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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:47 pm 
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Cyberknight wrote:
There are two ways to kill this argument:

1: ask in CX: "would you agree that your advantages have to be significant in order for the judge to vote Aff?"

Aff has two options: they can agree, and admit that they need sig Ads, or they can disagree, and look really terrible. TRUST ME, they will agree! ;)

2: keep pressing the burden of proof. Aff has a burden to prove SIGNIFICANT harm. If they didn't have this burden, they could have a plan that made some humongous change and only saved 1$.

It is simply self-evident that a significant reform is only warranted when there is a significant problem.


I know we're getting a little off-topic here... Maybe someone who can should make a separate thread. :)

Anyways.
1. I'd say no to that C-X question, and we had lots of great teams last year that did the same. Why shouldn't we make a significant reform if it provides an advantage? If there's no negatives to performing the action, and it brings about a benefit, then do it.

2. The Res calls for "significant reform," not "significant advantages." ;) Advantages isn't anywhere in the res.

My point is: I think discontinuing a policy that has failed is perfectly reasonable, so long as there is some upside. In the case of Iranian sanctions, there is definitely upside (improved relations/quality of life).

You can try and nail the affirmative team down to your standard of harms, solvency, etc. But the fact of the matter is that those stock issues aren't hard and fast rules (at least not in the NCFCA). They tell judges to make decisions like they would in the real world. How do you make decisions in the real world? Comparative advantage. Do the benefits outweigh the cost?

In short: If sanctions don't work, there's no harm in removing them. You need DAs (in this case, a downside to removing sanctions) to defend keeping them. If you concede they don't work, any upside could warrant their removal.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:58 pm 
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Several thoughts.

First of all, the size of the harm/advantage has absolutely nothing to do with whether the plan is topical. Nothing at all. Ever. The premise is absurd. It goes in the hall of fame of truly bad arguments.

But beyond that, the height of the hurdle affirmatives have to clear for the stock issue of significance depends on whether a judge views the ideal debate as need-plan or as comparative advantage. The latter is willing to vote affirmative on a single penny saved, or a single molecule of clean oxygen liberated, so long as there are no disadvantages. And that is a perfectly rational, coherent, internally consistent way of viewing debate. The need-plan framework says it's the affirmative's burden to demonstrate a compelling need backed by an inherent barrier, and a plan tailored to address that inherent barrier and address all or nearly all of the need. And that is a perfectly rational, coherent, internally consistent way of viewing debate.

Judges who lean in the need-plan direction tend to believe that you don't use a bazooka to swat a mosquito, that there are endless non-governmental ways to solve most problems, and that the government governs best that governs least. Need-plan was the universal judging framework for debate before the New Deal and the civil rights era. Judges who lean in the comparative advantage direction believe that opponents of action have to articulate their reasons, not just claim government inertia is a positive good. They view negative presumption as weak, almost nonexistent; it only comes up if the debate is a perfect tie. Comparative advantage had a wrestling match with need plan in college debate in the 1960s, began to eclipse it in the 70s, and drove it to extinction in the 80s.

One other way I've illustrated it in the past: need-plan judges think of government action like surgery. Doctors will advise that patients have surgery if a major medical need warrants it, but they should always make clear that with any surgery there are risks, and you don't do brain surgery to cure a sinus headache. Comparative advantage people might answer that some surgery is fairly minor and out-patient, and those types often are done for elective reasons that aren't very urgent. Furthermore, they would say doctors can and should articulate the dangers of surgery (anesthetic, blood loss, recovery time) rather than just saying "Well, it's risky." Failure to turn presumption into an actual disadvantage is bad argument; it's vague, and it rewards negatives for not doing the extra work to explain the risks.

Either way, in different debating communities, different judges have different expectations. Lesson: adapt to your judge pool.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:09 pm 
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DrSraderNCU wrote:
First of all, the size of the harm/advantage has absolutely nothing to do with whether the plan is topical. Nothing at all. Ever. The premise is absurd. It goes in the hall of fame of truly bad arguments.

