The Instigator
beem0r
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
Shorack
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points

The USFG should ensure the welfare of families living in poverty

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/27/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,233 times Debate No: 5556
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (4)

 

beem0r

Pro

I am PRO in this debate; I will be arguing that the topic above is true.
This round will be for definitions, I will begin my argument in round 2.

:: DEFINITIONS ::
D1: USFG
-The USFG is the United States Federal Government

D2: Should
-Ought. This simply means that it is the correct course of action. This is not a moral issue, it is an economic and social issue.

D3: Ensure the welfare
-To ensure someone's welfare will mean to make sure that person can afford basic necessities - a healthy diet and a place to live. If the person is having trouble affording these things, the government should make sure that person can get by.

D4: Families living in poverty
-I am talking about people living at or below the official US Census Bureau's poverty line, which is different depending on where you live and how many people are in a family. An obvious note - this refers specifically to families in America.

::ADDITIONAL COMMENTS::
If my opponent has a problem with these definitions, he or she can feel free to offer new ones in R1, which I will either accept or show to be inferior to my definitions.
I ask that my opponent does not make arguments in R1, either. It would be very difficult to, anyway, since I have not yet made my case.

Thank you.
Shorack

Con

D1: accepted, nothing but a mere technicality it seems to be

D2: accepted that this isn't a moral issue. accepted that it is on basis of economics. but I do have a problem with the social aspect, since that usually involves morality. it's fine by me to leave it in the definition, but if morality is involved when being called upon, the fact that this isn't a moral issue should prevail

D3: I interpret this as the government giving the things mentioned, but nothing more (so it isn't about increasing the targeted group's welfare, but assuring certain needs are fulfilled). if this should have been interpreted in a different matter, please elaborate.

D4: to prevent any mistakes, I'd like to ask to post the definition. although I believe it isn't an essential part of the discussion, since morality isn't involved and there is no objective definition of poverty (any official definition being artificial). with this in mind, a general 'definition' of poverty should work (I won't try to deny any existence of poverty)

Furthermore:
When you make your case, I'd like to see clearly what you see as parameters to measure the effect of USFG action. (or the lack of it)

Also, I'm fine with definitions being used to make sure we know what we're talking about, but I want to point out that I'm strongly opposed to combating with definitions themselves, the debate itself should be about the ideas, the positions, not about nitpicking dictionary definitions.

I also hope this won't be a "find the loophole"-debate, since those are a waste of time. debating should be about clashing ideas, not about putting sophist techniques into practice.

This being said, I'm looking forward to the case of the Pro side.
I also want to point out that it can take long before I post an argument, I'll try to reply swiftly, if possible.
Debate Round No. 1
beem0r

Pro

Thank you for accepting my challenge.

::DEFINITIONS::
RE D2:
--I assure my opponent that I will not be making arguments based on the moral aspects. The social aspects I will refer to are things like crime, etc.

RE D3:
--As my opponent suspects, I am indeed referring to helping families get at least this bare minimum - a healthy diet and a place to live - but not helping them past that.

RE D4:
--For a family of four, poverty guidelines for 2008 set the poverty line at $21,200 annual income. This is for people living within the 48 contiguous states. http://aspe.hhs.gov...

::OBSERVATIONS::
O1: Things unrelated to this welfare policy do not necessarily have to be the status quo. For example, my opponent cannot argue that since the current tax system is unfair and this policy will require tax money, therefore this policy promotes unfairness. This policy could work under any tax system, so the unfairness of the tax system could be removed without changing my plan at all.

::PROBLEMS::
P1: Crime
Crime is a problem, especially among those in poverty. Not only do those with the least have very little to lose, but they have the most to gain; stealing, for instance, can mean the difference between starving/suffering and not.

P2: Low Productivity
Productivity is probably the most important economic factor for a country. More productivity means higher real GDP. Higher real GDP means more economic influence in the world, a higher average standard of living, and many other economic bonuses. Those in poverty are usually very unproductive, and this is a problem my plan seeks to fix.

