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Resolved, That curfews prohibiting teens from being outside past a certain point be abolished.

Background: Curfews have been in place since the early 1900s but weren’t enforced for minors until the 80s and 90s as juvenile crime rose.  Curfews are intended to both keep teens from committing crimes and to prevent them from becoming victims themselves. Most curfews are enforced on a local level and generally take effect from 11pm-7am; punishments usually consist of a substantive fine.  However, curfew laws are normally exempted if an adult is with the underage individual or in emergency situations.

Pro:

  • The Supreme Court’s interpretation of freedom of speech is broad; freedom of assembly is overly narrow.
  • There is no reason to distinguish between adults and juveniles–crime is crime.
  • Juvenile crime makes up the lowest proportion of crime altogether (excluding crime by the elderly).
  • Despite the vast amount of expert testimony in support of curfew laws, there is no empirical evidence stating that curfew laws actually work, as shown by Mike Males and Dan Macallair’s study.
  • Curfews are the equivalent of keeping millions of law-abiding citizens under house arrest each night.

Con:

  • Curfew laws are normally voided if the juvenile is in the present of a guardian or in an emergency situation.
  • Keeping the youth inside prevents them from committing crimes at unsupervised times and limits gang activity.
  • On non-school days, juvenile violent crime peaks around 8p.m., falling quickly by 11 p.m. when most curfews take effect (Snyder and Sickmund, 2006).
  • A survey done by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that the officials in 88% of the cities with curfew laws believed that they helped reduce juvenile crime.

Sources:
– A Brief History of Juvenile Curfews.” Associated Content from Yahoo! Web. 20 Mar. 2011. <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/326411/a_brief_history_of_juvenile_curfews.html>.

– Jahn, Rich. “Analysis of U.S. Curfew Laws.” National Youth Rights Association. Web. 20 Mar. 2011. <http://www.youthrights.org/curfewana.php>.

– Yeide, Martha. “Curfew Violation Literature Reveiw.” Development Services Group, Inc., 15 Oct. 2009. <http://www2.dsgonline.com/dso2/Curfew%20Violation%20Literature%20Review.pdf>.

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Resolved, that the pharmaceutical industry be banned from marketing directly to consumers.

Background: The United States pharmaceutical industry spends more than $20 billion per year marketing its patented drugs. Drug companies employ two main types of marketing: “marketing and promotion,” which is directed at health care professionals, and “direct-to-consumer,” which, as the name implies, is directly to patients. This “direct-to-consumer” advertisement, which costs $5 billion dollars a year, consists of mostly TV and print ads. Many people believe that these adverts manipulate patients into requesting drugs they don’t need; however, others maintain that customers should be aware and well informed of their options.

Pro:

  • Every “developed” country except the United States and New Zealand bans direct-to-consumer drug advertising.
  • A 1979 study of British families found that pharmaceutical advertising affects the development of children, making their beliefs, attitudes, and requests for medicines more liberal.
  • Because pharmaceutical companies also press doctors to prescribe new and not thoroughly tested medicines, a trend in the prescription of inappropriate medicines has been seen.

Con:

  • Pharmaceutical companies do constant research and development of new medicines; to ban advertisement of these new products would be detrimental to people with conditions currently being researched.
  • Although advertisements themselves are regulated, first amendment rights guarantee companies freedom to inform potential customers about their product.
  • Increasing availability of internet resources has allowed people to understand their conditions better; thus, understanding which medicines are good options is also important.

Sources:

  • PhRMA. Pharmaceutical Marketing in Perspective. 2008. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. http://www.phrma.org/files/attachments/PhRMA%20Marketing%20Brochure%20Influences%20on%20Prescribing%20FINAL.pdf
  • No Free Lunch. Changing Behavior. 2005.  http://www.nofreelunch.org/changingbehavior.htm
  • Robertson, J. Moynihan, R. Walkom, E. Bero, L. Henry, D. Mandatory Disclosure of Pharmaceutical Industry-Funded Events for Health Professionals. 2009. PLoS Med.
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2764857/
  • Steyer, R. FDA Chastises AstraZeneca’s Crestor Ad. 2004. The Street. http://www.thestreet.com/story/10200557/fda-chastises-astrazenecas-crestor-ad.html
  • Shaw, A. Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTC) of Pharmaceuticals. 2008. ProQuest.
  • http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/direct/review.pdf
  • Medawar, C. Insult or Injury? An enquiry into the Marketing and Advertising of British Food and Drug Products in the Third World. 1979. Social Audit.

