Topics! – PF Nov ’17, LD Nov-Dec ’17

Public Forum Debate – 2017 November Topic Area: Gun Rights

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

With the mass shooting in Las Vegas just as the topic was being announced, it’s either very timely or very awkward – every indication is that the shooter passed all the necessary background checks. To that extent, other examples will need to be used to justify the Pro side of the resolution. I do have a Gun Issues folder that goes back years that should have articles relevant to this topic.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 November/December Topic

Resolved: Wealthy nations have an obligation to provide development assistance to other nations.

An extension of the question of whether we as individuals have an obligation to help others in need – aid writ large rather than individually. With our obligations towards our own people in three different locations post-hurricanes, the question of who we should help first becomes relevant in a way it usually isn’t for variants of this topic. (Mexico was going to aid Houston until their earthquake.) For those into Political Science, this is a classic core-periphery question/situation. Remember that the LD-Values folder has a Philosophy subfolder, and that there’s a PSci (Political Science) folder (because that’s my major) as well. Do note that the resolution isn’t U.S.-specific; what obligations do the EU, Russia, and China have as leading economies? Examining Chinese projects in Africa and Latin America could prove interesting. Still, this is fundamentally a value question, not one of policy.

Topic recap/repost:

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 September/October Topic

Resolved: In the United States, national service ought to be compulsory.

Compulsory National Service was the 1968-69 CX topic – I remember it as the worst CX topic I had as a competitor. At the time the Selective Service System was in full swing, and many felt that everyone should have to serve their country.

Note that this wording has nothing to do with military service – civilian service is definitely an option. Since the resolution comes under LD (proposition of value), the policy issues that made the question miserable (to me) as a CX topic can be avoided. More on this one later.

Public Forum Debate – 2017 September/October Topic Area: Korean Peninsula

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

I’ve just updated the Extemp Files so there are a ton of articles available on this one.

In terms of the larger question (what to do about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs) think of a Venn diagram made up of circles representing the countries involved – North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Japan, and even Russia. The resolution is a very specific subset of the larger question – what defensive actions should South Korea take. After South Korea’s recent government change, there was an initial rejection of the THAAD anti-missile system deployment. Events are overtaking that position – the files contain articles that now involve South Korea wanting not only its own missiles, but also its own nukes as well. It’ll be interesting to see where the real world stands when we actually start debating this resolution (October for my state).

Policy Debate – 2017-2018 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

Repost from this past spring, when the topic was announced:

This will be the third time I’ve coached/judged on this topic. When education reform came around during the 1972-73 season, the first ‘computers in education’ cases (when computers still involved mainframes and punch-card programming) appeared – so, how has that turned out?

One thing that was clear the last time we did this was that the only real way to improve educational outcomes was by what happens in the classroom – something that isn’t specific to school type (public/private/charter/whatever). The double ‘and/or’ construction of the resolution leads to a number of possible combinations. Identifying a specific problem will be important on this one – too nebulous, and solvency evaporates. Note also that funding-only cases usually lack inherency – you’re just expanding existing programs – though arguing that everything is fine except for funding might work. The Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles have Education subfolders worth mining. Few education problems are new, so older issues/articles are likely to still be valid (since we haven’t really done anything particularly successful to solve the problems).

A comment I made to an area CXer at Nationals, before she headed off to camp on this topic: What about an infrastructure case? With many schools in bad physical shape (poor facilities, and outdated materials), would improving facilities work as an Aff case?

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Topics! – PF Sep/Oct ’17, LD Sep/Oct ’17, CX ’17-’18

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 September/October Topic

Resolved: In the United States, national service ought to be compulsory.

Compulsory National Service was the 1968-69 CX topic – I remember it as the worst CX topic I had as a competitor. At the time the Selective Service System was in full swing, and many felt that everyone should have to serve their country.

Note that this wording has nothing to do with military service – civilian service is definitely an option. Since the resolution comes under LD (proposition of value), the policy issues that made the question miserable (to me) as a CX topic can be avoided. More on this one later.

Note: there is a Novice LD topic that may be used in some areas – Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified. This is the annual fall novice topic – it’s been used the previous two years, if memory serves me. Check your local tournament invitations to see which topic they’re using. (I’ve had teams show up having prepared for the wrong topic – it’s not a positive experience.)

Public Forum Debate – 2017 September/October Topic Area: Korean Peninsula

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

I’ve just updated the Extemp Files so there are a ton of articles available on this one.

