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

Should colleges be free?

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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 1/31/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 702 times Debate No: 69240
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)




Colleges should not be made free:

First Round is Acceptance
Second round is our case
Third round are rebuttals
Debate Round No. 1


For the people who keeping arguing that college education is the key to success, of course it is nowadays! That doesn't mean it should be free. As the top argument for "No" states, free college would definitely not be appreciated. The value of a college education in common society would plummet if all universities were to be free. The two main areas of analysis I will be exploring in this argument are nationwide economics, and common rights.

My first point is the nationwide economic impact if a free college policy were to be implemented in the United States of America. According to the NPR Institute located in the city of Boston, free community college policies by themselves would cost taxpayers in the United States more than 60 billion dollars over the next decade. Now why would this uptick in taxes be such a negative? Well, a 2001 article by the Cato Institute's David Boaz give eight good reasons why:

1. In a free country, money belongs to the people who earn it. The most fundamental reason to cut taxes is an understanding that wealth doesn"t just happen, it has to be produced. And those who produce it have a right to keep it. We may agree to give up a portion of the wealth we create in order to pay for such public goods as national defense and a system of justice. But we don"t give the government an unlimited claim on our money to use as it sees fit.

2. Private individuals and businesses use money more efficiently than governments do. People with their own money at risk spend or invest it carefully. You don"t find many $600 hammers or insolvent retirement programs in the private sector. Money will do more good for more people in private hands than in government hands.

3. High taxes discourage work and investment. Taxes create a "wedge" between what the employer pays and what the employee receives, so some jobs don"t get created. High marginal tax rates also discourage people from working overtime or from making new investments. It"s true, as some critics say, that our current marginal rates of 39.6 percent (somewhat higher when combined with other taxes) do not depress economic output as much as the 70 percent rates that taxpayers faced in 1980. But most economists now agree that a reduction in marginal tax rates will increase output to some degree.

4. Income taxes should be cut because the overall tax burden is quite high right now. As of the third quarter of 2000, federal revenues as a share of the gross domestic product hit a peacetime high of 20.8 percent. Prosperity has made Americans more accepting of the rising tax burden, but the current economic slowdown will make high taxes harder to bear.

5. If we don"t cut taxes, Congress will spend the money. If one thing is certain in Washington, it is that Congress will spend every dollar it can get its hands on. Every interest group wants something"a road, a dam, a social program, more teachers, more policemen, more corporate welfare"and members of Congress want to be liked. The only way to "put the surplus in a lockbox" is to let the taxpayers keep it.

6. Lower taxes are the only real check on the expanding size and scope of the federal government. If we want smaller government, our best strategy is to reduce the amount of money Congress has to play with.

7. Elected officials should keep their promises. As a candidate, Bush promised to cut income taxes. As president, he should keep that promise.

8. For Bush and Republicans in Congress, this may be the most important reason of all: Republicans win when they cut taxes. Tax cuts unite the Republican base. The tax consumers in our society are well organized; the taxpayers need to be organized, too, around a tax cut program. In 1980, 1984 and 1988, Ronald Reagan and George Bush won three presidential elections by promising to cut taxes and then cutting them. George Bush raised taxes and lost the next election. I wager this is a lesson not lost on George W. Bush.

Now as we can see, raising taxes just for the sake of free college would be disastrous for the economy and the United States as a whole.

But on to my second point, there is nothing in United States law that guarantees anybody a free tertiary educational experience is an individual right, nor anything that guarantees that a tertiary education is an individual right at all. According to W.S. Swail, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, "Postsecondary education does not fall into the category of a right, and it should not. Government should remain solid in its support of expanding higher education opportunities for all by reducing the barriers of cost and geography, and ensuring that the education provided at that level is both appropriate and of a high quality."

A college education is extremely important in the modern world that we all currently live in. However, while we should work so that everyone who WISHES to attend university has the opportunity to EARN it, we mustn't allow Jimmy Simpkins who earned a 1.6 GPA in high school to simply HAVE. In the negative's point of view, a tertiary educational experience is a privilege that must be earned as opposed to an individual right. Thus, judges, I urge a vote in negation.


Not only should universities be free, students should be paid while obtaining an advanced degree.

