The Instigator
mindjob
Pro (for)
Tied
30 Points
The Contender
DucoNihilum
Con (against)
Tied
30 Points

Welfare programs are beneficial to the country and should be continued

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/11/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,280 times Debate No: 1716
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (18)

 

mindjob

Pro

After his first debate, DucoNihilum welcomed a challenge on this topic rather than debate in the comments section. While I have been guilty of doing just that before, I agree and understand with DucoNihilum's desire, and I hope he accepts my challenge.

To begin, regardless of whether you think welfare programs are perfect in their current incarnations or need to be changed somewhat, it is undeniable that welfare programs are beneficial to the poor, as well as the country as a whole. These programs are much more often used by individuals and families to get back up on their feet after the loss of a job or affliction of an illness. Programs ranging from adult education programs, to medicaid, to "welfare", to section 8 help people transition from poverty to a better standard of living, as well as help formerly middle-class people transition through a difficult time. Without these programs, homeless rates would sky-rocket, wages for low-skilled jobs would plummet and the poor would have a much lower level of purchasing power than they do now.

In addition to the practical side of social programs, we, as the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet, have a moral duty to help the poor rise above their state. Without these programs, our country would bear more of a resemblance to a fascist state, with those at the top accumulating all the wealth of the state while the poor are left to languish.

This is actually my first true debate on this site, and I'm looking forward to it being a lively one. :)
DucoNihilum

Con

DucoNihilum forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 1
mindjob

Pro

Well this is disappointing. My opponent had promised me that he would get his response in before his time ran out, but I guess I'll just have to start round two without him. I'll keep it short and sweet since I don't have anything to respond to.

The unfortunate stereotype of people on welfare is that they are lazy and keep pumping out kids so they can continue to collect bigger checks. This usually takes on racial stereotypes since many people think that the majority of people on welfare are black. In actuality, the average person is a single white female, under 25, with one child and is on welfare for one year. This is a far cry from the common perception of the welfare recipient.

What's even worse is that, when asked, most people know of at least one person or one family that was on welfare and deserved to receive benefits. They used the program to better themselves and stopped taking welfare checks once they didn't need them anymore. One sad example is when I was talking with someone who couldn't see past the stereotype of the lazy welfare recipient, only to find out later in the discussion that his own family had been on welfare when he was a child. The popular perception of welfare recipients had clouded his own experience and made him incapable of empathizing with people who were currently receiving the same benefits he did.

Despite the fact that popular perception and reality have diverged so far, Clinton and congress passed welfare reform in 1996 and changed the Aid to Families with Dependant Children program into Temporary Aid to Needy Families. Under this program, any individual my receive aid for a two year period so long as they are actively seeking work. An individual may receive benefits for two years at a time and five years total. While no reform was really necessary before 1996, the new program now makes it increasingly unlikely that anyone is abusing the system for any length of time.

This program, and all social welfare programs, need some amount of reform still. For example, for a single mother to receive benefits under TANF, she must divulge the child's father and give up his current information. While this was intended to make sure child support money was paid, often times this means that women are forced to keep contact with abusive ex-husbands or boyfriends. Other programs need better oversight, but the fact of the matter remains that, despite the rather few exceptions, welfare programs do much more good that harm.

I know I promised to keep it short. I'm sorry. I hope my opponent can find time in his busy day to put up some kind of fight in the next round.
DucoNihilum

Con

DucoNihilum forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
mindjob

Pro

Whether you got your arguments in the alloted section or in the comments, so long as you got them in. It's all good.

