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2006-07 Topic: National Service

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National Service is selected as 2006-2007 debate topic

 

On January 5, 2006, ballots from 34 states, the National Catholic Forensic League and the National Forensic League were tabulated at NFHS headquarters to select the 2006-2007 national high school debate topic. National Service was selected over Assistance to Africa with 56% of the votes.

 

In October the five topic areas were narrowed to two as part of a two-stage balloting process. Use of the second ballot assures that a majority of coaches across the nation favor the chosen topic area and resolution.

The following chart summarizes the state-by-state balloting on topic areas. The letters reflect a vote for National Service (NS) or Assistance to Africa (AA).

HOW THEY VOTED FOR 2006-2007:

Choice of problem area and resolution by Official Referendum Vote:

(Graphic will be added at a later date)

NCFL – NS

NFL – AA

Shaded states did not report a vote prior to publication.

National Debate Topic Area Balloting:

 

20 NATIONAL SERVICE

Resolved: The United States federal government should establish a comprehensive program of mandatory national service by United States citizens.

16 ASSISTANCE TO AFRICA

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa in one or more of the following areas: education, public health, nutrition.

 

Author: arh

Release Date: 1/9/2006

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The National Federation sent out a correction this afternoon (to members of the committee anyway) that the vote wa actually 21 to 15 in favor of National Service...they had inadvertently put Wyoming in the Africa column when in fact it had voted for National Service.

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DON'T YOU MEAN TO SAY: BE PREPARED TO DABAIT THINGS THAT CAN POSSIBLY BE SOLVED BY CON-CON?
Haha, that's a good one. Con-con doesn't solve anything.

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Here's the aspect of this topic that bothers me the most: literature. I just googled "united states" and "mandatory public service". I got a grand total of 928 hits. That includes the first one, which was a Wikipedia entry, and numbers 3 and 4, which were actually sites listing this as a national debate topic option for 2006-7. This points to a serious lack of literature, I believe. In fact, I noticed this problem when I read the topic paper. In it I count 17 separate "topic literature" citations. Only 5 of them are from sources written in the last 3 years. Several are from 1996 or earlier. This indicates to me that this is probably the least timely topic of my debate career.

 

By no means am I suggesting that you get all of your evidence by googling key topic terms. Nor am I suggesting that nothing written prior to 2003 is still accurate. But I do think these things are a good measure of the diversity of subjects available. One major sub-issue of the no lit. problem is going to be the lack of solvency authors. Every proposal I found to increase public service assumed voluntary service. I found no author who said "Vaccinating kittens/reading to senior citizens/toting an M-16 through the hills of Afghanistan should be required of every American." The reason is probably that, in real life, it never occurred to any of them that their particular cause would be the subject of mandatory participation. I imagine that as a result every solvency debate will begin in the 1NC with "Number One: Your own authors assume the plan is voluntary. You have no cards that say this program should be mandatory." This will of course all follow the Voluntary Service CP and Coercion Kritik.

 

I have been involved with debate for almost 15 years. This means that I am old. It does not mean that I am necessarily all that bright. Some people I know actually cite my 15 years of involvement in debate as proof that I can't be all that bright. But I am bright enough to make the observation that of the 25 or so topics I have researched (including college topics), this one is likely the most singularly ill-formed.

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Here's the aspect of this topic that bothers me the most: literature. I just googled "united states" and "mandatory public service". I got a grand total of 928 hits. That includes the first one, which was a Wikipedia entry, and numbers 3 and 4, which were actually sites listing this as a national debate topic option for 2006-7. This points to a serious lack of literature, I believe. In fact, I noticed this problem when I read the topic paper. In it I count 17 separate "topic literature" citations. Only 5 of them are from sources written in the last 3 years. Several are from 1996 or earlier. This indicates to me that this is probably the least timely topic of my debate career.

 

By no means am I suggesting that you get all of your evidence by googling key topic terms. Nor am I suggesting that nothing written prior to 2003 is still accurate. But I do think these things are a good measure of the diversity of subjects available. One major sub-issue of the no lit. problem is going to be the lack of solvency authors. Every proposal I found to increase public service assumed voluntary service. I found no author who said "Vaccinating kittens/reading to senior citizens/toting an M-16 through the hills of Afghanistan should be required of every American." The reason is probably that, in real life, it never occurred to any of them that their particular cause would be the subject of mandatory participation. I imagine that as a result every solvency debate will begin in the 1NC with "Number One: Your own authors assume the plan is voluntary. You have no cards that say this program should be mandatory." This will of course all follow the Voluntary Service CP and Coercion Kritik.

 

I have been involved with debate for almost 15 years. This means that I am old. It does not mean that I am necessarily all that bright. Some people I know actually cite my 15 years of involvement in debate as proof that I can't be all that bright. But I am bright enough to make the observation that of the 25 or so topics I have researched (including college topics), this one is likely the most singularly ill-formed.