Externalities to the mission of applying resources appropriately in any system should be minimized for the sake of the mission. In the case of education, financial ability is no different than hair color, left or right hand bias, or a list of other externals that have nothing to do with applying the resource. Educational resourced that are given to one or another using a selection process undermined by biases diminishes the effectiveness of the system.

Costs are misappropriated to the end product, the student. Building a company, or a nation, requires investment. A company may spend a healthy percentage of revenues on research and development. They may invest in infrastructure, or simply planting a crop. These expenses are accepted and understood. In many industries investment on training and educating people are similarly understood. A machine operator may be hired with little to no ability to do his job, the company understanding that some time and money will be invested in the employee. Once complete, the employee will begin producing revenues for the company " a good investment. Nations have similar necessity to invest in human capital " with the same potential misuse of valuable resources when externalities are defining attributes of the selection process.

Costs of the system are real. So too are the benefits to society. The question of where the money comes from simply a matter of priorities. The case can be made that preparing for war is a good investment. The argument can be made that education is even a valuable part of preparing for defense " even more so than yet another bomber or ship. That point is not even necessary to make for a capitalist. Capitalism as a national system insists that we invest on human capital to grow.
Debate Round No. 2


Before I get into my general refutation of my opponent's case, let it be known that my opponent did not use any external evidence whatsoever to support any of his claims:

In my opponent's first contention, he claims that "financial ability is no different than hair color, left or right hand bias, or a list of other externals that have nothing to do with applying the resource. Educational resourced that are given to one or another using a selection process undermined by biases diminishes the effectiveness of the system."

Let me just refute that by saying that while, yes, there are some biases, I would like to go back to my case, where I used the example of Jimmy Simpkins, and his legendary 1.6 GPA. Not only is it okay to be biased against fools like Jimmy, but universities SHOULD be biased against people like Jimmy, who do not deserve nor have they earned a college education. Also, how can we be sure my opponent is trustworthy without any citations?

Now my opponent also attempts to talk about investment, as well as human capital, but he is not very coherent in what he is trying to say with his point here. He fails to properly link the point he makes in this contention back to the idea that colleges and universities should be free institutions. Again, he also fails to provide any evidence whatsoever.

In his third and final contention, my opponent states that costs of the system are real, and that the benefits to society are real along with them. However, he fails to realize that the purpose of laws and a civil government is to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The responsibly of government is not to regulate society. My opponent, once again, fails to provide any citations to support any of his claims.

Thus, I urge a negative vote.


My opponents" primary, and enumerated points are off-point. Whether taxes discourage capital investment or not, whether money "will do more good for more people in private hands than in government hands". None of it speaks to the subject matter. Points one through eight are just not germane to the question of "should colleges be free?". Being generous, attaching merit for several of the points as they could speak to how a society funds education, almost all of them are strictly partisan " "For Bush and Republicans in Congress, this may be the most important reason of all: Republicans win when they cut taxes.", who wins elections has nothing to do with the topic, only with the probity of it.

The most persuasive points my opponent makes revolve around "appreciation" for education and proper meritorious systems. I am happy to address both.

Appreciation first and foremost is not a requirement of the education system. It is not in the mission of a university to insure that students be thankful for the education they receive. It can be seen as a benefit to society that the members appreciate what is available to them as members, but the requirement does not enhance the benefit. Further, appreciation connected to ability to pay bifurcates the student body. Are those that can pay not required to appreciate the education?

The most critical point is one we can find common ground on. Meritorious use of the educational resources. I contend a free (to the student) system based on proper merit, like GPA, or SAT, is the only way to achieve proper application of educational resources. As stated, basing on other externals " like ability to pay " is the misapplication of limited resources.

Thank-you for the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by bballcrook21 11 months ago
Although I agree with Con, I've read the same argument on other pages. Con directly plagiarized his list in Round 2.

The link is above.
Posted by cwt002 1 year ago
I mean tax increases, the quality of professors will decrease and will probably be a shortage due to pay decreases as well. As quality professors decrease then education will decrease.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by syracuse100 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Much more convincing argument.
Vote Placed by Varrack 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Although Con made his case mostly about high taxes, I can't dismiss that point because it is relevant to the reason not to make college free. Pro however did not even try to rebut Con's tax arguments besides mentioning the election of Bush which doesn't come close to overturning it. Con did a better job of refuting Pro's arguments than vice versa, so Con wins.
Vote Placed by cwt002 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Better sources and overall reasoning and logic