The Instigator
Pro (for)
8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

An open border policy would negatively affect the economy

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/5/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,075 times Debate No: 43432
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (3)




Debate rules:

1. No semantics.
2. First Round for acceptance, and rule and definition clearification only.
3. No new arguments in the last round.
4. Text and graph/chart-only debate. Only three graphs/charts allowed per round.
5. All source material must be easily accessible

Any source of disagreement on the resolution, rules and definitions can be clarified in the comment sections or elsewhere before my opponent accepts this debate.

The burden of proof is equal. Con must show that an open border policy would either have no effect or a positive effect on the economy, while I must show that an open border policy would have a negative effect.


Graph/chart - This should be straightforward. This does not include pictures with a bunch of text in order to bypass the character limit.

For example in the debate below, CON's use of pictures in round 4 would break the definition of graph/chart.

Open Border policy - A policy in which anyone from any nation can migrate to another nation for the purpose of work or other reasons. For the purpose of this debate, we will be referencing as scenario in which the US adopts an open-border policy.

Negatively effect the economy- This can be based on a variety of economic metrics. This includes gini coefficient (measure of economic inequality), GDP (gross domestic production), GDP per capita (gross domestic product per person) and unemployment. "The economy" also refers to the nation (in this case the US) that adopts an open borders policy.

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.


The only clarification which I seek is that time horizons will not be used as a determinant of whether an open borders immigration policy is a net beneficiary or a net detriment to the economy. PRO should not place unreasonably short time-parameters on when the effects could be measured to prove his point, and CON similarly should not place unreasonably long time-parameters before which the benefits would accrue.

The debate should assume that effects on the economy are assessed once migration levels have stabilized to a "steady state", whereby the number of immigrants expected in a given year can reasonably be expected to be the same as the previous year plus a by-now predictable growth factor.

I think a reasonable period for this would be approximately 5-15 years, so for the sake of simplicity, let"s assume we"re talking about the state of the economy 10 years after an open borders policy is instituted. Fair enough?
Debate Round No. 1


I'd like to thank CON for accepting the debate.

Economic theory of migration:

There are billions of people in the world, and they live in much worse living conditions then the US. Given their dire poverty, it would be a no brainer to immigrate to the US. The costs of travel are lower than ever and employers would be more than happy to subsidize travel in order to obtain cheap labor. It is also easier more than anytime to connect with one's family, family and culture from abroad through the use of Skype, and the internet. The US GDP per capita is 142 times more than the poorest country and the world [1]. Furthermore, current estimates show that 2.4 billion people lived on less than US $2 a day. [2] Anybody living on that salary would migrate to the US with an open border policy. Even if economic conditions deteriorate in the US, people from the developing and undeveloped world would still benefit from moving to the US, since it would still be better than their own lifestyle. The marginal productivity of labor will eventually decreases with each unit of labor, and with a large influx of immigrants the marginal productivity of labor will lead to diminish returns, resulting in lower wage [3]. Even non-economic models based on population growth show that a population has a set carry capacity in which natural resources will deplete due to higher populations [4]. Therefore the US economy would deteriorate. In order for the US not to suffer from any economic hardships, then all nations would have to have to obtain a standard of living nearly equivalent to the US. This would mean a change in world GDP would have to increase to a magnitude of around five in a 10 year -span for the US to suffer no economic hardship. However, current economic estimates are not so optimistic that world GDP would increase this much due to immigration. Even pro-open border economists only estimate a doubling of the world's GDP due to open borders [5]. However these studies assume that all nations would adopt an open borders policy. However, this argument is based on the US adopting an open borders policy, so the resulting increase in world GDP as a result of the US adopting an open border policy would actually be much lower.

US has a relatively homogenous income level. The richest state has a household median income of $71,836 while the poorest state has a household median income of $36,641[6]. While this margin might seem large at first, almost twice the difference in median income between the poorest and richest state in the US, the difference is nothing compared to the differences between nations, where the richest nation has $100,889. And the poorest nation has an income of $365, a whopping difference in income of 276.

However, there's no reason why the US should have such a homogenous income level. The nation consists of over 300 million people in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the pacific. That's a lot of room for heterogeneous cultures, and natural resources which should lead to heterogeneous economic development. However, since there is open migration, this effect would be mitigated based on the analysis above, demonstrating that people do migrate to achieve higher levels of income, which leads to homogenous income levels.

Harms in economic inequality:

A net influx of immigrants would create further economic inequality. The major source of immigrants from an open-borders policy would consist of unskilled labor. This will drive down wages from the very poorest. Furthermore due to more workers per capital, this will increase the demand for capital, thus increasing the value of assets, benefiting the wealthy while harming the workers.

Harmful culture and people would ruin economic growth:

A major influence is the people and their culture. Certain cultures and environments are more to economic development then others. Economic and personal freedom, low-crime rates are all essential to increasing economic growth. Throughout most of history, no economic growth per capita has been the norm; modern economic growth has been the exception to the rule. The ideas of economic and personal freedom and low-crime have also been the exception not the rule.

The theory that low crime-rate and economic freedom are the foundations of the economy are supported based on the two graphs below. The first graph shows the link between high GDP and low levels of organized crime. The second graph shows a correlation between economic freedom and GDP.
economy vs. crime rate

economy vs. economic freedom
It also logically follows that crime harms economic growth. If one's property has a great probability of theft or vandalization then why would one put any money or time to improve it? Criminal behavior is also conductive to other behaviors that are harmful to the economy. Dishonest business practices, corruption, embezzlement, lying, and neglecting one's work duties.

If an influx of criminals and those with non-western values enter the nation, then not only will we get people with values incompatible with economic growth, but their values can also spread to the US population as well creating further hardships.

Empirical Evidence:

While no developed nation has an open-border policy since politicians want to stay elected, and therefore do not want to implement a policy that would lead to economic devastation, there is research out there on the negative effects that current immigrants and illegal immigrants have on an economy.

According to the center of for immigration studies, an independent non-partisan, and non-profit research organization dedicated to providing information for immigration policy, immigrants have an effect of depressing wages. The study states that:

“By increasing the supply of labor between 1980 and 2000, immigration reduced the average annual earnings of native-born men by an estimated $1,700 or roughly 4 percent.

