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 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!

Resolved: Spain should grant Catalonia its independence.

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Resolved: Spain should grant Catalonia its independence.

I don’t hate the topic as much as I hate the phrasing. Framing it this way asks the question of how we determine what the government of Spain should do, which is a completely different question from whether or not Catalonia should be independent. Rather than tackling interesting questions about autonomy and sovereignty, we are now instead forced to examine the specific benefits and harms to one particular European nation. Ugh.

Definitions

Nothing in this topic really needs to be defined in detail; it’s pretty straightforward. Spain is a country in Europe. Catalonia is part of Spain, namely an autonomous “nationality” within Spain. Independence means being your own sovereign nation.

As mentioned above, though, the important thing to note is you have to address how we determine what Spain should do, not whether or not Catalonia should be independent. There’s a big difference, and students are certainly going to get this confused.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Economics – Contrary to some arguments out there, it may actually be in Spain’s economic interest to let Catalonia go. While the national government does collect taxes, it also spends a significant amount of money for the nationality, and directs a lot of EU funds toward it. It’s possible that without Catalonia, Spain would be in better shape economically. It would also add another nation to the EU, presumably, which could help further bolster the region’s economy. Not to mention, all the efforts Spain has put into suppressing the independence movement are leading many to question Spain’s democratic credentials, so to speak.

2. Democracy! – Spain is ostensibly a Democratic nation, which should ostensibly be governed by the will of the people. It seems pretty clear that the majority of Catalonia wants independence. If that’s the case, then democratic principles dictate they should have it.

Con

1. Economics – This argument can also be made on the Con. Spain certainly collects a lot of taxes from Catalonia, as Catalonia is quite wealthy. To lose all that income may be catastrophic to an already struggling economy. The costs of keeping Catalonia around are worth it.

2. Stability of Europe – With Brexit already having happened, the stability of Europe, and the EU in particular, is already on shaky ground. Granting Catalonia independence could create a substantial destabilization not only by increasing the economic burden of the EU, but also by setting a precedent which may spur other independence movements.

Hope that helps get you started. Good luck!

Resolved: NCAA student athletes ought to be recognized as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Resolved: NCAA student athletes ought to be recognized as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

I cannot even begin to express how terrible this topic is. With everything that could possibly be debated, THIS is the topic that is picked? Seriously? Let’s put aside for a second that this topic is nearly impossible to actually debate. On simple merit alone,Scannable Fake ID, this topic should fall to the bottom of the list. Regardless, we’re stuck with what we’re stuck, so let’s try to make gold out of straw.

Definitions

NCAA Student Athletes – This is pretty simple. Any athlete that plays a sport for a team that’s part of the NCAA qualifies under this definition. I suppose the intent here is to remove intramural sports from the debate. If you go to the NCAA website, you can find a complete listing of sports there.

Ought to be recognized – The most important word here is “ought.” The recognition is really just a matter of legal distinction. For something to be recognized under any part of the law means for it to be defined as such under that law. Your framework is going to rest on the word “ought.” You’ll need to actually read the FLSA, along with the court opinions that have already held the resolution as false, and figure out a legal argument.

Employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act – Here’s where we really fall into the muck. Because the resolution has made this specification, you must create a legal argument in order to have any impact. You have to actually argue that the definition under this law means that NCAA athletes qualify as employees. This document from the U.S. Department of Labor is a good place to start when determining how you’re going to approach this. Keep in mind that saying things like, “NCAA athletes should get paid,” proves nothing here. It doesn’t matter what should or should not happen morally, but rather what the law says. Saying prostitutes should get paid for their work, for example, is way different from saying that prostitutes should legally be considered employees under the law.

Some important things to note:

  1. Every major court decision on this case has decided that these athletes do not qualify as employees, so the PRO will have an uphill battle.
  2. No court decision has ever developed a definitive test to determine if someone is considered an employee when it comes to athletes, nor does the FLSA have a specific definition. Fake IDs,There are three tests in U.S. jurisprudence, but various court decisions have ruled them irrelevant or inadequate in scope. Anything you’re going to find will be vague and open to interpretation, which I suspect is why all these schools think that high school students will be capable of arguing against the opinions of federal court judges, but whatever.
  3. The resolution does not specify who the employer is. Is the employer the NCAA, the school, or the actual team? The arguments for all of them are actually quite different, and this lack of specificity leaves a lot of room for nonsense.
  4. The implications are irrelevant. If these athletes are considered employees, then they will be entitled to minimum wage, compensation, and other legal remedies. None of this, however, matters to the argument, so don’t get bogged down in it. You are answering the question of whether or not the law defines these folks as employees. The consequences of such definition do not matter.

