The Instigator
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8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

The United States federal government should substantally increase alternative energy incentives

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/30/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,050 times Debate No: 12435
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (3)




1. Fossil fuels are a finite resource. According to the BBC on June 29, 2010, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the recession is causing even West Virginia coal miners to re-think status quo fuels.

2. Traditional renewable energy is insufficient to meet America's energy needs. According to Dr. Daniel LaGatta on February 16, 2010, the U.S. cannot meet its energy needs by 2035 without at least 40 new nuclear plants.

3. Some form of nuclear power is inevitable. According to the Texas Tribune on June 28, 2010, more than $18 billion is currently being spent on developing nuclear power plants, and Congress is considering adding another $9 billion. A review done by the Department of Energy in 2008 found that there are 108 nuclear plants in operation in the U.S.

4. Status quo nuclear technologies create thousands of tons of radioactive waste. According to National Geographic in 2002, there is currently 52,000 tons of highly toxic waste in the U.S.

5. Despite his promise to scrub the project, President Obama recently lost a lawsuit challenging the current plan to store the waste in Yucca Mountain in Nevada. According to the New York Times on June 29, 2010, although the Yucca plan still faces significant hurdles, it is still highly likely that the project will continue.

6. Unfortunately, the Yucca Mountain area contains an active volcano range. According to the New Scientist in 2002, if a volcano were to erupt, the magma would burst into the storage tunnels underneath the facility, sending radioactive magma several miles into the sky.

7. A nuclear volcano would have devastating consequences. According to Dr. David Camarow, if a volcano near Yucca Mountain were to errupt, it would contaminate and sterilize the entire biosphere. Even if the risk is extremely low, we cannot risk the survival of the human race.

8. Thus I present the following plan: The United States federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives by funding the development of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR).

9. The IFR is an entirely different form of nuclear power. According to Dr. George Stanford in 2001, the IFR uses spent nuclear waste as fuel. This will allow the IFR to burn waste and old decommissioned nuclear warheads, and prevent the need to store waste in Yucca Mountain.

10. The IFR was a pilot project terminated in 1994, despite being only three years away from completion. According to Dr. George Stanford in 2001, the IFR is a proven technology, but only needs funding to complete the prototype. Once the prototype is complete, construction can being on a mass scale, replacing the use of traditional nuclear power.

11. There are several other advantages to implementing IFR technology. According to the London Guardian in 2008, more than 1 billion people have insufficient water supplies, causing millions of deaths each year and millions of dollars of drought damage in the United States. However, according to Dr. Robert Pfeffer in 2001, a small nuclear power plant could create millions of gallons of fresh water as a by-product of the cooling process.

12. Although there are some signs of recovery, the economic recession is still continuing. According to the American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness in 2006, nuclear power can generate billions of dollars of economic growth and thousands of high paying jobs would be created in the U.S.

13. Another factor in prolonging the recession is the loss of cheap energy. However, according to Dr. James Hylko in 2008, nuclear power is one of the most cost effective forms of energy at 1.6 cents per kilowatt hour.


Although the affirmative may have typed 13 bullet points, he has yet provided any significant argument or evidence to demonstrate why the federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives. I will first summarize my opponent's arguments and show that governmental intervention in the free economy of energy development is undesirable.

According to the affirmative, both nuclear energy and IFR are potential solutions to our inevitable energy crisis in the near future. I agree with that. He further details the superiority and benefits of IFR over nuclear energy. I agree with that as well. In fact, I will even accept the notion that the development and maintenance of nuclear plants can provide both economic growth and employment opportunities. With that said, he has stated little justification why the federal government must substantially increase alternative energy incentives outside of the free market mechanism in the midst of economic recession.

Firstly, little evidences have ever supported the claim that government could artificially create or eliminate the supply and demand of any particular product or service. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 provides much tax credits to various renewable energy ventures. Once a promising frontier of both technological advancement and economic development, many renewable projects are now halted as the RENIXX Renewable Energy Industrial Index falls to its five years low to €576.25 once the immediate concern of energy prices retreats from the public spotlight. No single market participant, not even the government, can force the prosperity of any particular sector without the support of the broader economic cycle. Therefore, any governmental incentives are likely to prove futile over the long run.

Secondly, the affirmative fails to explain why the alternative energy industry should receive substantial incentives over other equally important social initiatives. Governmental funding to healthcare, defense, education and welfare programs has been reduced substantially in recent years. While welfare and healthcare needs may be more immediate, education holds the key to long-term prosperity. Without comparison and basis of showing the importance of energy over other economic concerns, no citizen or government can blindly support the affirmative's baseless claim in the midst of a recession.

Most importantly, the affirmative has failed to demonstrate the necessity of bypassing the free market mechanism when plenty of private sector support will be available at the right moment. Energy is an important aspect of life to the citizens as individuals and as a nation. Our nation has well-developed market of private companies supplying the majority of energy in this country while maintaining stability and balance of the energy market within the context of the invisible hands.

In conclusion, the affirmative has failed to demonstrate why the federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives while creating more financial strain on the federal balance sheet and focusing less on other equally important issues. Although energy stability is important, the affirmative has failed to provide any evidence demonstrating the necessity of breaching of the free market mechanism. Therefore, I strongly disagree with my opponent and urge you to vote against his claim.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank the opposition for his reply, and will proceed to answer his arguments and further support my own.

1. His first argument is that the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 has already provided funding for alternative energy, and yet alternative energy projects have been halted because energy prices are no longer in the headlines.

However, this is irrelevant because the Energy Improvement and Extension Act increased funding for traditional nuclear reactors. Without the shift to IFR technology, those traditional reactors will continue to generate waste which will be stored in Yucca Mountain. As stated in Round 1, we must shift to IFR's regardless of other alternative energy projects because failure to do so risks a nuclear volcano, destroying the biosphere.

