Which "big issue" on this website are you most passionate about?

Posted by: PetersSmith

Find some of the most controversial debate topics covering a wide variety of issues ranging from politics and religion to education and society. The controversial debate topics are arranged in a pro-con format that allows keeping our debates organized and ensuring that both sides of a particular issue get equal exposure. The topics are always presented in a non-biased, equal-coverage approach.

Vote
23 Total Votes
1

Capitalism

Capitalism is an economic system that encourages individuals and all segments of society to profit from the ownership of processes that create goods and services or from investments in activities or services created by others. With the demise of the...  feudal system, capitalism gained acceptance in the Western World as a way for individuals to profit from their own ingenuity and abilities. The system opened the way for the private ownership of property as well as for the attendant problems that included wage labor conflicts, power relations and property rights. Political ideologies varied in degrees of influence, but most tended to agree that the government does not have a rightful place in the free practice of capitalism. By the 19th and 20th centuries, economic capitalism emerged as the most dominant form of the market system   more
7 votes
4 comments
2

None

Political apathy is the indifference on the part of any citizen of any country with regard to their attitude towards political activities. For example, politicians, elections, public opinions, civic responsibility, etc. A broader way of referring to...  political apathy in a country is to consider its political culture. By contrast, political culture is the behavioral disposition of people towards the government of their country vis-a-vis every other political activity. Political apathy, if left uncontrolled, can bring about stagnation to the development of any nation. An individual's political apathy begins with a lack of understanding of politics or government to a certain degree, and that makes it more difficult for that individual to see the value in universal suffrage, and to see the benefits and/or costs of new policies that the government places. That makes the individual see it as irrational to gain the knowledge, since there would be no benefit. This creates a feedback loop. Levels and distributions of political apathy are often hard to accurately assess   more
4 votes
0 comments
3

Gun Rights

The right to keep and bear arms fundamentally is the assertion that people, either individually or collectively as a militia, have a personal right to possess weapons. Often, but not always, the arms at the forefront of the conversation are firearms... , though other kinds of weapons are involved as well. Debates about the right to keep and bear arms also usually involve issues such as the right of individuals to defend themselves, their families and their property as well as issues such as the right to protect oneself even against one's own government   more
2 votes
2 comments
4

National Health Care

National health insurance, if established in the United States, would create a single payer health care system. This means that everyone would have the same health insurance card and that all medical expenses would be paid from a single fund. Under ... this type of system, the funds that pay for the medical expenses of the entire population are obtained from a number of sources. Employers, states and even private citizens must contribute to the fund. Many nations have established a national health insurance plan. The United Kingdom, for example, offers its National Health Service to all citizens. Australia also offers Medicare to all of its citizens. The Medicare plan of the United States is an example of a single payer system, but is currently available only to certain people. Establishing a national health insurance system would be similar to expanding Medicare to all people. There are several different forms of national health insurance. In Canada, healthcare services are offered by private parties that are under contract with the single payer. In the United Kingdom, doctors can work for anyone but all payment comes from one fund. Under most forms, the government serves as the single payer. There have been many proposals for a single payer national health insurance plan in the United States. The first proposal was made in the state of California in 1994. In Minnesota, there was a motion to pass a bill to implement state-wide single payer health insurance. This bill has already been passed by several committees. California and Illinois have also introduced similar bills. If the United States were to establish national health insurance, it would likely mirror the plans called for by these states but on a larger scale. Several private groups of medical professionals have also called for the establishment of a national health insurance system in the United States. Physicians for a National Health Program and the California Nurses Association are just two of these. The issue has been a source of great debate in the last few Presidential elections. In February of 2009, one poll indicated that 59 percent of physicians felt that national health insurance would be a positive change   more
2 votes
0 comments
5

National Retail Sales Tax

Fair Tax is a proposed major change in the tax laws of the United States of America. The plan was conceived by advocacy group Americans for Fair Taxation. Many Americans have heard of this proposed change and wonder what Fair Tax is, the History beh... ind Fair Tax and what affects Fair Tax would have on them and the economy in general. Fair Tax would first involve repealing many of the current taxes that Americans face including personal and corporate income tax, capital gains tax, payroll tax and gift and estate tax. There would also be a broad consumption tax on retail sales as well as other personal services and property. Nearly everything you purchased or used on a daily basis would be taxed through the Fair Tax program. A few exceptions would be in place; money that citizens save or invest or money they would spend on tuition would not be taxed. The fact that that savings and education is not being taxed makes saving for retirement and investing in education an even better way for Americans to spend their hard earned money   more
1 vote
1 comment
6

Euthanasia

Euthanasia is defined as the practice of ending a life prematurely in order to end pain and suffering. The process is also sometimes called Mercy Killing. Euthanasia can fall into several categories. Voluntary Euthanasia is carried out with the perm... ission of the person whose life is taken. Involuntary euthanasia is carried out without permission, such as in the case of a criminal execution. The moral and social questions surrounding these practices are the most active fields of research in Bioethics today. Many Supreme Court cases, such as Gonzales v. Oregon and Baxter vs. Montana, also surround this issue. Voluntary euthanasia is typically performed when a person is suffering from a terminal illness and is in great pain. When the patient performs this procedure with the help of a doctor, the term assisted suicide is often used. This practice is legal in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg. It is also legal in the state of Oregon, Washington and Montana. Passive euthanasia is carried out by terminating a medication that is keeping a patient alive or not performing a life-saving procedure. Active euthanasia involves the administration of a lethal drug or otherwise actively ending the life. These two types of procedures carry different moral and social issues   more
1 vote
0 comments
7

