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NHSDLC Nationals Con Case

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We oppose the resolution “Resolved: The United States Federal Government should implement a universal basic income”.

[Definitions] A universal basic income is an unconditional cash payment to a person paid by the government. However, the pro team must provide specifics for their universal basic income system such as the amount of the payments and to whom they will be paid. If the pro does not provide this information, then you should use the Con cases framework. For example, some advocates of UBI propose a single payment regardless of income while others believe that UBI payments should be higher for those who make less money. If the pro does not specify what type of universal basic income should be implemented, then it is impossible for the debate to continue, so you will have to accept the Con’s framework.

[Framework] The debate is a question about economic policies and thus we should analyze the purpose of a government’s economic policy. The United States only implements an economic policy if it will have positive economic impacts for its citizens. If this is false, then the con wins on face because the US wouldn’t care if an economic policy was good or bad, and thus any good reasons for the UBI would be ignored.

However, the USFG evaluates the impacts that an economic policy would have on its citizens. Thus, if the con proves that a UBI would cause negative economic impacts then you should vote con.

[Contention 1] The cost of a universal basic income system is too much for the USFG.

While every system of UBI is different, one common payment amount in topic literature is $10,000 usd for every citizen. As Michael J Tanner writing for the CATO Institute notes, paying out $10,000 would cost 2.96 trillion dollars per year. This cost is 3 times the current amount spent on welfare. Even if the US cut major programs like Medicare and Social Security, they still would not be able to make up for the deficit.

To win, the pro must specify where the funding for the UBI will come from. If they can’t do that, then you should prefer the con’s impacts because the UBI would never be able to be successfully implemented. For example, if they are allowed to propose non-feasible policies then they could propose to pay everyone 10 million dollars and say that would end poverty. Thus, the pro must specify both the amount and source of the UBI payments or otherwise you assume that the con’s impacts are more likely to occur.

This has two impacts:

First, this turns the pro’s arguments about the economic benefits created by the UBI because the USFG couldn’t afford to pay for it. This means the program will never be able to be given to all Americans and thus they won’t have the benefits that the Pro suggests.

Second, this causes the UBI to fail long term because it encourages inflation. Even if the poorest Americans saved their UBI for retirement, prices overall will rise. This rise in prices will decrease the purchasing power of American citizens, which will harm the economy long term.

[Contention 2] A system of UBI causes more low paying jobs and increases the unemployment rate.

There are two warrants:

A) Employers will know the payment amount of the UBI and can deduct that from what they pay workers. For example, if the UBI is $10,000 and a low-wage worker is paid $17,000 at their job before the UBI, an employer could cut what they pay the worker by $10,000 since the UBI will make up the difference. This will lead to a race to the bottom for wages, which will cause wage stagnation and collapse the economy.

B) Employers will be less likely to hire workers because many UBI systems tax employers to pay for the UBI on a per employee basis. This means that the more employees that a company hires, the more taxes that company will pay. This actually encourages companies not to hire workers.

This contention turns any of the pro’s arguments about increased economic activity because even if the UBI is implemented well, the money that low-wage workers are paid will decrease. So there will be no payment difference pre-UBI and post-UBI. And, even if workers are willing to accept lower wages, they will still struggle to find employment because companies will hire less people.

[Contention 3] UBI creates more income and wealth inequality.

A UBI creates more income and wealth inequality because there is a difference between the consumption habits of a wealthy person and a poor person. As Jerry Waltman, Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern Mississippi notes, a UBI will not have the expected effects because poor citizens will spend the money on day-to-day expenses. This may help in the short term but doesn’t encourage behavior that has positive economic benefits like investing or saving for retirement. However, wealthy individuals already have enough money to pay for their day-to-day expenses and thus they will be more likely to invest the entire amount of their UBI payment. These differences in consumptions habits between poor and rich citizens will cause the UBI to fail.

Those who need the UBI the most, such as poor citizens, won’t benefit long term because they aren’t contributing to their retirement. This means they will still burden the government when they are older and harm the economy. Wealthy citizens however will save more money and thus income inequality would grow significantly while the long-term economic effects will harm the US economy.

For all of these reasons we encourage a con ballot.



2.Michael J Tanner [Cato Institute senior fellow] “The Basic Income Guarantee: Simplicity, but at What Cost?” (August 26, 2014) a href=""> >

3.Waltman, Jerry [Prof of political science at the University of Southern Mississippi]. "CIVIC REPUBLICANISM, THE BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE, AND THE LIVING WAGE." (2002)

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