Cross Examination

2017-2018: Federal Education Policy

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

Topic Resources:

 K-12 Policy Reform August News

• Federal Funding and Special Education Reform 

The effort is driven by low achievement rates of special education students, 90 percent of whom have no cognitive impairment. Speech and language impairment is the largest category of students in special education, followed by students with learning disabilities.

A Federal [Education] Role: Establishing Restorative Justice?

So maybe the federal government could focus on funding more research on what works in addressing violence and bullying in public schools. An earlier post quoted a Brookings Institution study on the history of federal involvement in education…

• Where Do Federal Education Dollars Go?

Debaters looking to reform federal education funding or regulations should know where federal education dollars flow now. “Federal Education Funding: Where Does the Money Go?,” (US News, January 14, 2016), provides a recent overview with helpful charts.

• Informal Schools in the U.S. and Developing World

Tooley discovered hundreds of small private schools scattered across poor communities in Africa as well, even in a small fishing village in Ghana were five private schools compete with a foreign-aid funded state school.

• Federal Standards, School Recess, Food, and Drugs

Doctors have diagnosed increased Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in students, but critics suggest reduced school recess is a cause and increasing recess time is a better alternative to ADHD drugs.

• Four Failed Federal Education Reforms

The four most recent federal education reform initiatives include “Goals 2000′′ of the Clinton administration, “No Child Left Behind” of the Bush administration, and “Race to the Top” and “Common Core” of the Obama administration.

• What the Federal Government Can Do To Improve American Education

Federal programs typically travel first to the 50 state departments of education, which send them to local school districts, then to administrators at school sites, and finally, perhaps, to classroom teachers. At each stop, money is drained off to support a bureaucracy. Regulations are tweaked and molded to fit local priorities.

• Not One Less and Bring your Five-year-old to Work Day

Steve Mariotti, the founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, tells the story of his first year teaching at a New York City high school. After success in retail, Mariotti switched to teaching a remedial class of inner-city students. Not surprisingly he had a hard time managing the classroom and was unable to teach effectively. As the end of the school year he asked his unhappy students if there was anything he had taught that they enjoyed or learned from.


2016-2017: U.S/China Engagement

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.

Topic Resources:

• Arrival Cities: Across China and the World

The low wages reports at the Chinese shoe supplier for Ivanka Trump (see previous post), likely reflect the income disparities even among migrant workers. …“Human capital” refers to the skills of individual workers. Growing up in deep poverty in rural China today, as through all time, does not equip young people with skills. Only with they migrate to factory towns or edge cities, or when factories relocate to rural areas, are they able to learn skills to earn higher wages.

• China’s Factory Workers: Exploitation or Escape from Rural Poverty?

The Washington Post, in “Workers endured long hours, low pay at Chinese factory used by Ivanka Trump’s clothing-maker.”… The average take-home pay of migrant workers, who are among China’s lowest paid, is often less than half the overall average wage in China’s major cities.

• Economic Problems with China’s Forest Plans

“findings were consistent with recent research suggesting that China’s forest resources have not significantly increased despite the government’s extensive tree-planting campaign or its efforts to halt commercial logging in forests.”

• U.S. China Trade War: Raising Costs for U.S. Manufacturers

“If the United States is going to block raw materials, US downstream industries will have no choice. They will move offshore to obtain the high quality raw materials they need to not only be competitive but also produce high quality safe auto parts.”

• Not One Less and Bring your Five-year-old to Work Day

For NSDA debaters transitioning from the China topic to federal K-12 funding and regulatory reform, consider the connection between child labor, education, and income inequality.

 China’s Cleaner Coal and LNG Imports

The study emphasizes pollution from coal power: “vary dramatically based on the type of coal and coal-burning technology used.” And Chinese coal power plants are being upgraded to burn cleaner and more efficiently.


• China Infrastructure? Maybe Good, Maybe Not

Whether these infrastructure investments become profitable and improve trade relationships, or languish unfinished and underused, will be revealed in the coming years and decades. Both governments and private firms can spend tens of billions building infrastructure but in the wrong place, the wrong way, or at the wrong time.

• Chinese Bankrupt Cities and Companies

• China’s “Guided Capitalism” – Good Luck With That

Against the optimistic claim: “China’s centrally-administered state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have a promising future in boosting mass entrepreneurship and innovation…” is the reality of failed enterprises championed and funded in the past by local and central government bonds and banks.

The steel, aluminum, and ships exported and sold below cost in world markets have likely left a hole vast and deep of unpayable debt across China.

• To Live and Breath in Beijing

Technologies that reduce CO2 emissions from burning coal are different and more expensive than technologies that reduce particulate emissions. People are suffering and dying now from particulate emissions from coal in Beijing and around China, but not suffering or dying from CO2 emissions.