• Among natives without a high school education, who roughly correspond to the poorest tenth of the workforce, the estimated impact was even larger, reducing their wages by 7.4 percent.

• The 10 million native-born workers without a high school degree face the most competition from immigrants, as do the eight million younger natives with only a high school education and 12 million younger college graduates.

• The negative effect on native-born black and Hispanic workers is significantly larger than on whites because a much larger share of minorities are in direct competition with immigrants.

• The reduction in earnings occurs regardless of whether the immigrants are legal or illegal, permanent or temporary. It is the presence of additional workers that reduces wages, not their legal status.”[6]

The public policy institute of California, another non-partisan independent source, also independently found that immigrants induced a 4% reduction in wages [7].
There's also no reason to believe that immigrants have a net benefit on the economy. Nations like Japan and South Korea have a policy of low-immigrations and have developed strongly. They also have incredibly low-levels of unemployment. Even during their worst levels of unemployment, South Korea only maintained an unemployment rate of 7%, while at Japan's worse it maintains an unemployment rate of 5.7%. Compared that to the US where a 5% unemployment rate is considered the norm and has been able to skyrocket to 10%. Meanwhile an unemployment rate of around 3% is considered the norm in South Korea and Japan. [8][9][10]


While one can still favor an open borders policy for the US based on moral or other reasons, arguing that an open borders policy would be beneficial to the US economy is not one of them.













Thank you PRO.

I feel compelled to first offer a fairly broad rebuttal of just about every point PRO made in this round. From misleading headings, some curious cross-referencing, downright baseless conclusions, and the coup de grâce: the adoption of the term ‘harmful culture’, normally attributed to female genital mutilation but used here in the context of some sort of xenophobic Bogey-Man; the rebuttal pickings are rich. I will provide PRO’s section headings, and my own in parentheses which I feel better describe the actual argument he made.

“Economic theory of migration “ (Intercontinental Travel on $2-a-day)
PRO concludes that the nirvana of a US standard of living would make it a “no brainer” for those living in “dire poverty” to migrate to the US. PRO then cites the 2.4 billion people living on less that $2 a day as presumably a tsunami of people ready to swarm the US at the first opportunity. As the overarching theme of PRO’s argument returns repeatedly to this central theme of the fear of being overrun by foreigners, it’s important to discuss whether there is any basis in fact or experience to support this fear (I will get back to the economic impact therein later). Spoiler alert: of course there isn’t, but this lack of truth has never stopped extremist right-wing political movements from using this red-meat scare tactic to exploit the ignorance of their audience.

First of all, let’s remember that for the purpose of this debate, the US has decided to unilaterally open its borders. How long do you think it will be before a sizable portion of those 2.4 billion sub $2-a-day workers make it to America? Before you think too hard about your answer, I would like to cite two important pieces of evidence:

• Exhibit A: The Atlantic Ocean
• Exhibit B: The Pacific Ocean

That’s right, the geographic reality of the US places a formidable price of admission to those who seek to reach her shores other than over land. The “no brainer” here is that the US is, in practical terms, completely out of reach for the destitute of anybody outside the Americas, whose $2-a-day existence could not entertain the purchase of a passport, much less an airline ticket. As our neighbors to the north appear quite content not to entangle themselves in the complexities of US culture other than for occasional trips to defrost, it’s safe to assume that the majority of those looking to pull themselves up from the grips of poverty in their native land will approach from the south. I will talk in later rounds about the motivations of those who undertake that journey and their impact on the economy (a positive one).

“Harms in economic inequality” (If you do make it as far as the US, you must be a gangster)
PRO uses a series of assumptions about this marauding mass of invaders to deduce that they will be a bunch of criminals. And then bounds effortlessly into a series of graphs showing that it sucks living in a place full of criminals, which I’m sure is as completely true as it is completely irrelevant. I’m not going to even entertain the strawman of criminal activity that PRO describes given that he presented no evidence whatsoever that the zombie apocalypse is the inevitable result of the opening of US borders.

“Empirical Evidence” (Ok, the Xenophobia was a bit much, I better pretend I’m interested in minorities even if none of these stats relate to immigration’s effect on the economy)
“While no developed nation has an open-border policy since politicians want to stay elected, and therefore do not want to implement a policy that would lead to economic devastation, there is research out there on the negative effects that current immigrants and illegal immigrants have on an economy.”

Let me just play that one back for you in slow motion, because it’s a beauty, with my own comments following the quotes:
1. “While no developed nation has an open-border policy”
- just the standard bandwagon logical fallacy
2. “since politicians want to stay elected, and therefore do not want to implement a policy that would lead to economic devastation”
- just the standard false cause logical fallacy, not to mention an outcome that is just unsupported
hyperbole to which false cause
is subsequently associated
3. “there is research out there on the negative effects that current immigrants and illegal immigrants have on an economy.”
- “out there” presumably means “not included here”, as the quotes that follow do not address
harmful effects to the ECONOMY, just
some groups that could see a negative effect on their
personal situation.

This last point actually gives me a springboard to make my actual point, and I will do so by bringing the research “out there” on the effect of the economy “in here” to help you decide who makes the better case. Headings from this point forward are my own.

Actual Research on Immigration’s Effect on Wages
PRO claims that immigration has a deleterious effect on the wages, where he states “By increasing the supply of labor between 1980 and 2000, immigration reduced the average annual earnings of native-born men by an estimated $1,700 or roughly 4 percent.”. Which would be interesting if it were true, but it’s not. But when PRO cites sources like the Center for Immigration Studies, which has been described as “part of a broad-based and well-planned effort to attack immigration in all forms” [1], it’s easy to see how statistics might be presented that have but a nodding acquaintance with the truth.

I prefer to go with reputable sources, so if you want to really know what effect immigration has across all sectors of the workforce, take a look at the definitive analysis of wage effects over the course of a fifteen year period. It does support one of PRO’s points, namely that those without much of an education are negatively impacted. However, it refutes his primary point that immigration has a downward effect on average earnings, as the earnings of all other groups went UP.

average wages of natives bene@257;t from immigration, even in the short run. These average gains are, in the short and long run, distributed as a small wage loss to the group of high school dropouts and wage gains for all the other groups of U.S. natives." The group su
@256;ering the biggest loss in wages is the contingent of previous immigrants, who compete with new immigrants for similar jobs and occupations. Finally, our model implies that it is hard to claim that immigration has been a signi@257;cant determinant in the deterioration of the wage distribution of U.S.-born workers during the period 1990-2004.”[2]

Immigration's positive effects on the wages of all but the poorly educated.

