Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.

Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.

Wow, what is with all these terrible topics? The vagueness in this topic alone should have been enough for the NFL to reject it, particularly for a PF topic. Not to mention, this topic is horrendously weighted for the Con. Like all the other crap, however, we’re stuck with it, so let’s get down to business.

Important Terms and Definitions

The United States – Don’t let anyone tell you that this refers to anything other than the federal government. That’s what we’re talking about, not state governments.

Should – This is the crux of your case. You must understand how to determine what a government should prioritize, and you must use that understanding to build your contentions.

Prioritize – If you’re on the pro, here is the scenario for you: You have to pick between tax increases and spending cuts. You think tax increases are better. Prove it. This is what prioritization means, end of story.

Tax Increases and Spending Cuts – These terms are so vague. Where are we cutting spending? What does the tax increase look like? The terribad phrasing here not only precludes that all tax increases/spending are equal, but it also asks you to determine a philosophical difference as opposed to a practical one. Has the NFL forgotten that this is PF? As far as a definition is concerned, we all know what tax increases and spending cuts are. Your job is to understand how they manifest in particular segments of the economy (defense, welfare systems, healthcare, energy, etc…) In your case, I would advise against going into specifics regarding particular sectors, but be prepared for abusive arguments which do such things.

Potential Case Positions

Pro

1. Efficiency of Tax Increases – A government’s priorities ought to be determined by what is the most efficient option for accomplishing its goals. Tax increases are more efficient than spending cuts. Pragmatically speaking, they are easier to push through congress because they are not subject to as much quibbling as spending reform. Taxes are the most direct for of revenue for the federal government, and the rich can definitely afford to pay more in taxes.

2. Effectiveness of Tax Increases – A government should do what is most effective in accomplishing its goals. While spending cuts may help us save money, they do not allow us to direct funds toward new initiatives which will help rebuild our economy. The new educational and healthcare initiatives which are now being put into place require money.

Con

1. Tax Increases are Unnecessary – We spend more on defense than the next 27 countries combined. We spend more per capita on healthcare than any other nation, and we’re in the top 10 per capita spending on education. We clearly don’t need more money. We need to spend it more wisely. If we fixed our government programs and allocated money more appropriately, increased taxes would be unnecessary.

2. Tax Increases Harm Small Business – This is a fairly obvious point. If we increase taxes, it makes it more difficult for small businesses to operate. Small businesses are a large driving for economic growth and success, and we really shouldn’t hinder them.

3. Spending Cuts are More Effective – Spending cuts don’t happen often, but when they do, they show remarkable results. The $200 billion decrease in military spending had an immediate positive impact on the economy that few people talk about. Harlem Children’s Zone is another great example of how managed spending can still yield good results and outcomes. Throwing money at problems doesn’t fix them. If stop spending as much money, it forces us to evaluate how to spend it most effectively.

This should be good to get you started. As always, feel free to post comments and such.

Resolved: Developed countries have a moral obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Resolved: Developed countries have a moral obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change.

What is this nonsense? I cannot remember a more terribad PF resolution in recent memory, except maybe the one about NBA uniforms. EFF! Regardless of my feelings, however, it’s what we’re stuck with, so let’s break it down.

Nouns: Developed countries, moral obligation, effects, climate change

Verbs: have, mitigate

Definitions

Developed countries – Do not fuss over this definition. We all have an understanding of what developed countries are, and we can all list examples of them. The purpose of specifying developed is to avoid the economic/ability argument that the country just doesn’t have the resources to address climate change. Countries like the U.S., UK, China, etc… all have the ability to tackle the effects of climate change. We need to address whether or not they have a moral obligation to do so.

Mitigate – This is a tricky term. What precisely does it mean to mitigate the effects of climate change? There are a number of ways to do this. You can start green initiatives, or you can just find a way to make polar bears and ice caps. I know there will be a lot of quibbling over what mitigation entails, but I admonish you not to fall into that trap. The resolution does not want you to focus on the method. Mitigating the effects of climate change means instituting environmentally conscious economic policies and enforcing them, simple and straight forward.

