Shattering The Lens

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Archive for Public Forum

Resolved: On balance, public subsidies for professional athletic organizations in the United States benefit their local communities.

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Resolved: On balance, public subsidies for professional athletic organizations in the United States benefit their local communities.

Wow, two good topics, PF and LD. I don’t want to speak too soon, but it looks like the NFL is getting its act together. This is actually a pretty contentious topic with decent evidence on both sides. I only hope that it doesn’t turn into a fact vomiting contest like the national finals of 2010. Let’s start with the definitions.

Definitions

1Public Subsidies for Professional Athletic Organizations – Simply stated, this is government money that goes to private athletic organizations. The government pays for, in whole or in part, for particular expenses for a sports organization. These expenses can include building stadiums, buying uniforms, training camps, among other things. Typically, the government gets some sort of return built into this investment, such as a percentage of ticket sales.

2. Local Communities – The local community is really what you would think it is. It’s the immediate locality associated with the sports organizations. So, the local community for the St. Louis Rams would be St. Louis.

3. Benefit – This will really be the crux of any case for this topic. You will need to define what it means for something to benefit a local community. The most successful debaters on this topic will have a very clear definition for this and will frame their arguments within that definition.

Case Positions 

Con

1. The Economic Benefit Doesn’t Exist – Families typically spend a fixed budget on entertainment. The increase in sales to local sports teams doesn’t actually indicate an economic uptick. Instead, it just indicates a reallocation of spending that was already occurring in other entertainment venues. If anything, newly funded government sports ventures harm local businesses, often irreversibly.

2. Sports subsidies draw money away from important areas – There are much better things that government could be spending this money on. Education, infrastructure, sustainable energy, and many other things are proven economic stimulants which can benefit from public money. Sports spending creates artificial temporary booms that do not last and harm other important areas. Even if there is an economic benefit, it is outweighed by the harm that occurs as a result of money being diverted.

Pro

1.  Sports subsidies create immediate stimulus – Large sports projects create jobs and increase local spending. In areas where the economy has stagnated, this stimulant is a necessary boost to create economic activity. This economic benefit spreads to local businesses through increased traffic and capital movement. In short, sports subsidies provide overall economic benefit.

2. Sports subsidies provide emotional benefit – The benefit of community emotional health is a unique perk of sports subsidies. Sports are unlike any other entertainment industry in the scale of community activity and gathering they inspire. They provide for an emotional fervor which spreads into all other aspects of society. This emotional benefit translates into lower healthcare costs, less crime, and more vibrant local businesses.

I hope this helps you get started. Good luck!

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Resolved: Single-gender classrooms would improve the quality of education in American public schools.

Resolved: Single-gender classrooms would improve the quality of education in American public schools.

This topic is stupid, offensive, and antiquated. Also, it’s empirically false. We know that it’s empirically false, and yet, here we are, debating nonsense. Let me start by getting the potential points of definition debate out in the open, and then, we can pretend like those points don’t exist, and try to come up with coherent case positions.

What is gender? Especially in the modern world, how would you define a single-gender classroom? Are homosexuals a different gender? What about transgender kids? Do we put all of them in a separate classroom?

What is a “single gender classroom” referring to? Does that mean the whole school is single-gender? Does that mean that boys and girls go to the same school but separate when they go to classes? I’m actually not quite sure.

How do you define the quality of education? Is it measured by standardized test scores? Is it measured by a population’s innovations? Is it measured by economic prosperity? Or is it something entirely different? Again, I’m not quite sure there’s a good answer to this.

Alright, with all that in mind, let’s assume we’re going to use generic emotional definitions for the above and come up with case positions.

Pro

1. It prevents distractions – Because students clearly have uncontrollable libidos, and that is the main thing preventing them from getting a good quality education, we need to separate males from females. It prevents distractions so that students can focus on their education. This, in turn, will lead to a better education because students will learn more.

2. Single-gender private schools perform better – Standardized test scores, college acceptance rates, etc… are all greater among single-gender private schools. CLEARLY, this is because these schools are single-gender, and not because they’re better funded, located in higher class socioeconomic areas, and run by people with great connections. Therefore, it only makes sense that single-gender classrooms will lead to higher quality education.

Con

1. Gender isn’t even an issue – American public school education suffers from a variety of ailments, none of which are related to the proximity of boys to girls. Single-gender classrooms won’t do anything. The quality of education will actually stay exactly the same.

