The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Redistribution of Wealth

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/14/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,124 times Debate No: 42362
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)




I think that it is okay to take wealth from the really, really rich and give it to the people who are actually in need of the money.

And when I say "the really, really, rich", I'm talking about BILLIONAIRES.

According to Forbes, there are currently 1332 people who have more than 1 billion dollars in personal savings (1), so there is lots of money to be made from this sort of wealth redistribution, and its benefit to humanity would be enormous.

Think about it this way: if you had a billion dollars, and you spent $10,000 EVERY DAY, then it would still take you almost 275 YEARS to finally run out of money. Do the math yourself. You will find that it is true.

There is NO excuse for one human being to have more than a billion dollars to themselves when there are so many impoverished people out there.

I look forward to your argument.



I accept the debate and would like to thank my opponent for providing such a fascinating and relevant topic!

Are we talking about within the United States, or we talking globally? If it's just within the United States, there are only 442 billionaires within the United States (using your same source). If it's globally, it's important to understand the various types of governments in existence. China is "communist" (read: authoritarian capitalist), and most governments in Europe play a larger role in the lives of daily citisens than the American one.

In this round, I will bring up three main arguments against seizing the wealth from billionaires and distributing it to the impoverished.

Contention 1: Philanthropy.

For the sake of clarity, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines philanthropy as "the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people" [1]. According to Forbes, Bill Gates is the second richest person in the world [2]. One thing Bill Gates is known for is his philanthropy. For example. the Huffington Post reported on how Bill Gates invested $35 million into ResearchGate, a Berlin-based organization aiming to combat diseases [3]. Additionally, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (the fourth-richest person) signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world's wealthiest individuals "to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy" [4]. Other names on this pledge also appear on Forbes. A small sample include:

Michael Bloomberg (the 13th richest person)
Paul Allen (the 53rd richest person)
Mark Zuckerberg (the 66th richest person)
Ray Dalio (the 76th richest person)
Eli Broad (the 191st richest person)
John Paul DeJoria (the 329th richest person)
John Arnold (the 503rd richest person)
John Doerr (the 527th richest person)
Nicolas Berggruen (the 736th richest person)
Arthur Blank (the 931st richest person)
Manoj Bhargava (the 974th richest person)
Steve Case (the 1,031st richest person)
Sara Blakely (the 1,342nd richest person)

And many more. The Giving Pledge represent a clear effort by what my opponent calls the really, really rich to use their wealth to help other people of their own volition. If billionaires like Gates and Buffet were forced to relinquish the money that they worked hard to possess,, they would be much less likely to invest in charities and support other philanthropic work.

Contention 2: Work Ethic

Many of the rich worked hard to earn their money. In fact, Forbes notes that, out of the 400 members on their exclusive billionaires list, 273 of them were self-made, becoming billionaires through their own work [5]. While that leaves some billionaires who inherited or otherwise obtained money, it proves that a substantial amount - a majority, in this case, earned their money. This makes it their property, and any forced redistribution of that wealth is theft. Additionally, if this wealth were redistributed and given to the poor, why would either the poor or the billionaires continue to work? Money is getting taken from the richest, taking away their incentives to work and reinvest their money into the economy, and money is raining onto the poor, taking away their incentives to work and earn money. This is not to argue that hard work is the only factor in success - I acknowledge the role of circumstance and chance - but hard work is a factor in financial stability.

Contention 3: Harm to the poor.

Consider the impoverished person. Their lives are certainly difficult, and money would, at first, appear to ease that. However, let's consider this for a moment. Most of these impoverished people have little experience with managing money. It's the same concept behind why people who win the lottery go bankrupt [6]. People suddenly have access to all this cash that they didn't before. So they go on spending sprees, they find themselves drawn toward luxury without having a consistent income to support that. Before too long, the money is gone, and they're back to square one. As the old saying goes, give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime" (common quotation, but I'll cite it anyway) [7]. It's the same concept with money.

The poor and impoverished need to be supported with avenues for them to earn their own wealth, not given the wealth of others. For the reasons I have argued above, redistribution of wealth would negatively impact a society that enacted it. Look at the societies that (supposedly) lived under a communist state. The Soviet Union collapsed financially, unable to keep up with a freer economy, and North Korea is not exactly one of the strongest economies in the world.