2. His second argument is that funding for IFR's trades off with healthcare, defense, education, and welfare. I have several responses:

a. First, some generic points:

i. Spending is already out of control. According to the Colorado Daily News on June 30, 2010, the federal budget deficit is projected to hit $13.6 trillion next year. This means he is in a double bind: Either new spending crowds out education, and it should have already happened with our record deficits, or the deficits prove we can always borrow more money to pay for our programs. There is no reason why we can't spend money on healthcare, defense, education, welfare AND IFR's. Either way, the trade-off won't happen.

ii. We only need $200-300 million dollars to develop the IFR. According to Tom Randall, Director of the McGovern Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs, IFR's can be developed within 2-3 years for $200-$300 million – with an "m" – dollars. This means that the cost of IFR's isn't sufficient to trigger his trade-off.

iii. IFR's will bring in more tax revenue than they cost. According to the American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness, a new wave of nuclear construction would create billions of dollars in federal tax revenue and create hundreds of thousands of jobs through the entire life cycle of development. This means that we would have MORE money to fund education and the other programs he fears will be cut.

iv. IFR's are more cost efficient than the forms of alternative energy the government is currently subsidizing. According to Dr. Charles Till, the price of IFR generated energy would be competitive with coal and natural gas, and cheaper than other forms of alternative energy. This means that by using IFR's, the government can end subsidies for the other more expensive AE technologies.

b. Second, on healthcare:

Funding for healthcare has just seen a massive increase. According to CBS News on March 23, 2010, the health care reform bill will create subsidies for individuals and families up to 400% of the federal poverty line. This money has already been appropriated, and will not be affected by my proposal.

c. Third, on defense:

Cuts to defense spending are inevitable. According to the Christian Science Monitor on June 28, 2010, the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the persistent deficits means that the defense budget will be slashed no matter what. Thus, if cutting the defense budget is as bad as he says it will be, the impacts are inevitable. There is no reason why spending $200 million on an IFR will destroy the $861 billion defense budget.

d. Fourth, on education:

i. Funding for education is increasing now. According to The Politico on February 2, 2010, President Obama's budget increases spending on education from $32.4 billion to $71.5 billion in 2011. This means that education is a budget priority, and is unlikely to be cut if we spend $200 million on an IFR.

ii. Although some federal money is spent on education, most education funding is done at the state or local level. According to Minnesota Public Radio on January 28, 2010, one typical school district receives more than 80% of its funds from the state government. Thus, even if the federal government reduced its education spending, it would not create a major impact on education.

e. Fifth, on welfare:

Welfare spending is unsustainable in the status quo. According to the Heritage Institute, welfare spending is projected to cost $10.3 billion over the next ten years. This will cause the country to go bankrupt, harming everyone, including welfare recipients. Thus, some reduction in the amount of welfare spending is inevitable, and won't be caused by switching to IFR's.

f. Sixth is impact analysis:

i. Regardless of the cost in terms of trade-off, one thing is certain: status quo nuclear technology will continue unless something is done to change its course. This will result in many more thousands of tons of radioactive waste being stuffed into Yucca Mountain.

ii. Even if the risk is low, there is a chance of a nuclear volcano. If this were to happen, it would be biosphericide – the end of all life on earth. As stated by Dr. David Camarow, "there is no ‘low enough' when the consequences are so cataclysmic… as a people, as caretakers for future people, we cannot create unnecessary catastrophic risks like biosphereicide, the agonizing death of billions." Thus, even if all of his impacts are true, we cannot risk the chance of not developing IFR's.

iii. He says that we cannot support "baseless" claims about IFR's because of a recession. However, remember points 12 and 13 from Round 1. Nuclear power can generate billions of dollars of revenue and create thousands of jobs in the U.S. Thus, spending money to develop IFR's will help end the recession, or at the very least be an improvement on the status quo.

3. His third and final argument is that the free market solves better. I have several responses:

a. First, there is no reason why the free market and government incentives are mutually exclusive. There is no free market in the world which is entirely free from some form of government influence. Considering there is government involving with nuclear power now, he articulates zero risk that one more government subsidy will create. According to Scott Sklar of the Mother Earth News on January 12, 2005, coal and oil subsidies top billions of dollars per year, making fossil fuels artificially cheap. Thus, free markets and federal funding for IFR's can co-exist.

b. The free market cannot solve the energy crisis. According to Jeff Vail, reporter for the Energy Bulletin on March 5, 2007, the free market ignores solutions which do not generate an immediate or near term profit. Relying on the free market will never develop a mass scale non-carbon energy because it would violate a fundamental market principle. At the moment, fossil fuels are (comparatively) cheap, so there is no market incentive to develop any alternative energy.

c. In the status quo, the market will continue to use status quo nuclear power. This will lead to the risk of a nuclear volcano. Regardless of whether the free market is good (or better than federal incentives), we MUST switch to IFR's to avoid a volcanic Yucca Mountain. Thus, any advantage to using the free market is outweighed by the risk that the free market won't switch to IFR's.

d. Finally, I do not need to prove that using federal subsidies is the BEST method of reaching alternative energy, but rather that we SHOULD increase federal alternative energy incentives. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "should" means "must, or ought to (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency). Thus, I must show that it is our duty, or that it is proper or expedient to increase funding for IFR's. Based on the dangers of waste storage in Yucca Mountain, I have proven that funding IFR's is our duty, is proper, and is expedient. Regardless of whether or not it is the BEST method, it is better than the status quo, has no disadvantages, and we SHOULD do it.


I suppose in a world where irresponsible spending is allowed and encouraged, then we can "substantially increase" anything we want. But since no responsible parents will teach their kids to max out all credit cards without reasonable plan for repayment, such economical trade-off must occur. Even if my opponent practices such irresponsible financial planning himself, I hope the voters can maintain better credit scores. Since my opponent has simply built his arguments around my contentions, I shall defend them and continuing pointing my opponent's inability to see the fundamental issue at core.

