The Instigator
Con (against)
The Contender
Pro (for)

$15 Minimum Wage

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/31/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,094 times Debate No: 98598
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
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The minimum wage debate played a massive role in the 2016 election, and has swept the nation.

I will be advocating against raising the federal minimum wage to $15. My opponent must advocate in favor it.

The structure of the debate is simple:

Round 1. Acceptance
Round 2. Arguments
Round 3. Rebuttals
Round 4. Conclusions

I wish the best of luck to whoever my opposition may be.


I accept the debate format and rules laid out by the Con, and I look forward to an interesting and informative debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank Pro for accepting this debate, and wish them the best of luck.

(1) To begin with, I would like to state my ideal [federal] minimum wage: $0.00. Why so radical? Because a federal government is not intended to be involved in economic affairs, or decisions that ought to be left to states to decide on. State legislatures would have a better handle on their own state's economy and what needs exist to improve it. As opposed to a federal bureaucracy with no inherent knowledge of states' affairs. The minimum wage should -- at most -- be left to the decisions of state governance. The federal minimum wage even existing infringes on the rights of states to make certain determinations on their own. The pillars of federal government are three: national security, domestic tranquility, and liberty. To redefine our government in a way in which it may intervene in the marketplace sets a precedence that government is all-knowing has a right to stick its regulatory hands in other aspects of our lives.

(2) Minimum wage jobs are not meant to offer 'living wage' salaries. Ergo, it is illogical to push for a $15 minimum to begin with; the purpose behind minimum wage jobs is to accumulate capital, acquire skill, and build a resume. None other. To assert or contend otherwise is simply ignorant. The problem many who fight for 15 fail to understand is that minimum wage jobs are also primarily industrial corporations, such as big retail companies following Market Basket, Stop & Shop, Costco and the like. Which segues to my next argument.

(3) The only people benefiting from high wage rates [and mandates] is the corporate sector. By forcing small businesses to pay higher, the government is enabling corporate dominance over the private sector. This leads to family businesses going bankrupt, and allows corporations to absorb the destruction [grandfather in the now jobless employees, etc etc]. Walmart even lobbies for the $15/hr wage rate because they understand that if it is passed, they will make thousands more dollars from killing their competitors alone. To enforce this wage rate upon the small business sector is simply cruel and heartless, as well as economically destructive.

(4) The higher minimum wage is, the more it affects teenagers. One might find after quick research that black teenagers [who predominantly occupy urban neighborhoods] get shafted the worst. In cities that are more urbanized and, dare I say, "ghetto", are often times communities that suffer lack of adequate education, and poverty. As a result of these two factors, teenagers in these communities often suffer a lack of work ethic. In the job market, the smaller the work ethic, the less likely you are to be employed. Therefore, if we plug in common sense, we begin to understand that the economic repercussions of wage hikes will do more damage to the black youth [which is the most unemployed demographic as we speak], and will ultimately harm teenagers looking to work part-time.

Sources Cited


Contention 1: Poverty
It should go without saying that the current minimum wage is a poverty wage which one cannot make a sustainable income on. In order to reduce poverty, it should, therefore, follow that the wage should be raised to a level that people can live on. According to former Secretary of Labor and economist Robert Reich:

"a full-time worker with two kids needs at least $30,135 this year to be safely out of poverty. That’s $15 an hour for a 40-hour workweek."

Therefore, in order to reduce poverty, the minimum wage must be increased to $15 an hour.

Contention 2: $15 should be the wage when adjusted for inflation AND productivity
If the minimum wage was adjusted for inflation, it would be around $10.90, however, workers today are also more productive today than they were in 1968, and if the wage was adjusted for productivity the wage should be around $19 an hour. $15/hour is a fair wage when both of these factors are taken into account.

Contention 3: Increasing the minimum wage increases consumer spending
According to the Economic Policy Institute, increasing the minimum wage would result in consumer spending, as it would result in consumers having more money to spend. As the US economy is based on consumer spending, and this is the main mode of job creation in the market, increasing the minimum wage would, therefore, benefit the overall economy.

