Welfare Shouls not Be Abolished
1.) I will argue that it (a)disincentives production, (b)incentives underemployment and unemployment, which (c)contribute to poverty
2.) I will argue that there is no negative causal relationship, direct or indirect, between welfare and crime.
3.)Furthermore I will argue that it cannot help people get a basic standard of living. If welfare can be achieved in any event, potential recipients would have been better off in a capitalist economy an an unregulated labor market.
I hope to have a civil and productive debate, and hopefully we'll both learn something.
(1) Welfare Reduces Poverty:
"Studies show that in welfare statespoverty decreases after countries adapt welfare programs. Empirical evidence suggests that taxes and transfers considerably reduce poverty in most countries whose welfare states commonly constitute at least a fifth of GDP." (Kenworthy, L. (1999). Do social-welfare policies reduce poverty? A cross-national assessment. Social Forces, 77(3), 1119-1139; Bradley, D., Huber, E., Moller, S., Nielson, F. & Stephens, J. D. (2003). Determinants of relative poverty in advanced capitalist democracies. American Sociological Review, 68(3), 22-51)
After welfare programs were intoduced, the absolute poverty level droped in Sweden from %23.7 to %5.8, in the Netherlands from %22.1 to %9.3, in Denmark from %26.4 to %5.9, in Germany from %15.2 to %4.3, in Canada from %22.5 to %6.5, in France from %36.1 to %9.8, in Belguim from %26.8 to %6, in Italy from %30.7 to %14.3, and similarly in other countries including the US and the UK. http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) It Provides Basic Human Rights/Needs where they otherside would not be able to get the aid.
Welfare provides a mininum level of wellbeing and support for all citizens in forms such as monetary payments, subsidies and vouchers, health services, housing, and so forth, to individuals who are unemployed, those with illness or disability, the elderly, those with dependent children, and veterans. It is easy to say "get up and get a job," but quite often people are born into situations or find themselves in situations due to no fault of theirs where they cannot obtain work such as illness due to car accidents, falls, exposure to infectuous disease or chemical agents. Economic downturns such as the Great Depression can also cause unemployment. "The Great Depression had devastating effects in virtually every country, rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, and in some countries rose as high as 33%."
http://en.wikipedia.org... These folk were not responsible for being laid off, it wasn't their fault the economy crashed.
"Approximately 54 million Americans experience some form of disability, a number likely to increase as the US population ages and with medical advances saving and prolonging lives. Increased numbers of American with disability are also occurring as a result of continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." (United States Ratification of International Human Rights Treaties, July 24, 2009, 'Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)') These people are not your average lazy dude who just don't want to work. The disabled do their best, but there is only so much they can do. They still have to pay their light, water, and buy food, clothing, shelter. Do we not "all" these basic human rights? Welfare assists those who can't otherwise earn enough to have this basic standard to living to attain it in economies where the cost of living coninues to rise.
The 193 member states of the United Nations are legally bound to the charter on human rights. One of those rights is "Social Security," a form of Welfare, which supports you when you get sick, injured, or old. In the UN ad for social security, it says this may be money, medicine, or whatever you need to get back on your feet, "because sometimes, we all need a little help." Food shelter and education are also among these human rights, which indeed costs money. http://www.humanrights.com... So
Aid in its simplest form is a basic income grant, a form of social security periodically providing citizens with money. In pilot projects in Namibia, where such a program pays just $13 a month, people were able to pay tuition fees, raising the proportion of children going to school by 92% while child malnutritionrates fell from 42% to 10% and economic activity grew by 10%. (A new approach to aid: How a basic income program saved a Namibian village". spiegel.de. http://www.spiegel.de.... Retrieved 2011-05-28; "Namibians line up for free cash". bbcnews.com. http://news.bbc.co.uk.... Retrieved 2011-05-28) Education and health are human rights, so we can see again how welfare aids in this regard.
(3) Welfare Reduces Crime
Studies have shown that the lower socioeconomic class engages in more criminal activity than those who are financially well-off. Many criminals are desperate and impecunious individuals who live in deteriorating and disorganized areas. These people lack the social support along with economic resources that are easily accessible to more affluent people within society. Many people believe that there is great influence of such social forces upon the behavior of human beings which many times leads people to behave criminally. According to social structure theories, social forces can directly cause crime. Sociologists Park, Burgess, and Wirth have all concluded that the social forces that exist within urban areas indeed create more criminal interactions . (Siegel, L. J. (2006) Criminology. 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth) So if poerty increases the desperation of people for food, shelter and clothing, causing them to steal or even kill, and welfare does indeed reduce poverty as I have shown, it stands to reason that welfare reduces the amount of crime there would be had there been no welfare programs. This doesn't mean that there cannot be other crime causing factors that causes the hike in crime to exceed the reduction (making it unnoticable), but without welfare, there would certainly be more crime than what we do see.
