Thanks for the great topic semperfortis, and Memoryshock, I wish you luck- it's a pleasure to be up against you again. Anyway, this is going to be
very tight on the character limit, so without further ado...
The nature of the topic
I contend that "If A Citizen That Depends on a Welfare Program is Convicted of a Serious Narcotics Crime, That Citizen Should Lose Their Welfare
Beacuse this is to be a government policy, it must be judged against two sets of criteria: the practical and the ethical. In essence, we must
determine whether removing narco-criminals from welfare programs would make the real world a better or a worse place overall, and we must determine
whether or not the government has the rightful authority to make this decision.
Outline of Arguments
My position is the correct conclusion to an exercise in deductive reasoning. It essentially consists of four premises.
I submit to you that
1. if the function of government is to minimize the harm that men do to one another by limiting the privileges given to them
2. if welfare is a privilege rather than a right
3. if serious narcotics crimes involve men doing harm to one another
and 4. if taking welfare away from serious narcotics criminals will reduce serious narcotics crimes
then it follows that to fulfill its function, government must take welfare away from serious narcotics criminals.
I will prove these premises with the testimony of the great philosophers, political leaders, and legal documents which shaped the evolution of our
government and society from Classical Greece to The Great Society, and beyond, as well as with analysis of relevant historical events, and with
original discoveries of principle and of fact which we shall arrive at through Socratic dialogue and thought experiments.
First of all, in my next post, I will prove that it is the function of government to minimize the harm that men to do one another.
This is a fairly simple exercise. People are driven by self interest. People form governments. Therefore governments are formed in the interests of
the people. People's interests are defined by Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Government addresses some of these needs in only a minimal way, leaving them to be provided for mostly by other means, but addresses other needs in an
almost exclusive way. Safety is the need which government provides in the most exclusive way. Therefore providing men with safety from one another is
a principal function of government.
Among the expert testimony at my disposal on this subject are the writings of Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and any number of America's founding
fathers, Franklin and Jefferson perhaps in particular, and also decisions of the United States Supreme Court. I shall present as many of these as are
both necessary and possible, leaving no room for doubt regarding context and interpretation.
This premise shall also be supported by examples of policy successes and failures of both a practical and an ethical nature. These will include
programs carried out under the New Deal, gun control legislation, and positions on freedom of speech.
Concurrent with my proof of premise 1, I shall prove that access to welfare programs is a privilege, not a right.
Again the varying degrees of responsibility which the government assumes in providing for the needs enumerated in Maslow's hierarchy will be
informative. The economic system is our mode of procuring many of the things which we need. The extent to which the government is required, optionally
allowed, or forbidden to interfere with various aspects of the economy thus reveals which things the individual may have a right to receive via
welfare programs, which things are granted via welfare programs only as a privilege, and which things may not be expected via welfare at all.
The United States Constitution and decisions of the Supreme Court shall figure prominently in my evidence on this subject. Other courts, statutes, and
political writings illuminating intent may also be included. If necessary I may also draw upon modern and historical figures in the fields of
economics and philosophy including Voltaire, Adam Smith, and Karl Marx.
In my third post, I will begin with a brief demonstration of the simple truth that serious narcotics crimes do involve citizens
doing each other harm.
The narcotics trade, like any black market, saps resources from the economy.
It also generates violent conflict because it must organize itself without the aid of the government, and the government's counter-violent
institutions such as a legislature and its laws, enforcement agencies governed by law, or civil courts. The absence of these institutions betrays the
lack of a social contract and suggests rule by force, which makes violence an irrevocably necessary condition for the continued existence of a
Also by virtue of being a black market, the narcotics trade gives its consumers no choice but to forfeit their legal right to be made aware of known
product deficiencies, contaminations, and side effects, and to receive products that have been screened for such things. Thus consumers in this trade
are poisoned not only by the narcotics they knowingly choose to take, but by cutting agents and contaminants which they did not knowingly choose to
A few examples from the news and a few statistics should suffice for this, although as necessary I can draw upon a detailed analysis of the drug
economy which is related in economist Steven Levitt's book Freakonomics
, among other sources.
It may or may not be necessary at that point to briefly determine what constitutes a serious narcotics crime, however I believe that my position could
be proven correct even if the word serious were omitted and all narcotics crimes were considered, so this will not be allowed to consume a substantial
portion of the debate.
I will also enumerate other damages caused by narcotics crime which are not directed at individual citizens but the public good in general. This
includes the corrupting influence of organized crime on democratic government, the opportunity cost of fighting narcotics crime, and other concerns.
In addition to demonstrating the harm caused by narcotics crime, this will reinforce the 2nd premise (that welfare is not a right) as relates uniquely
to criminals. The rationale behind this is that narco-criminals willfully separate themselves from and work against society, thus alienating
nullifying their share in the social contract and any rights that come with it (those rights other than natural rights). Again I will use
philosophical and historical support, specifically Plato's Crito
Also in my third post, I will explain how a policy of removing serious narcotics criminals from welfare programs can reduce the
occurence of serious narcotics crimes.
This will not merely be an argument for deterence, although that argument has its place. I will demonstrate that this policy would also have a
rehabilitory effect as well.
Clearly one who depends
upon welfare programs, as stipulated by this topic, is not getting rich as a result of his career as a
narco-criminal. The rewards of committing narcotics crimes then are very low for these individuals compared to the consequences of risking their
livelihood to continue commiting such crimes. Deterence is therefore a valid argument.
The greater effect may however be that if one's addiction or other involvement with narcotics does cause one to forfeit welfare benefits, the
necessity of replacing those benefits by maintaining gainful employment, which is difficult to maintain when handicapped by narcotics, creates a
strong motive to rehabilitate. This is important, because therapy is far more effective when the patient embraces it. For some substances,
rehabilitation is extremely rare at all, but almost unheard of
for addicts who have not yet "hit the wall" and reached the point where they
must choose between addiction and life.
I will support both of these arguments with compelling anecdotal and statistical evidence, gathered from multiple sources ranging from law enforcement
to legislative inquiries to rehabilitation professionals and scientific researchers as well as from individuals who actually commit narcotics
Second half of the debate: Trial by Fire
Thus by my third post, I intend to have put forth all of the premises from which we must deduce that the government should remove narcotics criminals
from welfare programs.
After that point, I shall add additional support to my premises as needed and make a complete defense of those premises and their logical conclusion
against any arguments my opponent raises. Essentially, I will present a case that I believe to be air tight early on, and then I will leave it sitting
out for my opponent to attack, with every confidence that my opponent will not be able to defeat it, because it has the advantage of being correct.
1. Does my conclusion logically follow my premises, if I can show them to be correct?
2. Why might my first premise be incorrect?
3-5. Same question for my second third and fourth premises.