While there is certainly a case that the least skilled workers in the economy are at risk of being displaced by immigrants, it will be a simple task to show how those that are displaced by an uneducated, unskilled person who doesn’t speak English were not the engines of economic growth. This debate is not about whether anybody is negatively affected; it is about whether the economy is positively or negatively affected. None of PRO’s arguments purporting a negative effect withstand the most basic of scrutiny.

I had to spend this entire round refuting PRO’s opening remarks, and due to character count limits, I will need to defer my positive case demonstrating the positive effect of an open border on the US economy to later rounds. I look forward to citing past history in the US, current open borders within the US, and the open borders of the EU to further dispel PRO’s xenophobic fear that immigrants will harm the economy. As much as PRO trembles in fear of an immigration invasion, leaders of economies throughout the world would have an equal level of worry about the impact on their own economies should the US open up its borders. The only difference is that they would describe the phenomenon and source of their worry as “brain drain”.



Debate Round No. 2


I thank CON for responding back.


CON deserves at the very least to lose conduct points due to his remarks in the first round. He has gone as far as call me a xenophobic and extremist-right winger throughout the debate and stating that I “trembles in fear of an immigration invasion”. These are a special combination of fallacious reasons. It is a form of poisoning of the well, which is similar to an ad hominem attack. Poisoning of the well is a special fallacy:

“is a
rhetorical device where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say [1]. It also considered part of the worst argument in the world[2], which is "X is in a category whose archetypal member gives us a certain emotional reaction. Therefore, we should apply that emotional reaction to X”. In this case X is xenophobic.

Furthermore, I specifically stated at the end of the first round that one can still favor open migration but not for the purpose of positively affecting the US's economy. This debate is strictly a positivism claim, which are based on what *is* and facts alone, not a normative one which makes a moral claim on what one *should* be done.

Moving on, in the opening arguments, Con states that: “misleading headings, some curious cross-referencing, and downright baseless conclusions”. However, asserting this does not make it true, and in his body argument fails to show this.

He also somehow thinks that harmful culture only references female genital mutilation. Perhaps he should look up the definition of harmful [3] himself.

Economic theory of migration

CON agrees with my economic theory of migration, and also agrees that a large increase in immigrants would harm the economy. It is interesting that he fully understands the ill-economic consequences of allowing too many foreigners into the nation but just hopes that not everybody would be willing to take advantage of these opportunities because of travel costs. However, one wonders at what point he thinks that too many immigrants will lead to diminishing returns on labor? Even if CON is able to show that illegal immigration currently do not hold diminishing returns on labor, surely an open immigration policy would lead to a greater flow of immigrants, which would at one point lead to diminishing returns on labor. Does CON really believe that am open borders policy would not lead to a point diminishing returns on labor?

International travel might be expensive for someone living on $2 a day, but is relatively cheap for an employer who would otherwise have to pay an employee tens of thousands of dollars a year. An employer would just subsidize the foreign worker’s travel, since the cheap labor would more than offset the cost of travel. I already discussed this in the first round and CON just ignored it. Considering that most employers are already willing to provide relocation expenses and travel expenses for interviews for those living in the US there’s no reason why they should not do the same for foreigners.

On this point alone, since CON has not adequately refuted this point I have won the debate. But let’s move on.

Harms in economic inequality

CON makes no counter-argument against this argument. In fact, his own sources demonstrate this to be true, since it shows that immigration has caused the lower-cast of wages to fall while the higher-cast of wages to rise. A reminder, an increase in income inequality is a harmful economic effect which I stated in the first round.

Harmful culture and people would ruin economic growth:

First, CON creates a massive strawman to make my position seem ridiculous, that “If you do make it as far as the US, you must be a gangster”.

CON admits that my analysis on crime causing economic hardships is correct.

Of course not all immigrants are criminals, but a higher proportion of them have higher propensity towards dishonesty and violence as well as greater tendencies. Does CON really think that all the criminals in international borders will still there?

Empirical Evidence:

First, I think CON agrees that if open border policy was harmful to the economy, then a nation would not pass it given that politicians do not want to engage in destructive economic policy. However, while there could be other reasons why nations do not have open border policies besides a destructive economic policy, one must wonder why not a single nation has an open borders policy.

CON might call this a bandwagon fallacy, but a better question to ask is alternatively, if CON was on “Who wants to be a millionaire” and he used the asked the audience, would he dismiss the answers of the audience due to the “bandwagon fallacy”. In all likelihood he would not.

CON tries to discredit the CIS as biased based on his bias source of SPLC, a group that attacks every group that does not conform to their narrative. Experts have constantly dismissed the SPLC. Domestic terrorism expert states that:
“In fact, it turns out; the SPLC’s “Year in Hate and Extremism” probably seriously overstates the presence of hate groups and dangerous domestic groups. . . Berger explains why, specifically, the SPLC hugely inflates their headline numbers with a bizarre counting system.”[4]

Of course, the SPLC’s claim on the CIS has been entirely discredit:

“The fact that they went after mainstream groups rather than fringe ones shows that the goal is not elevating the tone of public discourse but shutting it down altogether. ... The report's section on CIS is not just hackwork, but amateurish hackwork. Much of it dwells on letters written to (not by, but to) one of my board members, misidentified as having been executive director. Our research is described as having been debunked by "mainstream think tanks and organizations," oddly enough including two of the most strident open-borders advocacy groups in the nation. My tenure there, the majority of the center's existence, is dismissed briefly at the end as "The Later Years." And they didn’t even mention my book, which knits together decades of CIS research on the many facets of immigration into a unified theoretical framework–-something at least worth touching on when trying to show how naughty CIS is. What's more, CIS is an unlikely source of "intolerance." The chairman is Peter Nuñez, U.S. attorney for San Diego under Reagan; the board includes the president of the Greater Miami Urban League and a former executive director of the National Black Caucus Foundation; the staff includes the former national policy director for the American Jewish Committee; and I didn't even speak English until I got to kindergarten.”[5]

This of course ignores that my other source, public policy institute of California also independently comes to the same conclusion as the CIS.

