Just got in a round and heard of a case that you hadn’t thought of before? What do you do? Just happened to me today in a way, so I’ll share what I did as a lesson.
Here’s what you need to do though: go through all your TYPES of arguments and see what you can quickly sketch out. Many of them will not be winners, but some of them will and it should be enough to choose from. It took me 10 minutes to make this list, simulating 8 minutes of 1AC plus 2 of your partner’s CX. You could choose the arguments after that and get ready in prep.
So this is an EXAMPLE of brainstorming in-round. The case has something to do with eliminating the use of paper by the federal government, to help the environment.
It really depends on what the plan is and how exactly they have tailored it…. here are some dumb and not dumb thoughts:
Timeframe Contract Violation: the way the govt works, most of these agencies have contracts with paper suppliers… they don’t just walk down to Staples and grab a ream. These are likely 5 year contracts. Plan could violate them (=uh… contract violation + lawsuits against govt, which arguably also generate paper haha). I’d go with straight solvency on this one: you just can’t do the plan b/c it’s illegal.
Legality: the government is being sued all the time. Having printed copies with blue ink signatures and proper initials actually saves a lot of money in the long run. They are probably ready for this argument though…
Federal Acquisition Regulation violation: If the plan identifies who will supply alternate methods (i.e. eFax, or echosign) then they are sole-sourcing the bid and need to have a justification. Otherwise, they need to open the services of their plan up for bid which will have to go through a process and they can’t really guarantee who will provide the service.
IT System Disruption: One of the reasons paper works is it is transferrable across secure systems. FAA can’t give DOJ an email with attachment (hacking, security protocols, blah blah), plus they might be running different operating systems and file types (did you know some of the gov’t is on Windows 95 using floppy disks?) — paper is non-corruptible and sure. In most cases way easier.
–> There might have to be huge IT system unification under such a plan. Talk about billions and billions of dollars. I mean, the Dept. of Interior alone has one server for every 9 or so employees. This is a LOT of equipment.
–> Or it might just flop… b/c now you have to burn a CD, label it right, make sure it’s in the right old formats, get a courier to bring it over, then troubleshoot it when the technology doesn’t work.
Security DA: once things are allowed to be transmitted electronically, you can’t have version control on how many there are. When paper is literally the only way to get info out of the building, you have a much tighter rein on it. So you end up with goofy situations like the DOI person sneaking out confidential papers in their pant legs, rather than just emailing the doc where they need. Honestly, there would be no way to police info if it’s all digital.
NEGATIVE PHILOSOPHY: Paper is a symptom, not the disease. If we had modern IT systems where we were using generally interoperable devices, paper would quickly die out b/c of its inconvenience. So there are huge alternate causes here and they constitute the disadvantages as much as they also constitute the real problem–outdated, non-interoperable technology.
Now paper is starting to look pretty good…. all the govt’s paper needs are supplied for half a billion? That rocks! Way way cheaper than reforming and training and implementing thousands and thousands of new IT systems across the hundreds of departments and offices WORLDWIDE. Then you have to do it again in 4 years as technology is updated. Way way way way way way more expensive.
DA: Environmental Damage. Actually, clearing trees (God’s given resource) simply means other types of life exists there. If the plan causes overpopulation of trees then great for trees, but that damages all the other systems (of which humans are also a part). We probably don’t know enough about it to cause that kind of sudden environmental shock
Economic damage: You just wiped out a multimillion dollar industry including paper mills and manufacturing, resellers, staplers, tape, and shredding/destruction services, then all the services that support them and their families. Nice.
Harm mitigation: Trees are actually growing in population worldwide (maybe?). Bring up in CX or as need of stats point.
Harm mitigation: There are more trees in the USA now than ever in its history (pretty sure on this), bring up in CX or need of stats point.
Harm mitigation: if they’re going with global warming type stuff, I’ll use my “it’s not happening” generic.
Inherency: No plans and no time since I have no evidence.
Counterplan option 1: A tree rotation kind of dealio
Counterplan option 2: Reduce the size of the government!! 😛
Counterplan option 3: Each executive office (or an Executive Order, but NOT Congress) establishes paper-use reduction goals. This allows intel agencies to say they can’t do it anymore, but the USGS to say they can go completely paperless.
1. Environmental purpose doesn’t create environmental policy
2. Not necessary at the Congressional level (each of these changes could be made below even the President, at department levels), therefore you are manufacturing this as USFG enviro policy.
3. The policy you are changing isn’t Congressional (they didn’t mandate the use of paper like this). So it’s not reform or something like that.
Is anything in there a winner? Yes. I’d probably run with these in my 1NC:
– All three topicality arguments (more if my partner has any in prep)
– The neg philosophy (basically, IT systems are the root of this issue)
– Paint the $$ in terms of overall problems as pretty much nothing
– Go with my environment doing okay generic
– Shell out IT system DAs and alt cause
The rest I’ll save for my partner and we’ll talk before 2NC about them. He’ll also be thinking up solvency arguments. Important: Many of these solvency arguments will become so only after a good CX. So that’s the purpose of my CX of the 2AC–completely ignore in CX what I and 2AC has said so far, instead establish ground for 2NC’s solvency arguments (b/c so much is based on unknowns for my partner and I).
I like the topic of this post: thinking through and planning for the unknown is a key to debating well.
I’ll add something to the top: before brainstorming a huge list of arguments, think in the ‘big picture.’ Chances are the judge has never heard this case either and may the judge have less an idea of its context than you do. Develop some meta-arguments that stay out of the case’s details. Summarize their case in a sentence and attack the sentence.
Discussing their case in the broadest possible terms will pull the affirmative team out of their details and into a larger argument. Unless you have directly applicable, specific evidence, the affirmative team will win on the specific details in their plan.
Sticking with a big picture argument will help the judge compare the two teams. It also gives you something to connect all your arguments to; it can define your universe. Unless you hit a flow judge that is skilled in technical debate, the ‘live in our universe’ impact can be a huge winner.
Practicing dealing with the unknown will result in stronger debate performance. Do it!
THERE IS ALSO AN EXECUTIVE MANDATE THAT OBAMA GAVE IN JAN. STATING THAT ALL FED. GOVT. AGENCIES SHALL USE DOUBLE SIDED PRINTING. – THE CASE IS NO LONGER INHERENT SINCE IT IS ALREADY BEING DONE.
I realize that this is a huge key towards doing well in debate and also a major key in life as the ability to think on your feet however, how would you recommend I practice developing that skill?