The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
14 Points

A government has the obligation to lessen the economic gap betweem its rich and poor citizens.

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/11/2012 Category: Economics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,977 times Debate No: 24182
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (3)




I have made this as close to an LD round as possible.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2:
Pro-Provides argument
Con-Provides questions for pro, provides argument
Round 3:
Pro- Answers questions, poses questions
Con- Provides answers to questions, rebuttal.
Round 4:
Pro- Rebuttal
Good luck!


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


I affirm, resolved, governments have an obligation to lessen the economic gap between its rich and poor citizens.

Government: the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states;
Obligation: something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc.
Economic gap: A wide divergence, difference, or disparity pertaining to the production, distribution, and use of income wealth, and commodities.
Rich: having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds
Poor: having little or no money, goods, or other means of support
Value: Legitimacy of government. This is the correct value for this round because the main purpose of a government is to protect its people by adhering to a set of obligations with the basic aim of protecting its people. If a government does not fulfill these obligations, they would be illegitimate, taking advantage of its people and not doing the things that the government was created to do. An illegitimate government would not be concerned with its obligations to its people. Thus, the resolution, in asking whether something is an obligation to the government, mandates this value of legitimacy of government because, if it were an obligation, it would be one in order to make a government legitimate.
Value Criterion: Protecting the rights of the poor. I define human rights with those listed in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It claims that everyone has the right to equality, life liberty, security of person, equality before the law, free speech, dignity, a healthy standard of living and education. It also declares that people will always have duties to the community set forth to protect the rights of others, so long as those people's rights are still recognized. Protecting the rights of the poor is important as a value criterion because the only way a government could be deemed legitimate is if it adheres to obligations to protect the rights of the poor, as I will argue in my case. Obligations should be demanded to make sure that the poor have the aforementioned rights protected. Thus, the rights of the individual are the correct value criterion for this round.

Contention 1: The existence of a large economic gap between the rich and poor violates a representative government, which in turn violates the individuals' rights to equality, fairness, and justice. Representative government is when the people of a country are represented in the government and its decisions. Absence of a representative government would jeopardize all human rights, because there would be no provision for fairness, equality, or justice. This is exactly what happens when income inequality is allowed to take over. Rich citizens make it so that the voices of the poor cannot be heard. Hunter Lewis, in his book Are The Rich Necessary?, explains how the rich can use their money to gain influence in this country, stamping out the wishes of the rest and annulling the justice and fairness which the government should be trying to preserve. "The problem in a nutshell is that one cannot have a politically representative government without an economy which represents everyone. The two go hand in hand, together represent a completely representative system, this is exactly what we need… Yet capitalism proceeds on the contrary notion of one dollar, one vote, which means that rich people have a very disproportionate say. One person, one vote, and one dollar, one vote, are obviously incompatible notions. Incompatibility breeds tension, and the tension can only be relieved by abandoning a representative government or by making wealth more equal, so that people have more equivalent numbers of dollars." The outnumbering of rich people's money to the money of the poor makes it so that the poor have an extremely smaller voice in the government simply because they can buy more things, know more people, and get more influence. The economy and the government go hand in hand, so when one is unequal, the other is bound to be. Poor people cannot achieve major elected positions since they lack influence. Many homeless people cannot even vote. It is not fair to have a government where more money means more power, so in order for the government to protect equality and justice and be legitimate, they must reduce the income gap.