I look forward to my opponent's responses in the next round! I anticipate a great debate!

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting! I'm looking forward to a great debate.

In response to your question, I'm talking about this from a global perspective. After all, some of the most impoverished people in the world are living outside of the United States.
I have already provided my points as to why I feel that the redistribution of wealth is justified, so I am just going to give a rebuttal to each of your contentions.

Rebuttal to Contention 1 (Philanthropy)
You argued that many of the richest people in the world already give away quite a bit of money to charity. I'm not going to try and deny this. However, these billionaire philanthropists only give away money in the millions. Bill Gates is an exception among billionaires, having actually donated $28 Billion to his charity foundation (1). Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffet are also quite generous with their wealth. However, the majority of billionaires give away only tiny percentages of their total fortunes and call it a day, continuing to keep billions of dollars to themselves while the world suffers.

Rebuttal to Contention 2 (Work Ethic)
You argued that the rich worked hard to earn their money. I agree with this point. However, as I said, with just 1 billion dollars, you can comfortably spend $10,000 a day for 275 years. That still allows for roughly 4 generations of the billionaire's family to live indescribably luxurious lifestyles, and that isn't even counting the profit that the company would still be continuing to generate. In other words, just 1 billion dollars a plenty of a reward for all the hard work the billionaire has done. The rest of the money should be going towards global welfare, rather than getting stashed up in their bank accounts.

Rebuttal to Contention 3 (Harm to the poor)
Notice that I did not actually state what should be done with the money. I simply said that it should go towards global welfare. What would actually be done with all the hundreds of billions of dollars sounds like a topic of a separate debate. I personally wouldn't advocate handing out free money directly to the impoverished, for the reasons that you stated. However, there are many organizations who can put the money to good use without "giving them fish".

Perhaps titling the debate "Redistribution of Wealth" was a bit misleading, as that generally implies giving money directly to the poor. But what I had more in mind was giving the money to organizations who can strategically "teach them how to fish". There are already some programs in place that do this through things like micro-loans (2) and free education (3), and they are able to quite a bit with just a couple million dollars. Imagine what they could do with funding in the billions.

I'm looking forward to hearing your argument!



It is true that some of the most impoverished people in the world live outside of the United States. This also again invokes my earlier point regarding different governments as well as ratios of rich to poor. There are not billionaires in every area where there are poor. Therefore, this resolution would necessarily have to support an inter-governmental agreement to rob billionaires of their money (regardless of whether or not the proceeds are funneled through a charity).

My opponent provides some information that supports my case by listing the generosity of some billionaires. As a matter of fact, I was planning to use that point in later rounds. Again, I point out that everyone who signed the Giving Pledge, seen in the previous round, promised to use a majority - that is, over 50% - of their wealth for philanthropic purposes. Now, there are plenty of billionaires who "only give away tiny percentages of their total fortunes and call it a day." How does it become your business, or the business of the government, to tell them what to do with their hard-earned money? My opponent has already conceded that many of the rich worked hard to earn their money. So what right do others have to invade their liberty and tell them what to do with it? You may not like what some rich people do with their money, but that does not mean you can dictate what they spend it on. You may believe that people have a moral obligation to assist others, but you cannot impose that belief on the really, really rich without taking away their freedoms and liberties. And, as established, many billionaires do use their wealth to help others.

My opponent's rebuttal to my second contention revolves around the right of individuals to impose standards regarding what they can and cannot spend money on. Essentially, my opponent acknowledges my basic argument and concedes the validity of it, but protests that the rich gain too much money. I again argue that we do not have the right to force them to spend money on something we agree on. Just like we do not have the right to stop someone from spending money to see Twilight just because we think it's a terrible movie, we do not have the right to stop them from spending money on themselves and their families rather than on helping people in need. Additionally, my opponent dropped the second half of my argument here regarding the de-incentivizing of the rich and poor to work. As he did not specify any future response to these points, we must conclude he concedes them, and so they go to me.