P3: Resentment
The poor currently resent the middle and upper classes because of how much the poor suffer. Under most welfare plans, the middle and upper classes resent the poor because of how much assistance the poor currently get for being lazy, wasteful, etc. My plan seeks to fix the first issue without causing this second form of resentment.

::SOLUTION/Plan::
S1: Economic Advice
The USFG will utilize the expertise of economic advisors to help the families living in poverty to make a proper budget. These families will be required to meet once every 2-3 months with a budget advisor to make sure superfluous spending is extremely low. The advisor will help the family to use the most of the money they already have. If the family can do well enough on this alone [afford a good diet, afford an acceptable place to live], there is no help past that. Here is an example of some budget cuts a hypothetical family could make:

Let's say I make 800 a month. That's 9600 a year, which is under the poverty line of 10,400 for families of one member. Let's say my expenses are as follows:

OLD BUDGET
Rent [includes electricity, water, internet, cable]: $535/month
Gas [~25 miles per day, ~30 miles per gallon, ~$4 per gallon]: $100/month
Car Insurance [Liability coverage]: $50/month
Maintenance [Average cost per month of car repairs, etc]: $50/month
Food [Crappy diet, 5 bucks a day]: $150/month
Total: 885

I'd get some changes like the following:
Rent, other bills [Another roommate]: $350/month
Gas: same $100/month
Car Insurance: same $50/month
Maintenance: same $50/month
Food [Good diet, 10 bucks a day]: $300/month
Total: $850

Ouch! Now, I'm obviously not a budgeting expert, one could almost certainly have cut costs further, but I wanted to make the point that sometimes people will still be in need of assistance. Also, in cases where people are already rather frugal, the end result budget might actually be higher than the former one, due to food increasing in cost. This is all the help the "Economic Advice" will do us.

S2: Getting the extra cash
For the example budget I gave above, I make $800 a month and should be spending $850. Once I moved into my new apartment, that is. At that point, the Government would give me $50 in a kind of food stamps. The current food stamps system would probably suffice. This would allow me to have a balanced budget, have an adequate roof over my head, and get a good diet.
In the rare cases when these [modified?] food stamps aren't enough to make a balanced budget, the government would use cash.

There is a limitation on how long these systems can be used by an individual. The food stamps system would have a limitation of 7-10 years reliance. The government would only give cash to a family past the food stamps for a maximum of 2-3 years. The budget system could be used as long as someone wants to use it. Families that no longer qualify to receive the food stamps would not be given as high quality of diets on the budget, unless they can actually afford it. Further, people will only qualify for these systems if they are working or are verifiably looking for work.

S3: Diet Advice
People in the program would receive either emails or real mails with healthy eating advice - what foods to buy, healthy recipes, etc. This would ensure that people would be able to eat healthy with little to no knowledge of culinary arts.

::HOW IT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL::
H1: How it would reduce crime
By making the lives of the poor easier, they have less incentive to commit crime. Families will not be struggling to put food on the table, so they will have much less incentive to commit crime than they would with no welfare system.

H2: How it would increase productivity
It is a well-known fact that healthy workers are more productive than unhealthy workers. This is why many companies pay their workers efficiency wages. Here are two reasons this plan raises productivity:

Avoiding Shirking: The cost of losing your job is bigger [since the jobless are not given the same benefits], so people work hard to make sure they don't lose their job.
Sociological and Nutritional theories: People will have higher morale than if they did not receive welfare, and will be better workers. They will also be healthier, due to a better diet, and will be less likely to get sick or be too ill-bodied to work well.

These are two of the benefits of efficiency wages, which many companies have. The problem with efficiency wages are that they create unemployment by limiting the number of people a company can hire. This is not an issue with my plan, since companies still pay the same wages [since the benefits are given by the government, not the company]. Overall productivity rises as a result.

H3: How it would reduce resentment
The poor would not have such a large gap between themselves and the middle class. The size of this gap is largely the size of the resentment. Too much difference in the placement of wealth causes people to become more and more unhappy. At the extremes, it can even cause mass uprisings by the poor against the middle and upper classes. My plan reduces the wealth gap, so it reduces resentment. However, the poor are still forced to live uncomfortable lives, due to strict personal budget cuts that would occur. Thus, the middle and upper classes do not have much reason to feel resentment. The resentment itself is a problem my plan fixes/lessens, as is the possibility of revolt.

