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RFD for Abolishing Government Debate

whiteflame
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8/21/2016 8:11:10 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
This is an RFD for the debate between harrytruman and Epica found here: http://www.debate.org...

I'm going to go through this on a round-by-round basis and examine what happened for each debater.

Pro's R2:

Pro starts by presenting a list of 15 powers that the federal government has as a result of Article 1, Section 8, and then explaining what this means in terms of how the government is limited. In doing so, though, he assumes several conclusions:

1. The Constitution is the sole means by which the U.S. government should be ascribed powers.
2. The Constitution should be the sole means by which the U.S. government should be ascribed powers, and clear harms will result from ascribing powers by other means.
3. The Constitution should never be modified.
4. Any powers not ascribed to the government by the Constitution should be ascribed to the states.

Pro provides no reason to believe any of the above are true. Instead, he moves on to argue about spending and a balanced budget, employing numbers that range from confusing to confounding. It's not at all clear where most of his numbers are coming from. The amounts Pro is using for GDP and national debt make sense, but I don't see comparisons to current spending levels on education or defense. It would have helped quite a bit to see a current breakdown of spending and revenue and compare the plan to that " the numbers by themselves don't mean a whole lot, and it doesn't help that I don't get any clarity as to what these numbers mean. Where do those increased defense funds go? Where are the funds for education going to be taken from? Why is Finland's system a good one to emulate? Why is the national debt something we should seek to eliminate? What is the benefit of reducing income taxation? The whole case is just a litany of assumptions.

Con's R2:

Con begins by challenging several of the basic assumptions made in Pro's case. While these analyses are accurate, there's nothing particularly substantial. He points out that there's no offense on the Constitution arguments Pro gives, and that there's reason to change the Constitution in some instances. It's not particularly clear how or why those changes should be made now, and Con's case seems more focused on rescinding it than making any changes, so this doesn't do anything clear for him. There is some offense on eliminating national debt, though that is also at least somewhat undercut by a case that basically intends to do the same thing, except by eliminating the government in all of its functions. The best piece of offense actually comes within the counterplan, as Con states that the government can simply acquire more power by increasing the number of responsibilities it has. That at least explains why the counterplan might be better.

Focusing on the counterplan, it's an interesting choice of tactics, though it actually replaces the onus onto Con, since she is now the one with the most substantial shift from status quo. So it's a little disconcerting to see that Con makes numerous assumptions of her own.

She says that maximum freedom is best, justifying it by saying that any other system "seems wrong and... arbitrary", though it's not particularly clear why more freedom is more beneficial, nor is it clear why authoritarianism is harmful.

The moral authority argument gets a little more explanation about the imposition of a moral code being harmful if it comes from a body that has been shown not to be an authority on the subject, but this argument fails to explain why individual morals are superior to said moral authority. It's unclear from this point why individual sense of morality is more reliable.

Overall, this starts off a little stronger than Pro's case, but still makes a number of glaring assertions and lacks clear impacts.

Pro's R3:

Pro correctly assesses the change in what he must argue in order to win the debate, since it is now the difference between limited government and no government. He states that we need laws in order to prevent incidents like school bombings, which makes sense in terms of explaining why we should have a military, though it's not particularly clear why a military does that best. The quotes only examine this on a generalized level, with Pro using statements to support functions of the government without any clear explanation as to why. There is the argument that we need to prevent China from enslaving us, but its unclear that that could ever happen or, for that matter, why.

On education, Pro does state that we need it and that the government is the only one that can provide funding, though it's unclear why either of those statements are true. Similarly, it's unclear why "our economy will experience unprecedented growth and opportunity" from the changes Pro states, which calls that assertion into question. It's also unclear what the consequences are for "a 21 trillion dollar debt", which doesn't jive with Pro's own numbers from R2, and is yet another assertion without evidence or clear harms stated.

Lastly, Pro mentions the possibility of passing constiuttional amendments to limit government powers. These seem like blipped out solutions with not much substance to them. It's possible these could have the effects Pro is seeking, but especially the latter seems at least somewhat antithetical, since the government is passing a law to restrict the government.

I'm still not seeing much substance for Pro's case, though at least I'm getting some idea of why we need a defense.

Con's R3:

This is the point where the overall substance of the two sides diverges. Con takes the time to examine the key issues of the debate and compare them between the two cases, first pointing out the drops Pro makes, and then going to town on several of Pro's major assumptions. In the process, he also justifies his counterplan, explaining why the impacts of no government outweigh the impacts of limited government.