CON also drops the argument on Korea and Japan’s immigration policy. Extend all arguments.

Con’s evidence:

Con “evidence” that immigration does not negatively harm the economy is that wages have been growing since 1980 while ignoring other factors. Of course, technological advances: for example, the advancements in computers have a significant role in increasing wages. It was not immigrants that raised wages. Also, as stated previously that his evidence only applies towards the status quo. The US has nothing close to an open immigration policy in which diminishing returns on labor and decreasing capital and resources per person become major factors based on the economic theory of migration.


CON has only two rounds left to make his case, since there are no new arguments in the final round. Instead of using mainly facts and sources to disprove me or make a case of his own, CON has dedicated his round to senseless mudslinging.

A reminder that the BOP is equal.









As I have limited space to make my argument, I will have to resist the strong urge to once again point out all of PRO’s statements in his third round argument that ran the gamut from questionable, to flat-out wrong, to the almost comical. I will provide those voters so inclined to spend the fifteen minutes necessary to fact-check his claims with the following clues: check any statement where PRO informs you what I called him, what I think or where PRO states that I agree with his conclusion (save for ‘crime is bad’). And reread his passionate argument against the validity of the bandwagon logical fallacy, if nothing else than for the sheer entertainment of the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” defense. Or as I think of it, the defense of ‘mob rule’. Thousands of politicians the world over couldn’t ALL be wrong about economic and immigration policy, could they? Question asked, question answered. PRO’s pleas to voters about conduct should be considered in light of PRO’s decision to post a link to the definition of the word ‘harmful’. I have dignified his disrespect with too much of my time already. Let me turn my attention to my case.

This debate is about whether open borders would have a positive effect on the economy. Not whether some individuals in the US might face competition and be worse off as a result of open borders (high school dropouts WILL be worse off). As I mentioned earlier, those who will lose out are being displaced by workers willing to do more for less. At the end of the day, economic output is increasing. I urge voters to detect and reject any attempts by PRO to shift the goalposts to isolated harmful ‘economic effects’ of immigration such as wage inequality. That is NOT the subject of this debate.

Theoretical Case for Open Borders

Unfettered access to human resources is what powered the growth of America. Without labor, the steel produced in Pittsburgh does not become the transcontinental railroad or the bridges that span the rivers of the continent.

Restrictions on labor movement affect economic output. This is intuitively obvious. It you have a lump of metal and adequate capital to pay the wages of workers to create widgets, you must have access to those workers to create a value-added product for you to sell. Any delay in finding the right workers affects your output. If there is a shortage of workers and you face higher wage demands, this may effect your decision on whether the costs of production are justified. You may elect to sit on your capital without adding to economic output. These problems are relieved by the ready and timely access to workers that open borders offer. Closed borders inhibit free movement of labor and are an inherent drag on economic activity.

Open Borders Impact on Availability of Highly Skilled Labor

Is access to human resources still critical to economic growth in a modern economy that is less dependent on labor-intensive industries due to technology? Bill Gates thinks so. “Demand for specialized technical skills has long exceeded the supply of native-born workers with advanced degrees, and scientists and engineers from other countries fill this gap.” [1]

Anybody who has been through the existing limited immigration process for technical professionals knows all too well how time-consuming the labor certification process is for H1-B visas, adding up to six months to the time needed to fill a position.[2] This of course is unproductive time wasted by the employer following bureaucratic processes that is not contributing an economic output.

As the economy continues to become more knowledge and innovation based, this kind of unnecessary drag on accessing qualified technicians places companies at a competitive disadvantage. High-tech product life cycles continue to shorten, placing time-to-market at the forefront of product development: adding six months to creation/manufacturing cycles is the difference between having a desirable product and watching your overseas competition enjoy that success.

Many advocates of restrictions on labor movement assume that special visa programs such as H1-B are providing the US economy with the ability to cherry-pick the talent it needs. This is incorrect, and the data shows it. Applications for this year’s quota of 65,000 “H-1B” visas for such workers began on April 1st. In less than a week they were oversubscribed. [3] This indicates significant demand for skilled labor that is being denied by restrictive labor policies, negatively impacting economic output. Open borders would remedy this limitation immediately.

Empirical Case for Open Immigration

Ultimately, this debate is about whether you see these immigrants as a liability and a drag on the economy or a critical asset without whom economic growth is impossible. PRO correctly states that there are no countries without absolutely open borders, but there is compelling historical evidence to show that open borders create positive economic growth. And efforts to create artificial scarcities of labor have a negative impact on growth. Let’s look at some examples.

It stands to reason, if you subscribe to PRO’s argument, that efforts to further restrict borders should have a demonstrably positive effect on the economy. The effect on Arizona’s economy relative to its neighbors since the passage of the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) in 2007 indicates otherwise. The Cato institute cites a number of measures to show Arizona lagging New Mexico and California at an accelerating rate since the introduction of LAWA, including changes to agricultural employment in these states. [4]

Even states without international borders feel the pinch of restrictive federal immigration policies. In Georgia, 56% of farmers say they are having trouble finding farm workers. The Georgia Agribusiness Council says that migrant labor shortages could cost state farmers between $300 million to $1 billion. [5]

To give an indication of the type of drag closed borders are on the world economy as a whole, studies have shown that “Fully open borders would double world GDP in a few decades, virtually eliminating global poverty”. [6] I provide this as compelling evidence to underscore the theoretical benefits of removing labor movement restrictions, but I know this debate is about the US unilaterally opening its borders, so its benefit to my case is limited to illustration.

Luckily for me though, there is research on available on the effects of open borders on a more localized basis by the US. A University of Iowa economist has developed models based on free labor movement in North America. As I mentioned in an earlier round, a unilateral opening of borders by the US will result overwhelmingly in land-based migration from the south to the US, so the results from these models are probably the best we have available to decide the empirical case at hand.

The results are an overwhelming endorsement of open borders. This independent economist found that open labor borders would raise aggregate output by 10.5% within 50 years.[7] The reason he found for this growth is that capital follows labor. Investment takes place where the workers are available to translate that investment into output. Which is the fundamental question this debate poses.


