Resolved: Just governments ought to require that employers pay a living wage.

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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.

Case Positions


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!


82 responses to “Resolved: Just governments ought to require that employers pay a living wage.

  1. on the negative i believe that the fact that a living wage is completely undefinable as different areas would by necessity have different wages necessary for life for instance even in the USA just one country there are several different living wages such as between the states of Idaho and New York. Since that is the case a true living wage is undefinable and therefore cannot be implemented properly

    • Hi Austin,

      The resolution doesn’t specify that it has to be a federally mandated living wage. In your response, you’ve admitted that the states can identify a living wage, so it can be implemented at a state by state level. That being said, the difficulty of implementation doesn’t mean that something shouldn’t be implemented. The national bank isn’t implemented perfectly, but does that mean we shouldn’t have one at all?

      • Hi Ace,

        I agree with what you are saying. However, we must consider (for the neg.) that no one is neither qualified nor capable of mandating a just and fair living wage. As each individual, family, and even community is different, it is not possible to create a plausible system. Furthermore, a pragmatic approach would be simply to allow economic freedom (as shatteringhelens suggests) and allow for certain areas to decide for themselves by route of democracy.

      • There is an actual legitimate living wage calculator. It takes many factors into consideration and the numbers seem reasonable.

      • Hi Anonymous,

        While living wage calculators are present, and may at times seem reasonable, one must realize the aspect of individualism. NO ONE is exactly the same (that’s why we all have different DNA and fingerprints.) That being said, different things happen to different people, and those things affect individuals. Thus, although balanced with society as a whole in a community, it can’t meet individual needs. Furthermore, there is nothing to stop lawmakers or politicians from introducing a living wage ordinance that does not meet the criteria based off of calculations. Human interest wont be fully protected with a living wage. Personally, I think the concept is great. However, without everyone willing to do their part and work hard, it’s vastly irrational.

  2. Does the wording of just governments make it more restricting for the neg to give status quo and real word examples?

    • No, it doesn’t. The resolution is asking what a government should do if it is to be just. As a result, a lot of the debate lives in a hypothetical realm.

      • Wait, this doesn’t mean that we must use hypothetical examples only right? We can use real world examples (such as America) to weigh effects of living wages? That leads me to another question: How do you determine which examples are the most fit? There aren’t many global statistics, nor do I think that global statistics are the most just either.

      • Yes, you don’t only have to use hypothetical examples, but as you mentioned, it can be very challenging to determine which examples are most appropriate. Global examples are fine, but it’s up to you to prove that they are relevant.

  3. could you say that it wont be equal? because some jobs pay more than others so it wouldn’t be rational to pay all employers a living wage when one employer is like a custodian and the other is like a teacher…. help

    • Hi Anonymous,

      You could say that it won’t be equal, yes. That is the problem we run into. If you pay all low-wage workers a higher wage (living wage) then the company’s payroll will have to stay within its budget. Thus, higher-wage workers salaries would go down. Pay would be evened out a little, but low quality and less skilled jobs receive treatment and pay more than what they are worth, and high-quality workers receive less salary and worse treatment than they are worth. That being said, the equality of the same treatment based on individualism is definitely harmed.

      Furthermore, flipping burgers doesn’t require college education (which is expensive) like being a teacher does. College debt has to be paid somehow, and a living wage would harm individuals that need to pay for college, while giving surplus to French friers.

      • Actually, thats not true. If wages increase, so do the prices of products and services, which results in increased revenue. Increased wages also increase productivity which reduces costs, thereby eliminating any impact on higher earners. If you look at economic data from the past 3 minimum wage hikes, higher salaries have not decreased, and neither have their growth rates.

      • I’m not so sure if either of those explanations are correct? My reasoning being that I believe that if two jobs, of unequal labor/skill level, have the same wage then workers would be incentivized to choose the easier job. In order to compensate for such a thing, employers of the higher labor/skill leveled job would attempt to increase the wage to attract more competent employees. Without doing so, would result in desperate employees, searching to attain a job no matter how difficult it is. Just to clarify, a “higher labor/skill leveled job” as I put it means that it requires more work and/or it requires more education.

        Rereading the comments, I just wanted to clarify something. I’m not sure if teachers (with college degrees) would receive the bare minimum of living wages. When the resolution says that “employers pay a living wage”, it does not mean that all jobs are required to give the wage of a living wage. One way to look at it could be that everyone receives the base wage of a living wage, and others receive a “bonus” as well. In other words, this would not affect the actual wages other than the minimum ones because you cannot receive a negative bonus. I’m not sure if that’s what you were confused about, but I’m just throwing that out there.

