Podcast Number 6

The latest edition of the 3NR podcast is now available — you can download it directly or access it through iTunes. This week’s topics include:

  • Small School Success (link)
  • Poverty/Means Testing PIC
  • Word PICs
  • Debating Extra-Topicality/Theory
  • Collaborative Research Project/Open Source

If you’d like to suggest a topic for our next episode, please do so in the comments.

18 thoughts on “Podcast Number 6

  1. Ellis

    The means testing PIC discussion got confusing. I understand I forfeited my credibility on this way back at Greenhill, but I still don't think the T argument makes the counterplan competitive. Let's break this down:

    Plan = food stamps "for persons in poverty"
    T – "for persons in poverty" means you have to means test
    Cp – food stamps

    The permutation isn't means test and don't means test. Means testing still isn't the mandate of the plan, even with the T argument in place. Conceding the T flow just means that when the plan gives food stamps to persons in poverty, the mechanism they use to do so must involve exclusive means testing. This doesn't mean the plan text suddenly gets rewritten to say means tested food stamps, it just means they concede the effect of giving food stamps to persons in poverty is to means test them.

    This distinction matters–the counterplan rules out means testing which is the mechanism/effect of the plan, not the mandate (even if they concede the plan can ONLY lead to means testing, it's still just the effect of giving it to the poor people). So although the 1NC takes that phrase out of the plan, the permutation is not severance because it gives food stamps to everyone–including persons in poverty.

    The neg won't have trouble winning this counterplan is textually competitive against teams with this plan text, but assuming counterplan competition implicates the mandate of the plan and not the mechanism, the counterplan is plan plus and the perm is legit.

    Big picture: the neg defines the plan text to say use this mechanism and PICs out of said mechanism without competing based off the mandate of the plan.

  2. JZ

    I'm not quite sure if the distinction you are making is relevant.

    If plan = "persons in poverty"
    and "persons in poverty" = means testing
    than plan = means testing.

    it is the only possible outcome in that it is the functional mandate of the plan. maybe i dont understand what you are saying, but i don't see how the permutation changes that plan specifies means testing to persons living in poverty.

    i think this effects distinction matters if the plan doesn't include the word "persons in poverty".

  3. Ellis

    Because even if means testing is the only possible outcome of a topical plan, if we can reduce that to a question of implementation or effects of giving food stamps to the poor then it's still not a basis for competition.

    In other words, "persons in poverty" –> means testing, not "persons in poverty" = means testing. Distributing cash assistance in US dollars may be the only way to implement a welfare plan, but the counterplan to change the currency still isn't competitive. That example kind of sucked, but the point is the neg can't compete based on the most logical or even the necessary implementation of the plan if the counterplan still gives the same assistance. The counterplan still gives food stamps to persons living in poverty, it just manipulates the implementation of the plan do give some extra assistance.

    For example, say the aff said the USFG should increase engineering education and the neg read a counterplan that said the USFG should increase education. The counterplan is just a broader manifestation of the plan's mandate even if it changes something tangible like a word in the plan or the way the service is distributed.

  4. Whit Whitmore

    A couple of things…

    1. Someone made the statement, "the counterplan only works when the AFF says 'for persons living in poverty.'" This has a number of problems. First, teams who use programs that use a means test don't (or at least shouldn't) put that phrase in their plan text. Reason being, they can prove the program that is written in the plan text is means tested. Second, any team that writes 'for persons in poverty' in thier plan text is doing it BECAUSE their program doesn't means test. That may mean that your 'T' arg is stronger, but it also means that your 'means testing = functional competition' trick for the counterplan is not viable. Either way, the strategy is dumb. Just read the poverty K and beat people on it. Stop trying to make a floating pic happen.

    2. Scott said, "it's competetive because more people are getting the same amount of social services." This assumes the program in question is not an entitlement program. Also, as much as it hurts my soul to say it, Roy's point about this creating a lot of potential solvency deficits is a good one.

  5. Anonymous

    On the next podcast could you guys cover how to effectively go for T in the 2nr?

    P.S. the podcasts are amazing.

  6. Anon

    Hey guys,
    Great podcast. Just a quick question: iTunes only seems to show Episodes 5 and 6 when you subscribe to the feed. Where did 1-4 go? I hope we can get these back through iTunes!

  7. Tom Tom

    Possible topic for next week:

    MPJ – general strategy, maybe things such as how to balance out-rounds and prelims, as well as (for more critical-leaning teams) how to balance k-friendliness with overall experience.

  8. Nick Bubb

    Question on the CP – wouldn't this be better used as an advantage counterplan?

    Exclude the increase issue – isn't the issue this:

    We could offer food stamps to only those who meet a defined criteria of who is poor or we could offer food stamps to everyone. It seems that it's more likely for the CP of no means test to be able to solve the case impacts better than the aff (assuming the the advantages aren't targeted to persons in poverty). Essentially, the neg would be arguing that it would be beneficial for people that are 136% FPL, 137% FPL, or even 150% FPL to get food stamps – because the means test is essentially an arbitrary determination in order to limit how much the government spends on poor people.

  9. Nick Bubb

    Also – the more I think about the counter plan; a do both perm is a reasonable answer. There isn't anything in the real world that's not means tested. Even if you eliminate an income eligibility criteria, that would functionally be the same thing as having a means test of one million percent of FPL (or some other really high number). In that sense, I'm not sure how the counterplan is competitive.

