The Instigator
KroneckerDelta
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Beginner
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

In terms of quality of life, a flat tax places an unfair, substantially heavier burden on the poor.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/10/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,567 times Debate No: 30088
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (152)
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KroneckerDelta

Pro

This is mostly a hypothetical debate. However, I will present numbers which Con is more than welcome to question.

In this debate we will be looking at relatively modern Western Societies and specifically the United States (although I think this would easily apply to modern European countries such as the UK, France, Germany, etc.). This stipulation is particularly important when defining the minimum cost of living (since one could say that in 3rd world countries the cost of living is drastically lower).

The philosophical part of this debate is what constitutes quality of life, whether or not my mathematical definition of financial burden is correct, and whether or not placing a heavier burden on the poor is fair.

I hold that the quality of a person's life is determined by the amount of luxuries they can afford above and beyond the minimum necessities. So obviously a very wealthy person has a better quality of life than a very poor person because they have much more income to spend on luxuries.

I also hold that placing a heavier burden on the poor is unfair to the poor. If anything, there should be a heavier burden on the wealthy, but at the very least, it should be equal.

Finally, as you will see, I think the financial burden of taxes can be quantified as a ratio of taxes paid to the amount of available luxury spending. That is the percentage of taxes as compared to one's quality of life.

I will now present some hypothetical numbers, which again, Con is free to debate over whether or not these numbers are reasonable.

Minimum Cost of living: 20K
Flat Tax Rate: 20% of gross income
Poor Person: gross income of 50K
Rich Person: gross income of 150K


I will now go through the numbers and calculate the amount that the poor person vs. the rich person has available to spend on luxuries. I will show that the taxes a rich person pays compared to their quality of life (amount available to spend on luxuries) is substantially lower than the amount the poor person will pay in proportion to the poor person's luxury spending.

Taxes:
Poor Person: 20% of 50K = 10K in taxes
Rich Person: 20% of 150K = 30K in taxes

Net Income:
Poor Person: 50K - 10K = 40K
Rich Person: 150K - 30K = 120K

Luxury Spending (after minimum cost of living):
Poor Person: 40K - 20K = 20K
Rich Person: 120K - 20K = 100K

Tax Burden as Percent of Luxury Spending:
Poor Person: 10K/ 20K = 50%
Rich Person: 30K/100K = 30%


We can see, that in terms of the quality of life, which I am arguing is proportional to the amount of luxury spending an individual has, the poor person pays a larger percentage of taxes on their luxury spending as opposed to a rich person if we use a flat tax. This means that a flat tax cuts deeper into a poor persons discretionary spending than it does for a rich person.

As a math exercise, if we keep the poor person's taxes at 20%, what tax rate would be required for the rich person (making 150K) so that they both paid the same 50% of their luxury spending in taxes?

x: tax rate for rich person

Taxes: x * 150K
Luxury spending: 150K * (1 - x) - 20K
Equation to arrive at 50% Tax Rate: 150x / (150(1 - x) - 20) = 0.5

If we solve this equation we find:

150x = 75 - 75x - 10 --> 225x = 65

x ≈ 28.89%

This leads to:

Taxes: 43.33K
Luxury Spending: 86.67K

So while a flat tax places a higher burden on the poor person (in proportion to their luxury spending), we can achieve equality (with my numbers) with a very reasonable progressive tax of 28.89%. Even in the case of the progressive tax, the rich person still has more money for luxury spending than the poor person grosses.
Beginner

Con

Challenge Accepted.
My opponent's claim runs thus: Flat tax is a substantial factor in burdening the life quality of the poor.

I argue this claim false. Flat tax is not as substantial in its affect on the poor's quality of life as my opponent makes it out be.
I will base this statement off of the following premises:
1. Substantial - considerable in quantity : significantly great [1]. Part of my argumentation will be based on this word and its definition. What does my opponent mean when he asserts: "'substantially heavier' burden on the poor"? I will argue through mathematical, logical and theoretical means to deny the veracity of this statement.
2. Calculations based on proportions aside, the actual amount of taxes paid by the wealthier is fair: They pay obviously more. I see no reason to ignore this.
3. The quality of human life is determined, to a larger degree, by factors beside money, therefore, a flat tax does not generally place an 'unfair, substantially heavier burden' on the poor.