      • I’m not sure why a living wage means that everyone would get an equal wage. Requiring employers to pay a living wage means that they would be required to pay at least a living wage. Effectively, the minimum wage would be increased.

        Also, adding on a bonus to a base living wage means that the person’s wage is now above the living wage. For the purposes of the resolution, the bones counts as part of the person’s wage if it is guaranteed income.

      • The resolution does not say that the employers are required to pay AT LEAST a living wage, but that they are required to pay a living wage. This loophole could be utilized as an argument, which is what I thought they meant when I checked a second time.

      • The resolution doesn’t specifically say that, but that’s what it means. A government requirement for a wage, linguistically speaking, means that the government requires employers to pay at least that wage. A living wage is a type of minimum wage. The resolution doesn’t say that the government should require employers to pay everyone exactly a living wage. That doesn’t make any sense.

      • Ace,

        I see what you mean that revenue will be increased if wages go up, but there is still the prospect of smaller corporations. Regardless of what some economists believe, small corporations couldn’t handle minimum wage hikes or even a living wage very much higher than the current minimum. They survive off of low-income workers to meet their demands. Since they are working at almost maximum budget, any increases could shut them down.

  4. Many people are writing a property rights NC but I was wondering if that was non-unique since we already have a minimum wage and minimum wage also infringes on property? So won’t property right infringements always occur?

    • Hi Greta,

      Your analysis is correct, but your conclusion that this makes the point non-unique is not. The resolution doesn’t ask you to evaluate a living wage against the minimum wage, but it asks you to make an absolute judgment. Now, if someone asked you in cross-ex if your position means you also shouldn’t have a minimum wage, you would have to answer yes. Property rights are violated with both, but that doesn’t mean you can’t argue the position. I hope that helps answer your question.

  5. So in retrospect a “just government” requiring employers to pay a “living wage” means that minimum wage and living wage would theoretically be the same thing?

    • Not necessarily; I was only speaking about the property rights argument. Other similarities/differences have to be evaluated individually.

    • Anonymous,

      When employers are required to pay a living wage, that will replace the minimum wage. This is simply because a living wage is the bare minimum the government believes will sustain a small family. Therefore, a minimum wage will be non-existent as it is too little to give support to individuals in poverty.

  6. Would the employer have to pay a living wage to every employee or only employees residing in just governments? Either way, wouldn’t outsourcing be a likely choice for multinational corporations?

    • Employers would have to pay at least a living wage to every employee (which includes employees in the government). And I’m not sure what you mean by that, I don’t see how outsourcing directly affects living wages?

    • The question isn’t about what an employer would have to do. The question is what a just government should do. If a government is truly just, should it require employers to pay their employees a living wage? If outsourcing occurs to another just government, it should be doing the same, if you’re affirming the resolution.

      • By the way, what does the neg have to do to win the case? Is the only way to win by proving that the policy would actually increase poverty? It seems to me that as long as poverty decreases by some amount, the aff can say that this policy is better than no policy, and government must choose the best action. Neg can’t really bring up morality stuff because aff can say that the autonomy of the people in poverty matters the most because those people have the least amount of autonomy, so we should prioritize them over someone like the somewhat-wealthy employers.

      • The Neg. has to prove that a just government would not require employers to pay a living wage. This can be done in a number of ways. The first thing you have to do is assess how a just government determines what it should do. Morality, autonomy, societal welfare, the social contract, and other positions are all possible frameworks which can be used.

      • Right, but for morality and autonomy, couldn’t you just say that the most deprived group in this resolution is the group in poverty. They have been deprived of their autonomy almost completely because they cannot fulfill the basic needs of life. All you really could debate upon is whether a just government ought to do so, which is the social contract stuff. However, I was led to believe that the social contract arg is an aff arg because a government has been formed to basically provide for the people’s best interests?

      • You are making a lot of unwarranted assumptions here. First, for this resolution, there’s no such thing as a strictly Aff or Neg framework. The same one can be used on both sides. For example, when we’re talking about autonomy, you’re weighing the autonomy of employers against the autonomy of the poor, as you said. Autonomy can be used on either side. And yes, if the Neg ran an autonomy framework, you could response by saying that poverty violates autonomy , but the Neg can respond by saying that requiring a minimum wage is a greater violation, and poverty doesn’t violate autonomy. That’s the point of the debate; it doesn’t just end after one argument. You can also argue that a living wage doesn’t solve poverty because really poor people are unemployed.