While I make the contention that social programs and regulation make the country better, they are certainly not perfect. Minimum wage is one area that needs to be revamped. We need a minimum wage, but it needs to be tied to inflation. Too often, when the minimum wage is set, it falls years behind inflation, as it did for 10 years until the Democrats took back Congress in 2006. Companies pay less on minimum wage in relation to their other costs since those other costs are tied to inflation. It astounds me how people with an obvious background in economics still think that wages are the primary drivers of inflation. Wages across the board rarely keep up with rising costs elsewhere. The last 7 years are a perfect example of that. The majority of the country saw their real income fall or barely keep pace with inflation. For example, during "the 24-month period through the second quarter of 2005, the inflation-adjusted wages of an average American grew just 1 percent" (http://money.cnn.com...). It's hard to see how wages, especially among the poor and those making minimum wage, are the drivers of inflation. Instead, the argument that wage earners are responsible for inflation and hurt themselves when they push for higher compensation sounds more like greedy capitalists trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the poorest in their organizations. Instead, companies should push for better health care reforms that stifle medical inflation, as well as energy reform that cuts our dependence on oil. Both changes will cut the real reasons for inflation in our economy.

Don't get me wrong, I think capitalism is the best economic system in the world, but it can be very cruel and counter productive if it is left to its own devices. Conservatives hold to the idea of laissez-faire likes its a religion, even when historical fact dispute its infallibility. Before the minimum wage and other regulations that have improved the lives of laborers, the capital system treated labor like a dime a dozen and more like animals than humans. The Iron Law of Wages is a good example of what levels capitalism will sink to without government intervention. It holds that wages will always revert to subsistence levels because any rise in wages leads to a rise in population. Manchester Schoolers thought that the best way to keep people from breeding was to pay them so little that they had no other choice than to work all the hours they could instead of making babies. In actuality, Britain found that poor people had more kids when they lacked the disposable income to spend their free time doing anything besides having sex.

The treatment of illegal immigrants on some farms in this country is another example. They are forced to live in company apartments and buy from the company general store. However, rent and prices are so much compared to their wages that they are constantly in debt and can never escape. Without a minimum wage, actual citizens will find themselves in similar situations, just as they were in the early part of the 20th century. As it is, minimum wage earners have to work two or three jobs just to survive, so I shutter at the thought of going back to the old system where companies were allowed to pay their base labor whatever they wanted. Any raise in the minimum wage has much less of an effect on a company's profits then conservatives claim since they represent so small a segment within any company's pay structure. While the minimum wage barely impacts a company's bottom line, raising it gives earners that little bit more of purchasing power, which might just make all the difference to them. If corporations want to keep their labor costs down, perhaps they should stop paying CEO's so much in salary and stock options when all they manage to do is raise a company's stock instead of its profits.

Public housing projects have often been touted as the poster child for the failure of government programs. Sure, old projects like Cabrini Green in Chicago were horrible, but failures in implementing a program does not mean the program itself is flawed. It was once thought that if housing projects were consolidated, they would be easier to police. Thus, projects like Cabrini Green were the norm. After decades of failure, it has become obvious that spreading section 8 residents around the city in higher-end complexes provides a much more stable and successful program. City councils can tell developers that any new complexes that go up must include a small percentage of units available to section 8 residents. In return, the developer can receive tax incentives. Whether conservatives want to admit it or not, environment does have an effect on behavior, and residents begin to act like their neighbors. There is a right way and a wrong way to implement programs. Unfortunately, conservatives starve government programs of resources, then point to government failures as reasons for budgets to be cut even further. You can't hand someone a fixed deck and then blame them for losing. Remember, oversight is even harder to maintain when every facet of it has been privatized. Not only does government have to pay the contracts to companies when government functions are privatized, but the government must also pay for oversight to make sure that private companies don't swindle public money.

Americans are some of the most charitable people on Earth, so I'm not overly worried about taxes keeping people from giving more. In fact, charitable giving being tax deductible makes that point even more baseless. What's sad is that poorer and middle class people give more in relation to their income than wealthier people, so it isn't a matter of over-taxation, but simple greed and callousness that keeps people from giving. Actually, if you want people to give more, then make the economy more stable by implementing the changes I mentioned above about health care and energy. The more secure people feel about their income and health, the more they give.

