Nov. 27—The University of Massachusetts Boston’s independent student newspaper, the Mass Media, held a debate on capitalism, socialism, and libertarianism in the University Dining Club (UDC) on the second floor of the Campus Center. Although the initial start time was 3:30 p.m., the room waited for freshman Matthew Reiad’s opponent to arrive. When the other debater failed to show, junior Mitchell L. Cameron took the stand at 3:45 p.m. As people trickled in, the two students debated the pros and cons of the different economic models.
The moderator, sophomore Claire Speredelozzi, started the debate explaining how the event would work as well as the time limits for: the introductions (one minute), opening statements (three minutes), points (five minutes), and counter arguments (five minutes). After Speredelozzi’s introduction, Reiad began with his opening statement: “Libertarianism is a political philosophy that encourages self determination and individual liberties. According to libertarianism, any form of wealth distribution collected by taxes must be abolished. Furthermore, a libertarian would strongly suggest that charity work would be much more useful and efficient than any form of governmental welfare.” Reiad continued, “One of the key issues to libertarians is free-market capitalism. Once a government begins to regulate any market, entrepreneurs leave that economic sector, thereby discouraging new competition. A free market economy encourages entrepreneurship which makes goods and services cheaper and increasing quality.”
After Reiad spoke, the moderator turned to Cameron to begin his intro and opening statement: “If you look across history, you’ll see that it’s very rare that any single economic philosophy ever works when it’s implemented in its totality in any nation. So, while we pretend that we are a wholly capitalist society, we’re predominantly capitalist with a mix of socialism and some libertarianism.” He went on, “I think that even though we’re always going to have to have that mix, the direction that the majority of social policy and economic policies in our country needs to move towards is a predominantly socialist direction.”
From political corruption to Big Business to the role of charities in the United States, the debate was fast moving. Each debater took around two to three minutes on their stances with Speredelozzi intervening only a few times to return to the topic or cool them down.
Some agreements passed between them but the debate was distinguishable. Each offered solutions within their counter arguments but brought up further points for the other to digest and explain. Speredelozzi came out with a question for Reiad, “What’s your stance on minimum wage?” His reply followed: “I think there should be a minimum wage that is not government enforced. I think, left to the market, the minimum wage would be reasonable. I think that the people that get most hurt by the minimum wage are people who graduate from college like us. When we graduate from college and the minimum wage is $15-$20 an hour, it’s going to be difficult for us to find paying jobs and we’re going to be stuck with internships. So, when people say we need to have a $15 minimum wage, what I say is, ‘Okay, why not $50 minimum wage, why not a $100 minimum wage?’ The only way we can get an accurate estimate of what the minimum of what people need to be paid an hour is by the market.”
When Cameron interjected, his counter argument slightly switched the topic while still answering the initial question: “Okay, you brought up machine labor. And say an increased minimum wage incentivized a company to switch over to machine labor; I would say that everything incentivizes a company to switch over to machine labor. It’s often going to be cheaper to implement machines then just about any minimum wage that you could decree that’s going to adequately allow someone to provide for themselves. I think that if you look across the whole of human history, you’ll see human labor is always undercut by machine labor eventually. We no longer hire scribes to write everything down because we have a printing press, we no longer higher people to operate the printing press because the printer operates itself…” He ended that statement speaking on how people will no longer be necessary to build printing presses because they’ll build themselves. He agreed on another one of Reiad’s points of how minimum wage should be city by city but it still needs to be government enforced in order for it to be fair.
Again, Reiad mostly argued for a more libertarian approach to the world while Cameron favored socialism in the sense of the individual. Cameron’s positive point for capitalism shone through with the mention of how it works best in the entertainment industry.
At the end of the event audience member, Jeff Suddy, rang in on the last topic: where campaign money comes from. All for fun, the final results ended in a tie. Running the event, the Editor-in-Chief of the Mass Media, Kelsey Hale, then invited everyone to the next room to eat pizza and mingle.