Which side makes a better case?
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  • a year ago

    Great debate @mvineyard! I enjoy talking with you in person much more than our Facebook interactions :).

    And for anyone who may see this, here are my sources:

    Quality of Life:



    Life Expectancy:

    Average Purchasing Power:

    Wasted Military Spending: (16% of budget)



    Economic Freedom:

    Press Freedom:

    Crime Rate:

    Murder Rate: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate


    Income Inequality:



    Human Development Index:

    Humorous Article With Some Good Points.

    • a year ago

      @sharkb8 let's slice and dice a few things....start with Press Freedom. The article indicates that it is achieved by surveying journalists.

      BUT - I note that UK is rated higher than the US. (Can you tell me why the UK - with the "Tommy Robinson fiasco" is rated higher than the US?)

      Now - maybe we can look at how the Obama Administration violated a lot of Press Freedom...(another problem caused by leftists)....but AFAIK - while Trump pushes back (especially on a lot of 'Fake News' Lies....he hasn't done ANYTHING comparable to what Obama did.

      Forget 'ranking'....tell me what is happening to the Press right now that makes the US less favorable than other countries.

      Rather than lots of surveys with emotions....use fact based content...where a nation is scored a 10 if there is true freedom of the press...and detract when there is govnerment intervention to stifle freedom of press. Maybe a great number of nations would rate 9.5 to 10....and the differences are probably meaningless. BUT - if you can cite something in the US that is as comparable to the UK's Tommy Robinson problem...then Freedom of Press might be an issue - otherwise - a 'nothingburger' here...

    • a year ago

      @mvineyard There are a lot of incidents actually. For one example, police often abuse their authority and try to prevent people from filming them. US politicians are often openly hostile to the press and threaten them with being shut down. The US is also very stringent against whistleblowers like Edward Snowden. Here's a tracker of what journalists have faced so far this year in the US. https://pressfreedomtracker.us/

      And while the US is ranked below the UK, they're both pretty right next to each other so it's pretty close comparatively.

      Freedom House offers the same basic ranking, as they have the US at 37th, a few places ahead of the United Kingdom, which is probably a more accurate ranking. I believe this is also a more recent report, which explains Britains drop since they've gotten worse in press freedom recently. Here's Freedom House's analysis of what led to their rankings.
      a. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/united-states
      b. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/united-kingdom

    • a year ago

      @sharkb8 Purchasing power....your link has 3 different 'surveys' - and the US is around 11.....

      Here - the US is #2....
      And 2 of your favored countries (Germany - at 84% of the US purchasing power, and Sweden - at 81%) don't do so great.

      We see 'subjective' measures of ranking various countries...and the person setting up the metrics for ranking countries might have various political biases creep in.

      HINT - purchasing power needs to evaluate what the 'after tax' income is - and after all taxes are taken - how much is left to buy not just food, housing and essentials - but the luxuries, vacations, etc. If you see that milk costs the same in 2 different countries - that says little by itself.

      OTOH - my remarks about things that make the US the greatest use metrics that are hardly 'subjective' -
      How many other great countries provide a defense shield against aggression from tyrannical regimes?
      How many other countries have put a man on the moon?
      How many other great countries have military assets like nuclear powered aircraft carriers and can and routinely do show up at major natural disasters and help other countries (and not even bill them)?
      How many other 'great countries' have expended blood, sweat and tears (and money) to liberate - not conquer - other countries?

      (Read JFK's inaugural speech - where Kennedy has the following inspiring line: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." A great country can try to live to this - a pissant country hunkers down and does nothing when evil oppresses others.)

    • a year ago

      @mvineyard Couple of notes about your link.

      1. The numbers you're looking at are just "total purchasing power". They don't break things down by average income + purchasing power. If the cost of a hot dog is $1.00, but 1% of a country has $500 dollars and the other 99% have $.03, then the average person's purchasing power is not actually very high. Just because the cost of the hot dog is low doesn't mean it corresponds to the average person's income, which is what GDP by PPP measures.
      2. Switzerland is still ahead of the US even on your link.
      3. That's from 2014, the three in the link I gave were as recent as 2017.

