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

The United States should establish a living wage

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2013 Category: Economics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,684 times Debate No: 32296
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




Hello all! Today we will be debating whether the United States should establish a living wage.
A living wage is a minimum wage that is above poverty and can sustain a person. Theoretically, different families and workers have different living wages. For example, I would set the living wage for one person sustaining only themselves at nine dollars and twenty cents. It would be higher for supporting kids, or a wife, or a husband, etc etc.

So, I will be saying this raise in minimum wage is good, you will be saying it is bad.

Seventy two hours to vote, eight thousand characters, five rounds!

Round 1-Acceptance
Round 2-Arguments with no clash
Round 3-Refutation
Round 4-Counter refutation
Round 5-Conclusion


Thanks to my opponent for instigating. I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting. Just to clarify the resolution: a living wage is basically a raise in minimum wage.

Let's begin.

1. Would help millions of people out of poverty and help them live better

There is no way of getting around this fact. If we increase minimum wage, people who are paid minimum wage would get paid more, and have better lives. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 14.9 million workers, eleven percent of the work force, would receive an increase in their wages if we establish a living wage. Workers who receive pay at minimum wage, work ten hours a day, and three hundred and sixty five days a year, still make only twenty five thousand dollars a year. If we establish a living wage at our price of nine dollars and twenty one cents, that some person will be making a much more respectable living, at thirty five thousand dollars a year.

2. A living wage would discourage illegal immigration.

If we increase the minimum wage, then jobs that are held by illegal immigrants would be more desirable to United States citizens because of their pay increase. One of the main reasons so many illegal immigrants have our jobs is because people don’t want to do all this tough labor for so little money. If we increase the minimum wage, more people will want jobs that illegal immigrants have. Giving these jobs to Americans will help the American economy a lot. This is according to the Arizona Watch.

3. An increase in minimum wage would help restrict greedy business owners.

Many low wage job seekers lack negotiation skills or knowledge of the value of the labor they provide. Business owners can take advantage of this by only paying their workers the legal bare minimum, rather than paying their workers the real value of their labor. By raising the minimum wage, we won’t stop business owners from being greedy, but we will be able to contain their greediness. When we raise the minimum wage from seven dollars to nine dollars, we can make sure that laborers are getting an amount of money closer to what they deserve for their work.



Apologies to my opponent for a delayed round. As per the agreed rules, this round will consist of my own arguments.


We need to view the resolution, as with all policy decisions, first from a moral perspective followed by an analysis of the practical effects for obvious reasons. Thus, before considering any arguments regarding the effects of this policy, it must first be established that compelling private citizens against agreeing to certain kinds of contracts (sub minimum wage pay) is justified.


C1: The minimum wage is unjust, and strengthening it is immoral

Self ownership and autonomy are the basis through which all rights are recognized, and are the unique traits that define human existence. There is no good argument for why the government should have the right to insert itself in private contracts and demand that employer X pays its workers a certain amount. Contracts between employers and workers are private, personal, and contractual and mutually beneficial relationships. The state has no business in regulating and closing down relations that dont violate anyones rights, so unless my opponent can prove that somehow a higher wage is a "right" (a tall order) he loses the debate right here. A just government is one that protects rights, not one that violates it's citizens self ownership simply because such a policy is popular; far from being increased the minimum wage needs to be abolished.

C2: Raising the minimum wage has harmful effects

Far from helping the poor, raising the minimum wage (especially to the large amount suggested by my opponent) only harms those it serves to aid. As CATO institutes James Dorn exlains regarding the effects of a wage increase on the labor market[1]:

"A fundamental law of economics—the law of demand—states that when the price of anything (including labor) increases, the quantity demanded will decrease, assuming other things affecting demand remain unchanged. In the case of labor, this means as the price of labor (the wage rate) increases, the number of jobs will decrease, other things constant. Moreover, the decrease in employment will be greater in the long run than in the short run, as employers shift to labor-saving methods of production."

One has to ask themselves *why* the US, once the industrial capital of the world, now outsources practically all it's manual labor. Among other things, the answer lies in the fact that its simply not economically productive for producers to produce here. All that is going to happen with an increase in a minimum wage is harm to the underclass. Dorn furthers:

" In addition to the negative impact of the minimum wage on employment (i.e., the number of jobs or the quantity demanded of labor), a rise in the minimum wage tends to draw workers into the job market (i.e., increase the quantity supplied of labor). But those new entrants will not be able to find jobs at the above-market wage rate. The result will be an increase in the unemployment rate for low-skilled workers, especially teens and minorities—and the unemployment will be greater in the long run than in the short run. Even though President Obama promises jobs to low-skilled workers, there will be many disappointed workers who won’t be able to find a full-time job or any job at the legal minimum, if the federal real minimum wage exceeds the market wage."

As this evidence shows, artificially inflating the price of labor is only going to harm productivity and the under class in the United States.

Thus you negate.


Debate Round No. 2


1. The minimum wage is unjust, and strengthening it is immoral
What my opponent is trying to say is that not being able to feed your family is fine. He's saying that it is okay to be in poverty! Povert is inexcusable. At all costs the government must prevent people from poverty. Also, it is worth noting that we are not debating the minimum wage, we are debating a raise in the minimum wage, so discard that point. Also, he says that unless I prove that somehow a higher wage is a right than I lose, which is false. I do not need to explain that it is a right. You could call anything that our government will ever do a violation of rights, or what it helps "not a right". Also, since my opponent has cited no evidence that it will hurt employers, we can dismiss his point on how it is bad for businesses. "Economic logic" is weaker than actual statistics of this happening in other minimum wage increases.
2. Raising the minimum wage has harmful effects
Again, this argument has no numbers or statistics, it is just ideas. There is no evidence that this really will happen. If my opponent cannot cite bad things that have happened from other minimum wage raises, then he has completely lost this debate. I'll refute this point anyway, though.

