The Instigator
lddebater540
Pro (for)
Losing
11 Points
The Contender
PartamRuhem
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

Resolved: Progressive income taxes are just

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
PartamRuhem
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/3/2011 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,753 times Debate No: 18158
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (26)
Votes (7)

 

lddebater540

Pro

First round is for acceptance only. This is part of Tim Spin's debate tournament.

A brief note before I begin the round: While the resolution can be evaluated with any number of arguments, if my opponent agrees, I would like to have the debate focus on the clash of two broad moral ideas. This helps filter the arguments so that the cases are more cohesive and fosters debate education by helping debaters link their contentions to broader philosophical principles. If my opponent does not agree, then we will not pursue this course of action.

Definitions:

1. Progressive income tax: a tax by which the tax rate increases as the tax base increases. Essentially, individuals who earn more have more money, or a larger tax base, and they thus pay more taxes under a progressive system.

2. Just: to be in accordance with the principles of justice

3. Justice: Giving each his due (Aristotle)

Thus, we must determine if progressive taxation "gives each his due" and is fair to all.

I look forward to debating my opponent and would like to congratulate him for advancing to the semifinal round of Tim Spin's debate tournament.

Progressive income taxes:
PartamRuhem

Con

I would like to simply argue the resolution on facts, evidence, statistics, etc. My opponent should feel free to include a broad moral idea, but I don't plan on using it in my arguments or connection what I am saying to a philosophical view of any kind.

Also, I would like to provide an alternative definition of just, for I feel the one provided by Iddebater (Pro) strayed too far from simply the adjective "just".

Just: based on right; rightful; lawful: (http://dictionary.reference.com...)

I also congratulate my opponent on his previous win, and am anticipating high quality work from him. This challange will be enjoyable and intellectual.
Debate Round No. 1
lddebater540

Pro

In the comments section, my opponent agreed to use my definition of Justice for the round, so keep in mind that Justice is giving each his due. Moreover, my definition is the basis for his definition because it is impossible to determine what is "right" or "rightful" unless one assesses what individual is due and acts on that assessment. Moreover, legality cannot be the basis for Justice because laws can be unjust; the enslavement of African Americans in the 1800s was legal but it was clearly unjust. So, my definition is the highest standard in the round.

A just society must respect the fact that the rights of its citizens are inherently valuable because citizens create the state to protect their rights. However, rights must be balanced with responsibility; those with more rights have a greater stake in society and thus have a greater responsibility to ensure that it functions properly. This means that in order to achieve justice, we must achieve the fair distribution of rights and responsibilities.

A brief note before the round begins: In the modern world, progressive income taxes are implemented in such a way that preserves the monetary powers of the rich. Instead of simply increasing the rate of taxation, governments tax a certain base amount of money at a certain rate and tax any income in excess of that amount at another, higher rate. This system insures that individuals who earn more income are able to preserve a greater amount of it than those who earn less.

My thesis is that a progressive income tax is just because it fairly distributes rights and responsibilities to every member of society.

Contention 1: Income is essentially due to "accidents of birth" rather than "hard work", so taxing income progressively is justified. Often, individuals achieve success because they are born into wealthy families; because their parents have greater amounts of time and resources to spend on their education, those born into wealth are more likely to succeed in the modern world and secure more wealth than individuals whose parents belonged to lower income brackets. Studies conducted by the Economic Mobility Project noted that economic mobility has decreased over the last generation; 42% of those in the bottom quintile of income remain in the bottom quintile, while 39% of those born into the top quintile remain in the top quintile(http://www.economicmobility.org...). Additionally, economic growth has been concentrated in the upper quartiles; median family income in the top quintile grew by 52% in the last generation while it only grew by 18% in the bottom quintile (see source above). Since economic status impacts one's success later in life, success can be attributed to accidents of birth, meaning that an individual's success depends on which family he was born into rather than on his abilities. Since accidents of birth are morally arbitrary, it is justified to tax individuals with greater income at higher rates because the fact that they own a greater share of wealth has no moral significance.

Contention 2: The wealthy owe a greater proportion of their wealth to the political system than the poor due, so it is justified for them to return some of their wealth to the system in order to serve the common good. In non-egalitarian societies, individuals who earn more income are only able to do so because the political and social systems permit them to snag a disproportionate share of the financial power of their nation. For example, a corporation in the United States can only earn massive amounts of money because the U.S. government protects its ability to trade and conduct certain business practices, no matter how nefarious or unethical they may be. This means that wealthy individuals possess a greater stake in the well-being of the system, since they not only would never have gained their wealth if the system did not exist, but they also would lose a great proportion of their wealth if the system failed to guard their incomes. The poor, however, do not have as much of an incentive to support the system because the wealth that they earn is minisicule compared to that earned by the wealthy and because they are not directly benefiting from the existence of the system. This, in turn, means that the wealthy owe a greater debt to the political system of the nation and thus must pay a greater proprotion of their wealth to the system in order to preserve its well-being. Professors Steven Holmes and Cass Sunstein of The University of Toronto and Harvard Law School, respectively, contend, "Successful individuals owe their riches and success to social institutions that, while demanding cooperation from all, distribute rewards selectively and unequally. A capitalist economy provides the legal preconditions for the unequal accumulation of wealth. Such unequal accumulations do not fall from the sky. However hard people work, it is always an oversimplification to attribute differences of acquired wealth solely to the wealthy's "own efforts." People begin from massively different starting points, and someone born on one street in, say, Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles may have much worse life prospects than someone else born a mile away. In any case, private prospects take the form they do, and are rewarded as they are, only because of institutional arrangements that are politically chosen, administered by government and enforced through law. Arrangements that spawn unequal accumulations of wealth can certainly be justified on liberal principles, at least if they generate advantages for most. They can also be adjusted—without any offense to these principles—to ensure that some of this amassed fortune is diverted to provide minimally decent opportunities and well-being for ordinary citizens. Indeed, the very objective that justifies those arrangements—the promotions of human well-being—also argues for adjustments designed to help those who are otherwise disadvantaged." (The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes pg. 193 http://www.amazon.com...) Thus, because the wealthy have a greater stake in the system and because they have a greater debt to the system, they ought to pay more than the common citizens for the well-being of the system.