I will address the Con's arguments in round three, as this round has been set aside for arguments, with round 3 meant for rebuttals.;

Debate Round No. 2


(1) Poverty is an issue that will always exist within a Capitalist society. Poverty is a healthy sign of a market at its work. Income inequality is inevitable. However, I should note that Robert Reich is not a respective Capitalist; instead, he shares more Socialistic values. Therefore, he does not account for the concept of economic competition; that is to say, between businesses and individuals competing, a marketplace will foster an environment where the benevolent race one another to assure the best conditions and services in exchange for maximum profits. An article by Pew Research describes that twenty-nine states [including D.C] have wages above the federal minimum. What does this mean? States where the minimum is higher will draw citizens across state lines, and there will be competition between the states. However, that is because the current wage is feasible. Imagine states trying to raise above the 15 minimum.

I should mention also that the federal minimum wage does not account for differing state economies. While California may be able to afford a higher minimum, who's to say Ohio can? Or Pennsylvania? Or Michigan? Another problem this comes down to is a precedence with regard to state versus federal power. If the federal government controls the economics of each state, that may be a slippery-slope leading to other jurisdiction and rule over the states and their autonomy.

If the worker of a company has two kids, and they are being paid inadequately, they simply quit and find an employer with better benefits and pay. Those companies exist in an economic market with minimal regulations; as opposed to markets with high regulation, wage hikes, and litigation against small businesses that put small, private sector entrepreneurs out of work.

Now, take this article from the LA Times. A woman is describing the difficulty of living off of $7.25, which I agree is inadequate. However, her issue could be fixed if employers started paying above the minimum for her labor. The way she can attain that standard of employment is if she works to build a stronger resume, and aims for an above corporate minimum pay job.

(2) This point is really moot/I am unable to refute it, considering the entire premise of my argument.

(3) Sure, the minimum wage being raised by the federal government may increase consumer spending, but it will also cause businesses to spike prices. Effectively, what has changed? Your paycheck will look bigger, but you would end up draining your pockets trying to buy pockets were previously far cheaper. In order for smaller companies to pay the $15 minimum, they would have to compensate for it by racking in more profits. The way to do that? Make prices go up. Supply and demand.


The larger image here can easily be covered if you only examine the consequences of wage hikes throughout the country on private sector growth.

Several businesses on the West Coast have been put out of work due to sharp state government mandates in pay rates. Owners had to raise employees' hours and lay workers off before inevitably going out of business due to the non-affordable expense of a $15 minimum. And again, as I stated in a previous round, Walmart lobbied for this wage for that very reason. Even then, corporate America does not want to pay these wages. Ever wondered why Wendy's has begun to use machines instead of humans at their locations? In fact, several of them? It is because as wages have increased, the desire for human workers has generally decreased.

Just as with affirmative action and the welfare state, high wage hikes hinder those they are purported to help.

Sources Cited
Larger Image:


(Note that I had to cut a lot from this argument to meet space requirements & so if anything goes unaddressed this is likely the reason)


Contention 1

The Con argues that the federal minimum wage should be zero because he believes the federal government is “not intended to be involved in economic affairs…that ought to be left to the states…”

He argues this on the basis that the federal government does not understand states affairs & that this would redefine our government in which government would arbitrarily intervene in the economy.

There are a number of problems with this argument, the main one being that the Supreme Court already ruled on whether or not the Federal government has the authority to involve itself in these economic affairs, in the 1941 US v. Darby decision, where the court unanimously ruled that the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the law which established the minimum wage, was fully constitutional. Because of this, we can see that this contention simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

Contention 2

The Con claims minimum wages jobs are not meant to provide a living wage & thus making the minimum wage a living wage is nonsensical. This argument simply ignores the reality of the modern economy, as a majority of minimum wage workers, today rely on this as their primary income, equating to about 60 Million people total who rely on minimum wage for support (this includes workers & their families & children). While the “original intent” may not be what it is today, it is wrong to say that this “original purpose” should still be the basis of the policy in the modern era.

Contention 3

The con claims that the ONLY people benefiting from minimum wage increases are in the corporate sector & small business owners are getting the shaft, thus by increasing the minimum wage the government is ensuring corporate dominance of the economy.

Contrary to this claim, the overwhelming majority of minimum wage earners in the status quo are not working for small businesses. According to the National Employment Law Project, two-thirds of low-wage workers are working for larger companies, rather than small businesses. This indicates that the impact on small businesses would be very minimal in comparison to the impact on large corporations.