• Excess Regulations Hurt U.S. Manufacturing, Boost Chinese Competitors

An alternative to tariff barriers, or subsidies for U.S. manufacturers, is to review and where possible reduce regulatory costs here at home. When debaters (or politicians) call for restricting imports to “bring back American jobs,” negatives can counter that reducing regulations at home would enable U.S. firms to be succeed in more industries at home and overseas.

• China and Latin American Economic Integration

If the Trump Administration undermines US/Mexico trade and investment integration, the door for China/Mexico trade and investment integration opens wider. Foer notes China has invested less in Mexico than in other Latin American countries:

• China’s New Charter City

Lotta Moberg’s page links to a variety of articles on Special Economic Zones, including “Is It Time That America Adopted Special Economic Zones?” (Daily Caller, March 30, 2017) which looks at SEZs as a way to counter current protectionist and nationalist trends in the U.S. and around the world:

• Firepit for a Friend: “Globalized” U.S. and China

With choices limited by fire pit tariffs, would I have purchased a more expensive U.S. version? Spending more on a fire pit leaves me less to spend on other goods and services, and/or less to put aside as savings.

U.S. fire pits could be manufactured less expensively if tariffs on steel from China were lower. “China upset at high US tariffs on steel imports: Punitive tariffs announced after conclusion of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations,” (South China Morning Post, February 4, 2017):

• Brexit, Texit, Calexit, and the Future of China

Should the U.S. encourage China to further decentralize economic and political authority? Soft or full partition has been advocated for Iraq, Syria, and Libya, and a long history of thriving canton-nations like Switzerland, and both past and modern city-states. Hong Kong and Taiwan, followed by Chinese SEZs like Shenzhen and Shanghai Pudong New Zone, are the most free and prosperous places in China.

• Ford to Build Electric Cars in China: Good News or Bad?

Back to the China story, generating electricity from coal in United states power plants is far less polluting than electricity from coal in China. “In Coal-Powered China, Electric Car Surge Fuels Fear of Worsening Smog,” (Reuters, January 27, 2016)

• Dynamic China: Don’t Get Left Behind

“In contrast to his worries about the US, he writes: “Even with its recent economic troubles, China has a culture of ambition and dynamism and a pace of change that harkens back to a much earlier America. China, even though in the midst of some rather serious economic troubles, makes today’s America seem staid and static.”

• Blockchain Certify Food Imports from China

Food safety is always a challenge. Insuring food safety from suppliers in distant countries like China is even more of a challenge. “Blockchain: A Better Way to Track Pork Chops, Bonds, Bad Peanut Butter?,”

Protecting U.S. Producers from Competitively-Priced Steel

This hot-rolled coil steel–key for U.S. automakers–is 20% less expensive in Europe and 40% less expensive in Asia? Doesn’t that give a significant cost advantage to European and Asian automakers and other foreign manufacturers with access to significantly less-expensive steel?

• China to Palestine: Economic Freedom and Charters

Nation-states can be more trouble than they’re worth. For the Middle East, federalism, soft-partition, enclaves, and charter cities offer non-state paths to peace and prosperity.

• China and the U.S. Head to the Moon

The Diplomat asks “Are China and the US Set for a Showdown in Space?” (January 28, 2017). China’s interest is more economic than military, exploration, or for scientific research… “China conceptualizes space activity principally within the context of economic development, which has important implications for space resources and property.”

Rice Subsidies Complicate US/China Engagement

But federal rice subsidies distort rice production, encouraging marginal producers and artificially boosting rice supplies for export, foreign rice producers complain and lobby to restrict rice shipments from the US. But foreign rice producers are also subsidized by their governments, so trade disputes turn on “level of subsidy” claims.

• The Pacific Trade Future: China and South America
A sponsored Quartz post from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy: “Asia will soon be the world’s economic center—if it isn’t already” looks at the rise of nationalism:

• U.S./China Policy, Economics, and Politics [updated]
Trade agreements generally restrict as well as promote trade and investment in various ways, and are influenced by lobbyists trying to protect the interests and advance the agendas of various business, union, and environmental groups.

Current and proposed trade and investment agreements tend to be complex and confusing and the interests of both China and the U.S. could be advanced by simplifying or abolishing some.

• China and Cuba Trade, Labor, and Migration
What issues should be on the table when negotiators from two governments hammer out what trade rules are relevant and reasonable?  …  A couple things connect the China policy topic and the Cuba Public Forum topic. First, the refugee policy that allowed those smuggled from China to be legal citizens of (then British) Hong Kong as soon as they touched land. … U.S. policy was similar and allowed those escaping communist Cuba, once they made it to U.S. territorial waters, to stay legally…revise in 1995 to a “wet foot/dry foot” policy. Then Obama Admin. shifted policy again, as part of normalizing relations with Cuba

US/China Engaging in Nationalist Policies
Apart for the money governments spend directing research and development to area they deem strategic (ballpoint pens?), such subsidies and policies stoke nationalist responses in Japan, the U.S. and Europe…

• Bootleggers and Baptists Agree to Restrict Trade with China
When the President and Congress consider trade legislation, a wide range of interest groups gather to advance their agendas. These agendas are not always obvious, and sometimes corporate and union interests misdirect the public about their motivations.

