded weird because I don't see why anyone would skin a cat..
Posted by FREEDO 6 years ago
FREEDO
It's a saying.
Posted by TheAtheistAllegiance 6 years ago
TheAtheistAllegiance
Skin a cat..? lol
Posted by FREEDO 6 years ago
FREEDO
Holy shiit, he's using kung-fu in a debate.
Posted by FREEDO 6 years ago
FREEDO
Well, the first round was just for my introduction to the debate. I guess you can just affirm what you'll be arguing. I went to bed right after I instigated the debate so I didn't feel like making my arguments yet. Should have made it 5 rounds cause now it's essentially only a 3.
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Total points awarded:00