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*** File Explanation

*** SDI Note:




This file is not allowed to be read during the SDI tournament.
*** Everyone else:
This is a mostly-completed generic process counterplan. It needs a little bit more work to be complete.
Specifically, you need to spend some time developing the net-benefits. I have a few other ideas that I didn't pursue including a soft power argument (http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-soft-power-equal-opportunity-6959), but you also just need to cut and add more impact cards about equal opportunity. This is the dumbest part of the argument (because the impact is not gigantic—it is small and meaningful, but not huge) but someone could do a pretty good job with it, I think.
You also could do some politics research. The counterplan is probably extra-popular (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/03/americans_inequality.html). Whether that is a net-benefit, I don't know.
There are also some cool interactions between this counterplan and the transportation rationality critique. Some of the evidence about public participation from the critique could be added to the counterplan and used as net-benefits.
There are no affirmative answers in the file. I haven't found anyone that thinks that Opportunity Impact Statements are a bad idea. Theory and permutation arguments are obviously the #1 response, but some substance is needed, too. Students will need to prepare responses to this counterplan in anticipation of it being read during the season.
I think this counterplan is clearly cheating, but it is strategic and has good evidence to support it. Someone was going to write it, so I wanted to make sure that students were introduced to it during the summer. Don’t take that as an endorsement, though: while it is winnable for the negative, a good affirmative should defeat this counterplan with theory and competition arguments.
—Bill Batterman

*** 1NC

OIS CP

The United States federal government should commission an Opportunity Impact Statement on the proposed adoption of [the plan] including consideration of alternative approaches to achieving the goals of the proposal that may be more effective in ensuring equal access to greater opportunity and consideration of the proposal’s compliance with equal opportunity laws and other applicable legal standards. The United States federal government should implement the policy recommended by the Opportunity Impact Statement process.




The counterplan solves the case and is net-beneficial




First, subjecting the plan to a prior, binding Opportunity Impact Statement is key to maximize opportunity—the plan threatens to undermine itevery instance is key.


Jenkins et al. 12 — Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda—a communications, research, and policy organization dedicated to building the national will to expand opportunity for all, former Director of Human Rights at the Ford Foundation, served as Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in Media Studies from New School University, and a B.A. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard College, et al., with Juhu Thukral, Director of Law and Advocacy at The Opportunity Agenda, former founder and Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City, holds a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law, Kevin Hsu, Former Robert L. Carter Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, Nerissa Kunakemakorn, Former Robert L. Carter Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, and Megan Haberle, Former Economic Opportunity Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, 2012 (“Promoting Opportunity through Impact Statements: A Tool for Policymakers to Assess Equity,” American Constitution Society Issue Brief, April, Available Online at http://www.acslaw.org/sites/default/files/Jenkins_et_al_-_Promoting_Opportunity_through_Impact_Statements.pdf, Accessed 07-22-2012, p. 1)

Debates over the size and scope of federal spending have dominated the political discourse over the last several years. While much discussion centers on the amounts of spending going towards various programs, less attention has been focused on ensuring that taxpayer funds, wherever they are expended, invest in greater opportunity for all communities. The American ideal of opportunity rests on the belief that everyone should have a fair chance to achieve his or her full potential, and is in keeping with core values: equal treatment, economic security and mobility, a voice in decisions that affect us, a chance to start over after misfortune or missteps, and a sense of shared responsibility for each other as members of a common society.

Governmental bodies can expand opportunity each time they support or control any number of projects, from highways and mass transit lines, to schools and hospitals, to land use and economic development, to law enforcement and environmental protection. With prudent management of these projects, they can improve access to quality jobs, housing, education, business opportunities, and good health, among other opportunities, and thus better serve all people in the United States fairly and effectively. All too often, however, such projects perpetuate or even deepen unequal opportunity and further isolate affected communities from resources.