• For Still-Poor China, Coal Pollution from Home Heating
The Chinese government energy policy goals are to reduce air pollution around Chinese cities, and to reduce CO2 emissions in order to address climate change. These goals overlap, but are not the same. Wind farms and solar installations don’t emit air pollution, but neither does less-expensive natural gas combined-cycle power, which can be located closer to cities and customers. New coal power plants emit less air pollution, especially compared to the dense pollution from antiquated coal-fired power and home coal burning.

• US/China Farm Wars
In “United States Challenges Excessive Chinese Support for Rice, Wheat, and Corn” (September, 2016), the Office of US Trade Representative announced new action against China. … The U.S. government also subsidizes US farmers growing and exporting rice, wheat, and corn. Comparing government between countries is complex. … reducing and reforming farm subsidies would help rationalize commodity farm production in US and China, reduce environmental harms, and reduce financial burdens to taxpayers in both countries.

• Mismanaged Fisheries Key to South China Sea

Case outline with evidence for reforming Section 421 Tariffs. Dept. of Commerce labels China as NME (non-market economy) which opens door for US special interest groups to secure arbitrary trade restrictions.  Link to pdf at page.

There is no more important bilateral relationship than that between the United States and China. Yet the Congressional Research Service warns that ties have “become increasingly complex and often fraught with tension.” Relations appear likely to become even more fractious with the election of Donald Trump as president. Every four years the People’s Republic of China (PRC) becomes a presidential election issue, but Americans deserve [more on] U.S.-China political and economic relations than candidates’ sound-bytes.

• China’s Sustainable Agriculture: “the biggest threat to humanity?”
“How Antibiotic-Tainted Seafood From China Ends Up on Your Table,” (BloombergBusinessweek, December 15, 2016), describes the traditional “sustainable” Chinese use of animal waste to feed fish. Since the beginning of agriculture, animal waste has fertilized crops (it’s the organic way!). But the addition of antibiotics to boost animal size and disease resistance shifts the microbe ecosystem in animal waste. Some microbes gain resistance to antibiotics, and are then flushed into Chinese fish ponds, adding antibiotic resistance to microbes in fish later shipped (or transshipped) to the U.S.. (read more)

• US/China Civil Society Engagement
Civil society institution are central to US/China engagement, and include international debate societies, educational associations, and thousands of international environmental, business, religious, and cultural associations.

These non-government organizations (NGOs), along with tens of thousands of international businesses operating in China, build personal and cultural connections between people and societies that are fully or partially independent of governments. (read more)

• The Legacy of China’s One-Child Policy
Nicholas Eberstadt in the Wall Street Journal (October 29, 2015), calls China’s population control policy: “The one-child mandate is the single greatest social-policy error in human history.”

The Chinese government’s draconian one-child policy followed soon after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, and was a response to incredible poverty across China following decades of top-down economic planning.

The one-child policy created an utterly new social system for China, notes Eberstadt:
And China’s cities are now producing a new family type utterly unfamiliar to Chinese history: only children begotten by only children. They have no siblings, cousins, uncles or aunts, only ancestors (and perhaps, one day, descendants).
(read more)

• YP International Trade Agreements Essay Contest, Due Jan. 1

• U.S. Factories Rely on Chinese-Made Materials

But many existing American manufacturing jobs depend heavily on access to a broad array of goods drawn from a global supply chain — fabrics, chemicals, electronics and other parts. Many of them come from China. At Mr. Reid’s factory, imports account for roughly two-thirds of the cost of making a recliner chair.

(read more)

• Washing Machines and China Trade Policy

• U.S./China Natural Gas Trade for Cleaner Skies

• Chinese Firms Floating Steel and Aluminum to U.S. Ports

• The U.S./China Trade Debate and Populist Backlash

• The “Thucydides Trap” and US/China Trade War

• Engaging China’s Cities and Consumers

• China’s Mismanaged Currency

• Who Cares About China Trade Policy? (Just debaters and special interests)

• Reforming US/China Antidumping and Countervailing Duties Regulations

• China Trade: Hollowing Out or Filling In the U.S. Economy?

• Debate Central on February 2013 Public Forum Topic: “Resolved: On balance, the rise of China is beneficial to the interests of the United States.”  And Part II (con).

Older Resources:

2013-2014 Economic Engagement with Latin America Topic Resources

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement toward Cuba, Mexico, or Venezuela.


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