Premise I
The definition of substantial means to large degree. At what point does a number or proportion cross into the territory of substantial?
Let's do math:
I will now regurgitate opponent's mathematical comparisons, but with a few changes. First, I will use several standards of comparison. THe greater the number of 'trials', the more accurate the data.
Taxes:
Poor Person: 20% of 30k = 6K in taxes
Poor Person: 20% of 50K = 10K in taxes
Rich Person: 20% of 150k = 30K in taxes
Rich Person: 20% of 250k = 50K in taxes
Rich Person: 20% of 1000K = 200K in taxes
Rich Person: 20% of 1,000,000K = 200,000K in taxes
Net Income:
Poor Person: 30k - 6K = 24k
Poor Person: 50K - 10K = 40K
Rich Person: 150K - 30K = 120K
Rich Person: 250K - 50K = 200K
Rich Person: 1000K - 200K = 800K
Rich Person: 1,000,000K - 200,000K = 800,000K

The rich pay a value that is numerically higher than the poor. This numerical value, when into proportions, tanges from 300% to a whopping 3,333%!! The income rate, whilte simultaneously higher, is arguably proportional to the amount paid. Doesn't this seem fair? The richest person is paying enough to cover the poorest person's annual income for several lifetimes. You want this person, who is already paying 3000x the other, to pay even more? Let me make a hypothetical anecdote to help better understand this unfairness:
An owner of a gold shop owns a mountain of gold nuggets. An person comes in and takes a chunk, claiming the owner is morally obligated to share since she has so much gold. Is this fair? I own that the gold shop owner has rights to the basic freedom of property ownership. It doesn't matter how much she has, no one else has a right to take it unless given permission. The fact that she has a greater amount of luxury spending doesn't mean she no longer has property rights. My opponent seems to be implying that the wealthier you are, the less rights you should have. Flat taxes are fair. To increase the tax is to contend against the rights to equality.

For the luxury spending charts, I will follow opponent's assumption that the minimum cost of living is the same for all economic categories of people (even though this varies region to region).
Luxury Spending (after minimum cost of living):
Poor Person: 24K - 20K = 4K
Poor Person: 40K - 20K = 20K
Rich Person: 120K - 20K = 100K
Rich Person: 200K - 20K = 180K
Rich Person: 800K - 20K = 780K
Rich Person: 800,000K - 20K = 799,980K

What do these numbers portend? The numerical/proportional difference is astronomical, but it is, in terms of luxury spending, none. I think my opponent would agree that there is only so much material wealth any individual can hold. The annual billion dollars vs. the annual million dollars will bring both wage earners a potential for a luxuriant life. Furthermore, there are many other outlets of spending that the wealthy go to other than luxury. This includes funding for campaigns, charities, investments, etc.
Consider that most of a wealthy person's 'luxury spending' is placed in investments that aid in company's growth, not luxury. This investment is then put into the pockets of employees (including the poor person in your example) and capital purchase, which puts money into the pockets of those who sell/produce/maunfacture the capital. Instead of converting the money into taxes (and giving it to the government to spend on the retirement/pensions/medical aid of the baby boomers :|...) If this is where much of the free money goes, wouldn't allowing the wealthy more free money be more beneficial to the poor? Unlike progressive taxes, flat taxes allows for this very 'trickle-down' of money. The less you have in the start, the less you'll have in the beginning.

A person's quality of life determines happiness. It is one of the main factors inWhat determines a person's quality of life? Are material comforts sufficient in being the standard by which we judge a person's quality of life? Many say yes. Many say no.
Abraham Lincoln said:“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Meaning no matter what your living standards are, your quality of life, or your happiness, is based on a subjective personal judgment.
Allow me to move into some philophical musings:
If we, as people, were to have all our work/life obligations removed, what are we to do then? You will, eventually, tire of spending, tire of luxury. Forgive me for using a personal anecdote. I remember one summer during my childhood in which I had no need to worry about any life concern: I could eat whatever I wanted (within budget), sleep whenever I wanted, go wherever I liked (I commuted to other cities), etc. Life was great for the first several days, but I eventually found myself in a predicament: I had nothing to do. I was given time to do anything, everything my small mind could contrive, and there was nothing I could think of doing besides eating, sleeping, running around, watching old cartoons.. I was bored. The hours melted away as time began to slip from my grasps. I began to forget the dates. Soon after, I forgot what day of the week it was, when was lunch? When was dinner? Who cares? I was pitted into a timeless torture, of eternity, of nothingness. My mind was melting as I desperately sought a purpose, a drive, anything to prompt me to continue this meaningless existence. In short, I was suffering and began to contemplate death [is this unusual?]. I had all the money a child could want, all the entertainment, all the food, all the freedom and yet, I was extremely unhappy. The quality of my life during that span of time can be explained in one word: horrid.
My experience, however, is not unique. Samuell Beckett, in his renowned,Waiting for Godot, writes of two characters in a perpetual wait for a purpose. The unending wait and their unhappiness prompts them to go as far as consider suicide. Even the wealthy character in the story ends an unhappy, blind man. Tom Stoppard, in his work (also rife with existentialism), Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead also exhibits two unhappy characters who, despite their newfound wealth, find their lives to have no purpose or happiness (leading to their ultimately deciding to go to their deaths).
There are many such works which means that the idea I've developed has a basis of support. My contention, flat taxes do not substantially affect quality of life (measured by happiness), stands.

