The Instigator
Khaos_Mage
Pro (for)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
RyuuKyuzo
Con (against)
Winning
31 Points

Welfare is an applicable stance for a Libertarian

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
RyuuKyuzo
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/17/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,544 times Debate No: 27307
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (9)

 

Khaos_Mage

Pro

This debate is for the first round of the beginners tournament.

Definitions:
Welfare: government aid given to certain people meeting certain criteria

Applicable Stance: not contradictory to other views

Libertarian: one who identifies maximizing liberty as the main factor in government's role and actions. THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A MEMBER OF THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY, so no party platform arguments are allowed.

The resolution is self-explanitory.
As a self-proclaimed libertarian, I believe that government has a ligitimate interest to offer welfare as a means to maximize liberty.

This debate is not whether or not I should be called a libertarian, nor is it the on the virtues of the welfare state; this debate is on whether a libertarian can not be in opposition to welfare.
RyuuKyuzo

Con

I accept this challenge.

I will be arguing that supporting welfare is not an applicable stance for a libertarian, at least not without needlessly sacrificing the core ideology of libertarianism.

I look forward to your opening case.
Debate Round No. 1
Khaos_Mage

Pro


Let’s get this tournament started!!



I thought I would have a grander opening round, but this succinctly lackluster logic will have to suffice.



In any society, there will always be those who are down on their luck, and these individuals will need assistance; there is no society that has no charity. So, what happens if charity alone is not enough?



Regardless if the charity was unable to satisfy an individual’s needs or if the individual simply demanded more than was offered, the result is the same: they will resort to crime, most likely theft. Whether the criminal act is to satisfy desire or greed, or is out of necessity to feed themselves or loved ones, the result is they will result to force in an attempt to procure their "needs". What happens when these individuals resort to crime?



They will go to jail or prison. Even the Libertarian Party’s platform sanctions the use of imprisonment [1]. While incarcerated, these criminals are given food, shelter, and clothing, possibly even education AT MY EXPENSE (as a taxpayer). I believe this premise is undeniable; those down on their luck are likely to resort to crime and, as a result, end up incarcerated being given food and shelter.



Is welfare really any different? The purpose of welfare is to give the downtrodden what they need to survive, the very same needs that are provided to prisoners. The only difference between jail and welfare is that damages have to occur BEFORE any needs are met, possibly numerous crimes are committed before the prisoner’s needs are finally satisfied. Furthermore, if welfare is able to suppress this crime from occurring, there are additional benefits.


1. No shunning for being a criminal (harder to obtain a job)


2. Less clogging of court dockets


3. Complications to robbery are avoided, like murder


4. Less damages in lost time, property, and fewer victims


5. Less need for police force and prisons, so while tax revenue is diverted to welfare, it is diverted from other costs



As stated, a libertarian is one who maximizes liberty, so it stands to reason that the government’s role is to maximize liberty while maintaining security. In this case, I need protection from another individual, not the government itself.



I posit there is little difference between being taxed to house criminals or to prevent them from committing the crimes from ever occurring. Either way, shelter, food, and clothing are provided for at my expense. The ultimate benefit with welfare is the preemptive protection of my not being harmed by one’s theft; we can think of it as an insurance policy.



Would I rather pay insurance to repay me for damages, or pay to avoid the damages in the first place? I think the answer is obvious, and not a contradictory stance.




NOTE: For the record, my view of welfare is not the current system. I think if one wants welfare, they lose liberty (read: choices and freedom). They live in government buildings with limited access to the thermostat, are given food (no food stamps), and privacy may be limited. In short, the idea is to provide for them, but not make them comfortable.



1. http://www.lp.org...


RyuuKyuzo

Con

My opponent's argument can be broken down into the following two syllogisms:

A)
P1- Some people can't work
P2- Charity is not enough to cover these people
C- Therefore, we need welfare

B)
P1- Poor people steal more (and then end up in prison)
P2- Prison costs outweigh welfare costs
C- Welfare is the lesser of two evils

Let's unpack these arguments.

