The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Providing Material Aid to Impoverished Communities/Nations/Individuals Promotes Poverty

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/20/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,376 times Debate No: 17587
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




This is my first debate so bear with me. I'm assuming that this counts as my first round post, and so my opponent should use their first round response to accept the challenge as well as taking the opportunity to clarify any important concepts/terms that he/she deems important.

The question at hand may seem straight-forward but there's an important clarification to be made.

Material aid = the charitable providing of material resources to a group of individuals that cannot otherwise provide it for themselves.

To re-iterate my stance: I believe that providing aid to impoverished nations/communities/individuals is a myopic and witless practice.

PS: I've noticed that it's become a habit to continually thank opponents for each post but I won't be doing the same. I will give thanks when all is said done but never earlier. I believe that by doing so it will give true weight to the words 'thank you' instead of turning it into a perfunctory ritual.


Thanks for debating this topic and I am looking forward to it.
I also just wanted to clarify the definition of promoting.
According to google promote is to "further the progress of, support or actively encourage"
When people give to charity it is not to support poverty or to encourage people to live in poverty. It is to help them with their needs. I'm speculating that your argument is going to, in some way, say that those people in poverty need to work for things themselves. The problem is not everyone has equal oppurtunity. I really hope you do not try and make a case that there is equal oppurtunity because that is one of the most ridiculous arguments anyone has ever come up with. In conclusion, when people help those living in poverty it is not encouraging people to go live in poverty, it is simply providing for needs. I know that it doesn't promote poverty because I have never heard anyone say, "let's live in poverty so that people will give us stuff." Those living in poverty want to get out (in most cases) and those that don't live in poverty, don't want to start living in poverty. Thank you and I look forward to hearing your argument.
Debate Round No. 1


That is indeed a worthy clarification, and I wish I'd thought of including it. Thank you. For the purpose of this argument, I am using 'to promote' in the sense of 'furthering the progress', but not 'active encouragement'. I truly regret not having specified such an important part of the argument question. I believe that most charitable contributions to poverty are done with good intentions, albeit naive ones--more on this later.

Your initial speculation was correct. I do indeed mean to stick to the adage of 'teach a man to fish and he'll never starve', and I don't think further elaboration is required. However, that is not where I intended on stopping.

Supposing that I would argue that equal opportunity exists, however, is not a fair statement. It certainly would be a ridiculous argument and it was not the direction that I was heading in.

You have presented the following counter-argument:

1. Not everyone has equal opportunity. (I agree)
2. When people help those in poverty they are doing it to provide their needs for survival. (I agree)

Your point about people not willingly living in poverty doesn't add any weight to your argument, so I'll leave it aside. If you believe that there's more to it than please elaborate on it.

Peter Farb: ""Intensification of production to feed an increased population leads to a still greater increase in population."

For our purposes, this could be translated into 'an increase of resources results in an increase of population'. Logically speaking, this makes sense: If 10,000 people cannot feed themselves, then they will die and won't be able to reproduce. But if you feed all 10,000 of them then there will invariably be an increase of population. Their means of subsistence has not changed and instead of 10,000 starving people next year there may be 20,000 to feed.

Abridged: Providing aid to impoverished people will invariably result in an increase of population, and this impoverished population will have even more mouths to feed than before. Giving aid to a community in need therefore increases the number of individuals living in poverty.


In your example of 10,000 people we could either not help them for fear we will not be able to help the next generation.
Help the 10,000 people survive. Save as many as we can and hope that in the future we can help the next generation.
Because while there may be more people in the next generation we may have more and better means of helping those people. It is easier to say its a better option to let the 10,000 die when you and your family/friends is not included in those 10,000. I have a hard time believing that if you were you would say, "no don't help us because there's a chance that in the future more people may die."
In your argument of "teach a man to fish and he'll never starve" part of that argument helps my case. If someone is going to fish won't someone need to give him a pole and a place to fish? I believe a pole and place to fish fit under your definition of material aid.
Even if we were to provide everyone with food, water and shelter, which we could, you are assuming that they would still always be in poverty, which may not be the case. If we give them food, water, and shelter than that will also make it easier for them to get a job and therefore get out of poverty. And to my point that we could provide everyone with food, drinking water and shelter, it is estimated that in order to provide everyone on earth with those three things, it would cost roughly 20 billion dollars. That is the same amount of money americans spend on icecream per year.

