The Instigator
Kleptin
Pro (for)
Winning
40 Points
The Contender
1-2-3
Con (against)
Losing
29 Points

One's poverty is the fault of the individual

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/3/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 9,729 times Debate No: 9920
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (12)

 

Kleptin

Pro

Full resolution: Individuals or families who are of the lower class are in the lower class mostly because of poor choices or poor personal characteristics. Other factors are minimally contributory to their poverty and can be easily overcome or bypassed.

Both participants should refrain from using semantic arguments, as it would waste a good topic of discussion. Questions about phrasing or confusion about a point should be clarified in the comment section.

****************************************************

If you're poor, it is generally your fault. The income tax, minimum wage and the availability of minimum wage-paying jobs makes it possible for an impoverished person to pull in enough money to pay for schooling, which would then lead to better employment opportunities. There is no impenetrable barrier between rich and poor, it is all a matter of how much work and effort people want to put into their lives.

My opponent made several points in a forum topic regarding this issue, and I would like to go over them here. I will post my rebuttals in future rounds.

I look forward to my opponent's response, thank you.
1-2-3

Con

There is a problem that refuses to go away, even in the most affluent of times - the fact that a considerable amount of poverty exists in the midst of plenty. It has always been this way in this country (USA). It is not the fault of the individual. Poverty is one of the unfortunate consequences of a capitalist system.

The tendency of capital to accumulate in the hands of a few has long been of concern in the USA. Our government has introduced various measures designed to keep this "accumulation factor" under control: antitrust legislation. Also, the graduated income tax has attempted to take a greater proportion of annual income from those who make considerable profit, and the welfare system has tried to redistribute monies to the disadvantaged poor. For the most part, these attempts have failed to eliminate poverty. Why?

One reason is technological improvements. By their very nature, many technological improvments put a lot of people out of work and catapult them into poverty.

Cast your imagination back some 80 years ago and consider the advent of the tractor. On the surface, this technological advancement seems such a blessing. It makes the cultivation of land and the planting of crops easier. It is an invention that can do the work of 100 people. That is just the point. What happens, after coming of the tractor, to the people who used to earn their living by selling their labor to farm owners in exchange for a place to live and some of the crops they produced? They get pushed off the land when the tractor arrives and fall into desperate poverty. Nor is it easy for these people to find other work. All of their lives they farmed the land by hand and have no other training. For middle-aged and older members it is almost impossible to change . What do they do? They may pack up and take to relocating to find other work. To California, for example. Sure, California; there they have heard there is lots of work available. It is California, the land where everyone gets rich. There problems will be over, so they move to California. Trouble is, hundreds of thousands have the same idea. Hence, when they get to California competion is keen for a very limited number of jobs. Employers, knowing they have a "sellers market," can offer extremely low wages and be assured that the desperate newcomers will have to take them. The poverty and its attendant misery is perpetuated. This is the story of the "Okies," the farmers thrown out of work by the tractor in the 1930's. Their fate and the enormous difficulty they had fighting it is poignantly portrayed in John Steinbeck's classic novel, "The Grapes of Wrath."

This is just one specific historical example. Today, technological advancements that seem to be unvieled on a regular basis have the same effect, albeit on a smaller scale, as the tractor. Going out and getting an education, even if it was just that simple as Kleptin suggests, takes years and is not a practical answer to an individual's situation. OK, I'll just go out and study to be a lawyer, while I am living in poverty, with three children, while my rent and all my expenses are put on hold for the ensuing years; then I will emerge from this situation no longer poor. After all it was my fault, anyway. His argument is not pragmatic.
Debate Round No. 1
Kleptin

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response and will now offer my counterpoints.

My opponent starts out by explaining that poverty is an unfortunate consequence of the capitalist system and thus, is ingrained in our economic structure. I agree with him on this point. However, the issue is not about overhauling the economy or about the issue of poverty in general. This debate is about whether or not an individual can reasonably escape poverty. My opponent seems to believe that government efforts to "even the playing field" have failed and that the very nature of the economy is structured in such a way that the poor will remain poor.

However, these are just his beliefs. As of now, my opponent has only provided evidence for a single argument: Technological advances. In fact, this is not evidence at all, but a proposed explanation for his belief.