Abortion

Abortion involves terminating a pregnancy by the removing or expelling of a fetus or embryo from the uterus. This is sometimes due to the death of the fetus; however, it can also result in the death of it. Abortion is a very controversial topic beca... use its frequency of occurrence, legal, cultural and religious status varies extensively in different regions of the world. There are many high-profile groups that champion either pro-choice or pro-life, and such organizations bring up a host of issues to further their often political agenda. In the United States, pro-life groups favor greater legal restrictions on abortion, or even the complete prohibition of it. They argue that a human fetus is a human being with a right to live, so abortion is similar to murder. In contrast, pro-choice groups argue that a woman has certain reproductive rights, especially the choice on whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. One of the most common reasons why some women want to have an abortion is because they have the desire to delay childbearing because they themselves are young. Other reasons include not wanting to stop work or schooling and/or because of financial or relationship instability. These reasons are consistent across numerous countries, including America. Most abortions that occur in the United States are obtained by women of a minority race because they are having higher incidences of unintended pregnancies. In developing countries, women have the additional concern of health risks and complications that occur as a result of unsafe practices in medical settings. Some abortions happen because of societal pressures. This occurs to when there is little social support, when a specific gender of a child is preferred or when governments enforce population control, such as China's one child policy. It is suggested that sex-selective abortion could account for disparities between the birth rates of male and female children in some countries. Many countries in Asia like China, South Korea and India have cultures that prefer male children. When abortion occurs because of societal pressures, women sometimes have to resort to unsafe practices because the legalized healthcare route is not an option. As a result, countries that have restrictive abortive laws have more women that seek unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortions occur when they are performed by individuals without adequate medical skills or in an unhygienic environment. Such situations occur globally, and result in about 70,000 maternal deaths and 5 million maternal disabilities per year. Currently, laws regarding abortion are diverse and differ by states in the U.S. Some states have a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion can be carried out and require that information regarding fetal development is given out. The abortion debate also focuses on whether laws should be passed mandating that the pregnant woman has the consent of others, especially if the woman is a minor   more
1 vote
0 comments
8

Border Fence

The Mexico-United States barrier is the subject of a great deal of controversy in the United States. Also known as the border wall or border fence, it is constructed of several barriers that are intended to keep illegal Mexican immigrants from trave... ling across the border into the United States. The barriers were originally built as part of a three prong operation to curtail drug transportation routes from Latin America as well as illegal immigration. Operation Gatekeeper is in California, Operation Safeguard is in Arizona and Operation Hold-the-Line is in Texas. The placement of the barriers was a strategic effort to mitigate the flow of illegal border crossings into the Southwest part of the United States. Unfortunately, opponents of the barriers claim that they are a drain on taxpayers' money and more of a political gambit. They see the Mexico-United States barrier as an ineffective deterrent to illegal immigration that ultimately and inappropriately jeopardizes the safety and health of people seeking sanctuary in the United States. Other concerns involve the impact on the environment with regards to animal habitats and migration patterns. The border itself between Mexico and United States is fraught with a mix of urban and desert terrain and spans over 1,900 miles. Both the uninhabited areas of the border and urban areas are where the most drug trafficking and illegal crossings take place. Crime is prevalent in urban cities like El Paso, Texas and San Diego, California. The border is constructed of a series of short walls and virtual fence areas that are monitored by Border Patrol Agents through a system of cameras and sensors. In the last 13 years, over 5,000 migrant deaths occurred along the border according to a document from the Human Rights National Commission of Mexico. In 2005, United States Representative Duncan Hunter from California proposed a plan to construct reinforced fencing along the entire border, including a 100-yard border zone on the United States side. An amendment to the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 was passed that called for mandatory fencing along 698 miles of the border. As a result of the legislation, the government of Mexico, as well as ministers of several Latin American countries, condemned the construction plans. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, expressed his dissatisfaction and indicated that the border should be open with a technologically supported safe and legal migration. Residents of Laredo, Texas were also displeased as they were concerned about the economic ramifications of the fence   more
1 vote
1 comment
9

Environmental Protection

The environmental movement is a movement that pushes for the conservation of natural resources and the passing of legislation that promotes environmentally friendly behavior. Those who support the movement advocate sustainable management of resource... s as well as taking responsibility for the welfare of the environment through public policy and personal participation in efforts to preserve the earth and its resources. This movement can be traced back the 19th century when protectionists such as John Muir wanted to set aside land for its own sake. In order to do so, he founded the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental groups in the United States. He also founded Yellowstone Park, the world's first ever national park. Around this time, Gifford Pinchot also proposed managing natural resources for human use. Thoreau, a well-known poet, also was very concerned about environmental protection and wrote the poem Walden about the wildlife that he saw from his cabin   more
1 vote
0 comments
10

Gay Marriage

Same-sex marriage is defined as a union between two people who are of the same gender or biological sex. Since 2001, ten nations and other jurisdictions have made this type of union legal. Whether or not to recognize such marriages remains a source ... of debate as far as civil rights, political and social issues go   more
1 vote
1 comment
11

