Trinity Students Defeat Yale University in Debate on the Legitimacy of Enforced Taxation

Debating teams from Trinity College Dublin and Yale University recently took part in the Trinity Student Economic Review (SER) debate chaired by the Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast. Debating for the motion, that “This House Believes that Taxation is Theft”, the Trinity team narrowly defeated their Yale rivals in the overall debate which also saw Trinity’s Ruth Keating win the Best Speaker Gold Medal.

The debate, which was hosted by the College Philosophical Society, featured an esteemed panel of judges which included Áine Lawlor, RTE’s Morning Ireland, Catherine Woods, former Trinity Scholar and current AIB board member, Carmel Crimmins, Senior Financial journalist Reuters, Michael O’Higgins, former Treasurer Historical Society and currently Chair UK Pensions Regulator, and John Kelly, Guggenheim Partners Europe. 

During the debate the Trinity side, made up of Rebecca Keating, a Junior Sophister Law student, Hannah Cogan, a Postgraduate student in Economics, and Ruth Keating, a Junior Sophister Law student, argued that while taxation is enforced it does fund the functioning of the society upon which private property can be accumulated and protected.  The Yale team of Stacy Chen, Andrew Connery and Max Dovala, argued that no matter how worthy the uses to which taxation is put, it is still theft by the state and against natural law. 

Back row, L-R: Stacey Chen, Yale, Max Dovala, Yale, and Rebecca Keating, TCD.  Front row, L-R:  Andrew Connery, Yale, TCD Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast, Hannah Cogan, TCD and Ruth Keating, TCD.

The work of the SER, now in its 27th year, is presided over by Professor of Economics and President of the SER, John O’Hagan. Each year the SER organise two debates in conjunction with the college’s Philosophical or Historical Society, played always to a packed GMB debating chamber. The first, run in the Michaelmas Term sees a Trinity team compete against either Oxford or Cambridge Universities, while the second, held in Hilary Term, alternates between Harvard and Yale Universities. The debates, along with the Student Economic Review, an undergraduate journal published annually by the students of the College, are supported by four donors, all former Trinity graduates.