Contention 3: Progressive taxation actually preserves the buying power of the wealthy and thus essentially provides free services for every member of society. Robert H. Frank, a professor of Economics at Cornell University, contends that not only does the progressive income tax not violate the wealth of the powerful, but it also essentially provides with with free services. First, money is essentially a placeholder for the exchange of goods and services; it only has value because it can be used to purchase items from others. Second, in a market economy, as individuals possess less money overall, prices decrease because sellers must reduce their prices in order to maximize their profits. Third, since income taxes are applied to every member of society, and not just to the rich, each individual's pool of wealth decreases, meaning that prices must decrease to match this drop in income, thus stabilzing every individual's buying power. Since each individual's buying power is the same as it was before the progressive tax was implemented, and the excess funds are siphoned off to the government for the maintainence of society, the wealthy essentially receive free services because they still retain the ability to spend their money as they please. (http://nontrivialpursuits.org...).

Thus, because progressive income taxes ensure that the wealthy uphold their obligations to society and because it provides for the welfare of all, progressive income taxes are just.
PartamRuhem

Con

This debate will focus primarily on the definition of just, which, defined by Pro, ends up being "Giving each his due". If I as Con can provide examples and situations where progressive income taxes do NOT give each his due, then I will win the debate. Now Pro has already gone ahead and explained Progressive Income Taxes in one of his opening paragraphs in R2, which I agree with for the most part; the system is designed to only take away a larger percentage of income once your income reaches a certain level, say $90,000 a year. After that, everything will be taxed at a higher rate, but that 90K itself is left untouched.

I would like to start my round off by emphasizing my opponent's thesis: Progressive income tax is just because it fairly distributes rights and responsibilities to every member of society. Now to move on to my contentions, and then I will address my opponent's argument and why it fails to meet his thesis and the resolution.

Definition: Capital Gains- When you sell an asset at a higher price than you paid for it, the difference is your capital gain. For example, if you buy 100 shares of stock for $20 a share and sell them for $30 a share, you realize a capital gain of $10 a share, or $1,000 in total.If you own the stock for more than a year before selling it, you have a long-term capital gain. If you hold the stock for less than a year, you have a short-term capital gain.

Most long-term capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than your other income while short-term gains are taxed at your regular rate. [1]

1. Progressive Income Taxes exempt Capital Gains.

Progressive income tax has major flaws, all of which show it to be unjust. Because the system doesn't take into account capital gains (CG) as heavily as normal income, it creates unbalance in who is paying the most taxes. The PIT system was made in order to tax the richest of the country at higher levels, as to provide for the common well being of this country in a variety of ways; what is happening instead is that this group of people are paying the LOWEST taxes because they maintain the majority of their income through capital gains. Right now, the tax rate is at 15% for those with capital gains [2]. 35% is the highest level of progressive income tax that one must pay, and we already see the problem; those maintaining their income through capital gains (the wealthiest) pay 20% less progressive taxes then those who do not have capital gains. Is this giving each his due? Is it giving each his due when the secretary of Warren Buffet ends up paying more in progressive taxes then he does, when she only makes a fraction of what he does? It's not just, for it's not giving each his due.

"The benefits of preferential rates for capital gains are enjoyed by the wealthiest Americans because they're the ones who tend to receive this type of income. More than 70 percent of the benefit goes to taxpayers with annual income of more than $1 million, a group that comprises only about 0.3 percent of all taxpayers." [2]

The rich are, yet again, eluding the way our taxes work. Most Americans don't have the ability to make more than 2/3 of their income through capital gains, giving those who are wealthiest the biggest savings. The richest 400 U.S. taxpayers in 2007 paid an effective tax rate of just 16.6 percent. That's largely because more than two-thirds of this group's income—which averaged $345 million—was in the form of capital gains and dividends, while most Americans are paid in salaries and wages." [3] The reader's might be asking themselves, how exactly can we see that these people are able to achieve so much of their income through capital gains? "This select group probably includes some managers of hedge funds and private equity funds, who enjoy another special loophole allowing them to treat most of their investment-management compensation as capital gain instead of ordinary income—vastly lowering their taxes. Historically, when different forms of income have been taxed at different rates, lawyers and accountants have found ways to create tax shelters that make one type of income look like another type to take advantage of the lower rate—this is just one example." [2] Basically, the wealthy file their incomes as capital assets, which fall under capital gains, giving them that extremely lower interest. The Progressive Tax system is not fairly distributed, and is not just. The historically low rate of capital gains has made the federal income tax system less progressive while increasing the budget deficit. [2]

This contention alone shows how unjust Progressive taxes really are, and how people like Warren Buffet or Steve Jobs pay less in progressive taxes then their secretaries do. All in all, not giving each his due.