And that'll be all for this round. Thanks again to my opponent for accepting this challenge. I hope it's a good debate for both of us.
Shorack

Con

OBSERVATIONS
I won't make a huge point out of it, but I still feel the need to remark that a tax system is an inherent part of welfare programs.
How to obtain the funds for a program can have a significant effect.
Since taxation also gives very important incentives.
But like I said, I have no intent in tying you up to this constantly, since it would need a separate debate.

P1: I contend that crime is a problem. I have certain doubts on the issue of crime being related to poverty, but I'll let my opponent have it, since it isn't the main issue.

P2: My opponent makes a grave mistake here, turning around cause and consequence. People aren't unproductive because they're poor, they're poor because they are unproductive.
To support this claim, 2 notes, linked to each other:
1. An employer can never pay an employee more than the worth he produces. The reason for this is that if the employer would pay more than what the employee produces, he wouldn't make a profit any longer, but a loss. First of all it is the goal of almost all employers to make a profit, second, a company simply can't keep operating for long when they suffer losses.
2. Taking point 1 into account, if people would be unproductive because they're poor, the poor would be totally unable to get rid of the living situation defined as poor. Since they can't earn more than they produce, they can't get out of the 'poor' category and hence can't get more productive. It is quite clear that this totally isn't the case, poor people are able to make a better living over time. (for this, I'd like to refer to statistical claims by T. Sowell, who pointed out that almost nobody stays all his life - in fact not even a decade - in the same income brackets)
So hereby I state that people are poor because they are unproductive. (the contrary of what my opponent claimed)

P3: I oppose this claim, my opponent just stated this by fiat. While there certainly will be people who fit into the description, there is nowhere any indication whatsoever that we're not talking about a minuscule group which wouldn't be representative enough to take into account.
One could argue that the second form exists, cause they have a direct disadvantage since they pay for it. But if you opt to argue the second form this way, it would make the tax system a relevant part of the whole plan (especially since Pro claims that he won't cause the second type of resentment), but he wanted to stay clear of it. So either tax system gets involved, cause it would become relevant or my opponent has to support his claim (for the second type of resentment) with a different reasoning.

SOLUTION/PLAN (of the Pro side)
I take note of this plan and I suppose Pro will defend this plan and the criticism I'll offer concerning that plan.
Since rounds are limited, I'll elaborate two cases against it in 1 round. If the proposing side wants his plan to be passed, it is only fair to expect him to refute both ways of thought in a decent manner.

S1: This plan actually rewards having a lower income. Whether your personal input is 760 a month or 800 a month. So as long as you can't obtain an income that is more than the minimum wage, you're better off doing as little working effort as possible. (as long as you're entitled to the services mentioned in your plan, naturally)
Second, there is moral hazard (the risk that they spend the money on other things than agreed on), especially since the following-up happens only 4-6 times a year, numerous expenses can be hard to check.
Third, the whole is subject to personal input and fluctuations. People do have different preferences, by default they're the best judges themselves on how it's best to spend their money to obtain maximal 'utility' (satisfaction). Also, different advisers will give different advice, so there is no equal treatment.
Fourth, people willing to deny themselves more than the default, risk getting punished by the way this system works. For example the food. If a person holds less value to his food and hence buys the cheaper products, if this allows the person to stay within his budget, he doesn't get the financial support.
Furthermore, if the person spends the saved money on something he does value a lot, but isn't part of the necessities (eg: cigarettes), the person gets punished for it.

S2: Limitations are quite artificial, nothing either of us can do about that. I could go argue for different terms, but I wouldn't know on what basis (since there isn't much basis for such a debate right now), so I'll just leave this be. The essential part of S2 is that it includes limits of use.