I'll wait until Con presents his case before getting into the meat of this debate. Thank you.
Before I continue, I want to make sure we both agree on what welfare is.
Welfare: Mandatory taxation on the general population to fund limited payments to the poor, the disabled, the unemployed and/or the elderly in the form of money, health care coverage, food assistance or other limited assistance.
--BASIC JUSTIFICATIONS for a FREE MARKET--
Society is made of individuals making decisions, for their own perceived benefit. (By perceived benefit, I'm including their own desire to help others as well as their desire to help themselves.) Every action they take is an attempt to improve their lives and the lives of other people they care for. They can make mistakes and make themselves worse off, but in general they know their own desires best, and are uniquely positioned to select what actions to take in life.
Every day people choose to go to school, go to work, start a business, work on a project, take time off, or participate in society in some way. Everybody chooses different things, because they value different things differently. When you buy something, you and the seller disagree on it's value. The seller believes it is worth less than the price, you think it is worth more. In the same way, some people value free time, or they dislike working at one job or another, more or less than others. All value is subjective, and the valuation of anything can only be determined by a person choosing a specific quantity of something over a specific quantity of another.
With that in mind, the purpose of a marketplace is to allow people to come together who disagree about the value of items and exchange them for what they think is more valuable. In any market, the core price is determined by supply and demand, in the absence of any external influence.
What I mean by supply and demand is the preferences of the people to consume vs. the preferences of the people to not produce. If you could chose between consuming a good and losing the money of the market price, your valuation is a signal to the producers. If you would rather have the disutility of production along with the utility of the money raised from sale, your valuation of the cost of production can signal to the market, and if in a big enough proportion, lower the price. In both cases, the production and consumption by the producers and consumers is compared with the second best thing they could be doing with their time or money. The consumers might have done something else or worked less, or the producers might have taken time off or made something else. Instead, they selected to produce and consume over all other options, and therefore were all better off. Again they can make mistakes, but because these outcomes result from their own actions, they are closest to the actual desires and improvements in life that the producers and consumers.
I will justify this further if need be, otherwise I will assume Pro accepts it as a useful foundation of economics.
--BASIC ARGUMENTS AGAINST WELFARE--
Welfare is marked by an intervention in the income market. Most of the time we talk about the market of other things like labor in terms of money, but it is perfectly possible to talk about money in terms of labor. Both are valuable, scarce things we own and trade. In the market of income in terms of labor, what is basically happening with welfare is the government is establishing a price control, and it has the same effect as any other price control, but it's not a control of the price of goods in terms of money, it is a control of the price of money in terms of labor.
The government mandates that everyone receives a living wage, through unemployment benefits or food stamps or other payments, regardless of how much labor they pay. Thus, the price of money in terms of labor has an artificially low maximum price: zero. People can get a limited amount of money or money equivalent when they qualify for assistance. This offer is not available to everyone, but it's impact is felt all through the labor market.
When people chose to get a job, start a business, or whatever they do, they are deciding which choice will improve their lives. Different people have different desires, but all act upon their desires. When the option exists to receive unemployment benefits/welfare programs/food stamps exist, then people will compare that/those option(s) to what their current or possible situations are. In the absence of welfare programs, they would compare their other activities to having all time off and receiving no compensation, but instead they are comparing their other activities to having full time off and receiving limited payments. As a result, some people could work in the economy but decide they would be better off not experiencing the disutility of working along with the positive utility of welfare payments (minus the payment they would get with a job, skilled or not). They are comparing this possibility with working in the economy being paid similarly to the welfare program.
I am not just saying they need to get off their bums and get a job. There are real reasons why unemployment is so high, and it is very difficult to find work. I would argue that unemployment is caused by government intervention, but that's a separate issue.
The effect of welfare affects the valuation of the workers to work, and their supply schedule for labor. Now, they will work only for higher wages, and or will work less. The aggregate supply schedule for labor, of all workers in the economy, will have to match up with the same demand schedule for labor, so the price of labor will rise and the amount of labor bought will fall.
When the amount of labor bought decreases, fewer things can be produced. Fewer clothes, fewer raw materials, fewer computers, fewer everything. This impoverishes everyone, because if the market has less to sell, the price of everything will go up, because it all requires labor. The economy will be unable to support as many businesses, some will fail, and workers will consolidate as the capital structure is contracted and fewer things are made for everyone.
Like all other decisions, the choice to commit crime is a rational decisions based on a person's varying desires. Many desires are at play here and must be compared with alternatives. First and foremost is the demand for money and what one is willing to do to get it. Another thing is the supply of criminal tools, such as weapons, street knowledge, etc. One of the most important is the utility of crime itself. Some people actually have a basic desire to hurt people. Others have a basic, irreducible desire to respect others. These desires are all balanced with alternatives by individuals when deciding to commit any crime.
