This House Would Choose The Job They Passionate About


(1st Opp Speaker) Angelia Li, WSDC Canada, WSDC 2020 Finals 

Context Slide

You are a talented, middle-class person in your early twenties about to start your career. You have the choice between a job in which you will make a lot of money and work long hours (e.g. investment banker, corporate lawyer, etc.) and a job which pays less but that you are more passionate about (e.g.: social worker, chef, teacher, small business owner, etc.)

Here’s the video:


It is very easy to find faults with the path of a stable career, to conjure up the image of an investment banker or “sell outs” that all debaters like to show disdain for, but it is not a crime to want to have enough money to support your dream life, to support your family and the future family you hope to build. On side opposition we don’t want to bank our future on fleeting and risky passions and for those reasons, I’m incredibly proud to oppose. 


There will be 2 constructive arguments coming out from the opposition bench. 

  1. Why money is a prerequisite for happiness?
  2. Why monetizing your passions is a horrible idea?

Before that, I’m going to get into some refutation of the proposition case.


The first problem we have with their case, was this assertion that you would still be able to pay bills on either side of the house. Look, you might be middle class right now but the fact that the motion says that this is a low paying job suggests to us that, that is not a guarantee to us by any means especially in this job market and the status quo. 

But let’s take a look at their arguments more specifically… In their first arguments about why passions give you happiness, they tell you that passions are not dependent on achieving some sort of objective metric of success and that you derive inherent happiness from the memories you create on the job. But, we don’t think this is true either. No individual especially if they’re passionate about something is going to be happy, just being stuck as a bottom chef and an individual who wants to start a small business doesn’t want it to just function and run, rather they want that business to succeed. So, it’s very likely that you’re still going to be on some sort of metric for wanting to gain that next promotion or getting a high position even within  your industry of success, especially if you care about it, presumably you want to be good at it and get recognition from that.

But about the second part of this argument, we just think that even if doing this activity gives you joy right now, that might not last for very long. The fact that it is low paying means that you’re going to have more hours and longer hours at that, in order to afford enough of the basic necessities that a very modern economy necessitates. So, you will still be working very long and stressful hours on both sides and the marginal benefit of perhaps liking this job slightly are outweighed by the huge increase of financial stress that are all over encompassing. So even if you’re slightly unhappier in the job of an investment banker, day to day, on their side the financial stress follows you at every moment; that’s what keeps you up at night and we don’t think that is the image of true happiness that proposition wants to support.

Next, on their idea of “Morally gray areas”. We don’t think it is very true in this round even though we’d like to say it in debate, most investment bankers and corporate lawyers, don’t actively do malicious things. In fact most of their jobs, claim to be relatively mundane things like mergers and acquisitions and if you are so moral and care about that, then we suggest that you being the person involved is probably better than someone else being involved.

Finally, their arguments about “Why money doesn’t give you real happiness” is not really addressing who we’re talking about in this debate. This argument applies to the top echelons of individuals who pass a certain threshold of wealth, but for the average middle class individual, that increase in money is extremely important and can make a big difference in changing your life and the life of those that you care about. We think the greatest detriment to breaking relations is actually financial stress; the greatest harm on divorces and all those things happening is when you begin to feel like your means aren’t enough and you don’t like the life you are living even if on the job perhaps you have marginally more happiness. 

So, with that being said onto the first constructive argument for proposition… 

Argument #1: Why money is a prerequisite for happiness

I just want to characterize, at the top of this argument, what a dire state of the world we are in right now. Rent is exponentially rising, the housing market is looking awful for millennials and people in their 20s, the job market- if you just take a look at it, it’s also not doing so hot right now either.

We think taking this job and the unique position you have to be able to have this job is an immense privilege and you should be able to take it for a couple of reasons:

a) It gives you a basic level of security that we don’t think passion jobs can give you. You are a middle class individual and yes, money after a certain point or a threshold has diminishing returns but the median income for individuals needed to live a life in cities is growing higher and higher and higher. At minimum, you take away the huge burden that financial stress takes on you, when you’re not anxious about the next paycheck coming in, when you’re not anxious about your ability to pay off your student debts and loans, when you don’t have to worry about the loss of your job and what you can or can’t afford which is a huge toll mentally on your happiness and mental health.

b) We think that money is the greatest enabler of choice from which all happiness comes from. Because, all things and decisions you make in your life are guided in some way by financial constraints. Having financial constraints and barriers means that you have specific restraints on how you can construct your life and how you can provide for those that you love. So look, at how restricting not having money can be: 

– Where you live is determined by how much money you have?

