Resolved: The United States federal government should prioritize reducing the federal debt over promoting economic growth.

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Resolved: The United States federal government should prioritize reducing the federal debt over promoting economic growth.

This is a pretty annoying topic. It lends itself to a lot of speculative analysis that it will be difficult to find evidence to support. It also poses a false dichotomy. More often than not, reducing the federal debt and promoting economic growth are not mutually exclusive. Let’s get into it and see what we can come up with.

Definitions – We don’t really need to define anything for this topic. It’s all pretty straightforward. The important thing to note, though, is that the resolution is only concerned with situations in which promoting economic growth and reducing the federal debt are in conflict, meaning that you must pick one over the other. What should the government do when it has to pick?

Case Positions

Pro

1. Must prioritize debt to prioritize economic growth – In order to promote the greatest economic growth, the U.S. must prioritize reducing the federal debt. Interest payments continue to rise, drastically reducing the capital the U.S. government has available to spend on economic growth initiatives. In a strange twist, ignoring the national debt will prevent the U.S. from being able to promote economic growth moving forward.

2. National Security – A government’s first priority is to protect its citizens. That’s why government is created in the first place. A high federal debt is a national security risk, particularly since other competing world powers hold the majority of the debt. It threatens the ability of the U.S. to protect itself from threats should the debt be called.

3. Impending Economic Collapse – A growing U.S. debt balance threatens the stability of the global economy, and the U.S. is in no position to withstand a global collapse since it is not longer primarily a producer. A country like China, because of its continued industrial production infrastructure, can certainly withstand such a collapse. Global markets rely on trust and solvency of the U.S., and a growing national debt threatens both of those.

Con

1. National Debt is Meaningless – There is no such thing as “too much federal debt,” since the debt is essentially meaningless. No global power would call on the U.S. debt, and the U.S. would not fail to make interest payments. The debt can continue to grow or remain steady, and it won’t be an issue. The notion that other countries will stop buying U.S. debt anywhere in the near future is spurious.

2. Economic Growth Allows Debt Reduction – The U.S. needs to focus on economic in order to eventually reduce the national debt. A growing economy allows for a surplus and allows the U.S. to make more payments toward reducing the federal debt. When the two come into conflict, the U.S. should prioritize growing the economy because it’s the only way to reduce the national debt in the long term.

Hope that helps get you started, good luck!

Resolved: The United States ought not provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.

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Resolved: The United States ought not provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.

This topic is an interesting one. On initial examination, it seems stupid and one sided. And to be clear, it’s certainly emotionally advantageous for the Affirmative. That being said, there’s a lot of room for debate here if you can suspend the heartstrings for 45 minutes. There’s great opportunity for clash, and a lot of room for directly competing viewpoints. So let’s talk about it.

Definitions

Military Aid – This is any aid provided to the military of a nation. This includes, but is not limited to, troops, machinery, funding, weaponry, and training. Do not get bogged down in a definition debate about what does and does not constitute military aid. Your case should apply to all forms of military aid. The only distinction that’s important here is that this is not civilian aid.

Authoritarian Regimes – This is more of a “you know it when you see it” type of term. Authoritarian is a poor choice of words, but it refers to regimes which are dictatorial and generally have a history of abusing the rights of their own people. Relevant examples for this resolution include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, etc…

Ought – This means should, and you don’t really need to define it, but it’s important to know that this is the crux of your case. You must first answer the question of how we determine what the United States government should do. Only then can you determine if the U.S. government should provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.

Alright, let’s get to work on possible frameworks.

Affirmative

1. Categorical Imperative – Providing military aid to authoritarian regimes certainly fails all three maxims of the categorical imperative. We don’t want to live in a world where this is universal. It doesn’t seek to not use people strictly as a means to an end, since what humane reasons could there possibly be to provide this military aid, and it definitely doesn’t contribute toward an end in the kingdom of ends.

