Resolved: Just governments ought to require that employers pay a living wage.
Hi! Welcome to this debate. Only accept if you are serious about finishing. Comment if interested.
This is a topic of quite a bit of dispute as to what exactly a "living wage" entails. To clarify, I will provide a definition.
Living Wage: a wage sufficient to provide the necessities essential to an acceptable standard of living.
In context this equates to a raise in the minimum wage, and the two can be used synonymously in the debate. Argumenation should be done pragmatically and in moral fashion to come to a conclusion on whether or not raising the minimum wage is practical and just.
Before going any further, I'll lay out some rules:
Be courteous and respectful
Debating should be done in a manner that is both pragmatic and as coherent as possible.
72 Hr response time
8k character limit
Here is the round schedule:
Round 1: Neg Rules, Aff Acceptance
Round 2: Neg Case, Aff Case and Rebuttals
Round 3: Neg Rebuttals and Defense, Aff Rebuttals and Defense
Round 4: Neg Closing Statements, Aff Closing Statements
Other than that... comment if interested! Have a great day! :)
I will be arguing in negation of the resolution which states: Just governments ought to require that employers pay a living wage. To argue such a notion, I will be debating both pragmatically and in a moral fashion to show that a living wage is both impractical and unjust to enforce.
Contention I: A living wage ordinance hosts a pool of flaws.
Besides being an inherent flaw on a policy level, a living wage has a great deal of problems that lie elsewhere.
Subpoint A: A fair living wage is indeterminable.
Each individual, family, and community are different. “Living wage measures are completely arbitrary and that [individuals], both conservatives and liberals, aren’t well qualified to determine what’s an acceptable lifestyle for other people.”  It is beyond anyone’s capability to instigate a just living wage. A government should not have authority to mandate the lives of others by forcing employers to pay a wage that is unjust.
Subpoint B: A living wage won’t create jobs.
Advocates for the living wage trumpet the unfounded claim that a living wage will solve for unemployment by creating new jobs. This is quite simply false.
Brendan Buck notes, “Mandating higher wages has real costs, including fewer people working. With unemployment Americans' top concern, our focus should be creating — not destroying — jobs for those who need them most.”  Buck was referring to a study conducted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), where they indicated that job loss, of approximately 500,000, was inevitable.
This isn’t, however, the only study that recognizes potential job loss. According to CBS News, economists David Neumark and William Wascher, two-thirds of 100 researchers reported a negative effect on employment in the US.  The report itself also specifies that “[The] evidence tends to point to disemployment effects of minimum wages for many other countries as well.”  These studies show a relatively consistent view of negative wage effects not only in the US, but as a policy flaw around the globe.
But even beyond studies, we find the actual implementation of a higher wage has been detrimental. Seattle implemented a $15 living wage, but even before it went into effect, it had caused restaurant closings and job losses. The Washington Policy Center explains, “The shut-downs have idled dozens of low-wage workers, the very people advocates say the wage law is supposed to help.”  Seattle Magazine describes, “The Seattle Times and Eater have reported extensively on restaurant owners’ many concerns about how to compensate for the extra funds that will now be required for labor: They may need to raise menu prices, source poorer ingredients, reduce operating hours, reduce their labor and/or more.” 
It is glaringly evident that past implementation and the majority of studies conducted about the living wage relatively consistently support the idea that a living wage is harmful to employment.
Subpoint C: Inflation is an inevitable consequence.
Besides an inherent inability to construct a just living wage in the first place, and the fact that proposed living wages would create job losses, we observe yet another policy flaw. In an effort to award the impoverished with more dough, we raise the prices for everyone.
The report by CBO explains, “The real value of the minimum wage has both risen and fallen, as the nominal increases have subsequently been eroded by inflation.”  However, this report isn’t the only one that supports this notion. Debra Burke, professor of law at Western Carolina University notes, “Increase in labor costs can spur inflation and undercut the real minimum wage, precipitating an endless spiral.”  Moreover, corporations themselves have spoken out, declaring that a living wage will hurt their businesses: “U.S. corporations, however, say that forcing them to raise wages will mean fewer jobs and higher prices, hurting those with lower incomes in particular.” With advocates heralding how a living wage will help the poor, it is increasingly evident that this is not the case. Instead of assisting these needy individuals, a living wage, or wage increase, is certain to have negative consequences.