No matter where I turn, and no matter how I search, the data I come across consistently support the positive economic impact of free movement of labor that open borders would offer. Open borders would immediately remove the inherent cost which companies must bear trying to access scarce resources. Attempts to further restrict labor movement should improve economic output if you support PRO’s position. Arizona’s experience shows otherwise.

I implore PRO to accept the inevitable and concede.









Debate Round No. 3



I once again thank CON for the debate. He once again provides assertions, rhetoric, and appeal to ridicule[1] that my arguments are bad without actually dwelling into the arguments themselves but goes on asking the readers to do his job for him. Of course, he has whole two rounds to make his rebuttals, in which I hope he can come up with some real counterarguments. But perhaps if he felt he was running out of characters he should have focused more on making a better case of his own case.

CON feels insulted that I linked a definition of harmful. Yet I am simply informed him and the audience what it means, especially when he is providing a wrong definition: “a “‘harmful culture’, normally attributed to female genital mutilation” and the dictionary is proving otherwise. If he feels insulted by this, then he shouldn’t be defining words wrong. I do not see how this would be a conduct point.

Theoretical case:

Con’s case boils down to the idea that one needs labor in order to produce stuff.

However, Con’s case is actually a turn in my favor. I will explain why. One can understand the vastly high importance of transportation infrastructure. It creates trade routes for the exporting and importing of goods, and gives access to areas with abundant natural resources, or capital. In fact transportation infrastructure is so important it is hard to think of anything else that can make greater strides in a nation’s productivity. One can produce more transportation infrastructure or improved transportation infrastructure, however each additional will only reduce the cost and time of transportation only slightly.

What this demonstrates is diminishing returns on capital. Each additional different unit of capital added to the economy has diminishing returns to society. For example let’s say we have full employment and capital project #1 will increase output to five billion GDP and requires one hundred thousand laborers. That’s $50,000 GDP per capita. Capital project #2 will increase output to only two billion GDP and also requires one hundred thousand laborers. If one imports one hundred thousand for this project, this reduces GDP per capita to only $35,000 per capita.

Furthermore, in order to develop capital projects, the economy needs savers to invest in these projects and poor immigrants do not have much in savings to invest.

Sure the transcontinental railroad created huge boasts to the economy, but that only required thousands of laborers [1]. On the other hand, the US currently has a population of 300 million. The US has enough labor to maintain its transportation infrastructure and does not have a problem where it does not have enough labor to build infrastructure necessary for development.

The notion that the US also grew because of immigration flies in the face of evidence.

While the effect is small, one can clearly see GDP falling with a higher level immigrants[2][3].

Furthermore, a lack of abundant labor incentivizes developing labor technology. Economic growth is based on how much labor you can save. We are wealthy now because it takes a lot less labor to produce agricultural output and material than it did hundreds of years ago.

Open Borders Impact on Availability of Highly Skilled Labor

At best, this is an argument in favor of increasing the amount of H-1 visas for high skill labor. However, this is not what we are debating. We are debating an open borders policy. An open border policy would over whelming target immigrants from low skilled labor. One can conclude this because currently the people trying to enter the nation illegal are low-skilled. One does not exactly see a lot of illegal immigrants working as scientists, programmers or engineers.

So why are so many companies looking for people with H-1 visas? Because employers want cheaper labor and know they can get it from foreign countries rather than get it from the US. The idea of shortages existing for high-skilled labor is ludicrous since employers can always create better working conditions, and higher pay to attract high skill labor. This in turn raises wages for labor. If employers cannot afford to hire more workers, all this does is demonstrate that it’s an inefficient use of resources.

However, the idea of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) shortage is also simply a myth. According to IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers “many companies, including Boeing, IBM, and Symantec, continue to lay off thousands of STEM workers.” Furthermore, “The Georgetown study estimates that nearly two-thirds of the STEM job openings in the United States, or about 180 000 jobs per year, will require bachelor’s degrees. Now, if you apply the Commerce Department’s definition of STEM to the NSF’s annual count of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, that means about 252 000 STEM graduates emerged in 2009. So even if all the STEM openings were entry-level positions and even if only new STEM bachelor’s holders could compete for them, that still leaves 70 000 graduates unable to get a job in their chosen field.”[4]

As a final note, innovation is easily transferrable between nations. Just because someone from a nation developed an idea does not mean the nation gets to reap all their rewards. This is especially easy in today’s environment in which corporations are multinational and people from all across the world can communicate with one another instantaneously. Apple and Microsoft product are available all across the world. Everyone uses electricity despite Edison being from the US. We all benefit from Newton’s work despite Newton being from England.

Empirical Evidence:

The evidence provided fails on many different levels. One counterargument would be enough, however I feel that the readers should be aware of how many different levels this fails as it just demonstrates his lack of understanding on these issues.

a) He first uses declining agricultural unemployment as the hallmark to prove that this law has been harmful. Why use such a foolish metric like agricultural unemployment? Agricultural employment has decreased DRAMTICALLY hundreds of years ago yet we’re much better off because there are much more productive fields. Low levels of employment in the agricultural sector is a sign of high development[5]. The answer is because they were trying to find a metric that would confirm their bias. California lags far behind Arizona in unemployment rate[6] while New Mexico lags Arizona in economic development[7].

b) The Arizona Bill was a response to a high flood of illegal immigration. The amount of immigration in Arizona is high. However, looking at this data, are states with much lower immigration really suffering economically? No of course not[8].

CON then goes on to state that immigration would lead to a greater GDP of the economy. However, I already addressed this data in the first round to support my argument since the GDP growth from immigration would not keep up with the population growth from it. In fact his studies provide a lower estimate than mine.

One can say that this boasts GDP however gross domestic production per capita is a much better measure of the economy then gross domestic production. It would be absurd to say that Africa has a better economy than South Korea because Africa has a larger GDP than South Korea. Africa is larger and has more people than South Korea. However South Korea’s gdp per capita is far greater than Africa.


