The Instigator
bsh1
Con (against)
The Contender
MurdocNiccals
Pro (for)

Universal Basic Income

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 6/8/2018 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 2,266 times Debate No: 115203
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (27)
Votes (0)

 

bsh1

Con

Intro

Murdoc kindly responded to my public plea for a debate, and I am grateful to him for making this round possible. This topic is also of great personal interest to me, and so I am happy that this was one of the two Murdoc identified as ones he was willing to debate.

In order to ensure quality judging, I have set a voting ELO threshold at 3,000. Comments are required and the select winner system is in force. The voting period lasts 14 days.

Topic

The United States ought to provide a universal basic income

Definitions

- Universal Basic Income: an unconditional cash payment which the government pays monthly and universally to all adults throughout their lives. The monthly payments must be sufficient to meet the socio-cultural subsistence minimum of the community in which the recipient resides [source: adapted from a definition by Prof. Matt Zwolinski]
- Ought: moral desirability

Rules

1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. For all resolutional terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
8. The BOP is evenly shared
9. Pro must post his case in R1 and waive in R5
10. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
11. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the R1 set-up, merits a loss

Structure

R1. Pro's Case
R2. Con's Case; Pro generic Rebuttal
R3. Con generic Rebuttal; Pro generic Rebuttal
R4. Con generic Rebuttal; Pro generic Rebuttal and Summary
R5. Con generic Rebuttal and Summary; Pro Waives

Thanks...

...to Murdoc for the debate. Looking forward to a discussion on a wonderful and fascinating topic!
MurdocNiccals

Pro

Con has been very specific with his wording limiting a variety of general objections to his position that are often considered when peeps discuss this. I'm stating this because it 'morally desirable' is a black hole of ambiguity and I do not want to lean on semantics so I will instead try to focus on what is morally desirable in a practical way and what that means in general using standard definitions. I'm not aware of anyone that receives payments in cash or anything that is uncondtional but I do not expect Cob to lean on these too hard.

Many things are morally desirable. In a subjective moral world view you can justify torture (USA #1) or killing apostates. Utilitarians, rule based types or even absolutists could as well. It is obviously ideal to ensure that the worst off in our countries do not starve (reach a sub-subsistence level of existence.) The debate here is normally just about to what degree we will do this. We make 'cash' payments to provide roads, hospitals, food banks and shelters to anyone who bothers to use them. They do not get the check directly and That's the lame leg Con is trying to lean on.

We already pay for a minimum standard of living just by paying taxes. We make sure all citizens have justice, are not subject to theft or murder etc. We subsidies farmers, factory workers and billionaires. This question has already been decided. Of course we make cash payouts every month to ensure that everyone reaches subsistence, aka doesn't die. It's only a question of degree. Con can only argue the degree to which we support eachother. By setting the bar at morally desirable all I have to show is that some moral code wants to stop people from dying due to poverty.

We are all mutually interdependent and even those lacking empathy can appreciate that preventing others from starving to death or dying from the elements is helpful/desirable wherever it falls on their to do list.

While, cash payments that benefit you directly vs those you receive directly are obviously different those that cannot use the funds, at least to reach, subsistence are normally subject to guadianship.
Debate Round No. 1
bsh1

Con

I thank Pro for this debate.

I. Intro

This debate is not merely about the degree to which we help others, but also how we help others. The resolution is calling on Pro to advocate for a specific policy, namely UBI, as the means through which he will, in his own words, "ensure the worst off in our countries do not starve." By using this as his metric to weigh policies, Pro has established a consequentialist moral framework for the round.

I would like to note now, however, that Pro's first round lacks substance. He provides no data to demonstrate that UBI is effective at achieving its aim of reducing poverty. Merely stating that reducing poverty is UBI's intent is insufficient to justify UBI as a poverty. One could argue that Hitler's intent through the Holocaust was to better humankind, but that does not justify his actions in the slightest. Therefore, it is dubious as to whether Pro has or will meet his burden in this debate. He must use his additional rounds to put forward arguments sufficient to affirm, or he will be unable to meet his burden.

II. The Flaws of UBI

A. The Cost of UBI

Estimates suggest that UBI would cost $3 to 4 trillion per year, totaling $30 to 40 trillion over a decade. That sum "amounts to nearly all the tax revenue collected by the federal government." [1] Projections show that US federal tax revenue for 2019 is estimated to be $3.422 trillion, potentially less than this single policy alone [2]. It is not plausible that the US could sustain a policy of UBI while also maintaining the various other services and projects it administers. Even if UBI were to replace other welfare programs, the savings from eliminating these programs would not offset the costs of UBI. Currently, welfare not including Social Security and Medicare costs about $1 trillion; Social Security and Medicare similarly cost about $1 trillion [3, 4]. That makes $2 trillion in total current welfare spending. If all of these welfare programs were to be eliminated and replaced with UBI, UBI would still add $1 to 2 trillion dollars to the federal budget (increasing the budget by 67%). However, it would be naive to think that UBI could replace all existing welfare programs--programs to help parents with childcare costs or to cover medical bills would need to be retained in some form in order to ensure the wellbeing of children and those without insurance, with poor insurance, or with sky-high medical bills. Thus, the actual amount that UBI adds to the budget is likely to be larger than the $1 to 2 trillion just calculated. And not only does it balloon the budget, but UBI is ultimately self-defeating. To afford UBI, individuals would need to be taxed at rates of 35 to 40 percent. This means that UBI would cost a taxpayer more in taxes than that taxpayer would receive in benefits, rendering the policy net-harmful. [5]