I. There is no reason to:
1. limit the determination of quality of life to economic/material wealth
2. limit the comparison of taxes to proportions based on available luxury spending, thereby forcing the conclusion of numerical unfairness.

II. The degree by which luxury spending (or lack thereof due to taxes) only places a minimally weighted burden on the poor.

[1]http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Debate Round No. 1
KroneckerDelta

Pro

This debate is not over whether or not the flat tax is "fair" in the most absolute sense--it is over whether or not the burden (on quality of life) is fair. Furthermore, whether or not this extra burden (on the poor) is substantial when compared to the rich (although not specifically stated, I think it's clear that we are arguing over poor vs. rich in terms of burden).

So I refer readers to the general outline of Con's arguments:

1) Substantial - this is no doubt subjective. Even Con's own definition does not give an objective measure. In terms of numbers, is 1% substantial? Probably not, what about 10%, 20%, 100%, etc. Ultimately, I leave it up to the readers to determine what they think is substantial. In R1, Pro showed that as defined by Pro, the poor (50K) vs. rich (150K) pays an amount of taxes in proportion to their luxury spending that is 20% higher than the rich person. Again I cannot really argue, by the definition of substantial, that 20% constitutes a substantially larger portion. Rather, I argue, subjectively, that Pro believes 20% to not be insignificant (as opposed to say a 1%, 2%, or even 5% difference would be insignificant).

On this issue, I believe Pro has presented numbers that are compelling while Con has not.

2) Fairness - Con states that, in terms of absolute amounts, the rich pay far more (up to ~3,000%) more. This argument is completely irrelevant to the resolution. The resolution does not state whether or not the flat tax is fair in any sense, it states the the flat taxes places an unfair burden on the poor. For this line of argument to go through, Con must show that this 3,000% extra in absolute taxes presents an unfair (or at least fair) burden on the rich compared to the poor. Specifically, Con must state how paying 3,000% extra in absolute taxes burdens the rich compared to the poor.

3) Quality of Life Definition - This is the meat of this debate. This (and argument 1) is where the debate will be decided. For Con to win this argument, they must show that the availability of luxury spending has either no bearing or an insignificant bearing on quality of life. If Pro can show that luxury spending has a significant effect on quality of life, then there is no doubt that taxes burden the poor more so than the rich in this regard and thus a flat tax's tax rate presents more of a burden on the poor's quality of life than the rich's.

The following will be a combination of rebuttals against Con's claim and arguments for Pro's claims. Specifically, Pro will maintain 1) a person's quality of life is proportional to the amount of luxury spending they have (or at least dependent) and 2) that some of Con's arguments are irrelevant to the resolution (i.e. fairness irrespective of burden is not part of the resolution).

Pro makes the argument that rich pay more in taxes in absolute terms, irrespective of proportional taxes. This is completely irrelevant, as proportions do a better job of explaining relative burden vs. absolute terms.

Con, R1: "I own that the gold shop owner has rights to the basic freedom of property ownership...The fact that she has a greater amount of luxury spending doesn't mean she no longer has property rights."

This is irrelevant. It's the government coming in and taking a portion of the gold, not individuals. Under a flat tax the government would come in and take a portion of the gold from everyone! So they are not unfairly targeting the rich and only taking away the rich's property rights.

Let's put this argument into context as whether it is fair or unfair in terms of burden on the quality of life. I think most readers are familiar with the story of Robin Hood where the king asked for taxes of everyone including the poor. Let's say that one can survive off of 2 gold nuggets (in whatever time span--say a year). Furthermore, let's say the "king" (or government) imposes a flat tax of 50% of income to everyone. Now there are two people: one rich with 6 gold nuggets and one poor with 2 nuggets (notice that's in proportion to 50K --> 150K). Who has a larger burden placed on them after taxes? The person left with 4 nuggets (twice as many as necessary to live) or the person left with 1 nuggets (half as many as is necessary to live)? I think the answer is obvious. The poor person, left with less money than is necessary to live has a substantially larger burden while the rich person, while they got the same proportion taken out, not only has enough to live but has extra!


Con R1: "I think my opponent would agree that there is only so much material wealth any individual can hold."

