The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Rich vs. Poor

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/19/2013 Category: Economics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,003 times Debate No: 36842
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Topic: The very rich have a moral obligation of charity to the extremely poor.

Round One: This round is for acceptance, rule, and definitions.

Rules: Keep things polite. No new arguments or evidence in the final round.

Burdens: Burdens are shared. Pro must show that the very rich have a moral obligation of charity to the most indigent; Con must show that no such obligation exists.

Provisos: This is a debate of morality and philosophy, not a legal or stats-driven debate. The debate is not about how much or how little charity is owed, just that some charity is owed by the very rich to the very poor. Neither is it a debate of socialism vs. capitalism. By accepting, you agree to rules and definitions. This debate is not confined to the U.S.

Very Rich - net worth at least $1billion (there are 1,210 billionaires in the world, according to Forbes)
Moral Obligation - obligated by morality (you may use various philosophical or ethical theories to describe this)
Charity - provisions of money, materials, or help to people in need of one or more of those things
Extremely Poor - those living on less than $2 a day (there are about 660 million extremely poor in the world, according to World Bank)

Thank you in advance for accepting! I look forward to an enthralling debate!


I'm guna be so bad at this but ok...
poor don't need much they don't have much money they are generally happier then rich people they will find joy from simple things rich wouldn't care about rember you cant buy love.
Debate Round No. 1


For this round I"ll present my argument and then I"ll address my opponent"s remarks.

OBSERVATION: The Pro"s burden, as stated in round one, will be to illustrate that one or more acts of charity is morally obligated by the very rich to the very poor. Burden of proof is shared.

The CORE PREMISE of my arguments can best be summed up by Prof. Peter Singer, when he states: "the claim to equality does not depend on intelligence, moral capacity, physical strength, or similar matters of fact. Equality is a moral ideal, not a simple assertion of fact. There is no logically compelling reason for assuming that a factual difference in ability between two people justifies any difference in the amount of consideration we give to satisfying their needs and interests. The principle of the equality of human beings is not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans: it is a prescription of how we should treat humans.


Contention One: The income gap is bad.

Prof. Mark Sandel contends, "Too great a gap between rich and poor undermines the solidarity that democratic citizenship requires. Here"s how: As inequality deepens, rich and poor live increasingly separate lives. The affluent send their children to private schools (or to public schools in wealthy suburbs), leaving urban public schools to the children of families who have no alternative. A similar trend leads to the secession by the privileged from other public institutions and facilities. 43 Private health clubs replace municipal recreation centers and swimming pools. Upscale residential communities hire private security guards and rely less on public transportation. And so on. The affluent secede from public places and services, leaving them to those who can"t afford anything else. This has two bad effects, one fiscal, the other civic. First, public services deteriorate, as those who no longer use those services become less willing to support them with their taxes. Second, public institutions such as schools, parks, playgrounds, and community centers cease to be places where citizens from different walks of life encounter one another. Institutions that once gathered people together and served as informal schools of civic virtue become few and far between. The hollowing out of the public realm makes it difficult An earlier generation made a massive investment in the federal highway program, which gave Americans unprecedented individual mobility and freedom, but also contributed to the reliance on the private automobile, suburban sprawl, environmental degradation, and living patterns corrosive to community. This generation could commit itself to an equally consequential investment in an infrastructure for civic renewal: public schools to which rich and poor alike would want to send their children; public transportation systems reliable enough to attract upscale commuters; and public health clinics, playgrounds, parks, recreation centers, libraries, and museums that would, ideally at least, draw people out of their gated communities and into the common spaces of shared democratic citizenship."

Contention Two: Inequalities deserve redress.

As John Rawls argues, "we may observe that the difference principle gives some weight to the considerations singled out by the principle of redress. This is the principle that undeserved inequlities call for redress; and since inequalities of birth and natural endowment are undeserved, these inequalities are to be somehow compensated for. Thus the principle holds that in order to treat all persons equally, to provide genuine equality of opportunity, society must give more attention to those with fewer native assets and to those born into the less favorable social positions. The idea is to redress the bias of contingencies in the direction of equality. In pursuit of this principle greater resources might be spent on the education of the less rather than the more intelligent, at least over a certain time of life, say the earlier years of school." He goes on to posit: "The precept which seems intuitively to come closest to rewarding moral dessert is that of distribution according to effort. Once again, however, it seems clear that the effort a person is willing to make is influenced by his natural abilities and skills and the alternatives open to him. The better endowed are more likely, other things equal, to strive conscientiously, and there seems to be no way to discount for their greater good fortune. The idea of rewarding dessert is impracticable. And certainly to the extent that the precept of need is emphasized, moral worth is ignored. Nor does the basic structure tend to balance the precepts of justice so as to achieve the requisite correspondence behind the scenes. It is regulated by the two principles of justice which define other aims entirely. On the other hand, the absence of individual dessert creates a presumption in favor of regarding the distribution of talents as a common asset. The lack of desert or a pre-institutional concept of virtue means that institutions are unconstrained by antecedent moral claims in their pursuit of the primary virtue of social justice. In this sense, the analogy of manna from even is apt. The array of assets dealt by fortune is neither just nor unjust. "These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts." There is no reason to let assets and the benefits that flow from them lie where they fall. This would be simply to incorporate and affirm the arbitrariness of nature. The discovery that virtue and entitlements await social institutions rather than constrain them is a reason to pursue justice all the more insistently, not a reason to freeze arbitrariness in place."