S3: This assumes that people don't eat healthy because they don't know how to. However, the media communicates quite regularly on the problems of certain foods and the better alternatives for it. Also, the nutritious values are almost always communicated by the package. (especially the 'not so healthy' foods, but that is a personal impression)

H1: The control on their budget can prove an incentive to steal/commit crimes. Since they aren't free to use their own official resources the way they like, they can only obtain certain goods with money that the control doesn't know of, crime can prove the way out to that money.
Besides that, it gives a clear incentive towards moonlighting, since the more people earn in this system, the less support they get and it is a 1:1 relation, so there is no net gain for them at all.

H2: Again the assumption is made that people actually want to eat healthier but aren't able to do so for a reason (2 mentioned by my opponent: lack of money, lack of knowledge). It may very well be that they simply don't want the healthier food. So either they won't eat healthier because of the plan, or if you force them to, the loss of liberty over ones own live can lead to unhappiness, which may lead just as well to reduced productivity.
"The cost of losing your job is bigger" this statement appears incompatible with H3 where actually a closing of the gap between poor and rich is assumed.
Also, the wealth gap isn't the threat itself. Only if people get stuck in the situation, an upraise is what one risk, because there is no other way in that case to have upward social mobility. However, that upward (and downward) mobility does exist. (as mentioned earlier)

SECOND APPROACH
The second route to turn this down is that such a system can't increase welfare of the state.
We can't know the preferences of the people. The only way we learn their preferences at a given time is by the way they act.
This means that any adviser can't decide on priorities like quality and abundance of food, transport etc. the only way he could learn what those people want is by observing what they choose. But he can't improve it, cause they choose already the things they prefer the most.

For the same reason, there is no objective criterion to accept a higher real GDP as a good thing, since it will inevitably involve a trade-off with something different. It can very well be that people actually prefer more leisure time or a more moderate workload instead.
And again, the only reason we can learn about these preferences (at a given time) is by observing how people act. If some people eat unhealthy food, we learn that they prefer it above the alternatives, forcing them to healthy food would actually reduce their well-being.
Likewise, the fact that some people don't take extra measures to be more productive, learns us that they prefer to be less productive than their full potential, because they prefer other things above extra productivity. (like the unhealthy food for example)

Even the fact that less crime at this cost (the cost - in the broad sense - of the plan that is) is good is a mere assumption that you can't know for sure.
It might very well be that not having the plan and so having more crime (if that really gets reduced by this plan of course) is preferred.
Debate Round No. 2
beem0r

Pro

beem0r forfeited this round.
Shorack

Con

Shorack forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
beem0r

Pro

Sorry for the forfeit last round, I was away for the weekend and thought I had more time than I did. A few hours later I posted the following comment. I'll leave it unaltered and we'll call it even as far as forfeiting goes. Hopefully my opponent makes it to next round.

I'll just defend H's, since they are the real points.

For H1, how my plan reduces crime, I do not completely follow my opponent's argument. Lowering the wealth gap in any respect will reduce crimes committed by the lower class. I am lost when my opponent brings up 'moonlighting.' What is this, and how does it negate the reduction of crime?

For H2, I'll first point out that my opponent is correct in saying that unproductive people are poor because they are unproductive. However, with no welfare system, they become even less productive due to being generally unhealthy.
My opponent says that not everyone wants to eat healthy. This may very well be true, however little sense it makes. However, for my plan to be superior economically and socially to no welfare, it simply has to have an _overall_ positive effect on productivity [the best real indicator for the health of an economy] and on society, with no negative effects in these areas that outweigh the positive effects. Even if only 10% of poor people my plan assists eat healthier and are therefore more likely to be more productive, that is an overall positive effect.
And like I said, only people with jobs are helped by my plan, therefore the VALUE of a poor person's job = SALARY WELFARE benefits, whereas VALUE = SALARY with no welfare.

For H3, my opponent's only point seems to be that social mobility exists, and therefore people won't uprise no matter how big the wealth gap gets between rich and poor. However, without welfare, many poor people really don't have the possibility of upward mobility. This is because poverty leads to being unhealthy, not getting enough energy, sleeping a lot, and therefore not having the time or will necessary to achieve that upward mobility. Not only that, but the claim that uprisings cannot occur as long as there is upward mobility is on very shaky ground, and only has the weight of my opponent's assertion behind it.
Shorack

Con

Like beem0r, I apologize for missing last round. I've been sick and lost a bit track of the things I kept myself occupied with. :x
Now back into the debate:

H1: moonlighting is working without ever giving noticing government of the obtained income that way. (not declaring income. it's an official term, was part of the courses economic English I had last year ;))
I do note that my opponent simply states that a smaller wealth gap will reduce crime, but doesn't provide a basis for this assumption. Moonlighting, as said in round 1, will get a greater incentive if you reward people for not earning much.
But aside from that, I'm still waiting to see a reasoning established why the wealth gap stimulates crime.