Most people do not seem to hold this same ideal, although the point is correct. In terms of my measure, there would be very little difference in taxes in proportion to luxury spending if you compared the rich with the über wealthy. This fact is easy to see since I set the minimum cost of living so low. Let's look at the numbers:

Luxury Spending (after minimum cost of living): (Pro has added the percent of taxes compared to luxury spending)
Poor Person: 30K --> 24K - 20K = 4K --> 150%
Poor Person: 50K --> 40K - 20K = 20K --> 50%
Rich Person: 150K --> 120K - 20K = 100K --> 30%
Rich Person: 250K --> 200K - 20K = 180K --> 27.78%
Rich Person: 1,000K --> 800K - 20K = 780K --> 25.64%
Rich Person: 1,000,000K --> 800,000K - 20K = 799,980K --> 25.00%

(Pro/readers can check these numbers for themselves here: http://my.cs.utsa.edu... )

Now, this is all math, so you can skew these numbers so that the person making $1 million a year vs. $1 billion pays a substantially larger percent of their luxury spending. Although to do that, you would have to either drastically increase the flat tax or more importantly drastically increase the minimum cost of living.

Con R1: " The annual billion dollars vs. the annual million dollars will bring both wage earners a potential for a luxuriant life."

Pro agrees: there is a limit to how much luxury spending can actually affect one's quality of life. Furthermore, Pro concedes that a millionaire vs. billionaire probably doesn't have a drastically different quality of life. However, look at the percentages above! Pro's measure of taxes in proportion to luxury spending shows this notion! Someone making 250K, under the same flat tax and same minimum cost of living pays nearly the same proportion of taxes to luxury spending as a billionaire--there is only a 2.7% difference! Compare that with a 20% difference when comparing 50K to 150K or, even worse, 125% difference when comparing 30K to 1,000,000K! Surely Con and readers agree these are substantial differences!

Con R1: "Unlike progressive taxes, flat taxes allows for this very 'trickle-down' of money."

The claim is that the rich having more money will result in the poor having more money, this is totally false: between 1975 to 2005 while the top fifth percentile's wealth has increased by a factor of 80%, the bottom fifth's has increased by a factor of 6%. [2]

Finally, Pro argues that luxury spending is not the only measure for quality of life. No doubt this is true. However, these arguments are all irrelevant to the burden that taxes place on people. Again, the argument is not whether or not having more money makes one happier, it's that having less places a burden on people and the flat tax places a substantially higher and unfair burden on the poor. Simply put, both rich and poor could, financially, have the same life (as long as they made over 20K), the amount they choose to live their life beyond this minimum is dependent on extra income. The portion of the poor person's luxury spending is cut much deeper by taxes than the rich person's, thus the poor face a heavier burden of taxes compared to their potential to live a more luxurious life above and beyond the bare minimum required to survive.


Sources:

[2] http://useconomy.about.com...
Beginner

Con

Before I begin, I feel it is important to note that taxes only apply to the working poor. The resolution would then become: "In terms of quality of life, a flat tax places an unfair, substantially heavier burden on the working poor."
Secondly, my opponent has not clarified fairness as compared to what? By proposing the progressive tax system, my opponent implies that both factors, rich vs. poor and progressive vs. flat, are to be debated. With that said, let us carry on into the debate:
Substantial
- Imagine a poor economic unit without taxes. The poor economic unit no longer has access to the programs to which it turns. My opponent has limited 'poor' to $50,000 annual income. I do not consider this representative of the poor. The poor is generally taken to mean the portion of the population at or below the poverty line
Who receives this aid? Obviously not the rich. The poor receive this aid. Each and every one of these units require financial aid to cover their either nonexistent or insufficient income in order to survive. However, they still have to pay taxes. It would be illogical to collect more money from those who need money, giving less in return. The entire goal of SSI and federal aid would then be demolished. It follows that the government gives the needy more than they pay the government. The type of taxes, progressive/flat, will subsequently become insubstantial. So why does the government even bother to exact taxes from the poor? It's simple: the United States, founded on the principle of freedom and equality, cannot turn its back on these founding principles without inciting potential revolutionary upstarts. The tax is only there in name. Simply put: taxes, in reality, places no true burden on the registered poor.

"This debate is not over whether or not the flat tax is "fair" in the most absolute sense--it is over whether or not theburden (on quality of life) is fair. Furthermore, whether or not this extra burden (on the poor) is substantial when compared to the rich (although not specifically stated, I think it's clear that we are arguing over poor vs. rich in terms of burden)."
I assert that there is no substantial burden at all, since the taxes paid are repaid in larger quantity in the case of the poor.
Since the poor receive no net burden, it is unfair to claim the poor has a substantially heavier burden than the rich & middle class (who actually experience a net loss since most do not qualify for aid).

"On this issue, I believe Pro has presented numbers that are compelling while Con has not."
I believe PRO has presented proportions and percentages which he thinks are compelling while CON has presented a case which states that the difference in tax to luxury spending proportionality is irrelevant to the quality of life.

My opponent says, in refutation to my gold-shop example, that it is the government, not an individual, that takes the portion of gold. This pedantic picking at the specificities of the characters within the example does not aid my opponent in any way. It is the concept which counts. Under that refutation, my opponent might as well also say that it is all the rich people, not one rich person (the gold shop owner), who is being taxes. Gold shop owner represents the rich while the thief represents the government.