So what does welfare do? On a purely economic level, it does reduce the demand for money among the poor. It does not touch any of the two other desires. But it also increases the demand to hold money among the taxpayers, who are always the larger group. Furthermore, as a whole, as I have shown, it impoverishes society by pushing marginal workers out of the labor market and the economy produces less, and there are fewer manufactured goods for all, and therefore the aggregate demand to hold money will be higher, and in total will make people more desperate. This is not by itself proof crime will increase with welfare. The demand to hold money is variable among people and incomes so it is possible crime will decrease, but on a basic level it does not guarantee crime will go down.
I would like to thanks Pro for his insights and I await his further response.
As in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, basic needs are typically understood as "food, clothing, housing, and medical care." All people have a right to such goods, and they should be provided if they do not already possess them. Therfore government is responsible for organizing the redistribution of the goods necessary to satisfy all society members' basic needs or of the money to purchase these goods—hence, the social welfare system. The satisfaction of basic needs is of greater moral importance than an individual's right to spend earnings as he or she freely chooses. This is not merely a clashing of societal rights but a matter of life and death, malnutrition and nourishment, disease and health, ignorance and education.
The study, Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work, examines another significant barrier: the costs associated with going to work. Many women report difficulties in managing the hidden costs of working, including increased expenses for child care, medical care, transportation, housing and suitable clothing. Non-economic costs such as accommodating parenting responsibilities and other family management issues were mentioned. The study noted that women who were able to work steadily benefited from a combination of "special circumstances," such as co-residence with relatives, free childcare by a friend or relative, receipt of regular and substantial child support, and access to transportation. (Edin & Lein) Thus, those who don't have such special help from relatives and friends must be aided by the welfare system. This is not a case of women just choosing not to work willy-nilly, but mothers with real difficulties and no other options.
In Personal and Family Challenges to the Successful Transition from Welfare to Work, 90% of welfare recipients analyzed from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth experience barriers that limited their employment. Barriers noted in the report, in rank order, were: low basic skills, substance abuse, a health limitation, depression, and a child with chronic medical condition or disability. The most prevalent logistical barriers to successful employment, noted within this study as well as within the national Family Support Act are: child care, and transportation. (ibid)
The Institute for Research on Poverty did a seven-study review to outline and understand factors that prevent welfare recipients from working steadily and earning a living wage. Based on the review, nine sets of potential barriers to employment and self-sufficiency were identified: low schooling, little work experience, lack of the job skills and credentials employers value, lack of "work readiness," worries about employer discrimination, mental health problems, alcohol and drug dependence, physical health problems and family stresses, and experiences of domestic violence. (Kalil)
I agree that some of the above may be the result of bad choices, but not all, and we can't punish genuine cases of unavoidable need in order to punish those who made silly choice. Also, there are social forces that push people into making bad decisions. Because of how one was raised and limited resources, education etc, one can't be blames for making certain mistakes. Deep depression can naturally cause peeople to become drug dependant. There are genuine sorrows in life that lead to depression. What kind of unforgiving, loveless, me-first-screw-everyone-else societies are we building when we say "you make your bed, lie in it!" to these people? Do we not at times need a little help to? To remove welfare is to take the humanity out of society.
Data from the Urban Institute in Washington D.C.profiling the U.S. welfare population shows that welfare recipients are mostly single mothers in their 20s-30s with one or two children; 90% of welfare recipients are single mothers, 10% married, 36% divorced/widowed/separated, 54% never married. What is a single mother to do with her two children when the only jobs she qualifies for can't even afford to pay both day care for her kids and the rent at the same time? I believe the need justifies the welfare offer. We can blame her for her decisions, be she is only human. So she believe him when he said he loved her, she moved in with him and gave him two kids, then he abandons her. He leaves her with two kids and rent ot pay. Blaming her solves nothing. What of women who are raped and get pregnant that way? Will we now say that was her fault too?
84% of welfare recipients have no college education. Many things in life hinder one's education, so its not their fault they can't get a big time job. But contrary to the stereotype that most welfare recipients are lazy and unwilling to work, majority of welfare recipients (70%) have recent work experience. In 2004, according to the National Survey of American Families, of the total number of African-Americans receiving AFDC or TANF benefits, about 28% were working full-time and about 26% were working part-time, bringing the total of African-Americans on welfare who had some form of employment to 54%. The National Survey ofAmerican Families, in 1997, reported that about 40% of all welfare recipients reported genuine barriers to employment which include poor eduction, lack of child care, and poor physical and mental health. These statistics flatly contradict the claim that the typical African-American welfare recipient is unemployed and unwilling to find work, and reveals the underling gross over-generalization in the elaboration of the anti-welfare campaign myth. The notion that the typical welfare recipient is lazy and unwilling to work ignores the fact that welfare recipients have significantly higher barriers to employment than the average of the population.
