Friday, July 27, 2012

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 2


For other Policy Debate postings, including an analysis of the Infrastructure topic follow the links here.

Alaska Ports
Desert Xpress (XpressWest)

Case Reviews
Since camp cases are emerging, I have decided to scan through select case Affirmatives and deliver some summaries. While I will be looking at specific camp cases, I intend to summarize the general advocacy without reference to specific files. So, if several camps put out a high-speed rail case, for example, I will generally summarize the case plans, advantages, etc. without referencing a particular file. Now for sure, some of the reviews will be one particular file, if no other camp puts out a similar case.

This series will spread out over several postings as I find time to review the cases. In general, the posts will be short, the comments will be brief and they are strictly my opinions. If I say I do not like a case, it does not mean you should avoid looking at it, especially since sometimes the files are updated and improved.

The case files, I review will be taken from the National Debate Coaches Association, Open Evidence Project.


Alaska Ports
There are too few ports on Alaska's North Slope so let's build some. Especially since global warming may be turning that gigantic block of Arctic ice in to a cozy, maritime haven for ships, crews and families. The case offers several solvency scenarios.

Solvency/Advantages

Scenario: Commerce
Solves for a lack of U.S. commercial influence in the region which is a key to global economy. Well kinda.  Actually the untapped resources are the key, the ports are just a way to deliver the goods.  And of course, failure to get the goods out will cause nukes to fly, just as soon as the impending world economic collapse crosses the brink.

Scenario: Oil Spills
The ports will provide a way to solve for oil spills in the region which we sorely lack right now.  You know, the oil that may spill when we start exploiting the oil fields which are vital to solving the economy and preventing a nuclear holocaust. Also rapid response to oil spills preserves the biodiversity (the diversity that is presumably killed when we start drilling the NWR.

Scenario: Navy Presence
The Navy is woefully incapable of getting stuff done in the north Arctic Sea because there are too few facilities and resources for them. In the meantime, Russia is arming up in case there is a rush for resources. The Navy presence will slow the arms race. That's how it works, right? We go up there with guns and bombs and the rest of the world puts theirs away and not a moment too soon, because global war was looming.

Good Things
To be fair, there is a lot of good stuff in the case.  The file supplies enough evidence to go well beyond the 1AC and I like that.  I don't see topicality as particularly a problem (see below for an exception) but CP challenges can be so the securitization aspects of the case can help.  I mean, even if NATO provides security, they need bases.


Bad Things
A key part of the incentive to build these ports comes from the oil and gas reserves which are available in the region.  You know where they are...that protected National Wildlife Refuge where exploitation is illegal.  So there is an assumption, that oil and gas production will increase without the preceding messy politics which have marked past attempts to open the region to exploitation.  The one thing this case needs is some really good evidence that lack of ports is harming the ability to ship out oil and gas in the SQ and then consider how much worse it will be when the NWR is opened up.

In general, the cards are not tagged very well.  Often the tags suggest things the cards do not say and that can be a big problem when Neg brings it to the judge's attention.  This cards should be re-tagged.  It may actually help the case.

Potentially, Neg could claim a topically violation based on the fact, the 1AC claims no major ports in the region.  This invites the inevitable, "increase" means you can't start from zero answered by the inevitable, "yeah-huh 'cause zero plus one is an increase".

Summary
I think the case is a start and potentially a pretty good one for novices, especially because it has extensions, answers, etc. which can help a young team.  There still needs to be a lot of work and that also helps a young team.  Some other advantages can link to this plan and advantages may internally link to the solvency, for example, the Navy presence may link to an advantage that solves terrorists from attacking our oil fields and pipelines.  In my opinion, these things would help this case.


Desert Xpress (XpressWest)
The government should give money to the XpressWest project (that's right the name has changed so already this file may be old). This is basically a high-speed rail between Victorville, California and Denver Colorado via Las Vegas. What makes this case tricky, is it could be funded this year which would basically blow inherency.

Solvency
The massive California economy is in trouble and making it better is good for everyone and what better way to service the California economy than rush scores of Vegas revelers off to the slot machine in a mere 84 minutes.  Watch the money roll in now!  Good thing, too, because nuke war was looming on the horizon.

Advantages
Okay. Well this case has some advantages that are not all broken-out and identified for the sake of the flow, but...if the Cali econ is propped up, it reduces the likelihood of heg wars (really, it does) and props up California agriculture. Never mind that last point is a bit circular.  So here are the principle advantages that are enumerated in the case I read...

Jobs
Thousands of jobs will be created. That's right 1000s.

Victorville
The city will get richer and we all know how important that is.

High Speed Rail
Everyone sees what a great thing HSR can be.

Good Things
It is sort of topical.

Bad Things
I don't get it.  This case comes far short of solving the big problems it claims because the link is uh...wait...oh yeah...a party train.

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