A Thoughtful Look Into Things
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Resolved: To alleviate income inequality in the United States, increased spending on public infrastructure should be prioritized over increased spending on means-tested welfare programs.
This resolution isn’t phrased properly. The real world doesn’t actually pose a choice between these two, and it’s difficult to think of a scenario in which they would come into conflict. Rather, we should be talking about which one is more effective, which is probably what this debate will turn into. It’s important to remember, however, that you must prove why the government should pick one over the other. The resolution assumes a world where there is a choice to be made. This resolution is also rife with opportunities for well run kritiks, although that’s not really a fashionable thing to do in Public Forum. For example, who says we even should alleviate income inequality?
Income Inequality – We’ve all heard about the 1%. That is essentially what this is referring to. Don’t get too bogged down in the actual spread of income, but rather focus on the idea that there is substantial income inequality in the U.S. which needs to be fixed. The actual numbers around this are irrelevant to the argument.
Spending on Public Infrastructure – This harkens back to the days of FDR. Spending on infrastructure means building things that help form the foundations of society like energy producing facilities, roads, hospitals, and other public works type things.
Spending on Means-Tested Welfare Programs – These programs refer to those which grant benefits or assistance based on the need of the individual. Means-testing refers to evaluating the means which a person has, or how much they are able to provide on their own, and then allocating benefits accordingly.
1. Infrastructure Works Better – Spending on infrastructure creates jobs, and helps society. The numbers are clear. While welfare programs may provide assistance or money directly to those in need, infrastructure spending allows those in need to earn that assistance while also contributing to the rest of society.
2. Welfare Programs are a Byproduct of a Bad System – The reason that welfare programs even exist in the U.S. is because of things like a private healthcare system and poor education. Therefore, we shouldn’t increase spending on these programs, but rather fix the systems that’s causing the need in the first place.
3. Welfare is Useless Without Infrastructure – Let’s say you give a person $100 to buy medication. If he can’t get to a pharmacy, that $100 is useless. He can’t get the medication anyway. The resolution creates a world in which there is a conflict between infrastructure and welfare needs. In this conflict, infrastructure should always be prioritized because welfare is useless without infrastructure.
1. Infrastructure Spending Doesn’t Work – Contrary to common belief, infrastructure spending in the 21st century doesn’t promote economic stimulus and job growth. It also doesn’t address the major problems of income inequality because jobs in infrastructure don’t pay anything. Welfare programs afford people the ability to work towards getting higher paying jobs.
2. There is No Need for Infrastructure Spending – The resolution poses a false dichotomy. In the United States, infrastructure is pretty much set. We need to focus on other things because roads, energy, and such things are taken care of.
3. Prioritization is Bad – These expenditures don’t exist in a vacuum. The U.S. spends nearly $1 trillion on “defense” every year. If that spending is cut even slightly, then both infrastructure and welfare programs can receive the funding they need. The notion that one must be prioritized over the other is spurious, since both are possible.
Hope this helps. Good luck!