The Instigator
deb8_not_h8
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
troglodyte0
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

LD: Resolved, governments have an obligation to lessen the economic gap between its rich and poor.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
deb8_not_h8
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/7/2012 Category: Economics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,914 times Debate No: 24130
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

deb8_not_h8

Pro

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

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

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

Contention 2: Inequality between the rich and poor violates the most basic individual rights for the poor and rich alike.
Sub-Point A: A capitalist society based on social class, competition, and subordination violates almost all of the rights of the individual. In their book The Spirit Level, Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett explain how people's obsession with competition and economic growth end up making everyone unhappy. They claim that we are led to discriminate and not trust one another based on class differences, just the same as we used to do these things based on gender or race. The authors claim that humans are automatically programmed to cooperate, trust each other, and issue fairness, so evident social strains are caused by inequality, inferiority, and social exclusion. They also showed how these social strains lead rich and poor people alike to mental instability through the pressure of living in a competitive society, and how rates of violence, prisoners, obesity, education, and teenage birth are all negatively affected by the strains put forward by our society to compete in the economy and deal with their economic positions, rich or poor. Good health, or the right to life, a well as fairness and the pursuit of happiness are all invaluable rights of the individual. Since capitalism creates loss of all of these things, and a more egalitarian society would help people to be happier, healthier, and live more fairly by giving everyone equal opportunity, it is the government's responsibility to lessen the economic gap between the rich and the poor. Otherwise, it would not be doing a good job of protecting people's rights.
Sub-Point B: The very existence of poverty means the stripping away all of the most basic human rights. In her book The Unheard Truth, Irene Khan explains how poverty is not just a matter of people lacking money, but a human rights crisis. People in poverty lack the rights to freedom of speech, freedom from discrimination, and the rights to safety, health, protection, and liberty which people would normally have if their government was legitimate. They cannot speak freely as they are often ignored by the government and denied the information to improve their situation. The poor are discriminated against and denied the equality and freedom from discrimination that our country sees as one of the most important human rights. Poor people are also denied the basic human rights of safety and healthcare, since they often do not have enough money to contact authorities or the doctors if they are in danger. They are also denied freedom in any form since they have no way to improve their situation enough to join the middle class. She quotes Muhammad Yunus in saying that "Because poverty denies people any semblance of control over their destiny, it is the ultimate denial of human rights." Therefore, in order to protect the rights of the individual the government must reduce the economic gap between its rich and poor citizens.
troglodyte0

Con

Response to Contention 1: The economic gap between the rich and poor does not violate a representative government.

This is an exaggeration by Pro. The problem is not that the wide economic gap between rich and poor violates representative government, the problem is that those with greater economic power are having too much influence on our democratic government. So if those with too much economic power have too much influence over our democratic process, than we must create laws to curb the power or influence of money in our politics. In other words, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water here. If money has too much influence than we must limit the power of money in influencing government.

Capitalism does not operate on the notion of "one dollar, one vote," as Pro claims. Capitalism is an economic system and thus mainly deals with how a country should organize itself economically -- not politically. Despite this exaggeration, Pro does imply a good point: money has too much influence in our political process. However, as I have said before, if money has too much influence in our democratic political process, than we must create laws to protect our democratic process from the influence of big money, not get rid of rich people altogether. For example, under current law, Super PACs allow corporations and people to anonymously donate unlimited amounts of money to these political organizations. The threat to our representative government is not the rich themselves, but that the rich can exploit our democratic process by using their wealth in Super PACs. Therefore we must reform our laws regarding the degree with which money can influence politics. The answer is in common sense reform, not broadstroke elimination of the rich from our society.

Furthermore, even if "one dollar, one vote" were true, lessening the economic gap between the rich and the poor would not eliminate the problem. Even if there were no millionaires, under the assumption of "one dollar, one vote," those that make 70k a year would still have more than twice the number of votes or political power than those who make 30k a year. However, those familiar with our society realize that this does not reflect our political reality. Under this false assumption, we would need to create a completely economically egalitarian society in order to ensure equal voice and equal representation in political process. Again, the problem is not the difference in income or the economic gap, but rather how we allow people to use their money to influence government and politics. We don't need laws to limit or restrict how much money people can make -- we need laws to protect our democratic process from being corrupted by the influence of big money.