REFUTATIONS
C1. My opponent tries arguing that since most people are "born into wealth" they should be taxed more, because they usually maintain this wealth, thus making progressive income taxes just. This is an example of how Progressive Income taxes work in general, but I really don't see how this contention really strengthens my opponent's argument that PIT are just. If anything, it just helps my argument, because more and more people are easily becoming wealthy (see opponent's C1 sources) by being born into it, making more people who will elude PIT through capital gains. Also, I would like to point out that his statistics show those who are in the lower quintiles to remain there over the years; this is most likely because they know if they reach a higher income, they will have to pay that to the government through PIT, showing PIT to be demotivating for the average citizen to achieve higher success.

C2. Pro's second point is that the wealthy owe more back to the system, because they have more at stake and are only able to achieve their wealth through the government protecting them. I again agree with this statement, but my contention about capital gains shows that the wealthy are not properly giving back to the system as they should be, because PIT allows them to elude paying through Capital Gains. Again, not a relevant point.

C3. This point again falls invalid because it is merely in thought that it would provide free services for every member of society. Instead, those without capital gains, but with higher incomes, must pay and provide these free services for, in most cases, their bosses, or just those who make up a small portion of taxpayers who evade PIT. Basically, my opponent has again helped my case by showing that these taxes are paid to help the wealthy, who don't pay them in the amount that is just.

|Conclusion|
So far my opponent has only given examples of how Progressive income taxes should have worked on paper, but we can see in practice, it is not just, nor does it work. Through my contentions, and the help of my opponent's, we see those who don't/ aren't able to have larger Capital Gains paying the standards for PIT, while the richest and most powerful business owners find it all too easy to maintain over 2/3 of their income through capital gains, giving them a huge tax break. The poorer are basically paying for the richer...now we must refer back to the definition provided by my opponent; Giving each his due (Aristotle). We all see this is not giving each his due. Also, let's see if my opponent's thesis has held up throughout all this. Progressive income tax is just because it fairly distributes rights and responsibilities to every member of society. We see the rich evading these rights and responsibilities, and allowing those not as fortunate as them to make up for it. Pro's thesis is not met, and all his points fall.

Thank You.

Sources
1. Dictionary of Financial Terms. Copyright � 2008 Lightbulb Press, Inc.
2. http://www.americanprogress.org...
3. http://www.irs.gov....
Debate Round No. 2
lddebater540

Pro

Unfortunately, the negative has attempted to dejustify my case with a case turn, so most of this debate is going to devolve into a theory battle. I will start with the off-case theory shells and then briefly defend my case.

Theory (Off-Case)

Shell 1:Negative interpretation of the resolutionis nontopical because it is too specific, but the resolution is general.

Notice that the resolutiononlyis about whether or not progressive income taxes in theory are unjust; it never mention the United States or any other specific country. While the negative has the right to use the United States as an example, the entire justification of the negative case is that the progressive income tax system of the United States is unjust because it does not tax Capital Gains at a proper rate, not that progressive income taxes in general or in theory are unjust. The only way that the negative could potentially justify this claim is if no nation included captial gains in income calculations; unfortunately for him, however, such nations as Australia, Canada, and the Czech Republic tax captial gains as income, so his sole contention is not topical (http://en.wikipedia.org...). Since his case is too specific, while the resolution calls for him to debunk the notion of progressive income taxes, the negative case is nontopical and you should vote affirmative based on presumption. Additionally, notice that the implementation of progressive income taxes is separate from the theory, so the negative case is nontopical beause it covers the flaws that occur when political bodies implement progressive income taxes, and does not dejustify the theory.

Shell 2: The negative case is nontopical because it ignores the fact that, by definition, a progressive income tax would tax CGs at the same rate as income is taxed. Under a progressive system, individuals who earn more wealth, regardless of the means through which they earn it, are expected to contribute more to society than individuals who earn less wealth. This means that a truly progresive system would permit neither exemptions nor special rates for the wealthy because the income would not be taxed proportionally and individuals with less income would pay a greater proprotion of their earnings to the government for the well-being of the general populace. Notice, however, that my opponent's entire justification is that progressive income taxes are unjust because some nations have implemented special exemptions that permit the wealthy to use backdoor policies and thus submit less money to the state than their inferiors (extend the Warren Buffet example here). This means that my opponent's examples are flawed because they do not describe progressive systems; rather, they argue against systems that have not implemented true progressive income taxes. This has two impacts. First, my opponent's case is nontopical because it fails to address the question of the resolution; this obviously means that you should vote affirmative. Second, my opponent's case strengthens my own because it is arguing for the implementation of a true progressive system that would not utilize CG cuts and exemptions. In other words, a truly progressive system would not permit Warren Buffet's secretary to pay more in income taxes than the millionaire does. This means that you can turn the entire negative case because it is simply a reason to vote affirmative.

