weover.me Nov 10th Debate Question, Teams and Format

26 Oct

To bring context to the live discussion of this session’s topic we’re going with a modified Oxford debate format.

The question for the debate:  Is the optimal economic model for ourselves, and by extension the organizations with which we work, the accumulation and retention of wealth (with potential redistribution once we’ve achieved a certain amount/phase of life/development- see Bill Gates), or, do we need some new thinking about the accumulation of wealth in our lives/work, and the creation of new models for more continuous redistribution?

Now the teams:

Team 1: Poppycock!

Kourosh Karimkhany – Say Media, Talking Points Media
Tim Musgrove – Federated Media, TextDigger
Bambi Francisco – Vator, Marketwatch

The business of America is business, if Steve Jobs had been distracted with charitable activities he would never have built the products that changed billions of lives (and potentially billions more to come).   People are free to accumulate any fortune they wish, and the opportunity to do so is available to everyone.  People already pay a lot of taxes, and pretty much everyone I know gives on top of that!     A sharp competitive edge is critical for social progress, and if we lose that we’ll end up worse off.  Work hard, give when you can, stay sharp.

Team 2: I hope you like the sound of fiddle.

Toby Stuart – Haas, Harvard
Demain Entrekin – SplitStep, Innotas
Dave Gehring – Google, Famplosion

Rome is burning my friend, and the barbarians are at the gate.  If we continue on the path we’re on the rich are soon going to have everything, and the poor pretty much nothing.  People need a new set of values, and a new set of coordinates for life.  We need to create models where resources are aggressively pushed back into the system, it’s just not fair that so much is controlled by so few, not matter how talented, or lucky, they may have been.  If we don’t infuse our society with a new set of priorities, other than the maniacal focus on the accumulation of wealth, there won’t be a society in which to create wealth in the first place.

Format:

  • The question above is posed to the audience  at the start of the event, the audience votes.
  • The teams are attorneys for their point and have to argue zealously to prove their case.
  • Following a coin toss, we proceed one at a time, alternating between teams, each team member having up to 5 minutes to make their case (strict time keeping).
  • Once each of the 6 participants has made their case we will break for wine and conversation.
  • We will reconvene for Q&A from the audience (4 questions or so), each team will nominate one team member to make their closing arguments (up to 5 mins each).
  • The room will re-vote.
  • Whichever side has moved a greater proportion of the audience to their side wins!

The event is being held at the UC Berkeley Men’s Faculty Club on November 10th at 7:30pm, make sure to sign up here.

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3 Responses to “weover.me Nov 10th Debate Question, Teams and Format”

  1. ezra roizen November 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Directions to the debate can be found here: https://weoverme.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/weoverme_directions_mensfacultyclub_cal1.pdf

  2. ezra roizen November 13, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    For the purposes of posterity – here are the results of the Nov 10th debate:

    Opening
    Fiddle: 16
    Poppycock: 9

    Closing
    Fiddle: 11
    Poppycock:11

    • Demian Entrekin November 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      To everyone at weover.me, i wanted to let you know that your goal of getting us to think more about these issues has worked. I have thought more about the topic since we debated last Thursday evening.

      As you might imagine, I have developed a different line of though from the one I used in the event. Hindsight, etc. But I would like to think that this new line is about the learning process and not the attempt to recover from a sound beating we received by our excellent opponents.

      In short, the debate was brilliantly turned into a ideological referendum on the long-term social value of capitalism versus some other unnamed form of economics. Socialism? It should never have been about that.

      What it should have been about is outcomes, and one set of outcomes in particular. I posit quite simply that the poverty rate of children is perhaps the single most telling data about the health of a culture, and for 10 years it has been going in the wrong direction. See for yourself: http://pewresearch.org/databank/dailynumber/?NumberID=1334

      As Keynes once said, “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.” The question we are facing what is happening today. And today more and more children are living in poverty. The numbers around “extreme poverty” are not pretty either.

      And homeless families are also trending in a bad direction. Here’s some data for NYC: http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/pages/state-of-the-homeless-2011

      We can talk principles all day long, but I prefer to look at outcomes, and in particular outcomes for children. Looking forward to the next debate already….

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