– How many kids you can have? Even if you have them, the burden that you feel whether to send them to university without worrying about the student debt that they might have to take on. 

– Whether you have to worry about taking care of your own parents, who by the way also come from the middle class family or the lower middle class and helped you to attain an education which enables you to rise socio – economically?

We think money is the ultimate freedom and equalizer in enabling you to have choice in every other domain of your life to create happiness everywhere else, outside of your career.

c) Finally, we think it gives you great flexibility for your human and cross transfer ability, because everyone at some point probably grows to regret or dislike their career in some capacity. Note that passion career’s are not immune to this either, you’re still very young, you’re still in your 20’s and your passions aren’t necessarily fixed. You don’t know where you will be in a couple of decades from now but the problem is that this is a long term commitment and passions may be fleeting given that your exposure is due to isolated moments of hobbies and not depending your whole career on it. But, the issue is that, if you’re a chef or a social worker you’re limited to that industry now because you don’t have any transferable skills to other areas. If you don’t start on a corporate ladder, you can never go back on it, in the same way because this is the prime time now, where you have this opportunity to develop those skills. On our side when you have money, when you have the skills, the backing, the resume, the experience in all these areas, that means you have far more choice for what career industries you can enter into after, so either way there’s going to be some degree of unhappiness, our side is at least giving a lot more flexibility, freedom and money and that safety cushion that allows you to experiment in far more ways than being worried about the next paycheck would ever give you.   

Point of Information

Q: Given that the info slide says that you are a young talented individual who is able to take a high paying job, isn’t it reasonable to assume that you’re probably going to be good at a low-paying job that you take?

Reply: Yeah, we never said you weren’t going to be good at the low-paying job, but no matter how good you are at the low-paying job, that doesn’t matter if you want to take a different career in a different industry in which none of your brilliant skills as a chef or a social worker would ever be transferable. We think being a corporate lawyer or an investment banker in a lot of areas has skills and values and money that helps you propel into other industries that you wouldn’t otherwise be. The claim was never about talent and ability but rather cross transferability of skills. 

Argument #2: Why monetizing your passions is incredibly bad?

We think making a career out of your passions is a very very bad idea because it sucks the joy out of you. I want to deconstruct a couple of reasons for why this is the case:

a) Firstly, the reason for why this is your passion is because you were able to do it on your own terms. You have control over what you do and how you spend your time doing it. But, the problem is when you make a career out of it, that is becoming what other people want you to do, not what you want to do. Now, you’re beholden to clients and deadlines and what they want you to do. Cooking from your home and cooking from your cookbooks is very different from being in a hot kitchen in the evening when you’re beholden to your boss for example or when your an artist or an individual contractor doing commissions and all those individual things, which means the freedom and the control you have is significantly constrained.

b) We think something is a passion a lot of the time because it’s an escape from the daily grind after the monotony of a job or daily life. But, the passion now becomes the grind itself of the day. That comes with a lot of baggage with it because the anxieties of not being able to make money, the financial stress, are all wrapped up in this and the pressure from your boss or workplace all also becomes wrapped up in it and the ability to make means to an end.

c) The long hours that come from this are also a reason for why your passions are likely going to sour. You’re likely going to have to work very long hours if proposition wants them to make enough money to afford rent in the status quo with the low paying job that you want. Now, each hour pays way less which means it is immensely stressful and it also becomes a lot more tiring and your relationship sours with it. So, the time you spend on your job is likely going to be symmetric, either way, but at least on our side we have better access to passions when it is on your own terms and on your own time. When you have the money to afford doing things like going on vacation and other passions that also apply to your life. That even if it makes a difference you can retire early and also focus on your passions, on your own time and your own terms instead of being dictated by a career that is more likely to make your passion sour.


On either side there’s going to be stress, we think in our world at least we have money which is the equalizer and an enabler of a lot of different choices. For all those reasons, I’m very proud to oppose!


The transcript above is just a subjective interpretation of the author. It might not reflect the whole substantive of the original speaker