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topspeaker70

"Rocky Balboa" Does Debate, or Preliminary Thoughts Re: Africa Topic, Pt I

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I knew that if I was serious about "getting back into" debate, I would have to accept the fact that many of my ideas, theories, concepts, etc. are going to be dismissed as "quaint," and/or archaic, if not ridiculed as world-class stupid. So I might as well start taking my lumps now.

 

As I wrote for another thread, today was the first day of my research into the Africa topic. I am PUMPED about it for a lot of reasons. I've just started, and I've gone through two reams of paper and a $60 printer cartridge. So I want to share some of my thoughts.

 

As I do, please remember that I am a frail old man who is blind in one eye, and I am responsible for the support of my teenage daughter and a very cute dog. If that pathetically-lame attempt to exploit sympathy doesn't work for you, also keep in mind that I am a licensed attorney, and intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation of character are actionable torts. So, if and after you read this, you should exercise some discretion in how much you flame me. ;)

 

At the outset, although I have never been to Sub-Saharan Africa ("SSA") and my views are based solely upon academic research, it seems to me that the region is hell on Earth.

 

I don't want to get into a Sam Kennison-style rant here, but you name a social evil, SSA has got it TO THE MAX: bone-crushing poverty; an almost limitless assortment of diseases (bacteriological AND viral, including, but not limited to, AIDS, Ebola, and the dreaded Avian [bird] Flu); incompetent, corrupt, primitive, repressive and sometimes-genocidal governments; inadequate natural resources [especially clean water];pervasive illiteracy; and - last but certainly not least - virtually no infrastructure at all.

 

Then factor in that the weather generally sucks, and - according to some folks at least - global warming is going to make things a helluva lot worse.

 

All of the foregoing have helped to create the "brain drain," which has been going strong since the end of WWII (1945). It is hardly surprising that virtually anyone who somehow manages to rise above this nightmare tries to book "Out of Africa" ASAP. As a result, the health-care "delivery system" in SSA is essentially dysfuntional under the best of conditions.

 

Given this constellation of factors, I doubt that affirmatives will have ANY difficulty in identifying heart-wrenching areas of "need" (warrant, advantage, humanitarian imperative, etc.). Indeed, if you look in the dictionary under the term "basket case," there would be a map of SSA.

 

Despite all of this however, it seems to me that the phrasing of this year's topic necessarily compels the debater to consider two prima facie issues. (If I am using that term of art inappropriately, suffice it to say that, as a former debater, when I juxtapose the myriad causes of SSA's agony with the text of the wording of the resolution, I am tempted to ask, "SO WHAT?" [or "why"] for two different reasons.)

 

(1) SO WHAT HAS ANY OF THIS GOT TO DO WITH "THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT"?

Simply stated, whatever problem(s) the affirmative complains about, what is the rationale for additional American Governmental involvement? (And, by asking this question, I am not implying that I have formulated a good answer.)

 

At the risk of stating the obvious, the good old USA is up to its eyeballs (note the anatomical euphemism) in Iraq. Even before GWB decided on "the surge," the Iraq Study Group estimated that cost of the war at a trillion dollars. And that's just for Iraq, not for the rest of the "Global" War on Terror ("GWT," or, if you want to make it personal, "GWB's/GWT").

 

Our armed forces are stretched to the breaking point. The Gulf Coast of the United States still requires massive reconstruction almost two years after Hurricane Katrina. Given our current restraints, what would the USA do if China invaded Taiwan and/or North Korea did a replay of June 25, 1950? And don't get me started on the all the needs of poor folks right here in America.

 

Now better minds than mine can play with this concept any way they wish: as Kritiques, Counterwarrants, CP's (pick a flavor), DA's, prima facie arguments.. you guys know the nomenclature far better than I. But this is a threshhold issue that IMHO should not be ignored.

 

(2) SO WHY GOVERNMENTAL "ASSISTANCE?"

 

There have been rabid critics of "foreign assistance" since before I was in high school (read: antediluvian). Their basic argument was/is that, by fostering dependency, governmental assistance (in contrast to free market forces, such as trade) creates poverty and misery, rather than solving these problems. And, the stubborn fact is that billions upon billions of dollars in governmental assistance have been poured into SSA since the 1950's. What demonstrates that assistance is a viable strategy?

 

Obviously, I've only scratched the surface in researching this issue, but what I've found interests me.

 

Finally, please bear in mind that all of this comes from a board-certified, bleeding-heart Lefto and a card-carrying member of the ACLU.

 

Just some of my preliminary thoughts... I am VERY much interested in yours.

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I think you are correct in many areas. However, I do feel that you seem a little bit too pessimistic about USFG involvement in SSA. It's exactly how you put it:

 

Indeed, if you look in the dictionary under the term "basket case," there would be a map of SSA.

 

But quite honestly, there's no (good) reason why the US shouldn't give aid of some kind to underdeveloped nations. People are dying. We can help. It's that simple in most cases. I do think, however, that there is a breaking point to where the US makes the 3rd world dependant on our aid, which leads to them expecting us to fix their problems instead of doing it themselves. Nothing ever gets done this way.

 

Overall, you seem pretty spot on and solid to me, except for this little thing:

 

Finally, please bear in mind that all of this comes from a board-certified, bleeding-heart Lefto and a card-carrying member of the ACLU.

 

But hey, it's like Aristotle said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

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I knew that if I was serious about "getting back into" debate, I would have to accept the fact that many of my ideas, theories, concepts, etc. are going to be dismissed as "quaint," and/or archaic, if not ridiculed as world-class stupid. So I might as well start taking my lumps now.

 

As I wrote for another thread, today was the first day of my research into the Africa topic. I am PUMPED about it for a lot of reasons. I've just started, and I've gone through two reams of paper and a $60 printer cartridge. So I want to share some of my thoughts.