If CON is really having trouble searching for data, than you should really get rid of google filter. Its really leaving you in a bubble. I'd also suggest you use critical thinking rather than ideology to analyze the data The data heavily supports that open immigration will be bad for the US economy.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]



Motivations of the Unskilled Immigrant

It takes a lot of courage to move country, especially for the unskilled. In addition to the financial costs of relocating which they must bear themselves, often through exploitative ‘sub-prime’ loan-sharking, there are the difficulties associated with assimilating into a foreign culture. Not being able to speak the language creates enormous hurdles that the immigrant must overcome. Raising a family without the support network of extended family adds to the pressures. It is no wonder that the host country tends to get the cream of the crop, those motivated enough to overcome all those challenges to improve their lot. These people are economic assets, not liabilities. The Mexicans and Guatemalans who risk their lives to come to America are not lazy, they are highly ambitious. The Romanians who make their way to Sweden are not couch potatoes.

Motivated human resources are ready and willing to apply their human capital to the material resources and investment capital of the US that may otherwise lay fallow. The result is economic expansion. It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars per year policing borders to try to keep people out who the US should be trying to attract due to the positive economic contribution they will make.

Impact on Immigration on Existing Economic Output

Before deciding what effect open borders would have on US economic output, it’s important to remember what effect existing immigrants are having on the economy. I showed earlier evidence that there is a shortage of qualified technical resources, as demonstrated by the H1-B visa allowance for 2013 being oversubscribed within one week of the application process beginning. [1]

Of the relatively measly few that do make it to this country, their impact is enormous. The US lets in only 225,000 foreigners with special skills each year, just 0.1% of the total labor force. [1] But the amount of start-ups they are responsible for creating far outweighs their representation in the workforce, demonstrating that their presence provides a disproportionate contribution to economic output.

Some 40% of Fortune 500 companies have been started by immigrants or their children. But the US no longer offers the same unique set of conditions that made it a magnet for the best and brightest in the past. As their native economies and infrastructure has caught up with the US, why should a brilliant software engineer or biotech researcher take on all the risk, expense and uncertainty of uprooting to the US when they can expect success in India or China? Opening up borders would once again demonstrate to the world that the US is seeking to attract the best and brightest, and lays down a challenge to once again prove that you have what it takes to “make it” on a completely level playing field.

Silicon Valley start-ups founded by immigrants has fallen from 52% to 44% since 2005. [2] For every job created in the high-tech sector, another 4.3 jobs emerge over time in the local economy. [1] So, knowing the profoundly positive contribution to the US economy that the relatively tiny number of immigrants already make, and knowing that US companies have demonstrated that the existing immigration vehicles available to recruit them are both inefficient and inadequate, I fail to see how anybody could come to a conclusion other than opening up the borders and removing all such restrictions would inevitably contribute positively to the economy.

52% of Silicon Valley start-ups were founded by immigrants.

Immigration necessary for economic expansion cannot be assumed

Without sufficient access to human resources, economic opportunities are missed. Removing immigration controls in the US immediately removes barriers to employers filling positions in a timely fashion with the most qualified people at the most competitive cost. And the US cannot assume a position of arrogance that its greatest challenge is to ensure its borders remain sealed to restrict access to its economy by the very resources who will grow it.

Even those who have risked life and limb to enter the US do not blindly accept that their fate is immediately and inexorably better off for ever more. With the recession after the financial crisis, the US actually saw as many illegal immigrants returning home voluntarily as those trying to enter. [3] With those returning migrants will come tales of the reality of their living conditions, and how the streets are not all paved with gold. This will undoubtedly have a sobering effect on the family and friends and villagers who hear their stories, and will make their future decision on whether to stay put or risk moving to the US an even more difficult one. The US can expect to face labor shortages if it does not make its economy one that welcomes the resources upon which its very existence depends.

“Migrants – and the experts who study them – say they are deterred by state laws in the US that have fueled anti-immigrant sentiment, tougher US-border enforcement, and border violence. So, many Mexicans simply stay put.” [3]

This change in perception poses a very real threat to the US economy. Indeed, alarmist warnings in the UK that the recent opening of its borders to the relatively impoverished nations of Romania and Bulgaria would result in a surge of migrants has proven unfounded. [4] This is another example of how open borders does not result in the chaos that naysayers predict, and the conversation must change from calamitous foreboding to using open borders as just leg of a policy shift to attract the workers that the US economy will need if it is to expand. The decline of the number of people in the US who were born in Mexico from almost 12mln in 2000 to less than 8mln in 2010 should not be seen as a triumph, but a worrying trend that needs to be reversed to avoid threats to economic output. Open borders provides the means necessary to guarantee that one of the most important ingredients of economic output, workers, will not be denied to the US economy, whether in the start-ups of Silicon Valley or the orchards of Georgia.

Immigration levels are declining, to the point where labor shortages should be expected as the native economies offer more opportunities and make the value proposition for both legal and illegal migrants less compelling.


While the US prides itself on its innovative companies, it must not forget that much of that innovation was driven by immigrants. One is only left to wonder how much better the economy would already be if immigration restrictions did not prevent companies from getting access to the resources they knew they needed and were unable to find in the local labor force, as demand for H1-B visas has demonstrated. PRO might take the time to understand the Labor Certification process associated with these visas, where the employers must demonstrate that jobs have been advertized in the US without finding qualified candidates, before making baseless judgments that they are merely a wage dilution mechanism. [5]

While the US continues with restrictive immigration policies and native economies offer ever more opportunities for its graduates, the incentive to work through that bureaucracy is diminishing. Not only would open borders remove that competitive disadvantage, failure to do so places the US economy as we know at endemic risk of retraction were it to continue its restrictive labor policies.

For those who believe that closed border labor migration policies are helping the economy more than open borders would (the very essence of this debate), I would ask that they take their logic and apply it within the US and see if they would now like to change their minds. Or do they continue believe that limiting your right to work to your home state would result in the economies of individual states being better off? Because that is what you must believe to argue in favor of restrictive labor policies.







Debate Round No. 4



I thank CON for this great debate.

Natural restrictions on immigration barriers are weak

CON again agrees with my analysis that a large immigration flux would lower gdp per capita due to resource depletion, since he has provided no counterargument against it. Again, his only hope to win this debate is that natural restrictions on immigration will create a barrier.