Electoral College

Since its creation, the Electoral College has faced debate between those who believe it benefits the electoral process and those who view it as detrimental. The Electoral College debate focuses around various issues, including the relevance of the p... opular vote, the allocation of voting power between states and how the system affects minority groups. Supporters of the Electoral College argue that one of the main benefits of the system is that it requires the winning candidate to have a broad appeal throughout the nation. By requiring candidates to appeal to voters throughout the country, the Electoral College prevents candidates from winning based on winning the support of urban areas alone, which would allegedly disenfranchise rural voters. In a similar way, proponents of the Electoral College argue that the current system empowers minority groups because it requires candidates to appeal to minority groups to win enough states to win the election. Supporters also claim that the current system is in line with the federal character of the US government. This is because the current system gives more voting power to less populous communities, and proponents of this view argue that even the opinions of a sparsely populated area should matter to the federal government. They take the position that the Electoral College provides for greater national stability. By requiring candidates to appeal to a broad collection of voters, new ideas and innovations have to meet with broad-based approval before those who hold those views can gain power in the government. Those who criticize the Electoral College often do so on the grounds that it makes the popular vote irrelevant and point to four elections, those in 2000, 1888, 1876 and 1824 where the candidate who won a victory through the electoral college did not have a plurality of the total votes cast. This is generally viewed by detractors of the Electoral College as not in line with the principles of a democratic society. Detractors also argue that the present system encourage candidates to appeal only to certain swing states in each election. They argue that instead of finding broad-based appeal, candidates tailor their campaigns to win over swing voters in a handful of states   more
1 vote
1 comment
12

Medical Marijuana

In the practice of medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, doctors recommend that their patients ingest cannabis and the cannabinoids which it contains, such as THC as a form of medicine or herbal treatment. The cannabis plant has been em... ployed in this fashion for centuries, with evidence coming from as early as ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, and in the 19th century, it was a very common pain reliever. However, since marijuana has become illegal in most parts of the world, many now dispute whether its potential medical benefits outweigh its risks. It is currently used in treatment for cancer and AIDS patients during end-of-life care as well as for people with glaucoma; the drug also may be appropriate for persons with PMS, insomnia, Tourettes syndrome and fibromyalgia. Research is in progress about how cannabis might benefit those who suffer from a number of other diseases as well   more
1 vote
1 comment
13

Term Limits

Term limits ensure that elected public officials cannot remain in power indefinitely. They do this by putting a restriction on the number of terms someone may be elected to a public office. Some term limit provisions only restrict the number of cons... ecutive terms a leader may serve; others limit the total number of terms over a lifetime. Lifetime terms limits are much more restrictive, since an official may never again be a candidate for an office in which she or he has served the limit of terms. On the other hand, a limit to serving consecutive terms means a politician could conceivably be re-elected to the same seat over and over as long as there was a break in between each period of service. The practice of term limits goes back at least as far as Ancient Greece and Rome, both societies which had elected officials rather than a royal family or a theocracy. Several modern presidential republics also enforce term limits on a variety of offices. For example, Mexico limits its president to one term of six years' duration, and its congress people cannot serve consecutive terms. The Russian Federation limits consecutive terms for its president to no more than two. In the United States, term limits date back to the colonial period, when William Penn provided for triennial rotation of the upper house of the colonial legislature in his Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties. Currently, the President of the United States can only serve two terms as provided for in Amendment 22 to the Constitution, but there are no restrictions on terms for the Vice-President or for members of Congress. There have, however, been calls for the introduction of term limits for other national offices in an effort to prevent one person, such as William Byrd in West Virginia or Teddy Kennedy in Massachusetts, from virtually holding an elected position for life. Within the United States, policies on term limits for officials elected to state or local offices vary, with some localities enforcing them and others having no such policy. Term limits are less common in countries that have a parliamentary republic rather than a presidential one, since the head of state often does not have a set term of office at all; instead, he or she can be taken out of power at any time upon losing the confidence and support of the parliament. However, even in a parliamentary system, some officials who serve a particular term may have the amount of time they can hold office limited   more
0 votes
0 comments
14

Redistribution

Redistribution of wealth is simply the transfer of wealth, property or income from one individual to another. This redistribution is caused by some social mechanism, such as nationalization, charity, taxation, welfare or tort law. Typically the redi... stribution is progressive, referring to a transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor. Redistribution is sometimes regressive, however, referring to a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. The redistribution debate is widely controversial, with both sides arguing a number of different pros and cons for the redistribution of wealth   more
0 votes
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15

Estate Tax

The inheritance tax, or estate tax, is a tax which the United States levies on the total taxable value of the estate of a deceased person. The amount of tax is calculated regardless of the method in which the assets of the estate are transferred to ... the person's heirs: assets included in a will, transferred automatically because the person died intestate or as an insurance benefit or account payoff. Inheritance tax is paid by the executor of the estate or by the person in charge of its assets. The United States has a consolidated policy on inheritance and gift tax so that a person cannot give away his or her estate to potential beneficiaries shortly before death in order to avoid taxation; beneficiaries would simply pay gift tax rather than inheritance tax in this case. The federal government makes a distinction between the "gross estate" (all assets) and the "taxable estate" (assets less a certain number of allowable deductions such as funeral expenses, some charitable contributions and various other deductions). In most cases, if the estate is left to a charitable organization or a surviving spouse, no inheritance tax is due. There are also exclusions for a certain portion of the estate; however, these have been frequently changed by recent tax legislation, and usually, it is worth consulting a professional to determine what amount of the estate is not taxable under current federal law. In part because these complexities make it possible for some wealthy people to establish shelters that let them avoid estate tax; the estate tax debate has been going on for years   more
0 votes
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16

