The Instigator
JustCallMeTarzan
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
stk1990
Pro (for)
Losing
7 Points

Libertarianism is a Flawed Philosophy

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/23/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,587 times Debate No: 2147
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (11)

 

JustCallMeTarzan

Con

I'm basing my opening argument on your previous debates on this topic that went woefully unanswered...

First off, I believe we need to properly define the libertarian viewpoint. Libertarians are interested in individual freedoms. At the heart of libertarianism is the idea that the individual is responsible for his life, liberty, and property, and that an external influence (government) is only needed with the individual might do something that would create an injustice toward another individual's rights.

While it is true that libertarians prefer a smaller government, it is much more accurate to say they prefer a government that runs the country instead of their lives. This is to say that the government has no place telling individuals how to conduct their private affairs (look up Griswold v. Connecticut if that is confusing).

Taxes are a necessary evil, even by libertarian standards. The government actually has the right to collect taxes to build roads to distribute the mail, and under the interstate commerce clause, they can collect taxes on all sorts of other things. There's nothing confusing about this. It's the law of the land, which even libertarians are bound by (o.0). Granted, libertarians may take issue with things like income and property tax, which are not found in the Constitution, and any reasonable individual should object there too. Saying Libertarians want the lowest possible taxes is kind of a dumb argument, because EVERYONE wants the lowest possible taxes.

The free market leaves some people behind? It is a basic rule of any political or economic system that there are always winners and losers. Your argument here says nothing of the free market in and of itself, but rather claims that Libertarians take from the rich and don't give to the poor. I ask you... what do the poor have so that the evil Libertarians may take from them as well? Also, if the Libertarians take from the rich and give to the poor, how is this at all fair for the rich, who have their money by virtue of merit (past or an ancestor)? It seems to me that you're advocating communism, and we all know how that works - it degrades to socialism, puts power in the hands of the elite few, and furthers the gap between the rich and the poor. Oh wait... that's what you complained about in the first place... hmm...

By the way - the Libertarians couldn't have had control of the government in the 20's because the Libertarian party wasn't founded till 1971. Blaming the Depression on libertarianism is pure folly - the cause of the depression was buying stock on speculation, which is a function of the market, not a political ideology. If anything is to "blame" for the depression, it's the companies and stock brokers that tried to artificially inflate the value of their stock.

"We need government, as much as Ron Paul hotheads might disagree. We need the FDA. It keeps our food safe to eat. We need the EPA. It keeps our environment nice, clean, and liveable. We need the IRS. It sort of manages our government and keeps it running. We need the FCC. It stops pornography and offensive content from getting on a television that a child could turn on. Yes, reform of these institutions is needed, but we should not get rid of them. Society cannot moderate itself."

I'm not sure what the point of that paragraph is. Any libertarian with any sense about how government works will tell you that all those institutions are functional and needed in government today. Your last sentence about societal self-moderation is not really accurate either. The FCC is a societal construct for the purpose of moderating the public space. I would suggest you read the beginning of Plato's "The Republic" - it's all about societal self-moderation. Socrates speaks at quite some length about how different ideas and concepts are not to be allowed in the public space because of the individual reactions they engender.

So far, I have seen nothing more than an attack on the capitalist economy and free market, and an erroneous claim that Libertarians are at fault for the Great Depression. I await a rebuttal.
stk1990

Pro

I am not espousing communism or socialism. I am supporting high taxes on the rich, who can afford it. Of course some people are going to be richer than others, and some people are going to be left behind. But if government looks the other way, more and more people are going to be eaten up by survival of the fittest. The economy should not be regulated by social darwinism. Survival of the fittest only works when you're talking about animals. People need to eat. And a basic human right is the right to live comfortably. Sure it would be nice if there weren't poor people. Sure it would be nice if everyone was skilled, talented, or educated. But they're not. And they're not going to become skilled, talented, or educated if their biggest problem is day-to-day paying the bills on a minimum wage salary that has left them behind while corporations make record profits.

Can you honestly tell me that most fortunes were made on merit? And even if they were, that doesn't mean that we should leave people in the cold. That doesn't mean that a kid who got lucky because his parents could send him to college is any better than the smart kid in the inner city who doesn't have the money to go to school. Libertarians would have the free market decide whether or not the poor kid goes to school. I don't think we need to argue about the free market's answer.

