The USFG ought to pay reparations to African Americans.
Resolved: The United States federal government ought to pay reparations to African Americans.
ought- should, based on desirability
pay reparations- give compensation for past abuses or give formal apologies or try to make victims' lives better
1. Give arguments in the first round and pass the last round, saying something along the lines of "no round as agreed upon"
2. No resolutional semantics beyond this point; if you are trying to define a term in the resolution, this is not allowed, just use the common understanding. Other semantics is fine.
3. Quote authors within the text of the debate & no plans/counterplans (since this is essentially a PF debate)
4. Don't be rude
Thanks to the first person who wishes to accept, and good luck! Looking forward to an excellent debate on an awesome topic.
In order to make the payments in question, the USFG would obviously have to use tax revenue, which essentially makes the proposal at hand an act of redistributive justice. This is completely unjust because no Americans alive today had any part in creating or perpetuating the institution of slavery. Affirming the resolution is like trying to console a murder victim's family by throwing the murderer's children in jail -- it results in punishment to people who did nothing to deserve it.
(2) Opportunity Cost
Even if the amount of money being paid to each African American is negligible (say, $100) there are 41.7 million people identifying as African American in the US, so the total cost would be at least $4 billion. That is a huge amount of money which could be used for plenty of more important uses such as public education reform. One study reveals that every dollar invested in early education results in an 8 dollar return-on-investment for the economy as a whole , which benefits *everyone* in society (including African Americans). Using tax revenues on reparations is wasteful due to its opportunity cost.
Government policies aimed at achieving racial "justice" have historically been shown to result in increased racism due to their widely-perceived unfairness. Even policies as mild as affirmative action in college admissions have considerably perpetuated racial prejudice among white people . We can reasonably expect that handing out out tax money to African Americans in order to compensate for ancient atrocities will only demonstrate this effect to an even larger degree.
(4) Blame Game
The resolution specifies Pro's position as being that the US federal government must be the one paying the reparations. However, slavery was not a "past abuse" committed by the USFG -- it was almost completely carried out by individual States. Throughout American history, the USFG has always been the one doing what it could to to *mitigate* racism: abolishing slavery, giving African American citizens full civic rights, disallowing Jim Crow laws, forcing public schools to integrate, etc. Clearly, if reparations are to be paid at all, they should be paid by individual States rather than the USFG.
Resolved: The United States Federal Government ought to pay reparations to African Americans. We affirm the resolution.
Reparations allow us to criticize American history, setting the stage for a reimagining of the American government’s role both at home and on the international stage.
Framework: Vote for the team that best criticises the notion of American exceptionalism.
Impacts: The impacts of American exceptionalism can be disasterous.
First, an exceptionalist mentality creates double standards. Princeton’s Michael Ignatieff writes:
Second, the idea of exceptionalism allows politicians to downplay pressing social issues, hindering much-needed changes in policy. Stephen Walt continues:
Alt+Solvency: Endorse reparations as a means of rethinking American history and undermining American exceptionalism.
The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in June 2014:
Because reparations attack American exceptionalism, we affirm. We can only see a pro ballot today, thank you.
That said, there are a few critical problems with Pro's weird case in favor of reparations.
(Note that AE = American exceptionalism).
(1) Pro never shows that AE is actually a widespread mindset among Americans. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, only 28% of Americans believe that America "stands above all other countries in the world" . Other polls show that 81% of Americans don't have trust in their own government, and 71% of them disapprove of the general direction in which the country is headed . Obviously, AE is not even close to being the majority viewpoint. Pro's framework hinges on the assumption that AE is a pervasive ideology which has "lulled" the country's populace into a destructive state of blind patriotism, and I have revealed that assumption to be patently false. For that reason, Pro's framework fails.
(2) Pro doesn't directly link any of her harms to AE. She talks about how America has "double standards" in its foreign policy and how politicians "downplay pressing social issues", but she doesn't empirically demonstrate that those problems are related to AE in any way. All her support comes from fallacious appeals to authority, and as if that weren't bad enough, she doesn't even establish her "authorities" as being authoritative. The problems she brings up are much more likely to just be a result of government incompetency. Prefer this alternative explanation because 1) AE isn't prevalent enough to cause such large harms, 2) the government's low approval ratings suggest incompetency being a major issue with it, and 3) it is just prima facie more plausible than the notion that a mere abstraction could have such heavy real-world consequences. Because Pro doesn't actually prove that AE is harmful, there is no reason to "criticise" it, and therefore her framework fails.
(3) Even if her framework holds up (which it doesn't), Pro's case fails. She takes it for granted that reparations will cause people to "rethink American history", with her only "evidence" being an excerpt from an editorial of some sort. Reparations aren't going to have any impact whatsoever on AE. In fact, extend the evidence I presented last round that reparations are just going to perpetuate racist sentiments in society, thus worsening the "pressing social issues" she mentions.