The level of educational attainment and not laziness is a significant predictor of whether a woman would be a welfare recipient or not. Most welfare recipients qualify only for jobs in low-wage secondarymarkets with the jobs being often temporary and seasonal or part time nature. The jobs offer unstable hours and with no health-care nor family leave benefits. The need for child care and transportation assistance is also a major barrier to employment. About two-thirds of welfare recipients tested on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test, which is considered a strong measure of future employment earnings, show that most individuals on welfare score on the bottom quartile (lowest 25%). Low scores correlate to low-wage jobs and, therefore, a need for continued welfare income support. Women with low skills find it very difficult to find steady employment and generally tend to long periods of unemployment interspersed with short periods of low paying seasonal or unstable jobs. In short, most women on welfare are on welfare because they are largely unemployable rather than lazy and unwilling to find work.
Many opponents of expanded welfare program complain that welfare recipients stay on welfare for too long and tend to become addicted to welfare and and are unwilling to find work. But official statisticshave shown that 80% of recipients spend five years and below on welfare and that only 20% spent more than 5 years. The poor aren't lazy, just unluky. Life is unkine to the best of us.
I would just like to note It appears to me Pro did drop a majority of my Round 2 arguments. I hope he chose to address them soon otherwise he will have dropped those arguments.
1.) Welfare Reduces Poverty
Con lists a 1999 Study of various OECD Countries that implemented various welfare programs and saw a drop in their poverty level between 1960 and 1991. Going off the Wikipedia numbers, the decline in poverty is very impressive. If we could fight poverty this fast, we could go from Zimbabwe to Luxembourg in a few hundred years or less. But correlation does not imply causation. The fact that poverty declined between 1960 and '91 does not mean welfare programs solved the problem.
I looked at some of the studies you cited and while I was reading through one of them, namely "Do Social-Welfare Policies Reduce Poverty? A Cross-National Assessment" (Lane Kenworthy) And the author described how it's difficult to measure the effect of Social welfare policies because most studies concentrate on just the United States, and that to get a balanced approach, one must include a trans-national approach. The study includes data on several different countries after implementing various Welfare programs, and reported how much welfare they did by compiling a number, the "Government transfers" ratio, and also listed the poverty rates, both relative and absolute, with baselines of 50% 40% and 30% of the US baseline poverty level by PPP. I took some of these numbers and threw together a few charts. I posted them on facebook, and hopefully they should be visible here:
While other charts were in the original report showing a clear decline in the poverty level among all countries studied over time, when different countries are compared at the same time are compared, the amount of transfer payments to the poor do not seem to have any major effect on the poverty level, and even a slightly negative effect on the GDP per capita. The other graphs showing the drop in poverty among every single one of these countries is showing progress over time, namely from 1960 to 1991. But tremendous progress was made in the western world in that period of time, from the expansion of medicine and slow improvements in technology to the rise of telecommunications and higher fuel efficiency, all these advances would surely improve productivity and help any society better care for its poor.
2.) It provides Basic Human Rights (that people would otherwise be unable to get)
While welfare programs do provide a minimum survivor level for the poor, keep in mind my perspective. Poor people may truly be unfairly excluded in some cases. I believe the only person who knows how to best spend his or her own money is the individual, and that a myriad of regulations and interventions raise the cost of some kinds of business, prohibit others, are often directed by politically connected elites and without the input of the poor. Such interventions ultimately turn out to be for their detriment.
For example, the department of Labor sets numerous different rules for employers on a large number of things, from conditions of employment to safety standards, paperwork requirements and anti discrimination issues.
These interventions fundamentally take away choices. In a perfect world, and I know we don't live in a perfect world, if some working conditions or other requirements make sense, then it will be in everyone's best interest to follow them anyway. If employers reasonably can provide working conditions or benefits or guarantees, then in a free market, (which we do not have) they would in theory be best off to provide it.
But sometimes these rules actually prevent useful work from being done. For example, what if a DoL rule requires employers and employees to have a standard of service to customers as defined by some rule, when someone discovers a new way to do business cheaply? If someone finds a way to run the business at a lower cost and still provide what customers want but it doesn't comply with DoL requirements, they can't even set up shop. This is a difficult kind of thing to prove or back up, but I'm convinced that there are a lot of jobs that could otherwise be available to the poor and the minorities in this way that are not available today.