 

As I do, please remember that I am a frail old man who is blind in one eye, and I am responsible for the support of my teenage daughter and a very cute dog. If that pathetically-lame attempt to exploit sympathy doesn't work for you, also keep in mind that I am a licensed attorney, and intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation of character are actionable torts. So, if and after you read this, you should exercise some discretion in how much you flame me. ;)

 

.

 

I, for one, welcome you to the forum. It's nice to have SOMEone here who actually IS older than I am! For the record, I actually watched you debate on a few occasions; I was a freshman on the Baylor squad in the fall of 1968 and on the Odessa College (juco) squad in 1969 & 1970. The names & deeds of Miller, Ware, Seikel, Ulrich, et. al. have been intoned many many times to teach pertinent debate points. Having you make the opposite-field maneuver (from law TO debate instead of the other way around) is refreshing & encouraging.

 

I'm sure you keep up with Bill English? He comes to my school each fall for one of his "travelling road show-debate topic lectures."

 

(I was also present at a certain debaters' party at the TCU tournament in 1973 when you were...ahem.....impressing a young female debater with your debate record & accomplishments...particularly your watch from the NDT. :P Just a little thinly veiled threat in case YOU become the flamer. Like the Godfather, I try to have a little something on everybody. :) )

 

 

*I know, I know....my post did not contribute a damn thing to the progression of the thread. I'll get to that later.......*

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I, for one, welcome you to the forum. It's nice to have SOMEone here who actually IS older than I am!
Exactly! If we can attract enough people from Michael's era, maybe both of US will drop off of the "Oldest Geezers on Cross-x.com" list. As of now, I think I'm in fourth... ;)

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I agree on all points. I've already told my debaters that they really shouldn't discuss affirmative ideas with me until they can produce a card which says something like "Only the United States can effectively do ____ because . . ." There's simply no way to counterplan against all of the Nongovernmental organizations and foreign governments who could provide aid.

 

I also think that no topic in recent memory has been so suceptible to alternate causality arguments on the advantages. The topic literature is replete with examples of harms that are systemic in the sense that they flow from a variety of interwoven causes. I'm hoping debaters will actually engage this part of the topic.

 

I also think that this topic provides something for the kritik debaters who can honestly question the underpinnings of assistance, the feminist critique of aid, and the cultural imperialism that goes with solving other peoples' problems.

 

I also like the idea of a thread where we old folks can talk about the topic without hearing "just nuke Africa!!!!" debated as a serious approach to the resolution.

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I agree on all points. I've already told my debaters that they really shouldn't discuss affirmative ideas with me until they can produce a card which says something like "Only the United States can effectively do ____ because . . ." There's simply no way to counterplan against all of the Nongovernmental organizations and foreign governments who could provide aid.

That's a good policy. But even cards like that are likely to be heavier on political rhetoric than on honest analysis.

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So my arguments can be placed in perspective: I head up an organization that focuses on increasing attention to areas that are generally ignored. For the last two years, we have worked on Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and northern Uganda. Our major campaign for Sudanese divestment recently succeeded in placing Kansas, a very red state, on the list of states who have divested their state pension funds from companies assisting and funding the genocide in Sudan. I tend to be extremely liberal in these areas. I certainly do not have near the debate status you hold. I am an assistant coach in the Kansas City area.

 

I will address your arguments in the order you voice them.

 

<<(1) SO WHAT HAS ANY OF THIS GOT TO DO WITH "THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT"?>>

 

It is a rather tenuous position to contend that inaction is a better alternative to United States action, especially when US action in many cases would revolve around monetary contributions. It would not necessarily require specific deployment of any organizational unit.

So what if China invades Taiwan? I have not seen many cases that would really detract from a US response to that threat. Even if case required the deployment of an Armed Forces group to assist in mandates, if China invaded Taiwan and the United States chose to deploy in response, I severely doubt the US would leave those troops conducting plan--instead, they would likely be redeployed. Moreover, that is merely a worst-case scenario.

The argument that the US has to prove they are the BEST agent holds a great amount of weight solely because of the counterplan ground that is provided by next year's topic. Sure, other countries could provide the support necessary without incurring the inevitable politics DAs that remember Somalia or any number of other disasters. A non-Western entity helping might be received with greater success anyway. Clinton's bombing of the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan is still remembered along with a list of other ills that the United States has supposedly caused. Maybe US direct assistance can help diffuse the threat that anti-Americanism poses. Realize though, that in many areas, anti-Americanism is not as widespread as some would have you believe.

At this point I'm just writing whatever comes to mind.... maybe I should go back through and organize this better.

<<(2) SO WHY GOVERNMENTAL "ASSISTANCE?">>

Here's what I think is the most interesting argument in regards to the dependency theory. Everything you write about how SSA is "hell on earth" is probably right, to some degree. However, there are areas where great promise is being shown, and "civilization" in a modern context certainly exists. Many organizations providing assistance (read: USAID) have that opinion, that SSA is completely and totally hopeless. Fairly often, organizations dealing aid will NOT teach locals how to conduct the same tasks the organizations are conducting. I know this by personal accounts, by hundreds of critiques of the current assistance system, etcetera. It is this very mindset that seems to block any solution to the dependency crisis. Let's deactivate the "hopeless hell on earth" mindset--then perhaps solving will be a bit more realistic.

I think you're right, Jake, when you note that we can help, this means we should. I disagree with you when you contend that it is the amount we contribute that fosters dependency. Alternatively, I believe it is the way assistance is given that creates this vicious cycle.

 

Probably more later, maybe when I'm thinking clearer.

 

EDIT:: Wow, and I didn't even mention the massive brain drain happening...

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