Empirical evidence would also indicate that gradually increasing the minimum wage doesn’t hurt small businesses as claimed by the Pro (see source 4 & 5.
The con also claims Walmart lobbies for a $15 minimum wage so they can crush small business. While he does cite an article from 2005, in which the Walmart CEO calls for the minimum wage to be increased, however, the CEO never stated why. Moreover, according to an article from the Washington Post, Walmart actually lobbies for a $10.10 minimum wage.

Contention 4

In this contention, the con alleges that the increases in the minimum wage would hurt teens the most.

The claim he makes is that Black teenagers would be hurt because “they lack work ethic.” This claim is not only offensive but simply unfounded. He blames this on poverty & lack of education, however, I will refer the con to my first contention, which is specifically to address the issue of poverty.

He then claims that if we “plug in common sense” we will see how this hurts black teens, however, this is not an argument, it is just an unsubstantiated claim. He provides no evidence to support this contention. Moreover, he never demonstrates a link between harm to black teenagers & increasing the minimum wage, therefore we cannot see how it in any way relates to his overall argument.


Contention 1: Poverty

According to the con, poverty is inevitable & is a "healthy sign of a market at its work." However, given the goal of the market is to distribute resources in an effective manner, it is clear to see that given the high level of poverty in the US it is clear that this is not a sign that the market is healthy. For starters, if the system is meant to effectively distribute resources, yet the market in a capitalist system results in a massive amount of poverty, this would indicate that the market is failing to distribute resources effectively, as a larger number of people are not getting enough resources. Additionally, poverty will almost always increase in times of economic recession& market downturn. These would indicate that poverty is a, for lack of a better term, a poor indicator of the health of the economy.

The con also attacks my citation of the former secretary of labor, economist, & professor, Robert Reich, because, in his view, Reich "shares more socialistic values", & therefore "doesn't account for economic competition". This argument is simply an ad hominem & is not supported by any facts. Regardless of Reich's political values, this does not change the fact that he is a qualified source on this topic. The con gives no evidence to support his conclusions about the former secretary of labor & never actually addresses the claims made by me or by Reich.

The con also claims that having varying minimum wages between states "encourages competition" & "draws citizens across state lines". However, there is simply no evidence that people are moving across state lines simply to get a higher minimum wage & thus this claim does not have any bearing.

Next, the con claims that the federal minimum wage does not account for state economies. This claim in no way relates to my argument about poverty & is nothing more than a red herring.

He cites an article from the LA Times about a woman struggling to make ends meet on the minimum wage. He then says that the woman should "work to build her resume & aim for an above corporate minimum pay job." This solution does not actually work, as for many people including the woman in the article he cites, this is not an option. For starters, life is not as simple as this solution makes it out to be. People do not always have the choice to pursue higher education or find another job to build their resume as they are already struggling to cover basic expenses with the minimum wage job, & quitting that job would mean that they lose their only source of income. Gaining promotions in the workplace meanwhile are not something which is under the control of the applicant & is controlled by their superiors. This is not a solution to poverty for minimum wage workers & ignores economic realities pointed out in the article the con cited.

Contention 2: Inflation & Productivity

The Con has said he cannot respond to this argument because of the contentions he has made, however, I cannot see how his argument makes it so that he cannot refute this argument. Since he has not response, the argument I made has therefore been conceded. Thus I extend this argument to the next round.

Contention 3: Consumer Spending
Due to character constraints, I am unable to do a full response to this argument. Given that it would be unfair to carry this argument into the final round as this would mean the con would not have a chance to respond to my criticisms from this round, I move that this Contention be dropped from the debate and all previous arguments made under this contention struck and any further arguments disregarded.


Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by CosmoJarvis 1 year ago
Clearly a win for Brendan. Cynical Republican cited sources, but never cited what information was connected to which sources. Also Cy failed to provide any evidence to oppose the minimum wage other than saying how the government shouldn't be involved, but when radicals such as yourself suggest that the government should butt out of the minimum wage, and change it to $0.00, that just seems horrifying and disgusting. You're basically showing how terrible wages would be without any government intervention. On the other hand, Brendan brushed on key issues such as the welfare of the workers who receive low wages.
Posted by BrendanD19 1 year ago
Hello? Cynical Republican?
Posted by BrendanD19 1 year ago
Due to space issues, may I simply respond to your attack on my third contention in the next round? There is a lot to cover in it and I only have around 419 characters left, which is not enough to cover my response. My other option is I could drop that contention altogether, but if I do that I ask you drop one of your contentions so that we keep things fair.
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