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 It’s like 20 years out of date.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: 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!

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!