The Instigator
LaissezFaire
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Con (against)
Losing
9 Points

Ending Education Subsidies

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
LaissezFaire
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/28/2012 Category: Economics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,348 times Debate No: 24490
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (41)
Votes (5)

 

LaissezFaire

Pro

Resolution: The US government (and state governments) should end all subsidies to college education.

BOP is on Pro.

1st Round for acceptance.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Con

I thank LaissezFaire for an interesting debate topic and accept the resolution. Since my opponent did not specifically define any terms, I would like to note that my primary arguments will be in defence of financial aid to college students, grants, loans, scholarships and so on.
Debate Round No. 1
LaissezFaire

Pro

C1: Human Capital?
The idea behind subsidizing education is that since education improves human capital (makes people more productive), subsidies will pay for themselves. We’ve all heard the statistic that college graduates earn $1 million more over their lifetimes than non-graduates.

But is that income differential caused by the education? It’s hard to believe the knowledge learned at college directly translates into higher productivity—very little learned in school has anything to do with real world work. Some things learned in school obviously translate into higher productivity—basic literacy, numeracy, and computer skills, for example. But it’s hard to believe that anyone uses the skills they learned in a Sociology class in their job. College isn’t completely useless of course, but the majority of classes have no application in the real world.

Ah, but educators usually don’t claim that the stuff they teach will ever be used in the “real world.” They’re supposedly teaching you how to think—by learning math and literature, you’ll be better at learning other, work-related things, and therefore be more productive. It turns out educational psychologists have tried to test and measure this theory—the literature on the subject is called ‘transfer of learning theory.’ And they found that your teachers were wrong, and that learning is highly specific. There is specific transfer of learning—learning algebra will help you learn calculus. But there is no empirical evidence of general transfer of learning—learning calculus won’t help you be more productive at a job that has nothing to do with math. [1]

Studies on this subject date back to E.L. Thorndike’s 1901 study, where "Subjects estimated the area of rectangles between 10 and 100 sq cm...After sufficient practice to produce improvement (1,000 to 2,000 trials) on the original series, subjects got two test series. The first test series consisted of rectangles between 20 and 90 sq cm not included in the original training series. The second test series consisted of shapes other than rectangles, like triangles and circles. On the second test series, errors after training were about 90% as large as errors before training. Thorndike and Woodworth concluded that there was practically no improvement on the general skill level of judging the area of figures." [1] In addition, “Since the classic Thorndike and Woodworth (1901) experiment, there have been literally hundreds, if not thousands, of experiments reaffirming the same point.” [1] A review of these studies from Thorndike to the present found that while there was evidence of ‘near’ transfer (specific transfer, like algebra helping with calculus), "there has been no positive evidence of general transfer besides a few highly questionable studies." [2]

C2: Signalling
But then why do college graduates earn more than non-graduates? Part of the reason is that college graduates were already more productive than non-graduates before they went to college. People that go to college tend to be smarter and harder-working than those that don’t—so they would probably earn more even if there was no such thing as college.

But that can’t be the whole answer. If it was, smart kids could skip college and expect to earn just as much as if they went. That might be the case for a few exceptional people—Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc, but for most people, it likely isn’t true. The other part of the answer is that a degree is a signal. It signals traits that employers value—intelligence, conscientiousness, and conformity. Someone without a degree could have those traits, and someone with a degree could lack them, but on average, people with degrees are smart, conscientious, conformists—people who will be good workers. If employers require a college degree for a job, they will get applicants who are, on average, better workers, and will be less likely to have wasted money hiring someone who turns out to be a bad worker.

If this is true, then the case for subsidizing education falls apart. Improvements in human capital have social benefits, but signaling doesn’t. Signaling benefits the person with the signal at the expense of everyone else competing for that job—it doesn’t benefit society overall. The billions spent subsidizing education are thus wasted—in addition to the opportunity costs of the students going to college when they could have been doing productive work instead.

C3: Useful Education
While I think most of school is socially useless signaling, obviously some education is actually useful. Medical schools teach the skills necessary to be a doctor, for example. But that doesn’t mean these things should be subsidized. If something is actually useful, then it doesn’t need to be subsidized—the monetary return on getting that degree is enough. People that can’t afford medical school can take out loans and pay them back with the higher income medical school will help them get. People that can’t afford to get Sociology degrees probably won’t get loans without the government being involved, since private lenders would be unwilling to lend to someone who couldn’t pay them back.