Moral Obligation – This is the crux of the case, and it will not be addressed in your definitions. Rather, your case needs to develop an understanding of where governmental moral obligations come from and precisely why this dictates a moral obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change. This is very difficult to do in PF because you only have 4 minutes and no overt structure requirement like LD.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Protection of the People – Climate change poses and drastic and direct threat to every population. Its effects impact weather safety, food quality, and even resource competition. A government’s primary moral obligation is to protect its people from threats, foreign and domestic. If the government does not do its part to mitigate the effects of climate change, it is falling short of its main obligation

2. Humanitarian Obligations – Developed nations have a moral obligation to contribute to prosperity across the globe. It is incumbent upon those who have more to aid those who are less fortunate. Peter Senger goes on endlessly about this. Climate change has been proven to lead to a number of conflicts which have escalated into tremendous violence and oppression. If developed nations address climate change, it will bring us close to a peaceful society.

Con

1. Climate Change Poses no Direct Threat – Climate change does not pose any significant or tangible threat to human populations. The scientific reality is that, as humans, we are more than capable of adjusting with the climate. The polar bear lovers will try and make you believe that melting ice caps and such threaten your livelihood. This just isn’t true. As such, governments have no obligation to address climate change because a government’s obligations are primarily to its people.

2. Climate Change Policies Violate the Free Market – When it comes to economics, developed nations have a primary obligation to promote free market systems because those systems demonstrably result in better outcomes. Green policies are a direct violation of free markets. Not only does this violate the government’s obligations, but it also sets a bad precedent for developing nations. These other nations cannot develop with green policies as they just do not have the resources to sustain them. If the developed nations decide to introduce international green initiatives, it may actually end up damaging the global economy.

Good luck!

Resolved: Birthright citizenship should be abolished in the United States.

Ok, let’s start with parts of speech.

Nouns – birthright citizenship, United States

Verbs – should be, abolished

Let’s continue with definitions.

Birthright citizenship – Birthright citizenship is the concept that those born in a particular country automatically receive citizenship of that country. In this case, we are concerned with the United States.

Should Be – This is the most central and important part of the debate. If something “should” happen, this indicates that there is a good reason for it to happen. Therefore, it is not enough for you to prove that birthright citizenship is bad, but that abolishing it would be better. After all, alcohol is bad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean prohibition is better.

Abolished – Abolished means ended, permanently.

Preliminary Position Analysis

Pro

The Pro must prove that there is a good reason to abolish birthright citizenship. This means they must prove either 1) a U.S. without birthright citizenship would be better than one with birthright citizenship or 2) there is a moral/legal justification to eliminate birthright citizenship regardless of the outcomes.

In order to argue the first position, international comparisons can be useful. Other countries have gotten rid of birthright citizenship. It would be useful to look into these countries and see if it worked out. If it did, then inferential reasoning would dictate that the U.S. ought to follow suit.

As far as the second position is concerned, the legal argument can be made that birthright citizenship allows for aliens to exploit our justice system or that it is not warranted by the 14th Amendment.

Con

Like always, the Con does not have the burden of proving that the opposite of the resolution is true. Rather, the Con must prove that you cannot affirm. Therefore, they have more wiggle room in terms of arguing the topic.

The Con can contend that the cost of abolishing birthright citizenship would cause so much bureaucracy and enforcement costs that any benefits would be invalidated. Essentially, there would be so much spent on policing the new lack of birthright citizenship that we might as well just let immigrants have anchor babies.

The Con can also argue that the benefits don’t matter on moral and legal grounds. It is inappropriate to punish children for the mistakes of their parents, and this contradicts the essential ideals which the U.S. stands for. The child itself did not immigrate to this country, and removing birthright citizenship would force use to put the child through unnecessary turmoil which it does not deserve. Not to mention, the child’s ability to immigrate legally later becomes crippled because of its parents’ actions.

The standard positions exist as well. The Con can always contend that a world without birthright citizenship would be worse than the world with birthright citizenship. Consequently, it shouldn’t be abolished. International comparisons can also be used effectively here.

I hope this helps you get started. Good luck! 🙂

Resolved: In the United States, current income disparities threaten democratic ideals.

This topic is similar to the current topic in that it is fairly narrow and doesn’t allow for much significant impact. Therefore, the teams which develop the best framework and best impacts will have the biggest advantage. That’s how it should be anyway, but sometimes the amount of evidence can outweigh framework analysis in public forum. This topic doesn’t really allow for that. So, let’s begin with the first step of breaking down every topic, grammatical analysis and identifying the important terms.