Let us refer back to the Robin Hood example (50% of 6 is 3, not 4). Based on the progressive tax system:
Poor:
Taxes:
x * 2 nuggets
Luxury spending: 2nuggets * (1 - x) - 2 nuggets = 2 * (1 - .5) -2 = 1 - 2 = -1
Tax Burden as a Percent of Luxury Spending: 1 nugget / -1 nugget = -100%
My opponent's implied claim is that luxury spending is the basis for determining quality of life. To make the luxury spending burden fair, The Rich person would also have to suffer a -100% Burden. This is impossible to solve, but, in principle, would create a situation in which the rich would be as poor as the poor. Mathematically, luxury spending cannot be used as a standard for comparison.
The rich who began with the most nugget will, without doubt, have more in the end. It is then the income, not the tax, which places the burden on the quality of life in the first place, not the tax!
Even if we were to assume that the quality of life hinges on the amount of luxury spending a person has, the resolution would still work in CON's favor:
Income, not taxes, decides a person's quality of life in terms of luxury.
The poor's life quality burden is a direct result of their income. Taking $1000 dollars from someone who is already $1000 in debt would only increase the numerical burden on his/her debt, but it will not have any effect on the person. If the person is already living as frugally as possible, then there is going to be no change in this living condition. Since there is no change, the tax rate will, in essence, effect no burden at all.
A beggar has no means of earning money but living on the streets and begging. You take his money, what then? Will he become more beggarly? It is safe to assume that the beggar will continue living on the streets and begging.
The poor already has a burden as a direct result of insufficient income. Taxes will increase the numerical burden of their already unsupportable income, but they will still be poor. Let's look at it this way: say we don't tax the poor, will they suddenly become rich? No, they will still be in the exact same condition: poor.
Similarly, raising the taxes for the wealthy will effect completely no change in their living condition. If you tax a millionaire, he'd still be a millionaire.
If their condition does not change whether they are taxed or not, then the statement claiming that the poor will be substantially burdened is (yes, subjectively) false.
My opponent feels a 20% numerical burden is heavy, but I feel that the 20% numerical burden is just a number and is, in terms of life quality, insubstantial.

"Now, this is all math, so you can skew these numbers so that the person making $1 million a year vs. $1 billion pays a substantially larger percent of their luxury spending."
You could also skew the numbers and make the person making $30,000 a year vs. $150,000+ a year pay a substantially smaller amount.

"Pro makes the argument that rich pay more in taxes in absolute terms, irrespective of proportional taxes. This is completely irrelevant, as proportions do a better job of explaining relative burden vs. absolute terms."
My opponent is right, let us resort to proportions (a rich person and a poor person both paying $1000 dollars is numerically, but not proportionally fair. I was wrong). There is one change I would like to implement: the proportion, which was previously made over amount of leftover luxury spending, will now be put over income. Since the numerical standard by which my opponent consigns a person's quality of life is largely based on income, not taxes, it is fair to place the amount of taxes over that which is actually substantial).
Poor Person: 20% of 30k = 6K in taxes. 6K/30K = .2
Rich Person: 20% of 250k = 50K in taxes. 50K/250K = .2
So even if money does depend life quality, my opponent's resolution still fails.

"Now, this is all math, so you can skew these numbers so that the person making $1 million a year vs. $1 billion pays a substantially larger percent of their luxury spending."
You could also skew the numbers and make the person making $30,000 a year vs. $150,000+ a year pay a substantially smaller amount.
Since the proportions are all exactly the same, my opponent's claim of substantial unfairness is unsubstantiated.
Now that I think about it, we could simply turn the flat tax into .0001% and this debate is over. The resolution is absolute, stating:
"flat tax places an unfair burden..."
not
"flat taxe sin general place an unfair burden..."
My opponent addresses but fails to refute my contention against using luxury spending to judge life quality. CON concurrently addresses PRO's statements in refutation. Whether or not these refutations are effective is based on subjective judgment.
Debate Round No. 2
KroneckerDelta

Pro

I want to center this debate around the issues at hand. I hope that voters would not vote Con on a technicality, specifically in defining the poor. First, I think it's clear by Pro's R1 arguments that Pro was only considering folks that made at or above the minimum cost of living. In fact, if you look deeper you see Pro was only considering people that had at least 0 luxury spending after taxes, which for a 20% tax and 20K min. cost would mean a gross of 25K. However, this is not to say that Con's critiques in these areas are not valid or don't deserve response, so I will respond to them, but I largely think they are off topic. This debate is not about how taxes are appropriated, who primarily benefits from taxes, etc. This debate is about a very simple look at how taxes, if applied to all, would affect different economic groups. Pro still holds that the lower income (poor) face a substantially larger (and unfair) burden to their quality of life compared to the rich. Also, this debate is not necessarily about a flat tax vs. a progressive tax. Specifically in this regard Con should not win if they show that a progressive tax also unfairly burdens the poor. They must show that the flat tax does not!