      Most of your questions are about previous accomplishments. Those are past, we're talking about right now, otherwise Greece would be the greatest country in the world, just because of their past, but obviously that's an inaccurate measurement.

      As far as the military, I didn't mention this when we debated, but the US military expenditure does just as much to destabilize regions and increase the likelihood of terror as it does to snuff out terror. We aren't helping anything by creating more terrorists. It's cool that our military can be used as foreign aid during disaster periods, but that could be accomplished just as well without the need for 800 military bases around the world. Even at the end of the Cold War we had less than 40.

    • a year ago

      @sharkb8 Let's take a stroll into idiotic ratings. I tried to find 'Average Monthly Disposable Salary after taxes ....and came up with this ...

      Interesting to note that Zambia is ranked #2...and the US is #13.
      Yet Wiki shows that Zambia - the GDP(nominal) per capita is $1,342 (and GDP(PPP) per capita is $3,989. US numbers are about $59.5K (for both)...about 44 times higher for nominal - and 15 times greater for PPP.....
      With this quick 'sanity check' - I figure the table is a waste to use....

      So - it is easy to create pages of statistics - and people can glance at them and come to conclusions that are likely wrong! Using pages and pages of statistics to rate the greatness of a country - somewhere between silly, biased...and a great way to get inaccurate information.

    • a year ago

      @mvineyard I'm not sure what the point of your stat was. It's not inflation adjusted, and it isn't a stat I was utilizing. You pulled out a random stat and attacked that rather than focusing on the actual measurement of a countries quality of living.

      Zambia is 139th in GDP by Purchasing Power Parity, right where you'd expect them to be. The fact that they are 2nd in disposable income is likely an anomaly caused by a difference in the value of their dollar and also the fact that a good purchased in Zambia is likely of lower quality than a good purchased in many other parts of the world.

      All of the countries ranked via GDP by PPP are known to be wealthy economies. It's a good statistic that passes both the eye test and a deeper analysis, since it shows the average that the citizen makes rather than just the total GDP, which is susceptible to population differences and income inequality differentiation.

    • a year ago

      @sharkb8 YOUR: "As far as the military, I didn't mention this when we debated, but the US military expenditure does just as much to destabilize regions and increase the likelihood of terror as it does to snuff out terror. We aren't helping anything by creating more terrorists. It's cool that our military can be used as foreign aid during disaster periods, but that could be accomplished just as well without the need for 800 military bases around the world. Even at the end of the Cold War we had less than 40."

      REALITY - NATO...does it de-stabilize Europe (No). SEATO & Alliances with Japan, Australia, South Korea - does it de-stablize there? (No). US Navy presences in maritime areas (like off the Somalia coast) - tends to give stability - not the opposite.
      Sure - you can look at areas in the Middle East - and it tends to go from more stable to less stable. Egypt - more stable now (after Egypt dumped the Muslim Brotherhood that Obama supported>)
      '800 military bases' - Bu!! Sh!t. The vast number of the 800 would be places that you have a Marine contingent (US Embassy or consulate) - or a very small force of military advisers providing training aid/assistance to locals - AT THE REQUEST OF THE GOVERNMENT!
      Of course - the US tried to protect South Vietnam - but lost out due to leftist Democrats in the 1970's who undercut our gains (and the Paris Peace Accords). We succeeded in protecting So. Korea.....look at a satellite photo of the Korean peninsula at night. Notice all the lights in the south - and the near darkness in the north.....Imagine had the US not expended an effort to resist the spread of communism - the 50+ million So. Koreans would be significantly fewer....and in bondage, like their 'countrymen' to the north - underfed and starving, and trying to survive a horrific regime. (But - many leftists were opposed to US involvement there - as well as in Vietnam.)