As a final note in the off-case section: please do not accept my opponent's objection to the second shell because he himself claimed that CG were part of an individual's income in his last speech. If he would like to retract this claim, then he loses the round because his case is nontopical because it would be claiming that progressive income taxes are unjust because they do not tax non-income profits (this is like saying that the police department is evil because it does not put out fires). If he does not retract his claim, then you can vote affirmative based on the theory shells above. Thus, my opponent has placed himself in a double-bind and you should vote affirmative no matter his next course of action.

My opponent's attacks on my case were brief, but I will address them anyways.

AFFIRMATIVE CASE

In contention 1, I explained that because the rich obtain their wealth through an accident of birth, which is morally arbitary, they do not necessarily deserve the wealth that they "earned", so the government has the right to tax them at higher rates than those who did not benefit from the lottery of birth. His first response to this was that it benefits his argument because the progressive income tax actually maximizes the wealth of the wealthy. The problem with this analysis is that 1) the case that he is examining, namely that of the United States, does not include a truly progressive system because there are loopholes and exemptions and 2) other progressive system actually do tax captial gains as income, so his case is too specific.

His second attack was that people are not motivated to move into higher income brackets because they will be taxed more. This contradicts his entire case because the point of his analysis was that the rich actually preserve a greater proportion of their income than the poor do through CG exemptions. If we assume that his case is true, then there is no disincentive to move to a higher income bracket because one would be preserving a larger proprotion of his income by doing so. This means that you can extend the analysis that proves that this social immobility is a result of a lack of a progressive system and that a progressive system is needed because the social immobility exists.

In contention 2, I explained that the wealthy owe more to the system and thus should contribute more to its well-being because they have a greater interest in preserving it. His only response was that he conceded to the contention with the caveat that it was irrelevant. Since I have proven that my case is the only topical one in the round, he has explicitly conceded to contention 2 and you can vote affirmative off of its existence since it independently justifies the affirmative case. Because my opponent and I both agree that this is true, progressive income taxes are just and you must vote affirmative in this round in order to preserve fairness and integrity.

In contention 3, I explained that PIT actually preserved the buying power of the wealthy and thus provided them with free services while allowing the government to support the welfare of the indigent. His response is that those without capital gains are funding the system. First, cross-apply the two theory shells here because this rebuttal is nontopical. Second, keep in mind that a system with capital gain exemptions is not truly progressive, so his response is completely meaningless in the context of the round.

Thus, you should vote affirmative based on topicality and the fact that my opponent conceded the vast majority of my case. I eagerly await the second negative rebuttal. Thank you.
PartamRuhem

Con

I feel as if my opponent misrepresents the actual resolution. He tries stating that the resolution, and his whole argument, is based off of the theory of Progressive Income Tax, instead of it as it actually is implemented in society. I would like to state to the reader's that Pro never hinted to this in his previous rounds, so it's unfair for him to simply change the meaning of the resolution like that. Let it be known that if Pro wished to argue that Progressive Income Taxes in theory are just, then he should have labeled the resolution as such. However, he did not, and therefore cannot argue that PIT is just in THEORY. Furthermore, my arguments are extremely topical in the fact that they target the largest economy in the world, a.k.a some of the wealthiest people in the world, which is what PIT is here for; taxing those who make more at a higher rate. I will go in depth in defending my argument later, but now I would like to focus on some key issues that make this topic non-theory based.

1. Definition of Just

My opponent's definition of just makes his "theory" argument non-topical, for it states " Just: to be in accordance with the principles of justice......Justice: Giving each his due

How can my opponent claim that something in theory is just if it can't meet up to his OWN definition? You can't state that this topic is in theory and then define a key word with a definition that dictates usage. Allow me to explain. Justice says giving each his due. If my opponent argues PIT in theory, then he doesn't argue it's implementation at all. If implementation was never argued, then it's impossible to prove that each was given his due through this system, thus making it impossible for Pro to actually show PIT to be just. This alone stops his attempts at changing the resolution's meaning, and should invalidate his whole argument.

Besides that main point that makes this topic one that must be argued in practice, we can all see that Pro never mentioned this to be simply theory based, nor did he hint at it even in his Round 2. In fact, Round 2 hosted some interesting statement's of Pro's.

"A brief note before the round begins: In the modern world, progressive income taxes are implemented in such a way that preserves the monetary powers of the rich. Instead of simply increasing the rate of taxation, governments tax a certain base amount of money at a certain rate and tax any income in excess of that amount at another, higher rate. This system insures that individuals who earn more income are able to preserve a greater amount of it than those who earn less." This shows Pro to be referencing the implementation of PIT and using this as part of his argument.

The reader's should disregard Pro's attempt to turn this into a theory based argument.

Now moving on to extending my arguments and defending them.

1. Progressive Income Taxes exempt Capital Gains

Shell 1: My opponent tries arguing that the topic is general, and to an extent I agree; but how exactly does this make my argument any less relevant? I used the United States, the top economy in the world. I used the U.S. for this reason, and also because it's a lot easier to get stats from the country you live in and such. It's important that they are the top economy because it shows us to have the largest amount of wealthy people. Thus, if I were to prove that PIT is unjust in the U.S., it's a fair assumption that it is abused in other countries as well. If a student such as myself could find this loophole in the system, I am sure most, if not all, successful international businessmen have found it as well. My opponent names some nations that tax capital gains as an income, but fails to show at which rates they tax these countries, the percentage of wealthy, or any other relevant statistics. He merely provides wikipedia to support his claims.