[1] Detterman, D.K. (1993) 'The case for the prosecution: transfer as an epiphenomenon', in D.K. Detterman and R.J. Sternberg (eds) Transfer on Trial: Intelligence, Cognition, and Instruction, Norwood, NJ: Alex Publishing Corporation.
http://cms.educ.ttu.edu...
[2] Singley, M.K., & Anderson, J.R. (1989). The Transfer of cognitive skill. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Con

Overview

I thank my opponent for accepting. I have 3 opening contentions to make which I listed below. If the contentions are true, then the conclusion is true as well. After that, I will refute my opponent's round 1 arguments.

1) College is absolutely required for the vast majority of people who want to be successful.
2) The majority of people cannot afford to attend college unless subsidized loans are given.
3) Unsubsidized loans do not fill this need.

Conclusion: Therefore, subsidies are required.


OPENING CONTENTIONS


C1) College is required for success

It is a well-known fact that college graduates earn a lot more money than high-school graduates. According to the U.S. Census Bereau, high school graduates make approximately $28,000 a year while college graduates make approximately $51,000 a year, nearly twice as much [3]. There are of course exceptions but for the vast majority of people, going to college has a positive effect on their earnings potential.

Now, the ideal scenario in this case would be for everyone to go to college since for the majority, college is required in order to be successful.


C2) College is unaffordable to the majority of students

According to the US Department of Education, 2/3 of undergraduate students recieved financial aid [4]. This shows that the majority of students cannot afford the cost of college and require loans and financial aid in order to attend college. A student who just graduated from high-school will barely have enough money to afford college. Therefore, they must seek it from elsewhere. The options they have would be to either get federal aid, or have their parents finance their education. Most American families are unable to afford the huge amount of money required for college. According to the College board, it costs $105,000 for a 4 year degree in a private university and $7020 in a public university [5]. However, this is just the tuition fees. Students often have other living expenses. For instance, the total cost of 1 year at UC Berkeley is $32,000 if you live in a residence hall [6] or $120,000 for 4 years with all expenses included. Such staggering amounts are difficult to procure without subsidies.


C3) Unsubsidized loans do not fill the need

The primary problem with unsubsidized loans is that they charge interest from the time the money is first disbursed until it is paid in full. The interest is capitalized, meaning that you pay interest on any interest that has already accrued. One way to minimize how much interest accrues is to pay the interest as it accumulates [7]. Now a full-time college student cannot afford to pay interest on their loans since they will be busy with class and have living expenses, the need to buy textbooks, etc. With an unsubsidized loan, they are paying interest on money right from the minute they get the loan. If they do not immediately get a job right after graduating, it will snowball into a huge amount of money that is difficult to pay off.

This severely discourages students from going to college. Since college is highly beneficial, it must be encouraged and the government must do what it can to increase the number of students going to college. This can be achieved by subsidizing education.

Conclusion: Subsidies are needed.


REBUTTALS


R1) Human Capital

Pro's argument here is that the knowledge learned in college does not translate to higher productivity. He specifically singles out Sociology as an example but I am assuming he is talking about Humanities in general. In any case, let's go with Sociology. Sociology is the study of people and how we interact with each other [1]. A degree in sociology helps students have a better understanding of human relationships. This helps them in a wide variety of careers that involve social interaction such as social workers, community affairs workers, consellors, and teachers [2].

My opponent cites studies to show that learning is highly specific. He claims that the studies show that learning algebra won't help you at a job that has nothing to do with Math. In essence, my opponent is arguing against general education requirements. The key here is that general education (breadth) requirements exist to give students knowledge of the topics at hand as opposed to prepare them to work in that particular field. A college student taking a sociology degree might have to take a math class. While his Sociology class might help at a future job, the Math class might not. However, breadth classes often have skills that are basic enough that they can be applied across various fields. Students also have a lot of choice in which classes they want to take. Pro's studies show that skills aren't transferable. But he is operating under the assumption that colleges claim that teach people how to think. Since I haven't made that argument and am arguing instead that classes in a student's major are actually useful, the studies have limited value.

Pro's studies are pre-emptive to arguments that I did not make and are therefore irrelevant.


R2) Signalling

Pro says that the reason college graduates earn more is that college is a signal, and it signals that the graduate has qualities that the employer is looking for. Of course I won't argue with the point that a college degree is a signal. My argument is that college is not just a signal, but much more that that; because it offers many other skills that can be used in the real world such as the ones I mentioned in R1 regarding sociology.

My opponent says that people that go to college tend to be smarter and harder-working than those that don’t. However, he offers no evidence to prove this point. It is just as likely that people who go to college are smarter and harder working because they go to college and have learned to take on the load of a college degree, participate in extra-curicular activities, and meet deadlines.