You mentioned that merit also includes inheritance. That's garbage. There's no reason that a rich boy should get $50 million for something his father did while service employees trapped in their economic strata should suffer so that rich boy can get his money.

The fact is, social mobility is very difficult in this country. It's not your fault that you're born to a poor family. Were it possible for poor kids under libertarian government to get enough money to go to school, and they refused the opportunity, then it would be justified to throw them into the meat grinder with the rest of the hodge-podge. But the problem is, they can't go to school, and they can't get ahead, because they're trapped in a box.

Though libertarianism was not a political philosophy it has its roots in laissez-faire economics. And that is what created the Great Depression. Unregulated markets. Or, free markets.
Debate Round No. 1
JustCallMeTarzan

Con

High taxes on the rich because they can afford it? And I suppose the poor get tax cuts because they can't afford it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the United States adopted a classically conservative policy that there was no rolling tax rate? That everyone paid taxes at the same percent? The problem with tax breaks for the poor in lieu of a fair tax system is that it's unnecessarily unfair to those who are paying more - in this case the rich. You can't simply attribute a position of inequality in the system of government to a single political ideology, especially with that political party has never held substantive power in US politics at the national level.

Economic Darwinism is precisely what the economy needs. Perfect case in point - in Indianapolis, the construction of the Lucas Oil Stadium (What a god-awful name) was undertaken at the expense of the taxpayer. This money was then given to a private corporation (the Colts Franchise, owned by Jim Irsay) in order for them to conduct business. That is plainly illegal and stupid. Why should the government take money from the citizens to keep businesses afloat? If the business is a stable and profitable one, it needs no government assistance. It is the height of folly to subscribe to a system wherein weaker links in the economic chain are kept intact artificially - it's like taping a rope together... when any weight is put on the rope (economic downturn where the government can't afford to keep these weak businesses afloat) then the rope breaks.

Another PRIME case in point - the current (almost) economic recession. Caused in part by sub-prime mortgages to people that simply can't pay their loans back. This is a huge problem - if one practiced some Economic Darwinism, then these people would never have been able to get approved for a loan in the first place.

You seem to be under the quite mistaken impression that it is a human right to "live comfortably." It is absolutely NOT a right to live comfortably. It is a right to live. In a nation where a high school education is free, and a single person can live comfortably working 40 hours a week at a job that requires little or no training... not being able to pay bills is a matter or poor fiscal management, not the evil Libertarian bastards that don't run the government.

Of course, there are individual cases where paying bills IS legitimately a day-to-day problem. These people, however, have a special circumstance like a disability or simple bad luck nearly 100% of the time. The solution? Microfinance loans - it seems to work in Africa where the populace makes something like US $2 a week. I suppose it might possibly work in the inner city, where one can make between 5 and 10K a year (tax free) simply by BEGGING.

Were fortunes made on merit? An interesting question... There are three possibilities for obtaining a fortune in the first place: Merit, bequeathing, and theft. Winning the lottery would fall under bequeathing, since it is essentially a form of gambling. It is obvious how entrepreneurs could earn a fortune by merit. Large gifts of money are not bequeathed to individuals who are not meritorious, else it is simply a form of nepotism, which could be considered theft. So unless you suggest that the vast majority of wealthy people have stolen their money, I submit that fortunes at their root are by and large the result of meritorious individuals. Inheriting that wealth says nothing about how it was accrued.

Your point about schooling is fair at best, but still incomplete. The percent of families that can afford to send a child to college without a loan is insanely small (if scholarships are considered a replacement for a loan). Thus, there is no substantial difference between a middle class family that can't afford college and a low class family that can't afford college. However, once again... a single person with a high school education, working 40 hours a week can make a living and get approved for a loan to go to college.

The free market has nothing to do with the fact that poor families can't afford to send their kids to college. Do you honestly believe that somehow, regulating the market will provide low-class families with an extra $20,000 a year to send a child to college. And why would they spend it on a single child when the good of the many outweighs the good of the few? You seem to be confusing the locus of blame. It is not the free market, but rather the insistence by political forces that we must control the market. As a result, half-controls like minimum wage have been applied. The result is a loss of jobs overseas and fewer manufacturing jobs that could be taken by these low-class people that complain that we need a minimum wage because they simply want more money at a job they want to do instead of simply working their way up the economic ladder.

