Argument Tier List Neg: NCFCA LD

Last week, we ranked the common arguments of NCFCA affirmatives for the resolution,

When in conflict, governments ought to value fair trade above free trade.

Read the tiers for affirmative arguments here. Now, we turn to the negative side.


Poverty Reduction Outweighs Everything

Millions of people around the world suffer because they can’t afford basic resources. Allowing the government to intervene with fair trade drives the price of these resources upward, since producers have to foot the bill for higher labor standards. Free trade keeps prices low. And while it may allow producers to be lax on worker treatment, it helps to extinguish the larger fire. There’s plenty of evidence available as to how free trade cuts poverty: you don’t have to look far to find it.

The Slingshot Effect

Affirmatives seem to have the upper hand by arguing that free trade gives abuse the green light (see sweatshops). But implementing strict regulations - while well-intentioned - forces companies to fire thousands of their employees to recoup their costs. On the streets, the jobless fall into fates far worse than sweatshops (such as brutal agricultural work or prostitution). Free trade isn’t perfect, but fair trade propels us deeper into suffering.


Buffer Values like Quality of Life

The strength of free trade is in how it helps the majority of people through creating economic opportunity. A broad value like quality of life allows you to shut down morality-type values by showing how your value is more robust: it accounts for everyone, and not just some abstract moral rules. This allows you to bring up the breadth of free trade’s success, and use that to outweigh any of its flaws.

Fair Trade Simply Doesn’t Work

This argument says that fair trade is little more than wishful thinking. Producers will do what they want: and raining them with strict regulations will only push them to cut new corners. Free trade may sometimes allow for weaker labor standards, but it’s the only method that’s proven to be effective at improving lives.


Redefining Fair Trade Definitions

At this point, most affirmative cases are defining themselves into one of two tracks:

  1. Fair trade regulates trade to protect domestic industry.

  2. Fair trade regulates trade to protect human rights.

Some negatives are arguing against the affirmative definitions in order to move the debate back into the track they prefer. Without a strong reason to prefer, this will fail. It’s wise to have a flexible negative case (or two: one for each specific definition).

Abuse Should be Solved Domestically

This argument says that countries should manage the abuse of workers domestically; it’s not up to us to boss other nations around. Maybe, but we’re strengthening the power of abusive producers when we buy from them. Pointing out that the local government lacks a conscience may not be enough to absolve us of any responsibility.


Regulation is Evil

Some negatives are arguing that freedom outweighs everything: regulating trade is so evil that we should avoid it at all costs. Barring a negative willing to fully defend anarcho-capitalism, this argument is going to be persuasively dicey. Most of your judges already will already accept some economic intervention (after all, no one likes monopolies) and trying to undermine that goes beyond your call of duty.

Fair Trade Creates Dependence

While admitting that fair trade reduces inequity in the short term, this argument says that other nations are now dependent on our trade policies to retain their stability. But it’s unclear why; do nations regularly revert back to allowing child labor at the sight of a fresh tariff? That seems unlikely.


Fair Trade is Communism

Opposing freedom doesn’t mean supporting autocracy or the abolition of private property rights. Fair trade is about changing rules on how we exchange goods. It doesn’t tell the military to put boots on the ground, or allow the state to declare martial law. Negatives need to do more than simply point to the word “free” in the resolution: compare fair trade with free trade and argue as to how the latter is the better choice.

Freedom Creates Fairness

You’re arguing that one system of trade beats another. It’s impossible to prove that with examples of how the two systems are compatible. Find the examples where freedom and fairness truly conflict with each other: then we’ll know how to make a choice.