Shell 2:"This means that in order to achieve justice, we must achieve the fair distribution of rights and responsibilities."
This was a statement by Pro in Round 2. As I have proven, PIT doesn't distribute rights and responsibilities fairly, seeing as the wealthier are getting away with the giant loophole that Progressive Income Taxes presents, leaving those not as wealthy to burden the responsibility. Now my opponent tries arguing against this by stating that PIT would tax Capital Gains at the same rate as income is taxed. He states that this is in regards to the definition of PIT.
My definition of Capital gains, however, shows this not to be true. "Most long-term capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than your then your other income..." My opponent said himself "...the progressive income tax system of the United States is unjust because it does not tax Capital Gains at a proper rate" This quote isn't meant to show my opponent agreeing that it's unjust, but shows that he acknowledges capital gains are not taxed a a proper rate.

Pro then states that my argument is flawed because I do not describe Progressive Systems but state how it's implemented. Again, this goes back to the whole theory thing, which I have already shown to the reader's to be invalid. The resolution states "are just", meaning as they are now. He tries stating a true PIT system wouldn't do these things, but countries like the U.S. would argue we are using a true Progressive system, and it isn't working. Also, I would like to know from where my opponent is actually providing a doctrine or written code for HOW progressive income taxes should be implemented, for I think he is just interpreting it wrong.

Now I feel that my C1 is already been focused on enough, so I would like to emphasize a side argument we seem to be having. Those who are not as wealthy lose incentive to do better through PIT. I won't bring this forward as a major contention, for it would be unsportsmanlike to give Pro another argument his must refute, without new sources, so I will simply touch on this subject. I would like the reader's to think of it this way. Mainly the wealthiest (as stated before, .3%) of American's get away with this loophole, for they have the resources and money to invest in these Capital gains. PIT doesn't just effect them, though. It effects multiple brackets of income. So there are people who are being taxed correctly by Progressive income taxes, because they cannot afford to take this loophole. My opponent tries arguing against this by stating, through my contentions, people would WANT to become wealthier so that they can elude taxes like the other rich people do. There is a large threshold of income that doesn't allow for them to invest entirely into capital gains, but they still get taxed progressively.

| Conclusion|
Throughout this debate, my opponent is trying to make the point that "a system with capital gain exemptions is not truly progressive", but the reader's must all keep in mind that Pro simply states this as an opinion. This debate revolves around the implementation of Progressive income taxes, making almost all of my opponent's statements non-topical, and irrelevant to the resolution. I have proven why my opponent's argument isn't correct in stating that this is theory based, and defending my contention, leaving it standing. Vote con.

Thank You
Debate Round No. 3
lddebater540

Pro

The order will be off-case, side debate, and voting issues.
Off-Case

He first claims that I never "hinted to" the fact that the resolution is general rather than broad in previous rounds, so it is fair for him to interpret the resolution as he likes. There are two problems with this, namely that the resolution, by its nature, explicitly specifies progressive income tax theory but does not list any particular nation, indicating that we are supposed to be debating about the ideas of progressive income taxation, and that he is attempting to strip me of the same right to interpret the resolution that he is asserting that he should have. It would be unfair for him to interpret the resolution as he wishes if I cannot do so because, 1) I have no way to anticipate the position that he is running, so my entire first speech could be wasted, and 2) if he has the right to change the resolution to benefit himself, then I can also assert that right. Moreover, as the insitgator, I have the right to define the purpose of the debate, and since the resolution that I crafted is general, and not broad, we are not debating about the implementation of progressive income taxes in specific nations, like the United States and North Korea; rather, we are debating about the notion of PIT.

Moreover, look to the fact that I am not entirely discounting implementation; I conceded in my first speech that implementation arguments are fair if they apply to the general body as a whole, meaning that the implementaion strategies would essentially become a part of the theory. So, my argument that PIT are taxes that tax certain amounts of income separately in order to preserve the buying power of the rich still stands because, as he conceded, all of the nations that have implemented a PIT standard have created this system. His capital-gains case, however, is irrelevant to the round because not every nation in the world refuses to tax capital gains, which he conceded is income, as income; not only do the three nations I provided you with, namely Australia, Canada, and the Czech Republic tax capital gains as income, but other nations like Portugal and Russia do so as well (http://en.wikipedia.org...). Incidentally, I do not need to provide statistics as evidence because I merely need to prove that the two forms of income are taxed equally in those nations; the actual tax percentages paid is beyond the scope of this debate because we are not discussing whether or not certain tax rates are just.