First off, we have to understand where welfare comes from and why this is a problem. Welfare money comes from taxation, which means it creates a dead weight loss by artificially shifting the supply curve of good X to the left. In this case, X is any good that is taxed. This means the quantity supplied of good X/dollar is lowered, creating an artificial equilibrium which results in inefficiency (represented by the dead weight loss highlighted in red). Welfare taxation also creates inefficiency because part of the revenue collected goes to paying the middle-management folk who handle and hand out the collected tax revenue -- meaning what we put into the system is always more than we get out.

Libertarians contend that liberty follows economic freedom. That is, the freer the market, the freer the people, and any artificial economic inefficiency the government causes will needlessly impeach on the liberty of the people. It impeaches on their liberty because tax money is collected under the threat of force, which violates the non-aggression principle (NAP); which is the foundation of libertarianism [1].

The purpose of the NAP is to establish a moral stance supporting the notion of liberty, and so in the interest of liberty, some libertarians supersede the NAP and condone a certain level of taxation (typically for defence) under the excuse that such taxation results in a net liberty gain. My opponent is making a similar argument for welfare.

My point here is that welfare taxation both violates the NAP and creates economic inefficiency and it is therefore my opponent's burden, as a libertarian, to show that this trade-off ends in a net liberty gain. He has laid out a conjectural argument this round, but he needs to back up this argument with real world statistics to actually make his case. In the meantime, I will make the statistical argument that such taxation is unnecessary and therefore against libertarian ideology.

Syllogism A

P1- Some people can't work


How many people are we talking about here? According to the U.S. department of commerce, 4.3 million people are on welfare (not including food stamps or unemployment insurance). This will cost the government about 132 billion dollars annually [2]. It's important to note that food stamps are not welfare and unemployment insurance is not welfare. These numbers are only welfare numbers.

P2- Charity is not enough to cover these people

This is where pro's case starts to break down. In any given year in America (post recession), just shy of 300 BILLION dollars are donated as charity [3]. That's nearly 2.3x as much money as is needed for welfare.

Consider that this 300 billion dollars is donated despite the current tax burden. Right now, government spending represents just under 40% of GDP [4]. This means that if America were to adopt a libertarian system, we could free up 40% of the markets private capital that is currently locked up in government spending, allowing for the potential for even greater amounts of donations.

Even if we grant this libertarian society taxation for defence spending (and we don't reduce said defence spending in any way) we've still freed up over 80% of government spending into the private market [5]. Assuming charitable donations went up proportionately with the amount of GDP turned over to the private sector in a libertarian system, we could expect to see 400-420 billion dollars in charitable spending -- and this is a very conservative estimate as it deals only with freed up capital and doesn't take into account the increased efficiency of the free market or the lesser needs of those who need welfare thanks to a smaller tax burden whatsoever.

To conclude, charitable donation is already much higher than it needs to be to cover welfare costs in the U.S. right now, let alone under a libertarian system. Therefore, welfare taxation needlessly sacrifices market efficiency and needlessly violates the NAP, which are the basis of libertarianism.

Syllogism B

P1- Poor people steal more (and then end up in prison)

Let's grant pro some liberties here and assume that every prisoner in jail for robbery/theft committed their crime because they couldn't work and would have starved otherwise. Obviously this isn't the case, but it won't matter as we will soon see. There are 2.26 million people in prison in the united states right now [7]. Of which, about 8% were convicted for robber/larceny/burglary [10]. That's a little over 180,000 people.

As stated earlier, let's go easy on pro and assume all 180,000 thieves stole for subsistence reasons only.

P2- Prison costs more than welfare

The annual cost per prisoner varies from 13,000 to 47,000 [8], so we will assume the average cost of $30,000/year. 30k x 180k equals 5.4 billion dollars. The cost of welfare annually is 132 billion dollars.

This means even ignoring that we're looking at the U.S. system and not a libertarian society that would result in even less need for subsistence motivated theft AND ignoring that we're assuming every single case of theft is the result of financial necessity, the prison cost for incarcerating thieves is still only 4% of the cost of welfare.