Contention II: Supposed benefits of a living wage are largely illogical.
While the few poor individuals that actually receive the higher wage will benefit, the broad scale tells a widely different story. Many of those poor and low-skilled workers don’t get the living wage. Suppose you are a small business owner, in a government poised to raise the minimum wage. Your profits are a little above even. I propose a rhetoric: If the wage is raised, what will happen to your business? The only logical options are to A) cut workers, which only increases unemployment, B) raise prices, which hurts not only the poor, but to a degree, also the middle and upper class. But, if you were to cut workers, who would you cut? The less-skilled workers earning minimum wage, or the better skilled workers who would now be paid the new minimum wage? The logical option is to keep the best workers.
It is obvious of the dilemma with which you would be faced. Living wage laws are aimed to help the poor, lower class workers with less skill and education. However, these, in fact, would be the ones most affected; and in a detrimental manner.
In a strictly moral sense, this defies the lofty ambitions of living wage advocates. They claim their policy will help the poor, but logic and evidence refutes this claim. Instead, the class they aim to help is hurt the worst.
Contention III: A living wage will facilitate job loss.
Though advocates repeatedly claim that a living wage will have little, if any, effect on unemployment, it is increasingly evident that a living wage will instead hurt employment.
An article by The Atlantic shows, “the minimum wage could reduce young adult employment by 2 percent.”  Moreover, a paper done by economists Jonathan Meer of Texas A&M and Jeremy West of MIT explains, “We find that the minimum wage reduces net job growth, primarily through its effect on job creation by expanding establishments.”  The Mises Institute simplifies, “In essence, minimum wage increases make it more likely that firms won’t hire new people than that they will fire current employees.” 
New data is also consistent with this motif of unemployment concerns. The Employment Policies Institute explained, “New analysis from economists at Miami and Trinity University (2012-13) provide[d] state-level estimates on the number of jobs that would be lost as a result of a $10.10 wage hike. Across all 50 states, the updated analysis shows that up to one million jobs would be lost.” 
Many claim the primary job of the living wage is to dispel poverty. However, this theory is highly flawed. Forbes published an article which stated, “As a poverty program, raising the minimum wage is like killing flies with a shotgun, not very well targeted. About 60% of the officially poor don’t work, so the only thing raising the minimum wage does for them is to make it harder for them to get a job if they ever decide they want one. Congress raised the minimum wage 10.6% in July, 2009. In the ensuing 6 months, nearly 600,000 teen jobs disappeared.” 
As I explained earlier, this debate is to be debated and judged based on pragmatism and morality. I have presented multiple pragmatic arguments, and a few moral as well. However, the practical arguments also have an application in morality. If we implement a policy that will cause A) job loss, B) inflation, C) and harm the primary target, we implement a policy that is unjust and immoral. Conclusively, a living wage largely results in primarily negative consequences of both pragmatic and moral nature. For these reasons, among others, a just government should NOT require employers to pay a living wage.
I affirm the resolution that "just government ought to require that employers pay a living wage."
Contention I: A living wage varies between communities, so a nationwide raise is not practical or effective.
In the United States, the cost of living varies greatly between states and within states. A living wage, which in Hawaii is $13.74  is $9.79 in North Dakota . Even on a county level there are large differences in what can be considered a living wage. For example, the living wage in Mountrail County, ND is $11.99 , but is $9.26 in Grand Forks County, ND . These inequities and variations in the cost of living make a nationwide wage floor an unjust proposition. In keeping with the resolution, the government ought to require that employers pay the living wage for their county.
Contention II: Raising the living wage improves overall health and wellbeing.
Subpoint A: Studies have shown that a raise in pay correlates to improved health.
A study analyzing data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) found that "people whose family incomes are below the federal poverty line are more than four times as likely to rate their health as poor or fair compared to people with family incomes of more than three times the federal poverty level ." An additional study published in the American Journal of Public Health predicts that an increase of the minimum wage to $11.00 would reduce the rate of premature death in individuals 24-44 years with an annual income less than $20,000 . Low wages in baseline years have also been found to increase the risk of hypertension, especially in women and persons under age 40 . Overall, a wage increase would decrease state healthcare spending .
Subpoint B: Children of low-wage workers would be benefited.