2. Separate isn’t equal – Equality is essential in our public school system, and separate schooling is inherently unequal. It will cause disparities in gender education and eventually lead to a socioeconomic divide, like it has everywhere else in the world where this is practiced.

Ok, real talk, con wins. Why? Because Pro is false. Sorry NFL, that’s just how the real world works.

I hope you can come up with some creative positions….or have super conservative judges, because otherwise, the Pro has a long uphill battle to win this topic.

Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.

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Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.

I’m not sure why the resolution specifies the Sahel region; it should probably just say Sudan, or Darfur. In any case, I’m not sure how I feel about this resolution. It doesn’t actually pose an interesting question, nor does it pose one that doesn’t have a correct answer. It’s also a situation that doesn’t exist in reality. In order for prioritization to be a problem, two things have to come in conflict. Why can’t we provide both? Or neither? I also say “we,” but the resolution doesn’t actually specify an actor, which is another big problem. Who is providing the assistance?

Definitions

1. Sahel Region - You should just google this to find a map. The region spans across Africa near the north. It includes the south of Sudan.

2. Development Assistance – This type of assistance focuses on development. It may include things like economic provisions, infrastructure development, technology, consulting, etc…

3. Military Aid – This is fairly straightforward. Military aid involves providing either direct military intervention or military resources to a particular group.

Pro

1. The goal is to solve the problem – Many of the regions issues are caused by resource scarcity. Conflicts in this region of the world are power struggles for what little the land has to offer. If we just provide military aid, the conflict will never stop because the development of the region will not progress; different people will just inherit the same conflict that exists now. As such, development assistance must be prioritized.

2. Just War Theory – JWT dictates that we cannot provide military aid in this region of the world. Military intervention, of any sort, does not fulfill the 5 contingencies of Just War Theory. There is not a just cause, atleast from the U.S. perspective. There is not a reasonable chance of success, and the force is not proportional to the wrong being done.

Con

1. What’s the Point? – Development assistance will be useless in this region because the people who need it will not be able to access it. Military aid needs to be provided first in order to stabilize the region before any additional development can hope to be successful.

2. We shouldn’t be providing anything – The notion of aid is misleading. Historically, intervention of any kind has been much more harmful to such areas of the world than it has been helpful. As a result, there should be no prioritization. Aid should not be provided. People should be allowed to exercise their self determination and develop nations on their own. Self determinate nations have proven to be the most successful.

Resolved: The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms.

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Resolved: The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms.

This is a very difficult topic, mostly because the affirmative is just factually untrue. That being said, we still need to figure out a way to argue that side, so let’s talk about the topic.

I don’t think this topic merits definitions because the words are all straightforward. What does merit discussion is the word “outweigh.” Remember, you have to prove that the harms outweigh the benefits (or that they don’t). What this means is that it is not enough to provide a list of harms or benefits, but you need to prove that one set is actually more important than the other.

For example, suppose the resolution said that the benefits of cocaine use outweigh the harms. If I said that cocaine use decrease blood pressure, increases overall happiness, and improves heart health, that wouldn’t exactly prove that the benefits outweigh the harms. I’d need to explain to you why these benefits are more important than all the harms of cocaine use.

Similarly, you can’t just get up there and say that surveillance helps prevent terrorism. You need to explain why that is more important than the harms that it creates.

Alright, with that, let’s talk about case positions.

Pro

1. Surveillance has saved lives, and life outweighs everything else – NSA surveillance has led to apprehending terrorists and fugitives, and preventing attacks against innocent U.S. citizens. These lives saved amount to a benefit that cannot be outweighed because the lives and security of a people are a government’s first priorities and cannot be overridden by other concerns.

2. What harms? - NSA surveillance activities do not have harms. The innocent do not have to be concerned about surveillance. If you don’t commit a crime, you will be fine. Mistakes which have occurred in the past have been corrected. The benefits, however, are improved security and safety for the American people, which clearly outweighs an entire lack of harms.

Con

1. What benefits? – NSA surveillance has not directly prevented any harm to U.S. citizens domestically or abroad. Intelligence which has been used in preventing terrorist attacks has been gained through other investigative agencies and intelligence gathering mechanisms. Therefore, the notion that NSA surveillance is valuable is a myth. Conversely, surveillance directly violates innocent citizens’ rights to privacy and even property (if intellectual property is no longer private). These harms are not outweighed.