R3) Useful Education

Pro says that degrees that are useful need not be subsidized. However, there are many degrees like Sociology which are useful and pay a lot more than what high school grads are paid but may not be enough to cover the cost of unsubsidized loans. Pro divides the categories into "useful" and "not useful" but it is not a dichotomy. There is a wide range of usefullness to a college degree, from just a little more financially beneficial than high school to many times as much depending on the degree, and the student in question. So, a sociology major might earn a lot more by going to college but it may not be enough to cover unsubsidized loans.


Sources

[1] http://sociology.uoregon.edu...
[2] http://www.soc.cornell.edu...
[3] http://howtoedu.org...
[4] http://nces.ed.gov...
[5] http://www.collegesurfing.com...
[6] http://students.berkeley.edu...
[7] http://www.csus.edu...

Debate Round No. 2
LaissezFaire

Pro

Re: Con’s Contentions
His statistics about college graduates earning more are begging the question. I agree that college graduates earn more than non-graduates. The question is why—simply stating that they do earn more proves nothing.

Con then argues that many people would not be able to go to college without subsidies. I agree. My whole argument is that there should be less college education, because it costs a lot (both directly, and in the form of the opportunity cost of not working during that time) and usually doesn’t increase productivity.

C1: Human Capital
Con misunderstands my studies. Perhaps my algebra and calculus examples weren’t clear. My point is that the only reason algebra helps with calculus is that its part of calculus—you need to know how to do algebra to do calculus. And calculus doesn’t help with anything that doesn’t explicitly involve calculus. Con claims that he isn’t arguing for general transfer of learning, and therefore my arguments don’t apply. But by ‘general transfer’, I don’t mean general education requirements. I mean anything that isn’t actually part of your job. Not related to your job, like how the study of human societies in sociology class might be sort of related to social work or teaching, but actually part of your job. Like, learning how to use Excel will make you more productive if your job requires using Excel. Taking classes provides students with a specific set of knowledge, and unless you use that knowledge in your job, it doesn’t make you more productive. Transfer of learning studies failing to find evidence of general transfer of learning doesn’t just mean that classes completely unrelated to your job are useless; it means that classes that aren’t pretty much exactly the same thing as your job are useless.

In the experiments I’m citing, educational psychologists tried very hard to find general transfer of learning. They made the sets of problems as similar as possible to each other to make it easier for students to transfer their knowledge from one to the other. The problems in the study I mentioned last round are very similar—if people can apply their learning to different situations, then surely they’d be able to apply it to different problems as similar as estimating the area of a square and estimating the area of a triangle. But they didn’t. Even extraordinarily similar problems found no evidence of transfer—in a 1974 study, they trained students to do a word problem involving cannibals and missionaries. They then tested to see if that training transferred over to the exact same problem with the words ‘cannibals’ and ‘missionaries’ replaced with ‘jealous husbands’ and ‘wives’. They found no evidence of transfer—even though the subjects were not the average person, but college students! [1]

The literature on Transfer of Learning theory shows that the only way to get better at X is to practice doing X. People can succeed in college classes because you’re tested on exactly what you studied for—but work in the real world is rarely exactly what you studied in college, so college classes usually won't make you more productive at work.

C2: Signalling
I don’t think I need any evidence to show that people that go to college are smarter and harder working than those that don’t—it’s self-evident to anyone who’s ever been to high school, and observed the differences between college-bound students and non-college-bound students firsthand. Think about what gets you into college—good test scores and grades. Are people with good test scores and grades just as smart and hard working as those without them? And, of course, people who go to college and graduate and probably smarter/harder-working than those that go to college but drop out. Anyway, even though I don’t think I should need it, I do have evidence. The average IQ for college graduates is 115—that is, the average college graduate is smarter than 5/6 of the population. [2] In addition, going to college shows conscientiousness—that is, being goal-oriented and forward looking (being low on conscientiousness means being more laid-back, present-oriented, and impulsive). Going to college for 4 years before getting the reward shows that someone is goal-oriented and forward looking. This is an important trait for employers—conscientious employees are more reliable, more motivated, harder working, and have lower rates of absenteeism. [3]

Con argues that college causes students to be smarter and harder-working, which completely contradicts his earlier claim that he wasn’t arguing that general transfer of learning exists. College classes making someone smarter in general would be general transfer of learning. College may improve work ethic more than sitting around doing nothing, but it certainly doesn’t improve work ethic compared to actually having a job. Think about it—would you want to hire someone with a college degree that had never held a job? The average full-time college student puts in only 14 hours of studying per week—compared to 24 in 1961. [4] Hardly a way to build one’s work ethic. Coincidentally, the average return to education has sharply increased during that time—the opposite of what the human capital model would predict.