Medicaid & Medicare

Individuals and families with low incomes are eligible for Medicaid, a United States health program jointly funded through federal and state initiatives. States often provide up to half the funding with some counties also contributing funds dependin... g on the state. Medicaid is managed by each state and serves certain categories of United States citizens as well as resident aliens. Categories include low income adults and their families, such as pregnant women, the elderly and people with specific disabilities. Poverty is not the only eligibility qualifier for the program. Medicaid is the largest funded medical and health program for people with a limited income in the United States. The fastest growing area of the program is nursing home coverage, which is expected to grow exponentially as the Baby Boomer generation reaches nursing home age between the years 2020 and 2040. This projected growth is a large concern for both state and federal budgets as the increase is expected to be quite large. The Medicaid program was created in 1965 as a result of the Social Security Act. Each state monitors its own program, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are responsible for establishing requirements related to funding, eligibility, quality and service delivery. Some states call Medicaid by another name. For example, Massachusetts calls it MassHealth and Oregon calls it the Oregon Health Plan. States may also bundle the administration of the program with other services like children's health insurance programs. States are not required to participate in Medicare but all of them have since 1982. The administration of the program is run differently from state to state with some subcontracting it to private health insurance companies while others pay providers directly for the services. Private companies are also used by some states to administer benefits and enroll eligible participants at a fixed price. Under the Social Security program, dental services are included. They are optional for adults over 21 but required for those under 21 who are eligible for Medicaid services. Dental services include dental health maintenance, teeth restoration and pain relief. Screening and preventative measures are incorporated for children to focus on the early diagnosis and treatment of any conditions. In 1990, the Omnibus Reconciliation Act created the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program. This program was effective on January 1 of the following year. It was formed due to the costs of outpatient drugs at discounted prices. Due to the recent recession in 2008 through 2009, Medicaid enrollment saw a large increase. In nine states, the enrollment was 15 percent or higher, which was a drain on their budgets. Even though Medicaid is a well-known program with numerous federal and state agencies monitoring its usage, in 2010, the FBI discovered fraud from an organized crime group that billed the system over $100 million   more
0 votes
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17

Military Intervention

Military intervention is used by the American government to control what the government perceives as a foreign conflict. Military intervention is often the target of protest as well. This multilateral protective intervention has a number of pros and...  cons   more
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18

Globalization

Globalization is the idea that people are now more connected across the globe than ever before. Goods and services are traded worldwide. Items from one part of the world are available in a large number of other nations. Travel between nations is als... o very frequent, leading to an increase in exchange of ideas and ideologies. Thus, ideas and culture are much more uniform worldwide than ever before, and many cultures have melded and meshed. The internet has contributed largely to globalization, as instant communication with anyone in the world is now possible. Whether or not globalization is good for the United States' economy is debatable, however   more
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19

European Union

The European Union is a group of 27 member politically and economically allied nations. The original union was based on the trade of coal and steel between six nations, but it has increased in size since 1958. The EU has a single market and a set of...  laws that apply in all states. People are allowed to move freely from state to state, and goods and services are also traded freely. In addition, the EU has its own currency, called the Euro. Over 500 million people live in the EU, which is about 7 percent of the world population. The GDP is about 16.2 billion US dollars. However, there is still some controversy regarding whether this is the best economic arrangement for these European nations. Many believe it benefits some nations and not others, but supporters argue that it enhances all economies and builds stronger cultural ties   more
0 votes
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20

Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve is the central banking system for the United States of America. Also known as the Fed, this system was created by Congress in 1913 under the Federal Reserve Act. Congress set out three key goals for the Federal Reserve: moderate ... interest rates, stable prices and maximum employment. Read on to learn about some of the pros and cons of the Fed   more
0 votes
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21

Free Trade

Free trade is an economic policy under which the government does not interfere with trade. No tariffs are applied to imports or exports, and people are allowed to trade goods and services as they please. Supply and demand dictates the prices for whi... ch goods and services sell and are the only factors that determine how resources are allocated in society. Under a free trade system, there are no trade barriers. There is free access to markets and market information, and there are no government-imposed monopolies   more
0 votes
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22

Global Warming

Global warming is defined as an increase in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere. This trend began in the middle of the 20th century and is one of the major environmental concerns of scientists and governmental officials worldwide. The ... changes in temperature result mostly from the effect of increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. These gasses, which include carbon dioxide and methane, are mostly produced through human activity   more
0 votes
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23

Gold Standard

In the gold standard system, the standard economic unit is a predetermined weight of gold. There are several types of gold standard systems, but none are currently used by any country as the basis for a monetary system. Some countries do, however, h... old significant reserves of gold, so the gold standard could potentially arise   more
0 votes
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24

Homeschooling

Homeschooling is rapidly growing in popularity, with the numbers increasing by at least 7 percent every year. There are currently approximately two million children homeschooled throughout the United States. Homeschooling is a hot topic, with a grea... t deal of pros and cons   more
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25

Iran-Iraq War

The Iran-Iraq war was an armed conflict between the nations of Iraq and Iran. This was also known in the United States as the First Persian Gulf War and lasted from September of 1980 until August of 1988. The war began when Iran invaded Iraq both by...  air and on land on September 22, 1980. This invasion followed a long history of border disputes as well as religious conflicts. There was an intense fear if Shia Muslim insurgency, which had been influenced by the Iranian Revolution. Iran held the offensive stance in the war for the majority of its duration. The United Nations Security Council did call for a cease fire, but this was ignored by hostiles on both sides. The war did not end until August 20, 1988 when the United Nations declared another cease fire. It took several weeks for all hostiles to settle down and for the last prisoners of war to be released. The Iran-Iraq War was one of the costliest wars in the history of the Middle East in terms of economic costs and lost lives. Over one half million Iraqi and Iranian soldiers were killed in the war and many civilians also lost their lives. The tactics used in war were similar to those used in World War I. Machine guns, barbed wire trenches, chemical weapons, and mustard gas were commonly employed. Much of the conflict in the Iran-Iraq War debate has to do with the support that the United States offered to the nation of Iraq. This backing began in 1982. Ronald Reagan decided that the US could not afford to let Iraq lose the war because of the oil the US was receiving from this nation. In order to keep Iraq from losing, the United States began sending equipment, medical supplies, and communications devices to Iraq. This soon escalated to the point where American soldiers were fighting on the Iraqi side. The United States took several military actions against Iran. Efforts were focused on isolating the nation as well as maintaining freedom of navigation in the surrounding waters. During Operation Earnest Will, the United States attacked oil platforms on Iranian territory. The US also sends its Navy into the nation's harbors and destroyed several Iranian gunboats and helicopters. The US did make one large blunder in its attacks. In 1988, United States' forces shot down a civilian aircraft that belonged to Iran. The Iranians maintained that this plane had been kept above national waters, but United States' forces insisted that it was in international waters and was mistaken for a military plane   more
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26