2. Veil of Ignorance – In a liberal application of the veil of ignorance, it can be argued that, as a citizen under one of these regimes, you would not want foreign powers providing aid to a regime that is trying to oppress you. You would want the opposite. From behind the veil, it’s clear people would construct a world in which these regimes do not receive any foreign military aid.

3. Coherence Theory – Truth of a proposition can be examined through examining its coherence with other already established truths. This includes moral propositions. When it comes to established international moral principles, we can look to things like the declaration of human rights to show us that established truths focus around protecting citizens, not military regimes. There is explicit rejection of military oppression of people. It does not cohere with these established truths that the U.S. should provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.

4. Moral Progress – Moral conflict is necessary for moral progress. When the U.S. provides military aid to authoritarian regimes, it prevents the citizens under that regime from creating the necessary moral conflict to help the nation progress. Allowing the military to weaken allows the self-determination of the people to be realized through conflict.

Negative

1. National Security – A government’s primary obligation is to the security of its own people. After all, that’s why government is formed in the first place. If it fails to protect its people, government is worthless. There are several situations in which providing military aid to authoritarian regimes protects the security of U.S. citizens. As long as this is the case, the U.S. should continue providing such aid.

2. National Interest – A government’s primary obligation is to its own people and the interests of its country. Often times, providing aid to such regimes is in the best interests of the U.S. economically and globally. It often allows the U.S. to position itself more advantageously globally or secure access to resources it would not otherwise have.

3. Utilitarianism – The alternative of not propping up certain regimes is much worse. It leads to exacerbated conflict that is often worse for the people of a nation and worse for global stability. Military aid allows for the preservation of a government, though the government may not be the best. An authoritarian government is better than no government at all.

Hope that helps get you started. Good luck!

Resolved: The United States federal government should impose price controls on the pharmaceutical industry.

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Resolved: The United States federal government should impose price controls on the pharmaceutical industry.

Finally! A good topic! It’s about time. Let’s talk about it.

Definitions

Should impose price controls – This means that the government controls what pharmaceutical companies are allowed to charge for medications they provide. This is common practice in countries with socialized medicine. This case will require you to determine how the U.S. government determines what it should do, and then explain how that framework means that the government should impose price controls.

All the other terms don’t really warrant definitions. We know what the U.S. federal government is, and we know what the pharmaceutical industry is.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Societal Welfare – Government’s exist for the welfare of their citizens. This is why they provide roads, schools, libraries, etc… To fully accomplish this purpose, the government should also do its best to provide for the health of its citizens. Drug prices are astronomical, to the point of being prohibitive for certain people who need to receive treatment. In order to contribute to the welfare of everyone, the government should impose price controls.

2. The Free Market Has Failed – The simple fact is that the population doesn’t have the negotiating power that the government does. Pharma companies are certainly willing to let people die for the profit. If one person has to die so they can charge 10,000 people $100 more, then that works out for them. People cannot make their voices heard by just not buying the medicine because it’s a choice between life and death. The government isn’t faced with this choice, so it has the ability to negotiate on behalf of the people.

3. Life Above All Else – The right to life is the most important right a person has because it is a prerequisite for all other rights. You can’t have other rights if you’re dead. In this case, price inflation is causing direct harm to the right to life of individual citizens. As such, the government should step in to protect those citizens.

Con

1. Free Market – In a capitalist economy, price controls are direct violations of property rights. Additionally, government interventions usually make things worse. We’ve seen historically that price controls don’t actually lead to reasonable prices, but instead companies just find ways to circumvent those controls, and citizens end up paying just as much.

2. Universal Healthcare Counterplan – Price controls are unnecessary in a socialized medicine system. The government can negotiate directly with drug producers because it’s the entity paying for those drugs. Introducing price controls is a bad stop gap measure that will only delay the conflict necessary for a dramatic push toward socialized medicine. Universal healthcare solves the problem, and price controls will hinder the progress toward universal healthcare.

That’ll help get you started. Good luck!