I admit that I made an assumption based on the resolution, and I thank my opponent for clarifying. If the money were funneled through government or other organizations (still through government, as only government can force the wealthy to give away money), then my contention loses validity. I still have two other strong contentions, and I will introduce a different one here, as this is the second round, and my opponent still has ample time to respond to it.

New Contention 3: Wasteful Governments

Private dealings - that is, not government ones - account for 83% of economic relationships between the industrialised world and the developing world [1]. The AEI places it slightly lower but still acknowledges that the vast majority - 77% - of aid flows to the developing world from private means, including investment and philanthropy [2] - two methods practiced by private individuals more than charitable organisations. Again, philanthropy is likely to decline if billionaires were to be forced to give away their money, thereby throwing more money into government hands and increasing possibilities of corruption, fraud, and waste.

In response to those organisations, I again assert that the wealthy can - and in many cases, already do - fund/donate to them of their own volition.

I look forward to your responses in the next round!

Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for your argument.

"...this resolution would necessarily have to support an inter-governmental agreement to rob billionaires of their money (regardless of whether or not the proceeds are funneled through a charity)."
I suppose I didn't really touch on how this redistribution of wealth would be executed, but yes, inter-governmental agreement would be needed for it to happen. And also it isn't really "robbing billionaires of their money", leading me into my next point.

"...there are plenty of billionaires who "only give away tiny percentages of their total fortunes and call it a day." How does it become your business, or the business of the government, to tell them what to do with their hard-earned money?...what right do others have to invade their liberty and tell them what to do with it?"
Who cares about 1000 or so billionaires' liberty after seeing the more than 3 billion people who live on less than $2.50 a day (1)? As I have pointed out in every round so far, the billionaires will be PERFECTLY FINE if we leave them with nothing but 1 billion dollars. Those 3 billion people are NOT doing fine and for the vast majority of them, the situation they are in is NOT their fault! A redistribution of wealth definitely goes against the ideals of capitalism and does indeed invade on the billionaires' liberty, but look at where capitalism has gotten us: a world where the poorest 40% of the population have 5% of world income, while the richest 20% of the population have 75% of the world income (2). Sometimes the liberty of a few people has to be sacrificed for the benefit of the rest of humanity. And it isn't like we are doing something really cruel to those billionaires; they would still have a thousand times more money than most people could even dream of having.

"...we do not have the right to stop them [the billionaires] from spending money on themselves and their families rather than on helping people in need."
I suppose this becomes a question of morality. But as I said in the last argument, I don't see how it is acceptable to allow a thousand or so people uselessly stash up money for themselves while almost half of the world's population lives in desolate poverty.

"Additionally, my opponent dropped the second half of my argument here regarding the de-incentivizing of the rich and poor to work."
Sorry, I concentrated too much on the first half and forgot to address the second half. The poor wouldn't really be "de-incentivized" because, like I said last round, the money would not be handed to them for free; it would be used for programs that would "teach them how to fish" like micro-loans and free education. The rich wouldn't be de-incentivized either (unless they are totally greedy and souless), because if you already have everything you could possibly want in the world ($10,000 per day!), then why is helping the world be a better place not a good enough incentive to keep working? And anyways, they would still be getting a reasonable share from their companies' enormous earnings...

Rebuttal to New Contention 3 (Wasterful Governments) - bullet point form
-Just imagine, if those charities are able to make small differences with millions of dollars, then they would be able to make HUGE differences with billions of dollars
-Individual governments wouldn't have a very big role to play in the redistribution. Since it would be an international effort, I assume that it would be handled by the UN, the biggest supranational organization out there so far, and the UN has actually historically been quite adept at handling finances (3)
-We don't need billionaires to practice philanthropy if we already have the majority of their money.

"I again assert that the wealthy can - and in many cases, already do - fund/donate to them of their own volition."
The problem is, that many don't. Out of the 1332 billionaires that there are, only 400 have pledged to give money (4), and out of those, very few have given donations in the billions (5).

It is not morally fair for one group of people to have so much wealth when just a fraction of that wealth would allow them to live iin indescribable luxury for hundreds of years. It is especially not fair when there are billions of people who need that money infinitely more than they do.