Contention 2: Inequality between the rich and poor violates the most basic individual rights for the poor and rich alike.
Sub-Point A: A capitalist society based on social class, competition, and subordination violates almost all of the rights of the individual. In their book The Spirit Level, Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett explain how people's obsession with competition and economic growth end up making everyone unhappy. They claim that we are led to discriminate and not trust one another based on class differences, just the same as we used to do these things based on gender or race. The authors claim that humans are automatically programmed to cooperate, trust each other, and issue fairness, so evident social strains are caused by inequality, inferiority, and social exclusion. They also showed how these social strains lead rich and poor people alike to mental instability through the pressure of living in a competitive society, and how rates of violence, prisoners, obesity, education, and teenage birth are all negatively affected by the strains put forward by our society to compete in the economy and deal with their economic positions, rich or poor. Good health, or the right to life, a well as fairness and the pursuit of happiness are all invaluable rights of the individual. Since capitalism creates loss of all of these things, and a more egalitarian society would help people to be happier, healthier, and live more fairly by giving everyone equal opportunity, it is the government's responsibility to lessen the economic gap between the rich and the poor. Otherwise, it would not be doing a good job of protecting people's rights.
Sub-Point B: The very existence of poverty means the stripping away all of the most basic human rights. In her book The Unheard Truth, Irene Khan explains how poverty is not just a matter of people lacking money, but a human rights crisis. People in poverty lack the rights to freedom of speech, freedom from discrimination, and the rights to safety, health, protection, and liberty which people would normally have if their government was legitimate. They cannot speak freely as they are often ignored by the government and denied the information to improve their situation. The poor are discriminated against and denied the equality and freedom from discrimination that our country sees as one of the most important human rights. Poor people are also denied the basic human rights of safety and healthcare, since they often do not have enough money to contact authorities or the doctors if they are in danger. They are also denied freedom in any form since they have no way to improve their situation enough to join the middle class. She quotes Muhammad Yunus in saying that "Because poverty denies people any semblance of control over their destiny, it is the ultimate denial of human rights." Therefore, in order to protect the rights of the individual the government must reduce the economic gap between its rich and poor citizens.


=Negative case=

The resolution is only coherently affirmable in one way: stealing from the wealthy to give to the poor. Government actions that inadvertently lead to lower income inequality count as affirmative ground in the same way walking outside and getting bitten by a snake counts as a suicide. In other words, they don't since governmental policies in the affirmative world have to have the intention of stealing from the wealthy to hand out to the poor. Justified or not, my opponent must concede that his policies are plain and simple theft, or else the debate is a non-starter (and auto-win for the negative).

: Private Property. All rights derive from self-autonomy because that's the only way they can be willfully exercised. Individuals own themselves, quite obviously, and can do whatever they wish so long as it does not harm others (to deny this is a mountain to climb for the affirmative; similarly inidividuals have the right to do what they wish with their own property and income so long as they do not aggress on others. The only morally justifiable role of a government is that of protection its citizens from aggression both foreign and domestic.

Criterion: Adherence to the non-aggression principle (meaning not initiating coercion with force, threats, or lies). A just government exists to protect rights, such as the right of one to hold their private property, not take them away. The NAP is self affirming because to attempt to logically disprove it uses it. That is, if my opponent comes to my house and shoots me, he hasn't rationally defeated my argument, he's just committed aggression. To rationally disprove anything requires the use of the non-aggression principle, so it is irrational to deny it.

C1: Economic deterioration

Everywhere it has been attempted, Marxist philosophy has failed. This should be obvious, given that it is contradictory to human nature. After all, what incentive does one have to produce more when more production leads to greater wealth depletion since more is stolen from you as you get wealthier? Measures that take action to take money from the wealthy to give to the poor decrease the incentive to be a producer in order to increade the incentive to be a non-producer. It should be no small wonder that socialist Europe is facing such economic failure as of late given that its economic policies are contrary to human nature.

C2: Unjust

No matter how it's spun, to steal from the rich to give to the poor is flat out theft and unjust. The only way around this argument is to claim that all wealth belongs to society-that is, to evoke communism, a failed ideology that left two of the greatest nations in history (China and Russia) economically and culturally destroyed, and is responsible for the genocide of an estimated 110,000,000 people[1].

C3: Better ways

If I conceded that inequality is bad (I dont) there are better ways to end it than theft and redistribution. Like, for example, ending ridiculous "corporate welfare" and political lobbying that helps only the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

=Affirmative case==

Value: My opponents value is correct in the sense that a government should protect it's citizens rights. However what it is doing in his case is a mystery given that it allows me to circumvent all of his arguments by invoking the non aggression principle. TURN: A legitimate government would not aggressively redistribute wealth.

Criterion: The United Nations has a long history of saying things that are innaccurate and false. My opponent gives a prime example, the idea that everyone has a right to "equality" is laughable at best, disturbing at worst. If my opponent, and the UN, truly believes this, he should give away all his wealth and get himself surgically and chemically altered to reflect the average of humanity. Without this, equality cannnot be achieved since people are born differently. My opponent needs to do a lot better than cite a scrap of paper asserting absurdum from a useless organization, compare that to the self-affirming moral principle implemented in my case.


