This House Believes That Countries with Proper Public Transport Modules Should Ban Private Transport


A pretty straightforward motion that leaves little to no multi-interpretation. Bear in mind, however, that “countries with proper public transport modules” should be immediately translated as “first-world countries”, as those countries are the only ones who are likely to have proper public transport modules.

Team Affirmative
It is important for Team Affirmative to properly set the grounds for the debate properly (in this case, a geographical setup). On first glance, it is pretty obvious that the geographical grounds for this debate will be taking place in first-world countries. This puts Team Affirmative at their best-case scenario (a situation in which arguments are to their advantage, but is not a recommended strategy in debating – your arguments lose credibility and lack convincingness when they take place on a best-case scenario setting) – but, then again, the nature of these grounds (best-case and worst-case) being advantageous and disadvantageous is highly debatable. So feel free to debate on both grounds, when confident that all aspects and crucial arguments can be covered; or choose one, when feeling especially confident debating on that ground (and feeling that opponent might be uncomfortable when debating on that particular ground). Overall, devising a strategy for debating under motions like this is pretty much tantamount to devising a strategy for a game of rock-paper-scissors so there is no general rule-of-thumb, really. So, it is up to the debaters to interpret this motion as “No matter the place and condition and circumstances, all countries must ban private transport” and be prepared to be challenged by Team Negative’s “But this will mean that Team Affirmative is betraying the motion, because the motion explicitly says countries with proper public transport only, and third-world countries are unlikely to be able to fulfill that category”. On this scenario, it becomes Team Affirmative’s burden of proof (and a strong one) to answer that “If even third-world countries with no proper public transport modules should ban private transport, then that automatically means that all countries, including countries with proper public transport modules, should do so.”

Argument 1: Because it can lower social gap between the poor and the rich.
Explain how ownership of private transport is the reason to having social gap. This explanation has two alternatives, depend on where the direction is feasible (judge from the atmosphere of the debate). It becomes the burden of proof of Team Affirmative, how banning private transport will decrease social gap; or, proving that social gap will always be there unless there is removal of ownership of private transport. Components that will strengthen this argument include the psychological, interpersonal, and intrapersonal factor of ownership of luxury goods. It is also a recommended factor of explanation if debaters have a knowledge on visual impact towards a person’s behavior. Adding citations and references to particular research will make this argument even all the more stronger.

Argument 2: Because private transport lead to pollutions.
Warning: very dependent on team’s geographical setup. It should be common knowledge by now (although, to be fair, the nature of this point is still debatable) that the responsibility of combatting climate change, ozone layer destruction, and whatever form of pollution it may be, hinges more on the shoulders of first-world countries. Third-world countries, by moral, should be less required to participate in environmental issues. Explanations, saved for another different debate.
Explanation for this argument, should Team Affirmative go by a blanket model (all nations should), will put themselves at a worst-case scenario (still, could be an advantage) but to answer the question of burden of proof why a third-world country should think about handling pollutions whilst they have so many problems and issues to solve ranging from unemployment, crime, social stratifications, etc. is very difficult. Nevertheless, one could still use the classic argument of “everything would happen eventually anyway, so why not practice handling pollution sooner?” Cases where this has proven to be plausible include European countries such as Greece, Germany, France, etc. (remember to exclude UK) where the impact of industrial revolution was less apparent on those countries, but still those countries managed to revolutionize their economic atmosphere and became a first-world country at an environmental cost of less than that of China’s or Japan’s or UK’s or The US’s.
Now to the easier ground: first-world countries. This should be fairly easy to explain, starting from the explanation of why it is especially important for first-world countries to shoulder the responsibility of mitigating pollutions, to the explanation of how prominent the ownership of private transport contributes toward pollution. Scientific explanations and researches go here.

Argument 3: To diminish the importance of the so-called “body autonomy” of citizens.
This motion should make it very clear in the first place that there will be a fundamental aspect of human right violated. Thus it becomes quite a huge burden for Team Affirmative to explain why ownership of some items are banned whilst others are allowed. Drawing the line too far (a hard stance) of stating that citizens have no right over any ownership at all will translate Team Affirmative to a very dictatorship-ish team. Although proving that would automatically mean that it’s justifiable for governments to ban ownership of private transport, good luck running an autocratic argument in a debate.
What calls is the nature of ownership and nature of items. Explanation for these two points should be detailed and thorough, and remember to use examples. It is imperative that this is done properly, as this is the foundation, the grounds, for the following arguments. Answer questions like, “when is an item allowed to be privately owned?” “what are the characteristics of such items?” “what kind of items are not allowed to be owned by individuals?” set up those parameters properly, and find out which nature of private transport fulfills those parameters. Once that is done, the burden of proof is satisfied.