        There are many more positions than the social contract; it isn’t the only one. That being said, it’s not only an Aff argument. It depends on whose formulation of the social contract and what your argument is. For example, Locke gives property rights a prominent position in his social contract, so you could say that a just social contract involves not violating those rights. Hobbes, on the hand, may argue that you’ve surrendered your rights to the sovereign, so whatever they do is fine since it isn’t violating your right to life.

        My advice is to take a step back with all of your arguments. Really think about what you’re saying and what assumptions your making. Ask yourself, does the argument just end here? Or, is this position the same for everyone?

      • Hi Bob, Ace,

        I would like to give a little input about the Neg. side of this resolution. Bob, if I recall correctly, you were worried about how the Neg. could win if they couldn’t prove that poverty won’t be helped with a living wage and that morality can’t be brought up. Here are some suggestions as to how the Neg. CAN win a round.

        1. Bring up inflation.
        Honestly, I think this is one of the strongest areas for the Neg. Just bring up the simple concept of inflation, when people are paid more, there is less money. Therefore, the cost of goods goes up. Even if you aren’t winning the battle about poverty, you can effectively counter that argument with this. If the cost of goods goes up, does that really help the poor? Yes, they might make more money, but now they have to pay more for their food, household items, etc. They are basically in the same leaking boat as they were before.

        2. Explain individualism.
        If a corporation has 100 minimum wage workers and 50 employees above minimum wage (just for an example), and a living wage ordinance is implemented, there is going to be one of two things happen. 1) Employees will be fired or 2) Higher wages decreased. There is problems with both. Somehow, those 100 minimum wage workers have to have their wages increased. The company has but one alternative to that. If employees are fired, that’s increasing unemployment, one of America’s top concerns. On the other hand, if those higher wage workers have their wages decreased, they don’t feel the same level of importance, role in the company, or individualism. If their wage is so close to that of a living wage, they won’t be inspired to do their best. If they are doing a much higher-level job with more skill needed, they feel that they are being treated unfair. Perhaps their four years of college only gets them a few dollars above living wage. It harms their desire to be themselves and work hard.

        Those are just a couple of ideas to help with the Neg. side of the round. I hope they help.

        Ace, I hope you don’t mind me giving my input on these discussions. Have a great afternoon!

      • There are a couple problems with your arguments. The first issue is that they only apply in a strictly economic framework. The resolution asks a question of justice, not of sound economic policy. So, unless you link the two somehow, these points don’t have impact.

        1) Your analysis of inflation is incorrect. Inflation doesn’t occur when there is less money, but when there is more. It also doesn’t involve direct cost increase, but instead involves devaluing of a currency, or reduction in its purchasing. This is an effective cost increase, but not a literal one. Economic data also shows that inflation outpaces wages, so wage increases actually help correct the disparity. They regulate inflation and improve purchasing power. Also, as I mentioned earlier, data disagrees on whether or not minimum wage increases substantially impact lifestyles.

        2) This contradicts the first point. You can’t claim that costs of products and services will rise while also claiming that companies will be making the same money and so will have to fire people or decrease wages. If things become more expensive, companies make more money. Economic data also proves that this argument is incorrect. Minimum wage increases have never been accompanied by increased unemployment or overall wage decreases.

    • Ace,

      First of all, I would like to apologize for the incorrect definition of inflation. I honestly don’t understand why I put the part of “less money.” It makes absolutely no sense.

      Secondly, it is not consistent that wage increases outpace inflation. There are many cases in cities and towns with lower populations and in rural areas where inflation has overburdened and impoverished individuals. Even more so, inflation not only affects minimum wage workers, but also individuals who receive higher pay. They may not be pushed into poverty themselves, but it causes prices of goods to increase without giving them any benefit. Furthermore, evidence does show that wage increases have been eroded by inflation.

      Thirdly, I would like to further explain why this my second point doesn’t contradict my first. While inflation may not always keep pace with wage increases, the company’s revenue is minute when compared to the payroll they must now afford. Furthermore, I was speaking of more conclusive evidence pertaining to small corporations and businesses. In a restaurant such as McDonald’s, sure, they have plenty of money and revenue to pay their workers more. I would be a fool to attack in such a manner large companies such as that. But as I am referring to smaller businesses, what I have said holds true. As I mentioned earlier, it will most directly affect employers and employees in rural or less-densely populated sectors of the country.

      Lastly, I would like to explain that these are economic concerns, but a just government must keep their economy in check to uphold the wellbeing of their citizens. Also, in my case, I do link economic policy to justice in my case. I was only trying to suggest roots for arguments to be made, or questions to be posed in cross examination.