I never suggested inheritance was merit. I suggested, as I explained above that the money in an inheritance was accrued through merit. I see no reason for a man to inherit $50 Million from his hard-working father as long as he doesn't squander that money away. Inheritance has absolutely nothing to do with people trapped in a service economy... what is the government going to do? Take the man's money and distribute it to service employees? I don't know about you, but I'd like to be poor - sounds like we get free money from the rich... sounds like THE WELFARE SYSTEM.

Social mobility is easy in the United States. Case in point - all of my immediate relatives for two generations were born in literally poverty. Two generations later, ALL of my first cousins are in, or have completed college at private universities with minimal debt. How can you tell me that social mobility is very difficult when the average immigrant-American family is clearly capable of moving from poverty to wealth in two generations? It simply requires WORK, which is not a common motivator anymore, because of ridiculous economic controls that seek to balance the distribution of wealth in the nation with the largest middle class in the world. De-incentivize the drive to work for societal change, and you see a greater division between the rich and poor than before. Until the rise of economic controls like minimum wage, welfare, and other social programs, much of the US (excluding big business gurus) lived at roughly the same economic level. As we have historically seen - more control = more division. The poor are not trapped in a box in a country where education is FREE.

Once again - Libertarianism was not responsible for the Great Depression. The causes were things like buying on credit and stock speculation. Buying a good or service on credit creates debt, and when demand for a product bought on credit falls, a company fails, lays off their employees, and goes bankrupt. When this happens across a country, it creates a depression.

Once again - Libertarianism is not responsible for the gap between the rich and the poor (as though that's actually an issue with the size of the US middle class), nor the Great Depression, nor the fact that the poor don't want to work in a system that will give them money for free.
stk1990

Pro

-------- Economic Darwinism is precisely what the economy needs. Why should the government take money from the citizens to keep businesses afloat? If the business is a stable and profitable one, it needs no government assistance.

My Answer: How about unforeseen circumstances? How about shady business dealings? How about if the business is vital to the American interest. Like food. Also, would you refuse to give a hand to those people whose lives and businesses and homes were destroyed by hurricane Katrina? It sounds like you would, because if their business was stable and profitable, it would need no gov't assistance. As if it's their fault.

-------- Another PRIME case in point - the current (almost) economic recession. Caused in part by sub-prime mortgages to people that simply can't pay their loans back. This is a huge problem - if one practiced some Economic Darwinism, then these people would never have been able to get approved for a loan in the first place.

My Answer: And that's a bad thing? How about giving them some subsidies to help them pay off the bill? What's a couple thousand dollars to a Bill Gates-type, huh? Seriously, there comes a point when you can't buy any more things.

-------- In a nation where a high school education is free, and a single person can live comfortably working 40 hours a week at a job that requires little or no training.

My Answer: Ha-ha. Is this a joke? You try living on $7.25 a week. If you work 40 hours every single week in a year, that STILL comes down to $15,080 a year. Can you imagine paying your "FAIR TAX" living comfortably and then sending your kids to college? Can't be done.

-------- It is obvious how entrepreneurs could earn a fortune by merit.

My Answer: I'm not doubting that entrepreneurship is a great thing. Everyone should be able and willing to climb up the ladder of social mobility. But when you're standing there and that ladder is being held up too high for you to reach it, that's not fair. And that's not American. No one ought to have a better shot at succeeding than the next guy. Certain people are just inherently more privledged. They get a headstart because of mistakes everyone else's ancestors made, or just luck.

-------- A single person with a high school education, working 40 hours a week can make a living and get approved for a loan to go to college.

My Answer: But that's going to be very hard to pay back, as you stated before with the subprime mortgages. Without government finance, that is.

-------- The free market has nothing to do with the fact that poor families can't afford to send their kids to college. Do you honestly believe that somehow, regulating the market will provide low-class families with an extra $20,000 a year to send a child to college.

My Answer: Yes.

-------- I don't know about you, but I'd like to be poor - sounds like we get free money from the rich... sounds like THE WELFARE SYSTEM.

My Answer: You're right. Welfare needs to be limited. But not eliminated. I agree that hard work and self-sufficiency is a great value to have. That's how it ought to be. If capitalism was a fair game, I'd say let it be played. But there are always winners and losers and you cannot argue that the outcome is solely based on merit. Again, I refer to the businesses in New Orleans.

-------- Social mobility is easy in the United States.