C3: Useful Education
My argument is that only education involving specific job training, like medical schools, significantly increases productivity. For other degrees, like sociology, the investment is not worth the cost. If someone won’t make enough to pay back an unsubsidized loan, then that just proves that that money would be better invested elsewhere. Saying that you need a subsidy for an investment to be profitable is admitting that the investment is a waste of money.



[1] Reed, S.K., Earns, G.W., & Banerji, R. (1974). The role of analogy in transfer between similar problem states. Cognitive Psychology, 6, 436-450.
[2] http://www.assessmentpsychology.com...
[3] Roberts, B.W.; Jackson, J.J.; Fayard, J.V.; Edmonds, G. & Meints, J (2009). "Chapter 25. Conscientiousness". In Mark R. Leary, & Rick H. Hoyle. Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior. New York/London: The Guildford Press. pp. 257-273.
[4] http://www.aei.org...
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Con

First off, any books cited by Pro cannot be taken seriously. I don't have the books available and without an online reference, that can be checked by the voters, voter are not to consider Pro's books a reliable source. Every source that Pro cites, I am contesting as invalid. Therefore, voters please only consider Pro's sources valid if you have personally gone to the library and verified Pro's sources.

CONTENTIONS



C1) College is required for success

Pro concedes that college is required for success. He says that it should not. He argues for an ideal scenario rather than the actual one. The essence of the debate is the Pro is saying that the government should end subsidies in education. He has the burden of proof to show why. How does he show this? By saying that college should not result in higher incomes. It doesn't matter if Pro thinks that. It is not true. He admits that it is not true. Ending educational subsidies will not make it so. I am not arguing about whether college should or should not result in higher incomes but rather that it does.

C2) College is unaffordable to the majority of students

College, which my opponent admits is a path to success and higher income cannot be afforded by the majority of students. My opponent concedes this point as well.


C3) Unsubsidized loans do not fill the need

Pro does not address this contention. A dropped contention in a debate is considered to be conceded.


Conclusion: Education should be subsidized.

With all the premises true, the conclusion holds true as well.


Summary of my case

Pro has conceded my entire case. The rebuttal that he provides merely voices his opinion that college should not lead to higher income and a successful career which is not the case.

Pro's only standing argument now is that there should be less college education because it costs a lot and doesn't increase productivity. I agree that it costs a lot but argue that college is in fact beneficial. This is the reason I am defending subsidies.

So, now the only point of disagreement is whether college is beneficial. If I can prove that it is, then I win the debate since my opponent has agreed with every other point that I made. My rebuttal to Pro's case below will prove this point.



PRO'S CASE


R1) Human Capital

I must admit that Pro had an unorthodox way of arguing the resolution. His main argument for why education should not be subsidized is that education is not beneficial at all. So, let's get to the arguments that Pro makes in order to back up his claim.

Pro's main argument seems to be that there is no transfer of skills, i.e. Calculus won't help you in a job that has nothing to do with Calculus. However, if your job does involve Calculus, then it will help you in your job. That part is fairly straightforward. Pro's entire argument on this point comes down to the point that college students should not take breadth courses since it doesn't "teach them how to think" and they won't use those skills in their job. I don't claim that a sociology major taking classes in Algebra "teaches them how to think." It merely provides them with knowledge of Algebra so that after graduation, the college students ends up well-rounded and knowledgeable in a wide variety of fields. In the future, if their job requires Algebra, they would be able to perform it. If they want to change careers or decide after graduation to persue a career that does require a fundamental knowledge of Math, it benefits them that way too. This is the reason why schools and to some extent colleges have basic requirements for graduation which often involve taking breadth classes. Pro is essentially arguing for vocational education which is not beneficial precisely because of the points I mentioned above: lack of options if you change your mind.

Pro's next argument here is that classes that aren't exactly the same as your job are useless to your job. To back this up, he cites a study where students were made to do word problems. When the word was changed, Pro claims there was no evidence of transfer. This is completely unrelated to college classes. Classes are intended to provide knowledge of the subject matter, not specific transferable skills. This knowledge is used on the job. For example, someone who wants to be a Sociologist or psychologist must learn how to interact with people and understand human nature. This makes them more knowledgeable about the subject and better able to use this knowledge on the job. They don't need to do exact problems that they are doing on the job but need to learn the general content.

Here is another example. If a student wants to be a web designer, they need to learn how to write HTML. They can learn this in college. After they graduate, the pages they might have to design may not be the exact same pages that they did for homework in college. However, without a fundamental understanding of HTML, they can't design web pages.