      • I didn’t say that wages outpace inflation, but the opposite. Inflation outpaces wages, and therefore, minimum wage increases help mitigate that disparity. Again, inflation doesn’t increase the cost of goods, but decreases the value of currency. This inflation necessarily occurs over time, and minimum wage increases help regulate its impacts that you mentioned. Minimum wage increases do not increase inflation. No minimum wage increase in US history has resulted in a higher inflation rate.

        As for your second argument, that doesn’t explain why it doesn’t contradict the first. If the cost of products and services increases, then revenue increases, regardless of how large the business is. This is the same argument people make against mandated employer healthcare, but requiring healthcare has actually proven to reduce costs for small businesses. The evidence shows that small businesses don’t suffer from minimum wage increases since most small businesses don’t employ many minimum wage workers to begin with.

        If you are running an economic justice case, I would first respond by saying that a truly just government would stay out of the economy altogether. Government interference in the economy is a violation of true capitalism, which is the only form of economy a truly just government can have.

      • Doh! You can’t just stop there. Respond to my arguments; that’s the point 🙂 I could be completely wrong lol

      • Ace,

        I apologize, I didn’t mean to sound rude, or like a complete jerk giving up. I didn’t have time to respond at the time, but I just wanted to acknowledge that I had read your post.

        As for an explanation as to why I could not respond, I didn’t have the adequate amount of time to reply as I was preparing for a debate tournament. I actually went this weekend and debated this topic. I would like to point out that some of the things you mentioned gave me an advantage over my opponents.

        When I get the chance, I will most definitely respond to your constructive criticism (I hope it that’s what it is). 😉

        Have a nice evening! 🙂

      • Hi Ace,
        I was wondering, is a free market economy really the economy that a just government would have? Assuming that I managed to prove that a free market economy is bad to you, why does that still mean that a just government would do so? I understand that you claim that a truly just government would cease all interventions in order to really let the people govern, but is that really what the government was made for? Was the government not made to serve the people? If the government realizes that a choice can be made to result in a more just outcome, should the government take it? Would a truly just government step back and let the people suffer, or would they interrupt and result in more just outcomes. In other words the main question is, do just ends justify unjust means? And that leads me to my final question, why do you think using humans as a means to an ends is morally wrong? I’ve gotten past the categorical imperative part, however I’m stuck at why using humans as a means is bad…

      • Hi Min,

        That’s the debate. Some people would say, yes, the government would step back because a truly free market will correct itself. Suffering happens, but economies with government intervention might be worse. On the other hand, you can argue that truly free economies attempt to reconcile human selfishness with altruism, which is an enterprise doomed to fail. Personally, I think a truly free economy is nonsense. We tried it in the U.S. under the Articles of Confederation, and it sucked. What people don’t realize is that government regulation is a response to economic abuse because the economy doesn’t actually correct itself as a result of power disparities. To be fair though, you can make the laissez faire argument. Ron Paul does 😛

      • Hi ColeTrain,
        That’s nice to hear. I decided to skip the tournament that was available this weekend and decided to go for the one next weekend because it’s bigger. It’ll be my first tournament so I’m excited! Sadly, I was going to run a counterplan (basic income guaranteed) as neg, but I realized that in the lay debate rules it says that debaters cannot use plans/counter plans 😦 Now I have to resort to some kind of deont neg case

      • You debaters these days with your counterplans. A CP is a terrible way to argue a moral argument because it necessarily lacks impact. The only reason they fly today is because debaters accept their legitimacy and don’t know how to response to them.

      • That’s correct. Offering an alternative strategy is not a commentary on the actual issue at hand. It’s like saying you should eat a salad instead of a burger, but it doesn’t tell you why a burger is wrong.

        And if you try to build impact into a CP, you might as well just have a regular case since you’re going to spend so much of it using regular arguments to gain impact.

      • Really? I was led to believe that CP are entirely on topic and by using competition you can prove that aff policy is bad.

        I have another question. How does your property rights neg contention work? Money is still technically the property of the govnerment, do you know where the fine line is? For example, it’s illegal to deface bills because even though you lawfully earned them, they’re still technically “government property”.

      • Providing a CP doesn’t prove that the alternative is bad. A competition CP, in particular, will argue that market competition will regulate wages better than the government can, but that doesn’t address the question of whether or not a just government will still regulate wages. You must first address the question of determining how a government decides what to do, and then argue based that. Otherwise, there is no impact. A CP doesn’t do that.

