Resolved: The United States should replace means-tested welfare programs with a universal basic income.

‘I’m afraid at times like this with overstretched budgets we all have to make sacrifices…’

Resolved: The United States should replace means-tested welfare programs with a universal basic income.

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The problem with this topic is that there isn’t really enough evidence out there to weigh the two option. UBI hasn’t been tried enough, and we don’t have data to compare it with means-tested welfare programs. That being said, the theoretical debate here is still pretty interesting, so let’s talk about it.

Definitions

Means-tested welfare programs – These are current welfare programs that provide specific assistance to people of low income, such as housing assistance, food assistance, etc… Robert Rector’s testimony before Congress explains it better than I can:

The means-tested welfare system consists of 79 federal programs providing cash, food, housing, medical care, social services, training, and targeted education aid to poor and low-income Americans. Means-tested welfare programs differ from general government programs in two ways. First, they provide aid exclusively to persons (or communities) with low incomes; second, individuals do not need to earn eligibility for benefits through prior fiscal contributions. Means-tested welfare therefore does not include Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, or worker’s compensation.

Universal Basic Income – A universal basic income is a cash payment provided to people each month that is intended to cover their basic needs. The important different that the resolution calls on you to evaluate is that a UBI has no restrictions. While it’s intended for basic needs, it’s just a cash payment, so the recipient can use it for anything they want. Importantly, you shouldn’t get caught up in the amount. The actual amount of the payment is irrelevant to the discussion of whether a UBI should replace means-tested welfare programs.

Pro

1. Means-tested welfare hasn’t worked. It’s time to try something you. The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We’ve tried means-tested welfare, and while it may help some people, the programs are an administrative nightmare and do little to alleviate actual poverty. Let’s try something new.

2. Individual needs are not static. We like to think that you can plan a fixed monthly budget with fixed expenses. Means-tested welfare seeks to take care of individual line items on this monthly budget. The issue is that life happens, and things change. Therefore, it’s better to leave it up to the welfare recipient to determine how to use their money, rather than creating programs with restrictions.

3. Utilitarianism – A UBI works for everyone, not just some people. It also accounts for needs like dental care, for which it’s nearly impossible to create an effective welfare program. Since UBI casts the widest net, it’s a better option.

Con

1. Money needs to be used wisely to be effective. You can’t just give people who otherwise don’t have financial literacy or other life skills a sum of money and expect it to have positive results. They need to be taught skills and how to use the money wisely. Many people in poverty don’t have access to or knowledge of basic financial management tools, so the UBI will likely just lead to waste.

2. Why do we need to replace? There’s no reason we can’t do both to see how it works. Or, we can create a program that takes an exclusive either/or approach where a recipient can choose to get a cash payment or have access to a portfolio of specific means-tested welfare programs available to them. We don’t have to choose, so the resolution is posing a false dichotomy.

3. We have evidence that means-tested programs at least have a nominal positive impact. We have no evidence that a UBI works. Replacement would be hasty. We need more data and more evidence to test the efficacy of a universal basic income. Only then can we make an accurate determine.

That should help you get started. Good luck!

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Resolved: The United States ought to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.

Resolved: The United States ought to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.

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When did LD become PF? I don’t understand why we keep seeing these types of topics. LD used to be high level debate about moral principles and big questions, but we’re going more and more towards these garbage topics about public policy. Hopefully there’s a shift back the other way because I don’t know if I’ll want to do this much longer if it keeps going in this direction. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Definitions

subsidies for fossil fuels – This is really the only thing that needs to be defined in this resolution. Subsidies are basically some form of governmental incentive or tax break. In the case of the fossil fuel industry, there are a number of different types of subsidies that the U.S. provides. It’s important to note that the specific type of subsidy should not matter to your case. You should be debating the principle of the matter. Here’s a good place to find more information.

Case Positions

Remember here that your case will need to answer the question of how we determine what the United States government ought to do.