2. Surveillance harms the innocent – Countless innocent citizens have been arrested and/or incarcerated as a result of NSA surveillance. If somebody makes an off-color joke or discusses a particular political issue, they immediately become a suspect. This has happened so often that the TSA has even included a “no jokes” item in their airport instructions. The reality is that NSA surveillance is directly counterproductive to justice and protection of individual rights, the cornerstones of the United States government. These harms cannot be outweighed.

 

Resolved: The continuation of current U.S. anti-drug policies in Latin America will do more harm than good.

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Resolved: The continuation of current U.S. anti-drug policies in Latin America will do more harm than good.

I don’t know that I could have thought of a more boring topic. This will quickly devolve into repetitive, monotonous debating with student reiterating the same facts over and over again. The resolution also provides you with the framework you need, so it doesn’t give students much room to come up with creative insightful arguments. It isn’t even worth complaining to the NFL anymore. They have demonstrated their incessant desire to put out terrible topics. With that in mind, let’s start the analysis :P

Definitions

Continuation – This means to continue something i.e. not stop it. I don’t see any abuse potential or crafty definition approaches with this one. It’s straightforward

U.S. anti-drug policies in Latin America – Debaters will need a very intimate understanding of these policies. They will need to know the specific laws and initiatives that are in place and the particular content of those law. An historical knowledge of past policies and lessons learned in Latin will also be integral to a student’s ability to effectively debate the point.

Frameworks

So here’s the thing about this resolution, you are only permitted to use the framework of a cost benefit analysis i.e. you have to state the harms and benefits of these policies, and you have to argue that one outweighs the other depending upon which side you’re on. If you are on the Con, you must argue either that the policies do more good than harm, or that the good and harm are equal.

Impacting explicitly will be crucial for this resolution. It will not be acceptable to just list out harms and benefits. The debater needs to argue that one outweighs the other.

As a result, instead of doing a framework analysis, I’m going to talk about some potential harms and benefits you can discuss.

Costs

1. Illegal Immigration – There is a demonstrable link between drug policies and illegal immigration. Some argue that these policies promote such immigration, while others argue that it mitigates it. Nobody, however, talks about whether illegal immigration is a harm or a benefit. So do your due diligence and look up some studies that correlate anti-drug policies and illegal immigration. Be sure to talk about the actual impact of illegal immigration and whether or not it is a harm or a benefit. There is an argument to be made that illegal immigration has a positive impact on the United States.

2. There Is No Benefit – Some experts contend that there really isn’t a point. The U.S. is dumping money into a bottomless pit. As U.S. drug agencies try to enforce their policies, cartels become more innovative. They are entrenched within society, giving them a distinct advantage over U.S. enforcement. Governments are unwilling to cooperate with us because of widespread corruption. The tide cannot be stemmed, so why bother have the current vigorous policies that we do?

3. Life Cost of Law Enforcement – Drug enforcement requires a tremendous commitment from law enforcement agents involved in the processes. Often times, one operation can require a decade of embedded commitment. These policies have led to an incredible loss of life from law enforcement without yielding any comparable benefit.

Benefits

1. Reduction of Drug Influx Into U.S. – Anti-drug policies have demonstrably led to a decrease in drugs crossing our borders. Trade and sale in the United States has decreased. This has had positive economic effects as well as a decrease in drug related violence in high drug traffic areas.

2. More Jobs in Law Enforcement – The mere existence of these drug policies requires a large number of people. These openings provide opportunities for many people, particularly in a time when jobs are scarce. This is a good counter to the point which comments on the commitment required by law enforcement. Some people are looking for such a commitment that lends itself to consistent and reliable income.

3. The Benefit of Existence – The policies exist, which in itself is the largest benefit. The resolution proposes a discontinue of the current policies, which would be far more catastrophic. So whatever costs we have incurred need to be absorbed because the harms of discontinuing the policies would be much worse.

I know I didn’t have much for this topic, but there really isn’t much to talk about. As I mentioned, the arguments will be repetitive, and because of the advent of popular briefs, the evidence will likely be repetitive as well.

Good luck!

Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.

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Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.

Why? Why do these topics continue to get worse and worse? I thought the new generations of kids were supposed to be getting dumber, not the adults! AGH! I mean, really though, who’s voting for these topics? How do they win? Who writes them? There is clearly some shady conspiracy going on to turn debate into a vacuum of nonsense. Ugh, I guess we just have to deal with it. So let’s do it.