Pro's source is absolutely irrelevant and have flawed methodology. I read the link he provided in round 1 (Detterman). In page 2, the author gives examples of how skills are not transferred. Essentially, the people conducting the study taught a mentally retarded women to give the correct amount of change to a cashier when she bought something. They then made her try it in the real world where she failed. From there they jumped to the conclusion that skills are not transferable.


R2) Signalling

Pro's first paragraph argues that college students are smarter than high school students. I argued that college students are smarter and harder working because they go to college so obviously, we agree that college students are smarter and harder working, the question is why.

In his second paragraph, Pro argues that this is not the case since general transfer of learning doesn't exist. However, all Pro has argued for so far was an isolated word problem which did not affect how students responded to different word problems. My argument is that college makes students more knowledgeable (has nothing to do with Pro's study) and it helps them meet deadlines and promotes hard work.

Pro would have students working right away but if a job requires a degree in Sociology, how will the students get the required knowledge that is gained by a degree in Sociology?


R3) Useful Education

Pro says that for degrees like Sociology, investing money in it is not worth the cost. However, as I pointed out, the ideal scenario is that everyone goes to college. The government should be encouraging this. The way to do that is by offering subsidies.



Comments on Voting:

I usually don't make comments on voting but in this case, it is imperative that I make these comments while Pro still has the chance to respond to them.

Conduct: If Pro wanted to argue that skills are not transferable, he should have made a resolution as such. I may or may not have accepted. However, he makes a resolution that educational subsidies should end. This while technically correct wastes his opponent's time debating something that may not be what they intended to debate. My intention for instance was to debate the benefits of subsidies, not argue about transferability of skills. However, I did take the time to argue it and negated Pro's arguments while providing better ones.


Sources: Pro cites books. So, the reader is left wondering which page the studies are mentioned. The fact that Pro cited books should be enough to penalize him for sources since books cannot be verified. Only one of the claims he made is backed up by a study that can be accessed online.
Debate Round No. 3
LaissezFaire

Pro

If Con had responded to my question in the comments section about whether he's a college student and has access to an academic journal search engine by simply stating that he isn't a college student, I could have helped him access the sources I'm citing.

Source [2] from R2 is available in google books--you can't read the whole book online, but if you search for the quote I used, you can find it. The entire Source [1] from R3 isn't available online without a subscription to an academic search engine, but you can find the abstract, which includes a description of the experiment and its conclusion, on google scholar. If Con really wanted to see the whole study, I probably could have found a way to download it and email it to him. Source [3] from R3 is available on google books--you can't read the whole book, but you can read the chapter I'm citing as well as the citations from that chapter.

Apparently Con was unable to transfer his ability to google things to debating.

Con's Contentions
I do not concede that college is required for success. I concede that it is correlated with success—but think that Con has the causation backwards. I’m not saying that college shouldn’t result in higher incomes; I’m saying that college doesn’t result in higher incomes—the traits that cause people to have higher incomes result in people going to college.

C1: Human Capital
“Pro's entire argument on this point comes down to the point that college students should not take breadth courses since it doesn't "teach them how to think" and they won't use those skills in their job.”
Here, Con again fails to understand my argument. I am not saying that breadth courses aren’t useful for work; I’m saying that almost all courses aren’t useful for work.

Con talks about how someone might use sociology or psychology classes to learn “how to interact with people.” While knowing how to interact with people might be a useful skill, it isn’t actually the subject matter of any sociology or psychology class. “Understanding human nature” might be part of one of those classes, perhaps an evolutionary psychology class, but it’s hard to see how this applies to any actual job.

HTML is certainly an example of a useful skill that someone could use in a job after college. But this just proves my point—writing HTML will prepare you for writing more HTML. That is hardly the same thing as expecting someone to transfer the knowledge they acquired about gender conflicts in sociology class to an actual job.

“I read the link he provided in round 1”
I find that hard to believe. From the sentence preceding the description of the study involving the retarded woman: “Two experiences I had illustrate that the answer to that question depends on your point of view.” [1] The author is illustrating an idea, not proving it. Con’s claim that, “From there they jumped to the conclusion that skills are not transferable” is simply not true—to conclude that learning is not transferable, the author discussed a century’s worth of other studies on transfer of learning theory (mostly done on college students, not the mentally retarded). [1]

C2: Signalling
Con again fails to support his claim that college makes students more intelligent. He again repeats that it makes them more knowledgeable, which isn’t the same thing. If general transfer of learning doesn’t exist, then it’s hard to see how college classes that have nothing to do with IQ tests would cause people to get higher IQs.