Response to Contention 2: Inequality between the rich and poor does not violate the most basic individual rights for the poor and rich. Again, this is a gross exaggeration by Pro.

It's true that poverty hurts poor people in a variety of ways. Although I may disagree with the extreme severity in the way with which Pro describes what is a human right, I do agree that poverty is a huge problem in society that needs to be addressed more urgently.

But herein lies our differences. In order to combat poverty, Pro advocates the wholesale elimination of capitalism, and that the best way to combat poverty is to reduce the economic gap between the rich and the poor. Instead, I argue that the best way to combat poverty is to actually create laws and to encourage society to directly help the poor. In other words, instead of focusing our resources and attention towards reducing the economic gap, why not focus our energy more towards directly combating poverty and helping the poor uplift themselves into better economic conditions? Why not focus on eliminating poverty directly, instead of focusing on how much more money someone makes than another person?
Debate Round No. 1
deb8_not_h8

Pro

Thank you so much for accepting this debate and providing such good arguments!

Contention 1: The concept of one dollar, one vote is founded in the system of supply-and-demand. One of the most common arguments saying that capitalism does not conflict democracy is that people can vote for what corporations, services, etc. survive, and how much the rich are paid simply by how much they spend in one area versus another. They claim that the rich are also a result of the supply-and-demand of the middle class and poor. However, we all know this is not true. The poor have much less money and thus an extremely disproportionate say in the system of supply-and-demand. This becomes an issue when a country is trying to uphold democracy. As Paul McCulley said, "Democracy starts with the socialist notion of one person, one vote. Yes, socialist notion!" When some people are given more influence in a country's economy than others, it follows that they will have more influence in the government. Rich people use their influence, gained by economic power and their association with other influential people, to reach elected positions.

My opponent says that the way to reduce the influence of money in the government is not by making money more equal, but by instituting laws. This would be ineffective in making sure that the voices of the poor would be heard, since the only people who would be elected officials in the first place are the rich who paid for good education and have great influence. No laws could ever be instituted to make sure that poor citizens, or even those with the interests of the poor in mind, could ever be given fair ground in the government. No reform could ever compensate for the immense role that social class plays in government elections. The issue is not solely about private funding for campaigning, but a much larger underlying issue of inequality and social structure.

The only way to make sure that the government is fair is by starting with the fairness of the economy. When one is unbalanced, the other is bound to be. The government is thus obligated to reduce the gap between the rich and poor in order to uphold a legitimate, representative government.

Contention 2: The opponent concedes with my argument that poverty is a crisis of human rights which needs to be addressed in society. They also agree to the fact that laws must be instituted to help the poor. By instituting laws to combat poverty directly, the government would thus be taking action to lessen the gap between the rich and poor by encouraging society to help those in poverty. Making the poor have slightly more money is still lessening the gap between the rich and poor, since they are brought closer to the economic state of the rich by improving their situation. Thus, my contention stands, and the reduction of the gap between the rich and poor is an action which any legitimate government would have to take to protect the rights of its citizens.

My contentions still stand and I strongly urge an affirmative ballot.
troglodyte0

Con

troglodyte0 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
deb8_not_h8

Pro

Maybe you could provide a case, I could rebuttle it, and we could conclude in round 5?
troglodyte0

Con

troglodyte0 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
deb8_not_h8

Pro

deb8_not_h8 forfeited this round.
troglodyte0

Con

troglodyte0 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
deb8_not_h8

Pro

deb8_not_h8 forfeited this round.
troglodyte0

Con

troglodyte0 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
thett3
Pro, I would appreciate it if you challenged me to this same debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by photopro21 4 years ago
photopro21
deb8_not_h8troglodyte0Tied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FFs on con. and con didn't have a case.