 

Jeremy--

 

I'll agree with you the literature does seem to be lacking at the moment. However, think back...isn't it amazing how the media always seems to go with the flow as far as topics go. I've never quite figured out if debate topics just seem to predict the way our society will go or vice versa and what will be publicized the most. Granted this isn't the topic that I was hoping for either. So true!!! However, I think there are plenty of good possibilities for cases and that this topic can turn out to be really good.

 

Off the top of my head my first thought would be that the US could require a year of military participation similar to the way Israel etc...do. Or they could require a year of community service such as in Americorps. Thus changing it from a "voluntary" organization to a required one. Granted the Americorps stuff would assume voluntary participation, but the required military lit wouldn't.

 

I know I am seeing things from a different perspective and this by no means supports the idea that I'm seeing it from the "correct" direction...simply a different one. Personally I think the lit will follow and if not, then it can't be worse than the SE Asia topic...for reasons of it's own.

 

Also having pretty much the same number of years of experience as you do in this wonderful activity as you well know...although I think you have me beat out by a couple of years due to my breaks here and there, I am not as disappointed in this topic as you are.

 

Yes, I do think Africa would be a more timely topic. There's certainly more lit out there on Africa and it was my first pick. However as you know...from having been around this activity for as long as you have (old man) ha ha...(guess that makes me really old...:P ) the first pick on a lot of people's lists never becomes the actual topic. It's always the 2nd or 3rd choice that becomes the real topic.

 

Personally the topic we are completing right now has to be my least favorite from the last 12 years...yeah you've got me beat out by 3 years...but we move forward and plunge through anyway we can. Personally, I have a lot of ideas on the National Service topic that I'd love to bounce around with you sometime in the near future if you have the time. I guess we can swap out on perspectives on the topic b/c I know that you enjoyed the current topic and as I mentioned I've not cared for it much at all.

 

I'm going to stop rambling now...but I want to say this too. I think it's all in the order that you google, b/c being the good former partner that I am I of course had to go check up on the google thing. When I did it in the order you suggested I ended up with only 530 topics but if you google mandatory public service as your first part and united states as the 2nd meaning United States is your exact phrase and the other isn't I had about 12 million. Not bad in my opinion. So there are ideas out there...we just have to dig through to find them and I think we'll find timely ideas. Mark my words Jer, the media will begin to talk about mandatory national service or the possiblility of it within in a month or two. At least that's my bet...I could be wrong. It's happened once in a blue moon or something as you know or ummmm more frequently than that, but you get my point.

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and you definitely got me thinking.

 

Betty

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Jeremy--

 

 

A chance to goad my former debate partner in a public debate of this topic. I can't resist . . .

 

"I'll agree with you the literature does seem to be lacking at the moment. However, think back...isn't it amazing how the media always seems to go with the flow as far as topics go. I've never quite figured out if debate topics just seem to predict the way our society will go or vice versa and what will be publicized the most. However, I think there are plenty of good possibilities for cases and that this topic can turn out to be really good. "

 

I tend to think that the debate topics follow the literature. I've always thought that it seems that there is a proliferation of literature because we start looking more scrupulously for things that are relevant. I'm glad you brought that up, because now that you've mentioned it, lit. does sometimes seem to sprout up in the months after a topic is released.

 

"Off the top of my head my first thought would be that the US could require a year of military participation similar to the way Israel etc...do."

 

Again, I'm seeing an awfully high percentage of literature dealing with "mandatory service" trending toward conscription. You can run from this construction of the topic, but you can't ignore it. The question is, do you want to debate it?

 

"Or they could require a year of community service such as in Americorps. Thus changing it from a "voluntary" organization to a required one. Granted the Americorps stuff would assume voluntary participation, but the required military lit wouldn't."

 

I think that's the problem. All of the literature assumes voluntary participation. Or conscription. Now, we can do the "solvency two step" on every affirmative except conscription: 1) Program X is good. 2) Mandatory service is good. Therefore, participation in Program X should be mandatory. But, by golly, that's not what the affirmative solvency advocates are going to be saying, and I think it's intellectually disingenuous to pretend that they do.

 

"it can't be worse than the SE Asia topic...for reasons of it's own."

 

Like a novice debating Zizek, I'm going to ignore this one, tacitly concede it, and hope against hope you don't ever mention it again. Because I can't win this argument.

 

 

" I am not as disappointed in this topic as you are."

 

And this deserves a caveat on my part. I may not be nearly as disappointed a month from now as I currently am. I really don't know enough about this topic to make a totally informed decision yet. Right now however, I'm thinking about what a phenomenal learning opportunity the Africa topic would have been. In fact, I'm going to now begin my "Africa in '07" campaign. It might be unprecedented, but I know of no reason why the same or a similar topic could not be considered two years in a row if it goes through the proper channels. Care to join the party?

