Mistakes and Misconceptions: HHIV 2017 -Round 2

THBT Pharmaceutical Companies Should be Civilly Liable for the Opioid Crisis.

 

Round 2 of the HHIV dealt with whether or not pharmaceutical companies should be civilly liable for the opioid crisis. David Register, Bard College judge, gave a statement to the Debate Correspondent after the round and said that debaters needed to do a better job on identifying if this was a US-based issue and give a description of where the problem exists. He further added that knowing how lawsuits work is where he saw debaters fall short and that a strong round would have analyzed current regulation in the pharmaceuticals market, the effects of what happens when someone wins a lawsuit and, if not, how this incentivizes pharmaceutical companies.

He made a specific note for opposition teams in this round and how they needed to talk more about why lawsuits will make things worse. Since the pharmaceutical industry is built on investments, lawsuits would ultimately scare companies and investors alike. Opposition teams should explain what the reaction of these pharmaceutical companies would be if lawsuit capabilities were enacted.

 

“The question really comes down to this: is it the responsibility for the citizens to sue or the government to regulate and would civil liability be a preferable alternative to lobbying?”

-Anonymous

 

Another judge, Mehdi Bouchentouf, from Carleton University agreed that a major contention in this round was who the blame should fall on. He explains that pharmaceutical agencies provide a portion of revenue to doctors for various factors, but this in turn might lead them to prescribing medications that are not in the patient’s best interest and so debaters also need to look at the responsibility of doctors and what extent they may be at fault.

Mehdi noted, that a particularly good extension from closing opposition that ran in his round was on minorities and how they are negatively impacted. If pharmaceutical companies are now subjected to lawsuits, millions of dollars would now have to be allocated towards this and as a result insurance premiums would go up. Impoverished individuals suddenly have an increased difficulty to pay for this price surge and the overall benefits from the class action lawsuits wouldn’t be gained until decades following. The cost and effort for people is simply too much. Back-half teams should have overall dove more into the nuances of minority groups in relation to the motion.

Mistakes and Misconceptions: HHIV 2017 – Round 3

THBT the Democratic Party should prioritize/welcome the nomination of candidates at all levels of government who favor more radical changes to existing policies and structures over those who are seen as more “electable”.

“The first thing you need to identify in this motion is what the goal of the Democratic National Committee is and how they can best achieve that.”

-Gillian Hope Tiley (University of Vermont, Semi-Finals Judge)

In this motion, the general arguments from the rounds came down to which side gets the best electability of candidates and most participation from citizens. On the round Gillian sat in, the focus ultimately became more so about electability rather than involvement and government bench swept the debate.

Here is what happened and what went wrong:

To start, Opening Government argued that the DNC needed to progress and to get more young voters, leftist and passionate individuals involved, radical candidacy was the way to go. The warrant for this argument sat on the premise that the DNC is largely made up of moderate support and if it decided to back a radical candidate, the current backing would not drop off and switch parties due to lack of alternative. They further explained how radicals needed a voice in politics as well as a passionate leader and that the change in leadership would cast a wider voting net and lead to gains from undecided individuals.  In addition to this point, Gov. asserted that radical leaders better appeal to change opposed to  conservative leadership. Practical and intrinsically good impacts of this assertion (i.e. universal healthcare, maternity leave, redistribution…) further gave mechanism in the back-half which lead Closing Gov. to concluding that hard policies and direct change speak best to people and make them more likely to participate in the democratic process.

On Opposition bench, too much time spent on theory and baseless assertions lead to the panel giving Gov. the win. The primary errors, according to Buzz Kinger, were that Opposition needed a better analysis of who will vote and why, a more robust defense of the Hillary school of candidates and centrism. Furthermore, a lot of the impacts that came out of Opposition seemed to align with Government, except under a different name.

“Opposition really needed to display more argumentative imagination. Democrats. have been more centrist. More examples where democrats aren’t centrist and why that fails or where centrism works. Then on top of that, there should have been more hypothetical analysis on why radicals fail.”

-Buzz Klinger (Independent Adjudicator)

Even though Government bench took first and second in the debate, judges still felt that an area where the Government was still left underdeveloped was not spending enough time explaining why losing seats in the short-term is ok in order for long-term change to happen. Yet because they provided more practical material with unique and justified impacts, they took the round over the Opp. teams. On a final note, Zach Merson (University of Vermont, Judge) added that to do well in a motion like this, debaters need to know what the voting population looks like and where party numbers are coming from.

Mistakes and Misconceptions: THW Ban Police Unions (HHIV 2017)

The round 1 motion of the 2017 Hart House Inter-Varsity tournament proposed a ban on police unions. During the 15 minute prep time, judges shared their thoughts on where they expected the round to go. Kieran (Hart House Debater) predicts what he thinks the main arguments will come from:

I think we’re going to see two arguments from the government team:

 

  • Unions make police too powerful.
  • Police are essential.

 

If this is where the round goes for gov. then it will be interesting to see how they deal with the contradictions if they run this case and how opp. deals with them as well as they come up.

For the judges, they felt that for debaters to do well in this round, they needed to have an understanding for not only what a union is, but why a police union is so unique and important. Logan from Marianopolis University stated, “the key to this round is knowing police culture, having a strong grasp on current social tensions and why this is relevant.” There was general expectation for this round to see examples from the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality towards minority groups.

After the round, judges expressed the most common problems that came up were poor comprehensions of what purpose unions serve. Ben Levy, Hart House debate president, stressed how the biggest issue in his round was the lack of focus on a principle or value from all teams. The round fizzled out to rough descriptions of racism in the status quo with no clear conception of what unions actually do.

Assuming both sides are arguing something feasible, there should have been more explicit values articulated. It was unclear what values or principles both sides were trying to get across and that’s what this was debate about.

In the RFD, Ben shared some pointers on how to help debaters vocalise what unions do and explained that in the case of police unions, their role is to communicate and serve as a voice for police when it comes to dealing with management and handling other frustrations. Unions, in a more general sense, represent labour that is not represented and help balance a power asymmetry between employers and employees. Additionally, a clearer characterisation of police officers would have greatly benefitted the debate. A simple example of this is acknowledging that police officers might not come from the most privileged backgrounds as people assume.  

At the end of the round, here were the main questions left unanswered:

  • What differentiates police unions for others?
  • How much and what kind of additional power do unions give to police? To what extent would this be taken advantage of?
  • Why should unions then still be in place despite this possibility and the fact that police are a vital public service?
  • Does the aforementioned consequence outweigh police who may be disadvantaged and that would greatly benefit from unions to prevent abuse towards them?
  • And is this a big enough impact, even though unions might further hurt minority groups?