Definitions

1. U.S. Government - We all know what the U.S. government is. People will inevitably try to make a distinction between the state and national government. In reality, it’s actually irrelevant. The resolution is asking you to argue the principle of the thing, not for a specific level of government.

2. Require - When the government requires its citizens to do something, that means it imposes some sort of punishment for not doing such thing. The content of this punishment is irrelevant to the resolution. You can assume that the government will not execute people for not having healthcare, and don’t let people try to get abusive with this. Again, the resolution is asking you to talk about the principle of requiring people to have health insurance rather than the actual content of what that would look like.

3. Citizens – We all also know what a citizen is. Being a citizen entails a legal status, not just that a person lives in the U.S. The reason the resolution uses this word is so that the Con doesn’t have to support illegal immigrants being required to have health insurance.

4. Health Insurance - Health insurance refers to the concept of a person paying a certain amount into a pool, and the pool pays costs for medical care and/or treatment if you should need it. Again, the form this takes does not matter. This resolution is not about the government providing universal healthcare. It’s about the government punishing people who do not have health insurance, like they do with car insurance.

Potential Positions

Con

1. Health Insurance is Good – It’s a fact that people who have health insurance end up better off. If there preventive examinations and consultations are paid for, people are more like to go in and get checked up. Requiring people to have health insurance will improve the overall health of the country. The long term result is that less and less people will actually have health associated costs, so healthcare spending will decrease.

2. A Health Insurance Requirement Stops People From Being Stupid – There is a large portion of the population that doesn’t get health insurance for reasons other than not being able to afford it. These people are jeopardizing their lives. If the situation were ever to arise that they would need medical care, they would not be able to get it because of an inability to pay. There’s a reason the government requires people to have auto insurance, and the reason reason holds true for health insurance as well.

Pro

1. The Requirement Won’t Have Any Significant Impact – People who don’t have health insurance will not be suddenly motivated to get it because of some government requirement. They will still abuse the emergency care system as they always have. A requirement doesn’t suddenly make health insurance affordable, nor does it motivate people to pay for something they don’t feel they need.

2. Individual Rights – Every person has a right not to have health insurance. By not getting health insurance, I am only endangering my life and nobody else’s. Therefore, I should have the ability to forego health insurance if I should choose. It’s not the government’s place to tell me how to manage my life.

I hope this helps you get started.

Resolved: On balance, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission harms the election process.

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Resolved: On balance, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission harms the election process.

This topic is awful, so much so that I didn’t even feel like finding a witty cartoon to put in this post. The topic doesn’t even ask you to assess the merits of of the ruling, but the impact it has had on the election process. Enough time hasn’t passed for you to have adequate evidence to address the impact, nor is it possible to draw any sort of reasonable causal distinction. This is going to lead to terrible off topic debates. To everyone who voted for this topic, wtf were you thinking?

Ok, with that ranting introduction over, let’s actually talk about this nonsense.

Definitions

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission - This is the only important definition in this resolution. Everything else is straightforward. What did the ruling do? There’s actually a lot to it, but the gist is that it allows for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money toward convincing people to vote for a particular candidate. My advice to you is to actually read the entire opinion available here.

Potential Case Positions

Pro

1. Increased Block Voting – Unions have spent a noticeably greater amount of money since the ruling, and union members have voted more homogeneously. This demonstrates the advent of voting blocks rather than independent thoughtful voting. The results of this is increased political divisiveness as people increasingly vote on partisan lines as opposed to voting on the merits of the candidates’ positions and ideas.

2. Increased Non-Voter Influence – Interest groups like unions and corporations do not vote. While election decisions affect them, candidates are supposed to represent the people. Since the ruling, a number of non-voter interests have enacted initiatives which can be characterized as “buying votes” for the candidate of their choice. This has negatively impacted the election process by not only decreasing its legitimacy but also removing the representation of the people.

Con

1. Nothing Has Changed – There is no evidence to suggest that the election process is different in any noticeable way. Unions and corporations aren’t doing anything differently than they have done in the past, and voter allegiances have not dramatically shifted.

2. More Political Activity – Avenues for political education and awareness have become more effective since the removal of funding limits. The ruling has enable previously silent interests to become more active, which has allowed for a more vibrant political landscape, which is always a good thing.

I hope this helps give you some kind of start for this horrendous topic. Good luck finding evidence and analyzing it.