Resolved: In a democracy, the public’s right to know ought to be valued above the right to privacy of candidates for public office.

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Resolved: In a democracy, the public’s right to know ought to be valued above the right to privacy of candidates for public office.

I get the importance of debating current topics and issues, but we really need to stop when we start struggling to put current issues into “debate terms.” This topic is trash, probably the worst one I have ever read. Not only is it worded poorly, but it relies upon presumptions of rights that may not necessarily be true. It’s also very open to being debated in narrow real world contexts which provide opportunity for abusive positions. Let’s get to it then.

Definitions

Democracy – There is no absolute democracy in the world today, we know that. And that doesn’t make a democracy definition critique of the resolution valid. The word democracy here can be replaced with “democratic society.” Democracies share certain characteristics like popular representation, people being able to run for public office, and a certain level of freedom enjoyed by citizens of the society. Don’t belabor the point about what  democracy is; we all know what this is referring to.

Right to Know – This refers to the peoples’ right to have access to information, personal and political, about a candidate running for public office. Yes, you can debate whether or not this right actually exists, and yes, this does make for a valid critique of the resolution.

Right to Privacy – This is also pretty straightforward. It’s the right of a person to keep information about themselves private. Once again, don’t belabor the point about what exactly is covered within this right.

Candidates for Public Office – Anybody who is either running for or appointed to a government office. Yes, this does include people who are in non-elected positions like cabinet members and justices. These are still public offices even if not directly elected.

Ought to be Valued – This is the most important part of the resolution. It asks us this question: when a candidate’s right to privacy is in conflict with the public’s right to know, which one wins? Should the candidate reveal information? Or should they be allowed to keep all that information private?

Case Positions

Affirmative

1. Utilitarianism – Public knowledge promotes the greatest good for the greatest number of people. When all information about a candidate is publicly available, it allows people to make the most informed decision about a candidate for public office. This ensures that the public opinion holds the character and behavior of these candidates accountable.

2. Rights are not absolute – A person’s rights only extend as far as another’s rights begin. This is why we can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. That is an exercise of free speech that puts other people’s lives at risk. Therefore, that right is limited. Similarly, the privacy of candidates for public office puts the rights of the people at risk. They are at risk of electing a candidate that could damage their rights significantly, or if given undue power, could continue violating the rights of others. Therefore, when it conflict, the public’s right know should be prioritized.

3. Governmental Legitimacy – All governments, and democracies in particular, are only legitimate if they are accountable to the citizens which they govern. This accountability is not possible in a world where candidates are allowed privacy. It prevents the public from fully evaluating and judging the candidates for public office.

Negative

1. Right to Know Doesn’t Exist – Rights must exist as claims of people against each other. Under a balanced social contract, it is not reasonable to contend that people would have a claim on each other to reveal information about themselves. Quite the opposite. People have a claim on each other not to interfere with their privacy. As such, it’s impossible to affirm the resolution.

2. Public accountability happens anyway – The public can hold a candidate accountable without them divulging requested information. The simple act of holding back information is enough for a public indictment of the candidate’s character. We’ve seen this happen across the United States repeatedly over the past few years. The right to privacy can still hold priority, because the right to privacy doesn’t matter in cases where it’s in conflict with the public’s right to know.

Hopefully that helps get you started. Good luck!

Resolved: The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations.

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Resolved: The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations.

I don’t understand why this topic was chosen. It’s like 20 years out of date. Gotta do what you gotta do I guess. Let’s get to it.

Definitions

I’m going to forego the specific definitions for this one, because they’re pretty obvious, and talk more about the history of the Law of the Sea. Historically, a nation’s territory in the sea extended 3 nautical miles outside it’s national land borders. In the 80s and 90s, however, that needed to be changed. Nations had unilaterally extended their territories to claim fishing and mineral rights, among other military rights. The original guidelines were not clear or comprehensive enough. So UNCLOS (the international UN body responsible for sea things) met and ratified the Law of the Sea. Notably, the U.S. did not ratify because the measure did not pass the Senate. Objections included national security concerns and concerns about the law’s formation for a new committee that would process claims to resources on the deep sea bed. So the question before us now is whether or not the U.S. should ratify this international law.

