Whoo – happy birthday Joensuu Debate Society! It was exactly a year a go when we had our first debate in Aurora 206, organised by Alexandra Shtromberg. Quite a lot has changed during this year: From a small group of several people we’ve grown to the collective of amazing people that we have now! Even that a lot has changed the most important has remained – people are enjoying interesting debating topics. The first year has been a great one for establishing ourselves as a legitimate society. We’ve created a reputation in Joensuu and created networks with other Finnish societies. For the next year I’m really hoping that we can make ourselves as a strong force in the upcoming tournaments around Finland and in the Estonian tournament held in April.
Quite a lot has changed during this year: From a small group of several people we’ve grown to the collective of amazing people that we have now
Yesterday the motion for our debate was ‘THW remove all welfare benefits from the Finnish system’. There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding this topic during the past weeks on the JDS facebook page both for welfare and against it. And by a lot I mean A LOT! So it was interesting to go into this motion with charged up opinions! It definitely turned out to be a great motion as people fired one argument after the other and the POIs were very heated.
This was a very model and definition heavy motion. For more information on how to introduce the model and definition: Click here. This means that it was important for the prime minister to explain how this change in the system would be implemented and what exactly would be changed. This debate, the model was a bit more hazy (for example we did not talk about whether healthcare would be free or not) but the justifications were very well made by the opening government. Their case was that there is a serious problem with people being lazy and getting tax money for free – money that could be going to a better place. High taxation, which is necessary for social welfare, is very daunting, as those people who work a lot are simply losing more money.
The first opposition countered these thoughts with the notions that there would be many new problems if social welfare, a.k.a. the safety net, was removed. Removing financial security from people would cause people to suffer, students to have more problems studying and graduating quicker, and most of all – crime would go up significantly. Crime is done out of necessity – when the person has no other options and this scenario would become much more frequent if all social welfare benefits were removed (just imagine how different ‘Breaking Bad’ would be if he got cancer in Finland!). Even though closing gov. pointed out that crime still does occur here, in a rebuttal it was mentioned that Finland has pretty much the lowest crime rates. Furthermore, being poor should not limit people to a mediocre life. In many cases it is not the peoples’ fault that they are poor. Markets fluctuate all the time and people lose their job. They should have equal possibilities to rise to greatness – with social welfare – we might highly educate the next president!
The second government brought to the table a very interesting extension: In their rebuttal, they mentioned that getting money for free is extremely bad for motivating people to take initiative and find ways to fix the situation for themselves. This was an important point to mention. A very similar one was brought up in a different debate at the tournament in Turku: The theory was that the government is actually making people weak by giving them easy money and not giving them opportunities to grow. They also pointed out that in the case of there being no safety net from the government, people would focus more on creating social networks and seeking other ways of getting money. The current problem does seem that in Finland, people are very independent and do not focus on building strong, lasting relationships with people around them. The summary speaker did a good job by bringing up all of the arguments from both sides with an emphasis on why gov. won the case (which is the point of course!).
The second opposition had a very interesting argument – albeit – a very risky one. It was simply that ‘We support social welfare’. Now, when you have a really simple statement like this, it often can seem like a poor argument. However, I really enjoyed the explanation and illustration that was given. In a very convincing manner, they explained that this system has made Finland one of the best countries to live in, all around the world people admire Finland and its system, and we, as a nation have worked hard to make this system good. Why should we give it up? The second point was even better – although unfortunately there was not enough time to go too deep into it: Removing high taxes and social welfare would create large gaps between people, which would further increase conflict. The whip speaker also mentioned a valuable point, none of us should ever forget: There is a certain cap to how much money we all need to make to be happy. At a certain point, earning more money just does not make us any happier at all. So is it not a good thing that we can pay high taxes and do something valuable with the money?
Anyway, I’ve rambled on far too long. It is time to announce the victors! This time it went to first opposition – Juha and Shane. Congratulations! It was well deserved. Both speeches were very strong and showed huge improvement. That said, the rest of the teams were not too far away and it took quite a while to actually decide who was the best. If we continue going this way, great things will happen for our society – and I am looking forward to it.
Have a great week! And happy birthday us.