ANALYSIS: Justice and morality require the elimination of inequalities as much as is possible. Because of this, there is moral obligation placed on those in a position to help, to render some aid. Thus, I affirm.


The Con makes the unwarranted claim that the extremely poor don"t need much money, because they do not require material goods to be happy. But, when you live on less than $2 a day, happiness is when you"re able to afford food that day. I will address my opponent"s comments by pointing out precisely why the poor need money, not merely to be content, but to stay alive, safe, and healthy.

According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they "die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death." Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. If current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children."

Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.

Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350"500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide

Water problems affect half of humanity:
Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhoea
The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
Millions of women spending several hours a day collecting water.

All of the above problems illustrate how dire the situation is for the very poor, and underscore the need to provide them assistance. I await the con"s replies.


Bring it on...
No Workload
Straight off, if you plan to embrace poverty, you might as well embrace not having a job, too. If there"s one good thing about being rich, it"s probably the absence of having to do anything even remotely resembling manual labor and, having embraced poverty as your personal economic philosophy, you won"t have to do manual labor, either. Why? Because, once you"ve embraced not having a job, other responsibilities like mowing the yard, washing the car, house cleaning, counting the change in your pocket and taking a shower, all these things will begin to fall like dominos. You"ll be amazed at how much free time you"ll have.
Finances Can Only Improve
This is a no-brainer. You won"t have a single worry about losing money or possessions, if you have no money or possessions. If you"re flat broke and you find a penny someone dropped, woo-hoo, it"s your lucky day! But if you"re a millionaire banker, you probably won"t even stoop to pick up a mere penny. Just think of all the lucky days you"ll have, when that banker might go years before he has even one day he considers lucky. Now look at a picture of the Queen. Does she look truly happy? Of course not, she"s worried about her portfolio; maybe BP is down a point or two. It"s the same with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Rupert Murdoch, et al. They might crack a smile on occasion, but you never see them cutting loose with a really big guffaw. These people are constantly worried about their wealth because they know there"s only one way for their fortunes to go. At the opposite end of the spectrum, however, I"ve heard time and again how, during the Great Depression of the 1930"s, people who were mired in poverty were happy just to be able to eat. Embrace poverty now and you too can be made happy just as easily. I read somewhere, possibly the Top 20 Wise Quotes of Confucius, that "Money can"t buy happiness". As any idiot knows, another way to say that is "You WILL be happy without money". Embrace poverty now. (Note: Even if Confucius didn"t say it, it"s the kind of wise thing he would say, even if he was too fat to have properly embraced poverty.)
Easier Food Prep
This item alone would allow you to ratchet down your level of stress. Imagine yourself as the typical rich, gourmand, globe-trotting web site administrator. Rather than worrying about getting the heat just right under your souffl" of hummingbird tongue, you need only concern yourself with rustling up a piece of fatback to go with the collard greens. After embracing poverty, you might eat hummingbird tongue on occasion, but it would most likely go along with the rest of the hummingbird, including the odd feather or two, perhaps in a delicate tartar, whose elegance rests in its simplicity.
Ignore Economic Downturns
The poverty enabled will never be the types to jump out of their 96th floor offices just because the latest economic indicators are troubling. Heck, a full-blown depression could pass you by with hardly a notice, while a mere recession will be looked on as a time of plenty. Here"s why: by embracing poverty, you basically bring yourself down to the level of a severe economic depression; this will be "normal" for you. Then, any improvement at all to the economy will raise your standard of living exponentially while others are still wringing their hands and wondering when things are going to get better. And, when the economy is fully recovered, maybe even booming, you"ll be perfectly situated to take full advantage of a prosperous and generous workforce.