In terms of the larger question (what to do about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs) think of a Venn diagram made up of circles representing the countries involved – North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Japan, and even Russia. The resolution is a very specific subset of the larger question – what defensive actions should South Korea take. After South Korea’s recent government change, there was an initial rejection of the THAAD anti-missile system deployment. Events are overtaking that position – the files contain articles that now involve South Korea wanting not only its own missiles, but also its own nukes as well. It’ll be interesting to see where the real world stands when we actually start debating this resolution (October for my state).

Policy Debate – 2017-2018 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

Repost from this past spring, when the topic was announced:

This will be the third time I’ve coached on this topic. When education reform came around during the 1972-73 season, the first ‘computers in education’ cases (when computers still involved mainframes and punch-card programming) appeared – so, how has that turned out?

One thing that was clear the last time we did this was that the only real way to improve educational outcomes was by what happens in the classroom – something that isn’t specific to school type (public/private/charter/whatever). The double ‘and/or’ construction of the resolution leads to a number of possible combinations. Identifying a specific problem will be important on this one – too nebulous, and solvency evaporates. Note also that funding-only cases usually lack inherency – you’re just expanding existing programs – though arguing that everything is fine except for funding might work. The Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles have Education subfolders worth mining. Few education problems are new, so older issues/articles are likely to still be valid (since we haven’t really done anything particularly successful to solve the problems).

A comment I made to an area CXer at Nationals, before she headed off to camp on this topic: What about an infrastructure case? With many schools in bad physical shape (poor facilities, and outdated materials), would improving facilities work as an Aff case?

Topics! – PF Mar ’16, LD Mar/Apr ’16, CX ’17-’18

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Mar PF Topic Area: Middle East

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

There’s been a lot on this one recently. Hit the Extemp Files and look for the Middle East folder (essentially Israel/Palestine). There are really only three choices: 1.) Stop expanding settlements, and possibly reduce them (a number are illegal, and one was just taken down), so that Palestinians can have territory for a state of their own. What’s happened in Gaza complicates the choice, given how things there turned out. 2.) Give up on a two-state solution, annex the West bank, and accept Palestinian residents as citizens of Israel – effectively ending the country as a Jewish state. 3.) Continue with Netanyahu’s ‘state-lite’ system of limited autonomy and reduced rights, leaving a system criticized for its apartheid-like distinctions (Animal Farm’s point of ‘some are more equal than others’). What Trump does is worth watching – he’s already criticized the settlements (in a bit of a surprise), but may move our embassy to Jerusalem. One interpretation of the Con on this topic might be that we just step away from the matter and not advocate for any of the three positions – it’s their problem, not ours. That, however, changes the politics of the entire region. (Would we still stand with Israel?)

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 Mar/Apr

Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing.

Housing articles are in the Extemp Files in the Economic Crisis – US folder (homelessness articles are in the Poverty folder), and/or in the Government folder in the Economics subfolder. (I often file housing articles in both locations.) Remember, though, that this is a Proposition of Values event, so the emphasis may be on our social contract terms (expanding them to include housing) with a food/shelter/clothing basic needs argument. (If we go just for housing, why shouldn’t we cover the other two areas as well?) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is likely to come up in many rounds – the basic level of needs would seem to apply, and is necessary for the higher levels to be achieved.

Policy Debate – 2017-2018 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

This will be the third time I’ve coached on this topic. When education reform came around during the 1972-73 season, the first ‘computers in education’ cases (when computers still involved mainframes and punch-card programming) appeared – so, how has that turned out?

One thing that was clear the last time we did this was that the only real way to improve educational outcomes was by what happens in the classroom – something that isn’t specific to school type (public/private/charter/whatever). The double ‘and/or’ construction of the resolution leads to a number of possible combinations. Identifying a specific problem will be important on this one – too nebulous, and solvency evaporates. Note also that funding-only cases usually lack inherency – you’re just expanding existing programs – though arguing that everything is fine except for funding might work. The Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles have Education subfolders worth mining. Few education problems are new, so older issues/articles are likely to still be valid (since we haven’t really done anything particularly successful to solve the problems).

Topic recap/repost:

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Feb Topic Area: Cuba

Resolved: The United States should lift its embargo against Cuba.

A regular topic comes around again – in the Extemp Files folder, look for the Cuba subfolder. It has all of the 2016 and 2017 articles. The Extemp Backfiles has articles on Cuba from 2015 and before.