My Answer: Your case in point is derived from an anecdote about your own family history. I would argue that your family history comes from a different time. Sure, my grandparents were immigrants as well. But they lived in a time where the chasm between rich and poor was not so huge. They lived in a time when wealth was not so unevenly distributed.

-------- High taxes on the rich because they can afford it? And I suppose the poor get tax cuts because they can't afford it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the United States adopted a classically conservative policy that there was no rolling tax rate? That everyone paid taxes at the same percent? The problem with tax breaks for the poor in lieu of a fair tax system is that it's unnecessarily unfair to those who are paying more - in this case the rich.

My Answer: I saved this argument for last because this is key. It comes down to a value judgement here. Do we participate in a game where the winners keep on winning and the losers keep on losing? Your idea of having everyone pay the same percentage of taxes is folly. Simply put, it's like punching two different people in the stomach - a bodybuilder and an old lady. Sure, you're giving them the same treatment, but the bodybuilder will be able to take it better than the old lady can. This is not to say that taxes are like punching someone. They provide necessary services that the free market simply cannot provide.
Debate Round No. 2
JustCallMeTarzan

Con

>> How about unforeseen circumstances? How about shady business dealings? How about if the business is vital to the American interest. Like food. Also, would you refuse to give a hand to those people whose lives and businesses and homes were destroyed by hurricane Katrina?

Nobody argues that unforeseen circumstances are deserving of government assistance. Private businesses are NOT entitled to tax dollars during normal business times. And actually, no, in a well-organized system, the government shouldn't give a cent to private businesses destroyed by a hurricane - that's what their insurance is for. If business owners want to put their business in a location that is frequented by hurricanes, and they lose everything because their insurance didn't cover their property, that's poor planning. Now if the insurance company goes bankrupt, that's a completely different story. In cases like THAT, the government should offer some assistance.

>> My Answer: And that's a bad thing? How about giving them some subsidies to help them pay off the bill? What's a couple thousand dollars to a Bill Gates-type, huh? Seriously, there comes a point when you can't buy any more things.

An exceedingly poor argument. Lets suppose 0.001% of the US population receives $2000 from Bill Gates. That's SIX HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS. I don't see how you can argue that as being simple pocket change. Also - who's going to force him to give anyone that money? It's HIS MONEY. If the government can take someone's property and give it to someone else, I will immediately draft a request that the government give me your house and assets, simply because apparently they can.... not...

>> Ha-ha. Is this a joke? You try living on $7.25 a week. If you work 40 hours every single week in a year, that STILL comes down to $15,080 a year. Can you imagine paying your "FAIR TAX" living comfortably and then sending your kids to college? Can't be done.

The joke here is your math. An entry level manufacturing job will pay $10 an hour, and many places have regular overtime shifts, and definitely the possibility for overtime. So working 40 hours a week will yield a yearly income of $20,800 before taxes... supposing that taxes take 25% of that, you're still left with $15,000, which is $288.46 a week, not $7.25...

>> If capitalism was a fair game, I'd say let it be played. But there are always winners and losers and you cannot argue that the outcome is solely based on merit.

The only system where there are NOT winners and losers is pure communism. I suggest you revoke your US citizenship and move to... oops... there aren't any pure communist nations because it simply doesn't work.

>> Your case in point is derived from an anecdote about your own family history. I would argue that your family history comes from a different time. Sure, my grandparents were immigrants as well. But they lived in a time where the chasm between rich and poor was not so huge. They lived in a time when wealth was not so unevenly distributed.

Your profile claims you to be 17. I suppose then, that your grandparents must have lived in a completely different time from mine, while I am 19.

>> I saved this argument for last because this is key. It comes down to a value judgement here. Do we participate in a game where the winners keep on winning and the losers keep on losing? Your idea of having everyone pay the same percentage of taxes is folly. Simply put, it's like punching two different people in the stomach - a bodybuilder and an old lady. Sure, you're giving them the same treatment, but the bodybuilder will be able to take it better than the old lady can. This is not to say that taxes are like punching someone. They provide necessary services that the free market simply cannot provide.

Your analogy is flawed. You suggest that the two demographics pay the same AMOUNT. I argue they pay the same PERCENT. A percentage tax as applied to your logic is akin to punching a body builder and poking the old lady. They both will probably bruise.