Rich people will give you freebies. It"s true. As a case in point, I was reading on another list the other day (10 Cases of Appropriate Technology), that someone has come up with an idea to give laptop computers to children in the developing world. These kids aren"t demonstrating in New York or London, shouting "We Want Computers, We Want Computers" " someone is actually hunting them down and saying "Here, kid, take this". That is a sweet deal. Another example: Habitat for Humanity can build houses in as little as 3 " hours, from start to finish. Imagine yourself sitting on your favorite tree stump, picking your teeth with a hummingbird beak, maybe spitting out an occasional feather, reflecting on how happy you are. Suddenly, HFH trucks appear from out of nowhere, and 3 " hours and lots of hubbub later, you"re gazing at your new house. It can happen. And not just in the States, either. HFH also did this in New Zealand, but it took them about a quarter hour longer, probably due to the language barrier (e.g., "Work? Oi don"t know "bout that, mate"). At any rate, I"m not sure if HFH includes a coat of paint or if they expect you to do it, but, dang, anybody can live in an unpainted house, especially a free unpainted house.
Moderation, schmoderation
If you embrace poverty, this will be one of the easier things to do " you won"t have any risk at all of an immoderate intake of anything. That is the kind of thing that gets your name in the history books. Look at Gandhi: he was poor as a church mouse, just as ascetic as they come, and now he"s revered as someone who reached the pinnacle of "enlightenment" through self-restraint. But he wasn"t restrained, he was just an adept in Poverty. Be like Gandhi and you"ll get your name in the history books, too. However, imitate Gandhi too closely and you might get your name in a registered sex offender database. See? Poverty, not restraint.
Healthy Lifestyle
Given sufficient poverty, your health will bloom as a natural consequence. Since you can no longer afford cigarettes, booze or illegal drugs, gone will be the nagging smoker"s hack, hangovers and potential health issues caused by dirty needles. As a bonus, your excessive body fat will just melt away, since you"ll probably be eating somewhat less. And you won"t have to consciously do a thing for all these benefits " no dieting, no nicotine patches or gum, and, unless you have a dealer who also chooses to embrace poverty, no tapering off from your favorite addictive drug. Your friends will be amazed at your "will power", and medical bills will be a thing of the past.
Achieve Your Dreams
As a poverty "stricken" individual, you"ll find it easy to discard all your old dreams of "success" and " let"s face it " unattainable aspirations. Your new desires will become much more modest, realistic and immediate. While your old bucket list might have had things like "Go to a film premier", or "Fly a plane", or "Stay in the best suite", your new bucket list will be filled with items that you can tic off on a daily basis: find food (possibly by "Doing a runner"), shelter for the night, a new bucket, etc. Your sense of accomplishment will do wonders for your self-esteem.
Less Crime
Most crime today is caused by envy, and since the truly impoverished have no possessions, they are seldom envied. Really, what could be stolen from you, besides your bucket? Your sense of accomplishment? You"ll be able to stroll along the darkest alleyways without the slightest fear of being mugged. Granted, you may inadvertently become the victim of crime fighters, but the flip side of that is that you"ll get free room and board. And maybe free medical care.
Go to Heaven
Somebody (Confucius?) said something like, "It"s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven". Now, whether you believe in Heaven or not, it just makes sense to cover all your bases, especially if you can do it without too much to yourself. As the exact opposite of a rich man, you stand a much greater chance of being able to waltz into Heaven with your eyes closed. If you have adequately impoverished yourself, very few temptations will come your way, and those that do come your way can be dismissed with a haughty "I can"t afford that" or "Too rich for my blood, lady". You"ll be living the lifestyle of a monk, a very deprived monk, but you won"t be stuck in a dusty old abbey somewhere. Saints have been named for less, and you"ll be able to do it as a matter of course.

Notable omissions: no taxes, unburdened by fair weather friends, won"t be drafted into the military or have to serve on juries because you have no mailbox, won"t have to deal with lawyers

Debate Round No. 2


I"ll address my opponent"s remarks, and then review my own case, paying special attention to why a Pro vote is in order.


I think the absurdity of this claim is fairly obvious. Neither do they nor should they embrace poverty of that kind. Remember, we"re discussing people who are living on less than $2 a day"who lack access to basic sanitation, food, clothing, shelter, etc. No one wants to live surrounded by debris and disease-ridden muck, nor do they wish to starve, go naked, be exposed to the elements, be unable to receive care for injuries or illness, etc. Con"s one example to support his position is Gandhi, who chose a life of poverty. Yet, unless he was willfully starving himself out of some act of civil disobedience, Gandhi still had the basic necessities of life, and legions of supporters. Most of the poor are poor not out of choice, but because they are unable to escape their condition. Furthermore, most of the poor aren"t poor because they"re engaging in civil disobedience"they don"t want to die any more than I do.


For someone living on $2 a day, they may be scared of having their wage reduced to $1.25. The situation can always get worse. But, if we do want to affect change in the poor"s lives by improving their livelihoods, charity is an excellent way to do it, as my own case points out.