It's worth pointing out that my opponent has fallen into refutations with rebuilding his own points.

My opponent argues that redistributing wealth "It isn't really robbing billionaires of their money." Whether or not it is done for a good cause, it is still theft. The private property of one person is being taken from them against their will with no return benefit to them. This is theft.

I followed your first link and was led to an error page.

My opponent admits a blatant disregard for the liberty of other individuals. This is an infringement on what is commonly considered a fundamental right - the right to property. In effect, my opponent appears to be arguing for a socialistic or communistic response. We all know what happened to nations that implemented communism. A major problem in the Soviet Union was, because of the redistribution of wealth, there was no incentive to work. Russian economist Grigory Yavlinsky said that "the Soviet system is not working because the workers are not working" [1]. Even if we don't adopt a full redistribution of wealth, even if we cap earnings at $1 billion - more than enough to last a lifetime - people will still lose incentive to work. Selfishness, for good or ill, is a fundamental aspect of human nature. This is why capitalist systems work.

It is true that there are many people living in poverty. But it is equally important to note the changes over time. When we consider China, many people strongly condemn the exploitation of workers for cheap labour. But these people forget changes over time. Prior to exploitation, these people were paid nothing. They are in a phase much like the West was during the Industrial Revolution. As time goes on, the pay of those workers will rise, as will their standard of living. Some companies are already raising wages [2]. It is also important to note that costs in areas like China are lower. And, as the Huffington Post reports, not only is the standard of living in China about half that of America, but American workers are also more productive than both Chinese and German ones [3]. Germany has a government much closer to socialist than America, and China is nominally communist. As a capitalist system with very little in regard to redistributing wealth, America offers workers many incentives, and thus the workers are more productive.

So because you don't see how something is acceptable, it is not acceptable? Should we make laws based on the preference of one person? Assuming you live in the West, you live in a democracy, not a dictatorship. As Gallop reports, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the government should focus on improving economic conditions within the United States and NOT redistribute wealth more evenly among them [4].

My opponent now picks up the second half of my second contention. However, I argue that people still would be de-incentivized. Why would people want to work if their ambitions were stifled? The rich, as they near the $1 billion cap, would lose all incentive to continue working. They would stop reinvesting in the economy and stop hiring workers. As all the money flows outward, assuming this operation proceeds smoothly, without fraud or corruption, it becomes less and less until none of it remains in the economy. The rich lose the will to be rich; the poor lose the will to be rich; and production and work gradually come to a halt. It is a tragic fact that people desire more than they need, and if that hope is removed, they feel no drive to work for it

My opponent boldly states that "we don't need billionaires to practise philanthropy if we already have the majority of their money." Money is limited. You will run out of their money, and you will have nothing to replace it with because you took away their incentive to keep making money. Fraud and corruption are rampant. For example, CNN reported on the Kids Wish Network, a charity dedicated to raising millions in donations to help dying children and their families and discovered that the network spent less than 3 cents from each dollar on helping kids. Much of the rest was given to corporate sponsors - around $110 million [5].

My opponent attributes the agency for wealth redistribution to the United Nations. The UN suffers from severe inefficiencies. Most obvious is the demonstrated ability of Russia and China to oppose the US and thus bring everything to a gridlock. But the UN has also been proven inefficient in financial matters. One major reason it mishandles foreign aid is because many departments counter each other and duplicate each other's efforts. For example, in Pakistan, the UN devised "75 programme goals without consulting the government" [6].

Part of the Giving Pledge stipulates that billionaires give away at least 50% of their wealth throughout their lifetime or upon death. Those who have not yet given away donations in the billions still have ample time to do so.

Private philanthropy from the US alone was around $37 billion - two thirds larger than government aid at $21.8 billion, not to mention private remittances at $79 billion [7] (page 24). And again, all of this private aid flows from the United States alone. If the resolution applies globally, it must also be remembered the many people in other countries also practice philanthropy of their own free will.

