[eDebate] Ag good- and best domestic topic

Rappmund, Phil p.rappmund
Wed Apr 30 01:33:27 CDT 2008

First, I?d like to thank everybody that has supported the ag topic so far.
 Also the people that have been critical of the ag topic.  Ultimately, the
more topic discussion we have, the more educated voters become of the
topic areas and hopefully schools can more easily make an informed vote. 
So, these discussions are helpful.

There has been a lot of discussion of ag vs. Russia, or Russia in general,
but not a lot of solely the domestic topics.  Frankly, I think ag is the
best choice of domestic topic, and would offer a great year of debate. 
I?m going to mainly argue that point in this post, but I?ll also argue why
we should go domestic this year.

Starting with that last point- domestic key:

I think there actually is a dichotomy between ?domestic? and ?foreign
policy? topics.  Yes, there is obviously overlap, as people have pointed
out.  ?Domestic? topics have some foreign implications and ?foreign?
topics have domestic implications.  I don?t think anyone was arguing
otherwise.  The key, however, is the focus of the policy target- that is,
the intent of the policy and if its goals primarily impact our stance
towards another nation or policies within our own.  Yes, ag is an
?international? topic in that it has implications for the whole globe. 
But, it?s clearly different from a topic that changes a policy stance
directed a foreign nation (i.e. 2 out of the last 3 topics).  Obviously,
what it means for debate is that we usually get a whole different group of
advantage areas, counterplans, etc.  Now, for sure, there will still be
plenty of ?hege? advantages on the ag topic, and really any domestic
topic, but the way affs get there are completely different.

The link and internal link debates become completely different.  For
example, the way in which ?hege? is reached on foreign topics usually
relates to some sort of military stance, or the security implications of a
policy.  This is quite clearly different than, say, accessing hege through
our ability to produce corn.  I think the link/IL areas of domestic topics
(especially in the case of ag) have not been explored to any high degree
lately.  This is a shame, especially when some of these issues are just as
critical as the US? posturing and security stances.  For example, authors
suggest we might be entering a global food crisis.  Millions, probably
billions do not have enough to eat, and live in absolute poverty.  A lot
of evidence suggests our ag policy contributes greatly to this.  Sounds
like an important new area to look into.

It?s not that Russia, foreign topics, etc. aren?t interesting and so
forth.  Trust me, I like getting to nuclear war as much as the next
person.  But, a lot of the advantages on the topic get to those nuclear
wars in the same fashion of security arguments made on the China topic,
and the ME topic, and so forth.  Domestic topics allow us to get to the
same impacts in new ways that are important to investigate, while also
opening the door to a lot of new advantages (e.g. environmental damage in
the US due to ag policy, etc.)

I think it?s important to have ?foreign? topics.  But, I think especially
this year, a good domestic topic outweighs.  Debaters going into their
fourth year of debate will have had three foreign policy topics if we vote
Russia.  Their only domestic topic will be the courts.  There is enough
overlap between the China, ME, and Russia topics that a senior debater
might have debated nearly identical advantage areas and security arguments
for three whole years.  Again, these arguments are important to look at,
but not every single year.

Finally, there?s the problem of foreign topics leading to a proliferation
of consult CPs.  That?s not an independent reason to reject a foreign
topic, but after 3 years of foreign topics, it might be.  Russell points
out that people that are gonna run consult will do so anyway.  To be sure,
some people will run consult regardless.  But I think the impetus to run
consult is definitely higher on a foreign topic- partly because it?s
easier to justify on an international topic, partly because there is less
discussion in the lit comparing good competing policy options (with
foreign topics as opposed to domestic), and so forth.  Not to say domestic
topics don?t have their own super-generic CP problem (i.e. states), but
that?s a problem ag avoids (more on that shortly).

Okay, why ag is the best domestic topic:

1. No viable states counterplan.

As the topic paper points out, one of the downfalls of domestic topics are
the affs don?t have good answers to the states CP.  This can be a serious
problem, especially since negs win most solvency debates unless the aff
has really really good ?USFG key? cards, and the neg has really really bad
?states key? cards.  I think the other topics are susceptible to states
(health care even mentions states as possible neg ground).  States CP
debates are boring and stale.  Ag gets out of states CP debates?there is
no way for the states to reform federal subsidies in the farm bill.  There
are also no solvency advocates for states reforming ag (whatever that
would look like).

2.  Advantages are cooler

This has been talked about a lot in previous threads, so I won?t go into
too much detail.  However, keep in mind that only ag has such grave
impacts both domestic and international.  Ag highly impacts state
economies, has seriously damaged the environment, is possibly the cause
behind a global poverty and hunger crisis, is preventing WTO talks and
free trade agreements, hurts relations with developing countries, etc. 
There is some good advantage areas on the other topics, but nothing with
same immediacy and explosive potential as ag.  The amount of variety is

3.  Actual solvency advocates.

Many articles on this topic will outline a harm area, prescribe a policy
solution, and (most importantly) discuss why that solution solves?all in
one article from a qualified source.  There are lots of solvency advocates
outlining specific proposals like that on this topic.  I think Ag does the
best job of giving the aff solid, well-written proposals that have lots of
good solvency evidence.  I think that?s especially important with the
growing neg bias in debate.  Add in the fact that the other domestic
topics have states CPs to worry about as well, and it becomes a nightmare
going aff.  Good solvency advocates with ag also have the effect of
improving case debates, etc.

4.  Good counterplans.

Some people have criticized the amount of neg ground on this topic. 
However, I think the ag paper does one of the best jobs of outlining
specific neg policy options, all with evidence.  A lot of the other
domestic topics might just devolve into states CPs, or XO, etc.  I don?t
think many of the other domestic papers have outlined, in detail, what
some of the specific generic neg positions would be.  Ag has a lot of
good, clear generic CPs with solvency advocates.  Caps/limits and
condition CPs have been discussed a lot already.  But the paper also
outlines a good EU CP, subsidizing other crops, removal of other trade
barriers, etc.  I think Quigley pointed out the litany of PICs that would
also be available.

The great thing is that many of the good generic disads are linked to
these CPs as natural, non-contrived net benefits.  For example, the trade
credibility DA works perfectly with the condition CP or EU CP.  Many of
the solvency advocates of the CPs write the DA arguments as well.

5.  Best critical ground.

I agree with JP that we shouldn?t be looking for specifically good ?K
ground? or ?politics ground? or whatever when choosing a topic.  But I
think it?s worth noting if the ?K ground? is particularly good on a
particular topic (especially when we?ve had 2 foreign topics in the last 3
years that access essentially the same K ground).  The best thing about ag
is not just there are lots of Ks to read, but lots of Ks that span the
ideological spectrum.  This is something that is unique to the ag topic. 
For example, you can read two completely different critical affs- one with
?right-wing? libertarian/CATO/free market ind.rights like arguments, and
one with ?leftist? US exceptionalism, poverty, animal rights and
development arguments.  On the neg, there are great environmental Ks,
imperialism Ks (different from last year?s orientalism Ks?Ks on ag would
talk more about cycles of dependency created by trade), and free trade Ks.
 The point is, groups from all over the political map are critical about
ag subsidies (albeit for different reasons), and write lots of good lit
about it.  What this means for debates is more flexibility?one can feel
free to run a litany of arguments from a wide array of perspectives and
not feel constrained by one particular ideological view.

All for now, I?ll try and respond to some more of the Russia stuff and
bring up some more points if I have time later.


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