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Thought Talk: Can the United States remain the preeminent global superpower in the face of China’s rise?

Background: A superpower is a nation-state which has the power to influence international developments to its own interest and then project its power worldwide to safeguard and advance those interests.  China’s seemingly spectacular economic growth in recent years to one of the world’s largest economies (its economy is growing at an astonishing 9% a year) suggests that the country is becoming a superpower, especially in the eyes of the popular media.  Indeed, China possesses a hoard of about $2.7 trillion in foreign currency ($2 trillion of it from America), while America is deep in the red.  Furthermore, China has abundant natural resources, plus a cheap pool of about 800 million workers out of a 1.3 billion population.  In contrast, America’s Great Recession and other economic woes suggest that perhaps America is on the decline.

Points of view:

  • America’s current decline is similar to Britain’s after WWII and the end of its empire, whereas China will soon be the world’s 4th largest economy–an achievement done entirely peacefully.  And China can match its economic growth with a super-advanced high-tech military plus a huge supply of troops.
  • China is using its cash to secure energy resources for its continued growth.  Beijing is NOT investing in its essential domestic infrastructure like sanitation, medical care, or education–or so it appears.  Maybe China is content to wait a long time to become a superpower.
  • China has problems: China has 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities; half the country’s water supply is polluted; it is the world’s largest consumer of coal; it is second to the US in dependence on foreign oil; and, 17% of China’s population lives on less than $1.00 a day.  This is NOT a 21st Century superpower–at least, not an across-the-board kind of hegemonic superpower like America.
  • Even though America might remain a military superpower, China is now capable of cleverer high-tech maneuverings that could leverage it into superpower status.  China and the United States may be on their way to a global rivalry like with America and the Soviet Union.

Sources:
– The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/09/is-china-really-new-superpower)
– The Salon (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/05/05/china_superpower)
– The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/america-meets-the-new-superpower-474728.html)

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Resolved, that the United States should stay out of foreign conflicts for the next half-century.

Background: Throughout much of this nation’s history, the United States maintained an isolationist attitude towards foreign conflicts. However, globalization, brought about by extensive trading around the world beginning in the 19th century, made it more and more difficult for the US to maintain neutrality in multinational affairs. Those in favor of American disengagement from foreign issues cite domestic problems and the non-productivity of involvement as reasons for upholding neutrality. On the other hand, opponents of isolationism argue that keeping engaged in global affairs strengthens relations and helps stabilize vulnerable countries.

Pro:

  • The United States’ current fragile economy is helped by trade with countries worldwide. If the US became involved in foreign conflicts instead of upholding neutrality, it would greatly reduce the options for global commerce as we could not trade with the enemy.
  • The shift to an involved foreign policy, starting with the World Wars, and continuing with the proxy wars in Vietnam and Korea, as well as oil-driven and anti-terrorism involvement in the Middle East, all cost massive amounts of money. Out-of-control military spending is one of the main reasons for this country’s debt, and to keep out of foreign affairs would help alleviate some of this pressure.
  • Incompetency     and overburdening have caused many Presidents to leap into foreign     conflicts to appease citizenry in the short term without thinking in the long term. Adoption of an isolationist policy would enable     American leaders to focus on domestic issues without making rash, impulsive decisions.

Con:

  • As illustrated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s actions before World War II, isolationism is difficult to practice for a global power such as the United States.
  • It is crucial for the United States to uphold treaties and alliances made with other nations to preserve amicable relations. Because it is unclear how American allies will be involved in future conflicts, it is impossible to guarantee US nonintervention for the next 50     years.
  • With the instability of many Arab nations, as well as the rising power of Brazil, India, China, Russia, and other countries, the United States should be poised to step in and resolve disputes at any time, rather than simply watching conflicts happen.