        For your second question, think about it this way. If somebody builds a chair, and you buy that chair, it’s now yours. If that person were to come into your house, and take the chair without paying you your money back, it’s stealing your property. Similarly, it doesn’t matter if the government prints money; that doesn’t mean that it’s the government’s property after you earn it. Since you earned it, it’s now yours, and anyone telling you what to do with it is a violation of your property rights.

      • Well why would you need to say something is bad? If option a is superior to option b, doesn’t that mean that option a is simply better than option b? I understand this may not be the case for all cases, but morality isn’t the same for all cases either. The debate seems to me to still have some educational value.

        That still leads me to question why it’s illegal to deface bills. I believe the reasoning was that they are still government property. This makes sense that it’s illegal since otherwise, people could just burn all their money and melt all their coins in order to increase deflation without the government’s consent.

      • Showing that option b is superior doesn’t explain why option a shouldn’t be chosen. Just because a salad is healthier, it doesn’t mean it’s morally wrong to eat a burger. You have to actually address the question of the resolution. I’m not sure what educational value has to do with it.

        It’s actually illegal to deface bills for just that reason, it affects the inflation rate. There really isn’t any other justification for it. The government doesn’t want people unduly impacting the inflation rate, so defacing money is illegal.

      • Well the moral values still remain the same (due to solvency) and many offenses as well, it’s just that the CP may actually be a better solution to the problem than the resolution. It does seem kind of extratopical, but I suppose that the neg can really say whatever they want anyhow. Either way, it’s still a debate on morality and still results in us choosing a decision that results in higher net benefits (which is the purpose of the debate? to debate over morality using impacts). I’m not sure since I’m not an expert on this and since I actually just started debate (no tourny experience at all) and learned about CPs in one day (last week) I can’t say much…

        That aside, what is the purpose of inflation rates? I would think that they’re to maintain the people’s purchasing power. However, wouldn’t living wages allow the government to control the people’s purchasing power as well by giving them more income to purchase with? So by that reasoning, shouldn’t the government be allowed to mandate a set wage or also give welfare around? Or is the method of welfare the only way they can increase income? Also, do you know if there was a debate in the past over implementing minimum wages? Did they not consider property rights back then? Should we abolish minimum wages if we consider living wages interfering with property rights? Or can I just say that I decline to comment on minimum wages since that is extratopical? 😛

      • Ok, there are a ton of questions here. You need to take a step back and examine what you’re saying because you’re making a ton of assumptions 😛

        Let’s start with the CP stuff. Solvency is never an assumption in a debate, though debaters seem to think it is for some reason. Solvency (meaning more benefits over liabilities) must itself be incorporated into a framework. A salad is more solvent than a burger, but that doesn’t mean the burger is immoral. Furthermore, you’re assuming what problem you’re actually solving for. The question here is one of justice, so while your CP may be great economically, it doesn’t comment on justice at all. Also, there is no option that an effective CP can provide that is mutually exclusive from a living wage. You’re further assuming that morality means higher net benefits. Why is that the way to evaluate which is the moral decision? There are a ton of approaches to morality, and you’re assuming a utilitarian one. In short, CPs suck, and they’re super easy to refute. Debaters think they work because people assume a ton of things, just like you’re doing now.

        For inflation rates, they do a lot. They regulate economic growth, influence purchasing power, influence the standard of living, and other things. Living wages do allow the government to control purchasing, but that isn’t an argument against managing inflation. It goes back to the point above. Just because living wages address purchasing power, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect inflation rates. Why not do both? By an economic reasoning which says a government should protect peoples’ purchasing power, yes, the government should be allowed to set a living wage and distribute welfare. But just because they should be allowed to, it doesn’t mean they should. That’s a separate question.

        I don’t know if there was a debate on this in the past. If there was, it was before my time.

        Yes, if you use the property rights argument, you will need to abolish minimum wages as well. It’s essentially the same thing. If a living wage violates property rights, so must a minimum wage for the same reason.

      • First off, I just wanted to say that I don’t mean anything with my assumptions. The main reason I keep assuming things sometimes is that I haven’t read much of the lit in those areas (for example, property rights was fuzzy for me even for RTBF) and so I don’t want you to take personal offense to my arguments.

        I actually meant solvency as winning under Aff’s offenses along with neg offenses. This also solves under justice for this resolution because the aff would need to somehow link to justice as well. This is probably why it’s so appealing to debaters…

        I concede your salad vs burger arg because I thought that debates were supposed to be over which policy is more moral, but I realize that for the greatest educational value, you would need to prove one immoral.

