Sunday, July 29, 2012

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 6

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

National Infrastructure Bank
Gas Tax / Trust Fund

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.

Infrastructure Bank
The National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank is exactly as the name implies, a bank for funding transportation infrastructure projects which, as Obama intends, are mainly targeted toward safety, security and competitiveness.
Several files were reviewed for this synopsis.

The bank is funded by a single injection of funds and then grows on investment returns. The federal investment stimulates and provides confidence for massive private sector investment and compliments state investments which provide the majority of funds for the infrastructure projects.

Project Grab-Bag
Since the case advocates a source of funds, any number of legitimate transportation infrastructure projects can be funded and the advantages and solvency of those projects claimed...well some cases think so.

The principle economic advantages are realized through growth, mainly in the area of jobs, and competitiveness which may be argued separately or interdependently in claiming growth increases competitiveness.  It is claimed these advantages avoid collapse and global wars.

Improved transportation system efficiency will link to positive environment advantages which avoid global warming impacts.

Improved transportation system efficiency will link to positive energy advantages which avoid oil dependency and promote alternative energy solutions.

The Good
As of this writing, the bank is not created so it has inherency.  The plan does specifically address the idea the plan must provide an investment and that is exactly what the Infrastructure Bank is intended to do.

The Bad
While the plan can be set up to specify all of the typical planks of a traditional policy debate case, one must realize this case does not specifically take a direct action which results in solvency for the advantages.  In my opinion, this leaves it open for claims it is effects topical and extra-topical.  The only problem this case solves directly is it provides a much needed source of investment dollars.

I am inclined to think this case (and ones like it) should be avoided by novices and probably everyone else who are not prepared to deal with strong T challenges.

Gas Tax / Trust Fund
Initially I was going to lump this case in with the Infrastructure Banks cases until I looked the plan text.  Then my interest was piqued.  This case advocates raising the federal Excise Tax on gasoline and banking the funds and creating a price floor for gas which stabilizes market uncertainties.

The price floor spurs the development of alternative and renewable energy solutions and the case raises the excise tax. This generates funds for transportation infrastructure.

Energy Policy
Whoa...a different tact altogether.   U.S. energy policy artificially deflates the price of energy which increases demand to the detriment of the economy, environment and our security interests. Additionally, the fuel efficiency standards set by the federal government further undermine national interests. This impacts diplomatic legitimacy, requiring the U.S. to make concessions which impact soft power.  A multilateral approach to dealing with threats, avoids conflict and triggers for war.  Additionally, rising federal mileage requirements will collapse the auto industry, killing jobs and the economic recovery leading to eventual conflicts. Increasing the gas tax is the mechanism to turn the current energy policy and avoids all of the harms just mentioned.

The US deficit is at critical mass and new revenue is needed to fix the problem. Failure to address this harms U.S.-China relations which takes us on the path toward extinction.

Renewable Energy
Current energy policy fosters uncertainty in the renewable energy sector. Pricing policies are the drivers of uncertainty which harms the renewable energy development effort which causes the U.S. to lose leadership. The plan will cause a shift to renewable energy development ensuring US dominance solving the slide to nuclear conflict.

The Good
Outstanding cards, especially in the first advantage.  The file is big and provides great coverage for potential 2AC and beyond extensions and answers to expected Neg arguments.

The Bad
The solvency link to the second advantage is implied.  A good card or two needs to be cut because, the spending for transportation infrastructure is a small percentage of the GDP and the advantage claims solvency through revenues.  Perhaps the solvency needs to come from spillover. I think the case is long.  There is a lot of evidence to read so it is suitable to advanced teams.

This case is amazing.  I really like it a lot.  There is a lot of good work and well thought out arguments in this case.  Unlike the Infrastructure Banks, this case provides direct solvency for its advantages and some of the cards are excellent. The arguments require a really good understanding of the evidence and concepts so take care you do the background work for this case.  Novices are going to need to do some cutting and that needs to be done very carefully so as not to hurt the legitimacy of the premises.

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