Firstly, it is clear that my opponent has only focused on increase spending in Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) development alone rather than increasing substantial incentives to the alternative energy industry as a whole. Therefore, his burden of proof lies within providing justification to provide incentives to the whole industry rather than any singular project. Although I agree to many projected benefits of IFR development, the real problem is whether the federal government is allocating its LIMITED RESOURCES in the most effective and efficient manner by increasing alternative energy incentive to the whole industry. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act increased funding for nuclear, wind power, and various other initiatives. All projects reported positive projections yet many are now inactive. Regardless of whether IFR can actually save the day, the core question is whether the government should once again divert its limited resources toward another "positive projection" at the cost of the American taxpayers.

Secondly, since we disagree on whether the government has unlimited ability to spend, I shall maintain the position of responsible spending and continue my analysis of various trade-offs. Although you may admire my opponent's number crunching ability, you should also note that he maintains a "IFR is only small money. If the rest of the nation's balance sheet is already crap, why not spend just a little more?" The problem, however, is not the cost of IFR relative to the rest of our deficit schedule. My opponent continues to justify substantial incentive increase to the alternative energy in part or in whole! As a proxy to the will of the American people, the government has the responsibility to spend money only on projects which have already gathered significant public interest. Any diversion of funding toward minor pet projects of the congress or special interest group is a betrayal to the responsibility of legislators to represent the will of their constituents. Without evidence of the public interest comparison to those for education, welfare, defense, and healthcare, the federal government does not have the constitutional right to put my money into one of her pet projects no matter how small it may be.

Lastly, I agree that free market may not be a cure-all solution. Government interventions are sometimes necessary for the welfare of the general public. But plenty of long-term innovations have been developed in the private sector, and the opinion of one man is hardly a sufficient reason to violate the cardinal of free competition. I agree that the government should establish protection measures such as preventing future dumping at Yucca Mountain. To invest in a competing technology, however, is establishing a nationalized entity with unlimited national resources to compete in a supposedly open market. And if federal subsidies is not the BEST method of reaching alternative energy, then why should we increase federal alternative energy incentives when other BETTER methods can be implemented? I completely agree that the society as a whole should pay more attention to the issue of energy crisis. However, the topic specifically asks for federal government initiatives and it is clear that the popular concerns reside in other more prominent issues. It may be proper for the government to promote private sector involvement without diversion of resources from other programs or printing more money. But it is constitutionally wrong to allocate resources toward projects which do not reflect the majority will of the people of the United States.
Debate Round No. 2


1. His first argument is that if we can "irresponsibly spend", we can do the plan, and that we should maintain our national "credit score" and have a responsible plan for repayment of our debts.

However, although it may make us feel good to have thrifty savers and spenders in Congress, he has yet to point out WHY excessive deficit spending is bad. We have engaged in massive deficit spending for years, with the deficit going up in some years, and down in others. During World War II, the deficit soared, and yet in the 1990's, we had a budget surplus. So why is the deficit too high now? How high does it need to get before the situation becomes critical? He cannot simply say that we need to be responsible unless he shows the consequences of being IRRESPONSIBLE. Until he shows some major impact to continued deficit spending, I will continue to argue that saving the world from biosphericide is more important than adding a few hundred million to the deficit.

2. His second argument is that I focus only on IFR's, and not on alternative energy as a whole.

However, I don't have a burden to defend EVERY type of alternative energy. Rather, I chose one specific case which proves the general proposition, because this allows us to discuss the issue in greater depth. An in depth discussion of these issues is preferable to shallow, surface-level debate about 17 different types of energy.

3. His third argument is that the IFR is a "pet project" and that the government can only spend money on projects which have gathered significant public interest, and spending on "pet projects" is unconstitutional and a betrayal of the voters unless it is comparatively better than other needs.

This argument is so totally baseless and without evidence that I'm not even sure how to respond. I guess I'll make several points:

a. He has articulated no impact to spending money on pet projects. He argues that it may be unconstitutional, or a betrayal of voters, but I will answer that below. Other than that, he doesn't say WHY pet projects are bad. If a pet project will prevent the agonizing death of billions, then we should do it, regardless of whether or not it has widespread public support.

b. Congress spends money on pet projects all the time. Almost every piece of spending legislation contains "pork barrel" projects designed to curry favor with a legislator's voters. Again, he doesn't say why THIS project is bad, only that in general such projects are bad. But if that's true, why haven't we seen the impacts he describes?

c. Congress has the right to spend money on pretty much whatever it wants, and the taxpayers have only one remedy: vote the legislator out of office. In Frothingham v. Mellon, the Supreme Court said that taxpayers do not have a right to sue the government to stop unconstitutional government spending, unless the spending PERSONALLY affects them in some special or unique way as compared to other taxpayers. Furthermore, the Supreme Court in Helvering v. Davis said that the constitution gives the Congress the power to spend money on whatever it considers the "national good" without having its judgment challenged. Thus, because it is reasonable that saving the world from biosphericide is in the national good, spending money on even a "pet project" is not unconstitutional.

4. His fourth argument is that the free market has developed long term innovations in the past, and to allow the government to subsidize IFR development violates the "cardinal" of free competition.

But why is free market competition good? He makes the argument that government funding of IFR's will distort the free market. Fine. But he still has the burden to show why this is bad. What will happen if IFR funding distorts the free market? IFR's won't be built by the free market, so the choice is between a distorted market with IFR technology, or a free market with traditional nuclear power. I have shown that we risk biosphericide if we use the free market. What is the impact to distorting the free market?