My opponent argues that the menial labor that once provided jobs for 100 people can be done by a single person, and that this technological growth is responsible for poor people being unable to pull themselves out of poverty. This argument fails for the following reasons:

1. The good of the majority versus the good of the few.

In my opponent's "source" (which is a fictional book and thus, not exactly a source), he shows how the lives of hundreds of people are made miserable by technological advances. However, he neglects to mention exactly what the philosophy behind this occurrence is. Hardworking people who are dedicated to society, using intelligence, have constructed methods by which food can be produced faster and more efficiently in order to feed more people. In addition, jobs were created in industries where tractors are constructed. Tractor drivers are also needed, as well as tractor mechanics. Jobs haven't been lost, they were simply shifted around. Furthermore, the tractor, used in the 1930's, is still being used today, over 70 years later. In those 70 years, automated agricultural technology has done far more good for more of society than the farm hands that it has displaced. Did people lose jobs because of technology? Yes. Was it a fatal loss? Was this loss purely because of matters beyond their control? No.

2. People get what they deserve.

When living in a society, one gets from society what they contribute. It is irrational for me to say that I have the right to someone else's property when they have worked for it and I have not. This is called stealing. A bunch of farmers being displaced by technology is an illustration of how society's needs have changed. If a person's chosen line of work is not needed, why should we burden society in order to provide for this person what he does not earn? A person can choose to spend his day throwing rocks around on a field. He can choose to specialize and throw them further and higher than anyone else. However, if this activity does not contribute to society, why should he get paid? What right does he have to luxuries beyond health care, education, a place to live, and plenty of food to eat?

3. Technology is a big deal, but not as big as it was in the past.

My opponent's argument was in regards to 1930. Today, progression in technology does not have the economy-wracking effects it did in the past, because in the 70 years between then and now, the roar of technological progression has finally settled onto a dim hum. Technological improvements still force people out of jobs, but very few, and for the most part, they make jobs easier to do and actually open up new jobs for other people. Even if my opponent's point about technology were valid about the technological advancements of the past, this is not to say that he is correct in pointing fingers at technology today. Even with technological advancements, there are dozens of jobs available for each and every person at any given moment in time. It's just a matter of how picky or how lazy an individual is.

Now, in regards to my opponent's point about the practicality of my suggestions:

"Going out and getting an education, even if it was just that simple as Kleptin suggests, takes years and is not a practical answer to an individual's situation"

First of all, we are not talking about an individual person, because the individual person presents with too many variables. We are talking about the poor in general, and the family structure of poor people, in order to best illustrate the concepts and philosophies involved in this discussion.

Second, education does take years and years. This is why children are mandated to attend school from the ages of 5 to 18. Long past are the days where children have to work in coal mines instead of spending their days in the schoolroom. There is no excuse for not having an education, because it is law, and because measures exist to ensure that all children can go to school without having their parents worry about starving to death.

"OK, I'll just go out and study to be a lawyer, while I am living in poverty, with three children, while my rent and all my expenses are put on hold for the ensuing years; then I will emerge from this situation no longer poor. After all it was my fault, anyway. His argument is not pragmatic."

Strawman fallacy
http://en.wikipedia.org...

The strawman fallacy is the deliberate misrepresentation of an opponent's point, and the subsequent attack of this false argument. It is akin to constructing a straw man in my image and attacking that straw man, then asserting that he has beaten me.

The man living in poverty with 3 children is living in poverty for a reason. There is also a reason why this man is not already a lawyer. Perhaps this man made bad decisions and due to teen pregnancy, ruined his own life. Perhaps this man slacked off in school and did not obtain high enough grades to get into a good college, or did not bother to go to college at all. For the sake of this argument, let us turn our attention away from this man and onto his children, so that we can argue on a blank slate.

His children will grow up in poverty, but they will all have some educational background since they would have been schooled since a young age. They would have the right to attend public schools and if their father was not too much of a deadbeat and spent a decent amount of money on educational materials, there are many high tier public schools that accept based on merit. With just that step, the poverty cycle can be broken. Provided that their father is a good enough father and not a lazy deadbeat, then they can attend excellent highschools which will send them to excellent colleges and perhaps even land them in law school.