Obama’s opening of contacts with Cuba, and the death of Fidel Castro, will change the dynamics of the arguments this time around – as will a Trump administration. The Cuban exile community has long opposed relaxing the embargo – will Castro’s death change that, or will they have more influence in a Trump administration than they did with Obama. Younger Cuban-Americans don’t support the embargo the way older Cuban-Americans do – have demographic changes altered the debate? A more specific post on this one soon.

If you have access to the 2009 Nationals (Birmingham) PF finals tape, watch it!

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 Jan/Feb

Resolved: Public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech.

See earlier posts on this. I’ll get a new post up soon – the whole Berkeley thing makes for an interesting case study. See the Education – College folder, which was updated at the same time as the Extemp Files. It has the Berkeley articles.

Policy Debate – 2016-2017 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.

All topics can be found on the NSDA’s Current Topics page.

Topics – PF Feb ’17

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Feb Topic Area: Cuba

Resolved: The United States should lift its embargo against Cuba.

A regular topic comes around again – in the Extemp Files folder, look for the Cuba subfolder. It has all of the 2016 articles. The Extemp Backfiles has articles on Cuba from 2015 and before.

Obama’s opening of contacts with Cuba, and the death of Fidel Castro, will change the dynamics of the arguments this time around – as will a Trump administration. The Cuban exile community has long opposed relaxing the embargo – will Castro’s death change that, or will they have more influence in a Trump administration than they did with Obama. Younger Cuban-Americans don’t support the embargo the way older Cuban-Americans do – have demographic changes altered the debate?

Topic recap/repost:

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Jan Topic Area: U.S. Military

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

Starting point: Extemp Files – folders: US Military – Cyber, Russia, China, and possibly US Foreign Policy. Do we increase spending because our military has been worn down by our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq? Because Trump will take us into Syria? Because we’ve used too many bombs against ISIS and the Taliban and need to restock? Because our technological lead is shrinking? Are Russia or China active threats? Do we need more spending on cyberwar prep – defense and/or offense? Are we still the ‘Cops of the World’ (an old Phil Ochs protest song from the Vietnam era – I think that Spotify has it). Is Trump changing focus from Asia to the Middle East, and if so what are the implications? This topic seems to have more possible arguments on both sides than other recent PF topics have had. The Extemp Backfiles have the same folders and the 2015 articles may be worth skimming.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 Jan/Feb

Resolved: Public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech.

It’s trigger warning and safe space time!

Starting point: The LD-Values folder has a Free Speech folder in it. Of more use, though, may be the Education – College folder (just updated today). You’ll want to go back beyond the 2016 articles on this topic. (Sidebar: There should be several articles throughout the folder about writing college admission essays, too – they show up periodically every year.) The folder covers a multitude of topics, so some digging through the files may be required. Look for examples!

Policy Debate – 2016-2017 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.

All topics can be found on the NSDA’s Current Topics page.

Topics – PF Jan ’17, LD Jan/Feb ’17

New topic day!

Public Forum Debate – 2017 Jan Topic Area: U.S. Military

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

Starting point: Extemp Files – folders: US Military – Cyber, Russia, China, and possibly US Foreign Policy. Do we increase spending because our military has been worn down by our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq? Because Trump will take us into Syria? Because we’ve used too many bombs against ISIS and the Taliban and need to restock? Because our technological lead is shrinking? Are Russia or China active threats? Do we need more spending on cyberwar prep – defense and/or offense? Are we still the ‘Cops of the World’ (an old Phil Ochs protest song from the Vietnam era – I think that Spotify has it). Is Trump changing focus from Asia to the Middle East, and if so what are the implications? This topic seems to have more possible arguments on both sides than other recent PF topics have had. The Extemp Backfiles have the same folders and the 2015 articles may be worth skimming.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 Jan/Feb

Resolved: Public colleges and universities in the United States ought not restrict any constitutionally protected speech.

It’s trigger warning and safe space time!

Starting point: The LD-Values folder has a Free Speech folder in it. Of more use, though, may be the Education – College folder. You’ll want to go back beyond the 2016 articles on this topic. (Sidebar: There should be several articles throughout the folder about writing college admission essays, too – they show up periodically every year.) The folder covers a multitude of topics, so some digging through the files may be required.

Topic recap:

Policy Debate – 2016-2017 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Nov/Dec

Resolved: The United States ought to limit qualified immunity for police officers.

Public Forum Debate – 2016 Dec Topic Area: Federal Drug Policy

Resolved: The United States should end Plan Colombia.

All topics can be found on the NSDA’s Current Topics page

Topics – LD Nov/Dec ’16, PF Nov ’16

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Nov/Dec

Resolved: The United States ought to limit qualified immunity for police officers.