5. His fifth argument is that government acting to stop waste dumping in Yucca Mountain is fine, but investing in a company gives it unfair competition. I have three points:

a. The IFR was developed at Argonne National Laboratory in Idaho. We can't begin to mass produce IFR's until the prototype is completed for government inspection and review. The funding is going to a national laboratory. I don't see how this creates some kind of new "nationalized entity with unlimited resources" to compete against private firms. The laboratory already exists. The prototype was only 2-3 years away from completion in the mid 1990's. This funding will complete the prototype so it can be mass produced.

b. I sincerely hope that he's not arguing that government investment into research violates the free market. Without government research, we would not have the internet, which was created by the pre-cursor to DARPA. According to Neil Osterweil of the MedPage Daily, the National Institute for Health provides 28% of all funding for bio-medical research. He continues to claim that government investment would interfere in the "supposedly open market." However, the there is no "open market" – we subsidize the oil and coal industry now. If those subsidies were to end, coal and oil would become more expensive, and the "energy crisis" would return, and IFR's might seem economically competitive. However, because that is essentially impossible, the free market will continue to use oil, coal, and traditional nuclear – dooming the planet to biosphericide.

c. Finally, on the off chance that he actually presents some evidence showing why the free market is good, I'll preempt that. The free market is terrible. According to Dr. Richard Robbins, capitalism and the free market will inevitably destroy the earth for four reasons:

i. The technological revolution, including pesticides and automobiles, has done potentially irreversible damage to the environment. Regardless of the global warming debate, the millions of cars emitting pollution, the industrial waste, the contamination of waterways, and the destruction of forests have stressed the earth to its breaking point.

ii. The free market has led a consumption movement which will cause cataclysmic change. In the drive to consume more goods, we have destroyed a large amount of our natural resources in order to turn it into "consumable products." Even the destruction happening in developing countries is caused by their supply of raw materials to be produced into products which we purchase.

iii. Modern American lifestyles have influenced the free market to produce large amounts of beef for our consumption. However, cattle use huge amounts of resources compared to growing grains such as rice, and as the demand for beef will increase in the U.S. and developing countries, more strain will be put on the environment.

iv. The free market prevents the development of an effective environmental movement. Poll after poll shows that Americans, even conservatives, support efforts to protect the environment. However, this is not translated into action because environmentalism conflicts with capitalism. The destruction of the planet due to ecological catastrophe is beyond the lifespan of any individual living now. Any rational free market participant would conclude that they shouldn't care about the environment, because "in the long run, we'll all be dead." Thus, the only people who have an economic incentive to care about the environment will be those who are living when the problem threatens their survival – and by then, it will be too late.

6. His sixth and final argument is that if federal subsidies are not the best way to reach alternative energy, then we should do them. However, he completely ignores all of my points from 3d from Round 2. I only have to prove that we SHOULD do the plan, not that it is the BEST plan.


I have only three arguments. How did my opponent stretch it to six?!

Anyways, clearly my opponent does not share the view of financial responsibility and is now demanding examples to the consequence of excessive deficit spending. Bearing in mind that it is my opponent's burden of proof to demonstrate necessity FOR diverting resources away from existing projects to IFR development, I shall point to the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009. Fueled by government incentives, excessive spending on real estate and home purchase distorted truthful reflection of economic value in and beyond real estate-related products and services. The very incentives encouraging a positive and promising ideal of their time, home ownership, became the catalysts bringing the global economic system to its knee. The government can simply curb dumping of nuclear waste at undesirable location and drive up the cost of nuclear energy to promote alternative energy. Why is it impossible? Take away the oil and coal incentives! In respond to the subsequent increase in cost of energy production, the private sector will automatically seek alternative energy developments and implementations.

In my second argument, I choose to focus on the general theme demanded by the stated topic. While my opponent is narrowing down to one specific project and hoping to generalize, it is important to remember that the topic requests for substantial increase of [all] alternative energy incentives. More importantly, however, he narrowly concerns himself in the particularly benefits and promises of a single project while ignoring the responsibility and framework of the federal government system. While I completely agree that IFR sounds like a good investment and I will certainly fork my piggy bank over for, the readers should focus on the economic implication of such lavish spending on something which most people are still not so sure about or do not understand. The critical issue is not whether IFR is good; the critical issue is whether the government should be the one investing in it. Arguably, there are many "good things" the government can do depending on the standards of the time. However, actions beyond the constitutional framework and widespread public support can easily render influence of the government to the will and desire of special interest and radical groups. Rather than focusing on how good IFR is and making projections in the very uncertain future, my opponent must focus on the responsibility of the federal government and demonstrate why it is the federal government's responsibility to bear the risk of project failure and consequence of breaching free market protocols. Despite the Supreme Court shielding the Congress from legal consequence of excessive and irresponsible spending, the federal government continues to bear the moral and social responsibility of spending on projects of higher priorities shared by the greater population.

Finally, my opponent and I spend a great deal of time comparing the pros and cons of the free market mechanism. Refraining myself from pasting my entire introductory economics textbook here, I will simply point to the Chinese market transition from nationalized enterprises to free market competitors. China has practiced resource appropriation since the inception of the communist party until the transformation movement toward capitalism in recent decades, and the difference in economic prosperity has been rather self-evident. My opponent can argue and promote the benefits of policy-based appropriation all he wants, but the federal government must not act until the majority citizens of this country share my opponent's belief. Furthermore, my opponent has also brought up examples focusing on the social area of public interest. The internet, for example, originated as a project for national defense. Our overwhelming proportion of senior citizens also requires government focus on the healthcare front. Both issues rank consistently higher than alternative energy concern in polls and surveys. The question is not whether the IFR project itself is good or bad. The main focus is whether the federal government should divert its limited resource toward something while its people are calling for help in other more immediate and dire concern.

To summarize, it is clear that my opponent has focused primarily on the good of the IFR project alone when the debate topic specifically asks for government intervention and resource diversion. His sales pitch may find its audience among venture capitalists or investment bankers who share his vision for future demand and profitability. However, the federal government must adhere itself to the will of its constituents in principle and in practice. From the more recent BP oil spill, we see well-established government protocols for responding to an energy-related environmental issue without interference to the research and development initiatives of off-shore drilling. If the IFR technology is as promising as he claims, then there is no reason why no private participant has stepped up to monopolize all the future profit of this amazing technology. Until the IFR proponents have gathered popular support from the general public, their attempt to solicit government incentive while circumventing market scrutiny shall always be viewed and evaluated with caution and skepticism.
Debate Round No. 3


1. My opponent says that I have the burden to show the necessity for shifting resources to IFR's, and that the current recession shows the impacts of excessive deficit spending, and that taking away coal and oil incentives will cause the free market to seek alternative energy. I'll take his points in turn:

a. On our respective burdens:

I have the burden to prove the resolution true. But if my opponent makes an argument against my position, he has the burden to prove HIS argument is true. Until his housing/recession argument, he had failed to do so. Now that he has, I'll answer it. Otherwise, he has yet to give EVIDENCE, WARRANTS, or PROOF for any of his arguments.

b. On the housing collapse/recession:

He makes a fatal mistake here. He concedes that the housing market caused the economy to collapse. But it wasn't government intervention that caused the housing collapse – it was the belief in the "free market".