Again, I agreed that going to college is better for building work ethic than sitting at home doing nothing, but given the amount of time students actually spend studying, it’s hard to believe it’s better at building work ethic than actually having a job. Con also fails to respond to my argument about college signaling conscientiousness.

Con argues that students who never went to college for sociology wouldn’t be able to get a job that requires a degree in sociology. Of course, this begs the question, how many jobs require a degree in sociology? All the people I know with liberal arts degrees got jobs that ask for a bachelors degree in anything—suggesting that the job doesn’t particularly care about the specific knowledge they gained in school.

C3: Useful Education
Everyone go to college? Why not have everyone get a PhD? Several PhDs? That way we’d maximize productivity.

Comments on Voting:
Conduct: Con’s complaint here is basically that my argument was unexpected. The resolution was that educational subsidies should be ended—my argument supports the resolution, it just does so in a way Con doesn’t like. I suppose I should have just argued that college is just as wonderful as Con thinks it is, but we shouldn’t subsidize it because I hate poor people—that way I could let Con win and avoid hurting his feelings by making better arguments than him, which apparently is considered poor conduct now. In the future, I will try to always debate exactly the way my opponent wants me to, to avoid having poor conduct.

In addition, I think Con should lose the conduct point for lying. He either lied about having read my Detterman source, or did read it, but lied about what it said.

Sources: See my intro. This is how the conversation should have gone:
LF-“And are you a college student? If so your university probably has some sort of search engine for those kind of citations.”
F16-“No, I’m not.”
LF-“My bad, I thought you were. Here, you can use google scholar and google books to get a preview of the sources I use. It won’t show the whole book/study, but it can confirm the parts I quote are there. And if you really want to see the whole journal article, I can just email you the pdf from my university’s search engine.”
F16-“Thanks! And since there’s still 2 days left before I have to post, I still have plenty of time to make my argument—there’s no need for me to just rush ahead and accuse you of lying about your sources without bothering to have this quick conversation first.”
But no.

[1] http://cms.educ.ttu.edu...
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Con

Pro's final arguments involve more complaints than actual rebuttals. Pro has still not refuted any part of my case. Therefore I will just be providing a short summary showing why my arguments were superior and Pro should be docked Conduct and Sources as well as arguments.

Resolution:

I would highly suggest that in the future, Pro put the topic he wants to debate as the resolution. He obviously wanted to argue about transferability of skills. Why then would he make a resolution saying that Educational Subsidies should be ended? Is there a purpose to this? He could just as well have made a resolution saying "Skills learned in college aren't transferable." If that were the case, he would find an opponent who wants to argue about transferability of skills rather than educational subsidies. It is simpler way to make resolutions - Put the resolution as the topic you want to debate.

Now, I did entertain Pro's arguments and was a good sport about arguing about transferability of skills and how it doesn't apply to the topic at hand. However, there is no question that Pro drew me into a debate topic by posting an unrelated resolution and using semantics to twist it towards arguing what he wanted. I have no problem with someone who wants to argue whether college skills transfer to the real world, just frame the resolution as such. For this reason, Pro should lose Conduct.

Having said that, not only did I debate a topic that I wasn't interested in, I actually refuted all of my opponent's points and showed why they don't apply. Let's take a look:

Pro case:

1) Human Capital

"While knowing how to interact with people might be a useful skill, it isn’t actually the subject matter of any sociology or psychology class."

This is blantently false. UC Berkeleys's Sociology and Psychology departments for instance offers courses of how to interview people, how to conduct research studies, and how people work in an organization [1][2]. This type of knowledge is useful in one's career and precisely the reason why employers require undergraduate degrees in the Humanities and Social Sciences departments.

Pro concedes that my argument about HTML is valid. As a counterexample, Pro says that a course in gender conflicts is not useful for a job. I am not saying every course that you learn in college is useful for every job. A course in gender conflict is obviously useful to a social worker who has a specific job of helping victims of domestic abuse for instance. Before helping them, the candidate would need to know what causes those gender conflicts and how best to address them. This is the reason why college courses are required in order to be successful.

The author of the study Pro mentioned gives examples besides the retarded women but they are just as irrelevant. For instance, the next example he gives is that everytime he boards a bus in a different country, the driver tells him in his local language what the fare is. The author goes on to prove that none of the skills he learned were transferred. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether college courses are necessary in order to be successful in the real world. Pro is not only lying but falsely accusing me of lying. His other examples were just as irrelevant as the first.

2) Signalling

I have argued that college courses make students more knowledgeable about the subject matter. I also argued that knowledge is required in order to be successful at a job. Con does not refute it at all.