All right, but what if every single welfare recipient turned into a thief without their welfare check? The average welfare recipient receives about $36,000 per year. That's right, 36 thousand. In fact, only 4 states actually pay welfare recipients less than minimum wage [9]. This means that the U.S. would actually save 28.5 billion dollars (4.3 million welfare recipients x 6000 dollars saved by going to prison) by imprisoning every single welfare recipient. Obviously not every single welfare recipient would resort to theft if they lost welfare (nor would they have to with all the charity money available), but even if they did, it would still be cheaper, meaning the economic inefficiency caused by a welfare system is unnecessary.

Conclusion

In this round I've shown how, under the current U.S. system (even with all its flaws) there's more than enough money available in the form of charity to cover welfare needs multiple times over. I've also established that even in a worst-case-scenario where welfare was removed, absolutely no charity money was used for welfare, AND every single former welfare recipient became a subsistence criminal there after, all it would do is save the U.S. almost 30 billion dollars. Given that a welfare system both results in market inefficiency AND violates the NAP without resulting in a net liberty increase, it is clear that libertarianism and the welfare state are not compatible.

The resolution has been negated.


1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://www.statisticbrain.com...
3. http://www.marketplace.org...
4. http://en.wikipedia.org...
5. http://econperspectives.blogspot.ca...
6. http://www.fbi.gov...
7. http://en.wikipedia.org...
8. http://en.wikipedia.org...
9. http://www.cato.org...
10. http://www.bop.gov...;
Debate Round No. 2
Khaos_Mage

Pro

You make incredibly good arguments, and you appear to be a very good debater. However, you make numerous assumptions that cannot be proven and have negated nothing as most of your arguments are off topic.

You have laid out a great case that charities ought to be able to absorb any current welfare expenses, as charitable contributions will go up as taxes will go down under a libertarian-style government. This is still an assumption. Regardless, this is not the resolution.

If you are correct in your assumptions, then welfare will not be needed, and no taxes will need to be collected for this purpose. This, again, is not the resolution.

You provide evidence that the welfare system costs more than the prisoners do. This assumes that the welfare system will not be changed. This, too, is not the point, as the debate is if ANY welfare is allowed, current levels or otherwise.

You assume welfare recipients do not work and you assume poor people commit theft. I said neither. This is a misrepresentation of my argument; I implied DESPERATE people will resort to force, whether it is to feed themselves, buy medicine, or procure themselves clothes to wear.

I am not too familiar with formal logic and debates, but the syllogism would go as follows:

P1: Desperate people will resort to force to procure basic necessities

P2: People using force to obtain goods will go to jail

P3: Jails will give basic necessities to individuals

P4: Citizens pay taxes to fund jails

C: Taxes go to provide basic necessities to desperate people

So, if money is already used to feed and clothe these people, why not do it in an attempt to avoid damages, victims, and other consequences resulting from an aggressor? Why should I be forced to give money to someone twice, once from theft, and once from taxes?

The resolution is whether or not government aid is acceptable in a libertarian society, not if it will be needed. You have offered little evidence supporting your claim in regards to the resolution at hand, and nothing has negated mine.
Notice my premise begins at the failure of charities. If there is no such failure, as you contend, then it isn’t an issue, but that is not the resolution. The debate is whether providing aid is contradictory for libertarians, which presupposes that government intervention may be needed as charities are unable/unwilling to provide for all who need it. If welfare is not needed, then there is no need for it, and there would be no tax money used for it.


The only thing you offered was mention of the non-aggression principle, which I used in my argument. The fact is, either as welfare or criminals, tax money will be spent on food and shelter for these individuals. However, only the criminals are aggressors THEMSELVES, which can be avoided, in part, if their basic necessities are met. Will this eliminate ALL crime? Of course not, but it will eliminate some, as those who are desperate WILL resort to theft. Those who are greedy will not be affected, and should be in jail.

You demand I offer evidence and statistics, which are irrelevant and impossible. We have no way of knowing what charitable contributions will be in the future, if it is enough to cover everyone’s needs, if there is any discrimination in charities' services, or what affect it would have on corrections spending. All of this is irrelevant, as even if there were no need for welfare, the issue still remains on whether or not it is an acceptable stance.

I can offer the following information for 2011.

