Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa

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okinawa

Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.

This is probably a good topic for students to learn a little something. Most people don’t know about the U.S. military presence in Asia and how we handle business in that part of the world. That being said, the debate will actually be pretty shallow. There aren’t many good reasons to go one way or the other, so rounds will likely become tennis matches unless students develop some creative positions.

Definitions

Okinawa – Okinawa is an island chain to the south of Japan. The United States has historically maintained a strong military base there as a launching point to the rest of Asia/Southeast Asia

Withdraw its military presence – Do not get caught up in how much of the military presence is to be withdrawn. For the sake of the debate, just assume that the United States will no longer maintain a military base(s) on the island chain of Okinawa.

Should – This is the most important word in the resolution. Your framework will need to explain how a government decides what it should do. Then you will apply that framework to this specific situation to argue the resolution.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Unnecessary Expenditure – The United States’ primary obligation is to its own people. It should be spending toward that obligation above other things. Maintaining a military presence in Okinawa does not promote the interests of the American people, and therefore, is an unnecessary effort that does not fulfill the obligations of the U.S. government.

2. Political Conflict – The people of Okinawa do not want a U.S. military base in their home, and since WW2 is over, we do not have a reason to continue to maintain one there. We are violating principles of international law, as well as the self determination of the Japanese people, by doing this.

Con

1. Security – A government’s primary obligation is to protect its own people. That is the reason governments are formed to begin with. A military presence in Asia is integral to fulfilling this obligation for the U.S. Countries like North Korea are a legitimate threat, and Okinawa allows the U.S. to maintain the possibility of a rapid response to any hostile activity. It also acts as a deterrent against any such hostility.

2. Obligation to Japan – The United States has committed to protecting Japan against foreign threats. This is particularly important since Japan is not allowed to have its own standing military. In order for the United States to honor this commitment, a military presence is Okinawa is necessary.

That should help you get started. Good luck!

Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

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Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

This isn’t a really interesting topic. The debate is pretty bland, and there isn’t much evidence for either side. It will be difficult to come up with unique positions that people aren’t already prepared for. In any case, let’s see what we can do.

Definitions

Carbon Tax – A carbon tax is a special tax placed on fossil fuels. Basically, you have to pay taxes when you buy fossil fuels. The intent is to curb carbon emissions by discouraging people from using fossil fuels.

Adopt – Don’t get caught up in the definition of this word. Adopt just means to enact. The resolution is asking whether or not the U.S. federal government should enact such a tax.

Case Positions

Pro

1. The Environment – Carbon Tax’s help the environment. Columbia’s tax is a prime example. If you want to reduce carbon emissions and protect our plant, a carbon tax is a great way to do it. Not only that, a carbon tax encourages investment into other green energy technologies.

2. Economic Benefit – A carbon tax helps the economy. It encourages development in new sectors and creates demand for alternative products.

Con

1. Economic Harm – Carbon taxes harm small businesses, and they afford an opportunity for larger companies to take advantage, establishing a more dominant market position.

2. Constitutionality – The carbon tax doesn’t fall under the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution like other taxes. It would be unconstitutional for the U.S. federal government to enact such a tax.

I hope that helps. Good luck!

 

Resolved: On balance, economic sanctions are reducing the threat Russia poses to Western interests.

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Resolved: On balance, economic sanctions are reducing the threat Russia poses to Western interests.

I don’t understand the reason for this topic. It seems quite outdated. There are more pressing issues which would likely have made for better debates. In any case, let’s see what we can do with this one.

Definitions

Western Interests – These are the interests of the block of nations known as “Western” countries. These include, but aren’t limited to the U.S., England, France, Spain, etc…

Economic Sanctions – We know what these are. Trade embargos, export blocks, etc… are imposed as restrictions designed to economically starve a country so it doesn’t do bad things or is pressured into not doing bad things.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Security – Sanctions inhibit Russia from supplying arms, supporting groups that work against the West, and conducting military action which poses threats to strategic U.S. positions in Europe.

2. Oil – It is actually in west’s interest to keep OPEC the major supplier of oil to the world and force Russia from the market. Economic sanctions prevent Russia from selling, producing, and buying oil to fuel its machine. You can actually base an entire case off of oil related interest arguments.

Con

1. Russia Is Not a Threat – Russia hasn’t been a threat since the Soviet regimes collapsed and the Cold War ended. It is a wounded animal that does not possess the economic or military strength to harm Western interests. Economic sanctions only starve the people.

2. Creation of Terror Cells – When you create a climate of poverty and oppression through economic sanctions, it creates a breeding ground for violent organizations and terrorists. Russia, and former Soviet block states, are recruiting havens for international criminal organizations. Economic sanctions directly lead to this happening.