B. Workforce Participation

UBI is likely to reduce workforce participation. It stands to reason that if everyone receives a salary irrespective of whether or not they have worked for or earned that salary, that people will be less eager to work. This logic is borne out empirically. "In four controlled random assignment experiments across six states between 1968 and 1980, the comparable policy was shown to reduce yearly hours worked among recipients significantly. For each $1,000 in added benefits, there was an average $660 reduction in earnings, meaning that $3,000 in government benefits was required for a net increase of $1,000 in family income." [6] This has several impacts.

Firstly, for UBI to have its intended benefits, payouts will need to be unreasonably large. The goal of UBI is to bring people up to a subsistence threshold. Suppose that threshold is $10,000. To meet this goal, UBI cannot simply payout $10,000, because that will only functionally provide benefits of $3,300. Instead, to functionally provide $10,000, UBI payouts will need to be $30,000. This places Pro in a double-bind. Either he can't achieve a subsistence minimum or he triples the overall cost of UBI, adding to our national debt and magnifying its self-defeating nature.

Secondly, UBI leads to the pernicious and repressive effects of dependency. When people become dependent on welfare, they don't take the steps (steps which are often burdensome in the short term) to better themselves in the long-term. This traps recipients in a kind of near-poverty, which is not only degrading to them but also keeps their quality of life low.

Thirdly, UBI is socially destructive. "Individuals gain not only income, but meaning, status, skills, networks and friendships through work. Delinking income and work, while rewarding people for staying at home, is what lies behind social decay." [7] This could be phrased similarly in the statement that by cutting down participation in one of our primary social contexts, we also cut down the social bonds and experience which are integral to a well-functioning cooperative society.

Fourthly, UBI is individually destructive. "Work is at the root of a meaningful life, the path to individual...flourishing. It is also the distinctive means by which men concretize their identity as rational, goal-directed beings." [8] "Self-esteem, in the sense of having a perception of the worth of one's own existence, is bound up with the recognition one receives from others of one's competences, achievements and contributions." [9] Work, by being a central mechanism through which people contribute to society, is crucial to our own self-esteem, self-image and self-respect.

Thus, I negate.

III. Sources

1 - https://www.cbpp.org...
2 - https://www.thebalance.com...
3 - https://www.budget.senate.gov...
4 - https://en.wikipedia.org...
5 - https://fee.org...
6 - https://www.heritage.org...
7 - https://www.irishtimes.com...
8 - Younkins, Edward W. "Capitalism and Commerce: Conceptual Foundations of Free Enterprise." Lexington Books, 2002.
9 - https://theconversation.com...
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
bsh1
The Soviet Union relied on a flawed model of government economic control. There is a big difference between what the Soviet Union did and, say, what Germany is currently doing. Not all government interference in the economy is counterproductive; in fact, it is often necessary that the government insert itself into the economic sphere. I certainly don't advocate for communism, but I do advocate for a socialist-leaning economy that preserves elements of capitalism.
Posted by asta 3 years ago
asta
I don't think people should receive free stuff from the government. There are other legitimate ways poor people don't have to starve.

The USSR tried something similar and they have a comparable GDP per capita to Africa.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
bsh1
I will agree to that.
Posted by MurdocNiccals 3 years ago
MurdocNiccals
Great, if Max is still alive I'll ask to delete this debate if you'll agree.
Posted by MurdocNiccals 3 years ago
MurdocNiccals
Thank you, I was expecting tomorrow to post at least.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
bsh1
Ah, I see the issue. Yes, 48 hours will be the minimum. I'll send you the challenge. If you could accept and post your original speech tonight, that would be great. I'll post my original argument tonight as well, which would give you adequate time to post your follow up.
Posted by MurdocNiccals 3 years ago
MurdocNiccals
I just don't like the wording. colloquially if I say I can post at up to 48 hours that is stating that the given time frame is all the way up to 48hrs. Just make it clear that 48 hrs is your minimum time to post and I'm fine with that.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
bsh1
Up to an after 48 hours. 48 hours + 2 minutes is hardly different from 48 hours.
Posted by MurdocNiccals 3 years ago
MurdocNiccals
wait, up to and after 48 hrs is a no. post after 48 hrs and I'd accept.
Posted by MurdocNiccals 3 years ago
MurdocNiccals
That's fine. Post tonight and I'll accept.
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