        How about I take a different approach for the property rights argument. Let’s take a look at the social contract. Since we gave up our absolute freedom in the State of Nature like you say, could one claim that we gave up our non-basic rights (rights such as property rights or RTBF that require basic rights which are right to life or right to freedom) when an action is under the bests interests of the public?

      • Hi Min,

        No worries; I’m not taking personal offense at all. Sorry if it came across that way. I’m just debating, like we do 🙂

        On the solvency point, I don’t see how you can do that with a CP. In order to gain access to Aff. offenses, you will have to concede to the Aff’s framework, if they’ve done a good job with their case. When you do that, your CP becomes invalid because it has to be an economic plan while the Aff is contending on moral ground. Unless the Aff is contending on economic ground, in which case their offenses need to be directly refuted because accessing them means admitting that a living wage does good things.

        As for salad vs. burger, there are a couple points to be made here. Educational value is a theory argument, and also not an assumption. You don’t have to evaluate anything on educational value unless you’re running an education theory case. If that’s the case, I recommend you stop because it’s self defeating. You promote more educational value by actually debating the topic, rather than debating about educational value lol 🙂 That being said, Rawls had a theory about alternatives in which he argued that using a worse way to achieve the same goal is immoral if a better way exists. Using that framework, you can contend that a living wage is unjust because a better alternative exists. While this isn’t a complete CP, it’s sort of like one.

        Your response to the property rights argument is a good one, and probably what I would say in the round if somebody ran social contract. Now, we should be clear about which formulation of the social contract we’re talking about. In a Hobbesian world, your argument works, but the Lockean contractarian would disagree.

      • Uh right, the idea of CPs is that you would use them if you determined that the aff was running a case in which you can win offenses off. So I suppose that may be exclusively economics, but I’m not sure since I’ve only seen a few CPs. The thing is the offenses don’t need to be refuted because all you need to prove is mutual exclusivity. For example, for my CP, what I’m doing is that I’m claiming that govt should directly give all people in poverty a basic income (that may or may not be a living income, I need to do more research on this). The reason why it’s mutually exclusive is because my CP requires the govt to pay the people, while the aff plan is that employers must pay the people. Therefore, they cannot do both. One could say that you could have employers pay the people along with the govt paying the people, in order to achieve even higher net benefits, but I would argue that multiple systems = bad because of increased spending.

        For my social contract arg I actually meant that as a turn to your poverty arg not a turn to your social contract arg. My reasoning was that under the social contract theory, would we give up such rights in order to fulfill a greater interest of the public (in this case causing people to rise out of poverty for a miniscule discomfort for the employer)? Is there any part of the social contract theory that says this?

      • Your cost defense against the mutual exclusivity response doesn’t work. The government paying the people anything is more expensive that requiring employers to do it because it’s money that has to come directly from the government. It hardly costs the government anything to implement a living wage requirement for employers, but it would be very costly to have the government just give people more money, like a welfare system. A living wage requirement avoids the problems of welfare and actually reduces government costs.

        For the social contract, yes, I see what you were saying. My response is the same. It depends which social contract formulation you’re looking at. If you’re in a Hobbesian world, then yes, you have given up all your property rights for the sovereign to do with as they choose, but in a Lockean world, that’s not really true.

        If you’re looking for a public interest argument, like greater good type stuff, I don’t think social contract is the best way to go because contract theory is a deontological position, not a consequentialist one.

      • Oh uh quick question: Which section do you put the social contract and justifications for it in? Does it go under the definition of a just government or would it be at the contention level?

      • Does that mean that my value must be social contract? Currently, my value is Justice and I use social contract to link to justice saying that a just government is one that fulfills its end of the bargain (hobbes) since that is only fair. One aspect of a just outcome (in the definition) is equality.

        The link seems pretty weak and the impact isn’t all that great (i think my only impact was: govt has a great interest in providing for the poor because of the large income inequality).

        However, I feel like my value really should be justice since I need to talk about how a just govt would strive for just outcomes. Thus, my vc is maximizing autonomy (perhaps expected well-being, I’m not entirely sure yet).

        So my question is, do I need to change my value to social contract? If so, do I need to change my vc?

      • “Social contract” by itself cannot be a value or value criterion. Just having a social contract is meaningless. Hitler had a social contract. It wasn’t a good one, but it existed nonetheless. Think about it this way, your value is what you’re trying to achieve, the most important thing. So, Justice should be fine there. Your value criterion either tells you how to get there or weighs your value. So, in this case, what would your value criterion be? What do you have to do with a social contract to achieve Justice?