Now move to the implementation debate. He claims that justice requires implementation, so I cannot meet the standard of the resolution if I do not debate about implementation. Unfortunately, my opponent ignores the fact that the implementation of an idea does not make the idea unjust; rather, it makes the individuals who are corrupting that idea and implementing it incorrectly unjust. For example, the idea of regulating traffic with traffic lights in order to minimize chaos on the street during rush hour is completely just, but if the mayor of a city implemented the system to ensure that cars crashed on a certain street, that does not mean that the entire idea of regulating traffic is unjust. Rather, it means that the mayor's actions were unjust. Similarly, just because the United States implements PIT incorrectly does not mean that the notion of PIT are unjust; rather, it indicates that the way in which the United States is carrying out the just notion is unjust. This distinction has an important implication in the round, namely that the implementation of an idea is not necessary to evaluate its inherent moral worth; instead, we must evaluate whether or not the general idea is just BEFORE discussing the proper implementation strategies. This, in turn, indicates that this debate must first discuss the theory of PIT before we begin discussing if the United States' system meets the correct interpretation of PIT.

I have already taken care of the "contradiction"; please see the first paragraph of this round.

Let's go to the theory shells.

In the first shell, I argued that his interpretation of the resolution was unfair because he was making it to narrow even though the resolution mandates that we discuss theory. His only response is that the United States is the "top economy of the world" and that if it is abused in the United States, it is probably abused in other countries. I have several responses to this. First, just because the United States is the top economy of the world does not mean that its economic systems or political ideas are implemented everywhere else in the world. European nations, for example, offer free healthcare to their citizens, but the United States government has repeatedly refused to do so. Thus, we cannot use the United States as a general standard because there is no solid evidence to prove that its systems are the ones that are mimicked across the globe. Second, this idea of "abuse in other nations" is completely false; I provided you with evidence that other nations have fair systems that tax capital gains as income. Keep in mind that I do not need to provide statistics; I only need to prove that income and capital gains are taxed equally through sources. Finally, the fact that the United States has the "maximum number of wealthy people" is immaterial to the resolution because PIT applies within a nation, and not outside of its borders.

In shell 2, I explained that the case was nontopical because a PIT would tax CGs at the same rate as income because CG IS, in fact, income, and that PIT systems would not have loopholes and exceptions for the rich. Before I discuss his refutation, keep in mind that he conceded that CGs are a part of income and that they should be taxed at the same rate as income. His only response was that the United States does not tax CGs properly. Remember that I have proven that other nations do tax CGs properly, so this is irrelevant to the resolution, and that we are discussing PITs as an idea, meaning that we have to assume that all income is included in the PIT. This means that his case is nontopical, so you must affirm.

Side Debate

Although this is not important for the round, please keep in mind that his argument that people have no incentive to move to a higher bracket under a progressive system is contradictory because if we accept that a progressive system is taxed without CGs, then they pay a smaller proportion of their income in taxes and thus can use loopholes to retain more money. Moreover, note that under his system, the disincentive to move to higher brackets would be magnified because the wealthy would retain less money and thus have a smaller purchasing power, meaning that there would be no incentive to to do extra labor if the amount of money received was the same as it would have been in the higher bracket after taxation.

Affirmative Constructive

Although my opponent did cover my contentions in his first speech, he completly ignored the defenses that I provided in my second speech. In contention 1, I explained that the wealthy obtain their wealth through a morally arbitrary systme, namely an accident of birth, so there is no reason that the wealth cannot be taken from them for the benefit of society. In contention 2, I proposed the notion that because the wealthy have a greater stake in society, they ought to contribute more to its upkeep than the indigent. In contention 3, I showed you that PIT actually retains the buying power of the wealthy and thus provides them with free services while bolstering the power of society. Since this was all dropped by the negative, you can extend my entire case and vote affirmative based on the fact that PIT in theory is just.

Voting issues.

The main reason that you should vote affirmative is that the negative case is completely nontopical; he only attempts to address the implemenation of PIT in one nation.
PartamRuhem

Con

I would like to start by saying thank you to Tim_Spin for hosting this debate. Also, I thank my opponent, Iddebater, for proving to be a very adequate challenge. This debate has kept me mentally focused and well entertained.

To my audience: Pro has not properly refuted my main contention, and has barely even recognized it's existence. If you are to judge this debate fairly, you must take this into consideration. Also, don't be trapped by my opponent's enigma of logic. He is trying to step entirely away from the resolution and his own definitions in order to achieve a win here. I am fairly confident that the reader's will realize this to be entirely unorthodox of him, and vote accordingly.

This debate has turned into Pro attempting to convince the reader that they resolution is just in theory. What the reader must now do is discern whether or not this seems appropriate in defining it as just. As I have stated in other rounds, you can't consider the resolution just if you don't implement it; think of Communism. Everyone thought it was "just" in the conceptual stages, but that didn't turn out well for almost anyone. In fact, it led to the Cold War.

In order to achieve a true perspective if something is just or not, you MUST view it not only in theory, but in implementation. I won't bore the reader by reiterating what I already stated, but I will touch on the reasons as to why this debate is in accordance to implementation of PIT. The definition of just, giving each his due. You can't tell if each has gotten his due if you never give examples of how something was actually used. If we go off of my opponent's interpretation, everyone could have said that the Soviet Union's communism was just for all before it even began. An absurd statement, seeing as it wasn't.

Now on to my final refutations and extensions.

My opponent states that the resolution, by it's nature, specifies PIT theory, not in actuality. I, and I am sure many of the readers, feel this to be not so, seeing as the resolution states "Progressive income taxes ARE just." Now, I could be anal and go find a definition of are that would pin this debate on implementation, but it's the last round and I won't go there. But I would like the reader's to think of the word are.