A wage increase would benefit 19% of all children in the U.S., as 27% of affected low-wage workers have at least one child . These children and adolescents in the lowest socioeconomic group are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from mental illness than those in the highest . Children who live in these low-income households are also more likely to drop out of school, become pregnant at an early age, and assume adult responsibilities than their higher-income peers . Some of these elevated numbers can be attributed to the disproportionate number of single-parent households among the working poor , as children who live with a single parent are more likely to do poorly in school or drop out  which correlates to elevated rates of risky behavior .
Contention III: Wage increases have minimal to no negative effect.
Subpoint A: Increasing the wage floor would have no detrimental effect on small business owners.
Many people fear that an increase in the minimum wage would force small businesses to either layoff workers or close. Although this is a reasonable assumption, there is little merit to this claim. In fact, around half of small business owners support raising the minimum wage  . Some may consider this a sign that there is a large portion of the community that is supposedly most directly affected who do not support legislation that would raise the wages of their employees. Yet nearly 75% of small business owners "do not employ minimum wage workers" .
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Contention IV: The current minimum wage is extremely low when indexed to worker productivity.
According to the Department of Labor, in order for consumer purchasing power to be equivalent to the 1960's, the federal minimum wage would need to be more than $11 . Although the nominal minimum wage has increased since then, the wage floor fails to account for the increase in consumer prices, so the real minimum wage fell . In measuring the real minimum wage, economists use a regression-based panel method which indicates that the current federal minimum wage, in absence of a price adjustment, under compensates workers .
My opponent has fundamental flaws in his arguments. First, he contends that "a fair living wage in indeterminable". In my first contention, I disproved this notion by explaining that a living wage varies greatly between communities and that a living wage is dependent on location so a national minimum wage is unreasonable. As the resolution states that a just government ought to require that employers pay a living wage, it is necessary to understand that a living wage varies significantly throughout the country    . Additionally, my opponent states that the government should not have the authority to "mandate the lives of others by forcing employers to pay a wage that is unjust". This is fundamentally untrue, as the government regulates all aspects of business, including worker and food safety. These regulations require employers to spend more money to uphold these standards, so the argument that the government should not have the authority to mandate a wage increase also encompasses regulations that ensure both community and worker safety.
In response to the claim that raising the living wage increases unemployment, studies have shown that it has little to no effect on the employment rate   . My opponent also cited a Seattle Times article to support his claim that the wage hike in Seattle resulted in restaurant closings. The full article, however, explains that many factors contributed to the closings: old-timers who "were simply ready for a change", facing tough odds (60,000 restaurants open and 50,000 close each year), and basic supply-and-demand principles . The article also discloses that "none of our local departing/transitioning restaurateurs who announced their plans last month have mentioned this [the impending minimum wage hike] as an issue" . Thus, my opponents claim that wage hikes result in small business closures and higher unemployments rates are refuted.
CA.1: A fair living wage is indeterminable.
My opponent claims that my argument here has “fundamental flaws” and argues that a nationwide wage is not practical. However, this is not what I have advocated for. The argument did, however, pertain to local wages as well. Different people still have different lifestyles and external factors which prevent lawmakers to instigate a wage that is just. Regardless, raising the wage itself is inherently detrimental, contrary to my opponent’s beliefs. While I understand that the government already controls business to some degree, regulating wages on a federal, state, or local level, at a wage which is too high is the government stepping over their boundaries.
Professor of political theory Joseph Reisert explains, “Government-mandated wages represent an arbitrary and unjust interference with the liberty of business-owners and people who are looking for work.”  He also explains that the nature of a living wage is positive to cause inflation, reduce employment, and there will be less hires. Moreover, safety of workers and community have no direct correlation to wage increase.
CA.2: A living wage won’t create jobs.
My opponent claims there is no threat to employment. This is empirically false, as backed up by a plethora of research. This includes the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office , two-thirds of 100 researchers , among others. American entrepreneur Neal Asbury reveals, “the findings of economic theory and empirical research regarding the minimum wage over the past 70 years, [reveal] that minimum wage increases tend to reduce employment.”  Economist David S. Goldfarb continues this argument by saying, “Economists… accumulate statistical evidence on the effects [of a living wage]. Much of the research has indicated that increases in the minimum wage have adverse effects on the employment opportunities of low-skilled workers.” 
