That’s Debatable:

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Next show airing December 4, 2020


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Pro narrative

Greetings all. The following analysis is based on 879 arguments, contributed by people around the globe, identified as high-quality arguments supporting the notion that it is time to redistribute the wealth.

Eighteen percent of these arguments suggested that there is currently too much wealth inequality in the world. Income inequality has increased dramatically over the past few decades, causing excessive suffering to large populations. If wealth is not redistributed, far more will suffer. Redistributing wealth is key to combating wealth inequality, which is inherently undemocratic since the few who have the most economic resources are able to influence politics in their favor at the expense of the majority. Redistributing the wealth may help with balancing social disparities and therefore allow us to access the talented people needed to accelerate the advancement of the arts and sciences. Even if you feel that the rich are entitled to a larger share of the pie because of their talent, productivity and hard work, economic research suggests that unchecked inequality means less pie for everyone.

Nine percent of the arguments indicated that redistribution of wealth will allow those with less opportunity to achieve success. Redistributing the wealth will lift up a population that is severely handicapped, open up opportunities for more talent to shine, improve the quality of life, and lead to a more equitable society. Redistributing the wealth would bring equity to communities lacking vital and basic resources and opportunities. Many worker groups do not earn as much money as they deserve. Globally there is sufficient wealth to ensure that even the poorest can be given a fair chance in life.

Another recurring point, raised in five percent of the arguments, is that the possibility of accumulating wealth allows economic growth and innovation. Redistributing wealth allows for greater spending in education, increasing the overall education of the population, which increases the amount of research and innovation we can do. Our society should give individuals the opportunity to get richer because it is a major motivation for innovation and success. Yes, it's time. Redistributing the wealth will expand the demand for goods, thus boosting the economy and eventually the benefits for everyone. Redistribution of wealth will enable society to invest in a wide range of areas that will lead to better overall economic output and success.

Four percent of the arguments proposed that inequality hurts economic growth, especially high inequality in rich nations. Redistributing the wealth will boost the world's economy by keeping most of the world's wealth from being concentrated in only a few people. This will improve the average quality of life in the world. Redistribution of wealth is essential to ensure a functioning economy. More and more, the wealthiest individuals accumulate money in off-shore accounts, preventing its circulation. Steady increases in measures of wealth inequality, especially during times of economic challenges like the Great Recession, demonstrate the need to redistribute wealth and rebalance economic policies and laws to benefit more people.

Thirty arguments noted that the top 1% has gotten richer while inequalities and poverty continue. The strong tendency of generational wealth to generate ever-increasing wealth, while poverty and debt are difficult to escape, means that redistribution of wealth is essential for social justice and a healthy society. It is part of a massive concentration of wealth and income among the rich that has put the United States at levels of inequality not seen in this country since before World War II. More than 60% of Americans make less than $30,000 a year, living in poverty while our infrastructure crumbles and the rich get richer. Wealth redistribution is necessary for the future of our country. The rich get richer, the middle class is being eroded, and the poor are getting poorer. A targeted redistribution strategy could achieve for all a more prosperous and equitable society.

Seventeen arguments mentioned that huge wealth gaps lead to social unrest and decreased security for all. We must redistribute wealth enough so that all people live with dignity and opportunity. When people live in abject poverty or without access to healthcare or education, surrounded by wealth, it leads to social unrest. Redistributing wealth will prevent social unrest and give everyone a chance to succeed. Income inequality drives discontent, resentment and distrust between haves and have-nots. This leads to unrest and potential violence, which is detrimental to all people.

Twelve arguments made the point that the existence of a billionaire class represents a catastrophic system failure. Our economic system, based on growth, profit-seeking and wealth extraction, necessitates incalculable levels of human suffering, and makes mass extinction and the collapse of civilization virtually guaranteed. The massive disparity in wealth between the top 0.01% and everyone else has concentrated power into too few hands and undermined our democracy. It must be changed or democracy will fail in the US. The concentration of resources in the hands of a few individuals is warping societies, and democracy itself, and is a betrayal of the principles of human welfare proclaimed by virtually all governments and belief systems.

The claim that inequality permits greater savings, because there are more wealthy income earners, was raised in nine arguments. Wealth redistribution allows affordable health care. Universal health care would save the US economy $278 billion per year. Many states in the US that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act experienced employment growth that was 1.3 percent higher than in states that did not expand Medicaid. Higher tax rates for higher income brackets could offset tax reductions for low earners, helping them keep more of what they earn.