He says that working builds a better work ethic than going to college. However, firstly, working does not generally involve independently doing homework as being in college does. Secondly, the knowledge gained in college courses is required before starting work. Nowhere does Pro refute that college courses help gain knowledge of the field. Going back to my HTML argument, sure working at a web design company may hone the skills of a person better than attending a college class but work doesn't teach HTML. You have to know it before you start working.

3) Useful education

"Why not have everyone get a PhD? Several PhDs? That way we’d maximize productivity."

I am not saying that we shouldn't. Assuming the goverment has an unlimited budget, that is what we should do. Allocation of budget is important. I have presented several arguments why subsidizing undergraduate education is beneficial. If Pro wants to have a debate about PhDs, he can do it another time.

My case:

Pro has conceded every part of my case. This is another reason that I am not happy with Pro's conduct. He provided one line rebuttals to my case while using his entire character space on his own hoping that voters might forget about it. This makes me use up character space refuting his arguments while just using a few characters saying "extend" for my arguments which results in the majority of the debate being about his case. If a voter skims through the arguments, they are much more likely to notice the bigger volume of text and vote based on Pro's offensive case rather than mine. This is an extremely cheap tactic to mislead voters and I absolutely insist that Pro be docked conduct for his underhanded tactics. Voters, look not at the volume of the text but rather evaluate both my arguments and pro's arguments. A dropped argument is to be extended, not forgotten.

Here is a summary of my case and why Pro failed to refute it:

1) College is required for success

Pro merely says that college is corelated with success. I have shown causation as well by showing how it
1) Leads to increased knowledge of the subject matter (HTML example, domestic worker example). I have shown causation as well as corelation.

2) College is unaffordable to the majority of students

Pro does not contest this point.

3) Unsubsidized loans do not fill the need

Pro does not contest this point.

Conclusion:

Therefore education must be subsidized.


Voting Comments

1) Pro failes to cite online sources but rather povides books as sources. He provides a few links but none of them are his major source for transferability. You also need a subscription to an academic search engine - which is not free.

2) My complaint was not that Pro's argument was unexpected. It is that Pro should write the resolution as the topic he wants to argue. Writing a resolution on one topic and arguing about another just puts off people who were interested in arguing the resolution at hand. Semantic tricks are worthy of a loss in conduct. Advice to Pro: Whatever you want to debate, frame it as the resolution. I too can perform semantic tricks by making a resolution that says "Abortion is immoral" and then argue that morality does not exist. But then, why would I use the key word "abortion" in my resolution and get people wanting to argue abortion to accept? Couldn't I simply have titled my resolution "Morality does not exist?"

3) Pro ignores my entire argument hoping that unsuspecting voters will think I did not make one based on the sheer volume of characters spent talking about his argument. However, I urge voters to read both arguments. I proved every part of my syllogism and it is airtight. So, by that alone, I should win the debate.


Sources
[1] http://sociology.berkeley.edu...
[2] http://psychology.berkeley.edu...

Debate Round No. 4
41 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
Arguments for subsidy that Con missed (and which therefore did not count in the debate) are:

1. Since foreign countries subsidize practical education, the U.S. would be at a disadvantage if it stopped subsidizing. My friend teaches graduate engineering in New York. Half his students are heavily subsidized students from China.

2. The mechanisms (and perhaps legislation) for a private loan program are not now in place. They might arise, but that's not proven.

3. The Japanese use college as a mechanism for forming contacts useful in later careers. There is some merit in that aspect.

4. There is an argument that college teaches cultural literacy. It familiarizes students with the usual stories, examples, and paradigms needed for effective communication.

5. There are studies that show students do improve reading comprehension in college, although not as much as one might expect.

I think Pro made a case that subsidies ought be substantially reduced, but it was too theoretical a case to meet the burden of proof for elimination.

There is no way that books and journals can be excluded as sources. That's where the knowledge is. Provide links to the Google extracts if possible. it's fair to say you can't comment because you have no access.
Posted by LaissezFaire 5 years ago
LaissezFaire
I guess it just never occurred to me that anyone would object to those things--this is how I always debate, and I haven't had this problem before. I guess I'll try to be clearer in the future.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
LaissezFaire, I guess it really depends on the person how they evaluate sources etc. It is important to be clear beforehand about that and what exactly we wanted to argue which was the root cause of our dispute. BlackVoid is right when he said in the thread that I could have handled things a lot differently and this would never have happenned. But once I made a very hostile argument in round 3 and you responded in kind, it was difficult to let go. I am sorry for being so hostile. I apologize.
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
@F16

Like I said, if a full paragraph quote is provided, I don't see the big deal. Your opponent could even scan the page and email it to you. It's overly limiting in some regards because books are good sources. One day, not long ago, all of high school debate was done with library research only (on books). The internet did not always exist. And for certain types of debates, the internet is still not the greatest resource. You'd be *ridiculously* hard pressed to have a good IR (international relations) debate without allowing book sources, like Mearsheimer, Waltz, Nye, etc.