      So - other than trashing and minimizing the US military - what REAL opposition do you have to the US trying to provide security to many many nations in the world? (other than the typical leftist desire to defund the military by about 70% to 90% - and shifting the money to socialist welfare programs.....)

  • a year ago

    So, before listening....

    I'm inclined to the con position on the resolution. America is the strongest country in the world, militarily. The most secure by a good long stretch. When it comes to greatness, I think both quality and quantity, and a general sense of grandness and dominance.

    High points
    It has the worlds largest economy and produces the most export goods by value.

    It is one of the most dominant in terms of cultural output and influence.

    We have a very vibrant and diverse religious culture

    We are the home to many critically important global companies and institutions

    Weaker points
    Income inequality and economic satisfaction are lower than other wealthy countries.

    Public services are far spottier than in some countries.

    Democratic institutions and transparency of government lag behind some of our competitors.

    Social unity and general contentedness is weaker than a few other countries.

    • a year ago

      Comments on debate quality...

      Good debate overall, fun to listen to, well structured but not formal, and substantive points on both sides.

      Good respect between debaters all around.

      Daniel did the better job framing points and trying to control the ground of the debate, especially in the beginning and middle.

      Contrary, Michael's rhetoric started pretty ineffectively for me with a few standout tactical mistakes. (will get into that in a sec)

      But, at the end of the debate Michael really finished strong with two very good summations and really hammered home his theme of overall greatness. Daniel on the other hand ended without a really powerful summation. It could have used more pathos.

      Pro Strengths
      -Good use of sources, especially getting varied sources
      -Nice measured cadence through the debate, great tone
      -Good work framing, even if it was well countered
      -Clear specific arguments

      Pro Weaknesses
      -Weaker summation didn't put a bow on it
      -A narrow frame for a broadly worded topic

      Con Strengths
      -Good forceful summation that was both rational, and passionate
      -Clear framing and narrative (in middle and end especially)
      -Consistent use of themes, narrative , and memorable terms

      Con Weaknesses
      -Too dismissive without rational argument, especially early in the debate. You engage in ad-hominems very early and they only work on people who already agree with you. So does saying nothing at all.
      -Use of "leftist" defeats a lot of your potential persuasive power to a broader audience. It needlessly alienates people you might be able to persuade.
      -Attacking statistics without a clear flaw, or counter examples isn't very effective.

      • a year ago

        On skill and technique, Daniel is the winner here. But, that's no shocker considering how polished he is. I think Michael is getting better at these, more organized and on point than I've seen him in prior debates.

    • a year ago

      The Subject...

      Both sides offered a frame. Pro says greatness is happy and well cared for citizens. Con says greatness is that, but also freedom, also power, also innovation and so on...

      I'm inclined to Con's framing of what is greatness, especially as it still allows for pro's arguments to be considered.

      I think pro carries the argument that other countries have better lives for their citizens overall. Some have more freedom, others have more individual prosperity, others have better health care.

      Con's attempts to rebut these claims were weak, mostly dismissing (without much good reasoning) the sources and conclusions. He doubts them, but didn't give us much reason to doubt them. That isn't persuasive at all. Pro takes pains to have sources from different political perspectives and from reputable institutions.

      That said, Con has lots of other metrics of greatness he wants to apply here, and he does a good job forwarding them. Daniels only response is to try and frame them out. Very risky I think since that hinges them all on framing. OK in a technical debate, but this is not a tourney and Michael isn't a technical debater. I don't buy Pro frame so Michael gets to carry a lot of points in his favor.

      You both had good rebuttals on some points, especially crime and prisons. Being in prison is bad, but having criminals in prison is good. Nanny states take high taxes, but they are getting something of value in return.

      The only one Michael really looses here is freedom. He points to us having it, but Daniels sources, even conservative ones, acknowledge that for all our crowing about freedom, we don't have the most of it.

      But Michael crushes on the power metrics, the technology metrics, and how the US can act as a world security guarantor, a powerful ally in disasters, and so forth.