This one has to do with holding police officers responsible for their professional behavior, specifically when that results in injury or death to civilians with whom they interact. The articles I have on this aren’t in the Extemp folders, though they are in Dropbox; I’ll post a link to what I have soon.

Public Forum Debate – 2016 Nov Topic Area: Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0)

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

Ah, privacy again. Two key things to consider: 1.) If you have a commercial device that’s connected to the Internet (be it a household device or your vehicle), what does the company providing the device/software do with the information it collects about your usage habits? (The purpose of business is to make a profit, and the methods of doing that aren’t always moral – see: Wells-Fargo phantom accounts.) 2.) Connecting something to the Internet pretty much guarantees it can be hacked. What threat does that pose not only to your privacy, but also to your safety? Keep in mind that we already make these trade-offs with our present on-line activities. Bruce Schneier’s book Data and Goliath discusses what’s done with the data, once collected. I get PC World newsletters daily (legacy of an old tech job), and they have numerous articles on both IoT devices and internet security.

Topic recap:

Policy Debate – 2016-2017 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.

See the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles – look for the China subfolder.

And, from a recent email to the coaches in my state:

Here are the Novice Policy (CX) Case Areas as set by the NFHS. 
A number of tournaments use these as the case areas for novice and/or JV Policy (CX) divisions. Be sure to always carefully read the tournament invitations. 

2016-2017 NFHS Policy Debate Novice Cases for China

  1. Cooperation with China in Outer Space
  2. Signing a Bilateral Investment Treaty With China
  3. A grand bargain on Taiwan: Repealing the Taiwan Relations Act in exchange for Chinese concessions in the South China Sea
  4. Eliminating the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Installations in East Asia in exchange for China’s assistance in stopping North Korean nuclearization.

Public Forum Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct Topic Area: U.S. Constitution

Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.

I do have an Education subfolder in both the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles folder (links above, under the CX resolution). The resolution would seem to be as much about the adult/juvenile distinction as the question of probable cause.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct

Resolved: Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power.

In the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles folders, look for both the Nukes and Energy Independence subfolders. If global warming is as serious a problem as scientists say it is, the nuclear power provides the energy on which we depend without carbon emissions. On the other hand, nuclear power leaves us with some serious (and seemingly eternal) waste disposal issues. Nuclear plant costs can be extreme, and the risk of terrorists compromising the plants or a plant’s fuel may also be factors. (Footnote: you can get a great deal on a partially-built plant in Alabama right now – really!)

LD is value debate – should you argue this resolution from a strictly value standpoint, or would a real-world approach be more appropriate?

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – Novice Topic

Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.

More on this one later. In my state, with novice tournaments in October and varsity not beginning until November, this may be the only LD topic we see.

Topics – CX (’16-’17), PF (Sep/Oct ’16), LD (Sep/Oct ’16 and Novice)

Policy Debate – 2016-2017 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.

See the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles – look for the China subfolder.

And, from a recent email to the coaches in my state:

Here are the Novice Policy (CX) Case Areas as set by the NFHS. 
A number of tournaments use these as the case areas for novice and/or JV Policy (CX) divisions. Be sure to always carefully read the tournament invitations. 

2016-2017 NFHS Policy Debate Novice Cases for China

  1. Cooperation with China in Outer Space
  2. Signing a Bilateral Investment Treaty With China
  3. A grand bargain on Taiwan: Repealing the Taiwan Relations Act in exchange for Chinese concessions in the South China Sea
  4. Eliminating the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Installations in East Asia in exchange for China’s assistance in stopping North Korean nuclearization.

 

Public Forum Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct Topic Area: U.S. Constitution

Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.

I do have an Education subfolder in both the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles folder (links above, under the CX resolution). The resolution would seem to be as much about the adult/juvenile distinction as the question of probable cause.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct

Resolved: Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power.

In the Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles folders, look for both the Nukes and Energy Independence subfolders. If global warming is as serious a problem as scientists say it is, the nuclear power provides the energy on which we depend without carbon emissions. On the other hand, nuclear power leaves us with some serious (and seemingly eternal) waste disposal issues. Nuclear plant costs can be extreme, and the risk of terrorists compromising the plants or a plant’s fuel may also be factors. (Footnote: you can get a great deal on a partially-built plant in Alabama right now – really!)

LD is value debate – should you argue this resolution from a strictly value standpoint, or would a real-world approach be more appropriate?

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – Novice Topic

Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.

More on this one later. In my state, with novice tournaments in October and varsity not beginning until November, this may be the only LD topic we see.