Monday, June 25, 2012

Proposed LD Topics 2012/2013 - Part 3

For links to LD topic analyses and articles, click here.


Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory.
(Click here for a full analysis of this resolution)
Initially, one is inclined to think compulsory voting is an infringement on personal autonomy but then again, what about other kinds of compulsory requirements which are commonplace in democratic societies such as military service or jury duty?  If you research this one, you will find there are countries in the world which do have compulsory voting.  For example, in Australia it has been in place since the 1920s.  Currently in the U.S., voter turnout is considered low by some analysts, typically around 60% or less depending on the scope and importance of the election.  By other measures, some would consider a 60% turnout quite high considering there is no legal obligation to vote at all.  Rather, there is a prevailing sense that it is one's civic duty to vote.


I think the real question to ask is what are the impacts of lower or higher voter turnout in democratic societies.  Which system generates a less polarized electorate, which promotes a fairer treatment of political issues such as ordinances, levies, taxes, etc. which are typically decided by voters or which system may be more easily corrupted or abused to leverage political advantage?


It may be possible to introduce some philosophical arguments with regard to the duties of citizens, in particular, the duty to preserve the nation and its way of life.  I think this would be a decent novice topic.


Aff Position
This is one of those debates that can focus on the impacts of low voter turn out and propose compulsory voting as a solution to the impacts.  The use of examples such as Australia will no doubt be effective in establishing a viable case.  As mentioned previously, creating a philosophical framework around the duty of citizens may also help the Affirmation position.


Neg Position
Probably one of the biggest Negatives to compulsory voting arise when one considers that often voters are not well informed about the candidates or the issues. Compulsory voting may create a negative impact when one considers that a voter who goes out to vote without obligation is likely somewhat informed and at least passionate enough to get involved.


References:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/opinion/sunday/telling-americans-to-vote-or-else.html?_r=1
https://jyx.jyu.fi/dspace/bitstream/handle/123456789/37907/978-951-39-4759-0.pdf?sequence=1
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-07-17/people/29783816_1_compulsory-voting-voting-rights-democracy


Resolved: On balance, the privatization of civil services serves the public interest.
This resolution will require debaters to weigh the relative value of a course of action, in this case the privatization of civil services.  So naturally, before one can decide if that is a good thing, one must know what are civil services and what is privatization?  In my opinion, this is not so easy to do because the term "civil service" has many meanings in government, not to mention the United States, for example, provides civil services at the federal, state and local levels and since the resolution does not specify one should consider the intent is to cover civil services in a general way as a class of government services.


I think the root of this resolution is based in the age-old political argument that the private sector can provide services more efficiently than the government and so it would be in the best interests of the general public to privatize the services.  Still, it seems this topic can become much more complicated due to a number of court rulings which reveals intentions which run much deeper than the need to save money, most notably, the implementation of policies designed to eliminate the "spoils system", which means giving jobs to citizens as a reward for political loyalty.  Consider this idea of rewards for political loyalty becomes much more important in light of the fact that within the U.S. it is possible for Corporations to give huge contributions to political campaigns and these may be the same Corporations that would be in competition to receive civil service contracts.


I am not not sure how this is considered an LD topic.  Certainly it requires an analysis of laws and politics (at least as seen in the U.S.) but I question if there is any worthwhile philosophical basis a debater can stand upon other than some generic principles which can be stretched over the topic.


Aff Position
I suppose, the Affirmative must push the idea that efficiency, especially cost-wise, is one of the main issues that must be resolved.  The debt problems faced by nations such as the U.S. and the countries of the European Union provide evidence that governments should find ways to reduce their spending and provide services more economically.  Of course, shifting the attention to the benefits of reducing government debt would add weight to the "on balance" requirement of the resolution.  In response to the Negative counter-arguments which are likely to swirl around the "spoils" issue, the Affirmative can generalize by acknowledging that potential for abuse always exist and there problems need to be solved by legislation but on "on balance" the benefits of privatization far out weigh the harms.


Neg Position
So yeah, it probably seems obvious Neg will take a position which exposes the harms of privatization in light of the political realities of today.  The potential of abuse is huge.  Legally, the weight of the resolution seems to be on the Neg side but Neg should not depend on Court rulings to carry the case since this alone will not address the "on balance" evaluation demanded by the resolution


References:
http://www.seyfarth.com/dir_docs/publications/AttorneyPubs/Featherstun01.pdf
http://csg.org/knowledgecenter/docs/spec_fa03privatization.pdf

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