In fact, I recommend you take a topic which you feel you know a lot about, from internet research alone. Then buy one of the premier books on the subject. You'll find that the book is a vastly superior piece of reference material. Seriously, try this. I was initially shocked, myself, as someone who relied solely on internet sources in high school. That was a huge mistake.
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
I hope that resolves this dispute. That is by far my longest RFD. I like you both though and hope to read more of your debates in the future.
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
RFD (part 8)

Lastly, I'm a bit perplexed by CiRrK's weighing mechanism; he basically adopted a burden of proof standard rather than a cost-benefit standard and put the BOP on Con to prove one of his claims, rather than Pro to prove the resolution. It doesn't matter though. I blame the debaters for judge intervention, which is why I bring this up. If you don't make clear voting issues and don't clearly impact your arguments, your judges will intervene and be all over the place. You can see that in my and CiRrk's RFD's, in that we adopted two different weighing mechanisms/ways of evaluating the round.

I don't think either of you should be mad about the outcome, given you both got too heated and both could have won a resounding victory, had you kept your focus. Instead, you both got distracted. This debate had huge potential, but ultimately, too few arguments are responded to, too little original research is done on Con, too little rebutting is done by Pro, and no impacting or weighing is done by either side.

As always, I think LF's writing style was awesome. LF, you continue to force me to see the merits of the libertarian viewpoint. I still credit you with changing my stance on drug legalization. I disagree with you on this point and would be happy to debate you on it, but you've brought up an interesting perspective that I agree with: that a liberal arts education has limited value, socially, and we shouldn't subsidize it. I disagree, though, for engineering. The market is undersupplying us in that regard.
Posted by LaissezFaire 5 years ago
LaissezFaire
I suppose I did overreact a bit. Sorry for calling you a liar F16.
Posted by LaissezFaire 5 years ago
LaissezFaire
@BV I generally only spend an hour or 2 writing my round, the debate just happened to be shorter than usual because F16 didn't take long either, and posted his rounds while I was online.
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
RFD (part 7)

I like you both. I think you should both let this dispute go. F16, I don't see why you're holding a grudge, besides LF calling you a liar. LF made a good faith effort to help you locate these sources.

LF, I don't see why you need to be so openly hostile. All of your judges recognize that F16's source indict was wrong. Keep it inside the debate. Sometimes I run "wrong" arguments against opponents just to see if they can answer them. I'm not an evil person. Try not to make value judgments based on a debate. Whether F16 meant to misrepresent the source or not doesn't matter; it's not a good reason to start a flame war. But knowing F16, I really don't think he meant to. Regardless, my philosophy has always been: if you have a chance to respond to something false your opponent said, there's no reason to hold a grudge after a round. And 90% of the time when your opponent says something wrong, he didn't mean to. Yet I see this all the time: debaters think their opponents are evil lairs. We all make mistakes. Live and let live.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
I still stand by the fact that sources must be provided as part of the argument.

Your say that books can be better than online sources but a book can't be read and analyzed and attacked the same way an online source can. An online source is out there easily accessible for everyone to see.

Next time I debate, I will make sure to include that as part of the acceptance rules - no books. Part of the problem for this debate was that we really didn't accept any set of terms or conditions before the debate began.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
LaissezFaireF-16_Fighting_FalconTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a very close debate. I think Pro made slightly better arguments, but since his arguments were mostly theoretical that he didn't meet the burden of proof. Is there some place where college is not subsidized as an example? Journals cannot be excluded as sources, because that's where much of the knowledge is.
Vote Placed by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
LaissezFaireF-16_Fighting_FalconTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: lol, I hate voting ties, but it's apt here. You'll see why . . . see Comments section for my full RFD. This debate had a ton of potential, but it ultimately left most of the issues unresolved.
Vote Placed by CiRrK 5 years ago
CiRrK
LaissezFaireF-16_Fighting_FalconTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by darkkermit 5 years ago
darkkermit
LaissezFaireF-16_Fighting_FalconTied
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO demonstrated that knowledge is not transferable and that it does not develop productive human capital, demonstrating that one should not subsidize education. CON loses conduct for making unnecessary complaints. For example, complaining about sources and how he didn't want a debate on knowledge transfer even though it was relevant to the debate.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
LaissezFaireF-16_Fighting_FalconTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Comments