The first barrier he mentions is communication barriers. However, a large sum of the world population is competent in English of 1 in 4[1]. So that is 1.75 billion people that can immigrate without worrying about language problems. However, learning English is not required for living in the US. A full 7% of Americans do not speak English [2]. This percentage is only low due of immigration restrictions and would be much higher without them. Immigrants can create partially-segregated communities based on one’s own ethnicity and language. This is not theoretically, since these already exist in the US, for example Chinatown. Employers would be also being willing to hire non-English speakers in manual labor or other occupation that do not require talking to English-speakers. As long as someone in the community can speak English, he or she can act as a translator to the English-speaking population, both for work or general affairs.

CON then further adds that people would be unwilling to immigrate since one would have to leave one’s extended family. Except that 43% of Americans are more than willing to leave their family and live in another state[3]. And this is for only for relatively modest gains in economic status. If we’re discussing huge disparities in economic status, a much greater proportion will immigrate.

CON goes on to say those foreigners go on to bear the full cost of relocation, which is just plain false which I explained in the previous round. I don’t why CON complete ignored my previous argument but employers already pay for relocation expenses since the payoffs for employers would be huge.

The notion that my economic theory is correct is supported by empirical evidence. Puerto Rico, a Spanish-speaking colony the US owns where, has open immigration to the US. CON would believe that since they natively speak Spanish and there’s an Atlantic sea barrier that few would enter the US. However, this is false as Puerto Ricans migrated so heavily to the US that there are more Puerto Rican ancestor living in the US than in Puerto Rico[4]. The effect of emigration out of Puerto Rico, contrary to his predictions that more labor is better and supportive of my prediction, that less labor per capital resources is better, had phenomenally positive for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is the most competitive nation in Latin America and has a relatively high GDP per capita of $27,451, predicatable based on my analysis.

Does migrating to another nation somehow demonstrate you’re a productive worker? Don’t know. It’s a non-sequitur to assume so. One can easily make the argument that workers would come to America to avoid their responsibilities in their homeland. Nor have I ever accused that immigrants will be lazy. The people that worked over 80 hours a week in the industrial revolution clearly weren’t lazy. However their economy was not as developed as it is now. Likewise immigration workers might not be lazy, but the mass importation of them will strain the US’s infrastructure thus seriously harming the US.

Stating that the low-immigration of Romanians to UK is proof that natural immigration restriction is effective is also wrong. This was stated merely 14 days after open immigration. Give it some time. Sweden opened immigration to Romania in 2007 and the result was almost a near doubling in immigration.

One can say that Sweden did not suffer any serious damage from this policy; however there are a few things to note:

a) Romania and Bulgaria contain a GDP per capita of $16,518 and $16,518 respectively. This is really good GDP per capita compared to much poorer countries like Afganistan with purchasing power in only around $600 per capita[5].

b) Romania and Bulgaria had to go through serious economic reforms to reduce political corruption, and organized crime in order to enter the European Union. The same would not be true with an open immigration policy which would have people with these negative attributes[6].

c) Romania and Bulgaria are small enough to not do any serious damages, especially considering that they obtained access to many European nations, not just Sweden. We’re looking at a combined population of less than 27.5 million versus a potential immigration population of 6.7 billion, more than a twenty-fold difference.

Harmful people would ruin economic growth:

CON provides a non-sequitur justification that somehow immigrants are less likely to be criminals.

This falls flat in front of emperial evidene. Immigrants to Sweden are much more likely to commit crimes. While foreign born only make up 8% of the population, they commit 25% of the crimes.[7][8]

Economic inequaility

Con agrees that immigration will increase income inequality but does not think this is part of the economy. However, as stated in the opening round, economic inequlity is an example of negatively effecting the economy. This is a pattern of not reading what I wrote.

Debunking myth of immigrants positive effect on new businesses and start-ups

CON provide incredibly misleading statements on immigrant impact. He states that: “Of the relatively measly few that do make it to this country, their impact is enormous.” and “Some 40% of Fortune 500 companies have been started by immigrants or their children.”. Fact-checker has deemed this statement to be only half true[9]. There are a few reasons this is misleading:

The number of foreign-born Americans consist of 11% of the population[10], while children of immigrant make up 23% of the population[11]. So combined the total is 34% of the population. Companies also have multiple co-founders. Facebook has five co-founder[12]. One of the co-founders of facebook was a foreign immigrant, Eduardo Saverin, yet he is no longer part of facebook, and contributed minimally to Facebook. Zuckerberg, a native-born American is currently the CEO and main visionary behind Facebook. However Facebook would still count as a company founded by immigrants. When taking this all into consideration, immigrants contribute less to start-ups and Fortune 500 companies than native-born Americans.

This is not surprising at all, considering that in previous rounds I have shown that South Korea and Japan were able to maintain strong economies with low immigration, and economic growth is negatively correlated with immigration in the US.

Furthermore, these people are self-selected due to immigration restrictions. An open-immigration policy would not select for wealth-generating immigrants. CON even concedes this point through stating that valuable foreigners can now just go to China and India.

The need for STEM is also debunked. CON says that a job must be advertised beforehand to qualify for visa. This is an easy loophole that can be bypassed. A company can just advertise a job with very specific qualification and/or offer the job for an ineffective wage and then claim they could not find anybody. As previously posted there are more STEM graduates than STEM jobs so it is very questionable how they are unable to find candidates.


This debate is not about closed vs open border debate. This is whether a more radical position of completely open borders debate is economically benefical or not. I have more than demonstrated this, while PRO cannot even defend the status-quo. Vote CON[1][2];[3][4];[5];[6];[7];[8];[9] [10] [11] [12]




My thanks to PRO. I will summarize here the key points that I have made to support my case that open borders would have a positive effect, and devote equal time to ensure that voters understand not only the flaws in PRO’s case in general, but a fundamental flaw in his reliance on GDP per capita. Of the several measures of “the economy” PRO chose to allow in the debate parameters, one would expect more command of the subject from one who chooses to depend so heavily on this parameter to semantically show that a dilution of GDP per capita can, for the purposes of this debate, be construed as a negative effect on “the economy”.

I will not belabor this point of this and PRO’s other arguments’ failings, but merely provide voters with the information they will need to review the arguments made in the previous rounds to determine those with which they would like to be associated.

PRO’s Argument (Open borders have a negative effect on the economy)

Round 1: Clarifications etc.