Team Negative
Geographical bias: same case as Team Affirmative. Strategy for Team Negative, now, is paying attention to how Team Affirmative sets up the geographical context. A setup of this debate happening in first-world countries is to be expected, but don’t get your hopes up high too much! There might be a slight chance of Team Affirmative being greedy and trying to cover their worst-case scenario as well because they don’t want to be debating only on their best-case scenario (first-world countries).
What to do? Should Team Affirmative sets up the debate properly, then rejoice. Go by their setup and debate to your hearts’ contents. However, if things go south and they decide to broaden the debate by “all countries should…” then don’t consider performing a definition challenge. Sure enough, it makes Team Affirmative debate on some worst-case scenario of theirs and introduces you more space, but, don’t. Just don’t. Best-case scenario arguments are still best-case. It still benefits Team Negative. And, secondly, performing a definition challenge when the motion is still sort of in line with the original wording is very annoying in front of adjudicators. It changes the debate. You are no longer talking about the issue at hand but now the discussion shifts into vocabulary challenges and questioning the linguistic capabilities of your opponents (and, even more annoying, the adjudication core who chose the motion and the adjudicator sitting in front of you right now).

Argument 1: Mitigating harms of private transport ownership.
Warning: very geography-sensitive. Use discretion and your own judgment of where and when parts of this argument applies and where and when it goes out of context.
If Team Affirmative says, pollution, you say, hybrid cars. More explanations include how private transport are usually tended better, because it is individuals own cars, the sense of belonging and the feeling of care is greater. This translates to monthly maintenance, service, to something even as banal as checking the tires’ air pressure (having an optimal air pressure on your tires reduces fuel consumption and gas mileage, trust me).
If Team Affirmative says, traffic jam, you say, traffic jams shouldn’t be a problem in first-world countries with proper public transport modules. Another form of denial, although quite unorthodox, include analysis of what contributes traffic jam. True, to some extent, and worse, common knowledge, that the ownership of too many cars causes traffic jam. True also, that condition is deteriorated by rich people who decide that having 4 people in a car is a waste and choose to drive those ridiculously large, space-occupying cars individually instead. However, a different aspect of traffic jams include car breakdowns and inefficiency of public transport in their wasted movements. This meant, that, when an individual boards a bus from South and intends to go North, the bus will waste time going East and West first for their routine stops before actually arriving North. Compare to using private transport, there will be no wasted movements as the car will go straight from South-Center-North. Although this is a plausible reasoning, I personally wouldn’t recommend running this argument because of personal taste. But whatever.
Any other claims Team Affirmative come up with can be negated one way or another, but remember:

Argument 2: There is this equilibrium, which will happen eventually, no need for government interference.
Borrowing Adam Smith’s coined term of “invisible hand” in economics, traffic management should ideally be left to work its own way out eventually anyway. It might not be immediate, but the course of time will decide the optimum amount of buses and cars. Reasoning is pretty much simple: governments when being faced with traffic jam of course will have the incentive to buy/produce more buses (in the cases where bus occupancy reaches max). On cases where traffic jam happens but public transport occupancies are not utilized to the full, governments will decide to improve their public transport. Either it be their speed, or convenience, or hygiene, or comfort. This phenomenon (of improving public transport) will reach a point until individuals who own private transport will feel tired of driving on their own through traffic jams, and upon witnessing the quality of improved public transport, will opt to sell their own automobile and turn to buses and trains. Now, condition remains so until there is an abundance of high quality public transport (as well as their usage), leaving lots of free space on roads. So, what is stopping individuals from:

Argument 3: Exercising body autonomy.
The last piece of a classic argument. Prove to adjudicators that ownership of automobiles is no different from ownership of your organs. Or your shirt or glasses you are wearing right now. Or the hamburger or French fries you are eating right now. Explore the highest degree of body autonomy and to what extreme ends it can be exercised. Expect to see the clash of this Argument 3 vs Argument 3 to end up with both Team Affirmative and Team Negative having an agreement of “body autonomy loses its autonomy when it violates other parties’ rights”. This should extend the debate on to the degree of harm private transport poses to: (1) government’s interests (they want traffic controlled, they want congestion lessened, they want accidents to disappear), (2) fellow citizens (pollution side-effects, social gap) → by the way, check out and refer back to Team Negative Argument 1, and (3) their own selves (refer to the regulating function of taxes – governments have interests in curbing hedonistic and consumerist tendencies of its citizens) and it is also morally abhorrent to have individuals wanting to spend money they don’t have by borrowing credit they don’t have the ability to repay just in order to buy a car they aren’t going to use optimally with lots of substitutes in the form of buses they keep on forgetting to use even though buses are far better.

Some last notes, for both Team Affirmative and Team Negative:

Public transport debate is not always about driving. It’s also about parking. You can also talk about the spaces needed and involved and utilization of lands and other stuffs like that and such.


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