From Latin, the word controversial refers to “turning away.” In the dictionary, the word “controversial” refers to a public dispute or disagreement. Physiologically, controversial issues tend to arouse more passion in people than reason. Psychologists have discovered that in something controversial, when given the same evidence, several scientific reports can come up with several differing conclusions. That’s fascinating to think about.
Today, we have many no-brainer decisions to make. Eating is a no-brainer. Nationally, it’s a no-brainer that everyone should get an ID card, and that every citizen should present an ID card at the voting booth. It just makes sense that everyone should receive equal pay for equal work.
But what about the tough questions? Why would you want to go through the trouble? why would you want to argue to exhaustion? As people are exploding over the issues, many are taking an interest in speaking up. And many are taking an interest in having no opinion at all. Because on these 10 issues, every vote really does count. That can get exhausting. But as it turns out, I’ve laid out all the controversy for you in a lucid manner. All it takes is a little empirical evidence. Read on and you’ll find I picked my topics well. Because for every person who agrees with you, there’s another person who disagrees. Because someone is bound to “turn away.” And someone may not like what you have to say. Here’s 10 concise and nonpartisan overviews on today’s most controversial issues facing the United States, and with that, also the world.
10. “Mexico, We Have An Immigration Problem”
Across all major party lines we are seeing a strong push for decisive action and clear stances on illegal immigration. How do we secure our borders when as much as 31,000 people are entering the United States illegally every day? On the right we are seeing a push for deportation actions. And on the left, the proposed solution is to grant a path to citizenship. And that path could come with a strike system, plus higher standards for those looking to assimilate themselves on American soil. Essentially, no matter how you spin it, we are dealing with a criminal element.
Leading academic and political institutions estimate that building a giant wall could cost the American economy more than $25 billion. And many criticize the skilled labor (H-1B visa) program as being essentially an outsourcing program. One that pays lower wages to foreign workers who otherwise could have been American citizens. The numbers don’t add up.
Fracking was officially invented in 1947 by the Stanolind Oil and Gas Corporation. To “frack” means to inject a specialized fluid into a wellbore, which creates fractures in the source rock. These fractures produce an extraordinary amount of natural gas and petroleum. Between 1990 and 2007, advancements in fracking technology allowed natural gas production to increase by 450% in Colorado. Fracking offers new jobs. And it could make the United States domestically energy independent by 2020.
Inevitably, fracking conflicts with the interests of local residences and environmentalists. Imagine… four-and-a-half years of noise pollution and small earthquakes. Citizens have complained of immune system problems, respiratory problems, nausea, joint pain, headaches, loss of coordination, and liver and kidney damage… and they blame fracking! However, the current data determines there is a low risk of harmful health effects from fracking. And problems are likely the result of “substandard well completion practices,” i.e. poor pipes.
8. “Stop having intercourse” or “Use our free birth control”?
Obamacare was one of the most significant healthcare reforms the United States could ever imagine. In comparison to the previous decade, young adults today are more likely to have insurance, see a primary care doctor, and keep up good health. Yet, Obamacare’s mandate for “additional preventative care” touched on a raw nerve. With blurry lines between conservative and liberal ideologies, both parties alternate between “just stop having sex” and “this cuts down on abortion.”
However, it is not much of a revolution. This is an evolving issue going back to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, then evolving into the pre-Obamacare EEOC ruling that if a company provides prescription drugs it should also administer birth control, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Additionally, before Obamacare ever existed, 28 states already had legislation mandates requiring health insurance to supply birth control . So would it honestly be more effective to expect people to “stop having sex,” or use free birth control?
7. Offshore Drilling… The Environment, and Energy Independence
In 2008, George W. Bush released the 1990 ban on offshore drilling issued by his dad George H. W. Bush, Sr. In 1965, America was importing only 20% of its crude oil. Stuff happened, and that statistic jumped to 60% in 2005. But now, America is decreasing its offshore oil production. In 2013, the United States imported only 35% of its crude oil. How did that happen? Thank the “shale oil boom”… and fracking! We’ve fracked the hell out of domestic oil fields.
What about the environment? Offshore drilling causes many minor oil spills that never receive media attention. The biggest was the Deepwater Horizon explosion. It killed 11 workers.
In a 2008 speech, Obama told an audience, “What wouldn’t do a thing to lower gas prices … is to open up Florida’s coastline to offshore drilling”. No short-term benefits he said. “Offshore drilling would not lower gas prices today…tomorrow…five years from now.” Many experts agree.