Nouns: current income disparities, democratic ideals

(United States is also important, but doesn’t need to be defined. Just remember that the resolution is U.S. specific.)

Verbs: threaten

As I mentioned in the LD topic breakdown, nouns in debate are constructed differently. This means that it is inappropriate to construct a definition of “democratic ideals” based upon the separate definitions of “democratic” and “ideals.” Instead, “democratic ideals” becomes a separate ontological entity which requires its own definition. That brings us to the next step of the breakdown, defining important terms.

Current Income Disparities: I already anticipate several teams focusing on this definition as the crux of the debate. Teams will inevitably try to find statistics and evidence which demonstrate that the income gap isn’t as bad as Occupy Wall Street would have you believe, or that there is a decent dispersion of wealth, etc… DON’T DO IT!! The intent of the resolution is not for you to demonstrate that the economic situation in the U.S. isn’t that bad. Instead, the resolution is asking you whether or not the crappy economic inequality we have threatens the principles upon which our country is built. So, just accept that the income gap is huge, since 1% of the population controls 70% of the wealth, or whatever the absurd statistic is. Both sides need to admit this, or the debate will suck.

Democratic Ideals: I further anticipate a severe misunderstanding of this term. Teams will attempt to argue that certain things such as “equality” do or not fall into democratic ideals and will attempt to find odd definitions which separate the economy and governing the people. Again, DON’T DO THIS!! Democratic ideals do not necessarily entail that a country is a democracy, but rather that it is founded upon principles of equal representation, liberty, freedom, human rights, etc… We all know what democratic ideals are. Just find a legitimate source with a good sounding summary of it, and stick it in your case as the definition.

Threaten: This is probably the toughest term to define. We can accept most definitions for the previous two because we all have a general understanding of what they mean, and there is no need to distinguish the intricate nuances of them. However, in order to properly understand the resolution, we must know what it means to threaten democratic ideals. I also advise against trying to be abusive with this definition. Don’t take a position which says something like, “Since our country won’t turn into a dictatorship, democratic ideals aren’t threatened by income disparities.” The idea of the resolution is that income disparities harm equality of opportunity, freedom of political participation, freedom of speech, etc… Because of lack of wealth, many people may have a difficult time having a political presence. Therefore, I think an appropriate definition of threatening democratic ideals would be preventing their complete fulfillment or realization.

Potential Case Positions

Pro

1. Money = Power – This is a fairly obvious and straightforward position. It’s no secret that people with more money can have a larger political presence. They can run more effective campaigns and eventually get more votes, not to mention have more leverage with political interests and such. So, if the vast majority of wealth is concentrated to such a few people, then we are effectively left with an oligarchy, with only a select number of people continually inheriting political dominance (Bush family, Clinton family, Kennedy family). This system threatens democratic ideals because it harms everyone else’s right to speech, right to political participation, right to equality under the law, and effectively the right to choose their leaders as well.

2. The Institutions of Democratic Mechanics are Threatened – With money becoming more concentrated, political mechanics occur less and less in democratic ways such as through town hall meetings, open elections, debates, and actual merit based politiking. Instead, economic institutions and factors such as interests, media campaigns, and political contributions become more important because they lead to demonstrably more political success. Citizens, therefore, engage in the political process through lobbying, donating money, or not doing anything because they feel as if they cannot make a difference. This threatens democratic ideals because it damages the fundamental operational foundations of a democratic government and society.

Con

1. Free competition is a Democratic Ideal – Obviously, a democratic society encourages property rights, liberty, and open competition. Inevitably, this leads to income disparities because some people will be more successful than others, and they should be rewarded for that success. It therefore becomes sort of oxymoronic to say that open competition threatens democratic ideals, because it is the same as saying democratic ideals threaten democratic ideals.

2. In the Internet Age, Finances Become Less Relevant – Democratic ideals rest upon the idea that everyone can have their voice heard, and everyone can engage in the political process. We live in an age of blogs, facebook, and open communication. Therefore, to claim that money is a significant hindrance to democratic participation is absurd. Even those without money have avenues through which their voices can be heard. This position can be particularly powerful if you use examples of successful bloggers, independent filmmakers, etc… who have managed to have a significant political impact without lots of monies at their disposal.

These are just a few thoughts to get you started. I hope they help, and good luck 🙂