According to conservative federal judge and law and economics expert Richard Posner, "Rational maximization by businessmen and consumers, all pursuing their self-interest more or less intelligently within a framework of property and contract rights, can set the stage for an economic collapse… A profound failure of the market was abetted by governmental inaction...The movement to deregulate the financial industry went too far by exaggerating the resilience -- the self-healing powers -- of laissez-faire capitalism."

Thus, his argument actually flows AGAINST him – his only example of the failure of excessive deficit spending actually proves that the free market and LACK of government intervention caused the housing crisis and the ensuing recession.

c. On eliminating subsidies and free markets finding alternative energy

He does not understand my point. My point in the status quo, we are developing traditional nuclear power. This will create nuclear waste. This waste WILL be stored in Yucca Mountain. There are no other alternatives, according to the New York Times. Even if we don't need nuclear power as a fuel, we need IFR's to avoid a nuclear volcano.

2. My opponent says that I need to talk about all forms of alternative energy, that I need to focus on whether the federal government is a beneficial actor, and that the federal government acting would be unconstitutional, immoral, and anti-social. I'll take his points in turn:

a. Scope of the resolution

My opponent says that I need to talk about all forms of alternative energy. I argue that proving one example proves the resolution. This is simple to resolve: when he restates the resolution, he puts the word "all" in brackets – THAT'S BECAUSE IT'S NOT IN THE TOPIC. I don't have to prove "all" incentives. He completely ignores my analysis on Point 2 in Round 3, where I argue that in-depth education is preferable to broad education. My interpretation of the topic is therefore superior to his.

b. Government Action/Trade-Off:

My opponent argues that there are many beneficial things we can do with our tax revenue. But look back at his posts: he never answers my argument that investing in IFR's will actually INCREASE revenue. I cited the American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness, which says that billions of dollars of tax revenue can be generated with new nuclear plants. Thus, even if there is a general trade-off between government priorities, and even if our deficit spending is limited (which it is not, see above), there will be no trade-off because IFR's are revenue generating for the federal government. And yet he has still failed to PROVE that a trade-off WILL happen.

c. Propriety of Government Action:

My opponent says that I have to demonstrate why it is the responsibility of the federal government to fund IFR's and interfere in the market.

On the issue of responsibility, it is the legal obligation of the federal government, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to create a long term national plan for the storage and disposal of nuclear waste. Because IFR's satisfy that burden as an alternative to the otherwise inevitable Yucca Mountain, that proves that it is a federal responsibility. Additionally, the federal government can do things, even if it doesn't have an OBLIGATION to do them. That's my "necessary and proper" argument from Round 3.

On the issue of market interference, I have made several points so far he has yet to answer:

i. There is market interference now, yet we have yet to see a harmful impact. HE HAS PROVIDED NO IMPACTS TO INTERFERING WITH THE FREE MARKET. Because this is his argument against me, he has the burden to show that interfering with the market is bad.

ii. We can still use the free market, just not a "pure" free market. Free markets and government incentives are not mutually exclusive.

iii. The free market is a terrible mechanism. See below.

3. My opponent argues that the free market is the best way to achieve our desired outcomes. I have several points:

a. First, he ignores my four specific warrants as to why the free market will lead to global environmental destruction. These are all reasons why the free market is bad and will eventually lead to terrible catastrophe:

i. The tech revolution had put massive strain on the environment

ii. The consumption movement has depleted our planet's natural resources

iii. American consumption of beef is ravaging our ecosystem

iv. Free markets fail to properly value our environment, and thus prevent the formation of an effective ecological movement

b. Next, he argues that China's transition to a market economy proves that capitalism has given them prosperity.

Yet, this example just proves that capitalism will lead to ecological destruction (see above). According to Wang Yi, a Chinese scholar writing in Social Research, Vol. 73, No. 1 in Spring of 2006, China's transition to a market economy has created a huge ecological crisis, with pollution of the air and water, and depletion of natural resources. The only way for China to avert a major catastrophe is to revert to some government pollution controls.

This just proves that the "pure" free market can't solve, and some government will always be necessary. Giving incentives to IFR's is one such instance.

c. My opponent argues that my examples of government intervention in creating the internet and the NIH were issues of popular concern, and that this is more important than alternative energy. However, according to a poll conducted in March of 2010 by independent agency Bisconti Research, 70% of Americans support building new nuclear power plants, and 87% feel that nuclear energy will play an important role in our energy future. In comparison, a June 2009 Pew Opinion poll found that 55% of Americans want to reduce or maintain current defense spending, and a March 2010 Gallup/USA Today poll found 40% of Americans thought the health care reform bill was a "bad idea".

But the most damning for my opponent (from the March 2010 Bisconti survey):


Game over…

d. Finally, he argues that if IFR's were so great, then the private sector would have funded them.

I would point out that he has ignored my point that IFR's are not "immediately" profitable, and that the free market will ignore any technology that doesn't produce a foreseeable profit. According to Dr. Charles Till, because other fuels like oil and coal are so much cheaper, IFR's don't make current sense to capitalists, even if they'll be beneficial in the long term.

Since this is my second to last speech (and presumably I will need each and every one of my 8,000 characters for my final argument), I'd like to thank my opponent for an interesting debate.


I hate long speeches and like to keep my arguments concise. But since my opponent enjoys long speeches and bullet points, I shall entertain him here. Be warned: this post will be long and boring...