Frameworks

So, the frameworks are actually going to be pretty limited here, because they have to be framed in the law around the FLSA. Let’s do the best we can.

PRO

1. Economic Dependence – NCAA athletes can often be said to be entirely economically dependent on the business that is NCAA sports. The revenue that these sports generate is crucial to student athletes being able to attend school and attain the scholarship and education which can be said to be their compensation. Not only that, the terms of their labor are determined by the organization. Unlike other extracurricular activities, which are generally governed by the students themselves, best fake id,athletic associations are governed by the larger body that is the NCAA and the teams themselves. The management structure and economic realities of NCAA sports creates clear economic dependence.

CON

1. The Law is Clear – U.S. jurisprudence has determined over the course of many years that these athletes do not classify as employees. Amateur sports have a long history, and athletes clearly compete in these sports for reasons that have nothing to do with compensation or necessity. Not only that, participation in these sports is completely voluntary. These athletes are under no obligation to continue their participation if they choose not to. No matter how you slice it, there’s no real way to argue that the FLSA could possibly define any student athlete as an employee.

Hope that helps. Good luck! And don’t forget to check out the The Debate Academy if you’re looking for some extra help!

Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfer of ownership.

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Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfer of ownership.

I was excited after reviewing the LD topic, but this one is unfortunately a disappointment. It’s heavily weighted toward the pro, and evidence against universal background checks is going to be difficult to find. But, let’s see what we can do.

Definitions

United States – In this case, this refers to the U.S. government. The point of this is a) to restrict the debate within the borders of the U.S. and b) to indicate that this requirement would be enacted federally.

Require – Don’t make this more than it is. How does the government require anything? By punishing you for not doing yet, or not allowing you to get what you want. To avoid a stupid debate, you can reasonably assume that the resolution is saying a person will need to pass a universal background check before being allowed to purchase or acquire a firearm.

Universal background check – A universal background check is a check that goes through the NICS system. Basically, the FBI maintains a database of people it has deemed ineligible to purchase firearms and explosives. The background check references a potential buyer against that database to determine if they’re allowed to buy a firearm or not. Currently, only licensed firearm dealers are required to perform such a background check. The resolution is asking if this should be extended to all transactions.

Should – This is the most important word in the resolution. Your framework has to explain how we determine what a government, particularly the U.S. government, should do. Then, you have to extend that to explain why that means the U.S. should require universal background checks.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Security – A government’s primary responsibility is to the security of its own people. Some would even argue that is a government’s only responsibility. Experts generally agree that universal background checks will reduce gun violence and improve overall safety. It’s clear that these background checks should be required to improve the overall safety of the U.S. population.

2. Consent of the People – Governments, particularly democratic ones like the United States, determine their actions through the will of the people. Their is a substantial body of evidence to suggest that the American people favor universal background checks for all firearm transactions.

Con

1. Second Amendment – Such background checks would be too severe of a hindrance to peoples’ right to own firearms. The FBI registry regularly returns false positives and would prevent too many people form freely exercising their rights. It can also be argued that such a requirement is beyond the government’s rights. The Libertarian position would contend that enacting such restrictions stretches the government’s regulatory powers too far.

2. Impossibility of Implementation – This is more of a kritik type position, but one could argue that the solution proposed in the resolution is impossible to implement in the United Sates. It is just not feasible for the government to regulate all gun transactions that occur within U.S. borders, and if something is impossible to do, it should not be done.

That’s it; I hope that helps get you started. Feel free to post questions and comments below, and visit the Academy if you’re interested in personal private coaching!

Resolved: Deployment of anti-missile systems is in South Korea’s best interest.

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Resolved: Deployment of anti-missile systems is in South Korea’s best interest.