And with that, the lower class turns into the upper middle class in a single generation.

This is not a rare story in any way. Immigrant families go through this cycle all the time. My father came from nothing and worked dozens of jobs off the books to save enough money for his family and his own education. He saved enough money for city college and worked hard while studying to keep tuition, landing a white collar job after graduation. Now, he makes almost 6 figures a year and I have reaped the benefits of his hard work, and will never know poverty myself. There is absolutely no excuse for the average impoverished person. So long as you work hard enough, either you or your children will escape poverty.

My opponent's one and only point was that this cannot occur if technology eliminates job availability. I have already shown that his argument involving technology is outdated and irrelevant. If my opponent's point is to stand, he must show how jobs simply aren't available to the poor.

I look forward to my opponent's response. Thank you to the audience and to my opponent.
1-2-3

Con

Kleptin seems to be confused. He challenged me to a debate titled, "One's poverty is the fault of the individual." He wanted to debate the individual's responsibility for their economic situation. Then around half way down his wordy submission he states, "We are not talking about the individual person because there are too many variables." Then why did you want to debate about the individual in the first place? I do not think it is fair to change the basis of the debate just because it will serve your purposes better.
Debate Round No. 2
Kleptin

Pro

My opponent is mistaken. There was absolutely no confusion on my part, and I was not misleading or dishonest. I point my opponent to the very first thing that I said:

"Full resolution: Individuals or families who are of the lower class are in the lower class mostly because of poor choices or poor personal characteristics. Other factors are minimally contributory to their poverty and can be easily overcome or bypassed."

My opponent obviously did not read this note. The resolution I wanted to argue would not fit in the title. Furthermore, I followed with the following note:

"Both participants should refrain from using semantic arguments, as it would waste a good topic of discussion. Questions about phrasing or confusion about a point should be clarified in the comment section."

I specifically stated that if there was any confusion, my opponent should ask me in the comment section instead of wasting a critical round. He has obviously ignored this too, even after I separated it with a row of asterisks to emphasize that note.

In order to avoid any confusion, I will state this: I want to argue about how poverty can be easily overcome. If we are talking about an individual in poverty, I seek to show that the individual can overcome poverty. If we are talking about a family in poverty, then I seek to show that a family can overcome poverty.

What did I mean when I said that there were "too many variables"? I meant that in following with my opponent's hypothetical situations, I want to focus on the average person who is poor and is trying to escape poverty. He should not present me with an 80 year old impoverished, paraplegic man and then exclaim that since it is almost impossible for him to come out of poverty, then inequity exists in the system. Too many variables and too many unknowns.

In his example, my opponent posits a man with three children and asks me to show how the man as an individual can overcome poverty. I find this to be irrelevant and complicated because the man has three children. He is not an individual, he is part of a family in need. I would obviously address how the family as a unit can overcome poverty.

If we are speaking of just the man, then his choice to abandon schooling or to not work harder than he did is responsible for the fact that he now has three children and is unable to go to law school. This still remains his fault. If we are talking about the children, who are not at fault for anything yet, they can very easily rise into the upper classes with a moderate amount of effort.

Since my opponent has not responded to a single one of my points, I have no choice but to guess as to what arguments he is going to use. I would like to remind the audience that it is bad form for the contender to submit new arguments in the last round, especially since my opponent has mentioned absolutely nothing in his round 2 for me to counter.

An argument my opponent used was that Industrialization allowed the poor to work menial labor jobs. With the change to white collar jobs, this leaves the uneducated poor out of the workforce.

This was my opponent's argument in the following forum discussion. Please see the 4th post down:

http://www.debate.org...

My opponent essentially separates white collar from blue collar, but he misinterprets the "service industry"

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Here is the description of the service industry:

"Services may involve the transport, distribution business and sale of goods from producer to a consumer as may happen in good timing and or may involve the provision of a service, such as in entertainment Goods may be transformed in the process of providing a service, as happens in the restaurant industry or in equipment repair. However, the focus is on people interacting with people and serving the customer rather than transforming physical goods."

Also, please examine the following chart, which shows that the US is almost 100% designated as a service economy:
http://upload.wikimedia.org...