6. The Confederate Flag
One person says it’s a symbol of hate; another will say it is a symbol of southern culture. But after the 2015 murder of nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church, by white supremacist Dylann Roof, the flag fell back into the spotlight.
“The people who are angry about [taking down] the flag don’t like Washington telling South Carolina what we should be doing,” said Republican Mike Burns. Many people agree with the sentiment. But the flag’s days are waning.
Hilary Clinton tweeted a message saying, “[It] is right 2 call for removal of a symbol of hate in SC. As I’ve said for years, taking down Confederate flag is long overdue. -H” And Trump told CBS News, “I think they should put it in the museum and let it go… Respect whatever it is you have to respect, because it was a point in time, and put it in a museum. But I would take it down. Yes.”
5. “Gun Control” vs. “Gun Rights”
Gun control is one of the most complicated, entangled, and maybe the most complex issue on this list. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” It’s only one sentence. But the Supreme Court has deliberated upon and mitigated gun control for over 150 years. Interpreting the 2nd and 14th amendments is a convoluted business. One morning in 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza murdered his mother. Then he went on to murder six elementary school staff, and 20 school children. The children were only six or seven years old.
In gun control, the same key issues continue to emerge. Many focus on making the Universal Background Check System more comprehensive. There’s also “Stand Your Ground” laws, concealed handgun permit laws, and gun-free zoning laws. Some say increase gun rights and you’ll protect people from maniac gunmen. What if teachers could carry guns? Others say make it harder to buy a gun.
4. What Do We Do About ISIS?
ISIS traces back to a 1999 jihadist group, JTJ, who participated in the Iraq insurgency. They joined forces with other insurgent groups to form ISI in 2006, and finally ISIL, or ISIS, in April 2013. ISIS are basically Muslim extremists. They believe everyone (all Muslims at least) should believe everything they read, word for word. ISIS is not just an idea, they control real land, including parts of Iraq, Syria, other small parts of the Middle East, and approximately 3 to 8 million people. That’s enough people to constitute a small country.
ISIS is a terrorist organization as defined by the United Nations and the EU. As of now, there is a major coalition of about 60 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Denmark, etc. who all support the end of ISIS’ reign of terror. In 2014, ISIS overthrew the Iraqi government, captured key cities, and killed 2,000 -5,000 Iraqis. This event propelled the U.S. to deploy troops to Iraq.
3. Syrian Refugees
“There was bombing everywhere you went. We reached a point where we could either choose to die or leave,” explained a Syrian refugee to a Vice reporter. 31 states protested letting in Syrian refugees. But the final decision rests with the federal government. The U.S. State Department has already announced its decision to take in 10,000 refugees.
Many have concerns that there’s no comprehensive examination process. Or that we could be letting in terrorists. A real-world example was 25-year-old Ahmad al-Mohammad. He stole a passport from a dead Syrian soldier and made his way to Paris posing as a Syrian refugee. He went on to take part in the attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people. The refugees will be mostly Muslim. Only a very small percentage will be Christians. Bernie Sanders called it “Islamophobia.” Trump disagrees saying, “We can’t have another problem and this could be one of the great Trojan horses.”
2. Student Loans
In 2010 the student loan debt was $830 billion, and exceeded the national credit card debt. Five years later, student loan debt had risen to $1.3 trillion. Today, the national debt is about $18 trillion. “I have more education and more degrees than my father, as does [my fiancee] than her parents, and yet our parents are better off than we are. What’s wrong with this picture?” asked Zbylut, a frustrated law school student, to a media outlet. Mark Kantrowitz (FinAid.org) says student loan debt is growing $3,000 per second. Today, over half of student loans are “3D”: deferred, delinquent, or defaulted.
And college costs keep rising. Some experts say this is contributing to the increasing gap between rich and poor. The only debt of a greater extent was the mortgage crisis of the great recession. Most people agree the government should increase federal funding for higher education. No one agrees on exactly how to do that.
1. A Total and Complete Shutdown
On December 2, 2015, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a Muslim couple, perpetrated a mass shooting inside the Inland Regional Center in California and killed 14 people. Shortly after, Obama gave an address in which he opined the shooting as an “act of terrorism.” Further investigation revealed Malik immigrated to the U.S. after passing several extensive national security checks.
Donald Trump went on to call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The reaction was global. The Pentagon, who rarely speak out, stated anything pitting “the United States against the Muslim faith is certainly not only contrary to our values but contrary to our national security.” Britain and France’s prime ministers disapproved. Egypt disapproved. The White House admonished Trump and called his statements unconstitutional. But polls still show that two-thirds of GOP voters sympathize with Trump’s statement, or more eloquently, an intense immigration policy.