What a strange topic to start off the new season. It’s phrased quite vaguely, so as not to specify if the question is referring specifically to American anti-missile systems which South Korea has delayed deploying this year. If that was the question, then this would be a good targeted debate with lots of clash. Instead, we’re now left to speculate on what is in South Korea’s best interest in a vacuum. Ugh.

Definitions

Anti-missile systems – This is pretty straightforward. There is technology which can defend against missile attacks; anti-missile systems are that technology.

Deployment – Also straightforward. These systems need to be built and deployed.

South Korea’s best interest – This is the crux of your debate. You must construct a framework which allows you to evaluate what is in South Korea’s best interest. In order to do that, you must explain how a government determines what is in it’s country’s best interest.

Pro

1. Security – A nation’s first priority is the security of its people. Security is the primary reason governments and societies are formed, and an anti-missile defense protects the security of the Korean people. North Korea is an active threat, and missile defense helps mitigate that threat.

2. U.S./Korea Relations – It is in a nation’s best interest to maintain strong global allies. The refusal of S. Korea’s new government to deploy a missile defense system has damaged its relationship with the United States, its strongest ally. This directly damages the interests of the Korean people.

Con

1. Security – North Korea is not an active threat. They have not actually made any aggressive moves, and show no indications or possessing actually threatening military power. Consequently, the deployment of anti-missile systems would actually harm the security of the Korean people. It would damage environmental security, as well as expanding U.S. military influence in the country. This is not in the best interest of S. Korea.

2. Sovereignty – South Korea must be able to stand on its own two feet for the sake of its people. The word “deployment” clearly indicates that the anti-missile system would likely be American, rather than being constructed by Korea itself. Instead, S. Korea should construct its own anti-missile defense system. This would avoid the harms to its sovereignty which would occur as a result of it allowing a foreign power to deploy military apparatus within its borders.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.

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Two-State Solution

This is an interesting topic because of its odd timing. A two state solution is not any less viable now than it was before, so it’s weird that we would consider this now. Maybe it’s another Trump inspired discussion….joy….

Definitions

United States – In this case, this probably means the Secretary of State or President since they are the two who would most directly “pressure” Israel to do anything

Pressure – There is no pressure currently. It’s not like we’re levying sanctions against Israel until they accept a two state solution. Pressure really just means to suggest sternly.

Two State Solution – This is the idea that there should two separate Isareli and Palestinian states. It’s pretty simple in concept, not so simple in implementation.

Pro

1. The people no longer care – Recent commentary from within Palestine and Israel shows that citizens no longer care about a two state solution. They only care about peace and a good standard of living.

2. It’s not working – Israel is not going to accept or implement a two state solution, so what’s the point? Let’s pressure toward a solution that they will actually enact.

Con

1. The Palestinian people deserve an independent state – This isn’t about what will work; it’s about justice. Oppressed peoples deserve autonomy and self-determination.

2. Trump is incapable of coming up with another solution – Switching pivotal international policy positions during times of unstable leadership is generally a bad idea. If we don’t have leaders in place capable of coming up with better or more creative solutions, then we shouldn’t switch.

That’s it, good luck!

Resolved: In order to better respond to international conflicts, the United States should significantly increase its military spending.

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militaryspending

Resolved: In order to better respond to international conflicts, the United States should significantly increase its military spending.

I just got done writing the LD topic overview, and I was relieved to be done with that terrible topic. Then, I saw this one. In what delusional universe could anyone possibly think that spending more than the $1 trillion we already spend on “defense” is the solution to responding to international conflicts? People have written entire books on why that thought is so misguided as to not even be a consideration. But for some reason, 67% of you decided that this is what we should be debating. I hope you’re happy with yourselves, and I hope you’re happy destroying the minds of our youth.

Definitions

International conflicts – This is an incredibly broad scope. It technically includes everything from environmental conflicts to genocide to terrorism. Terrorism is the most politically relevant topic area considering the modern world, but there’s probably a lot of room to argue about other areas of conflict as well.

Significantly increase – I’m only reviewing this definition to point out that it doesn’t matter. Whether spending is increased significantly or not is not the question. You can pick any arbitrary amount and call it significant. 25%, 50%, 75%….none of the numbers really change what the debate is actually about.