My opponent may argue that the fall of industry or agriculture may lead to decrease in menial labor jobs, but this is a service economy, making that point irrelevant, since the vast majority of jobs, be it high or low pay, are service oriented.

This include running a deli, a vendor cart, chinese food delivery, mail delivery, newspaper seller, taxi driver, or thousands of other jobs that uneducated immgirant workers aim for in trying to make it big.

The fact of the matter is that there are many jobs available, it's just that some people are simply too lazy to try. The poor stay poor because they don't understand that they have to work hard get going. It's harder to get a boulder moving than it is to keep it moving. They just see the upper classes roll in money with ease and assume that there is injustice.

There is no barrier except hard work. The fact that hard work is the only determinant is illustrated by the fact that children of immigrant families tend to end up in higher economic classes than their parents. My opponent cannot be correct because his position flies in the face of truth. He is clearly mistaken in his assertion that the poor are poor because they are forced to be poor and will stay poor no matter what.

I apologize to the audience and I hope that my opponent will choose to challenge me again because I want to hear his input on this issue. Regretfully, this cannot be the case because he has chosen to ignore all the preliminary rules I set forth at the beginning of the debate, then waste an entire round expressing his confusion.

The resolution has been affirmed. Vote PRO.
1-2-3

Con

I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to debate now. First, let me say this: This is my first time debating in the "formal" sense. So, with that being the case, it could be that I am mistaken in my observations, but I do not think so. Just as you have done in the topic discussion section of this website, you are doing here in this section (debates) also; and that is: making wild and hasty assumptions based on a single and short statement of mine. From my few posts in the discussion section of this website, you have somehow deduced that I do not spend enough time with my children, that I am not very intelligent, that I have insulted every member of Debate.Org by quoting Martin Luther King Jr., insinuated that my father and brother are criminals, and that I am the epitome of the quintessential "angry black man." I stand by my accusation that you have switched the original resolution to suit your purposes. It is clear that you originally stated that you were going to debate that if an individual is poor it is because of their own fault. Then in the next round you stated that this situation can't be dabated because there are too many variables. On your profile page you claim to be an unorthodox debater. That you dabate "dirty" and use a "smoke and mirrors" approach to the craft. That could be the case here, or maybe I am not that intelligent, as you have claimed. Whatever it is, one thing is certainly clear; I have definetely struck a nerve with you and you seem to be dying to beat me in a debate. I have no problem with giving you that opportunity but I feel that you have compromised the integrity of this debate by changing the resolution mid-round. I could be wrong. Hopefully some of the other members will opine in the comment section and give us their take on the situation. I am trying to understand how formal debate works. I am only a music teacher of average intelligence, so bear with me.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
This debate was the continuation of a discussion on opportunity and poverty in America.
Posted by guitr_freek 7 years ago
guitr_freek
May I ask CON why he/she didn't mention Africa at all in this debate? Africa is the world's poorest and most underdeveloped continent in the world. Many individuals in Africa are born poor, live to be poor, and die poor, and at no fault of their own. Just my 2 cents.
Posted by Lifeisgood 7 years ago
Lifeisgood
Excellent topic, less-than-excellent debate.
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
RFD:

Conduct: PRO. CON made one argument and then refused to respond any further, harping on rules that were clearly stated by PRO in the very first line of the very first round. The fact that CON refused to settle confusion in the comment section as dictated by PRO shows that he willingly violated those rules. There was no confusion, CON's latter posts count as forfeits, especially the unwarranted lashing out in the last round.

S&G: No major discrepancies on either side. Tie.

Convincing Arguments: TIE. Con made one argument that was debunked by PRO, however, PRO did not uphold the resolution and Con made no relevant arguments, he only expressed irritation and exasperation, then lobbed irrelevant insults at the end.

Sources: PRO. Pro was the only one to state sources. Only one of them was a non-definition source, the chart showing that America was a service-oriented country. Although I do not usually award points for preemptive arguments, this is an exception because Con forfeited the round immediately before his closing, making it unfair for Pro since there was no rebuttal.
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
I have to agree with Lwerd. This is probably one of my worst debate performances. I did not expect 1-2-3 to have so much difficulty carrying on with this debate, and I held back my arguments in the hopes that he would give some good arguments so that I could counter them. When he responded in complete confusion, I realized that I had absolutely nothing to go by. I planned my whole argument to be a series of counterpoints, and you can't make counterpoints if your opponent doesn't make an argument.