      • Oh okay, I was confused because you said “put it in your value structure”. So you mean put the social contract theory stuff as a justification for my vc? Or are you saying put the social contract theory stuff AS my vc? Currently I have util autonomy for aff and deont for neg. Do I need to mention the social contract theory (of either Hobbes or Locke, depends on aff or neg) in the fw or elsewhere? Can you clarify what you mean by “value structure”

      • So, first of all, you can’t use autonomy to uphold utilitarianism because the two regularly come into conflict, and you must prioritize the greater good in those situations. I would recommend changing that.

        What do you mean when you say “deont?” There are a ton of deontological theories; the social contract is just one of them. You have to use some form of the social contract AS your VC, and remember, it can’t just be “the social contract.” You have to think about what type of social contract and what the contract should accomplish.

      • Right, well the idea was that the government has a lot of choices here. Currently the main one’s I’ve found are basically taxing the upper-middle class + upper class and also reducing military spending. These are two huge sources of income that the government receives. Another thing is that with basic incomes, there would be no need for welfare any longer, so all the money that went to welfare could go to funding basic incomes. That’s another decently big source of money. Overall, I believe it’s implementable for a minimum basic income, however what I need to find out is if a living basic income exists (difference being that living income gives a living wage level income to everyone). The problem occurs when you realize that in order to reduce incentives of disemployment, you need to do something like doubling the previous wages for a great number jobs in order to incentivize work. This part may actually cost more than the distribution of basic incomes…. which sucks… sigh

        Also, that’s good to know about the Social Contract Theory; I didn’t know it was strictly deont.

      • @Ace… It’s been awhile.. but I promised a response, so here it is. I’ve been extremely busy, so haven’t had the time to come to this site.

        Inflation: Though wages can’t cause inflation *themselves,* the result of wage increase subsequently raises the costs of goods. When the cost of goods are raised, currency is devalued. This is how wage increases result in inflation, in a round-about way. Regardless, the higher cost of goods proves wage increase impractical.

        Second Argument: Smaller companies cannot sustain a payroll that the living wage would create. A raise in wage would force smaller companies with less productivity and cheaper products to be forced out of business. This increases unemployment. On a corporate superpower level, a living wage tends to be a bit better. But note New York’s go at it. They now have an empty plaza that was supposed to host hundreds of middle class jobs.

        Economy: Capitalism is reliant on a good economy to function properly. An economy in shambles causes awful quality of life, which tends to lean towards injustice to citizens because the government is not doing its job.

        But this topic is as old as my dog… sorry for the late response. 😛

      • The inflation point is empirically false though. Historically, wage increases haven’t been correlated with cost increases and job loss.

        The smaller company point might be true, but one could also make an argument that those companies aren’t fit to survive anyway. If you need near slave labor to function as a company, you’re more of a drain on the economy than anything else.

        But yes, this is super old; I don’t really remember how our previous discussion went 😛

  7. I like the third contention of the pro case (Distributive Justice) a lot, and it would tie in with my case well, but I was wondering if someone could help me expand it make it more of a paragraph, and an argument? Anything would help.

    • Hi Varsha,

      I’ve outlined a couple positions in the post. You are welcome to use those. I’m not sure what you mean by “best.” It depends how well you write and debate your case. There are many positions that can be effective.

  8. Ok Ace I have a question. You said “If wages increase, so do the prices of products and services, which results in increased revenue. Increased wages also increase productivity which reduces costs, thereby eliminating any impact on higher earners. If you look at economic data from the past 3 minimum wage hikes, higher salaries have not decreased, and neither have their growth rates.”
    But what confuses me is if prices of products and services increase when minimum wage increases, doesn’t that hurt the families who need the increase in minimum wage. If they only make an extra $2 an hour, and prices go up everywhere employers had to pay their employees more money, then aren’t these families still going to be at about the same place they were? Are they really making and keeping any more money than they had been?

    • That’s the other side of the argument. Some experts argue just that, that price/cost inflation matches wage increases, so the actual lives of people don’t change. The data is pretty inconclusive on that. I tend to think that prices don’t rise at a rate which outpaces wages when the minimum wage is increased, but you will find economists that disagree with that.

      • That is exactly what I believe. It really won’t help them at all to simply raise their wages. It will increase prices for everyone, and only gives higher wages to minimum wage workers.