Flat Tax

A flat tax is a tax that is applied at a consistent rate with no variables in its application. In contrast with progressive or regressive taxes, where the rate levied varies by income or according to other parameters, a flat tax means that everyone ... pays the same percentage. Technically, flat taxes can be levied as sales or excise taxes, but usually the term refers to the proposal of a single rate for all taxes on personal income. This proposal has been brought forward for debate in the United States on several occasions over the past few decades, at times in the form of a flat tax on consumption, at other times in a modified form of income tax allowing for some deductions or adjustments, and finally, as a true flat tax on income with absolutely no exceptions. Jerry Brown, Tom Harkin and Steve Forbes are among the American politicians who have brought flat tax proposals into the public eye, although despite their efforts, no flat tax has ever been passed at the federal level   more
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27

Socialism

Socialism is a type of economic system in which society as a whole controls production and manages the economy. Under this type of economic system, goods and services are provided directly for use, instead of sold for profits and traded freely. Acco... unting is done in terms of physical quantities of goods and services, and distribution of the produced goods is based on an individual's contribution to the economy as a whole. There are many forms of socialism, the most familiar of which arose from the societies created by Marx and Lenin in Soviet Russia. Socialism often goes hand-in-hand with a communist government, but the distinction is that communism is a form of government while socialism is an economic system   more
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28

Internet Censorship

Censorship refers to any action taken by a society to control access to ideas and information. Throughout history, many different types of societies, including democracies, have used censorship in various ways. The issue is increasingly important du... e to the rapid development of new communication technology. As innovators continue to create new ways for people to share information, many people are now arguing over the issue of censorship   more
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29

United Nations

The United Nations is an organization that focuses on developing and enforcing international laws and policies. The main goals of the UN are to achieve peace, social progress and economic development. The organization was founded after the end of Wo... rld War II in 1945 as a way of replacing the failing League of Nations. There are currently 192 nations that are a member of the United Nations, and this includes all sovereign nations in the world except the Vatican. The Headquarters of the United Nations is located in New York City in the United States; the current President is Li Baodong of China. The UN has several assemblies. The General Assembly is the main body of the UN and meets yearly. Each session lasts several weeks. During the first two weeks, all members are given the opportunity to address the assembly and bring items to the attention of the board. The General Assembly also votes on important issues. A two-thirds majority is needed in order to approve a law, an election or expulsion of a member. The Security Council is a division of the United Nations whose goal is to maintain peace between nations. This is the only council with the power to make binding decisions which the members must carry out. All other councils can only make recommendations. Fifteen nations have members on the Security Council. Five of these are permanent and ten are temporary. China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States are the only permanent members. The International Court of Justice is a division of the United Nations that is responsible for international trials and legal decisions. Its headquarters are located in the Netherlands. This court has heard cases of war crimes, ethnic cleansing and the like. The International Criminal Court is a division that began operation in 2002. This court judges those who have tried to commit war crimes and genocide across several nations and have violated international law in doing so. The United Nations also includes several specialized agencies that work on particular issues. For example, the World Health Organization is dedicated to improving the health status of those in impoverished nations and ensuring that nations provide adequate health care for their citizens. Funding for the United Nations comes from voluntary donations by member nations. The General Assembly is responsible for overseeing the budget and determining the capacity of each nation to pay based on their gross domestic product, or GDP. Less developed nations are asked to contribute less and instead advised to use their resources to improve the status of their nations   more
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30

Civil Unions

A civil union is a legally recognized union similar to that of marriage. This type of union is also sometimes referred to as a registered partnership. The first civil union laws were passed in Denmark in 1989, and many other jurisdictions have since...  followed suit. There are many reasons why a nation would adopt civil union laws, but the most common are to allow for same-sex couples' rights and to require the same responsibilities of same-sex couples as those that are required of opposite-sex couples. Many nations recognize civil unions as separate from regular marriages. These include Austria, Greenland, Ireland, New Zealand, Finland and many others. In the United States, civil unions are recognized but are not performed. Whether or not they should be recognized or performed in the United States remains a source of great controversy. The terms used to define civil unions are not uniform from nation to nation. The exact rights granted to partners under these unions vary. Some jurisdictions allow them to adopt children, while others reject this notion, usually on the grounds that it is not healthy to raise a child in the midst of a homosexual relationship   more
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31

Drug Legalization

Drug liberalization is a term that refers to the elimination of laws that prohibit drug use. There are several types of drug liberalization, but the most common are drug decriminalization and drug re-legalization. Drug re-legalization is a process t... hat calls for an end to the government-enforced prohibition of certain substances. This ranges from full legalization, which would completely remove all control, to partial legalization, which means that drugs would be available but only under controlled circumstances   more
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32