Military Spending – This is also incredibly broad. What exactly qualifies as military spending? There is the obvious stuff like guns and fighter jets, but what about intelligence personnel? Or clerks at the Pentagon who file paperwork? Technically, the debater is responsible for including everything. That being said, the type of spending is really irrelevant. The question is whether or not dumping money into military efforts will solve the problems.

Should – The most important word in the resolution. You have to first determine how the U.S. government determines what it should do in order to argue the resolution.

Case Positions

Pro

  1. We Aren’t Keeping Up – The U.S. military needs to increase research and development, along with deploying more personnel on the ground. These are the most effective ways to keep up with the growing number of military engagements that we have to deal with, and increased spending will allow us to do this.
  2. Non-Military Conflicts – Resource conflicts, environmental conflicts, and refugee crises all require additional military spending to deal with. If we can use military initiatives to address these problems before they spill over international borders, we’ll be in a much better place.

Con

  1. Spending Isn’t the Problem – Look at the history of U.S. counter terrorism policy. Study after study has shown that what we’re doing isn’t effective and is in fact exacerbating the issues. Yet, we keep doing it. Spending more money on initiatives that don’t work isn’t a good approach.
  2. Opportunity Cost – We like to pretend that the military budget exists in a vacuum, but it doesn’t. Increased military spending means either higher taxes or decreased spending in other areas which desperately need it like education and energy.

Good luck!

Resolved: The United States should end Plan Colombia.

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Resolved: The United States should end Plan Colombia.

Ugh! These topics keep getting worse! There is no debate here. Plan Colombia has been a catastrophic failure, and study after study has argued that the resources should be used elsewhere. This is the most pro-weighted topic I have ever seen in my life. I guess it at least has the potential to teach students about cocaine trafficking, and since the second season of Narcos was released fairly recently, it’s probably good to learn a little something about the trade. Let’s get to it.

Definitions

United States – It should be clear that this means the U.S. government. The government is the entity which carries out these types of initiatives, so it needs to be clear that it’s the agent of action here

Plan Colombia – Colombia has drug cartels; in fact, it has some of the biggest baddest drug cartels in the world. In addition to that, it has a complex political situation marked by different factions of militants and cartel sympathizers. Plan Colombia is the United States government attempting to combat some of these parties. It has a lot of history and details, but the idea is that the U.S. wants to stop the drug cartels and the left wing militants, or at least that’s how the military, economic, and political interventions involved in Plan Colombia are sold. Ever seen Sicario? That’s probably closer to the actual reality of what goes on.

Should – This is the most important word in the resolution. Your framework has to explain how we determine what a government must do, and apply that analysis to Plan Colombia

Case Positions

Pro

1. Opportunity Cost – A government’s first priority is to its own people. The Colombia Plan has cost tens of billions of dollars and led to no clearly identifiable benefits for the American people. It continues to waste taxpayer money and cost lives of American soldiers. It should be stopped and those resources directed elsewhere.

2. Security – Plan Colombia has had a destabilizing impact on the region. It has not created a stable government in Colombia which favors the United States, and instead, has caused militant retaliation which has ripples across South and Central America. The U.S. has an obligation to promote security near its borders, and Plan Colombia does the opposite of that.

3. Self Determination – As a member of the international community in an increasingly globalized world, nations are obligated to respect the self determination of all peoples. Plan Colombia directly violates that self determination, and as such, needs to be stopped.

Con

1. Drugs! – Colombian cartels are notorious for proliferating drugs through Central America into the U.S. As such, they are causing direct harm to the American people, a harm which the U.S. government has the obligation to stop. Plan Colombia has so far been effective in limiting the influx of these drugs into the United States, and so should continue.

2. Humanitarian Intervention – Plan Colombia is a humanitarian effort which the U.S. has an obligation to continue. So far, American efforts have managed to diminish the power the cartels hold in Colombia and have afforded the Colombian people a tremendous amount of freedom and opportunity, and it should be continued to help those people.

3. Military Interest – If FARC gets a foothold in Colombia, it poses a security risk to the entire region, which includes the U.S. The United States has a military interest in having a sympathetic government in power in Colombia, and so should continue its efforts to secure such a government.

