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Resolved: Just governments ought to require that employers pay a living wage.
This is such a broad and open topic since there isn’t a direct clash between two competing values. Creativity will be your friend here, so take the time to think of unique positions. This is also an incredibly one sided topic, so it will be important to have a well formulated framework.
Just governments – This is something that will be defined in your value structure and will be the focal point of your case. What does it mean for a government to be just? How do we determine if a government is just? These are questions you will need to answer.
Ought – Like all debate resolutions, ought means should. Along with defining what a just a government is, you will also need to determine how we figure out what a just government should do.
Living Wage – A living wage is the wage necessary for a person to meet his/her basic needs. Don’t make it more complicated than this. The intent of the resolution is not to debate what a living wage is. We’re not debating if the government should increase the minimum wage either.
1. Societal Welfare – A central component of justice is protecting the positive rights of people and providing for societal welfare. Healthcare, voting, etc…. all fall under this umbrella. Similarly, a living wage must also be protected in order to achieve societal welfare. Therefore, if a government is to be just, it must require employers to provide a living wage.
2. Security – The reason the social contract is formed is for security. People sacrifice the absolute freedom of the state of nature to have their security protected. A living wage is a necessary requisite for security. It allows for food security, personal security, and shelter as well. In order for a government to fulfill its obligation to security under the social contract, it must require the employers provide a living wage.
3. Distributive Justice – A just government is one which distributes social benefits appropriately. Form behind a veil of ignorance, all rational agents would choose to have a living wage provided. Therefore, a just government must require that employers provide a living wage.
1. Economic Freedom – A just government must allow for economic freedom. It shouldn’t be setting any wage, let alone a living wage. The free market will determine the appropriate wages for workers. Therefore, a just government ought not to require a living wage.
2. Property Rights – A living wage is a claim on the property of the employer. Since the money is theirs, it is at their discretion to determine how it is spent. The government exercising a claim on an individual’s property on behalf of another is an unjust act, and therefore, a just government will not require a living wage.
3. Virtue Ethics – The government should not set a living wage because it is the extreme of one end of the decision. A living wage is too taxing on employers, while complete free market wages are destructive to workers. Instead, the government should set a minimum wage which is slightly below a living wage in order to maintain proper economic stability. A just government will find the median between the two extreme options and exercise only that median.
I hope that helps get you started. Good luck!