Really? I would think that before we could talk about food prep, we should talking about have food to prep. As the evidence I offered showed, many of the extreme poor are undernourished or starving. It seems ridiculous, even offensive, to suggest that the poor should be happy because they don"t have to worry about cooking. I would think that they"d be happy to cook in order to actually eat. Starvation is a form of suffering that should not be taken lightly. As I noted: "According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they "die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death." Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. If current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children."


So, they may not be throwing themselves out of windows. Instead, they"re enduring untold suffering"they"re hungry, ill, and unsafe, without adequate food, medicine, or money to address their concerns. I think the economic down turn would be paltry compared to the pain they"re already enduring. The rich have a duty of charity to help ameliorate this problem.


If freebies are okay, why not give the rich the burden of charity, which is, after all, a freebie? It"s the Pro"s argument that freebies are not only good, but morally obligatory.


The extreme poor can still acquire illicit drugs through trade/bartering or if they grow drugs (or are near areas where they"re grown.) Many of the destitute find solace in illegal drugs as a means of escaping their woeful and pain-filled existence. So no, health is not improved. Furthermore, the claim that health is somehow improved is inane, particularly in light of all the evidence that I provided in my case to the contrary.


Con seems to advocate some form of Epicurean ethics, whereby people reduce their desires to increase their happiness. Yet, even Epicurus notes that there are some basic desires that must be met for all people, including the desire to eat and to be healthy. The poor can"t even achieve these dreams, as evidenced by the facts I presented.


You"re right that the poor are not enviable (which seems to be a concession that poverty is not something to be aspired to.) So, people may not steal from the poor, but the poor may very well steal from the more affluent. This could land them in prison or drive them into feeling guilt. Instead of forcing the choice of whether to steal from the rich or not, why not just preemptively have the rich give to them?


Firstly, this argument assumes that there is an afterlife. If my opponent can show a good, empirical reason to believe in an afterlife, I might buy this. But, unfortunately, as no new arguments are permitted in the final round, he will be unable to warrant this assertion. Secondly, even if you buy the premise of his point, i.e. that heaven exists, there is still a fatal flaw: as I pointed out just last paragraph, the poor are often forced to steal to survive. This is a sin, and would hinder their entrance into heaven. Yet, if the poor don"t steal, and allow their bodies to decay because of a lack of resources, then they are not treating their bodies as temples. So, they"re caught in a double-bind. Either way, they won"t go to heaven. Voting Pro would eliminate this problem by helping to eliminating poverty.


Con totally fails to warrant a number of his assertions"in fact, the one concrete example he does offer is fallacious, and only applies to one of his 8 arguments. He also cites a number of witticisms, sayings, axioms, and so on, (quotes from Confucius and various common adages) to support his positions. But if I may counter theses catchy quotations and sayings with one of my own, Voltaire once said that, "A witty saying does not an argument make."


Con complete drops Pro case. This has three huge impacts: (1) My Contention One proves the poverty and the income gap should be eliminated, (2) My Contention Two links morality and resource distribution, proving that the poor should be obligated to give some aid to the poor, and (3) living in poverty is like a living hell, due to the enormous negative impacts I enumerate. Extend these impacts across the flow. Since no new arguments are permitted this round, the Con may not attempt to address my case, granting me the full offense of my round two comments.


(1) Because the arguments of the Con operate on the faulty assumption that poverty is good, despite the evidence in my case to the contrary. The Con case also fails to provide convincing logic and evidentiary support for his claim; he relies on myriad suppositions and aphorisms to make his points, as I noted in my rebuttal.

(2) Because "freebies" are essentially what I"m advocating. I"m just saying that the rich should be mandated to give freebies. Since the Con seems okay with the notion of freebies, then I see little additional difficulty in making them compulsory/obligatory.

(3) Because of the clear, and uncontested, impacts of my case, especially contention two. Contention two alone proves a moral obligation of charity, which is enough to cast a Pro ballot right now.
Thus, I affirm. For all of the aforesaid reasons, I must urge a Pro vote, and remind the Con that no new arguments should be advanced in the final speech. Thank you for an interesting debate.

Vote Pro!


sorry I used up all my arguments in that post :P t
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Ragnar 4 years ago
How much closer to a concession could that final round be, without actually being a concession?
The answer is none, none more closer without becoming an actual concession.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Benshapiro 4 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con relinquished and failed to address many arguments made by pro. Especially in the last round when the only rebuttal stated was "sorry I used up all my arguments in that post :P t" I feel that there was much more than con could've argued but failed to do so. Pro wins on arguments, neither had sources, and both had acceptable spelling/grammar and conduct.