Round 2: In a nutshell, PRO declared that it was a ‘no brainer’ that 2.4 billion people living on under $2 a day would be winging their way immediately to the US, and his first paragraph already began to cite the US GDP per capita rate that will be his Waterloo. I countered this assumption that everybody would be able to suspend their daily search for food and water to concentrate instead on intercontinental travel arrangements by pointing out that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans place a formidable barrier to entry to assuage the fears of those who cower under a vision of their country being overrun.

PRO also introduced another recurring theme and a natural progression for anyone with misinformed fears of immigrants, namely crime. No link to immigration and crime was provided here, just a hope that bringing it up in this context would create a causal linkage.

The first of many poorly sourced pieces of biased information was provided here, namely the claim that immigration reduced the average annual earnings of natives by $1,700 per year, a claim I was able to flatly refute with a non-partisan study that in fact showed the opposite effect.

Round 3: This round was noteworthy mostly for:

  • PRO countering the logistical difficulties of transoceanic travel for those earning $2 a day by assuming that employers would pay relocation expenses for the destitute.
  • PRO making this rather revealingly sweeping, unsupported generalization which goes a long way to explaining his focus on crime, namely “Of course not all immigrants are criminals, but a higher proportion of them have higher propensity towards dishonesty and violence as well as greater tendencies.” Well.
  • Not to forget PRO’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” defense of the bandwagon logical fallacy.

Round 4: PRO went all in on GDP growth per capita here, and this is where the wheels came off rather badly. The ‘Theoretical case’ is well worth another read, and PRO has even gone to the trouble of not only bolding but also italicizing diminishing returns on capital. For you to believe PRO’s case, you must believe this section, and see if you can follow along with the case made by capital project #1 and #2. But the problem for PRO is that he doesn’t understand the economic terms he’s using, and fails to recognize that an increasing labor force being applied to the same level of capital only results in lowered GDP per capita on one very important condition: that the level of capital remains constant. The key study that I cited showing how immigration positively impacts the economy shows that capital follows the means to put it to use. Removing restrictive labor policies removes barriers to production, causing capital to seek out its best outcome. Capital expands. PRO’s argument therefore falls apart.

Not to mention that the graph showing GDP growth per capita and the claim that ‘one can clearly see GDP falling’ is not sourced properly in either of the references provided “[2][3]”. I thought it might be footnote error, so I tried clicking on source [4] to see if that would reveal the graph, but that just returned a 404 error.

Round 5: PRO is right that I had to post my fourth round argument without disputing any part of his, as I had to prepare and post it in parallel with his due to timing constraints I faced. My apologies for that.

In addition to reiterating employer willingness to pay relocation expenses for destitute foreigners, PRO introduced new data related to Romanian and Bulgarian immigration to Sweden as being more representative than my reference to the UK due to immigration given that Sweden’s borders have been opened since 2007.

If we are going to introduce new data in Round 5, I think it would be more helpful to cite data relevant to the debate topic, namely whether Romanian and Bulgarian immigration to Sweden had a positive or negative impact on the Swedish economy. Studies have found “these migrants too make a substantial positive net contribution, with the average contribution being 30,000 kronor per migrant”[1], with the Swedish researcher concluding “My findings clearly show that the fears that are currently expressed in other European countries of unrestricted immigration from Romania and Bulgaria imposing a heavy burden on the welfare state are unfounded”.[2]

CON’s Argument (Open borders have a positive effect on the economy)

Round 2: I would like to apologize for a formatting error that took away from the key point I was making in this round, so I will restate it here as a synopsis of the primary claim I made in support of the CON position, viz.:

average wages of natives benefit from immigration, even in the short run. These average gains are, in the short and long run, distributed as a small wage loss to the group of high school dropouts and wage gains for all the other groups of U.S. natives." The group suffering the biggest loss in wages is the contingent of previous immigrants, who compete with new immigrants for similar jobs and occupations. Finally, our model implies that it is hard to claim that immigration has been a significant determinant in the deterioration of the wage distribution of U.S.-born workers during the period 1990-2004.”

Round 3: The primary points I made here were:

  • Closed borders inhibit free movement of labor and are an inherent drag on economic activity.
  • US companies continue cite shortages of highly skilled workers and bureaucratic inefficiencies of visa application processes
  • More restrictive migration laws introduced by Arizona have not benefitted the economy as PRO’s theories would suggest. I had to choose just one of the many charts in the study I cited due to debate limits, PRO appeared to take umbrage at the one I chose showing agricultural decline, citing this as actually a positive sign of Arizona further advancing away from an agrarian society. Really.
  • Migrant labor shortages already costing just Georgia farmers up to $1bln annually
  • And my most important point cited a study modeling a unilateral opening of borders, demonstrating a positive economic impact. Completely refuting PRO’s GDP per capita argument, this research cites the economic law that capital follows labor. “Where there are more people there are more workers, and where there are more workers, there is more investment and economic growth.” [3]

Round 4: Here I showed how immigrants are economic assets, not liabilities, their disproportionate contribution to high value industry, and the crucial role they will play if the US economy is expected to continue its growth.


In a debate discussing a hypothetical situation, I was the only one able to cite a credible source that modeled the likely outcome of a unilateral opening of borders in the US which stated “Freer labor movement is a win for almost everyone”. [3] I believe CON has comprehensively shown how an open border policy would positively affect the economy. Vote CON.





Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I enjoyed this debate. Pro's opening round was shaky to me, seeming like there was a good deal of thoughts that didn't make it to paper, but the later rounds made up for it. Con opened up rather condescendingly, and I would grant pro conduct, but Con eased up in the later rounds, so I'll forgive this point. Con's evidence, especially in round 2, doesn't appear to support his case. His chart shows a loss of wages for HS dropouts, and slowing growth for everyone except for those with post-secondary. Con makes a good case for increasing immigration of skilled-labourers, but I don't see a compelling case for opening the borders entirely. Con struggled to balance between his counter-case and his affirmative case, which forced to him drop many of Pro's contentions. Considering this, i found pro to have more convincing arguments.
Vote Placed by Juris_Naturalis 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter
Vote Placed by Hierocles 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This is essentially an empirical question and I feel that Teflon provided the best evidence.