1. b. For every person blaming the market for the economic collapse, there is another blaming the government for initiating the problem. From a judge's point of view, of course it is better to be considered "negligent" than being recognized as the problem. Reviewing the history of the financial crisis, it is clear that Congressional intervention played a large part in the rise and fall of the subprime mortgage system (

"1938: The Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae, is established (as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal) to purchase and securitize mortgages to ensure that funds are consistently available to the institutions that lend money to home buyers.
1968: Fannie Mae is converted from a federal government entity to a stand-alone government sponsored enterprise (GSE) which purchases and securitizes mortgages to facilitate liquidity in the primary mortgage market. The move takes the debt of Fannie Mae off of the books of the government.
1970: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) is created by an act of Congress, as a government sponsored enterprise, to buy mortgages on the secondary market, pool them, and sell them as mortgage-backed securities to investors on the open market; 1971 it issues its first Mortgage Participation Certificate security."

Still want to say that the government incentives have nothing to do with starting the crisis itself?

1. c. According to an interview with DOE Secretary Dr Steven Chu (, IFR is only an option to deal with future waste. It will not eliminate existing waste at Yucca Mountain. If we don't need nuclear power as a fuel, IFR will not consume existing waste and "avoid" what's already been done. There are already many reprocessing technologies in developments besides IFR. Many potential energy sources are also in development (

2. a. My opponent has taken a very narrow interpretation of the resolution. Basically, he's saying that provision of basis for increase incentiv to any ONE alternative energy incentive shall win his this debate. I contend that he shall make a strong case against all other projects that also deserve increase in incentives. Maybe incentives in education for better technology of the future? Incentives for using more efficient appliances? We cannot increase EVERYTHING. Even if we manage to cut spending from somewhere else, it does not automatically justify transferring the money to alternative energy initiatives. Until my opponent can provide a sounding argument to why alternative energy incentives should be agreed as the best solution or the most important issue around, the reader cannot reasonably conclude that alternative energy incentives should not be DECREASE to support other more important and effective projects.

2. b. My point is that, regardless whether IFR is good, IFR should not be developed by the government especially if the intent is to MAKE MONEY. How is it not a nationalized entreprise if the government gives exclusive rights to someone to develop a profitable technology? The Fed made huge money buying distressed assets in the financial crisis but remained in deep red with its investment in Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG. Still trying to show that government actually know how to make money?

2. c. the federal government has many priorities and legal obligations, but it is all about prioritizing. The polls you cited only indicate people's general view that funding toward national defense and healthcare reform can better spent. They do not prioritize the importance of energy reform over those in defense or healthcare. I completely agree that there are market interferences now and that's exactly why it SUCKS. Go over ECON 101 and you can find all the reasons why interference has been and will be bad. They NEVER WORK.

3. a. It is completely ridiculous to solely blame free market for environment destruction. Government invented nuclear bomb. Government invented internet leading to both benefits and harms (kiddy porn, cyber bullying?). Every invention has its pros and goes. Demonization of free market is narrow-minded and completely ridiculous. The private sector has invested plenty of resources toward environmental solutions and it's simply ignorant to disregard them. Just because my opponent has no business sense to create a valid proposal for his enviromental concern does not mean he should be allowed to force his ill-planned strategy onto the rest of .

3. b. First of all, building of any factory, private or public, will lea to population of the air and water, and depletion of natural resources. Engineering and technological developmett ALWAYS presents trade-off with ecological soundness. The very reason why pollution is widespread in China is due to implicit political backings among these local commodities-based companies who receives special treatment from the local government. Corruption and briberies are abundant across China. Arguably, a private company like BP is more ecologically responsible since it does not receive government protection for its wrongdoing.

3. c. All report has only indicate that "we don't like our current defense policy; we don't like our healthcare reform; we think energy is important." I agree completely! I'm not going to NOT support something that inherently sounds like a beneficial goal. (no duh?) However, the main debate is the balance of priorities and my opponent still refuse to produce reason or evidence why energy concerns shall be valued above all else and receive priority treatment.

3. d. If you believe that oil and coal prices are artificially low due to government incentives, take them away! (another example of failed government incentive). That will present an immediate need for energy alternative, no? By limiting its influence in incentives and maximum nuclear waste allowance, the energy companies will seek their own solutions (IFR or otherwise) to compete in the free market. Many electrical cars are now in production and oil companies are expanding their alternative energy profile. I pity my opponent's complete ignorance and disregard of private effort to innovate for the future. If any private company is intentionally ignoring the energy need of the future, it is only due to governent incentives hindering the evolutionary elimination of out-dated technology.

Since the next round will be my opponent's last round, please provide a simple explanation to why this energy concern should be valued above all other important social needs that demand "substantial increase in incentives?"
Debate Round No. 4


In this final debate, I will analyze the two competing sides in terms of the claims made in this debate, hopefully distilling why the judges should cast a Pro ballot.

First, there is the issue of government regulation. I say that government regulation is sometimes beneficial, and that funding for IFR's is one of those times.

My opponent says that government intervention in the free market is bad. He cites the housing bubble and its accompanying financial crisis as the example.

The following evidence has been introduced:

Pro: Richard Posner, the main proponent of the law and economics movement and the most cited legal scholar in America has provided analysis that the housing collapse was due to self-interested businesspeople, coupled with the de-regulation of the housing market, which caused a catastrophic economic collapse.

Con: A Wikipedia page containing a timeline of events that various people feel were involved in creating the economic crisis, some of them government-related, others not.

Second, my opponent cites Steven Chu and makes a new argument about IFR's not being needed. However, the link he provides states "[We're] looking at reactors that have a high-energy neutron spectrum that can actually allow you to burn down the long-lived actinide waste… These are fast neutron reactors." Thus, IFR's are considered a potential by the federal government.

Third, there is the issue of spending and trade-offs. I say that we can spend money on IFR's and other programs. He says that I have to show that IFR's are the best possible use of our money.

The following evidence has been introduced:


IFR's only cost $200-$300 million to complete.
IFR's will create jobs and generate tax revenue for the government.
IFR's create cheaper energy, meaning the government can save money by cutting other subsidies.
Education funding is being increased to $71.5 billion next year, and won't be cut.
80% of education spending is done at the state and local level.
Even if education is important, it will be worthless if we are dead from a nuclear volcano.
IFR's will generate thousands of jobs and save the economy from the recession.