There were 2,188,005 burglaries resulting in $4.8 billion in damages. [1]

There were 715,373 motor vehicle thefts resulting in $4.3 billion in losses. [2]

There were 6,159,795 cases of larceny resulting in over $6 billion in stolen assets. [3]

This is millions of aggressors and millions of victims, which some can be avoided by supplying the means so people are not resorting to desperate acts. You have established that security is a valid role of government under libertarian principles, so why is a means of crime prevention frowned upon.

In summary, taxes are collected to food and clothe criminals ONLY AFTER they have become an aggressor. Some of these aggressors act out of desperation. Government’s role is to offer security from aggressors, so preventing potential aggressors from victimizing others is a valid function of government. In this light, welfare is akin to an insurance premium paid to the government. Do not assume that welfare would need the same revenues as it currently does.

One aggressor is better than two.

1. http://www.fbi.gov...

2. http://www.fbi.gov...

3. http://www.fbi.gov...

NOTE: I do not want to drop this in case I need it, but your welfare numbers are misleading as they do not include food stamps, both in number of people using them and the dollar value. This greatly reduces the perceived increase necessary for charities to overtake the welfare, which would hurt your argument.

Food stamps need to be included as, even if I would do away with them, food is still provided. Furthermore, food is a basic necessity that would result in desperate acts if it is absent, and are included in the total cost of current welfare spending, which you use current models for your comparisons.

RyuuKyuzo

Con

Point-by-point

1. Assumption of lower taxes in libertarian society

Pro claims that I made the assumption that the aggregate tax burden would go down in a libertarian society and therefore charitable donations would go up. This isn't just an assumption, this is the basics of libertarianism [1]. Cutting taxes and freeing up private capital is an enormous factor of libertarian ideology. If it's merely an assumption, then it's an assumption we both share.
Perhaps Pro means to insinuate that charitable donation won't go up as a result of less taxation. If that's the case, he is once again wrong. The people who give the most to charity are also those who have the most disposable income [2]. Therefore, it stands to reason that an increase in income brought about by cutting taxes would also result in more charitable donations.
Thirdly, I've already shown how charitable donation with the current tax burden is already more than high enough to cover welfare recipients right now.
Pro says this is not the resolution. I'm not sure why he thinks so, but I'll explain either way. If welfare can be shown to be an unnecessary burden on the market and an unnecessary violation of the NAP, then welfare and libertarianism are contradictory positions and therefore the resolution is negated.

2. Assuming welfare won't be changed

Pro responds to my point about how prisoners are cheaper than welfare recipients by saying that I assume welfare won't be changed. This isn't true. In accordance with his note at the end of his R2 argument, I didn't include food stamps (something pro mentioned in his note specifically) or unemployment insurance and only looked at bare-bones welfare. This is the cheapest we can assume welfare to be with the numbers we have right now.
Pro says that this isn't the resolution again, and that this debate is about "ANY welfare", current levels or otherwise. Essentially, he wants to keep this debate restricted to the realms of conjecture. He wants to keep this argument conjectural because the numbers don't add up for his position. That's all.

3. Welfare recipients =/= desperate people

Pro says I assumed he meant poor people steal and then end up in prison, when he actually meant desperate people. It doesn't make one difference to my argument whether we're talking about "poor" people or "desperate" people, so pro is just trying to obfuscate the issue here, but more importantly, if the assumption is that without welfare these people will have to resort to stealing in order to pay for food and medicine and clothing, is it not clear that these people are poor? I'm not sure what the problem is that pro is getting at here.

4. Syllogism

Pro provides the following syllogism

P1: Desperate people will resort to force to procure basic necessities

P2: People using force to obtain goods will go to jail

P3: Jails will give basic necessities to individuals

P4: Citizens pay taxes to fund jails

C: Taxes go to provide basic necessities to desperate people

It's interesting to note that the word "welfare" doesn't show up once in this argument supposedly meant to justify welfare, but let's unpack it nonetheless.