Animal Rights

Animals are used for research in a variety of settings, including tests to determine the safety of drugs, cosmetics and other substances. Whether or not humans should use animals for testing purposes, however, is a controversial subject. There are b... oth pros and cons to using animals for testing, but the scientific community, the government and society in general have yet to reach a consensus on this ethical issue. One of the primary advantages of animal testing is that it allows researchers to develop new medications and treatments, advancing the field of medicine and enhancing the health of society. For instance, many drugs used to treat or prevent cancer, HIV, diabetes, infections and other medical maladies have resulted from tests performed on animals. Many proponents of animal testing support the practice for this reason, even if they do not support testing cosmetics or other non-essential substances on animals. Animal testing also enables scientists and researchers to test the safety of medications and other substances with which humans have regular contact. Drugs, for instance, may pose significant risks to humans, so testing them on animals first gives researchers a chance to determine drugs' safety before human trials are performed. While scientists are cognizant of the differences between humans and animals, the similarities are considered significant enough to produce relevant, useful data that they can then apply to humans. Thus, animal testing reduces harm to humans and saves lives, not only because the exposure to risky substances is minimized, but because resulting medications and treatments have such positive impacts on the overall quality of life experienced by humans   more
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33

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action programs are created in an attempt to make sure that all groups within a given society have the same opportunity to succeed. The term "affirmative action" was coined by President John F. Kennedy and expanded by President Lyndon Jo... hnson. Although different terms are used for affirmative action in different nations, the concept is the same; affirmative action means making sure that active steps are taken so that minority groups are represented and hired in organizations, government and businesses. Employment decisions, admission to educational institutions, public health policies and other arenas have all been affected by a commitment to affirmative action. Instituting an affirmative action policy comes from a particular assessment of a nation's past; it is seen as necessary as a compensatory measure in cultures that have a history of discrimination or of withholding economic opportunities based on race or national origin. While some countries refuse to participate in affirmative action because they have so-called "color-blind" laws mandating that all races simply be treated equally, other countries feel that favoring previously oppressed groups, often called "reverse discrimination," at least for a period of time, is the only way to restore complete equality in the long term. This belief can lead to the adoption of hiring quotas in which a certain number of hires or appointments must come from previously under-represented groups of people. In the United States, affirmative action has been widely practiced, but nearly as widely critiqued   more
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34

Legalized Prostitution

Prostitution is defined as the act of providing sexual services to a person in exchange for money, goods or other services. Worldwide, this practice produces over $100 billion in revenue annually. Prostitution practices vary greatly from country to ... country. Prostitution is legal in some countries; however, prostitution is considered so serious a crime that it is punishable by death in other countries. Currently, prostitution is illegal in the United States with the exception of a few small jurisdictions in Nevada. Some believe that legalizing this industry would bring many benefits, while others have identified many negatives of legalized prostitution   more
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35

Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th President of the United States, and was sworn into office in November of 2008. Prior to his election to the Presidency, he served as a Senator for the state of Illinois. He is the first African American president and...  was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961. Obama is a graduate of Harvard Law School and also holds a degree from Columbia University. He is a member of the Democratic Party and serves alongside Joe Biden, the current Vice President of the United States of America. He has a wife named Michelle and two children named Malia and Sasha. Like many US Presidents before him, Obama has many fans and critics who have varying opinions of his political tactics and ability to rule the nation   more
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36

Progressive Tax

A system based on a progressive tax collects tax revenue from individuals in proportion to their ability to pay. Citizens with higher earnings are taxed at a higher rate, while poorer people pay a lower percentage of their income in tax. In other wo... rds, the tax rate progresses from lower to higher. Progressive tax can be implemented by selective taxation, tax credits or other adjustments, and it can also be modified by other factors in a nation's tax system, but most commonly the term refers to a tiered income tax that shifts more of the revenue burden onto the wealthy   more
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37

Death Penalty

Criminal punishment is a huge source of controversy in the United States. Opponents often argue that innocent people are sometimes executed and that the main motive is revenge, not true justice. Those who support the death penalty debate that the pu... nishment offers retribution for victims of murder and is more cost efficient than offering life sentences in prison. Whether or not the death penalty will remain legal in the United States has yet to be seen   more
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38

War on Terror

The War on Terror is an international campaign to end terrorism. The effort is overseen by the United States and the United Kingdom and also receives much support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. The effort has included several ... wars, most recently the Iraq War and also the War in Afghanistan. It is being fought predominantly in the Middle East, but also in Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. The War on Terror officially began on October 7, 2001 and was spurred by the attack on the World Trade Center of the United States on September 11, 2001. The initial phase of the War on Terror was the War in Afghanistan. This resulted in the fall of the Taliban government as well as the destruction of the Al 'Qaeda camps. The Iraq War began in 2003 and has resulted in the overthrow of the Baath Party government as well as the execution of Saddam Hussein, the nation's former leader. Free elections and a democratic government have been instated in Iraq, but insurgency and loss of civilian lives continues. The phrase "War on Terror" was initially used by President George W. Bush. However, it has not been used by the administration of President Barack Obama. Instead, this administration prefers to refer to the effort as the Overseas Contingency Operation. This is largely because the concept of a war on terror has been criticized for its lack of a framework and defined enemy   more
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39