 

"Yes, I do think Africa would be a more timely topic. There's certainly more lit out there on Africa and it was my first pick. However as you know...from having been around this activity for as long as you have (old man) ha ha...(guess that makes me really old...:P ) the first pick on a lot of people's lists never becomes the actual topic. It's always the 2nd or 3rd choice that becomes the real topic."

 

True enough. You would think by now I would have given up expecting this process to yield a logical decision. Darn, now I'm disappointed in the topic and the process by which it was selected. This is getting regressive.

 

I'm going to stop rambling now...but I want to say this too. I think it's all in the order that you google, b/c being the good former partner that I am I of course had to go check up on the google thing. When I did it in the order you suggested I ended up with only 530 topics but if you google mandatory public service as your first part and united states as the 2nd meaning United States is your exact phrase and the other isn't I had about 12 million. Not bad in my opinion. So there are ideas out there...we just have to dig through to find them.

 

I reversed the terms and got the same number. In any event I think mandatory public service is the one that's the "critical" term in this search. Oh, and like a novice again, I'm going to reiterate that none of the literature uses the term "mandatory", all of it assumes "voluntary" service, because this is my only good argument and years of judging novice debate has taught me that if you only have one good argument that's ok. You just have to make that argument repeatedly. Wow. That was too long. Sorry everybody.

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"A chance to goad my former debate partner in a public debate of this topic. I can't resist . . ."

 

Wonderful!! Neither could I. ;)

 

 

"Again, I'm seeing an awfully high percentage of literature dealing with "mandatory service" trending toward conscription. You can run from this construction of the topic, but you can't ignore it. The question is, do you want to debate it?"

 

You are right it's going to be everywhere next year. And in answer to whether or not I want to debate it...or be listening to conscription all year...the answer is no. However, I can think of worse things to listen to as well.

 

"I think that's the problem. All of the literature assumes voluntary participation. Or conscription. Now, we can do the "solvency two step" on every affirmative except conscription: 1) Program X is good. 2) Mandatory service is good. Therefore, participation in Program X should be mandatory. But, by golly, that's not what the affirmative solvency advocates are going to be saying, and I think it's intellectually disingenuous to pretend that they do."

 

You are right Jer. Most of them won't be saying that. Unless they are focused upon mandatory public service taking place by other countries. Does that exist now? Could it be applied to citizens within the US beyond military service? Is there lit out there that talks about it, honestly I've not looked, but I'd be shocked if it didn't excits. However, with that said you are right that many of the solvency authors will require that we do the "two step" you suggested and I'd not thought about it like that. But let me ask you this, how many of the affirmative solvency authors are actually advocating much of what the debaters use them to advocate in cases right now? You see where I'm going with that. But I do definitely get your point and agree...it's going to make finding solvency for an affirmative extremely difficult next year if it's not conscription. This conversation is making me question my enthusiasm over the National Service topic a bit more...

 

"Like a novice debating Zizek, I'm going to ignore this one, tacitly concede it, and hope against hope you don't ever mention it again. Because I can't win this argument."

 

:D Sounds good...we'll agree not to bring it up again. I love the analogy to a novice debating Zizek though and you are so right...that's exactly what they would do.

 

"Right now however, I'm thinking about what a phenomenal learning opportunity the Africa topic would have been. In fact, I'm going to now begin my "Africa in '07" campaign. It might be unprecedented, but I know of no reason why the same or a similar topic could not be considered two years in a row if it goes through the proper channels. Care to join the party?"

 

Absolutely, I'm on board. When do we start campaigning. Seriously though I definitely would like to see Africa as a topic option for next year too.

 

"True enough. You would think by now I would have given up expecting this process to yield a logical decision. Darn, now I'm disappointed in the topic and the process by which it was selected. This is getting regressive."

 

Now you are making me feel badly over pointing out the lack of logic in expecting the first choice to win.

 

"I reversed the terms and got the same number. In any event I think mandatory public service is the one that's the "critical" term in this search."

 

Hmm...you and I must be googling differently some how...not really sure how we are managing that, but I definitely am not getting the same number when the terms are reversed. Are you using regular google or the advanced search. Yes, I'm using the advanced search.

 

"Oh, and like a novice again, I'm going to reiterate that none of the literature uses the term "mandatory", all of it assumes "voluntary" service, because this is my only good argument and years of judging novice debate has taught me that if you only have one good argument that's ok. You just have to make that argument repeatedly."

 

Mandatory definitely is key, but I'd be interested in discovering whether there are mandatory programs of public service required by other countries that are effective that could be adopted in the US that aren't conscription. I would think that those would solve for the "voluntary" aspect, but then again I could be wrong.

 

Thanks for discussing this with me Jer. I'll look into the foreign stuff and let you know what I find.

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STEFAN BAUSCHARD RELEASED HIS ANALYSIS OF THE HS RESOLUTION ON PLANETDEBATE.COM

 

ITS FREE- CHECK IT OUT!

 

MAYBE PHIL SHOULD KEEP UP WIT HIS COMPETITION AND RELEASE HIS ANALYSIS.

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