The idea that taxes are theft is primarily held by those who fail to understand just how good they have it under the current system. Taxes are the price of civilization, which is provided by government. Without the government leveling the playing field through taxes, the wealthy would use their economic power to accumulate more power and severely unbalance the system. Eventually, we'd resemble the typical South American country with a few very wealthy people at the top and a whole lot of poor people at the bottom rather than an industrialized Western democracy. A progressive tax structure, when actually kept progressive, is the best thing to ensure a healthy middle class, which is essential to the health of any economic system. If taxation for government programs was really theft, then providing for the"general welfare" would not be listed in both the preamble and article 1, section 8 of the constitution. And if you don't like the constitution that our country is based on, then YOU CAN GET OUT! (Imagine the South Park redneck voice saying that, and you'll know where my brain is right now).

Sorry my round was so long. I couldn't help myself.
DucoNihilum

Con

DucoNihilum forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
mindjob

Pro

Well, this is disappointing. I've said everything that comes to mind, so I guess I'll just have to wait till my opponent can get an argument in.
DucoNihilum

Con

Sorry for not responding in the allotted time!

Minimum wage does need to be changed, but in my opinion it must be changed in such a way that it is phased out completely. I never made the argument that minimum wage was directly tied with inflation, Inflation is primarily caused by the Federal reserve and other such entities. However, I do think forcing prices higher than they are (Essentially putting a price floor on wages) create a surplus of jobs, more people want to work for extra than people who want to work for less.... They also will definitely cause businesses to lose money if they don't change their policies to fix that, after all, money does not come out of thin air. They have already calculated everything to come out to maximum efficiency, if they're productive enough, and ofr a busniess to compete in the real world it must remain as efficient as possible. Suddenly losing a lot of money will force them to change some policies, by either firing workers, not hiring extra workers they planned to hire, or raising costs. These 'greedy capitalists' you speak of are mythical creatures- they don't exist. CEO's do tend to make a lot of money, but they don't make money at 'expense' of their laborers. They try to pay their laborers the fairest wage possible, while unskilled laborers may not think 10 dollars an hour is 'fair', they are UNSKILLED and can not contribute more than 10 dollars an hour to the company and have the company still follow the rules of supply and demand.

I find it astonishing how some people can sit back and say to you with an honest face that anybody is 'forced' to do anything though the free (or semi-free) market. There is force involved, yes, but not from businesses to their employees- the force is coming from government. Businesses are FORCED to pay high rates for their employees, they are FORCED to hire anybody and everybody, regardless of (however irrational) personal issues such as race or sex. Businesses are forced to help pay for health care for their full time employees, they are forced to uphold countless government regulations. Illegal immigrants are not forced to live in company apartments, nor buy from company general stores. They can simply move out, find another place to work, or go back to where they immigrated from. They CHOOSE, by their own free will, to work for the farm. If 'actual' citizens choose to work in those sorts of conditions who am I or you to stop them? After all- labor in a free market (unlike a socialist or communist market) can ONLY come from voluntary exchange of goods (in this case, labor for dollars).

Capitalism has not been proved infallible in the past, in fact, it has been proved to be the most successful and free times, EVER. Socialists, Marxists, and those who are against liberty may give you horror stories of Capitalism, but they are often exaggerated or untrue for all of Capitalism. If you believe the idea that wages will never go above subsistence levels in true capitalism you are naive or insane. That clearly does not hold true with the modern world, as labor becomes more and more specialized- especially in the United States and other high-tech countries. While life may not be the greatest for people who are in a Capitalist system when they have JUST ENTERED it, (IE- A new industrial revolution) but this will quickly change for the better. Compare post industrial world to the pre industrial world. Sure, people had it hard during the industrial revolution, but before it they didn't even have enough for subsistence. People died on a regular busniess, and life was revolved around subsistence farming.... then came the industrial revolution, changing the lives of everybody for the better.