      He wisely uses the word "significance" in the later stages of the round. That is WAY better than calling other nations "piss-ants". It is both more meaningful and more respectful. Thus, more persuasive. While they may be nice little gardens of tranquility, they don't have the overall impact of the US.

      Perhaps the best turn by Con, (but could have been hammered home a little more) was how US power and innovation has allowed these other nations to achieve their internal successes. Free of needing to defend themselves, or take care of neighbors, or invest in hard core innovation, they can improve public health, education, and the like. Yet could they do that without the US doing what it does and presumably making some sacrifices to do it?

      BTW: Micheal, talking about our drug and immigration problems didn't help the greatness argument, but Pro didn't exactly capitalize on that mistake.

      The biggest error for me by pro was not giving a clear weighing mechanism here. Con says, take all the factors, and see which country, overall, is the top of the heap. Daniel gives us some places where the US fails, but doesn't tell us who, among all these factors, is better. It may be they all have a strength or two, but those are scattered among many other nations, each with other potential fatal flaws. If not the US, then who?

      All said, I'm still where I was to start with, siding on the Con side of the resolution.

      • a year ago

        @sigfried yeah fair enough. I should have made clear that what I was saying is that the US is not greatest, we aren’t even top 10. I’m not particularly interested in quibbling over Switzerland vs. Norway vs. Germany or Australia, when the simple fact is that all of them are better than the US.

        And I didn’t really zero in on framing much since it wasn’t a tournament debate. But I genuinely do believe that the most important thing for a nation is that it’s people are happy. If you have all the tech and security and military but are not happy, what’s the point? The best country would be the one where the people are comfortable, have a high quality of life, are well educated, and can be happy. I probably could have talked more about this though.

      • a year ago

        @sharkb8 I think you hit the point well, I understood the criteria you were looking at.

        But lets say its like this...

        France 1, Germany 2, US 3

        US 1, France 2, Germany 3

        Germany 1, US 2, France 3

        Who is greatest?

        I don't think you have to say who is #1 but you do need a specific nation that is, on average, better than the US in at least most of your criteria. That just sells better.

        The other narrative could be that the greatest nation must be the best in all categories, and while that might have been true for the US at its prime (say WWII) it no longer is, and we can't claim it until we do better than everyone on these various metrics.

        That's a really high standard though, it might come over as impossible.

      • a year ago

        @sigfried yeah but thats the thing, read through the links I posted. American’s have this assumption that we’re relatively close in everything and all of the other countries have one good thing but then are on average below the US. That’s not true though.

        The US is not in the top 10 in virtually any metric. But Norway and Switzerland are in almost all of them. Ireland and Germany and Sweden and Finland and Denmark are nearly always up there as well. Even Canada and Australia and Belgium are almost always ranked above the US.

        It blew my mind to keep reading ranking after ranking (based on objective data btw these aren’t opinion pieces) where the US is just nowhere near as good as we always assume we are.

      • a year ago

        @sharkb8 I think that's more the line or rhetoric you want to use in a summary on this topic.

      • a year ago

        @sigfried haha fair enough. Were it a competitive debate, I probably would have hammered things like that and found some catchy sounding phrases to make it stick. For this one I was kind of liking not pissing Michael off and enjoyed the back and forth too much to go for the jugular :D. I sometimes forget he’s a good fellow when I just read his comments but he’s much more interesting face to face.

    • a year ago

      Quibbles for Michael...

      I think its wrong to say that the US doesn't have a history of conquest. You name a couple exceptions, but there is also Mexico as a big conquest of territory with another nation. We also battled with France and the Spanish over territory in NA.

      But most significantly, we steamrolled and wiped out many Native American nations in settling what is now the US, no less completely or brutally than any other conquest by the colonizing powers. the only difference is that those nations we attacked were much weaker, and not recognized in the same way as the powers of Europe. You and I may think of all that is the US currently as "Originally ours" but any sober reading of history points out how false that notion really is.

      Now, once we did conquer all that, we have been pretty restrained in our conquest and expansionism considering the scope of our power.