Affirmative

  1. Progress – A government’s first goal ought to be to promote societal progress – moral, economic, and otherwise. Civilizations perish because they are drowned by the tides of time. In order to progress as a society, the U.S. must get away from fossil fuels. They are a perishable resource, and eventually they will be too scarce to be reliable. Imperial conquering of resource rich lands will not be feasible in the future, and so subsidies need to be eliminated to direct society away from fossil fuel development into alternative renewable energy.
  2. Utilitarianism – As much as I dislike basic utilitarian position, this resolution provides a lot of room for a utilitarian calculus. A simple cost benefit shows that the U.S. is spending money on subsidies for dying industries that would be better spent elsewhere. Plus, it would be better for everyone due to the economic benefits of investing in clean energy.
  3. Survival – It times of great crisis, it can be argued that all governmental priorities should be directed toward survival. The realities of climate change create such a crisis. As such, the U.S., and all governments, should act in such a way to mitigate climate change and ensure the survival of the human race. Therefore, all subsidies for fossil fuels should be terminated.

Negative

  1. Moral Conflict – Nietzsche argued that the only way to determine the true morality or proper moral outcome was to let all ideologies compete openly, almost like a free market but for ideas. Fossil fuels and clean energy should be the same. We should continue subsidies for fossil fuels while also giving subsidies for clean energy. Let the industries compete, and survival of the fittest will dictate which one wins.
  2. Utilitarianism – There is a utilitarian argument to be made on the negative as well. It can be argued that ending these subsidies would have devastating economic consequences. While we might be moving toward clean energy, we’re certainly not there yet, and the U.S. economy continues to be largely dependent on fossil fuels. As such, it would be far more harmful to end the subsidies than to continue them.
  3. Lack of Timeline Kritik – It can be argued that the resolution is impossible to debate without a timeline attached to it. When should we end the fossil fuel subsidies? How long should we take to phase them out? A proper consequentialist analysis cannot be complete without a timeline because the short term, medium term, and long term consequences are completely different. After the critique, you can present a time-based counter-advocacy.

I hope that helps get you started. I’m sorry you have to debate this garbage topic, but good luck! And don’t forget to visit the Debate Academy if you’re looking for private coaching.

Resolved: In the United States, colleges and universities ought not consider standardized tests in undergraduate admissions decisions.

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Resolved: In the United States, colleges and universities ought not consider standardized tests in undergraduate admissions decisions.

FIrst topic of the year! And wow is it trash. Not only is the topic phrasing awful, but I also don’t understand why it’s an LD topic at all. This topic doesn’t pose interesting clash, and it’s phrased in such a way as to have an agent of action that is incredibly difficult to evaluate as a moral agent. Not only that, we’re skirting around the actual issue of whether or not we should have standardized tests at all. It’s awful, but I suppose it’s what we have to work with. So let’s get to it.

Definitions

Standardized Tests – We all know what standardized tests are. They’re tests given to all students to measure their educational progress. The tests are all the same, with the same questions, given to each member of a particular subset of students. There’s no reason to get caught up in any sort of nuance here.

Every other term in the resolution doesn’t really merit definition. We all know what colleges and universities are. Don’t get caught up in the distinction between public and private institutions; it ultimately doesn’t matter to the moral question, in fact now a days there’s a lot of options, there are even online colleges for military available.

Your key focus here should be determining how we evaluate what colleges and universities should do. In particular, you need to explain how we determine what factors these institutions should take into account for undergraduate school admissions. Unlike government, the moral imperatives of educational institutions are not well elucidated. Importantly, I don’t think most students will have a preliminary understanding of the philosophy of education, unlike they do with social contract philosophy, for example. I would recommending reading this entry for some background.

Case Positions

Affirmative

  1. Distributive Justice – Research widely suggests that standardized tests have socioeconomic and racial biases. This is to say that people who are poorer and people of color consistently perform worse on these tests than their wealthy white counterparts. Not only that, the entire industry is being shown to be less about evaluating students’ actual competency and instead about corporations making money. Since the first virtue of any social institution is to uphold/promote justice, colleges should do that which promotes justice. Using standardized tests as criteria in admissions directly violates principles of distributive because of the above points. Since colleges are social institutions, this would violate their primary directive. Many different justice theorists like Aristotle and John Rawls can be useful for this position.
  2. Autonomy – One of the most widely accepted theories on the purpose of education is that it is supposed to equip people for becoming autonomously functioning human beings. Standardized tests are the exact opposite; they seek to rob individuals of autonomy by evaluating everyone against the same standards. Since the purpose of education is to promote autonomy, colleges should reject anything to do with standardized tests altogether.