Pro's case is refuted on all levels.
I'm not really sure why you felt the need to make a new definition for reparations- the definition that I used was fine and had basically the same advocacy as yours, except that it also has formal apologies. Past abuses should be really really obvious as to what I mean- Jim Crow, slavery, systematic discrimination, that kind of stuff. But oh well, I will take your definition of reparations just to make this debate simpler.
But, it's not like that, at all. It's like making those who did the crime (the USFG) pay their dues because they broke the law. The USFG exists today just as it did when slavery was present, meaning that they should pay for it. I don't know what you're really trying to get at here - the USFG is as guilty today of endorsing slavery and Jim Crow as it was back then because the crimes were never fixed.
2. Opportunity cost
My opponent says that if we spend $4 billion on reparations (this is what he says the minimum should be so that will be the topic of debate), then we'd have to raise that money and the government can't do this efficiently because of the huge cost. But as Darrick Hamilton of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Institute in October 19 2010 writes:
This means that we could increase the base that my opponent says is a minimal amount for reparations by 15 times (to be $60 billion) and be completely fine, since the government has a great ability to accumulate large stocks of wealth.
Further, my opponent says that we should be putting the money into education instead of giving reparations to African Americans because it benefits everyone equally, and because every dollar invested has an eight dollar return in the economy. Andrew Coulson finds that having an increase in federal spending doesn't actually correlate to better student acheivement - and student acheivement is what allows students to find jobs and go to college, impacting the economy.
Further, Coulson finds that through this huge increase in federal spending (inflation adjusted), there is still a huge difference in black and white student scores.
My opponent says that if we allocate 4 billion more dollars to education instead of reparations, this would benefit both the black and the white students. This is resoundingly negated: federal spending actually has no correlation with student acheivement.
I'd also like to point out that my opponent is actually having a "counterplan" as it is called in the NSDA (National Speech and Debate Association), which I had said is not allowed in the rules that were agreed to. Advocating for spending money on something other than reparations is a counterplan to the resolution, and my opponent should be deducted points in some manner for this.
I don't really think that I need to address this argument because it has no impacts linked to it. Because getting mad about something isn't an actual reason to not pay for hundreds of years of oppression and to make American Exceptionalism go away. This argument has no impact and shouldn't even be weighed in the end.
4. Blame game
My opponent says that because the USFG outlawed slavery and ended Jim Crow that slavery wasn't its fault so they shouldn't pay. But really, the USFG was extremely supportive of slavery and actually made laws requiring slaves to be returned to their owners. As Article IV of the Constitution, Section 2 says:
This means that the USFG held an active role in slavery and states were legally required to send slaves back to their owners. Further, this means that they should be the ones to carry the burden to pay, because they were such a large part of slavery.
Note that she has agreed to stick with the advocacy which I attacked.
a. Pro's rebuttal doesn't make any sense. She seem to be implying that we should treat the USFG as some sort of abstract entity which exists over the course of centuries while preserving its identity. That view is absurd. The federal government is clearly made up of actual human beings -- various elected representatives and bureaucrats who were most certainly *not* alive 200 years ago. Thus, it makes no sense to treat today's USFG and the 19th century's USFG as the same entity.
b. Cross-apply my fourth argument to demonstrate that, even on an abstract level, the USFG's culpability is negligible relative to that of the individual States. The States are primarily responsible for allowing slavery, as well as directly bringing harm upon African Americans throughout American history, and thus they should be the ones paying up instead.
c. All of that is irrelevant because the reality is that reparations are paid for by tax-payers, so it is ultimately the current populace of America that is getting punished. As explained, this is incredibly unjust because *NONE* of them were involved in supporting slavery. Don't let Pro's talk about symbolic justice let you lose sight of the ones who are actually being punished here. Serving justice by imprisoning a deceased murderers' children in his place is not "justice" at all.
(2) Opportunity Cost
a. My argument here is not a counter-plan. It is simply an observation that spending billions of dollars on reparations incurs a huge opportunity cost, and therefore it ought to not be done. I only mentioned public education investment as an *example* of one of the many better ways to spend the money, so I'm not sure why Pro spent so much space trying to show that it's ineffective. In addition to education, there's also stimulus spending, welfare reform, healthcare reform, judicial & prison reform, police force investment, medical research funding, and alternative energy source development, any of which would benefit society (including African Americans) much more than $100 hand-outs to members of a single race.
b. Pro tries creating the illusion that the government is capable of magically producing trillions of dollars with minimal repercussions, and thus opportunity cost doesn't matter that much. This is completely false. Her "evidence" for this is just the fact that the government has spent lots of money on other programs before, which proves nothing. In reality, the government's budget is restricted to how much money it gets from tax revenues (all debt must eventually be paid off with tax revenues too). The government has a limited amount of resources and an unlimited number of pressing issues it needs to be working on, so the opportunity cost of wasting money on reparations is, indeed, worthy of consideration.
c. Pro's evidence for the inefficacy of public education investment is severely lacking. Not only are her graphs based on "adjusted" data from a notably biased conservative think-tank, but all they do is display a lack of correlation without any attempt at accounting for relevant external variables. The reason why public education costs of have been rising at such high rates has little to do with attempts at investing more money into the education system -- it's due to a variety of factors, ranging from huge state-mandated hikes in teacher salaries to large increases in the number of special-needs students .