If I may ask, then what does the phrase 'significantly reform' refer to if not requiring a significant change?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:01 pm 
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Significant change, not necessary significant advantage. Topicality merely requires that the reform itself be significant. E.g abolishing a major law is significant, removing one unimportant word is not.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:26 pm 
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MSD wrote:
Significant change, not necessary significant advantage. Topicality merely requires that the reform itself be significant. E.g abolishing a major law is significant, removing one unimportant word is not.

Significance is defined as: Important, of consequence. What makes a reform important? Or what makes a reform to hold consequence? The effects. The advantages. The impacts. Etc.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:58 pm 
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Or important to the meaning of the law, which I think is the more defensible interpretation.

This is the definitions game you have to hash out in-round.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:09 pm 
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MSD wrote:
Or important to the meaning of the law, which I think is the more defensible interpretation.

Could you explain that a bit more?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:03 am 
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Suppose you redo all the plumbing in your house: move the sinks around, add a new bathroom, install low-flow toilets, etc. The idea is to make everything more convenient and water-efficient. But after a few months, you realize that not much has changed; it's not that much more convenient, and your water bill is about the same.

Was the reform significant?

Interpretation 1: Yes, because you make significant changes to the plumbing system (even though it didn't have a significant effect).
Interpretation 2: No, because it didn't have a significant effect (even though you made significant changes to the plumbing system).

I favor the former; you seem to favor the latter. I think the first is more grammatically defensible, but that's something you can hash out in-round. The point is, it isn't enough to say "the effects aren't significant, so it isn't topical!", because that isn't the only way you can interpret "significant." You also have to win the argument that Interpretation 1 is invalid.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:09 am 
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MSD wrote:
Interpretation 1: Yes, because you make significant changes to the plumbing system (even though it didn't have a significant effect).
Interpretation 2: No, because it didn't have a significant effect (even though you made significant changes to the plumbing system).

If I may ask, why can't you use both? I have tried it before several times and it does work pretty well.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:54 pm 
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I don't quite follow. Could you give an example of using both in-round? Are you thinking "it can be significant in more than one way!", or "it has to be significant in both ways!", or something else?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:04 pm 
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MSD wrote:
I don't quite follow. Could you give an example of using both in-round? Are you thinking "it can be significant in more than one way!", or "it has to be significant in both ways!", or something else?

The Human Rights Council case from UN year. We argued that A. It was insignificant because it was a small agency, not much funding, only a few people, etc. and B. That since they had no real power to take action on any human rights violations and that nobody paid attention to them that abolishing it would do nothing and thus wouldn't have significant effects.

A bit of both and. I would say that effects is the more important of the two because it has an impact. If you give $100 dollars of funding to the project that ends up revolutionizing the sanitation of water world wide then that would be very significant. But giving $1 trillion to a prestigious scientific division that blows it all would be insignificant because it had no impact. So while either one can be run, I'd say that effects is the more powerful.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:26 pm 
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Speaking as a judge, please don't run significance. There is really no objective criterion of what counts as an "important" law as opposed to an unimportant law. It is tears producingly boring and it smacks of, "I didn't research enough, so punish the aff team."

This is unless, of course, there is field literature specific definitions to what a "significant x" would be. For instance one of the NPTE topics was "The USFG should substantially reduce it's strategic nuclear arsenal." One of the Ts we ran was that the field lit defines "substantial reduction" as a 25% reduction.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:47 pm 
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IrishMex Rebel wrote:
Speaking as a judge, please don't run significance. There is really no objective criterion of what counts as an "important" law as opposed to an unimportant law. It is tears producingly boring and it smacks of, "I didn't research enough, so punish the aff team."

To be absolutely fair, I've talked to quite a few judges who love significance and consider it one of the strongest arguments. There are people on both sides. :)

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