If you were to say "Those people are flying" when they were clearly not flying, people would look at you like you are crazy. You can't then defend yourself by saying "What, in theory they could possibly be flying, therefore they are flying!" This is exactly how my opponent is arguing right now, just using a lot of theory based argumentation to try and validate himself. TO show something to be just, you need facts; proof that it is just, and it has worked in a just way. My opponent has failed to give that, seeing as he only provides examples of times when PIT would be just in theory. I agree, in theory, sure these examples are just. Just like in theory, those people can be flying. I hope the reader can see and determine that I am right in saying this is an implementation debate.

My opponent tries arguing that I changed the resolution, but at what time did I do that? I did nothing fancy and unexpected....I simply argued that PIT isn't just and this is why.

Furthermore, my opponent tries stating that this topic is broad, and that we aren't focusing in on the United States. I would agree, other countries can be used as examples, but this doesn't mean no countries should be used as examples. I have every right to bring in the country with the highest percentage of wealthy and show that PIT isn't justified there. This contributes to the notion of PIT being unjust, supporting my case. While I have done this, I feel Pro hasn't adequately provided information for PIT to be just, and has provided very little in the ways of facts. He only mentions some countries which he believes taxes capital gains at a higher percentage, but leaves the reader wondering "What percentage is that?".

"...my argument that PIT are taxes that tax certain amounts of income separately in order to preserve the buying power of the rich still stands..." How exactly is this an argument? PIT is a taxes that tax certain amounts of income separately in order to preserve the buying power of the rich...that is the function of Progressive Income Taxes. However, this doesn't show them to be just, because, as I have stated, the rich elude paying these taxes. The are preserving their buying power, alright. This system has gone on for years and years, and yet nothing had changed. Is it right to say that, yes it is justified that PIT exempt the type of income that make up more than 2/3 of the top 400 wealthiest Americans? This is why PIT is unjust, this is why it's not "giving each his due". Speaking of that, I don't see how each has been giving their due in correlation to my opponent's argument. He simply states how PIT works and cases where it should tax the rich. Does he ever actually use his own definition of just to support his argument? No.

My opponent has conceded that this debate involves implementation, yet he has given no example of implementation. I show PIT for what it is, a loophole for the rich to get richer. Pro tries arguing against this by saying it's the people that are unjust, not the system. You can apply this train of thought to any system that is unjust, but it doesn't mean the system itself isn't screwed up. I am saying that in accordance to the definition of PIT, capital gains are left alone. This is no man that is being unjust, but PIT in general. I would agree that if it was something different, it could be the people that are unjust. Like a stop sign. It's meant for you to stop. If someone keeps going, and crashes, they can't blame the stop sign. PIT is like a stop sign that says under stop "If you want, you can just keep on trucking". We should all realize that it is the system, or the stop sign, that is unjust here. The wealthy are acting unjustly, but they can only do so because PIT is unjust.

Once again, Pro tries eluding a vital element to this debate; facts of other country's tax rates on capital gains through PIT. This is an important aspect, but Pro doesn't feel it is and doesn't give the reader reassurance that he is correct in doing this.

Finally, pro tries showing that my case in nontopical because CG is income, and "would" be taxed properly. There are a couple things wrong with his accusation.

1. The key word here is would. My opponent is arguing PIT like it hasn't been used yet, and like we don't have results for why it's unjust. "..and that PIT systems would not have loopholes and exceptions for the rich." Pro is trying to talk about PIT like it still just a theory and never been used. WE see through my points that PIT WOULD have loopholes and DOES .

2. Also, in my first speech (round 2), I stated this:
"...who enjoy another special loophole allowing them to treat most of their investment-management compensation as capital gain instead of ordinary income—vastly lowering their taxes. Historically, when different forms of income have been taxed at different rates, lawyers and accountants have found ways to create tax shelters that make one type of income look like another type to take advantage of the lower rate —this is just one example."

This shows that it doesn't matter if my opponent thinks CG's are considered income (which this source disproves) because it is all being filed differently and unjustly.

|Conclusion|
This debate focuses on a couple things. I must prove that Progressive Income Taxes are not just. I have done that through showing how it is implemented. My opponent has not shown implementation, though has conceded that implementation is important in this debate. This isn't a theory based argument. I win for my points left standing.

I thank you all.
Debate Round No. 4
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
Con R3:

"The resolution states "are just", meaning as they are now. He tries stating a true PIT system wouldn't do these things, but countries like the U.S. would argue we are using a true Progressive system, and it isn't working"

I think you have a good point about is-ought though.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
BlackVoid, I respect your decision and ballot and you should not change it based on the following comments:

1. Aristotle's definition of "Just" certainly implies action, but that says nothing about if the action to evaluate is "how the action IS performed" or "how the action OUGHT to be performed." You could apply the term to either. To say otherwise means you couldnt use the definition to evaluate any action not actually performed, i.e. absolutely any hypothetical.

2. Where is this argued in R3? I have to admit when I saw it when I read the round I thought "if only that had come up earlier..." I went and checked just now and still dont see it. My feeling is if I missed it twice it probably wasnt made clear enough.

