The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

The Welfare State is outdated and there are more efficient alternatives

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/13/2013 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,365 times Debate No: 40473
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




I believe the Welfare state, the government rule giving benefits to those in need of support through benefit payments and services, is outdated and in need of a replacement.
First of all the welfare state is about merit goods i.e. goods that give significant benefits to the individual consuming them and to society as a whole. However people undervalue these and what I mean by that is that if these goods/services cost they wouldn't be bought by everybody. A few examples come to mind for example, education. It is free but some people wouldn't buy it if it did cost.
So, the costs to the government or the nation as a whole for that matter. The welfare state costs an awful lot of money to the government, peoples hard earned income is being distributed to some people who claim to have a disability or in desperate need of income but in actual fact are taking advantage of this badly formed concept and claiming benefits they don't need. Also I believe some people may be overlooked by the government when they do meet the criteria to gain these benefits because the background search of some people is not thorough enough. This has become a problem as a lot of people have discovered this 'loophole' and are taking advantage of it.
The alternatives to the welfare state include increasing the role of the voluntary sector. This means making people responsible for other people and caring for each other as a community. This may not seem like it would work but I believe a system could be put in place so everyone has to contribute to the community. I also believe some adjustments could be made to the welfare state such as making it universal although this does have its drawbacks.
In conclusion I think everyone should play a bigger role in shaping our community and caring for the elderly and the unable instead of just giving them a bit of money in which the government expect them to know what to use it for.


First, thanks to Wj for proposing this very interesting topic.

I am making the assumption that the debate is focused on the current US situation, but if that is not the case I will be glad to expand it to other countries in the second round.

Somebody -I think it was Churchill?- once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others. Something similar can be applied to the welfare state. It is full of inconsistencies, loopholes and potential for abuse, yet it beats the alternative -the lack of it. I see it in evolutionary terms: animals (other than humans I mean) use diverse combinations of cooperation and violence to reach their goals. When it comes to what to do with the destitute, the weak, the sick or the injured, their strategies vary from community help (survival) to open violence or abandon (both an effective death sentence). Humans have the cognition ability to realize there are multiple alternatives, but we don't necessarily agree on which one to use: so when we are faced with that situation, some of us choose to assist the ones in need, while some others will effectively kick the weaklings out of the group. Add to this that human power goes well beyond animal's: while animals can only assert themselves in terms of physical force, humans extend that power by long reach influence (i.e. a paunchy, feeble CEO can decide the destiny of thousands of physically stronger men).

And this is when the need for a welfare state kicks in -an institution above individual power, in charge of redistributing wealth and assistance where the community alone is unable to, be it because of unwillingness or lack of power.

Add to this the issue of inequality, be it gender based or racial. Women have made significant progress but are still far from effective equal rights (sometimes the laws exist, but their application leaves much to be desired). Racial minorities are in the same boat -Jim Crow laws are long gone, but a color blind society is still a pipe dream, and in many ways the palliative measures such as Affirmative Action do more to freeze a situation of practical inequality under "tolerable" terms than to pave the way for true equality.

I would like to end this with a key question: who is on welfare? The answer is you, me, and the vast majority of Americans. When we think of welfare we think of food stamps, welfare checks and Medicaid. Actually, the bulk of American citizens are subsidized by the State. We assume it's our own taxes which pay for welfare, but in reality, the roads we drive on, the electricity we use, the police that keeps us safe (sometimes...), all this is paid by the very rich. I know this is hard to swallow, but take a closer look at the brutal income inequality today (the infamous 99% vs. 1%, which is a figure of speech but not too far from reality), then at taxation which is slightly regressive but not that much, and do the math. You'll be surprised.
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, thank you for accepting this debate and I was actually referring to the UK welfare state but I suppose the debate can be applied to both nations.
Now, I agree with some of these points that there aren't many alternatives but I believe as a nation if we were more collective then the welfare state could be adjusted. The main problem I see in the welfare state is that there isn't as thorough background search of the person applying for it as maybe there should be. This could easily be set up by looking at the census of everyone and medical history, wage etc. and applying data to a computer system and actually looking to see if some people aren't as in desperate need as some. I believe varying the amount of money given to these people is important as an old person isn't as in need of money than someone who has a life threatening disease e.g. cystic fibrosis. This would be the easiest alternative to ask of the government but going back to the idea of more voluntary work I think a reward scheme could be set up for doing a certain amount of voluntary work. For example "100 or $100 for 10 hours of service to the community. This would be cheaper than the current welfare state is and it would give people the incentive to give something back to their community.
Welfare state can encourage people to not get better jobs who may be in school and barely able to pay the bills, even if they work. They may make just enough money to qualify for benefits, but not enough money to fully support themselves unless they live in a bad area. People apply for benefits if they are unemployed but surely even in this day and age getting a job would be a more efficient way of earning money and it is problems like this that make the welfare state so evasive.
My final reason about how the welfare state is unreliable is it is people who work hard to make a living that are effectively paying for some people to not bother getting a job and get money given to them and them not earning it. These people are not playing their part to help boost the economy which isn't helping the UK out at all.
In conclusion I will fire back a different question; Do the negatives outweigh the positives? And frankly I don't believe they do. The welfare state was better when it was first introduced in 1906 but I feel it has taken us a significant way forward but it is old and can no longer lead us in the right direction, it too needs a pension after its retirement.