Starting on morality, Con mostly just explains why a government has no benefits morally over individuals. In the process, she dismisses some of the defense responses Pro gave, stating that the bombings Pro talked about aren't being stopped by governments. I don't particularly agree with that sentiment, but it's a point Pro has to address.

More importantly, Con starts putting in the work to bolster her case. She points to Semai culture, which challenges the notion that human nature is inherently violent. It's a good response, though admittedly, it's hard to see this particular culture as emblematic of how people would respond to a disbanding of government. Pro could have talked about what makes the Semai different from other cultures, and the reasons isolation played a role in their nature, but I don't see that in his arguments. In fact, a lot of this sounds idealistic, as Con points out that anarchist societies with "cooperation and solidarity will foster those values in human nature." It's not that I don't believe that's possible, but it is at least somewhat disconcerting that Con doesn't explain why this is the default state following a disbanding of governments. It's not well-supported by the fact that we are social beings alone, though again, Pro has to give the responses to beat this back. Similarly, the horizontal society structure is somewhat confusing. Rules exist instead of laws for a given "local commune in which one lives", but it's unclear how every single person in that space has agreed to that rule, or why agreement at the point of creating those rules creates a high likelihood of adherence down the line. It's not clear how punishment would be meted out, though Con hints this could happen in "a decentralized way."
whiteflame
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8/21/2016 8:12:07 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
But not every statement Con makes has support. He argues that there are "social attributes that cause crime" that "will be eliminated in an anarchist society" without stating what those attributes are and why they would be eliminated. We move back to "maximizing freedom and equality" yet both of those generalized terms are just assumed good without any analysis as to why. It still seems like Con's case functions largely based on assumptions of what is the greatest good.

Pro does do good work on the defense explanation. While it's not exactly clear how a defense would function (e.g. Along what lines would troops unify? Where would the resources come from and how would they be maintained? How would organization be enforced?), the argument does make some good points about the availability of certain aspects that can make a force formidable. I don't think it covers nearly everything, and the Ukraine example likely leaves out a lot of details that could turn it on its head, but all of this nonetheless shows that there could be some solid defensive strength that comes from anarchy. More importantly, Con explains why a centralized army can take offensive and oppressive actions when it deems them profitable. That's a clear harm for Pro's case that, at least so far, I haven't seen a reason to doubt.

Education is pretty much dismissed as being fundable "through charities" and though this invites a lot of criticism regarding the continual nature of this funding, it is a point Pro has to address.

Pro's R4:

Pro drops most of his own case at this point. There's no mention of constitutionality being important, nor do I see anything on education past this point. So I'm going to assume that those arguments are conceded.

He starts by defending a Republican government by suggesting that checks and balances will solve. He doesn't explain what those checks and balances are or why they will solve, so this stands as assertion without support.

And that's basically how this entire round runs. Pro argues that we should learn from mistakes and address them is really just question begging. The title of his second point was "The case for limited government" and yet I don't see a case here for it. All Pro does is mitigate some of the harms Con has been arguing will happen under a limited government, not explaining why said government is good or beneficial. His third point, on centralization, focuses entirely on defense and in mainly confusing ways. It's unclear what the Ottoman example is trying to prove, especially considering that both the Romans and Ottomans were centralized, hierarchical forces. Pro mishandles the Semai example and fails to address the effects of that example on his statements about human nature. Arguing against pacifism just straw mans Con's point. And the capitalism argument is a red herring. Pro provides no reason why capitalism will be harmed by Con's case, nor does he explain why it's pertinent to the debate at hand at all.

Con's R4:

Most of this round is just a re-hashing of the previous one, since most of those points were unaddressed or addressed poorly. I'm buying that anarchism and government are basically the same from a moral perspective, with the only difference being coercion in the latter case. He argues that there is some form of organization to anarchist groups (though, again, it's unclear what this organization is, how it functions, and why we should expect such organization to occur in the absence of government), and points to the Ukraine example, so I'm buying that organization occurs after government goes away, and that there's no clear loss to defensive capabilities as a result. Since the human nature example of the Semai is dropped, I'm also buying that human nature supports many of Con's assertions as to how people would handle the shift to anarchy. Con also gives me more reason to believe that a government system will always be corrupt on the basis that power corrupts and reduces empathy, which at least calls into question that we can solve for all problems associated with government.

I'm basically just ignoring the capitalism argument. Con herself states that this seems to have little to do with the debate and seemed to just want to engage with the point since she had the space. I know this continues to be a major point of contention through the rest of the debate, but regardless, it plays no role in my decision.