4. I agree, Pro gave way to much away in this debate.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
Page 2

Generality:

Pro said the capital gains argument wasn't topical because it was only specific to the US. However, Con makes a good point that the US is a prime example of PIT's because of our number of wealthy people and rich/poor gap. He also made a very convincing argument that if he could find loopholes in PIT's, surely greedy businessmen could do so as well (in any country). But most importantly, Pro only listed a few specific nations *himself* that didn't have the issue of capital gains. He's using specifics just as much as Con is.

At that point, its easy to determine a Con win. Pro's thesis is "a progressive income tax is just because it fairly distributes rights and responsibilities to every member of society". But Con correctly argued that when PIT's are implemented, they do not fairly distribute rights and responsibilities because of the capital gains argument. In fact, Pro even concedes this argument when referring to the US. So since implementation is most topical and using specific examples is OK, its clear that PIT's don't fairly distribute rights in practice.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
Page 1

RFD:

Pro said that if Con didn't want the debate to be about philosophy, then it wouldn't be. Thus, Con's statistical case is relevant.

First, based off the arguments made, arguments regarding the implementation of PIT seems the most topical for a few reasons.

1. Pro's definition of Justice directly implies action being done.

2. The resolution says PIT's "ARE just" indicating that the way they're used in the status quo (thus, implementation) is just. This was argued in R3 by the way, not just R4.

3. Pro concedes that implementation must be taken into account, at least in reference to the US.

4. As framer of the resolution, Pro is responsible for framing the round. As an LDer, he should know about Pre-case observations which explain what the debate is and isn't about. I find Cons interpretation perfectly reasonable, implementation seems like a sound argument to use against PIT's. So if Pro didn't want to debate a point that on-face seems like a logical argument against the rez, it should have been framed in R1.
Posted by Mestari 5 years ago
Mestari
Raisor, he never explained why potential abuse is a reason to vote on theory. Everything could be potentially abusive, but you need to give the judge a reason to vote for it. The impacts he claimed were happening never occurred, and he needs to tell us why the chance of them occurring is abusive in-and-of-itself.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
Mestari,

You dont NEED abuse in order for a theory argument to work; there all sorts of grounds to run theory, simple "youre breaking the rules" arguments are legit (though of course you always have to argue successfully).

For example, you could run theory that says the Con's interpretation of the Rez is unfair because it steals Pro ground, or because it places unfair burden on Pro.

Also, actual abuse isnt needed generally, potential abuse is usually enough to win theory. I definitely think Con's interp offers plenty of room for potential abuse. This wasnt argued in round though so whatevs.
Posted by Mestari 5 years ago
Mestari
Raisor, that theory argument is flawed because there is no real abuse. Partam never kicks out of on-balance argumentation, thus those impacts could be weighed against the specific disadvantages claimed by the Con.
Posted by Mestari 5 years ago
Mestari
lddebater, I read the argument before voting on it. However, as you said at the top of the debate, where I quoted, you conceded all philosophical arguments as soon as your opponent chose to operate under a different system. Even if weighing between philosophical and pragmatic ideologies were acceptable, you didn't claim that's how you wanted to approach it, you offered a complete forfeiture of your arguments.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
I see somewhat what you are saying, your opponent does claim that the rez say PIT is "in theory" just. But he also concedes that implementation is relevant, provided the implementation is inherent to PIT. Pro is definitely unclear on the Rez' stance on implementation and I think it could be fair to say he thinks it should be totally discounted- which is a debatable stance.

However, this is not the core of his Theory argument (again, Theory=debate theory, not "theoretical implementation")

If you look at his Shell 1: Theory argument, you can see that the real issue is that your argument pertains ONLY to PIT in the US, whereas the Rez is about PIT in general. His contention is that this is unfair because it gives you too much ground, that specifying PIT in the US goes beyond the Rez and so isnt fair or is outside the scope of the debate. He is sort of saying you are 'out of bounds' in a sense.
Posted by PartamRuhem 5 years ago
PartamRuhem
But he clearly stated that if my opponent doesn't wish to take this course of action, we won't. Therefore, my argument isn't irrelevant because I stated I didn't want to take that course of action. It completely obeys the resolution and is realistic because I used real life examples instead of just the theory of PIT, which is EXACTLY what my opponent was arguing.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments
Vote Placed by Lickdafoot 5 years ago
Lickdafoot
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Reasons for voting decision: This was an interesting debate. Ultimately, the question comes to whether or not a system can be judged based solely on theory, or based on actual application. I think Con was more convincing in that the definition "giving each his due" cannot be judged without some form of implementation.
Vote Placed by Mestari 5 years ago
Mestari
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments section.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
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Reasons for voting decision: Same RFD as Double_R
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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Reasons for voting decision: A debate on whether PIT is just ended up becoming a debate on whether PIT works as intended. Con showed that PIT was not just because it doesn't work as intended whereas Pro showed that the idea behind PIT is just. In this particular case, I feel that the best option is for it to be voted a tie with neither side getting arguments.
Vote Placed by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments. Voted on Theory.
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
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Reasons for voting decision: In R1 Pro states: "I would like to have the debate focus on the clash of two broad moral ideas."... This and the remainder of that paragraph very clearly demonstrates what the resolution was about. To that, Cons case is completely irrelevant.