3.) Welfare Reduces Crime
I must say I'm not an expert in crime or criminology, I don't have the resources to do much more than a Google search on the topic, but despite that there is a better explanation for crime, in general, than poverty: child abuse. How children are raised can mostly determine their morals and how aggressive they will be. Children with hypocritical and abusive parents tend to be more violent and antisocial, weather rich or poor. Obviously, this kind of behavior will not breed a very successful life and so imaginably most people who are raised like this are disposed to crime, drugs, teenage pregnancy and imprisonment, but it is the behavior they learned from their parents as children that determine their views towards respecting others.
If they are taught to respect others, then weather they are rich or poor, they will be cooperative and will peacefully pursue their dreams with no ill will to anyone. If they are taught to be hypocrites, if their parents lie to their children or appeal to force frequently, then they will learn might makes right, and that they will never reach their dreams no matter what they do. These feelings can kill a persons chance of applying themselves and succeeding, no matter what they do.
If this aggressive person grows up to have unreliable jobs and often no job and receives some welfare, it can give him the fish for a day but it can't teach him to fish. That can only come from his or her parents or other people he or she look up to.
For example, one study has 63 pages worth of information filled with citations about the effect of child abuse on crime. For example, individuals with any abuse were 14% more likely to commit some crime than individuals who were not abused at all. (Currie, Tekin, 27) It goes on:
"They are also
significantly more likely to commit burglary (by 4.4 percentage points), assault (by 6.4
percentage points), theft (by 4 percentage points), damage property (by 9.4 percentage points),
and use drugs (by 8.6 percentage points). Maltreatment not only increases the probability that an
individual will engage in crime but also increases the probability that he will be a victim of a
crime (by 7.9 percentage points) as well." (Ibid, 27)
"We find that child maltreatment roughly doubles the probability that an individual engages in many types of crime." (Ibid, 27-28)
This study has almost 8 full pages of references, and I don't have time to review all 63 pages of it, but the point is clear that there are a lot of studies that show the connection between crime and child abuse. So while the desperation factor may play a role in a prospective criminal's decision, it's pretty clear that the overwhelming factor in influencing the decision is how abusive the parents are and if they have a stable environment for the child to grow in while he's young.
I didn't really respond to Con's round 3 arguments, but again I felt it was more important to address the concerns he raised first, since in round 3 I couldn't make out too much in the way of what he was arguing and why. I thank everyone for following along and I await Pro's next response.
Janet Currie, Erdal Tekin Does Child Abuse Cause Crime? Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, April 2006
"Thus, the price of money in terms of labor has an artificially low maximum price: zero." (Round 2)
What is the problem with this, Con? When businesses decide to be philanthropic and give away what would normally be for sale do we complain? No. We commend charity. After we pay taxes, its up to the government and not us to decide how to allocate those funds. If they choose to be charitable to the less fortunate in society from those funds, why should this be a problem? What is the sin of investing in the welfare of our neighbors? If we shouldn't, then why donate to other countries during times of disaster? The country is not just an economy, its also a society, and we need to keep our humanity in it. If we focus only on our own selfish rights to spend our money without supporting the needy, then what are we fighting for? A profitable but heartless market? Yes, this offer is not available to everyone; and true, it's impact is felt all through the labor market, but the question is, is this impact justified? I have given reasons in round 3 why I think it is. I have shown statistically that most people on welfare (using statistics from the US as an example) are genuinely unable to find work for valid reasons and yet have to pay to for their basic needs. Even those who can find work only get seasonal, part-time, low-paying jobs which are not adequate to pay the costs involved in working plus providing all their basic needs. Government is obligated to assure that all citizens have their basic human rights met, hence, this justifies the impact the social welfare system has on the market. Further, I've argued that government has a moral obligation to look after its citizens in this way, and that obligation surpasses that of ensuring the market is as free as possible.
"The effect of welfare affects the valuation of the workers to work, and their supply schedule for labor. Now, they will work only for higher wages, and or will work less." (Round 2)
I have shown statistically in round 3 that most people on welfare (using %70 from the US as an example) do not shy away from work because they get welfare, but actually have recent work experience, and that it is the welfare itself that allows them to pay the costs involved in working such as transportation and child-care. They would not be able to work if they were not receiving welfare. So without welfare the aggregate supply for labor would be less. So welfare increases, rather than decreases, the availability of people for work.