Tax Dollars Primarily Benefit the Poor: Not necessarily!!!


First Con attacks my generous definition of poor vs. rich. I purposefully chose the value 50K because I agree this is not generally considered poor (although realistically, in our modern age this is becoming poor very quickly). The entire point was to take exaggerated claims, i.e. let's look at someone who is well above what you would consider poor and show they face a substantially larger burden--then so too must the true poor (which would be closer to < 30K in the US). So attacking my numbers when in R2 both Pro and Con presented an array of ranges to show the effect, I find irrelevant.

Second, Pro is trying to assert that some people have no net tax burden. I think this is off of the topic of the debate. While Con cites human stupidity for justifying the poor paying taxes yet getting a net benefit (i.e. effectively paying no taxes), this is not a flat tax. In fact this resembles a progressive tax, where some people's tax burden is actually negative. I.e. if someone makes 10K per year then they might "pay" a tax of -100% (so that they actually receive 20K total of income, including taxes). Con is describing a progressive tax, not a flat tax. There is no doubt that taking $2,000 from someone making a measly $10,000 places a higher burden on them than the more wealthy.

Even so, Con is correct politicians aren't that smart and so might disguise a flat tax as such. But who does this really benefit? If Con can bring up the argument that taxes from government go to the poor, then surely it's fair to ask where those tax dollars actually get spent? Who is it that the poor are paying so that they can have their "quality of life"? They are paying the wealthy! It's the wealthy that own businesses and thus every single penny in taxes that gets doled out to the poor ends up in the hands of business owners (the wealthy). So perhaps the fact that the middle class pays the majority of the taxes (through sheer numbers) and then those taxes via the poor end up in the hands of the wealthy, actually benefits the wealthy more so than both the poor and the middle class! Mind you that the poor are barely scraping by, while the tax dollars we give them are allowing small and large business owners to make over 250K a year (well above my estimate of a "rich" person in R1).

Finally, it's unfair to assume that 100% of taxes go to the poor and needy. In fact this is not even close to being correct. The two biggest programs (in the US) are for the elderly and the military. Since the elderly do not really have income and thus don't really pay taxes (again, I think it's unfair to consider people that cannot have an income and thus cannot contribute to taxes--this is clearly not the group of people I am addressing in the resolution), this is a bit of a moot point and certainly military spending helps rich people--in fact, one could make the argument that defense spending disproportionately helps the wealthy rather than the poor. Think about it, the poor have no direct interest in global stability whereas the wealthy definitely do (to open up or stabilize new markets). Spending on welfare (at least in the US) is 3rd (or 4th) at best in terms of amount of spending (behind military, social security and Medicare). http://en.wikipedia.org...

Income, not Tax Burden Determine Quality of Life:

First, yes obviously your income should decide your quality of life (or at least strongly influence it). There is no doubt that gross income should correlate to quality of life. This isn't the question though. The question is: does a flat tax burden the poor (lower) incomes more so than the rich? So let's look at a Con quote:

Con R2: "Taking $1000 dollars from someone who is already $1000 in debt would only increase the numerical burden on his/her debt, but it will not have any effect on the person. If the person is already living as frugally as possible, then there is going to be no change in this living condition. Since there is no change, the tax rate will, in essence, effect no burden at all."

This line of argument suggests that debt has no ramifications. I would truly love to live in such a world, where one could go deeper and deeper into debt without consequence, but this is totally unrealistic. If you take such a person, in debt $1,000 dollars (who is not currently able to pay off their debts), then they will continue to go deeper and deeper into debt. Taking money away certainly does not have no effect. In fact, it means the debt spiral will go even faster and thus definitely places a substantial burden on them.

Con R2: "Taxes will increase the numerical burden of their already unsupportable income, but they will still be poor."

I agree, taxes, specifically a flat tax (which would tax everyone the "same") places a burden on the poor and it's substantially worse than the burden it places on the rich. While taxing such poor people increases their burden to live, taxing the rich (who can already afford to live) merely increases their "burden" to eat a $100 steak (or whatever). I suggest that taking away a luxury is far less burdening than taking away the means for life.

Con R2: "Similarly, raising the taxes for the wealthy will effect completely no change in their living condition. If you tax a millionaire, he'd still be a millionaire."

Again, I thank Con for seeing Pro's point. Indeed raising taxes on the rich have very little effect on their living condition (i.e. quality of life). So taxes place very little burden on the rich while place substantial barriers on the less well off.

