You are light
Though dull and dimmed
From your distance
Away from the light
At the center of all

You shine of your own accord
But only with leave of a universe
That moves entire empires
At its whim

There are shadows in that universe
Fighting to be unchained
From the glory of the light
At the center of all

They hunt
Under cover of blackest night
Avoiding the pinpricks of starlight
Piercing the sky

Seeking weaker lights
To drink into the darkness
Staying far from the glory
At the center of it all

Lest they burn

Resolved: The United States should replace means-tested welfare programs with a universal basic income.

‘I’m afraid at times like this with overstretched budgets we all have to make sacrifices…’

Resolved: The United States should replace means-tested welfare programs with a universal basic income.

Don’t forget to visit the Debate Academy if you’re looking for private coaching.

The problem with this topic is that there isn’t really enough evidence out there to weigh the two option. UBI hasn’t been tried enough, and we don’t have data to compare it with means-tested welfare programs. That being said, the theoretical debate here is still pretty interesting, so let’s talk about it.


Means-tested welfare programs – These are current welfare programs that provide specific assistance to people of low income, such as housing assistance, food assistance, etc… Robert Rector’s testimony before Congress explains it better than I can:

The means-tested welfare system consists of 79 federal programs providing cash, food, housing, medical care, social services, training, and targeted education aid to poor and low-income Americans. Means-tested welfare programs differ from general government programs in two ways. First, they provide aid exclusively to persons (or communities) with low incomes; second, individuals do not need to earn eligibility for benefits through prior fiscal contributions. Means-tested welfare therefore does not include Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, or worker’s compensation.

Universal Basic Income – A universal basic income is a cash payment provided to people each month that is intended to cover their basic needs. The important different that the resolution calls on you to evaluate is that a UBI has no restrictions. While it’s intended for basic needs, it’s just a cash payment, so the recipient can use it for anything they want. Importantly, you shouldn’t get caught up in the amount. The actual amount of the payment is irrelevant to the discussion of whether a UBI should replace means-tested welfare programs.


1. Means-tested welfare hasn’t worked. It’s time to try something you. The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We’ve tried means-tested welfare, and while it may help some people, the programs are an administrative nightmare and do little to alleviate actual poverty. Let’s try something new.

2. Individual needs are not static. We like to think that you can plan a fixed monthly budget with fixed expenses. Means-tested welfare seeks to take care of individual line items on this monthly budget. The issue is that life happens, and things change. Therefore, it’s better to leave it up to the welfare recipient to determine how to use their money, rather than creating programs with restrictions.

3. Utilitarianism – A UBI works for everyone, not just some people. It also accounts for needs like dental care, for which it’s nearly impossible to create an effective welfare program. Since UBI casts the widest net, it’s a better option.


1. Money needs to be used wisely to be effective. You can’t just give people who otherwise don’t have financial literacy or other life skills a sum of money and expect it to have positive results. They need to be taught skills and how to use the money wisely. Many people in poverty don’t have access to or knowledge of basic financial management tools, so the UBI will likely just lead to waste.

2. Why do we need to replace? There’s no reason we can’t do both to see how it works. Or, we can create a program that takes an exclusive either/or approach where a recipient can choose to get a cash payment or have access to a portfolio of specific means-tested welfare programs available to them. We don’t have to choose, so the resolution is posing a false dichotomy.

3. We have evidence that means-tested programs at least have a nominal positive impact. We have no evidence that a UBI works. Replacement would be hasty. We need more data and more evidence to test the efficacy of a universal basic income. Only then can we make an accurate determine.

That should help you get started. Good luck!

And don’t forget to visit the Debate Academy if you’re looking for private coaching.

Resolved: States ought to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

“A second bomb will not make us safer.”

Resolved: States ought to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Don’t forget to visit the Debate Academy if you’re looking for private coaching.

Finally, we have a good topic. Let’s get to it!


States – This term refers to any nation. Don’t get caught up in what exactly makes a state a state; it’s really irrelevant to the resolution. Especially in the context of the real world, all nuclear states are very clearly sovereign nations.


1. Veil of Ignorance – The veil of ignorance is a powerful position here. You can pretty consistently argue that, no matter who you are, you would want to live in a world without nuclear weapons.

2. Utilitarianism – The Utilitarian position certainly favors the elimination of nuclear arsenals. It would lead to the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, especially if nuclear weapons stop being a bargaining chip on the international stage.


1. Mutually Assured Destruction – Nuclear weapons are the only thing that can deter the use of nuclear weapons. If states get rid of them, that opens the door for non-state actors to access and use nuclear weapons with impunity.

2. Moral Conflict – There is value in promoting moral conflict through the existence of nuclear weapons. This will be a tough position to run, but a nuclear war that resets the impact of humans on the planet may not be a bad thing. It will prevent the progress of climate change, likely lead to a world in which nuclear weapons no longer exist, and reset the human development clock. Human life is only valuable because we place inordinate value on it. Instead, we should allow for globally catastrophic events to happen because they would solve so many problems.

That should help get you started. Good luck! And don’t forget to visit the Debate Academy if you’re looking for private coaching.