Sources:
– Carnegie Endowment (http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=19637)
– Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/22/AR2007032201652.html)
– US State Dept (http://www.state.gov/www/policy.html)

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Resolved, that regulations be increased on prescription drugs.

Background:  Prescription drugs, according to US law, are medicines that can only be obtained if a practicing medical doctor of some sort prescribes them.  The symbol for prescription drugs is Rx, an abbreviated version of the Latin word “recipe,” meaning “take thus.”  However, people more and more are beginning to “take thus” without prescriptions, illegally.  Prescription drug addiction is the second most widespread drug addiction in America, only behind marijuana.  It was estimated by the National Institutes of Health that roughly 20% of Americans have used prescription drugs for a non-medical reason.  The most common drugs that people use are OxyContin, Vicodin, Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, and Adderall.  With this many people able to obtain these drugs without prescription, the question is raised of whether or not more regulations should be imposed on prescription drugs.

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Thought Talk: How should Congress handle the issue surrounding the debt ceiling?

Background: A debt ceiling is defined as the maximum borrowing power of a governmental entity. This said, there has been much debate concerning the US debt ceiling. There are diverse of ideas in Congress on how to handle the debt ceiling, and the ideas among the public are even more diverse. With the debt ceiling being such a key issue to the United States, Congress has to solve this issue in the most effective and beneficial manner.

Points of view:

  • Congress should raise the debt ceiling to adjust for any new spending necessary under the Obama administration.
  • Congress should hold the debt ceiling at its current point.
  • Congress should adjust the debt ceiling to a permanent point well above the current limit.
  • Congress should send hit men to beat our creditors untill they forgive our debt.

Sources:
http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=debt%20ceiling
http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/03/news/economy/debt_ceiling_faqs/index.htm
http://www.hbo.com/the-sopranos/index.html

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Resolved, that the United States should make a bid to hold the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Background: The FIFA World Cup is arguably the most widely recognized sporting achievement among all mankind. Following the considerable success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is slated to be held in Brazil, which holds the most World Cup wins out of every nation that has ever competed. While the next several World Cup locations have already been determined, the 2026 World Cup is still up for contention.

Pro:

  • The host country yields a 0.5 % increase in its GDP directly resulting from the World Cup.
  • The pride of hosting the World Cup brings nations together, healing old divides among the people.
  • The World Cup would provide as a way for the US to showcase its prowess in the ever more China-centered world stage.

Con:

  • FIFA does not have to pay for the World Cup; the bill is left for the host country.
  • FIFA profits immensely while the host country is barely able to scrape up a profit.
  • A World Cup on American soil could prove to be an embarrassing defeat for America on her own turf.

Sources:
http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/index.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/hosts-see-red-as-world-cup-bill-soars-ndash-but-fifa-is-16317bn-in-black-1994958.html
http://weakonomics.com/2010/07/15/benefits-of-hosting-the-fifa-world-cup-part-iii/

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Resolved, that criminals be subject to indentured servitude as punishment.

Background: The Federal Department of Labor (DOL) was founded in 1913 and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in 1930; the two agencies have had zero interaction with each other since.  Seeing as we are in a recession and, lack affordable labor but have a total sentenced population of 190,686, prisoners taking tax money is contradictory; having convicts work for freedom solves both problems.  Prisoners could be leased to the DOL while under the BOP’s supervision to achieve government agendas and to fill the 24,800 active federal contract opportunities.

Pro:

  • Indentured servitude would shorten the amount of time we have prisoners, and would lead to less tax money being spent on them.
  • The Department of Labor would have very cheap labor to complete tasks such as green energy projects (which mainly needs construction and gathering of resources).
  • Teaching prisoners work skills will assist them in their re-admittance into society and the work force.
  • The incentive for illegals to cross the border would be reduced, as work in prison would now take the place of their occupations.

Con:

  • Servitude is morally wrong: punishment in a free world ought not be slavery.
  • Over-seers would have to be on watch all the time; this would lead to less security, so prisoners could escape more easily.
  • American citizens out of work would now have to compete with both illegal immigrants and prisoners for jobs.
  • Indentured servitude is unacceptable in several religions.
  • Our image as a moral leader in the world would be dampened, leading our interventions for human rights to become hypocritical.