Pro basically says that desperate (poor) people will use force to steal and then end up in jail, where they will receive basic needs paid for by taxpayers. He then concludes that "Taxes go to provide basic necessities to desperate people". Ignoring that this conclusion isn't a normative statement and therefore not a real conclusion for a policy debate syllogism, his argument doesn't prove anything.
First off, isn't welfare the same thing? With welfare the necessities of desperate people are paid for by taxpayers. The question then becomes which is cheaper, which was a major focus in my R2 argument. This syllogism doesn't actually prove anything.

5. Avoid aggressor

Pro states that it is superior to have a welfare system because then you don't have to pay for damages done thanks to criminals who steal, noting that it's better to pay once than twice. Is pro under the assumption that property damage to private homes will be paid for by taxpayers? -- because we don't even do that now, let alone in a libertarian society.

This argument would be natural from a communist, but not from a libertarian -- which is basically the opposite. Unless pro is saying that he personally would be robbed every time and then have to pay twice... but I doubt that's what he means because that makes less sense, not more.

6. Not the resolution

Pro states that this debate is on whether or not government aid is an acceptable stance for a libertarian, not whether government aid will be needed. This is an absolutely bizarre argument to make. If government aid isn't needed, then enacting such aid would result in market inefficiency and be a violation of the NAP without resulting in any net liberty gain. Let's look at this as a checklist;

WELFARE
a)Causes Market inefficiency: O
b)Violates NAP: O
c)Results in net liberty gain: X

The only way getting an "O" on both market inefficiency and NAP violation can be acceptable is if it at least ends with a net liberty gain. If it doesn't even accomplish that, then such a position contradicts the fundamentals of libertarianism entirely and therefore is not an applicable stance (unless pro is now arguing that its okay to be knowingly contradictory?).
Given that we already know welfare must score on "a" and "b", all I have to do to defeat pros position is show that welfare fails to meet criteria "c" and I win. That's why criteria "c" has been my main focus and up to this point.

Pro hasn't actually countered my arguments. Instead he's spending all his time trying to justify ignoring them.

7. Irrelevant and impossible

Pro states that it is impossible for him to provide evidence supporting a position for future charitable donation rates. This is plainly wrong as I did just that exactly 1 round ago. I showed that charity rates right now are already enough to cover welfare costs (something pro has chosen to ignore this round) and that, assuming a linear increase, we could expect over 100 billion dollars more in charity given assuming a lower tax burden. In this round, I've shown that such an assumption is valid as we can see right now that charitable donation goes up in accordance with an increase in disposable income. Even if this wasn't the case, once again, charitable donation rates are already more than high enough right now.

8. Crime statistics

Pro posts the costs of crime. first of all, these costs won't be subsidized in a libertarian society since they aren't now, so all these numbers are already irrelevant. Second of all, pro is assuming that there aren't peripheral costs to welfare. the money doesn't magically float out of your bank account and into the mailbox of welfare recipients. There are middle-men here, and their costs actually affect the taxpayer.

9. Note

Pro says my welfare numbers are misleading because they don't include food stamps. Firstly, pro specifically made it a point that his view on welfare excluded food stamps. He's merely flip-flopping now because his argument isn't adding up. I will gladly include food stamp-costs next round if pro wants, just keep in mind, the more expensive welfare is, the more favourable prison looks in comparison. Your choice, pro. My argument is secure either way.

Conclusion

Pro's counter arguments this round were less than stellar. Pro's insistence on restricting this debate to conjecture is suspicious and indicative of someone trying to cover up inconsistencies in his argument, rather than someone with an honest and well-researched position. Pro insists that my arguments are irrelevant when, ironically, his arguments are the irrelevant ones, meaning pro is projecting in order to cover up the weaknesses of his own argument. In this round, I've strengthened my original argument and firmly established its relevance to the resolution.

The resolution has been negated


1. http://www.libertarianism.com...
2. http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Khaos_Mage

Pro

I concede. Congratulations on your victory.

I could attempt to refute many of the points made last round, but I do not see it having any affect. Even though I believe my case was clear, your arguments were better crafted and conveyed. It appeared that we were arguing very differently and we were unable to reconcile my ideological approach with your pragmatic one. I blame myself for my poorly written resolution and first round rule setting.