Labor Union

A trade union, or as it is sometimes called a labor union, is when a group of workers band together to achieve goals related to their job. Trade Unions are often in the news, especially when they are striking or picketing. However, many people do no... t know the history behind these organizations, what they do for members and the pros and cons of trade unions. Trade unions originated in Europe during the industrial revolution. Because of the machinery that had become commonplace, skilled labor became less in demand so employers had nearly all of the bargaining power. Employers mistreated the workers and paid them too little for the work they did. Trade unions were organized that would help in the improvement of working conditions. The concept of the trade union has evolved over the last one hundred years, but the underlying concept is the same. Union members want their employers to treat them with respect and pay them a fair wage. During the early and middle portions of the twentieth century, laborers were a major force in America and around the world. They have lost some of their influence in the past few decades, mainly because of financial struggles. The largest union organization in the United States today is AFL-CIO, which has millions of members across the country. What do trade unions do for their members? It varies from union to union, and not every union will offer every type of benefit. Unemployment benefits and insurance are very common benefits and are useful to members in many industries. Collective bargaining and industrial action allow members to negotiate with their employers over wages and working conditions. A final activity that many unions participate in is supporting candidates or lobbying for laws to be passed or repealed   more
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40

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage is defined as the lowest amount that employers can legally pay their workers per hour of labor. Most jurisdictions do have laws in place to enforce a minimum wage. However, there are both benefits and drawbacks of this type of policy. M... any supporters of minimum wage say that it increases the standard of living and keeps people out of poverty. Those who are opposed to it tend to believe that it increases unemployment and harms the less skilled workers. The first minimum wage law was passed in New Zealand in 1894. Since then, many other nations have adopted similar policies. In the United States, the current minimum wage is $7.25. The state of Washington has chosen to establish a higher minimum wage of $8.67. These rates are not established randomly. In fact, they are the result of much research in the areas of economics, standard of living and inflation. Labor supply and the effects of rising unemployment are also considered when establishing minimum wage. Minimum wage laws were established and are upheld with certain goals in mind. Those who support minimum wage laws usually believe that these goals are being adequately achieved and that this alone is enough justification to keep the laws in place. Minimum wage was initially established to reduce poverty. Establishing a minimum wage in the United States helped do away with sweat shops and insures that people are paid properly for their work. Minimum wage also protects younger workers and minorities from being paid less than others to some extent   more
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41

Torture

Terrorists have killed thousands of people across the globe. These deaths are undeserved, and as a result many people push for the torture of terrorists in order to uncover information to prevent future attacks. The torture debate, however, is hugel... y controversial subject in modern society   more
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42

Social Programs

A welfare state is generally one in which the state takes on the primary role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. The welfare state concept has its foundation in the principles of equitable distribu... tion of wealth, public responsibility for those unable to adequately care for themselves and equality of opportunity. Although some might argue that there is a United States welfare state, this is actually a point of much debate and contention as some would contend that the United States is not a welfare state, but instead, is a welfare society because so much of the American welfare system is provided by private corporations, private charities and independent volunteers as opposed to by the government   more
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43

Occupy Movement

The Occupy movement is an international movement with the goals of enhancing social and economic equality. One of the movement's main objectives is to reorganize the power relations in society in order to close the gap between the rich and the poor....  There are many local divisions of the Occupy movement; each has some of its own goals and aspirations. However, one of the unifying concerns is the large degree of control that financial systems have in the world economy and the fact that only a small minority of people benefit from this economic arrangement. Those who support the Occupy movement believe that this arrangement undermines democracy and makes the government and world economy unstable. The Occupy movement relies on picketing, general strikes and demonstrations to make its goals known. Participants are known to camp out for weeks or even months in large cities and form tent communities in which they live and promote their cause. Their slogan is "We are the 99 percent." Occupy movements have sprung up in many nations, such as New Zealand, Malaysia, Germany, France, England, the United States and even Norway   more
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44

War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan (2001-present) began when the United States military invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. This war is still in progress today after 9 years and 166 days. It has since been known by several other names including The War on T... error and Operation Enduring Freedom. The war was spurred by the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and remains an ongoing conflict. The invading troops were led by the United States with the support of the North Atlantic Free Trade Organization, or NATO. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, Poland, Turkey, Spain, Romania, and 39 other nations all contributed to the initial effort. Over 146,000 troops were sent into Afghanistan from these various nations. The main enemies at the start of the war were the Taliban government of Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, a large terrorist organization that was behind the September 11th attacks. Other terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hi-Khalis were also targeted. New terrorist organizations have since been discovered and are being targeted as they are found. The War on Terror has had many successes. The Taliban was dispersed and over two thirds of its leadership was destroyed. Many Al Qaeda camps were destroyed, though there are still suspicions that the Al Qaeda is still in operation from remote locations. Afghanistan was also occupied by NATO troops, which helps ensure that new terrorist groups are not coming into power. The war is still being fought adamantly, despite reduced media coverage in recent years. In December of 2009, President Obama sent an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan over a 6 month period. He also set a withdrawal date of 2014. He has promoted human rights and progress towards increased rights for women in Afghanistan as well. Another goal of the War on Terror has been to improve the human rights or women and children in Afghanistan. The Taliban Party was infamous for denying women any rights and committing violence against women and girls. To this day, women in this nation have poor access to the justice system and to education. They are also often subject to physical violence. The United States and its allies hope to improve this situation   more
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45