Pro R2: "Now, this is all math, so you can skew these numbers so that the person making $1 million a year vs. $1 billion pays a substantially larger percent of their luxury spending."
Con R2: "You could also skew the numbers and make the person making $30,000 a year vs. $150,000+ a year pay a substantially smaller amount...There is one change I would like to implement: the proportion, which was previously made over amount of leftover luxury spending, will now be put over income."

The problem with this measure is that it does not correctly show the burden this places on the poor. Indeed, Con states: now that I think about it we could make the flat tax 0.0001%. In fact an even easier way to make this whole argument work is to make the minimum cost of living zero! Everyone must spend a minimum amount that is non-negotiable. It's not fair to assume that people can live off of zero income. The problem is that people living much closer to this minimum income face a substantially larger burden when you take away their money as opposed to people living much further away from this minimum income.
Beginner

Con

I thank my opponent for his reply and will now proceed directly into refutation:

"I want to center this debate around the issues at hand . . . must show that the flat tax does not!"
My opponent attempts to attack the relevancy of my premise regarding the actual poor. This case lacks cogency. PRO should not be allowed to establish new parameters after the first round of the debate, and definitely not the last round. I believe the readers will agree that using the people who live with below-sufficient income are, by definition (obviously), poor. This looks more like an attempt to weasel out of a very plausible contention established by CON and is an implied concession. PRO only considers people with at least 0 luxury, but PRO's parameters do not place such a limit. In fact, PRO has, by limiting himself to using examples limited to those above poverty, has skewed his entire wall of premises into the area of irrelevancy since the resolution hinges on the degree of burden flat taxes have on the quality of life of the poor, not the lower middle class.
PRO says: "CON should not win if they show that a progressive tax also unfairly burdens the poor. They must show that the flat tax does not."
CON must disagree. As I've mentioned before in round 2's opening, my opponent failed to specify the parameters. What was CON supposed use as a standard for comparison to flat taxes and subsequent 'unfairness'? Again, by proposing the progressive tax system and its subsequent wall of mathematical calculations toward equalizing tax/luxury-spending, PRO has indirectly defined CON's subject matter and cannot therefore apply any new terms. The rich & the poor are only small factors within the larger context of the long wall of mathematical calculations. If what my opponent says is true, then my opponent also concedes everything he has proposed in round 1 while shirking debate parameters.

"let's look at someone who is well above what you would consider poor and show they face a substantially larger burden--then so too must the true poor."
This is an unfair, biased standard of comparison that is simultaneously irrelevant in light of the resolution. Those well above poor are obviously not the poor. It is essentially comparing those who are not poor to those who are poor. It's like testing an ape's language abilities and applying the collected data to the human race. It's also nice to note that if this system of comparison were plausible, then PRO should have no qualms with CON using the super wealthy, who PRO concedes to be largely unaffected by taxes, to represent the poor.

"There is no doubt that taking $2,000 from someone making a measly $10,000 places a higher burden on them than the more wealthy."
Again, the poor is already poor, taking more from the poor would leave them in the same condition: poor. It is then the income that really matters, not the flat tax.

The conclusion derived from my opponent's refutation about the poor's spent money arriving in the pocket's of the wealthy is erroneous. The government gives the poor the money in exchange for nothing while the wealthy provide goods & service for the money taken. There is a difference between purchasing goods and charity.

"it's unfair to assume that 100% of taxes go to the poor and needy."
True. This is the reason I did not make this assumption.
My opponent says: "Spending on welfare (at least in the US) is 3rd (or 4th) at best in terms of amount of spending (behind military, social security and Medicare)"
The OMB has no category of spending called welfare. It is therefore subjective and undefined. Social security is in fact a form of welfare, meaning a substantial amount is given to the poor, bringing me back to the assertion that the poor has access to a net gain in numerical quantity of cash as a direct result of taxation.

My opponent's attempt to name my progressive tax premises irrelevant fails to negate the case I've established. The reasons for this (debate parameters, round 1 and whatnot) are written above.

"This line of argument suggests that debt has no ramifications."
This line of argument suggests that debt has ramifications that do not affect the quality of life. Flat taxes cannot therefore place a substantially heavier burden on the poor in terms of life quality simply because it places no burden. Living conditions remain the same. You cannot physically have less than nothing (a void of anti-matter?).

"Con R2: "Taxes will increase the numerical burden of their already unsupportable income, but they will still be poor."
I agree, taxes, specifically a flat tax (which would tax everyone the "same") places a burden on the poor and it's substantially worse than the burden it places on the rich."
This is really no refutation at all. The R2 statement is set to prove that the quality of life is unaffected by taxes. The burden is numerical, but unrelated to the resolution at hand. Since my opponent agrees with the numerical burden, then CON can assume PRO has dropped the contention of tax/luxury-spending proportionality and its relevancy.