In order to establish and appropriate framework for your case, you must first determine how we determine what the United States government should do.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Globalization – Globalization is a positive force for all nations, and the U.S., as a leading economic power, should promote policies that promote globalization. The Law of the Seas is on such policy. It will help regulate international commerce, allow the U.S. military increased naval access, and allow recourse for other nations overstepping their bounds.

2. Economics – Without ratifying, the U.S. doesn’t have a voice in UNCLOS, which makes international maritime commerce more challenging. For example, U.S. telecom companies that need to lay cable in the ocean need to find foreign governments to advocate on their behalf in UNCLOS. That’s a pain and makes for a challenging economic climate for U.S. companies.

3. National Security – With a voting seat on the body, the U.S. could have significant influence over naval military policy. Additionally, the Law of the Seas allows for clearer definitions of international waters and reduces the potential for conflict in those waters.

Con

1. Anti-globalization – The notion of an international government is in itself bad. It places limits on national sovereignty that should not be there and does not allow for future flexibility. The U.S. should not participate.

2. Discrimination against U.S. – UNCLOS creates tremendous opportunity for discrimination against the U.S. when it comes to deep sea resources rights. It also lends legitimacy to any nations that want recourse against the U.S. for expanding its international waters influence.

That’s it for now, good luck!

Resolved: In the United States, reporters ought to have the right to protect the identity of confidential sources.

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Resolved: In the United States, reporters ought to have the right to protect the identity of confidential sources.

Resolved: In the United States, reporters ought to have the right to protect the identity of confidential sources.

Welcome to another debate season! I’m disappointed that we’re starting off with such a bad topic. It’s not that the area of discussion is bad, but the topic is worded terribly. The question that not telling someone a person’s name is or is not a “right” is not a good one. Everyone obviously has the right to say what they want, so to say that a journalist doesn’t have the right to reveal someone’s name is ridiculous and unenforceable. What’re you going to do? Prevent the article from running in the paper if there isn’t a named source? Obviously that can’t happen. But alas, we have to debate what we’re given, not what we want to debate. So let’s get to it.

Definitions

Reporters – Don’t think too much about this. A reporter is basically someone who reports the news. This includes journalists of all types.

Identity – Some people may try to define identity very precisely. Simply put, though, this is an identification of who a person is. It’s not just a name, but can also be a description that points to one particular person. For example, if I said “the attorney general of the U.S.” that would be akin to identifying the person.

Confidential Sources – In journalism, people often provide information to the reporter. The people are called sources. If that person’s identity isn’t revealed, it’s a confidential source.

Ought – This is the most important word of the resolution. Ought means should, and to develop a framework for your case, you’ll need to identify how we determine what the United States government ought to do.

Case Positions

Affirmative

1. Utilitarianism – Allowing confidential sources is the most utilitarian approach. It leads to the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. Otherwise, you end up with a lack of people wanting to come forward with information, and you also end up with people’s lives inappropriately being affected just for telling the truth.

2. Freedom of Speech – It’s actually impossible for source confidentiality not to be a right. What is the option to enforce? Are you going to torture journalists? Are you going to limit what can and cannot be printed in the press? These would all be violations of the freedom of speech the United States is founded upon.

3. Correspondence Theory – Any truth proposition, like the resolution, must be weighed against already accepted truths to determine its truth. When we weigh the resolution against things we already accept to be true like freedom of speech, the value of a free speech, and democratic ideals, we find that the truth of the resolution is evident.

Negative

1. What is a right? – Source confidentiality can’t function as a right. Rights, like freedom to protest, function as claims against others – either claims to not interfere or claims to confer some benefit. Neither of these apply to source confidentiality in journalism. Because it can’t be a right, the resolution essentially doesn’t work. We can’t say something that’s impossible “ought to be.”