  10. Michael Antonucci

    The counterplan defends the position that exclusion, or the process of line-drawing, has symbolic import beyond the material implementation of the plan. Legislation has social effects that extend beyond the simple and unproblematic delineation of a plan.

    "Targeting" is not very sensible as a pure disad, because it isn't very unique. As a criticism of a particular method of framing the plan, however, it makes a lot of sense.

    Plan inclusion, for a criticism such as this, means something different from what you think. It's the best way of articulating that we should probably prioritize rhetoric in this instance, that's both more predictable and more sensible than arguments that we should automatically prioritize rhetoric in every instance. WE should prioritize rhetoric or representations when such prioritization doesn't demand inaction. Critical net benefits to word PICs actually represent a very sensible middle. I could (and, actually, have) successfully explained this position to a raw civilian in under two minutes.

    These response are all mixed up because they take "functional" and "textual" as received categories. They aren't. They're easily taught at institutes, so have a lot of currency, but counterplan debate doesn't have to proceed according to to these terms. A word PIC argues that the distinction between those two is not only meaningless, but genuinely politically disempowering. My framework arguments are a disad to your artificial debate-y distinction.

    If the negative wins their K, "do both" is a genuinely terrible idea. We'll give it to everyone, but just make sure there's a special sub-program that labels the poor and disrupt a middle-class coalition for no reason?

    Why is there so much attention paid to word PICs on this site? This increasingly seems like a move to contrive a consensus that just doesn't exist.

    Two additions:

    1. The PIC doesn't "float" in any meaningful sense. It's declared overtly from the 1nc.

    2. Ellis: I largely agree with your assessment that this doesn't compete, really, with food stamps, but does compete against a team that puts the res in their plan text to generate T. I think that's your assessment, at least. Your analogy there seems better than you think.

  11. Scott Phillips


    While it would be great if we were smart/organized/powerful enough to pull off a conspiracy, unfortunately the word pic discussions are driven by reader questions.

  12. Michael Antonucci

    I apologize* – ideology generally functions without intention, so that is probably a basic error on my part.

    I do maintain that this is looking a bit group-think-y.

    * = no snark

  13. Bill Batterman Post author

    @Michael Antonucci

    "If the negative wins their K, “do both” is a genuinely terrible idea. We’ll give it to everyone, but just make sure there’s a special sub-program that labels the poor and disrupt a middle-class coalition for no reason?"

    I'm still having trouble conceptualizing the CP at the level of policy.

    Plan: Increase funding for a means-tested social service program.

    CP: Means-testing is bad; Increase funding for the social service program but don't means test.

    Permutation: Increase funding for a means-tested social service program but don't means test.

    As I said in the podcast, it doesn't make sense to me that a policy could be enacted that increases funding for a means tested social service program but does not means test UNLESS the means test was eliminated from the entire program. If that's the case, then I think the most reasonable characterization of the CP is as follows (using Medicaid as an example):

    Plan: Increase funding for Medicaid.

    CP: Eliminate means testing for Medicaid.

    Permutation: Increase funding for Medicaid and eliminate means testing for Medicaid.

    Am I wrong?

    Regarding the rest of your post, I'm with you — but I don't think that this type of argument is best implemented as a counterplan.

    "Plan inclusion, for a criticism such as this, means something different from what you think. It’s the best way of articulating that we should probably prioritize rhetoric in this instance, that’s both more predictable and more sensible than arguments that we should automatically prioritize rhetoric in every instance. WE should prioritize rhetoric or representations when such prioritization doesn’t demand inaction. Critical net benefits to word PICs actually represent a very sensible middle."

    Why is the "targeting bad" / "means testing bad" critique not sufficient to reject the plan? The negative would need to overcome the uniqueness issue, but I think that's a reasonable expectation: it forces the negative to acknowledge the pernicious effects of current targeting/means-testing and to defend that social services policy should therefore not utilize targeting/means-testing. The policy consequence of the negative's critique is the elimination of targeted/means-tested social services. The affirmative should therefore be able to argue that targeted/means-tested social services should not be eliminated.

    Framing the critique as a plan-inclusive/word CP obfuscates that central issue. If targeting/means-testing is bad, then the negative should not call for an increase in a targeted/means-tested social service "without the targeting/means-testing"… that makes it seem as though targeting/means-testing is nothing more than one possible way to implement a targeted/means-tested social services program instead of an intrinsic part of the program. As a result, it lends credibility to the permutation—if the CP/net-benefit is only a criticism of an implementation mechanism but not the larger social service program in which it is used, then it makes sense to enact the permutation—it accrues the benefits of the program's expansion while avoiding the disadvantages to targeting/means-testing.

    If, on the other hand, the negative critiques the whole of a social service program because targeting/means-testing is intrinsic to its existence/expansion, then the permutation loses its persuasiveness. Instead of framing the permutation as a minor improvement to an otherwise desirable plan, this strategy frames the permutation as a superficial accommodation by a fundamentally objectionable plan. This seems to put the negative in a superior position.

    In this second framing of the argument, the alternative can either call for a rejection of targeting/means-testing or a CP to eliminate targeted/means-tested social services. The permutation still calls for an increase in a targeted/means-tested program and the negative will be in a better position to win that targeting/means-testing is an intrinsic (as opposed to a superficial) part of the plan.


  14. Dalton

    For discussion next week- Maybe one of these 2
    1) Is politics a better nb for states or econ and/or tradeoff.
    2) Racism and patriarhy advs, like how would teams that claim theses advs claim they solve for big impc like warren and cady when they probably dont solve for all patriarchy?

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