I have shown the genuine difficulties that these folk (mostly women) face in obtaining stable work. It's not that they "choose" not to work, but rather, are unemployable due to circumstances beyond their control. It's not that they "choose" to work less, but rather, their circumstances only allow them seasonal or part-time, low-paying jobs which do not carry the benefits of other more stable jobs in the market. Since %54 of Afro-Americans on welfare are usually employed, its incorrect for Con to claim that welfare automatically causes them to work less or not at all. As I said in round 3, "The notion that the typical welfare recipient is lazy and unwilling to work ignores the fact that welfare recipients have significantly higher barriers to employment than the average of the population. The level of educational attainment and not laziness is a significant predictor of whether a woman would be a welfare recipient or not. Most welfare recipients qualify only for jobs in low-wage secondary markets with the jobs being often temporary and seasonal or part time nature. The jobs offer unstable hours and with no health-care nor family leave benefits." So they don't choose to work less because they get welfare, but rather, can only get jobs that offer less hours. Since they don't earn enough to pay the full costs of working plus paying for basic needs, the welfare is needed to keep them in the labor force. This refutes Con's argument that welfare "impoverishes society by pushing marginal workers out of the labor market and the economy produces less." It keeps people in work, not the other way around.
"Poor people make up the overwhelming majority of those behind bars as 53% of those in prison earned less than $10,000 per year before incarceration…Sociologist and criminal justice scholars have found a direct correlation between poverty and crime. One economic theory of crime assumes that people weigh the consequences of committing crime. They resort to crime only if the cost or consequences are outweighed by the potential benefits to be gained. The logical conclusion to this theory is that people living in poverty are far more likely to commit property crimes such as burglary, larceny, or theft. The city of Detroit…is the poorest large city in America. Michigan has the nation's worst economy of any state. Detroit has the poorest economy in Michigan…In an environment of extreme poverty, system failures abound. For instance, Detroit Public Schools graduate only between 25-40% of its students depending on which report you believe. Low education rates, by the way, are also linked to high crime rates." http://capaassociation.org...
I agree with Con that how one is raise has a lot to do with why one commits crime, but certainly between a rich and a poor person raised in the wrong manner, the poor will be more desperate to steal. He needs it, he feels like he has no choice. Welfare reduces that desperate state somewhat, so that less persons would feel compelled to steal and commit other related crimes. Since other things cause crimes, we can expect the crime level to rise even with welfare in place, but, there would be more crime without welfare than with it, for there would be more desperate people out there who aren't raised with a moral enough foundation to resist the temptation to get their needs illegally.
In round 3 Con claims that the drops in the poverty level in various countries I cited was not due to welfare programs, but due to advances in technology and medicine. Firstly, innovation tends to create unemployment, which contributes to poverty. In 1970, the telecommunications industry employed 421,000 workers as switchboard operators, annually handling 9.8 billion long-distance calls. Today the telecommunications industry employs only 78,000 operators. That's a tremendous 80 percent job loss. What happened? There have been spectacular labor-saving advances in telecommunications. Today more than 100 billion long-distance calls a year require only 78,000 switchboard operators. Not to mention the second industrial revolution which caused widespread unemployment as men were replaced by machines. So I'm not so sure advances in technology would have reduced poverty that much from 1960-1991.
Secondly, medicine won't help the sick unless they can afford it and afford transportation to access it. Welfare comes also in the form of medical care, so even crediting medicinal advances is indirectly crediting the welfare system for reducing poverty, weather government gave such welfare in the form of money or medicine. I'm running out of space so I will respond to the rest of Con's arguments in the next round. Thanks for a great debate so far.
I see a lot of common themes in Pro's arguments that I'd like to address in general.
“Total Freedom=Total chaos”
I'm not debating anarcho capitalism here.
I do think that we would all be better off with no government. There's a lot to say on anarcho capitalism but I'm trying to keep this debate manageable for both of us. I just want to show that modern society without welfare > modern society with welfare.
However, freedom allows people to create their own order.
Under capitalism, people are freeling trading things they own for other things. Everythingis based on mutual consent. People can make their own choices. Capitalism is more than just a every-man for himself rat race: it works because it's in their best interest to cooperate. They can agree on any solution that works.
In a capitalist economy, there may be public/for profit transportation, instead of having loads of cars on highways. There may an electronic toll road system with private road owners setting their own speed limits. There may be prices offered by hospitals to buy organs from people. There may be ore drug testing and faster medical advancments, because IP laws would be hader to enforce and companies wouldn't keep patents or at leanot so many of them. There would be no health standards for employment, but if a concerned boss who wants to keep his workers can't find a health risk in his own workplace, chances are a government agency can't find it either.
Life is uncertain. Under capitalism everyone is encouraged to solve problems directly, and whoever does is rewarded. Everyone can trade any way they want that will make them better off. They will have more options, and it just makes sense that generally the more capitalism you have, the more money people will have.
The state doesn't need to do it for it to be done.
Pro often makes arguments that imply that society is the same as the state, or that the state needs to act on behalf of society. He is arguing that because it is fair for society to share resources with the poor so they can work, the state needs to do it for us. This is not true, because society is not the state. We do need to share resources with the poor or I agree we will have a brutal and hegemonic society and I don't want that. But society is not the state.