To conclude, the above examples reflect the crowd’s opinion that it is time to redistribute the wealth.

Con narrative

Greetings. The following analysis is based on 721 arguments submitted by people around the world, identified as high-quality arguments contesting the notion that it is time to redistribute the wealth.

Fifteen percent of the arguments suggested that redistributing wealth would discourage some people from working hard. Redistributing the wealth discourages individual initiative, entrepreneurship and accountability for choices. Wealth is a product of individuals' productivity and contribution to society; artificially redistributing wealth destroys incentive for individuals to maximize their productivity and personal contributions to society. I believe it's not the correct option, since it would discourage people from making efforts for their own economic well-being, and this might damage the economy. Redistributing the wealth will stifle people's overall competitiveness and ambition, and create a divide between those who gain and those whose lose in this redistribution. This is never good for a society as a whole.

Eight percent of the arguments argued that wealth should be earned, not taken from others. The vast majority of wealth is earned by hard work and not inherited. Wealth is already redistributed every generation through a capitalist economic system. Wealth should not be redistributed because some people have worked hard for their wealth while others have not. Redistribution of wealth only rewards the lazy and punishes the hard workers. Wealth is earned, not distributed. Humanity will be far better served if we enable everyone to acquire skills based on their aptitude and ability so that they can earn it on their own. It's time to afford everyone the opportunity to create their own wealth, not redistribute wealth from those who struggled to earn it.

Another recurring point, raised in seven percent of the arguments, is that redistributing wealth would harm the investment into innovation. Redistribution of wealth promotes mediocrity, kills innovation, and infringes on individual freedom. It will lead to entrepreneurs limiting their risks, and lower their motivation to invest in new businesses since their potential reward is reduced. Wealth distribution suppresses competition and as a result delays technological progress. Mass redistribution is bad because it disincentivizes innovation and risk taking. Redistribution of wealth is unfair, will discourage innovation and entrepreneurship, and will leave everyone poorer. It replaces private decisions of where capital is best distributed with the government, which stifles economic growth.

Twenty-five arguments proposed that wealth is limited and redistribution is not a sustainable solution. Socialism has continually failed to produce wealth and, instead, has been responsible for countless deaths, pain, suffering and economic despair. Redistribution will keep capitalism with ever-increasing resource consumption alive for a longer time, thus causing struggles for the human species overall. The world is not ready to redistribute wealth because the people who would do the redistribution would not do so in an equitable fashion. People in power need to leave before equitable redistribution can occur. Redistributing wealth will reduce the pool of available resources to support the truly needy.

Twenty arguments implied that promoting dependence on government will lead to greater poverty and inequity. History has proven time and again that government redistribution of wealth always leads to widespread misery and economic malaise. Capitalism is the only successful economic framework. Redistributing the wealth will only lead to further poverty of the middle class. Redistribution of wealth rarely benefits the poor it is intended to help, and robs entrepreneurs of motivation and rewards. Redistributing wealth alone will not address income disparity.

Another 19 arguments conveyed that redistribution of wealth is excessive intervention of the government. The Constitution was established to protect our rights, including property. Redistributing wealth undermines property rights and opens the door to government overreach. Redistribution is morally wrong because it requires the use of force to seize someone else’s labor. Redistributing wealth is a path to dependency on government and price controls. Ultimately the government ends up with ultimate authority in all aspects of life. Redistribution of wealth dangerously expands the power of government officials to take private property and thereby control private citizens.

Eighteen arguments referred to the point that high taxes slow down the economy, which hurts everyone. Redistributing wealth would have severe negative impacts on the economy. People would not be incentivized to work hard and it would fuel a society that is dependent upon the government. As seen with the French wealth tax, wealth redistribution causes massive capital flight. This reduced economic opportunity for the entire French population and cost the government $120 billion in tax revenue. Wealth transfer will harm the economy, the work ethic and the American dream while doing nothing to improve the plight of the poor among us. They need pride and drive.

Another recurring point, mentioned in 11 arguments, was that wealth redistribution causes resentment. If we do it, people will revolt. Given the deep polarity of our society, any attempt to redistribute wealth is likely to be seen as political and will be resisted by the other side. This could lead to conflict, even violence. Redistribution of wealth can often lead to violence and civil unrest, as witnessed in many Socialist experiments. It ultimately turns violent when productive people grow tired of having their assets stolen. Inequality increases social hatred.

To conclude, the above examples summarize the crowd’s arguments opposing the notion that it is time to redistribute the wealth.

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