Pro's R5:

From my perspective, posting in Google Docs isn't a violation of conduct unless doing so puts the round over the character limit. This doesn't do that, and as the debater specified in the opening round that it is not a conduct violation to use Google Docs, I will decline to award conduct on that basis.

Pro starts off by going back to the comparison between Republican government and no government. The fact that this explanation is coming out in the final round makes it more difficult for me to regard it as strong to begin with, but it's just not that well articulated. The point seems to be that in an anarchic system, individual moralities clash, and thatl eads to militias and civil war.. there are a few links missing from that analysis. It doesn't help that the analysis of Republican government is basically a general "it solves using laws", a point that Con clearly refuted several times by explaining how laws themselves can enforce a bad standard of morality. It's still not clear why governmental laws are more likely to ensure a moral society (or, for that matter, a stable one) than individuals will by having community-affirmed rules.

It's a similar problem on defense. Pro just never seems to get down to the business of actually explaining what it is about a hierarchical, centralized defense that makes it better. He kind of starts to explain why a non-centralized force will have varying goals that can lead to problems, but this scenario doesn't resemble anarchy " it resembles a split leadership. Pro should have spent his time comparing a single, centrally-led military to the scenarios Con presents, in particular addressing the Ukrainian example that is the supported basis we have in this debate for how an anarchic military would function. In failing to do so, Pro continues to set up a straw man case to attack, and fails to defend his own. Pro does start to tackle the Semai example more deliberately, but fails to deliver on an explanation for why they do not resemble general human nature, which was the whole purpose of the point. Attacking the Semai is missing the forest for the trees.

By the end of the round, Pro starts throwing out new arguments, talking about the formation of another government in the absence of one and stating that he preserves freedom just as well even with a government. The former point has no warrants or analysis, so it's an assertion anyway, and the latter got plenty of analysis from Con ahead of time, since she pointed out that laws (which Pro means to keep in place) inherently restrict freedoms. Pro does refer back to his Constitution arguments, but by this point it's far too little too late. There is still no explanation here of why the Constitution is something that we ought to follow, and no explanation as to why it or democracy as a whole prevents officials from abusing their power or gaining more. We even see a short return to education, but it's also not responsive to the points Con makes with regards to our ability to keep up such programs during anarchy.
whiteflame
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8/21/2016 8:12:21 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
Con's R5:

Just off the top, I disagree with Con's analysis that Pro had the BoP. Since Con took on a counterplan, and a more extreme one at that, the best I can do is treat the BoP as equal, though honestly I don't see why it matters much. As with all policy debates, one side having a general BoP just means that the other side wins if they can't show they have any benefits, i.e. if they don't have a case, default to Con. With shared BoP, neither side has a default, though it almost never comes down to that anyway.

In any case, there's not much to cover here. Con reaffirms th same points she made in the previous two rounds, pointing out that Pro failed to address the majority of her points and that what he did address she responded to effectively. She points out that his analogy on human nature doesn't make logical sense and that "anarchism values the decisions of the people", a point that is worthy of some debate, though none of that happened here. She brings it back to coercion and personal choice, which still have no clear impacts, but lack any solid response from Pro. She also brings back the minority suffering point, explaining why a Republican government can undermine minorities, which also has no clear responses.

For defense, Con ends up bringing back the examples of the RIAU and re-explains the Semai example. Both of those are noted.

On establishing power, Con goes back to her argument about government use and abuse of power, which still goes basically unaddressed. She points out that making a new government in an anarchic society would be difficult, which I buy since this is the last round and it was a last round argument anyway. And I buy that there is some loss of liberty that occurs as a result of having any hierarchical structure that tells people what to do.

Again, I pass on examining the capitalism arguments. It's still off on a tangent.

Conclusion:

I wouldn't say that this was a good debate. Each side had a number of problems with their arguments, and both sides could stand to make far fewer assumptions. If you perceive something as good or bad, tell us why it is good or bad. It should be extremely clear, and yes, that's even if your opponent agrees. Impacts matter, and barely got any impact analysis from either side. Both sides also leaned too heavily on quotes from notable writers without explaining why we should believe them.

That being said, I think this is a very easy decision. Only Con really took the time to examine the two positions and compare them. Only Con really engaged with her opponent's arguments, explaining where the holes were in Pro's analysis and providing strong reasons to doubt all of the benefits Pro espoused were either nonexistent or non-unique. Only Con had clear reasons to support her case by the end, presenting examples that I'm forced to buy in the basis of there being little to no response. Repeatedly, Pro fails to build on his case, instead jumping on snippets of his opponent's words and often failing to grasp what the meaning of each of those points were.