Oops, that's what happens when you make unsubstantiated assumptions. I must confess my ignorance on the nuances of the UK welfare system, but I'll do my best to extrapolate my US experience, and I apologize in advance if I miss my target.

You say that "as a nation if we were more collective then the welfare state could be adjusted." And I agree with the concept, save for the fact that that's one very big "if". Societies are not reliable when it comes to decide what to do with those in need. Some people help, some don't, and what is worse, the opinion of a small but strong sector -the media, a charismatic politician, etc.- can easily sway the choice of those who are not strongly convinced.

I agree that background checks are perfectible, and I referred to that when I said that the system is rife with loopholes. That said, welfare is one case when I believe it's best to err on the side of caution. In my view, a system that rejects a person in real need of help is worse than one that lets a cheater to take advantage of it. As to what the percentage of cheaters is, I don't have any reliable statistics and I don't think there is one: our opinions are more often driven by emotional reactions, such as "look at that lazy bum collecting a check for nothing". As true as that may be, those who truly need help often weigh less in our views, as if they were less visible.

The idea of some sort of community work in exchange for money actually exists already: it's called low level federal, state or city jobs (sorry for not using the proper UK names, but I hope you get the idea). These jobs are heavily subsidized, and keep a lot of people off the streets. But extending the concept to every poor person currently receiving welfare is dangerous. Should underage kids work? Poor pregnant women? Old people? How old would then old be? Yes you could draft a system in which only those who are physically able do actual work, but that would open another can of worms. Who would have the final say? (for practical purposes, that will be an overworked desk employee who knows nothing of the applicants) What if a person who is really sick or hurt gets the wrong certificate or none at all, and is sent to work? Again I prefer to err on the side of caution, and let a broader group of people reap the assistance, without adding a questionable selection criteria.

You ask a very valid question, "Do the negatives outweigh the positives?" Actually that question should be mandatory in any sensitive issue where some people tend to see one side of the equation only. As I see it, the negative is overspending in helping people who do not really need help, money which as I mentioned before comes mostly from very rich people, and to a large extent subsidizes the working and middle class too. The positive is, it keeps a large number of people who have difficulty fighting for survival afloat (though barely). I take that to be a very big positive against a relatively minor negative.
Debate Round No. 2
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Jakeross6 2 years ago
I did not comment on the content of this debate. On this site, formatting and presentation, along with sourcing arguments, and watching spelling and grammar can win you a lot of points. Please do not brush off advice from another debater again. I will now reread and vote on the debate.
Posted by SloppyJoe6412 2 years ago
I'm not sure I understand jakeross' comments -this debate was perfectly civilized, and while I read the "model" debates with interest, I don't believe a rigid format is necessarily a good thing. I'm sure the format we used is perfectible but it was at least understandable.
Posted by Jakeross6 2 years ago
Here is one on what NOT to do:

A couple good examples are these:
Posted by Jakeross6 2 years ago
Suggestion to debaters: Format arguments by better spacing to separate ideas and points, use html format to bold and italicize, and use sources(<b> begins bold, </b> ends bold. <i> begins italicization, </i> ends it. <u> begins underline, </u> ends it.) Lots of sources, quotes, and other ideas. Economic debates based on ideologies is a difficult subject to debate, and definitely isn't a worthwhile read without the sources, quotes, structured arguments, and many things. I would suggest reading this debate for formatting and argument guides.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Jakeross6 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: This debate is pretty bad, fellas. I did not know who to agree with before entering this debate and afterwards I feel like the debaters should not have taken on an economics debate without even thinking about sources, formatting, and forming convincing arguments during the debate. If you will just go through other economic debates with names like Tylergrahm and Roylatham, two very good debaters on this site, you would have seen how a proper debate is done. But as it stands, both parties are tied on everything except one thing: Con gets the spelling and grammar points as he at least spaces his arguments while Pro seems to keep all his in one large paragraph. Neither party used sources, their arguments lacked real time examples and statistics that are common in these types of debates, and conduct was good on both sides. This was more of a statement of beliefs in a short, two round debate with no real arguments from either side.