Law of Demand
Here's another economic law: When wages increase, people spend more. When people spend more, it is good for businesses. If people have better wages they will pump it right back into the economy.

Many of the jobs that are currently at minimum wage are not outsourcable. For example, a Starbucks barista or a McDonalds server.

Increasing quantity of supplied labor
There is no way this can go bad. Companies could offer more positions and grow rapidly. Also, having more workers in the work force can help workers take back the jobs of illegal immigrants because their jobs are more desirable now. Also, as to getting rid of jobs for teenagers, that doesn't really matter as much. Teenagers don't work to sustain a family, they work to make a few extra bucks. A teenager only works part time, and part time at minimum wage is a tiny amount that won't make a difference in their day to day for the most part.

The three ways my opponent can win this debate are:

a. Prove that the problem this addresses is non existent
Poverty is a very real and serious problem. You cannot prove poverty is not an issue.
b. The proposal will not address the issue completely
He can't go this way as well because this directly affects those in poverty who work at minimum wage jobs.
c. The proposal has too many negative consequences
The only way he can prove this is by citing statistics, which he has not done so far.

Your move.


In this round I will refute my opponents case. As per the specifications, I'll reserve defense of my own case until R4, except where my case is relevant to refute his arguments.

Recall also that he totally dropped my framework, so extend this which means that all of his practical impacts, even if taken as true, are secondary to the moral issue of if it's justified to prohibit certain private contracts.

1. Would help people in poverty

Literally his only argument here is that if we increase the minumum wage, people working under minimum wage would make more. This is uncontroversial. Despite my opponent failing to link his source (indeed, I could flatly deny his numbers for lack of documentation), it should be clear that the real issue is not will raising minimum wage cause those working under minimum wage to make more, but rather what effects over all exist, and is this moral? For why this will just harm workers and is immoral see everything I said in R2.

Recall also that Pros argument applies to literally any wage, why not raise minimum wage to $100 an hour? Pros argument would apply under this scenario as well, but clearly such an increase is absurd. My opponent needs to justify his given numbers more than "peoples wages would go up".

2. Illegal immigration

The xenophobic notionthat illegals "take American jobs" is absurd on its face both logically and empirically. Even disregarding the fact that many of these illegals have these jobs precisely BECAUSE they are willing to work under the table for less than minimum wage, Pros argument still falls flat. Logically it should be self evident that no one is entitled to a job, much less due to their birth in arbritary, constantly shifting boundaries, as a job is a private, voluntary contract between individuals, not a human right. Empirically however, immigrants only help a countries economy. As David Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at Cato Institute[1] explains:

"The addition of low-skilled immigrants expands the size of the overall economy, creating higher-wage openings for managers, craftsmen, accountants, and the like."

Economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute[1] furthers: "In the ongoing debate on immigration, there is broad agreement among academic economists that it has a small but positive impact on the wages of native-born workers overall: although new immigrant workers add to the labor supply, they also consume goods and services, which creates more jobs …"

Immigrants have a positive effect on the economy, not a negative one and there is no morally coherent reason to prohibit certain people from entering contracts based off the circumstance and location of their birth.

3. Greedy business owners

Turn: If business owners are greedy, they will do everything to maximize profits. This includes laying off or outsourcing workers when they are not worth keeping for $9.20 an hour.

Pro is essentially assuming that companies operate in a vacuum and can scam laborers by not paying them what they're "worth". Nevermind the facts that people are only entitled to contractual agreements and there is no objective way to determine what one is "worth", companies too are in competition with other firms to hire productive workers in order to maximize profits. If a workers true skills are worth $20, no company is going to offer her minimum wage as other companies will be competing for the same skill set. And before my opponent tries to argue against this by pointing to the unemployment statistics, much of the reason people are out of work sometime is because they refuse to work for less than what their skills are worth, at jobs they're overqualified for. Indeed my opponent unjustly assumes ignorance on the part of the worker, when really such a claim is unwarranted.

Vote Con.


1.;(the specific cards cited can be found within the article)
Debate Round No. 3


I concede. I won't bother wasting everybody's time.


Oh alright then. Thanks to my opponent for the deabte :)
Debate Round No. 4


Vote con!


Thanks for the debate
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by davidw 4 years ago
If there was no minimum wage, and workers were all alike (and could not become owners), then the wage will fall to the point where it is just enough for the average person to survive. Thus, half the population could starve.

Historically, these things were ameliorated by various barriers to competition. These were physical, but also due to the fact that workers were able to educate themselves and so avoid competition from the starving masses across the globe. But I think as time marches on and markets become global, without some protections for workers, we will all end up where we were at our beginning - in the 1900's. As global society of pure perfect competition is simply impossible.
Posted by dragonb95 4 years ago
of course not
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
Do you mind if i defend my case in this round?
Posted by dragonb95 4 years ago
Don't worry about it! Get better soon :)
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
sorry for being so slow on my responses btw. Upper respiratory infection
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
sorry for being so slow on my responses btw. Upper respiratory infection
Posted by Feudalplague 4 years ago
ill just make the point that it cant be done. we have a thing called minimum wage (which is living wage) were supposed to be able to live off of 7.25 an hour after substantial hours are met.. In reality corporations will just increase the price of their products to reflect. hence they make more money etc... over the past few decades every time the average minimum wage increases so does the cost for services...
Posted by MaqicDan 4 years ago
is this just an increase in minimal wage based of your social status or are you talking about a wage the government pays you for "living"
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Gondun 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: As requested by both sides, here is my vote for Con.