Monday, June 25, 2012

Proposed LD Topics 2012/2013 - Part 4

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

Resolved: On balance, labor unions in the United States are beneficial.
At best, this resolution may be able to explore some of the issues surrounding worker's rights which I guess are a kind of superset of human rights but I wonder how this came under consideration for LD.  

The history of the labor movement in the U.S. is worth investigating. Why did unions arise in the first place?  By familiarizing oneself with this history one sees the abuses of so-called worker's rights and the amount of control companies exercised over the lives of their employees.  One could say, workers were effectively enslaved by their employers and by organizing themselves and acting as a collective body rather than individually, they found an effective means to regain some measure of control over their lives which gave them the ability to negotiate with their employers for better benefits and working conditions.

The downside of this kind of organization is, according to the business side, an increase in costs and indeed one could make the argument that rise of labor unions played a significant role in the collapse of large corporations from the late 1970s to present which could no longer pay pensions and benefits demanded by the employees.

In today's economy, a significant portion of the work-force is comprised of skilled and technical jobs which tend to be more competitive.  Companies have an incentive to keep these employees reasonably happy or they will simply move to a competitor.  Therefore, the need for these kinds of workers to organize and demand better working conditions is probably no longer necessary.

Debaters should realize the judges for these rounds will have their opinions about the value of unions.  In most school districts, teachers are unionized.  Additionally, there are very strong political influences behind one's opinion of the utility of labor unions so I would not be surprised if there is a lot of confusion over how judges ultimately view these cases.

Aff Position
Affirmative will argue that unions do provide benefits so Aff will be espousing positive economic benefits as well as improvement in the life-styles of workers.

Neg Position
The Neg debater will provide evidence that unions are generally harmful due to their negative impacts on the ability of companies to flexibly react to changing market conditions.  Additionally there will be mention of abuses perpetrated by the unions (organized crime, cronyism, etc).


Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee universal health care for its citizens.
For some reason, this year the NFL seems to think that headlines make good debate.  Perhaps true if this were Public Forum, but these are proposed Lincoln-Douglas topics.  Still, this topic, though very much a divisive issue in the U.S. politics, has the potential to side-step current legislation and political ideology and deal with the obligations of government.  Indeed, there is no reason for this debate to even mention the current health care bill nor the controversy over its provisions (constitutional or not).

The reality is, in the United States, health care costs have skyrocketed and as a result, unless a person has insurance or other kinds of financial resources, it is impossible for many Americans to afford proper health care.  Even though hospital emergency rooms and trauma centers are required to treat people without considering their ability to pay, it is generally agreed that routine wellness care increases the quality and longevity of life but due to costs, routine care is out of reach for many Americans.  So the question becomes, given these realities, does the government have an obligation, perhaps a moral imperative to provide some level of care for those citizens who otherwise can not obtain it?

One of the troubling aspects of this particular resolution is the inclusion of the word "guarantee". What does that mean?  On the one hand, because the word is included we may not need to discuss who provides the health care but on the other hand, if the government does not have to provide it and yet still guarantees it, is there an element of coercion?

Aff Position
There are several good ways to address this topic.  I think by looking at the impacts in the status quo and revealing the evidence of increased mortality and degraded life-styles due to lack of affordable health care, the Affirmative can establish support for a philosophical or moral framework with respect to the obligation of governments to promote the general welfare of the people.

Neg Position
I think a reasonable case can be made that governments do not need to provide universal health care based on the fact "health care" in reality, deals with wellness care which tends to be a private matter more than a public matter.  Public health care issues are already serviced by the government.  For example, the spread of contagious diseases are controlled by the government since it affects the public at large.  But if an individual is unable or chooses not to provide wellness care for one's family, what business is that of government and why is the government obligated to remedy that if it does not impact the general population?  I do see this as a difficult argument, however, because the Affirmative can provide the facts about the impact lack of affordable health care has on society as a whole.  Negative will have a tough fight.  Certainly a detailed analysis will be required to figure out how this topic can be negated most effectively.


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