  9. Thanks for your last response, but now I have a new problem. I was trying to use Economic freedom as a value but the only thing I could think of for a VC was the social contract because the government’s job is to protect our freedoms, however it would seem to be the other way around where upholding eco freedom would uphold the social contract. Is this correct? If so what would better uphold economic freedom?

  10. Okayy came back from a tournament and I must say that I’m all the more for the Basic Income Counterplan. I feel like this counterplan is just too op to not address. My debate team talked about how to turn it, but we came to the conclusion that the only way to do so would be to perm do both it. It’s pretty foolproof and I can explain more about it if you wish.

    I’m also looking into the prop rights argument. One of my opponents brought up a pretty compelling example that said “should people be allowed to use their property rights to fund genocide?” My captain basically claims that structural violence and oppression are exceptions to deont, but I need to understand further what property rights are categorized as.

    To summarize, I just want to say that counterplans really seem the way to go as neg since even though they’re against the NSDA rules, they’re super op.

    • I maintain my position that counterplans are terrible. The only reason they work is because, as you show, people don’t know how to respond to them. The response to the basic income CP, or any CP, is a simple burger vs. salad argument. Also, the notion that you can actually prove a basic income provides more benefits while avoiding harms of a living wage is nonsense. The evidence would be sketchy at best, if it even existed. If you’d like, please post the CP argument here in detail, and I will show you how to refute it.

      As for the property rights argument, the answer to the question is no. You cannot use your property rights to fund genocide because, in a legitimate deontological framework, one’s rights only extend as far as another’s rights begin. So, if I’m funding genocide, I’m using my property rights to violate the right to life of others. Just because you’re supporting property rights here, it doesn’t mean those rights are absolute. That’s why the key to this position, and any position really, is a solid framework, a framework which explains your rights mechanism and where it comes from.

      • I still don’t quite see why CPs are bad. The purpose of the neg is to prove the resolution is false. In order to do so, they propose a counterplan and explain through competition how the counterplan should be chosen over the aff’s advocacy. This means that the counterplan has higher moral obligation than the aff’s advocacy, thus the resolution is proved false. That makes sense since there’s no reason to adopt a policy if it is inferior to another policy right? This sense of higher moral obligation means that, in this example, just government’s do not have a moral obligation to require living wages because they have a higher moral obligation to do the counterplan.

        In terms of the actual basic income counterplan… it’s somewhat long to explain. It’s basically the idea that the government will use money collected from many different sources (I believe there’s a card that says 16 sources) and uses it to distribute a “basic income” to all families in poverty. This means that even the unemployed are given money, which may or may not disincentivize people to work. However even assuming that people are disincentivized, one version of the basic income is that it’s inevitable that robots will take over the workplace, and that robots will actually help the economy. So yeah that’s the basic gist of it.

        You say that one’s rights only extend as far as another’s rights begin. Does this mean that people in poverty do not have a right to be outside of it? Do they not have a right to basic standards of life?

      • Proving a higher moral obligation does not refute another moral obligation. I refer back to the burger and salad. Just because a salad is better, it doesn’t mean a burger is immoral. To prove the resolution false, you must prove that a just government should not implement a living.

        As far as the CP, the first issue is that this isn’t mutually exclusive from a living wage. It assumes that a living wage will lift people out of poverty, which may not necessarily be the case. The other issue is that this already happens, and it doesn’t work. The US has many basic income plans, all of which have clearly failed. It has also been proven that welfare systems do not take away the incentive to work, since a basic income is not a living income. Finally, robots replacing humans in the workplace, if that is your ultimate goal, is better accomplished with a living wage. Employers have more incentive to cut down labor costs and automate if labor expenses are higher. Above all, the CP still hasn’t proven what’s wrong with a living wage, and the CP doesn’t have a framework which tells me how we determine what a just government ought to do. I still maintain my position that the CP is bad.

        I’m not sure I understand your rights question. The “right not to be poor” isn’t a thing. I’m also not sure how me getting out of poverty violates your rights. The concept of my rights extending as far as yours means that I cannot use my rights to violate your rights. So, at the point where my right to property violates your rights, I no longer have the claim to that right to property in that instance.

  11. I need to write a NEG case over this, and i am heading in the direction of it it being against the employers rights that they pay a living wage, but I am not sure where to begin

    • Just saying, if you’re lay, I would suggest not going towards employers’ rights because it’s honestly hard to win with. The aff will usually run something related to solving poverty, so they’ll have a lot of numbers. Problem with the neg rights case here is that it’s delving into philosophical debate (fw heavy), so it’s hard for lay judges to vote for. I’d say go for EITC or Basic Income counterplans and then just prep blocks for perms.

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