Pro DROPS this argument. Her assertion that there are no impacts linked to this argument is patently false. I provided evidence that paying reparations to African Americans will greatly exacerbate the racial discrimination which they already face; the very definition of "reparation" is a payment meant to "make victims' lives better", yet I have demonstrated that reparations do precisely the opposite. I have no idea how Pro thought this argument had no impact. Don't let Pro pick the argument back up, though. It would be unfair for her to rebut it for the first time in the final round, where I can't respond.
(4) Blame Game
I am not arguing that the USFG had no role in supporting slavery; I said that role is negligible because it only involved legally condoning slavery as a formality. The States are the ones who actually perpetuated and protected the institution of slavery, thus causing the majority of the blame to fall squarely upon them. More importantly, whatever blame did fall upon the USFG was easily absolved by the fact that the USFG was also solely responsible for *abolishing* the institution of slavery.
To conclude, here's why you vote Con in today's debate
-- Reparations are unjust to the Americans who have to fund them, as they did nothing to deserve such a fine.
-- The massive opportunity cost of paying reparations provides sufficient reason not to do it
-- Pro conceded that reparations worsen circumstances for African Americans, thus contradicting their entire purpose.
-- History shows that if reparations are to be paid at all, then they should be paid by the States rather than the USFG
As for the affirmative case, I have knocked out Pro's framework by showing that American Exceptionalism isn't actually a problem due to its lack of prevalence and lack of association with any real empirical harms, and I have further dismantled her case by showing that she didn't really show how reparations would have any effect on American Exceptionalism whatsoever. Remember, don't allow Pro to introduce any new evidence next round, as that would be unfair.
My opponent cites a source that says that most people in the US don't believe that the US is something that is superior to other nations in the world, and because of this, American Exceptionalism is not something that is widespread in the American mindset. But by doing this, he cites Pew, which actually speaks differently to this. Pew says:
And the rest (88%) say that the US is the best or is tied for being the best nation in the world. Obviously, there is still American Exceptionalism - my opponent is just taking data completely out of context.
Having trust in your government is different than thinking that the nation as a whole is the best in the world. I can think that there is an inherent problem with how the government is set up (maybe I don't like Obama, something along those lines, something that impedes my ability to trust the government) - but I still think that the US is something that is great because of its inherent meanings - democracy, giving people the right to voice their opinions, federalism, etc. Having trust in a current government doesn't mean that the core structures of the government aren't trustable.
This ultimately means that American Exceptionalism is still something that is pervasive in the American mindset and is something that is prevalent throughout the people of the nation. This means that my framework is left intact from my opponent's attack on the framework itself.
My opponent goes on to say that my sources are fallacious appeals to authority, and that I didn't even say that they are authoritative. Professors of Princeton and colleges throughout the nation; journalists that write pieces on the deep mindset of people in the US; journalists from reputable sources - these are all authoritative authors on their subjects. It's not a fallacious appeal to authority if you cite someone saying something if they have the credentials to actually have an expert opinion on something, like professors in universities do; the only way that you can see that something is a fallacious appeal to authority is if someone that is authoritative in nature but is not authoritative on the material itself. For example, President Obama talking about marine biology and how algae blooms impact ecosystems - that is a fallacious appeal to authority, citing a professor on how American Exceptionalism is still a widespread issue is not a fallacious appeal to authority.
I did prove that American Exceptionalism is a very harmful thing. Again, as Stephen Walt writes, American Exceptionalism downplays social issues:
My opponent never attacks what is actually being said, he just attacks who it came from and if he thinks that what they are saying is valid or not; not actually saying why it is invalid. He says that everything can be explained by governmental incompetency, but the authors of these texts explicitly say that American Exceptionalism is the cause of all of these blunders.
Con further doesn't refute the message, just who the messager is; he says that reparations won't cause us to rethink American Exceptionalism because .... there is no reason given, just that we need to look at his refuted arguments. This isn't a valid refutation at all; thus, my argument should be held at full weight.
All of my arguments should be held at full weight because my opponent never attacks the actual arguments themselves. This means that I win this debate because my arguments fulfill the BoP completely when held at their weight given; my opponent's when scrutinised do not (and they hold no weight if they were accepted as fact).
Con, remember to pass the next round. Vote pro.
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