[eDebate] Re-thinking the States Counterplan

Brad Hall hallbrad
Sat Apr 4 15:11:02 CDT 2009

While I am sympathetic and in large agreement with the anti-states CP group,
I don't think "no solvency advocate" is at all the appropriate argument to
channel this argument through. I don't have a fully thought through
alternative (Galloway's appeals to topic education and fairness are good
enough for me), but my objections to the requirement of a solvency advocate

1. The standard for what counts as a solvency advocate lacks a universal
understanding. It's difficult to isolate what exactly constitutes a solvency
advocate and is often merely a self-serving interpretation. Plans and
counterplans are sometimes mix and match from different authors or articles.
Affirmative cases frequently have no exact advocate for the plan wording,
but are Josh and others willing to vote neg on this theory argument?

Similarly, how many permutations have you ever heard a solvency advocate
for? If the neg has a solvency advocate for their counterplan, would you
reject the do both permutation merely because it has no solvency advocate?

2. Eliminates some germane CP's. Uniqueness or advantage counterplans almost
never have solvency advocates, but maybe people are willing to throw those
out. However, the best genre of counterplan in my opinion would often fail
to meet this test: the plan specific PIC. Almost no one objects in their
judging philosophies to a PIC specific to the aff, but how many of those
actually have explicit solvency advocates? Many of these CP's are just
intuitive and make the aff pay for putting something silly in their plan.

Example: KU's new aff in the semis vs. Cal did two things basically: it
rescinded wheat subsidies and changed PL480's requirements for the
distribution of food aid by removing the requirement that food aid be
procured only from American farmers. During that debate, I wrote a quick but
germane strategy to exclude the change in food aid distribution with a
politics disad, a protectionism disad about the backlash from American
farmers, and a solvency argument that Congress wouldn't actually authorize
local food aid procurement even if the option were made available (thus no
solvency deficit).

To me, this type of CP is what debate is all about: the net benefits --
aside from maybe politics -- are about the topic, it's plan specific, and
(in this instance) it makes the aff pay for including a possibly extra
topical plank in their plan. But it had no solvency advocate, so is it not a
legitimate CP?

3. Not limiting given today's research methods. It is increasingly possibly
to find a solvency advocate for ludicrous CP's like WOMP, call it Persia
instead of Iran, don't use all capital letters, etc. Some will say "those
don't have solvency advocates," but 1) I'm sure solvency advocates exist for
some CP's that most people think are unfair, and 2) refer back to #1 -- if
the neg has a card that "every instance of capital letters should be
replaced" or "we should never refer to the country as Iran in diplomatic
negotiations, we should always refer to them as Persia," isn't that as much
of a solvency advocate as many affs have?

David Heidt once proposed that the neg solvency advocate had to "match" the
level of aff solvency advocacy. I've already argued that this might leave
open the door for the states CP if the aff has no solvency advocate either,
but it seems like the fact that this standard would change on an
(affirmative) case-by-case basis reveals the flaws with relying on it. The
states CP isn't more fair or more educational in Rd 5 just because the aff
didn't have a solvency advocate. Rather, we should look for a slightly more
universal standard about what is best for debate and not rely on such a
narrow theory argument.


On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 2:37 PM, Josh <jbhdb8 at gmail.com> wrote:

> For years I pushed the "no solvency author" assumes the 50 states acting in
> concert in labs as a means to consistently beat the States
> CP...Unfortunately, Kamal and Harris found all these cards from this
> National Association that drafts uniform state legislation that kind of
> called this into question.  I still think its insane to say that any federal
> public policy advocate has any reasonable need to write responses to this CP
> so it makes it reallllllly hard for an aff to debate the Topic as
> intended....I know for a fact it always comes down to the cases that have a
> USFG offensive warrant not what needs to be done to solve poverty.
> Personally, I agree with most everyone on the "State CP = death of poverty
> topic" tip......not hard to agree with this...I do have a few questions for
> the extremely far right "don't teach the State CP" version of this:
> First, doesn't this kind of sellout many of our deepest held beliefs about
> letting the best argument win the day and let debate lead theory?
> Second, how does one get practice beating the states CP on a topic where
> people will 100% run the state CP when we don't even "introduce it" at camps
> etc.  Seems to me most of us got our hard opinions about this CP after
> decades of debating it.....Removing it only means less well thought out
> answers and discussion among judging pools on how best to defeat it.
> Third, isn't the problem more related to a very normal judging philosophy
> that accepts things "like the plan" as solvency evidence for the plan?
> Generally, 99% of judges think if the solvency evidence is CLOSE that is all
> the negative needs.  This year Aaron about went insane because NONE (as in
> ZERO) of the cards about the make a quid pro quo with china trading IPR for
> getting rid of cotton subsidies were actually about that particular quid pro
> quo but because judges saw China, IPR, and lift Subsidies they looked the
> other way on solvency every time.  Two years ago the entire court topic
> ended up where you could hardly win an affirmative debate because of the low
> solvency standards for what constituted a solvency card on the
> constitutional conventions counter-plan.  Honestly, I blame judge looseness
> on solvency requirements MUCH more than I do debaters running the actor
> CPs.  We all know its ABSURD that the 50 states in unison do a public policy
> action that they have NEVER really ever done but 99% say "A-OK."
> Josh
> On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 2:41 PM, <Pacedebate at aol.com> wrote:
>>  If you really want to make a difference then you need to think about the
>> place you can have the biggest impact. I believe there are three key areas.
>> First, summer debate institutes. For many high school students a
>> majority of their ideas about debate are formulated during the summer. If
>> you work at one of these institutes I implore you to not teach debaters the
>> states counterplan or if you feel it is your educational obligation to teach
>> it at least subject it to a very rigorous test of the solvency advocate for
>> the counterplan. Certainly on next year's high school topic (poverty) there
>> will be advocates for state action to deal with poverty. I'm skeptical that
>> any of those advocates will express a preference for uniform action by all
>> 50 states and relevant territories. Again, I have a strong preference for
>> institutes removing the states cp from the entire curriculum and I suggest
>> those of you who are instructors to just refuse to teach it.
>> Second, as teachers. Teach your students (high school or college) your
>> favorite theory argument against the states cp and help them learn how to
>> actually win these arguments in debates. Many of the arguments expressed by
>> others are sufficient reason to reject the states cp but debaters rarely go
>> for these arguments in debates.
>> Third, as judges. If the aff goes for "cp doesn't solve" hold the negative
>> to the same solvency burden that the affirmative has. If the aff has cards
>> that the federal government can solve certain problems then the neg should
>> be required to read evidence that advocates their counterplan which means if
>> the cp does 50 state and territories fiat then they need an advocate for
>> that type of action. Failure to have said advocate should be evaluated not
>> as a "solvency deficit" but as a "100% solvency deficit". It is unfair to
>> expect the affirmative to detail and evidence solvency deficits to a
>> counterplan that, as others in this thread have noted, is completely absent
>> from the literature.
>> I'll conclude with a final comment about summer debate institutes because
>> I believe that to be the most significant area where people can make a
>> difference. What happens at summer institutes truly shapes each generation
>> of debaters. Summer institute directors need to seriously contemplate the
>> role of their "institute". Are they really an educational arena as their
>> brochures suggest? At any moment in time could a teacher from a high school
>> walk in to a labroom and could the "instruction" being received be justified
>> as truly educational? Or are these programs really just big debate strategy
>> sessions where students are taught cheap tricks by coaches who are really
>> training students to be the debaters they want on their college squads in
>> the future. Lately, I'm sad to report, the trend has been toward cheap
>> tricks and bad arguments. Each of you that works at a summer institute can
>> make a genuine difference in that. I truly hope you will approach your lab
>> with the idea that you are there to teach the students in your group about
>> the substance of the topic.
>>  Ryan Galloway is 100% correct when he says:
>> "Instead of encouraging understanding of issues related to poverty, the
>> states cp forces everyone involved to narrow and obscure areas of poverty
>> literature.
>> Everyone who researches, teaches about, leans about, and grapples with
>> every domestic topic is intentionally cordoned off to a narrow literature
>> base to research the topic to get around that blasted ?federal government?
>> warrant.  Maybe it?s time we learned about more.  We are losing something
>> here, and we are losing the in-depth understanding about issues that are
>> important for our students to learn about, especially in trying economic
>> times."
>> Please, please, please this summer make a commitment to teaching your
>> students about the substance of poverty not the sham of the states
>> counterplan.
>> Thanks,
>>  Tim Mahoney
>> Director of Debate, St. Mark's School of Texas
>> 10600 Preston Road
>> Dallas, TX 75230
>> 214-346-8141
>> 214-734-3673 cell
>> 425-740-9130 fax
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Brad Hall
hallbrad at gmail.com
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