A coordinated process is needed to ensure that public funding complies with antidiscrimination laws and not only confronts barriers to opportunity that affect regions throughout the United States, but also builds the foundation necessary to give all communities a chance to achieve economic security and mobility. We therefore propose that administrative agencies use an Opportunity Impact Statement (OIS) process as part of their evaluation of ongoing and proposed government funded projects and programs. The OIS process is a logical outgrowth of existing statutes, regulations, and executive orders that already require data collection, public participation, and pre- and post- award analysis as part of an administrative agency’s civil rights compliance measures.

Second, transportation projects are key—the DOT is failing to ensure equal opportunity now—the plan and permutation link but the counterplan solves.


Jenkins et al. 12 — Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda—a communications, research, and policy organization dedicated to building the national will to expand opportunity for all, former Director of Human Rights at the Ford Foundation, served as Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in Media Studies from New School University, and a B.A. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard College, et al., with Juhu Thukral, Director of Law and Advocacy at The Opportunity Agenda, former founder and Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City, holds a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law, Kevin Hsu, Former Robert L. Carter Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, Nerissa Kunakemakorn, Former Robert L. Carter Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, and Megan Haberle, Former Economic Opportunity Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, 2012 (“Promoting Opportunity through Impact Statements: A Tool for Policymakers to Assess Equity,” American Constitution Society Issue Brief, April, Available Online at http://www.acslaw.org/sites/default/files/Jenkins_et_al_-_Promoting_Opportunity_through_Impact_Statements.pdf, Accessed 07-22-2012, p. 12-13)

The Department of Transportation (DOT) encompasses federal agencies that work on issues of air, road, rail, and sea transportation, as well as oil and gas pipelines. 68 The DOT’s spending and policies have a tremendous impact on American life, shaping how individuals and whole communities travel to jobs, health care, commerce, and schools. Although the DOT is obligated to ensure equal access to the benefits of such travel, as well the equal sharing of the [end page 12] burdens that transportation projects can create, those responsibilities have faltered due to the lack of consistent, comprehensive oversight. 69 Independent reviews throughout the years have identified weaknesses in the DOT’s past enforcement of funding criteria that an OIS could help address. For example, the United States Government Accountability Office found that “there was substantial variation in the extent to which states prioritized [highway projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] in economically distressed areas and how they identified these areas. Due to the need to select projects and obligate funds quickly, many states first prioritized projects based on other factors and only later identified whether these projects fulfilled the requirement to give priority to projects in economically distressed areas.” 70

To remedy these concerns, the DOT has full authority to implement all aspects of an Opportunity Impact Statement process on a pilot, targeted, or universal and permanent basis. Title VI authorizes agencies to ensure compliance by withholding funds or “by any other means authorized by law.” 71 The administrative authority to implement this procedure is further amplified by relevant executive orders. 72 Requiring and analyzing data regarding the potential discriminatory impact of programs being considered for federal funding falls well within this mandate and is consistent with the Department’s responsibility “to effectuate its provisions by issuing rules, regulations, or orders of general applicability,” 73 and freedom “to utilize all the resources at its disposal and to seek creative ways to gather necessary information to make preliminary compliance decisions.” 74

An OIS process would enable the DOT to collect the information necessary to prioritize equal opportunity compliance in its funding decisions, create equal opportunity oversight and quality assurance, engage community and advocacy groups in planning and policy development, and provide clear prospective guidance to the states in their efforts to comply with equal opportunity laws.

Third, the counterplan is key to expand opportunity, improve public accountability, and boost civic engagement—crucial to reduce inequality.