Education and defense spending is important, and there's no reason why IFR's are more important.

Next, my opponent says we shouldn't use IFR's to generate revenue. I'm not saying that's the purpose – it just answers your claim that it's too expensive. It will pay for itself, through greater tax revenue.

Next, my opponent says that the polls I cited do not make the case for prioritizing IFR's over health care or defense.

The following evidence has been introduced:


55% of Americans want lower or status quo defense spending.
40% of Americans think the health care bill was a bad idea.
70% of Americans want new nuclear traditional nuclear plants.
79% of Americans want IFR-style nuclear plants.


The surveys don't show a clear priority of IFR nuclear plants over defense and health care spending.

This is ridiculous. 79% > 55% or 40%. If the question is: what do people want more: more defense spending or more spending on nuclear plants, simple math dictates the answer is nuclear plants.

Next, my opponent says I should go over ECON 101 and find the reasons why government interference in the market is bad. THIS IS A DEBATE! THAT'S HIS JOB! If you want to claim that government interference is bad, give me some evidence or at least a logical argument. I need something more than a Wikipedia page and instructions to look up your arguments myself.

Next, my opponent says that we can't blame the free market for environmental destruction, and that every development has pros and cons, including developments by the government and free markets.

BUT HE DOESN'T ACTUALLY REFUTE MY CLAIMS THAT FREE MARKET CAPITALISM IS CAUSING ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION. He says it's narrow minded, and that private investment has invested resources to help the environment. But I'm still waiting for a refutation of Dr. Richard Robbins four specific arguments why capitalism is destroying the environment.

Until he does that, this is an independent reason to ignore his free market claims.

His next argument is that all development creates environmental problems, and that China's problem is internal corruption.

The following evidence has been introduced:

Pro: Wang Yi, an expert in Chinese development and a published author, has demonstrated that the transition to a market economy has created a huge environmental crisis in China, and that government regulation is needed to curb these problems.

Con: Claims that China's problems are corruption and that all economic development harms the environment (no evidence presented)

My argument is simple: private corporations do not have an incentive to spend money to fix the environmental damage they create unless the government forces them to. If they did, they would be bad capitalists. IFR's are an example of how the government can encourage responsible waste treatment.

Next, my opponent says I haven't provided claims why we should prioritize energy over other policies. Even though I've made all kinds of arguments about no trade-offs, revenue and job creation, and pre-existing spending, I'll make the conclusion very simple, in two points:

IFR's are not going to be developed by the private market. PERIOD (see below).


My opponent's last argument is that the free market will solve all our problems. My analysis has been simple: If I am a businessperson, I care about me ("invisible hand"). I will live no longer than 100 more years. Any nuclear volcano will happen after I die. My customers will live no longer than 100 more years. Any nuclear volcano will happen after they die. Thus, they do not demand an alternative to nuclear volcanoes. I will thus not supply an alternative to nuclear volcanoes (IFR's).

Because the market and consumers are short-sighted, they do not appear to care about terrible things which will happen in the distant future. Because of this, there is no market for IFR's, and no IFR will be created without government assistance. It is not due to government interference – it is due to the fundamental failures of capitalism.

My opponent asked for a simple explanation why energy should be a priority over other important social needs. The importance of IFR's can be summed up by Dr. David Camarow:

"When you are talking about these kind of risks, risks that can endanger entire segments of our population, let alone the entire earth, then the risk analysis must go into higher gear. It is not enough to merely calculate the risks as ‘extremely low' – because there is no ‘low enough' when the consequences are so cataclysmic. We accept certain risks, which are relatively high – 50,000 traffic deaths per year, for example. But, as terrible as those deaths and injuries are, they do not imperil our culture, our nation, or the survival of the human race… As a people, as caretakers for future people, we cannot create unnecessary catastrophic risks like biosphericide, the agonizing death of billions."

Regardless of any of the arguments, we have a choice: a Pro vote to get IFR's and prevent Dr. Camarow's nightmare scenario, or a Con vote and risk the potential failures of the market.
I feel the answer is clear, and I ask for a Pro vote. Thank you!


To begin, I will like to thank my opponent for initiating this debate. His honest and timely responses are certainly helpful in maintaining the rhythm of this debate.

Firstly, my opponent fortified his position through the subjective opinion of a judge who has never worked as an economist. I backed mine with facts and asked the readers to judge for themselves. Plenty of influential conomists pointed their fingers against Greenspan's lax monetary policies over the year. If you really need someone to tell you what to think, critics of governmental role in initiating the financial crisis include Nouriel Roubini (worked at International Monetary Fund, supervised Tim Geithner the current Treasury Secretary, and served as a senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisors during the Clinton administration), Bill Fleckenstein (of Fleckenstein Capital), and Peter Schiff (of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. and a 2010 candidate for the U.S. Senate). If my opponent really wishes to base an argument entirely on someone else's opinion, the least he could do would be finding a REAL economist who did not talk about economics simply through the context of laws. Readers, however, should briefly review the aforementioned timeline and will reach the conclusion that governmental intervention was an undeniable catalyst to the creation of the subprime crisis.

Secondly, I completely agree with the potential benefits of IFR development. But while IFR can be desirable, my argument was directed toward my opponent's argument regarding IFR's NECESSITY as a solution to a nuclear volcano. When asked whether the development would be aimed for burning up existing waste or dealing with waste in future reactors, Dr Chu indicated "[IFR] could be for existing, but mostly for future waste." Clearly, Dr Chu did not share the sense of urgency for IFR or nuclear volcano which my opponent had falsely suggested. IFR would be a good invention to have, but we do not need to for dealing with nuclear volcanoes.

Thirdly, I found it amusing how my opponent kept mentioning the impending doom of nuclear volcano when the man responsible for the energy stability of this nation clearly did not share his view. Every enthusiast always introduces his sales pitch with the promise of low cost and extremely high return, but the government has clearly been a poor judge for profitability. Countless projects have been "initiated" and "incentivized" since the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 yet we are still experiencing record high unemployment rate at 9.7 percent ( I believe the number speaks for itself of government ability to "create jobs."