2. Moral Progress – There are schools of philosophy which propose that a society’s moral progress is only possible through the most direct moral conflict. Source confidentiality prevents that from happening. Without confidential sources, though, the moral conflict in a society would be exacerbated, thus contributing to more rapid moral progress.

Well, that’s it. I hope that helps get you started. Good luck, and don’t forget to check out the academy if you need help!

 

Resolved: The United States federal government should increase its quota of H-1B visas.

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Resolved: The United States federal government should increase its quota of H-1B visas.

Instead of definitions this time around, I’ll just explain what an H-1B visa is and how it works. The visa is used to allow companies to hire foreign workers to come work in the U.S. for specialty occupations that require advanced knowledge. Engineering, software development, IT, chemistry, etc…. are all good examples. The idea is to encourage and allow foreign talent to come to the United States.

Every year, there is a quota of a visas that’s allowed to be given out. For 2018, that quota is 85,000, including Masters student exceptions.

In order to debate the resolution, you must first explain with your framework how we determine what the U.S. federal government should do. What is it’s priority? Why does it exist? Using that understanding, you can explain whether or not the government should increase the quota of H-1B visas.

PRO

1. Promoting prosperity – A government’s chief function is to help promote the prosperity of its people. The government should enact policies that contribute to economic welfare, security, and progress of society. H-1B visas do just that. They draw the most talented individuals from around the world to our education and work system, helping increase the talent pool of skilled workers. This directly contributes to a better economy and technological innovation.

2. Global Competition – A government needs to ensure it remains globally competitive. In order to do that, a country needs to have a highly skilled workforce. The United States is lagging behind other developed nations on education, and so it should look to importing talent from other countries in order to stay competitive in the global market.

CON

1. Security – A government’s purpose is to provide security for its people. That’s why a government is formed. The H-1B process is easily exploitable and poses a security risk to the United States. Many foreign workers are imported from regions of the world home to active terrorist organizations which could use the process to send recruits into the United States.

2. No reason – The burden of proof is on the affirmative, and the affirmative cannot actually provide a compelling reason to increase the quota. There is not a skilled labor shortage in the U.S., and companies really just want to be able to hire cheap compliant foreign labor. Previous increases in the program have not had any significant benefit.

That’s it. Good luck!

Resolved: On balance, the current Authorization for Use of Military Force gives too much power to the president.

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Resolved: On balance, the current Authorization for Use of Military Force gives too much power to the president.

I don’t even know where to start with this resolution. It’s beyond stupid. The AUMF is a meaningless resolution that is nothing more than a symbol. The POTUS had all the powers outlined in the resolution before it was passed. He’s commander in chief. He can do whatever he wants with the military, with our without congressional approval or declaration of war. The AUMF doesn’t change that. This is a ridiculous topic to debate, and anyone who voted for it should be ashamed.

Definitions

Authorization for Use of Military Force – This is a U.S. statute and accompanying resolution that were passed in 2001 to authorize the president to use military force against any body he deems was involved in the 9/11 attacks. This includes nations that harbored or enabled the terror plot to happen.

Con

1. The AUMF is symbolic – The AUMF doesn’t extend any additional power to the president that he didn’t already have .The president is the U.S. commander in chief. As such, he is allowed to command military forces to act. In fact, the president has not used military force accompanied by a congressional declaration of war since WWII.

2. Social Contract Theory – Under a legitimate social contract, the governing body ought to hold a monopoly on the use of force. As such, the notion of “too much power” is spurious to begin with. The president should have the authority to deploy and utilize military forces unilaterally as needed.

Pro

1. Unilateral military control is dangerous – For anyone to have sole authority or control over how military force is utilized is a dangerous unchecked power. The president should require congressional approval or declaration in order to utilize military force. This will provide a check on the president’s power as well as providing transparency into what actions are being taken.

This topic is abysmal. I wish you the best of luck debating it.