Jenkins et al. 12 — Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda—a communications, research, and policy organization dedicated to building the national will to expand opportunity for all, former Director of Human Rights at the Ford Foundation, served as Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in Media Studies from New School University, and a B.A. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard College, et al., with Juhu Thukral, Director of Law and Advocacy at The Opportunity Agenda, former founder and Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City, holds a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law, Kevin Hsu, Former Robert L. Carter Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, Nerissa Kunakemakorn, Former Robert L. Carter Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, and Megan Haberle, Former Economic Opportunity Fellow and Associate Counsel at The Opportunity Agenda, 2012 (“Promoting Opportunity through Impact Statements: A Tool for Policymakers to Assess Equity,” American Constitution Society Issue Brief, April, Available Online at http://www.acslaw.org/sites/default/files/Jenkins_et_al_-_Promoting_Opportunity_through_Impact_Statements.pdf, Accessed 07-22-2012, p. 20)

Policymakers are charged with ensuring that federal assistance meets the needs of all Americans. The Opportunity Impact Statement is intended to bring the voice of affected communities, structured efficiency, and balanced analysis to the table in the context of opportunity. The OIS would provide a comprehensive and fair evaluation of significant opportunity impacts, as well as reasonable alternatives, providing decision-makers and the public with full information and allowing for the minimization of adverse impacts. 114 On the federal, state, or local level, implementation of the OIS can help balance the need for efficiency in review of necessary government-funded projects with evidence-based evaluation and transparency.

The Opportunity Impact Statement carries the potential to expand opportunity greatly in communities around the country while encouraging public accountability and civic engagement. Moreover, it is a flexible tool that can be applied to any number of projects, big or small. We believe that providing the Opportunity Impact Statement is an important step in realizing our society’s promise as a land of opportunity.

This prevents catastrophic social collapse—inequality is an existential risk.


Creamer 9Robert Creamer, political organizer, strategist, and author, owner of Strategic Consulting Group—a political consulting firm that works on many of the country’s most significant issue campaigns, married to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, 2009 (“Why Growing Income Inequality Is Bad for America,” The Huffington Post, October 27th, Available Online at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-creamer/why-growing-income-inequa_b_335115.html, Accessed 10-27-2009)

4). Finally, increased income inequality is completely undemocratic. It is a betrayal of our most fundamental democratic values. And it is dangerous to our prospects for long-term survival.

The increasing inequality of income leads inexorably to increasing inequality in the distribution of wealth. Power in the society is more and more concentrated in the hands of a few. It becomes more and more likely that some of our most powerful citizens came to that station not because of their merit, but because they got it the "old fashion way" -- they inherited it. That is directly contrary to our shared belief in a more democratic society -- where power and opportunity are broadly shared -- where no one's power or station in life are determined by accident of birth.

The earliest Americans came to this continent to escape tyranny, aristocracy and plutocracy.

Progressives who stand up against the increasing concentration of economic power in the hands of a few are standing for one of the proudest traditions of our democracy. And our commitment to the democratic distribution of power is not simply an expression of utopian idealism.

In his brilliant study of why societies in the past have failed, called Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Pulitzer Prize-winning physiologist and ethno-geographer Jared Diamond concluded that one of the most common factors was "rational behavior" by actors -- and decision-making elites -- that benefited some individual or private self-interest but was harmful to the prospects of the entire society.

He found that this was often complicated because the benefits to a small group that profited from the action were great in the short run, and the resulting damage to everyone else was not very palpable or immediate, except over time.

This problem became especially acute when elites thought they could insulate themselves from the consequences of communal disaster. Then, they were even less prone to make decisions in the public interest.

The increased inequality in the distribution of wealth and income makes this kind of decision-making more and more likely. We see when the interests of the wealthy stand in the way of solutions to the problems of climate change and environmental destruction -- or when we fail to raise enough money for the public education that benefits all children because the few who can afford private schools refuse to pay "higher taxes."



The creation of a democratic society, built on egalitarian principles, is the only real systematic means of assuring that the interests of the entire society are not sacrificed to those of powerful elites. Most stories of decisions leading to catastrophic collapse involve decision-making elites whose interests diverge from the society at large. Democracy is the only real antidote.

The undemocratic increase in the distribution of wealth and income is not only wrong. It is also dangerous to our future survival.



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