In reply to CON's statement about skewing the flat tax rate into extreme lows, PRO says:
"The problem is that people living much closer to this minimum income face a substantially larger burden when you take away their money as opposed to people living much further away from this minimum income."
Let's look at it this way: We set the flat tax rate to 1x10^-100,000,000. I think my opponent will agree that upon using his round 1 equations, the proportional difference is nonexistent and therefore insubstantial.

My opponent's greatest refutation against the statement against using money as a standard for quality of life:
"First, yes obviously your income should decide your quality of life (or at least strongly influence it). There is no doubt that gross income should correlate to quality of life."
These are unsubstantiated and cannot therefore be considered appropriate refutation. 'It obviously should' doesn't further your cause.

PRO concedes the following:
1. Money cannot be used as an absolute standard for quality of life
if it does, then:
2. The progressive tax system which my opponent sets as the solution to the flat tax system, is no different to the flat tax system in terms of quality of life
3. The poor are unburdened since all tax systems (including the flat tax system) provides a net monetary gain; it is essentially an anti-burden.

The most PRO did to refute these points were to:
a. say: "it obviously should..."
b. attempt to prove them irrelevant

CON has successfully negated the resolution.

*P.S. Thank you for a very harrowing debate. I thoroughly enjoyed making arguments each night at 12:00 - 1:00 in the morning before going to bed. Good night!
Debate Round No. 3
152 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
Beginner
Oh, that's alright. :)
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
Beginner
Oh, that's alright. :)
Posted by rross 4 years ago
rross
Sorry, I've looked back and I see how you could get that from my comment. I need to get better at saying what I mean.
Posted by rross 4 years ago
rross
No no no! Sorry, you're not at all abusive. I hope you're being sarcastic, actually. No. I meant your actual argument (not your conduct) is offensive, which is fine of course. It's allowed to be. In particular, this part:

"Taking $1000 dollars from someone who is already $1000 in debt would only increase the numerical burden on his/her debt, but it will not have any effect on the person. If the person is already living as frugally as possible, then there is going to be no change in this living condition. Since there is no change, the tax rate will, in essence, effect no burden at all.
A beggar has no means of earning money but living on the streets and begging. You take his money, what then? Will he become more beggarly? It is safe to assume that the beggar will continue living on the streets and begging."

I just meant, if you came out with an argument like that IRL it would be offensive. But that's OK. I mean, you read the part where I said I'd vote for you, right?
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
Beginner
I need to stop being abusive.. I don't know how.. I don't feel abusive ;There must be something in my diction that connotes offense.. if you see it point it out (rross, anyone)
I don't wish to be offensive and am open to change.
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
Beginner
I know there are holes in the progressive tax system's hypothetical ideals, but there are holes in everything.. potential logical & semantic loopholes and whatnot.. The progressive system is conflicted by others..
Nothing controversial can escape condemnation.

Some people feel the need to counter-argue everything. I know you can do it and I know what you'd probably say, but leave my declarative statement alone.
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
Beginner
I believe in the progressive tax system.. if you're able to pay with no drastic effect to your immediate/future financial or domestic prospects, then you should since it does potentially save lives and prevent absolute misery (brought about by uncontrollably bad financial/economic conditions).
It's the humanitarian approach.
Posted by rross 4 years ago
rross
I read this too late to vote. I think I would have voted Con because even though his argument was kind of offensive, it wasn't refuted properly by Pro who had BoP. Interesting topic.
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
First, I have a question: you sort of indicated that you were playing devil's advocate on this one, so does that mean that you actually agree with my point? I only bring this up because I think if you DO agree with me, that my arguments are a good way to provide a more "objective" reasoning for why a flat tax or consumption tax is unfair, so use it vs. the knee jerk reaction from conservatives: well it's all in proportion so it's all "fair".

But focusing back on the debate, so I actually heard on NPR an interesting study (which I cannot cite) but it basically said that income has no bearing on "quality of life" as long as the person can live "comfortably". This is sort of what you argued in your first round. Now, I suspect that this comfortableness is much above what most people would consider the bare minimum to survive, but it DOES raise a good point which is that at some point, income really does NOT determine quality of life. I would argue that this minimum comfortableness is well within the range of 50K-100K, and thus taking away from that amount definitely has a more dramatic impact on quality of life than it does when you start taking money away from someone at the upper incomes of say 250K+.
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
Beginner
"for the "poor", i.e. close to the threshold of being truly destitute (which would include people making 50K-100K), I think it does"
I think so too, but such exacting details aren't exactly what statistical bureaus would go after so I don't think there are any specific studies..
Real case scenarios & documented testimony potentially don't exist
though
I think you could possibly have created a hypothetical scenario and gotten the point across as a legitimate refutation.. possibly..
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