Fourthly, I shall ask the reader to do this experiment on your own to determine whether you agree that IFR development is such an emergency. Add all your bills to get your total annual expense. Take all your income to get your total annual income. Now increase all your expense by 10% and take a 16% cut on all you incomes. Yes, that was exactly what happened between 2008 and 2009 to the federal government according to White House Office of Management and Budget. Now, are you more likely to worry about paying your mortgage, health insurance, and college tuition or are you more like to borrow more money to buy a solar power system for you roof? If you are not considering "substantial increase" to your alternative energy investment, then you have just demonstrated to fallacies in my opponent's polls. I too wish for a decrease in defense and healthcare while investing in more environmentally viable energy solution. But as the readers should clearly see now, are you going to care that about much energy when you're broke or will you just start walking to buy groceries?

Fifthly, my opponent proposed striking out my argument for free market mechanism. It is the law of this land and our market participants are educated with and used to this practice. Arbitrary involvements in the market curtailing or inflating either supply or demand threaten participant confidence and create market inefficiencies both in theory and throughout history (bubbles, black market, you name it). While I agree that free market capitalism can lead to environmental destruction, will the readers rather the government passing laws to establish punishment for environmental destruction or taking over private companies to direct the future of technological development? My opponent blindly focused only on the good and completely ignored the bad of market intervention, but I demonstrated that one must consider both pros and cons of any government action before hastily force a new change onto an existing society. The focus is not whether free market capitalism is causing environmental destruction. The focus is whether the benefits of free market innovation including those in waste management justify the absence of government involvement. Therefore, this argument is core to this debate because balance ultimately determines whether the federal should shift resources and accept the consequence of trade off proposed by the topic in discussion.

Sixthly, my opponent attacks my assertion regarding the core issue of Chinese development. Since most Chinese scholars who dare to point fingers at the current officers are probably dead by now, I am indeed a little short on support from commentators. But if the readers can consider the situation critical, they should be able to see the reasons behind my argument. Since China was completely regulated to begin with, wouldn't intentional de-regulation of an immature technology or enterprise be another form of government intervention? In developed nations, companies without proper waste management technology would naturally face strong opposition and litigation from its victim. Therefore, continuing prosperity of these polluters can only be justified by government protection or legal favoritism. Instead of asking the readers to blindly believe in any "expert" which debater choose to cite, I ask the readers to go through the logic and evidence of each argument on their own. Most importantly, private corporations have plenty of incentive to spend money to fix the environmental damages they create because either government or civil unrest will force them to.

It is just plain ridiculous to assume there's no trade-offs. THERE ARE ALWAYS TRADE-OFFS. IFR's will be developed by the private market when it is actually economically feasible. PERIOD.

Most importantly, WE WILL ALL DIE IN A HORRIBLE NUCLEAR VOLCANO REGARDLESS OF WHETHER WE DEVELOP IFR'S (if the situation is to occur). If Dr. Chu does not share my opponent's urgency, I urge the readers to ignore my opponent's paranoia. Yucca Mountain was chosen and built by the government as a nuclear waste site. If anyone is to blame for a nuclear volcano, THE GOVERNMENT IS. If Yucca Mountain was closed down, then the private sector must seek alternative energy solution IMMEIDATELY because they have no authority (neither will they want the responsibility) to handle radioactive materials.

In the end, this is a matter of priority. Does the reader believe that the government should sacrifice other programs for the development of alternative energy RIGHT NOW? Everything about my opponent's proposal is great except its timing. His lack of financial reality renders his plan impractical and the federal government must not engage in such irresponsible act. For every dollar we borrow or print, our future generation must pay the debt especially when our current balance sheet is already an international embarrassment. Although my opponent has delivered you a fancy sales pitch and the image of a promising future, I have provided cold hard facts of the financial health of our federal government. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Buy what thou hast no Need of and ere long thou shalt sell thy Necessaries." (Buy what you have no need of and not long you shall sell your necee
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
This is a very difficult debate to judge. Nether side provided any references to support their numerous assertions. The arguments against Yucca mountain are bogus, and I think Con made adequate arguments on that. Basically, the waste in Yucca Mountain has to be stored for a few hundred years until a plant to "burn" them is built, and the probability of a volcano erupting under Yucca Mountain in that time is negligible. However, Pro's arguments that we need a fast breeder reactor to provide nuclear energy is true, mainly to provide fuel in the long term.

If government did not prevent it, fast breeder technology would very likely be developed by private industry. Right now there is a law against it, passed in the Carter Administration. In addition, Government obstacles to plant siting vastly increase the cost of nuclear power. Con, however, didn't argue effectively that what the government needs to do just stop obstructing progress.

Since Con seemed to accept the premise that only government can develop the thing, I will give arguments to Pro. The cost is small compared to the problem it solves, so it is a rare productive expenditure by government. The subsidy is not the key issue, it is making the technology legal to use. It is mainly a step in overcoming ridiculous anti-nuclear superstition.
Posted by jsmith23 7 years ago
OK. I'll debate the first person willing to accept. If it is you, have fun on your trip!
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
Nah. If you want to debate me on this, you have to wait for me to get back from my sailing trip
Posted by jsmith23 7 years ago
I'll change it if you'd prefer...
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
Crap. 5 rounds.
Posted by jsmith23 7 years ago
Not necessarily. I'm certainly willing to allow my opponent to argue IFR's are bad, or that the status quo is acceptable.

I won't defend all forms of alternative energy, however. I'm merely using IFR's as an example of a type of beneficial alternative energy.

I'd also consider debating against another plan which accomplishes the same goals as my plan, so long as it is mutually exclusive with my plan.
Posted by hagbard 7 years ago
Can you clarify for me that "alternative energy," refers ONLY to IFR in this debate & that CON's objective in this debate is to argue against your 8th bullet point?

8) Thus I present the following plan: The United States federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives by funding the development of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR).
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro is correc
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