Putting the fishing thing in context of your example of the 10,000 people you are under the false pretense that the only thing we could do for them is give them food. We could also teach them to cook. However someone would need to give material aid such as things to cook on and food to cook with. So if we teach them to cook and other things it will increase oppurtunities for jobs. Thus, decreasing the amount of people living in poverty. Granted some people will still live in poverty and will have kids that live in poverty. But we will be giving them a better chance not to.
Precedent has already been set in the courts. Philadelphia had, just a few years ago, began passing laws that made it illegal to help homeless people because they though it would do exactly what you propose, promote homelessness. Shane Claiborne and others were arrested for giving homeless people food. When they went to court the judge said "what is in question here is not whether or not these folks broke the law, that is quite clear. What is in question is the constitutionality of these laws" they were found not guilty on every count.
Debate Round No. 2


You have established a dichotomy of what we could do for these hypothetical 10,000 impoverished people. Although it's somewhat inaccurate, let's continue with absolute statements. Without intervention, these 10,000 people will starve. If we continue to follow my preceding argument, however, sustaining them for a year of life will result in an increase of population. Since you have not denied this I'll assume that you agree with it. The following year, instead of having 10,000 impoverished people you'll have 10,000 + X impoverished people, where X = number of newborn. This will just continue to snowball until the caregivers themselves are impoverished.

As for your point on counting me as one of those 10,000 impoverished people: Of course I would want the help. We're ultimately selfish when our lives are at stake. But the question is not whether a starving individual wants help, but whether or not we should give it to him/her. It's an important distinction to make.

"…we may have more and better means of helping those people." That's a big ‘may'. We ‘may' also have no means of helping even a single one of them.

On the subject of your remarks about fishing: A place to fish does not count as material aid. How would you provide this to anyone? As for your remark about giving them the tools as means to provide for their own subsistence, you've got a good point there. Tools could certainly help an impoverished community get up on its feet. Unfortunately, tools that help us feed ourselves don't control our food supply. If there are 10,000 of you but only enough wild boars to feed 1,000 then there will be 9,000 left to starve.

My following point has much to do with my above concept of supply and demand, and is in response to your comment about providing food, water and shelter. Much like food, our dependence on water relies on its availability. If a community exists in a location where water is scarce, then it is a futile endeavor to deliver them water. They will quench their thirst for a year and continue to reproduce, and then there will be even more dehydrated people for you to cater to. Sustaining a doomed community is cruel.

Any form of teaching is not a part of this debate. I made this explicitly clear in my first post by elucidating what I meant by ‘material aid'.

My argument is not that we make it illegal to make charitable donations. I don't believe in petty laws that infringe on a person's right to do as they please with their possessions. The question at hand is not whether or not we should make it illegal to donate but rather about whether or not we should bother.

PS: The ice cream statistic was a nice addition, and it certainly helps to put our lives in perspective. It's a shame that our chances at life are typically dictated by where we're born.


I agree with your equation in the sense that if we help 10,000 people survive, in the future, more than 10,000 people will be in that population. However I disagree with your assumption that all those people will live in poverty. I would say thatsomeone who Is given food and does not have to worry about trying to get food everyday has a better chance at getting a job and therefore a better chance to not live in poverty. If someone is worrying about just getting food for the day, they are not going to go and try to find a job, they're going to look for food. Likewise, if someone doesn't have to worry about simply getting food they have more of an oppurtunity to get out of poverty.
You said its a big "may" when I talked about maybe having means to help them in the future. Well yes it could be a big may, but is it worth it? The answer is clearly yes. You went on to say that "we may not have means to help a single one" well that wouldn't be true because we could atleast help 10,000 like we did for the last people.
You said how could I provide a place to fish for someone. What if I own large property with a lake that has fish in it. Couldn't I give them the property? And isn't property a materialistic aid? Of course!
You went on to say that sustaining a doomed community is cruel. I would agree. If there was a 100% chance the community is doomed. However, I do not believe that is the case based on my argument above that providing materialist needs could help someone get out of poverty.
I apoligize for not explaining my "teaching" part better. I was simply saying that yes, you can teach someone to fish but you will need to provide materialistic aid such as a fishing pole.
So we could either let these 10,000 people die in fear of not being able to help the next generation. Or we could help them which I have clearly shown that even threw just materialistic aid we could help people escape poverty.
Debate Round No. 3


What jobs are you referring to? In nations around the world where the industrial revolution hasn't caught on yet, there's no such thing as employment. There isn't even a concept of money. Survival comes first, and for many impoverished communities around the world this means day-after-day of futile hunting and gathering. Many have to walk tens of kilometers to get the water they need for the day. There's no "moving up" in this type of community. There's no life for them outside basic sustenance.