Society is individuals making decisions on their own behalf and those they care for, waking up, meeting together, working, playing, all of these things are individual decisions. People (adults) chose their own actions, economic and uneconomic, on their own accord, and the free choice creates all the social and economic structures in society. Everything in a society is voluntary, except for government action. This is why the state enables society to do things the majority doesn't like.
“The UN establishes Human Rights to food, shelter, education and health care”
Rights do not come from the UN.
Where do human rights come from? I don't want to turn this into an argument over human rights, but I disagree with your notion that rights come from the UN. If rights came from the UN, then did people who lived before the UN existed have no rights? Did the Jews in the holocaust or any other genocide victim in history deserve to die because their government didn't give them rights? No, I think human rights come from being human, not from the UN, and therefore, the UN can be wrong about human rights and we still have them.
Human rights are not simply free stuff. There is no human right to water or any other necessity any more than there is any human right to luxury cars. Human rights are the rights of the people to run their own lives, to choose what to do and how to live, as long as they're not infringing on the rights of others, and to be treated equally under the law. The rights to free speech (minus yelling fire in a crowded theatre) and protection from quartering troops and so on all follow from this.
“The market cannot lift the impoverished because they are in poverty for valid reasons that are not their fault.”
We do not have a free market.
I agree that many impoverished people have valid reasons for such that are not their fault. The fact that it is not their fault does not mean that the market cannot solve the problem. This conclusion would only be valid if we had a truly and totally free market and we still had a problematic level of poverty. We do not have a free market. We have wage controls, price controls and other interventions restrict trade.
For example, licensing requriements keep people from strarting a buisness unless they are willing to fork over the fee for a business lisence, and often, a special lisence as well. Regulatory agencies such as the FDA and EPA prohibit some activities, such as selling food determined to be unsafe or doing something the EPA determines to be polluting. Taxes and subsudies outside of market prices signal for or against production and consumption of different things.
These all cause people to decide to do things they would otherwise not do, and their actions will be expressed in the marketplace, even though the market was not the source of those new behaviors. Again I'm not arguing about regulation, I'm just poiting out that it exists, it is a big part of the economy, and that it is antithtical to capitalism. If they exist and govern our behavior, for better or for worse, you cannot blame every act of the market on laissez-faire economics. I'm not going to make a positive/offensive argument for capitalism because we're discussing welfare, but just know that even though people can't find work, you can't just blame capitalism. Something else has to be at play here.
“The satisfaction of basic needs is of greater moral importance than an individual's right to spend earnings as he or she freely chooses.”
Morality is not determined by consequences.
You are talking about two different things: your opinion of what's important/unimportant and what is right/wrong. They are drastically different things.
Value, valuation and importance is in the eye of the beholder. If you prefer one thing over another, be they democrats over republicans, chocolate over vanilla, or one friend over another, there is no moral component. Actions are not consequences of moral law, they are consequences of value, in the eye of the human actor. Even if you value a particular social system, you are not talking about morality unless you have an ethical philosophy. It must apply equally to everyone, no matter what any individual's opinion of what is more valuable is.
Even if there is a clear measurable difference in money terms, there is no proof that the people with the money value it most. The same goes for any other good, service or resource. If moral law were the PRODUCT of human desires, then there would be no fixed concept of right or wrong. No matter what those moral laws are, we know they exist, some things are always right or always wrong. This would not be if opinions of what is important determined morality itself, morality is above human decisions, unaffected by it. Therefore, the fact that some people benefit from something can not ever make it moral, no matter what it is, no matter how good the people are who are benefiting.
“Firstly, innovation tends to create unemployment, which contributes to poverty.”
I will let the voters make of this what they will.
Those are my arguments, hopefully I've done a good job communicating them. I'll let Pro finish his points and give some final remarks.
Someone finding a cheaper way to provide a service/product but doesn't comply with labor laws needs simply to suggest to the appropriate powers that be how the laws could be amended to facilitate his business, along with credible research to show his idea could work. But in a free market with no government intervention, employers would get away with too much, so we need agencies to intervene to ensure employee rights are established respected. We can't have businesses unwilling to pay insurance or their employees, and when they get sick due to no fault of their own, they have no source of income to pay medical expenses. This is a cruel world, and the poor do not have good Samaritans waiting around every corner to show them compassion, to feed, clothe, shelter them, and pay their expenses so they can work. If the government doesn't do it, no one will. Even in a free market with more job options for the poor, they will still only be able to afford low-paying jobs, seasonal in nature. We can't abandon their support system for a hypothetical idea in Con's mind that better job options "might" be available in a capitalist economy. Daily experience teaches us that humans are selfish. What percentage of people who pass a homeless beggar give him anything? If government doesn't look after the less fortunate society won't either. They will suffer more.