Negative

  1. Economics – Colleges are primarily economic institutions. Their goal is to create individuals who can best contribute to society and its economic welfare and productivity. As such, standardized tests should be a primary criteria for admissions decisions because they are a strong indication of an applicant’s economic viability. If a student has high standardized test scores, they are likely to continue having high test scores throughout college. This is economically beneficial and also a strong indication that the student will have a positive economic contribution once they graduate. Importantly, the most economically productive countries like China and Japan have doubled down on standardized testing, having even more rigorous examinations than the United States.
  2. Justice – The first virtue of any social institution, including colleges, is fairness. Standardized testing is the most fair way we can have of evaluating students. Importantly, upholding the importance of standardized tests sets an objective universal standard of educational justice for the entire system to uphold. This encourages every level of the system to eliminate barriers to students succeeding on standardized tests, which improves fairness across the board.

Well, that’s it for now. Good luck! And don’t forget to check out the Debate Academy if you’re looking for private coaching.

Resolved: The illegal use of drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice.

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Resolved: The illegal use of drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice.

This topic is a load of hot garbage, legitimately one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I get where it was trying to go, but the wording is so poor, that debate on the actual topic will effectively be non-existent. It also does not belong in LD, at all. Nevertheless, we have to do what we have to do, so let’s get to it.

Definitions – You fortunately don’t really need to define terms per se. However, you will need to utilize the entirety of your case to define what it means to treat something as a matter of public health vs. a matter of criminal justice. Ostensibly, the resolution wants you to debate things like punishment vs. rehabilitation. The problem, however, is that’s a false dichotomy. There’s no reason there can’t be both. And some public health/mental health issues are actually addressed through imprisonment. It will be a challenge to navigate these things, and you’ll need to make sure your framework is tight.

Affirmative

1. Utilitarianism – This is a pretty basic position you can run on this topic. Basically, when we treat illegal drug use as a matter of criminal justice, everyone suffers. Drug users stay addicted, taxpayers pay for them to be in jail, and drugs keep being bought/sold on the illegal market. When we look at the cost/benefit of it all, it clearly harms way more people. Treating it as a public health issues allows for the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.

2. False Dichotomy Kritik – I almost never advocate for Ks, but in this case, I actually think it’s really powerful, even on the Affirmative. You can argue that the resolution poses a false dichotomy between punishment and rehabilitation that doesn’t exist. No substantive debate can actually occur when the world created by the resolution is one of fantasy. Therefore, you pose an alternative resolution which says that drug addiction is effectively treated when approached from a perspective of public health. That affirmative is really easy to prove. And importantly, it also has impacts to the actual resolution if your judge is a toolbox and doesn’t buy the K.

3. Veil of Ignorance – This is also a very powerful position for this case. Imagine if you woke up the next day and were a drug addict. You wouldn’t want to just be locked up without any treatment or consideration. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to pay taxes for someone to be imprisoned in a similar fashion. It’s clear that from behind the veil, we would want to treat drug use as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.

Negative

1. False Dichotomy K – I actually think this is the most powerful position on this resolution. The resolution should be negated not because drug use shouldn’t be a public health issue, but because that doesn’t mean it isn’t also treated as an issue of criminal justice. The two are not mutually exclusive. People can be treated while also paying penance for the crimes they’ve committed.

2. Fear – There are many philosophers who argue that fear is the most effective/only deterrent against crime. If we begin treating drug use as a public health issue, then that deterrent is eliminated. People will more readily try drugs and become addicted because they know that it isn’t so bad on the other end. Fear maintains law and order, and the government should prioritize that.

3. Doctrine of the Mean – Similar to the K, but not structured as such, the virtue position argues that we don’t need to fall on one extreme. We need the help of the law to deal with drug lords and cartels, but we can also provide better for the public health by helping addicts get the treatment they need. Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean would espouse taking such a middle ground.

Well, there you go. Hopefully this helps you navigate this garbage topic. And don’t forget to visit the Academy if you want private coaching or to purchase briefs.

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!