Yes, you can help them for a year and by doing so give them room to reproduce and become even more unsustainable. They cannot feed 10,000 this year—what gives you the idea that they'll be able to feed the hundreds of newborn next year?

I agree that property is a form of material aid. Unfortunately, property is a non-existing concept in many parts of the world. For example, some parts of Africa don't belong to anyone, and so it's no one's to give. Furthermore, water is a scarce resource in Africa and you won't likely find lake systems with a considerable fish population. It's simply not a location that's meant to be populated.

The only way for these communities to avoid devastation is to re-stabilize towards a functional population number. If the food and water supplies can sustain 1,000 people then the population should be around that figure. To come in with foreign aid and give them more than they need is paving the way to disaster. Nature's a vicious and yet fair cycle. Death of newborns is not uncommon to them, and I believe that it is better to abstain from providing what they need rather than allowing them to grow beyond their own capabilities.

Again you've presented a dichotomy. A) Let 10,000 people die, or B) help them with your clearly proven material aid tactics. But this isn't a fair representative dichotomy, and you certainly haven't shown that material aid will help them prosper. A more proper dichotomy would be A) allow a community to grow beyond its own sustainable capabilities and thus overburden them even further or B) allow the cycle of life to run its course.

I will reiterate my argument below in hopes that you will do the same. I have done my best to avoid introducing new ideas into our discussion and I hope that you will kindly return the favor.

P1. A population cannot grow beyond its capabilities of sustaining itself.
P2. The providing of material aid allows a population to grow beyond its own means.
P3. Once the material aid has run out, there will be more impoverished people than there were before the aid.
C. Therefore, providing material aid to impoverished communities fosters an increase in poverty.

It has been a pleasure to discuss this with you. I appreciate your kind manners and the considerably thought that you put into it. Thank you.


You talked about in nations around the world where the industrial revolution hasn't caught on yet there is no such things as jobs. Yes in specific cases that is true. But generally speaking is there more places that have jobs and a form of money or is there more that don't? Clearly the answer is more places do. You also talked about how people have to hunt and walk far for water. In some situations yes, but then again if we helped them they would have food and water so I do not see the point you are trying to make.
Again in your next argument you were making specific arguments to africa. However this debate wasn't about does providing materialistic aid to africa promote poverty. It was just in general to the entire world.
You then said "the only way for these communities to avoid devestation is to re-establish towards a funtional population number". The word "re-establish" is important here because It was never stated that this group of people was already over populated. Someone from your point of view could say well eventually they will be over populated, but as I have already talked about in my last arguments, providing materialistic aid can lead someone out of poverty. Again we are talking generally about the earths population, not small sections of africa.
Threw out this debate you keep assuming that the number of newborns, from helping to sustaining the community, will automatically be living in poverty as if it were a forgone conclusion. Which is clearly false.
My B.O.P was to show that, generally speaking, providing materialistic aid does not promote poverty. I can tell I have done that well because when you could not refute my arguments by using the general population of the earth, you chose to give examples using small sections of africa as your population.
Thanks for the debate.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by KristophKP 5 years ago
I agree with your comment. I should have better defined the argument. Thank you for the debate!
Posted by stubs 5 years ago
This debate wasn't over only not being able to provide food. It was over poverty which is much more broad.
Posted by KristophKP 5 years ago
Because a normal population is one that can feed itself.
Posted by stubs 5 years ago
Why would we assume the population is overpopulated? Were were assuming it was a poverish comunitty. People can be poverish without living in a overpopulated area.
Posted by KristophKP 5 years ago
Shouldn't it be obvious that a starving population is an overpopulated one?

Small sections of Africa? There are 7 billion people on Earth. Of those 7 billion, 925 million are starving. Of those 925 million, 235 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It's a shame that we never touched upon governmental interference. There's much more to be discussed about this expansive subject.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by wierdman 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: i thought con was more convincing
Vote Placed by ohnoyoulost 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro showed no reasoning behind poverty and aid being linked. I tend to agree with double R.
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Argument goes to Con for correctly pointing out that Pro did not provide a sufficient link between aid and poverty. Pros case that aid increases poverty rested completely on an assumption that the community will remain in poverty. Pro must show support for this argument to uphold her resolution. Pro loses sources for not providing any despite relying on factual information to establish her case. Con loses S.G. for not separating paragraphs making his contentions difficult to separate.