Con talks about political elites making decisions without the input of the poor turning out for their benefit. There are two other options to this: leave the poor to fend for themselves, but the challenges they face as I've outlined they won't get very far; or, rely on society as a whole to show them compassion, which is tantamount to letting the poor fend for themselves. You see, at least the political elites are required by law to do something to assist the needy, the society at large has no such obligation and tend to ignore the poor. Someone renting an apartment who can't afford day-care will miss work and get fired, and without labor laws we can see how more people like that would be cast aside unfairly. After all, employers reason that workers' home problems don't' concern them. Con is leaving these folk with no support when he strips them of that welfare check.
Con said: "If they are taught to be hypocrites, if their parents lie to their children or appeal to force frequently, then they will learn might makes right, and that they will never reach their dreams no matter what they do. These feelings can kill a persons chance of applying themselves and succeeding, no matter what they do." I agree. And whose fault is it they were raised in that way? Not theirs, so what do we do for them when they end up unemployed or in such low-paying jobs they can't handle all their living expenses? Do we say "tough luck" and move on? Even in Con's imaginary free market capitalist society so full of job options for the poor, what guarantee can he give that they will be paid enough and their jobs will be stable enough to make a decent living? That welfare check is a lot more certain than Con's hypothesis. Without government intervention the poor stand a better chance of being taken advantage of.
Con advocates a free-market capitalist system, but let me ask him, in this dream world you've imagine would better help the poor, are there minimum wage laws? That seems a pretty good form of government intervention to me. There is no minimum wage limit determined by the forces of the free market, hence, it must be set by the state. You can't have people working or next to nothing, can we? But the extremely poor who don't have the educational qualifications for other jobs will feel forced to take the crap pay in such a system. Welfare ensures that as the cost of living rises, a minimum wage is still maintain even in cases where salaries don't increase to counter the cost of living. What about competition laws that prevent monopolies from forming and over-pricing their products out of the reach of the needy? What about cost controls on basic household commodities? What about anti-price gouging laws? Without government setting limits on greedy industrialists the cost of living will sky-rocket but wages won't, which will increase poverty. Business wolves will tear poor consumers apart like sheep; only the wealthy or well-off will survive.
Con makes a glowing defense of capitalism, but what does history reveal about capitalism? Take for example the rapid industrialization in Europe which led to unfair working conditions such as 14-hour work days, child labor, and shanty towns. The average living standards didn't even improve very fast before 1840. (Frederick Engels, "The Condition of the Working Class in England" http://www.marxists.org.... Nardinelli Clarke, economist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living," The concise encyclopedia of economics. The Library of Economics and Liberty http://www.econlib.org...) In a free-market capitalist state, we won't have the intervention necessary to minimize planned obsolescence. This is a wasteful and an inefficient use of resources practice under capitalism. By designing products to wear out faster than need be, new consumption is generated. While this increases sales, it also generates excessive waste. A well-known example when Apple designed its iPod to fail after 18 months. (Phillip Inman, 2006-09-30 "When your iPod isn't all that it's cracked up to be" London: The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk...) In capitalism, the direction of the economy is unplanned, which leads to inconsistencies and contradictions, and is therefore better suited to be regulated under public policy. Con keeps saying we don't really have a free market, yet he says each person is best to decide how to spend his own money. The selfish pursuits of the individual is not always best for society as a whole, and in a market lacking perfect information and perfect competition, government intervention is justified. I mean, come on Con, don't you believe that electricity should have a price ceiling? But if power is to be affordable to all or at least most in society, who will ensure that the service provider holds to a price in reach of the poor? 200 million Indians went hungry in 1995, while the Indian economy was exporting $625 million worth of wheat and $1.3 billion worth of rice that same year. (Frances Moore Lappe, The Myth - Scarcity: The Reality - There IS Enough Food" http://www.foodfirst.org...)
The more intervention we have to safe-guard folks against this kind of thing the better; would it not be good for some of that money to feed the poor? Yes Con, these exporters knew what was best for them, as you keep saying – people know how to spend their money, but they sure as hell didn't know what was best for their neighbor; if they did, they wouldn't let them go hungry. I see nothing wrong with the government playing Robin Hood, taxing the rich and giving to the poor via welfare. Someone has to look out for those fellow human beings who can't look out for themselves. Let me also add that the removal of welfare would lead to wage slavery. With nothing to fall back on, people would have no recourse but to keep their jobs (unless they qualify for another) even when they are underpaid and overworked. They become the property of their employers.
The thing is, water, electricity, shelter, food, clothing, transport, these are necessities needed to thrive in the labor force, and capitalism cannot guarantee that the disabled and uneducated will suddenly find jobs paying them enough to afford such. We need welfare by way of money, low-income housing, medicine, etc, to ensure these less fortunate can operate successfully in the market. Con gives no better option.
Skyler827 forfeited this round.
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