That’s all I got. Good luck!

Resolved: On balance, the benefits of the Internet of Things outweigh the harms of decreased personal privacy.

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iot

Resolved: On balance, the benefits of the Internet of Things outweigh the harms of decreased personal privacy.

And the bad topics just keep on coming. There are so many more interesting things to talk about than the speculative personal privacy harms when it comes to the IoT. We could talk about national security, the economic impacts, or a variety of other things. Instead, you chose to talk about personal privacy. If you still think you have privacy in 2016, you’re delusional. Google knows everything about you, and the government can find out whatever they want with a few clicks. Stop pretending like privacy is actually a thing anymore, and please stop pretending that it’s more important than all the potential benefits of something like an IoT. But whatever, let’s go through the topic.

Definitions

Internet of Things – The idea is pretty simple, but there’s a lot to unpack here. The IoT is basically the concept of an internet where everything is connected. Cars, toasters, headphones, pens, etc… can all be connected to a network and send/receive data. On the one hand, this could be incredibly beneficial. For example, smart watches are already being used to send live health data from patients to their doctors so that their treatments can be monitored and improved. That’s one example of how this network could be great. On the other hand, it’s Skynet, and we all know how that ends. A completely connected universe poses tremendous risks and gives the bad guys a whole new toy to play with. What if someone managed to hack into your car and lock your brakes while you were speeding down the highway? That would be pretty bad. The important thing to keep in mind here is that no object or “thing” is off limits. The IoT would connect all of the things.

Personal Privacy – This is also pretty simple. We all know what privacy is. There is certain information that we don’t want other people to know or to be publicly available. The important part of this term is the word personal. The resolution here specifically concerns itself with the individual, not any organization or body like the government. You also have to keep in mind that the resolution assumes there are harms of decreasing personal privacy. This assumption is probably up for critique, but you will need to understand privacy in order to critique it.

Outweigh – This is the most important part of the resolution, and I often find that debaters struggle with properly weighing things. Look, it is possible for one benefit to be more important that 1000 harms, if it is a big enough benefit, and vice versa. You must develop a framework which explains what the most important considerations are when evaluating the impacts of technology. Are human rights the most important? The economy? What about societal progress? How and when does one of these things outweigh the others? Teams usually just get up there and list out harms or benefits, depending which side they’re on. That’s not enough. You need to explain why your impacts are more important than the other side’s.

Case Positions

Pro

1. The IoT Saves Lives – It’s already happening. One of the most important applications of the IoT is healthcare. With this amount of data, a person can manage and improve his/her health at an unprecedented level. We’re already seeing this with things like Apple’s HealthKit. Saving lives seems far more important than protecting whatever shred of personal privacy we have.

2. Reducing Personal Privacy is Beneficial – Why do we value privacy so much? If you don’t have things to hide, why does it matter if foreign entities can access your public information? Less personal privacy will actually encourage people to be better human being. They won’t be able to as easily hide the terrible things that they do, and will therefore be discouraged from doing them. It will also help law enforcement more easily solve crimes, which also seems far more important than protecting personal privacy.

3. The Unknown – We don’t know what potential benefits the IoT could unlock, because an aggregation of such data has never been possible before. We can, however, more reasonably estimate the risks and protect against them. The mystery box could be anything, but you already know what box A contains, and it’s not that great. So, pick the mystery box!

Con

1. Government Abuse – A government that has access to all this data is incredibly dangerous. With control of the military, it becomes invincible. The risk of government abuse becomes tremendous. Even something as simple as manipulating elections becomes much more likely.

2. Economic Abuse – Like with anything else, the wealthy have access to things that normal people don’t. The IoT would be no different. Corporations could use IoT data to manipulate entire consumer bases without the average person’s knowledge. As data about the lives of executives becomes more available, corporate espionage and blackmail become more likely. These realities all result from the violations of personal privacy that become possible with an IoT.

3. Quality of Life – A person’s quality of life decreases without privacy. Privacy is a key component not only in human development but also in maintaining a positive and happy lifestyle. Without privacy, anxiety becomes more prevalent. The increased benefits of an IoT are meaningless if people are not happier with their lives.

Alright, that’s it. Good luck!