Taxes do not provide services the free market is incapable of providing. Taxes provide funding for services we have delegated to the government. There is no reason the free market couldn't produce a proper highway system or a charity for the poor. It simply wouldn't do it until it was profitable. Inaction is not the same as inability.

From your overall argument, you seem to be saying that the Libertarian philosophy creates an unequal system. That is utterly and completely wrong. The system is inherently unequal. Also, the admission of present examples into evidence against libertarianism is flawed and inadmissible - there has never been a case of Libertarianism setting national policy.

In actuality, much of Libertarian philosophy will make the system MORE equitable. Take for example the tax system. Surely it is more equitable for everyone to pay a basic percentage-based tax on their assets and then to tax consumption than to tax different income levels at different rates?

I'll give a perfect example of what happens when the government sticks its hands into the free market. The USSR told farmers when to plant their crops, when to harvest, and regulated the prices. The result? The USSR buys its wheat to make bread from the US until it falls. Russia STILL buys wheat from the US, albeit much less.

I have yet to see a compelling argument for why libertarianism is flawed.
stk1990

Pro

I suppose this is what it comes down to:

We are not a nation of individuals. We are a community whether you like it or not. It is far more of an injustice to not give the needy a helping hand, than to take six million dollars from a billionaire who can afford it anyway. Taxes suck. But being poor sucks more. And it's not like if poor people just put in a little more effort, they would become successful. The world doesn't work like that. You said that a good manufacturing job nets you 10 dollars an hour. But here's the catch. Not everyone has a manufacturing job in their town. Sometimes you have to work at McDonalds. I admit, I made an error in saying $7.25 a week. I meant $7.25 an hour. But that still comes out to $10,080 a week. That's barely livable in today's society. That is an injustice.

Libertarianism is flawed because the free market is flawed. I am not espousing communism as you seem to suggest. I am advocating rational, moderate government regulation of the economy. I am not suggesting price controls. I am suggesting taking the cream off of the top of the upper class's salary and giving a little bit of it to the poor, to give them a stepstool to success. I am not suggesting a welfare state. I am suggesting a temporary helping hand. Libertarianism does not provide for that. Libertarianism stands by and watches disaster happen. That's why it's flawed.

Oh, and by the way, I'm not a communist. I'm a liberal. Big difference there.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
There is no literal contract to sign, as I hope you well know... you sign the contract by being a member of society.
Posted by Daxitarian 8 years ago
Daxitarian
Exactly how does the social contract theory justify government? When did any of us ever sign the contract? There are plenty of philosophers who think of such things, and your argument just glosses over that.
Posted by mmadderom 8 years ago
mmadderom
"I am supporting high taxes on the rich, who can afford it."

This is absolutely the WORST argument for taxation ever made.

1) It punishes success
2) Who do you think HIRES everyone else?
3) High income taxes on the "rich" is worthless, because they don't HAVE an income for the most part. There is no wealth tax and any proposal of one would be INSANE.

Taxing the "rich"=taxing the corporations that employ the rest. BAD idea.

As for income tax, the bottom 50% of wage earners pay ZERO income tax. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

The top 10% of wage earners pay some 90% of all income tax. (the top 2% pay something like 50% of it)

And that's the CURRENT system. This is ABSURD.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Daxitarian, I assumed for the sake of our argument that we were granted that government was justified... but in any case, government has been justified since the ancients - Plato's Republic is about the justification of government among other things. Social contract theory justifies government. I don't think there's much of an argument against government being justified...
Posted by Daxitarian 8 years ago
Daxitarian
"The government actually has the right to collect taxes to build roads to distribute the mail, and under the interstate commerce clause, they can collect taxes on all sorts of other things."

What your opponent failed to mention was the argument for anarchism. Some people regard libertarianism as meaning anarchism, but you are talking about the small government kind. And it isn't quite clear how any government is justified.

stk1990: "Though libertarianism was not a political philosophy it has its roots in laissez-faire economics. And that is what created the Great Depression. Unregulated markets. Or, free markets."

You couldn't be more wrong about this. It was the federal reserve that contracted the money supply and high tarrifs that caused the great depression. Even fed chairman Bernanke admits this.
Posted by stk1990 8 years ago
stk1990
Wow, your comments make me want to vote for Ron Paul.
Posted by iadebater 8 years ago
iadebater
RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!RON PAUL REVOLUTION!
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