While neither side gets a whole lot of traction for their points, I am seeing at least some movement from Con, whereas I see almost none from Pro. I'm buying that liberty and equality are firmly on her side. I'm buying that defense is basically the same. I'm buying that human nature supports the formation of a more communal system following the removal of government, improving lives for many. Meanwhile, I only get negatives on Pro's case, in everything from unnecessary wars to abuse of power on a domestic level to silencing of minorities. The comparison is straightforward for me, so I vote Con.
whiteflame
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8/21/2016 8:19:48 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
Addendum: I've decided to award source points to Con as well. In this case, the sources Con presents played a key role in elevating her points and proving much of Pro's analysis of anarchic systems and general morality wrong. I'm specifically looking at the Ukrainian example and the Semai example, both of which went virtually untouched when it came to the points they were making.

Pro's examples, while relevant (or potentially relevant) to the debate, never did much for them. He outright dropped the Constitution and Bill of Rights examples for most of the debate, failing to deliver on any sort of point with them, quoted the Bible and Ron Paul for no clear reason, threw out 2 links in R4 with no clear relevance to anything he'd said (both of which focused on capitalism, which was a red herring), and just generally made a lot of unsupported assertions.

The lack of evidence and warrants doomed his case as much as anything, and as such, that lack should be recognized as part of the point allocations.
PetersSmith
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8/22/2016 1:32:41 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/21/2016 8:11:10 PM, whiteflame wrote:
This is an RFD for the debate between harrytruman and Epica found here: http://www.debate.org...

Your RFDs are amazing. They're so thorough. Just like my polls...so long ago...
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n7
Posts: 1,360
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8/22/2016 6:41:44 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
10/10

Thanks for the vote.
404 coherent debate topic not found. Please restart the debate with clear resolution.


Uphold Marxist-Leninist-Maoist-Sargonist-n7ism.
whiteflame
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8/22/2016 4:44:02 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/22/2016 1:32:41 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 8/21/2016 8:11:10 PM, whiteflame wrote:
This is an RFD for the debate between harrytruman and Epica found here: http://www.debate.org...

Your RFDs are amazing. They're so thorough. Just like my polls...so long ago...

Appreciate that, PetersSmith.
ColeTrain
Posts: 4,292
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8/25/2016 9:25:46 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/21/2016 8:11:10 PM, whiteflame wrote:

Great vote. 10/10
"The right to 360 noscope noobs shall not be infringed!!!" -- tajshar2k
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whiteflame
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8/25/2016 10:26:23 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/25/2016 9:25:46 PM, ColeTrain wrote:
At 8/21/2016 8:11:10 PM, whiteflame wrote:

Great vote. 10/10

Appreciate that, ColeTrain.
ColeTrain
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8/25/2016 10:30:23 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/25/2016 10:26:23 PM, whiteflame wrote:
At 8/25/2016 9:25:46 PM, ColeTrain wrote:
At 8/21/2016 8:11:10 PM, whiteflame wrote:

Great vote. 10/10

Appreciate that, ColeTrain.

No problem. I'm sure the debaters are equally appreciative of the effort you put into that vote. :)
"The right to 360 noscope noobs shall not be infringed!!!" -- tajshar2k
"So, to start off, I've never committed suicide." -- Vaarka
"I eat glue." -- brontoraptor
"I mean, at this rate, I'd argue for a ham sandwich presidency." -- ResponsiblyIrresponsible
"Overthrow Assad, heil jihad." -- 16kadams when trolling in hangout
"Hillary Clinton is not my favorite person ... and her campaign is as inspiring as a bowl of cottage cheese." -- YYW
fire_wings
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8/29/2016 2:17:54 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
10/10 nac
#ALLHAILFIRETHEKINGOFTHEMISCFORUM

...it's not a new policy... it's just that DDO was built on an ancient burial ground, and that means the spirits of old rise again to cause us problems sometimes- Airmax1227

Wtf you must have an IQ of 250 if you're 11 and already decent at this- 16k

Go to sleep!!!!- missmozart

So to start off, I never committed suicide- Vaarka
bballcrook21
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8/30/2016 5:44:14 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
Very nice RFD
If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand. - Friedman

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. -Friedman

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. - Friedman

Society will never be free until the last Democrat is strangled with the entrails of the last Communist.