Smoking Ban

A smoking ban is a public policy that includes criminal laws and health regulations that prohibit smoking in certain public places and workspaces. There are varying definitions of smoking employed in this legislation. The strictest definitions defin... e smoking as being the inhalation of any tobacco substance while the loosest define smoking as possessing any lit tobacco product. There are many reasons why smoking bans originated, but most of these have medical origins. Research has shown secondhand smoke is almost as harmful as smoking in and of itself. The effects of secondhand smoke are relatively the same as smoking. Lung disease, heart disease, bronchitis and asthma are common. Those who live in homes with smokers have a 20-30 percent higher risk of developing lung cancer than those who do not live with a smoker. Many see it as unfair that others have to suffer the effects of secondhand smoke when they are not able to make the decision for exposur to it. Non-smokers who worked with smokers experienced a 16-19 percent increase in lung cancer rates. In this case, the worker had no choice but to face exposure to the smoke. Smoking bans remove these risks for many people. The National Cancer Institute, Surgeon General of the United States and National Institutes of Health all support smoking bans because of the statistics of second-hand smoke. Smoking bans are also imposed because they improve air quality in restaurants and other establishments. In New York, it is now illegal to smoke in all hospitality venues. Studies by the Center for Disease Control have shown the air quality in New York establishments to be nine times higher than those in New Jersey where smoking remains legal. Studies have also shown employees are exposed to far fewer toxins in areas where smoking is banned in the workplace. In Norway, tests showed a decrease in the nicotine levels of both smokers and nonsmokers when smoking bans were enacted in the workplace   more
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46

Racial Profiling

Racial profiling is a phrase often used in law enforcement or the court system to refer to the use of a person's ethnicity or race to decide on whether to engage in some type of legal proceeding. The act itself is very controversial and considered b... y many as illegal and inappropriate   more
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47

Stimulus Spending

On February 13, 2009 the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 was passed by the United States Congress. The act is also known as President Obama's stimulus package and was only approved by three Republicans in all of Congress. The package, c... omposed of $787 billion in tax reductions and expenditures for education, energy, infrastructure, health care and many other projects, was created to help get the U.S. economy out of the recession by creating several million jobs and replacing money in the economy. Read on to learn more about the major ups and downs to the stimulus package   more
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48

Social Security

Broadly, the term social security refers to social insurance programs providing protection against socially recognized conditions such as disability, old age, poverty and unemployment. Different countries utilize different systems for protecting aga... inst these conditions. When used in the United States, the term social security generally refers to the federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance program though the Social Security Act, as it has been amended, actually provides for additional programs, such as Medicare (Health Insurance for Aged and Disabled) and Unemployment Insurance. Social Security as an American social insurance program is funded through dedicated payroll taxes that are deposited into special trust funds established for that purpose. The United States Social Security program is the largest government program in the world in terms of dollars paid. The payment of retirement benefits is the largest single component of the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance program. The amount of benefits a worker is entitled to upon retirement depends on the worker's age at retirement and his earnings history. Revenue from payroll taxes has been the primary source of revenue for this program since its inception   more
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49

Welfare

There are many types of welfare systems in various countries. For example, welfare can be implemented via social organizations like religious groups, through the governments at the local and national level, and though inter-governmental agencies lik... e the United Nations. Welfare has a special political meaning the United States because it refers to how the poor receives financial aid. In comparison, welfare services are regarded as a universal right in other regions like Europe, where it is believed that all citizens should be able to obtain a minimal level of social support and well being. This view of social solidarity prevalent in Europe implies that their people believe that welfare should be guaranteed for both rich and poor people, regardless of social status. In the United States, the welfare system arose during the Great Depression, in the 1930s. In the 1960s, the Great Society legislation was passed, such that for the first time, people that were neither elderly nor disabled could receive benefits from the US government. These living benefits could involve general and special payments for certain circumstances (e.G. Young mothers and pregnant women), food stamps, Medicaid health care and housing benefits. During the period, welfare was initially regarded as an open ended right. This led people to believe that states had limitless welfare funds from the federal government. As a result, states did not have any incentive to encourage people to get off welfare and were not selective in how they gave away welfare funds. However, welfare reform changed it into a finite program which was created to provide cash assistance for the short term only, so that people would eventually take up stable jobs instead. In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act so individual states regained control of the welfare system. Although the federal government does not retain control of welfare, the states still have to adhere to basic requirements, for example, each state must ensure that recipients are encouraged to find adequate jobs so they do not remain in welfare   more
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(Maximum 900 words)
tajshar2k says2015-05-13T15:02:20.1160911-05:00
There is more than one, but I think National Health Care is one of the big ones.
Harper says2015-05-13T15:17:45.8216903-05:00
Very good poll idea.
Midnight1131 says2015-05-13T15:21:31.7180357-05:00
PeterSmith, which one would you choose?
Reeseroni says2015-05-13T15:39:42.8438232-05:00
PetersSmith, you make really in-depth polls and such, but it seems like you haven't voted on one for nearly a year. It doesn't really matter, and ofc I didn't go through your profile and look through all your poll votes, but y don't you like sharing your opinions?
Vox_Veritas says2015-05-13T15:54:01.2270396-05:00
I never understood why the Iraq-Iran War was a "big issue". It ended before the year 1990 and today its impact on the world is quite minimal.
tajshar2k says2015-05-13T15:54:57.3522993-05:00
Actually that war lead to the Gulf War, which lead to Iraq 2003.
Vox_Veritas says2015-05-13T15:55:13.9787055-05:00
I mean, WW2 still has a present impact on the world. Why not make that a big issue?
Voxol says2015-05-13T19:02:10.1763391-05:00
I'm just imagining how long this took you to make
briantheliberal says2015-05-13T20:14:03.7488854-05:00
Hard to choose, so many.
PetersSmith says2015-05-13T20:14:35.1508916-05:00
I don't understand why this is so one-sided.
MechVarg says2015-05-13T20:15:17.4475764-05:00
It's easy, really
Diqiucun_Cunmin says2015-05-13T20:15:50.8206133-05:00
@Brian: Maybe gay marriage?
Heraclitus says2015-05-15T16:02:28.3851747-05:00
Second most important issue to me is the European Union. I am extremely Con.

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