Hope this helps, good luck!

Resolved: On balance, standardized testing is beneficial to K-12 education in the United States.

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Resolved: On balance, standardized testing is beneficial to K-12 education in the United States.

I’m not even going to bother talking about how terrible this topic is. Let’s just get into the arguments.

Definitions

Nothing in this resolution really needs to be defined. We all know what standardized testing is, and what K-12 education is. We also know what the United States is. The only thing to keep in mind is that you do, in fact, have to defend the actual standardized test that occur in the U.S. You cannot argue in a hypothetical world where standardized testing is carried out properly. The reason for this is the word “is.” The resolution is asking you to evaluate reality, not make a normative judgment about the ideal state of things.

The important thing here is to develop a framework which explains what being “beneficial” entails. If something is beneficial to education, what criteria must it fulfill?

Case Positions

Pro

1. Measurable Improvement – The mark of a strong educational system is its ability to measure improvement. There need to be objective metrics which evaluate whether teachers, schools, and students are improving and how they’re performing in relation to each other. Standardized test allow this to happen. They allow for the comparison of educational systems, along with longitudinal comparisons of performance. Additionally, they allow for the identification of areas of need.

2. Economic Benefits – Standardized tests economically benefit an already strapped education system. They are easy to administer, take less time, and are easier to evaluate. Therefore, they allow resources to go where they’re more needed.

3. Selection for the Working World – Standardized tests allow for an objective metric for post K-12 institutions to select students and employees. This is good for pre-secondary education because it allows schools to easily set standards, goals, and curricula.

Con

1. Preparation for the Real World – The mark of a strong education system is its ability to prepare students for the real world. Standardized tests prevent schools from being able to do that. They do not test skills and actual knowledge retention. Instead, they test irrelevant abilities of memorization and regurgitation. Not only that, there are entire companies dedicated to teaching techniques for effective test taking for these tests, rather than teaching actual useful competencies.

2. Finland – Standardized tests don’t actually create students who perform better on standardized tests. Finland is the #1 education system in the world, as ranked by the PISA standardized test rankings. The thing is, Finland’s education system doesn’t have any standardized test. The only multiple choice individual tests Finnish students ever take is this test for international ranking. Otherwise, their system is based entirely on group activities and collective learning. So, standardized tests actually waste a large amount of resources in the U.S. because schools focus on creating students who can do well on these tests, but they go about it the entirely wrong way. It’s a really strange self-defeating cycle.

3. Fish Can’t Climb Trees – Einstein had a famous quote about how you can’t evaluate how smart a fish is by asking it to climb a tree. Standardized tests do exactly that. They try to evaluate everyone using the same metric, which is dumb, because people aren’t all the same. If you ask all the animals to climb a tree, of course the monkeys will excel, and the fish will fail. Therefore, you destroy what an education system actually ought to be, a mechanism to foster and evaluate the actual skills of students. Standardized tests are destructive.

I hope that helps you get started. Good luck!

 

 

Resolved: In response to the current crisis, a government should prioritize the humanitarian needs of refugees over its national interests.

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Resolved: In response to the current crisis, a government should prioritize the humanitarian needs of refugees over its national interests.

I was optimistic about the LD topic, but this PF topic is just horrendous. How can you possibly argue this aside for just saying, “yes they should, no they shouldn’t.” Also, in what universe would the humanitarian needs of refugees not coincide with a country’s national interests? They have refugees…which they have to deal with! In any case, let’s see what we can do with this topic.

I’m not going to go through definitions on this one since everything is pretty self explanatory. Instead, I’d advise you to research the current humanitarian crises around the world (I assume this topic is referring to Syria, but I can’t be sure).

Case Positions

Pro

1. People are People – We don’t live in a separated world anymore. Society is increasingly globalized, and people are more global citizens. It is our responsibility as a human community, not national communities, to care for those who are most in need. In this case, it is the refugees.

2. Regional Destabilization – Humanitarian crises are infectious. They destabilize entire regions. As a result, they need to be addressed as soon as possible. Countries should prioritize dealing with refugees in order to prevent further regional destabilization.

Con

1. Putting National Interests First – Prioritizing national interests means dealing with refugees. A humanitarian crisis becomes a preeminent issue for a nation to deal with for its own sake. Whether its the influx of undocumented people, the economic drain, or the national security threat, refugee needs must be dealt with first for a country’s own sake. Therefore, governments should prioritize their own interests.

2. Why Governments Exist – Governments exist to care for their own citizens, not for others. A government must always, regardless of the situation, prioritize its own national interests. Otherwise, why bother even having individual governments? We should just have one global government.

Good luck!