In fact, 85 percent of the most credible studies point to negative employment effects, and the studies that focused on the least-skilled groups most likely to be adversely affected by minimum wages, the evidence for disemployment effects were especially strong.  The congressional Joint Economic Committee found that a living wage would also result in the following:
As is evident, the general consensus of economists, researchers, et cetera is that a living wage will have a generally and relatively consistent negative effect on employment, among other concerns.
 Robert S. Goldfarb, "The Policy Content of Quantitative Minimum Wage Research," Proceedings of the Industrial Relations Research Association, 27th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, December 28–29, 1974.
CA.1: A living wage varies between communities, so a nationwide raise is not practical or effective.
Although my opponent claimed that "different lifestyles and external factors" prevent lawmakers from implementing a wage floor that is just, he neglected to address the fact that these are aggravating factors rather than a cause for rejecting this concept.
CA.2A: Studies have shown that a raise in pay correlates to improved health.
In my initial argument, I clearly identify multiple benefits that correlate directly to wage increases, not a lift out of poverty. Although my opponent states that a statistic from The New American to support the position that the majority of Americans do not work, the source is a conservative publication which "forthrightly acknowledges an editorial point of view" and cannot be considered a reliable source . An unbiased academic report concludes that "the majority of the American poor do work" . While my opponent attempts to invalidate my argument that a living wage results in improved health by claiming that raising the minimum wage would cause employers to cut back on benefits, I have already shown this to be false. State healthcare spending decreases as a result of a wage hike, meaning that more individuals are covered by their employer insurance . Overall, my opponent failed to disprove my contention that a raise in pay results in improved health as he did not provide any evidence that disproved a reduced rate in premature death , hypertension , and increased rating in overall health .
CA.2B: Children of low-wage workers would be benefited.
This argument remains untouched, and thus, still stands. I clearly proved that the parents experience health benefits, which my opponents states is necessary for the children to be benefited as well.
CA.3A: Wage increases have minimal to no negative effect.
My opponent did not sufficiently negate this contention and still stands. Additionally, the evidence my opponent provided to negate this is inherently biased, as the statistic he cites comes from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that promotes a "pro-business, socially conservative agenda" and cannot be considered unbiased .
CA.5: The current minimum wage is extremely low when indexed to worker productivity.
This argument also remains unrefuted, as my opponent claims that "increased wages will encourage mechanical and robotic replacements" but fails to provide any (unbiased) evidence supporting this statement.
RA.1: A fair living wage is indeterminable
I already addressed this.
RA.2: A living wage won't create jobs.
There are two major flaws with my opponents argument. First, the argument hinges on the idea that a relatively small job reduction justifies not increasing the minimum wage. Second, the research used to support this idea is biased and unfounded. My opponent argues that studies have shown that a raise in the minimum wage increases unemployment and cites the CBO and a quote from a CBS News article. Although the CBO is a reputable source, the full description explains that "some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated" and that "most ... would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold" . So not only does the CBO report actually refute my opponents claim that raising the minimum wage doesn't reduce poverty, it also is a prediction rather than an empirical research study. The second source my opponent uses is a CBS News article. Again, this source has a few credibility problems. In fact, this news article is based on the CBO report that my opponent also cited, meaning that the data from the article actually originated in the CBO report. Also, because the article is based on the CBO report, it also negates my opponents contention that a raise in the minimum wage doesn't reduce poverty, as "it lifts hundreds of thousands of others out of poverty" . Both sources have another contradiction: the CBO report considered a raise to $9.00/hour which would only cost an estimated 100,000 jobs .
RA.3: Inflation is an inevitable consequence.
My opponent failed to provide convincing evidence that this is the case. One of the two sources provided is an article written by a freelance blogger with no professional economic experience or credentials , the other a paper which details the lack of research available on the effects of wage increases on prices . An individual with no background in economics can hardly be considered a reliable source, and the second source cited states that "there is so little empirical evidence on price effects" and that "a comprehensive survey on the minimum wage price effects is not available in the literature" .
Conclusion: Overall, I have provided extensive research and empirical studies supporting my contentions in addition to effectively negating my opponents contentions. So yes, just governments ought to require that employers pay a living wage.
I would like to thank my opponent for a great debate!
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