If Americans are so charitable, we should allow them to give their own money to charity by their own free will, not force them to give money to charity by taxes. Wealth is not finite, a wealthy person does not make anybody else any 'less' wealthy. South African countries, ironically, are doing so poorly because they have not fully embraced Liberty or Capitalism. When our founding fathers wrote in "general welfare" they did not imagine it would be taken to this extreme, and it is in fact not upheld today. For the welfare to be general it must EQUALLY benefit everybody, such as roads, harbors, and police stations / court systems ETC. In fact, Adam Smith and other writers who they got this from all agreed that the government should have very limited control over the economic lives of the people, minus doing things like building roads. Taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor, interfering with our economy, and heading toward socialism is NOT what our constitution is about. Our constitution was written by LIBERTARIAN writers like Thomas Jefferson, only long long after Jefferson was "general welfare" twisted into an interpretation of "socialistic programs". If Thomas Jefferson and the like originally indented our government to interfere in the economy as such he would have made it so from teh beginning, we wouldn't have had to wait until the 1930's for the big programs to hit us. Our founding fathers dreamed of a country where Life, Liberty, and Property were protected by the government. Where individuals controlled their own destiny, not the government. It has since shifted into a government where we look to the government for protection, not within ourselves. It has shifted from the prime example of individual liberty, to an example of a country moving every so more into a nanny state.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
Thank you. That's a rare thing to hear on this site. Just get your arguments in and let everyone else decide.
Posted by DucoNihilum 9 years ago
DucoNihilum
Still here.

I fully expect to lose this debate due to my barely posting any arguments.... However, I will still try to get one in this weekend or Friday for your benefit.

I have to admit part of the reason for my delay is your arguments are well done, and I am having some issues coming up with contrary arguments without seeming cold.
Posted by DucoNihilum 9 years ago
DucoNihilum
Public housing projects also tend to be horrible. They are in the worst of ghettos, and tend to be in very poor condition. In fact, most things government owned- especially without compeitition, are generally horribly built, made, or designed.

Welfare also has morals issues. While it may seem as if it is very kind to donate your money to others, is that what welfare is? Is welfare about donating your money to other people? No- government welfare is about donating the money of OTHER to other people. You have no choice in the matter, it is in fact theft.

There is an alternative to this evil government theft- the free market. Given low taxes and a relatively free market, people will be able to donate more and more money to private charities that will efficiently help out those that really need it.

You claim that without welfare programs, we would resemble a fascist state- however that is absolutely incorrect. Fascists are generally considered to be strongly authoritarian- socialism, and socialistic programs, are in fact moderately economically authoritarian.
Posted by DucoNihilum 9 years ago
DucoNihilum
I was looking at the timer, and it said I still had 20 minutes left to reply. I was refining it.

Please accept my reply here in this comments section.

Thank you for challenging me to this debate, and I must apologize for being unable to reply in the first round. I have been rather busy in school lately.

Many programs lead by the government claim to help the poor- or as you might say help the nation as a whole. That is not always the case.

Minimum wage, for example, hardly helps the poor at all. While it may seem as if the poor are no longer hunted by the capitalists, getting a fair and better wage that is not necessarily the case. Wages are set by the market- any wage set by the market is generally the correct wage for that type of job. When the government comes in and sets a price floor, it creates a surplus. Additionally, businesses have less incentive to hire employees- and if they must, they have incentive to up the prices to cover for lost costs..... which travel right back to the poor, simply inflating the economy. While there is a chance this will lead to some poor people with more higher paying jobs, this will always come with a consequence. Either more and more poor people will be unable to get jobs- as there is now scarcity of jobs for the low price market, or products will cost money- thus inflating the economy and hurting the poor. Furthermore, the people, the poor might even get laid off due to the extra money required to hold them. Minimum wage, may seem like free money- but money is never free.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
That's ok. I'm just starting up school again myself. Get them in when you can.
Posted by DucoNihilum 9 years ago
DucoNihilum
Sorry, horrible timing. I just started school. Hopefully things will settle down in the next few days and I can try to put two responses in one.
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