I do not believe the judges will give me the victory, nor should they.

Good luck next round, and sorry for the constant delays.
RyuuKyuzo

Con

I recognize and accept Pro's concession.

Since Pro has humbly conceded and has otherwise been incredibly polite in this debate, I ask that he still receives the conduct point.

Thank you for your time.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by RyuuKyuzo 4 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
@TJ, come to think of it, feel free to shoot me a challenge if you want to pick this up where Khaos and I left off.
Posted by miketheman1200 4 years ago
miketheman1200
http://debate.org......

Debate that needs votes
Posted by RyuuKyuzo 4 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
@ TJ, the points you bring up were the points I was expecting pro to bring up. I had counters ready, don't you worry about that ;)
Posted by ThomasJefferson 4 years ago
ThomasJefferson
... Another example was that Con said the average welfare recipient receives $36,000. Based on his own earlier statistics, this isn"t true. 132 billion per year / 4.3 million people = ~30k per year per person. This would breakeven with the cost of prison. But who even cares?
Pro failed to discuss that freedom and liberty are principle components of the libertarian philosophy and how these principles would relate to the idea of supposed economically-efficient imprisonment of poor people. Moreover, does it economically benefit the country to imprison vast numbers of potentially productive citizens? These questions should have been addressed but weren"t. Instead, Pro strangely acquiesced to Con"s attempts to shift the argument to hypothetical statistics rather than make his argument about whether libertarianism and welfare are conflicting principles.
I"m not a libertarian but I was interested in how this debate would unfold. I was disappointed by both sides.
Posted by ThomasJefferson 4 years ago
ThomasJefferson
** Start of Voting Explanation **

Slightly disappointed with the way this debate ended. I would have voted for Pro had he not conceded, principally because I do not think Con adequately addressed the resolution.

Pro argued that the political philosophy of libertarianism and the use of government welfare need not conflict under all circumstances. Essentially, he argues that there are scenarios under which these two concepts can co-exist harmoniously.

Con"s rebuttal missed the mark. He made several arguments that related to current demographics and government expenditures, but failed to adequately address the principle that these two concepts could co-exist. It may be that welfare wouldn"t be required under a libertarian government given the present state of the country, but this fails to address whether the philosophy of libertarianism and the concept of government welfare could ever co-exist.

Con argued that welfare wouldn"t be needed because charity could cover this need. Further, he argues if these individuals were force to crime, the government would save more money by imprisoning them than actually providing welfare.

Con misrepresented some statistics to favor his position, but Pro failed to pick up on this tactic. For example, Con argued that $300 billion are given to charity each year, and welfare only costs $132 billion. But, Con failed to note that only $21 billion of that $300 billion actually went to "public benefit" charities. The vast majority of charitable donations go to religious, educational, health, arts, and environmental causes.

** continued in next comment... **
Posted by RyuuKyuzo 4 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
My R2 source 10 doesn't work. Here's the non-broken version >> http://www.bop.gov... (pg. 4)
Posted by RyuuKyuzo 4 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
Its no problem. I'm just glad you made it in time. You cut it pretty close there!
Posted by Khaos_Mage 4 years ago
Khaos_Mage
I apologize for the amount of white space, but for some reason, when I tried to post it the first time, it changed all of my apostrophes into quotation marks.
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by MochaShakaKhan 4 years ago
MochaShakaKhan
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro threw in the towel.
Vote Placed by baggins 4 years ago
baggins
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro gets conduct for graciously conceding.
Vote Placed by Muted 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: So Ryuu goes all the way to the round after next? Smithereens pulled out didn't he?
Vote Placed by utahjoker 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: con beat'em down
Vote Placed by Zaradi 4 years ago
Zaradi
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Reasons for voting decision: Voted the way I was asked to.
Vote Placed by ThomasJefferson 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Reasons for voting decision is in the comments.
Vote Placed by phantom 4 years ago
phantom
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession and con presented a good rebuttal, especially with his refutation of P.2 in the first arg.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
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Reasons for voting decision: :)
Vote Placed by emospongebob527 4 years ago
emospongebob527
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for honorable concession. Arguments for Pro's drops.