H2: It makes sense to note that there are people that don't feel a need to eat healthy. People are less concerned with such things than is often by fiat assumed. I'd like to point to smoking, which is objectively a bad very thing for ones health, but still something that quite some people do. The proposed plan gives the impression that people have to follow the budget advice in order to get the support. (so they'd had to eat healthy)
So they'd be (as I said earlier) forced to do things they don't want to. Not quite a positive incentive.
Now the wording used in round 4 seems to suggest that people can opt-out, if that'd be the case, there is no real so called stick behind the door, coming along with the benefits. Which would make this end up in being normal welfare support.

H3: The point I made was that there is social mobility. (something pointed out by economists like T. Sowell) This was made in the context that if there is decent social mobility, it prevents uprises, not that it was a goal on itself.
It's true that this is based on personal assertion, but the claim that the gap induces crime, made by the Pro camp is just as much based on his own assertions.

I regret that my opponent skipped the S points, especially S1 needed to be addressed in my opinion, since it clearly points out weaknesses in the practical execution which may lead to this plan ending in abuse.

Also the second route that was elaborated, remained untouched by Pro, although it contained criticism on the indicators used to measure advance and made clear that it is near impossible to make better decisions for people than they do for themselves.

It's regrettable we both missed a round, this discussion feels like it needs another round to elaborate further.
But well, things aren't always our way in life.
Thanks for the discussion.

Kind regards,

Shorack
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
I'll wait a while to post my R3. Tell me when you get back, I'll wait until my last day to post my next round.
Posted by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
I'll just defend H's, since they are the real points.

For H1, how my plan reduces crime, I do not completely follow my opponent's argument. Lowering the wealth gap in any respect will reduce crimes committed by the lower class. I am lost when my opponent brings up 'moonlighting.' What is this, and how does it negate the reduction of crime?

For H2, I'll first point out that my opponent is correct in saying that unproductive people are poor because they are unproductive. However, with no welfare system, they become even less productive due to being generally unhealthy.
My opponent says that not everyone wants to eat healthy. This may very well be true, however little sense it makes. However, for my plan to be superior economically and socially to no welfare, it simply has to have an _overall_ positive effect on productivity [the best real indicator for the health of an economy] and on society, with no negative effects in these areas that outweigh the positive effects. Even if only 10% of poor people my plan assists eat healthier and are therefore more likely to be more productive, that is an overall positive effect.
And like I said, only people with jobs are helped by my plan, therefore the VALUE of a poor person's job = SALARY + WELFARE benefits, whereas VALUE = SALARY with no welfare.

For H3, my opponent's only point seems to be that social mobility exists, and therefore people won't uprise no matter how big the wealth gap gets between rich and poor. However, without welfare, many poor people really don't have the possibility of upward mobility. This is because poverty leads to being unhealthy, not getting enough energy, sleeping a lot, and therefore not having the time or will necessary to achieve that upward mobility. Not only that, but the claim that uprisings cannot occur as long as there is upward mobility is on very shaky ground, and only has the weight of my opponent's assertion behind it.
Posted by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
Sorry, I was away from home this weekend, thought I'd still have some time left when I got back, but I guess I should have checked. I'll post a short comment right in a sec with a very basic outline of what my points would have been for R2, just so you have something to respond to.
Posted by Shorack 8 years ago
Shorack
beem0r, won't post myself as long as possible so you have time to get back in.
please leave me a note when you're back. ;)
Posted by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
I suppose not. Go for it.
Posted by Biowza 8 years ago
Biowza
Is there anything stopping me from accepting both debates and using your contentions to cancel each other out?
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