I have another good explanation for why I did so poorly. Halfway through the debate, I forgot that I was PRO >.> That explain's Maikuru's correct assertion that I fell short of affirming the resolution. I forgot that I had to.

To be honest, I was just completely flustered. I was really expecting a good exchange and personally, did not find anything confusing whatsoever. I response to Lwerd, I know that statement sounded bad, but it wasn't meant to be an actual argument. I wanted to provoke 1-2-3 into countering it so that I had something to go by.
Posted by Maikuru 7 years ago
Maikuru
C: Pro - Con basically forfeited two rounds. One can complain that their opponent has inappropriately shifted focus and still present a relevant argument.
S/G: Tie
A: Con - Pro presented an interesting interpretation of poverty dynamics in our country but fell short of actually affirming the resolution. By admitting that the circumstances of individuals are filled with innumerable variables and that technological advances do eliminate jobs, he essentially conceded his position. I would have preferred greater detail from Con, but the single point he did present stands.
S: Tie - Pro presented the only sources, but I found them irrelevant to this discussion.
Posted by animea 7 years ago
animea
The pro shifted the goal posts halfway through the round, the round was clearly supposed to be centered around individuals, even in the full resolution he used the term individual or families. Its not a semantic debate to want to debate individuals and families.

Pros arguments for technology were offtopic, yes technology is hugely beneficial to society and helps the majority, but that is irrelevant to the discussion. Con provided an unrefuted argument, which is that technology is beyond the individuals control yet will place an individual in poverty.
Posted by feverish 7 years ago
feverish
I agree with the Con position, both before and after but if I could vote, I think I would have to give the convincing arguments to Kleptin, not because they were particularly strong (I don't think they were) but because Con failed to refute them.

1-2-3, you were right to point out the apparent contradiction from Pro but you didn't have to stop debating at this point. You could have used the inconsistency to make your own case stronger but instead you pretty much gave up arguing and focused solely upon your opponent's conduct which in my opinion lost you the debate.

I agree with L that this debate was quite disapointing overall.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
I consider this debate to be a draw and I'm disappointed in how it turned out. From a completely objective stand point, this may have been the worst debate I've ever seen from Kleptin (though that's not taking away from his phenomenal and deserved reputation around here for being among the best). The problem is that Con didn't effectively counter Pro, so I couldn't award any points -- judging is supposed to be based on what's put forth in the debate - not my beliefs. My two cents:

"In fact, this is not evidence at all, but a proposed explanation for his belief"

Lol -- isn't that what evidence is, Kleptin?

1/3. In Kleptin's argument the good of the majority vs. the good of the few, I agree with Kleptin that the technological advances we have made are beneficial and even necessary for society. However, it didn't negate Con's point whatsoever. Kleptin said, "Technological improvements still force people out of jobs, but very few" and we all know that's simply not true lol (nor was it proven).

2. While I agree with Kleptin that people aren't entitled to other people's belongings - i.e. property or wealth - this debate wasn't about whether or not it's morally right to give people things that they don't deserve; it's about whether or not people can reasonably get out of poverty. Saying that people don't deserve other people's wealth is true but irrelevant.

4. Kleptin says that the debate isn't about the individual poor person but rather the poor in general in terms of ability to escape poverty. Is this just me, or is that a non-sensical argument? Collective individuals make up the group.

5. Kleptin says, "The man living in poverty with 3 children is living in poverty for a reason. There is absolutely no excuse for the average impoverished person. So long as you work hard enough, either you or your children will escape poverty." This is completely false and wishful thinking. Out of comment characters though :)
12 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by rougeagent21 7 years ago
rougeagent21
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by djussila 7 years ago
djussila
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by KRFournier 7 years ago
KRFournier
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by Eris 7 years ago
Eris
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by tmhustler 7 years ago
tmhustler
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by Maikuru 7 years ago
Maikuru
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by Guy_In_Mi 7 years ago
Guy_In_Mi
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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Vote Placed by 1-2-3 7 years ago
1-2-3
Kleptin1-2-3Tied
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