Thursday, Oct. 26 - Civics - Final Project
Students will debate the creation of a public policy. Students will divide into teams to consider the essential questions of a particular public policy. They will then debate the issue and come up with a consensus they will present to the class.
PROBLEM AREA: POVERTY
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase funding and/or eligibility for one of the more of the following: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid enrollment, Housing Choice Vouchers Program.
Poverty in the United States is a seemingly intractable problem. The issues surrounding federal anti-poverty programs range from policy details, to outlines of how they operate, to whether the programs should exist at all. This topic addresses the federal government’s programs to assist persons in poverty and asks how (or if) they can or should be improved. The combination of macro-level approaches, specific policies, and critical approaches provides for a wide variety of arguments. Students will gain a better understanding of poverty, specific anti-poverty and federal policies, and philosophical approaches to addressing poverty. The topic also intersects with other prominent policy areas including housing, healthcare, and hunger.
PROBLEM AREA: IMMIGRATION
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal immigration to the United States.
According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of voters listed immigration as “very important” to their decision in the 2016 election - more than social security, education, and environment. With extensive news coverage on immigration, even novice students have a basic working knowledge of immigration, making the experience of learning policy debate more interesting. Advanced debaters can employ nuanced and specific critical and policy arguments. Immigration reform offers a rare example of federal policy where the key questions do not often involve spending money. Instead, the debate will focus on matters of social justice and fairness. Defenders of immigration reform argue America is a nation of immigrants, and a progressive immigration policy will strengthen the economy, as well as enrich our culture. Affirmative cases might focus on particular categories of Visas - their criteria and numerical limits; they might focus on different populations, or areas of the world; they might examine types of skills under-represented in the United States. Opponents have voiced the concern that immigrants take jobs from Americans and might pose a threat to public safety.
PROBLEM AREA: FOOD SECURITY
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its regulation of one or more of the following in the United States: genetically modified foods, biofuels, pesticides, concentrated animal feeding operations, crop insurance.
Population growth and climate change are major stressors of world stability. Nowhere do these factors intersect more than in agricultural production. As the largest exporter of food, changes to US policy have massive ripple effects across international markets. Current US policy promotes controversial agricultural practices affecting food security of the entire world. Affirmative teams will choose from five unique areas affecting food quality and security. Genetically modifying foods increases yields, but may have massive ecological and health consequences, including the die-off of bees. The biofuel industry has been hailed as a solution to climate change and oil dependency, but each acre subsidized trades off with food production. Pesticides are becoming increasingly unregulated in order to increase yields, but likely cause disease. This amounts to systemic violence by continuous poisoning of those without economic means to move. Confined animal feed operations maximize meat production at the expense of animal rights. The confined nature of the factory farm creates massive soil and air pollutants as well as conditions for zoological pathogens to evolve and spread. The federal crop insurance program protects our nation’s food producers, but encourages risky farming practices that produce negative environmental consequences. With a cost of $3.34 for every $1 paid in claims, this program amounts to one of our worst annual welfare handouts.