--> No warrant on how a representative government is inherently good, other than the ridiculous assertion that a represntative government is the only way to protect " equality, fairness, and justice ". If this is true my opponent needs to explain why the 20th century, the age of democracy, was the most murderous in human history.

--> He provides no solvency. How are we supposed to affirm the resolution when he doesn't even explain how to do so?

--> His argument is a misrepresntation of politics. The idea that the voice of the rich will drown out that of the poor presumes that America (seeing as he's only cited evidence from America) has an "us vs. them" mentality when it comes to the poor and the rich, which is simply untrue. In the 2008 election, 52% of the wealthy voted for Barack Obama[2] even though it was against their economic interests. There are many extremely wealthy who advocate higher taxes on the wealthy, wealth redistirubtion and other liberal policies, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, the Clintons, the Kennedys, and George Soros to name a few. Conversly, there are several conservative people of wealth such as the Bush family, Mitt Romney, and Amory Houghton. This shows that the electorate is not polarized along class lines as my opponent posits.

--> My opponents card attacks capitalism while never offering a solution of its own. It needs to be thrown out since capitalism is the only system to historically work, and the only justifiable economic system (NAP).

--> He argues no moral impact because his entire position rests on a flawed moral system.

--> He gives only theoretical evidence, because the empirics contradict his claims.

--> He does not define "rich" or "poor" in terms of an objective standard, just subjective terms like "abundant wealth". HOW ON EARTH can we be expected to affirm if he doesn't even give the most basic and critical information for the round, which is what percentile/absolute earnings count as wealthy?


A: Capitalism bad

--> It's unfair to criticize capitalism without directly offering an alternative. This throws the burden to me to refute EVERY economic system. That's absurd. He gains no advantage from this point since he has no advocacy.

--> His argument is a blatant appeal to authority.

--> Wilkinson posits that humans are automatically programmed to, among other things, cooperate. Not exactly. Cooperation furthers (in most cases) rational self interest, specifically in the sense of economics an individuals pursuit of wealth. Humans are not programmed to do anything for others at their own expense (like giving away all their money), no animals are. My opponent needs also to explain away why capitalism has succeeded everywhere its been implemented if its contrary to human nature.

--> My opponent argues that social ills are increased by the competiton from capitalism. Well, he's right that we would be stress free without competition but we would also live in poverty and have no innovation. He doesn't weigh it in this context.

B: Poverty bad

--> Ummm no. Poverty is the result of a lack of production. If anyones human rights are violated, it is that of producers having to pay for non producers to live.

--> He lists a bunch of rights that those in poverty supposedly lack. He gives no example or empirical evidence. This is yet another assertion.

--> Healthcare is not a right, it's a service to be paid for.

--> He asserts that people in poverty can't become successful. That's false. There are 946 billionaires who started from scratch[3]. Barack Obama is the grandson of a goat herder. That's the glory of capitalism, that anyone who produces can one day become wealthy. Compare this to communism where everyone is in poverty because the economy is destroyed.

--> No plan to get rid of poverty.

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 2


deb8_not_h8 forfeited this round.


This happens quite often
Debate Round No. 3


deb8_not_h8 forfeited this round.


My opponent was online during part of the time in which she could have posted her round 4. Instead, she just forfeits with no explanation, appology, or anything.

Whatever, vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
There's no point in having a right if it cannot be exercised. Keeping people from exercising their rights (as re-distributionist policies do) is a violation
Posted by photopro21 4 years ago
All rights derive from self-autonomy because that's the only way they can be willfully exercised.""

Can u explain this?
Posted by deb8_not_h8 4 years ago
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
Can I rebut in round 2 instead of asking questions?
Posted by deb8_not_h8 4 years ago
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
think you could make it 4 rounds?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Even without the multiple forfeits by the Pro (thus conceding arguments by dropping them), Con did a great job of presenting the basic privatist propertarian case against wealth redistribution. Good effort by Con, too bad it appears to have been wasted. Sources go to Con for utilization of them in his case and Con also wins S/G for stylistic reasons. Pro's case was too bunched together which made it difficult to read.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Con ripped Pro's arguments apart, largely because they were blanket assertions without support, and his rebuttals go unanswered because of forfeits.
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Kitty :)