Sources:
– “BOP: Quick Facts.” BOP: Federal Bureau of Prisons Web Site. 26 Feb. 2011. Web. 1 Mar. 2011. <http://www.bop.gov/about/facts.jsp>.
– Hamilton, James. “U.S. Department of Labor – Good Jobs, Safe Jobs, Green Jobs.” The U.S. Department of Labor Home Page. Web. 1 Mar. 2011. <http://www.dol.gov/dol/green/>.

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Resolved, That the release of confidential diplomatic cables in the WikiLeaks incident was justified.

Background: WikiLeaks is a whistleblowing website directed by Australian journalist Julian Assange. It was launched into the public eye for the first time recently after publishing footage which depicted American soldiers firing upon Iraqi civilians and journalists. Since then, the site has gained notoriety for its Afghan War Diaries series, Iraq War Logs, and, most recently, its planned release of over 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables. Those supporting the website say that it promotes informed citizens and upholds the ideas of freedom of the press and government transparency and accountability. Nonetheless, the US government condemns the website and attacks Assange for criminal activities and endangering national security.

Pro:

  • With the growth of the Internet Age, people are becoming more involved in     their government and thus feel a desire to be more informed. After the Freedom of Information act and other transparency measures, the WikiLeaks incident was the next logical step.
  • Greater government transparency promotes political discourse and reevaluation of policies.
  • WikiLeaks-like        organizations have been present throughout history, from muckrakers     to watchdog and investigative journalists. WikiLeaks is thereby protected by freedom of the press.

Con:

  • WikiLeaks’s lack of discretion about publishing documents puts national security and defense at risk.
  • Because many diplomatic cables contained sensitive information, international relations could be strained by the release of secret or classified cables.
  • Julian Assange has developed a reputation for being an “information terrorist,” because the release could lead to people getting killed. Thus, Assange should be prosecuted as an enemy combatant,     not an innocent journalist.

Sources:
– TED (http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_assange_why_the_world_needs_wikileaks.html)
– CQ Researcher (http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/getpdf.php?file=cqr20110211C.pdf)
– The Hill (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/132037-gingrich-blames-obama-on-wikileaks-labels-assange-a-terrorist)

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Resolved, That the United States law should supersede International Law.

Background: The issue of United States law versus international law, which is unique in that it provides legal boundaries in disputes between countries rather than individuals, has been present since the formation of the League of Nations in 1919. Now, the United Nations provides much of the groundwork for international legislation. In recent years, President George W. Bush was criticized for straying from global law precedent in his dealings with Iraq and Afghanistan. Citing this incident, opponents of United States law supremacy say that disobeying international will causes a country’s actions to lose credibility and international support. Adversely, proponents of this resolution point to the overarching nature of worldwide law and its inability to be applicable to domestic issues.

Pro:

  • Foreign law has no role in considering United States Constitutional     conflicts. If the Supreme Court were to consider international decrees in its decisions, it would bring in unnecessary confusion and ambiguity.
  • The more large-scale a law is, the faster it becomes irrelevant to internal controversies.
  • United States law is more able to freely adapt to a dynamic political atmosphere than international law, which is constrained by multinational complications and is consequently often outdated.

Con:

  • The United States’ refusal to hold international law as the highest standard weakens worldwide support of our country’s actions.
  • If a global power such as the United States does not follow     multinational common law, it causes the legislation to lose     legitimacy. This was illustrated with the failure of the League of Nations.
  • Because international law encompasses multiple states, the laws of each     individual nation should not, by definition, be applicable in worldwide conflicts. Similarly, because the laws within a nation concern only that country, international law can not be brought in     for domestic issues.

Sources:
– Conflict of Laws.net (http://conflictoflaws.net/)
– Americans for Middle East Understanding, Inc (http://www.ameu.org/uploads/maillison_feb21_03.pdf)
– United Nations (http://www.un.org/en/law/index.shtml)

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