Perhaps it is not morally fair, as my opponent states. But there's an infamous saying - life isn't fair. In an ideal world, we would all start out with the same economic opportunities. People would not be discriminated against based on immutable and non-harmful characteristics. Sadly, idealism and reality seldom travel together. We can always work to make the world a better place, but what kind of world would it be if the government had 100% control over your spending liberties if you exceeded a set sum? What kind of world would it be where we could make people do something or live a certain way just because we thought they should?

As we enter the 4th round, I thank my opponent for his arguments and this great debate, and I look forward to the next two rounds!

Debate Round No. 3


You know what? You're right.

The foul, greedy, selfish, evil nature of human behavior would ensure that this redistribution would never happen. Now that I think about it, most billionaires WOULDN'T be satisfied with a mere billion dollars. They probably WOULD be greedy enough to want all the money to themselves rather than see it being used for the good of humanity. They probably WOULD be stubborn enough to "go on strike" if the government were to force them to use their money in a way that doesn't serve their own personal gain.
I still believe that a redistribution SHOULD happen, since I don't give a crap about billionaires' rights when half the world has virtually no money, but you are right in saying that such a thing is not realistically possible. due to how twisted human nature is.

I suppose this means I automatically lose the debate, since I got convinced by my opponents arguments.


I'm unable to tell if your latest argument is sarcasm or genuine regret.

A year ago - for that matter, eight months ago - I thought the same as you did. Even when I accepted this debate, I held a passionate distaste for those who possessed more money than they and their children would ever need and yet continued to accumulate more without assisting people who truly needed that money. But no matter how ethically or morally bankrupt I might consider them, I reluctantly acknowledge that they have rights as well. You're obviously very passionate on the subject, and I hope you retain that passion and go on to help make the world a better place. I really do. If more people thought that way, if more people practised philanthropy on their own (though I have demonstrated that some do, and I have demonstrated how US private aid is higher than US governmental aid), the world would certainly be much improved. The remedy, I believe, is more time and knowledge than force.

My opponent concedes all my arguments and the debate. Vote Con!

I would also like to genuinely thank PRO for his debate, time, and efforts.
Debate Round No. 4


Wow, re-reading my argument, it does sound somewhat like sarcasm, but no, I really meant every word of it. You have convinced me that greed unfortunately prevents us from taking measures that would truly allow for equality among human beings.

You are correct in assuming that I am rather passionate on the subject, and I certainly hope that I can eventually actually do something to help the world become a better.

I don't think I ever will understand why someone could possibly need so much money for themselves. I believe that if every "really, really, rich" person in the world could experience what it is like to be in poverty for a single day, they would do this voluntarily.
Perhaps, as you say, time and knowledge really are the only things that can help.

Vote Con.


I second my opponent's hope that one day he may do something to make the world better. It's idealistic, but what do we have if not the ability to chase our dreams?

I thank my opponent for this debate and ask the voters to vote CON!
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Romanii 3 years ago
Lol debates like this are the reason I wanted to get a new start on the site as UchihaMadara...
Posted by Wolf_Fang 3 years ago
Kudos to Con. We can all learn a lot from his execution of debate.
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 5 years ago
Well, that's a lovely compliment. Thank you. :-) But you've presented a solid resolution and some strong arguments in defence of it. I look forward to seeing how the rest of this goes.
Posted by Romanii 5 years ago
I'm sorry if I sounded condescending. I wasn't trying to criticize you. Your debating skills are actually way better than mine ;)
Posted by EndarkenedRationalist 5 years ago
I saw no need to utilize every dollar amount given to charity in the first round of a five round debate. And, as the Giving Pledge clearly says, billionaires give "a majority" of their wealth. Not a percentage, not a little amount - a majority of their wealth.
Posted by Romanii 5 years ago
IKR, the $35 Million dollars Con mentioned is roughly 0.05% of Bill Gates's total fortune. Of course, I don't mean to pick on Bill Gates, as I respect him for being an exception among the large majority of greedy billionaires. He has actually donated a grand total $28 Billion (42% of his fortune).
Posted by MyDinosaurHands 5 years ago
The amount of money billionaires give to charity is often incredibly insignificant compared to their wealth.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by supershamu 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Wow good debate. Con made a very convincing argument and I think Pro agreed. Well done you two
Vote Placed by Milliarde 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: obvious