Resolved: The United States ought to provide a universal basic income.

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Resolved: The United States ought to provide a universal basic income.

This is a good topic. It’s phrased how topics should actually be phrased, and it isn’t weighted heavily toward one side. There is actually a debate to be had here. So let’s talk about it!

Definitions

Universal basic income – A UBI is an unconditional amount of money guaranteed to people designed to cover their cost of living. The money is given without any additional requirements placed on it.

Ought – Remember that your job is to explain how we decide what the U.S. government ought to do, id god,so you need to make sure your framework accounts for that.

Affirmative

1. Veil of Ignorance – Rawls developed a model of evaluating social distributions known as the original position or veil of ignorance. He argues that all such decisions should be made by a body which has no biases. Basically, you must pretend like you could wake up tomorrow and be anyone in society, with any socioeconomic status.best fake id, From behind this veil, a universal basic income seems like a great idea. Who wouldn’t vote for that?

2. Utilitarianism – There’s a pretty obvious utility argument to be made. A UBI provides the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people because it takes care of those who are most in need.

3. Aristotelian Virtue Ethics – Aristotle described cultivating virtue as central to having a just society. Virtues exist as the mean between two extremes. One could easily contend that a UBI is the virtuous course of action, lying between the extremes of providing people nothing or a lot.

Negative

1. Economic Justice – All types of justice rely on the idea that people get what they deserve, or ought to of. Contending that people deserve an income just because they exist is difficult. What gives them the right to a universal basic income?

2. Property Rights – The UBI needs to come from somewhere; money doesn’t just materialize. It would likely require higher taxes on everyone else to provide for this. This is a direct violation of property rights. Unlike other things which taxes are spent on,id chief. most taxpayers will not see a benefit from the UBI. It’s also tough to claim that a UBI can function as a claim on others.

3. Moral Conflict – This is more of a complicated position. Basically, the argument here is the only way to get U.S. society to provide a UBI is to not provide a UBI. It will force the necessary moral conflict to get society into a place where a UBI becomes acceptable. Providing a UBI does not allow for the development of society’s morality to be able to accept the change. Moral conflict is good for moral progress, and income gaps increase moral conflict.

Resolved: The United States should abolish the capital gains tax.

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Resolved: The United States should abolish the capital gains tax.

This topic isn’t so much bad as it is boring. It’s also heavily weight to the Pro. But, let’s do what we have to do.

Definitions

Abolish – This means to get rid of. Note that the resolution does not stipulate a replacement tax or policy.

Capital Gains Tax – This is a tax imposed on capital gains. A capital gain is money earned through the sale of a capital good, like stocks, property, or artwork.

Should – This is important because your framework has to explain how we determine what the U.S. government should do when it comes to tax policy.

Case Positions

PRO

1. Economic Productivity and Growth – When deciding tax policy, the government should focus on economic growth and productivity. Eliminating the capital gains tax has been shown to increase average household real income as well as economic growth. The tax should be eliminated because it encourages people to use their money, purchase/sell goods, and invest.

2. Societal Well Being – The purpose of taxes is to provide for the public good. Libraries, roads, hospitals, etc… all come from tax dollars. The capital gains tax is the least efficient in increasing this public good. The costs associated with its collection are so high that the benefit gained is marginal at best.

CON

1. Reduction in Revenue – The government collects money from taxes, and it spends that money. If the capital gains tax is eliminated, that money has to come from somewhere. It either means we shrink the budget, or create a replacement tax. Neither of those options are great. It would hurt government income, and therefore, it should not be abolished.

2. Benefits Only the Wealthy – Poor and middle class people generally don’t make much from capital gains. People investing in stocks and things are usually wealthier. In fact, the data shows pretty clearly that the majority of people paying capital gains taxes are wealthier than most Americans. If you eliminate the tax, you don’t actually help people that we would rely on for economic growth, you just help the wealthy. So, there’s no point in eliminating it.

Hope that helps. Good luck!