Table of Contents
TAKING SIDES: Clashing Views on Social Issues
Sixteenth Edition, Expanded
Unit 1 Culture and Values
- Issue 1. Does the News Media Have a Liberal Bias?
YES: Fred Barnes, from Is Mainstream Media Fair and Balanced? Imprimis (August 2006)
NO: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., from Crimes Against Nature (HarperCollins, 2005)
Fred Barnes, journalist, executive editor of The Weekly Standard and TV commentator, argues that the mainstream media has a pronounced liberal bias. They do not hire conservatives, and an analysis of specific news stories shows their bias. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., environmentalist and political activist, agrees with Barnes that the media is biased but believes that it has a conservative bias. Surveys show that most Americans have many false beliefs that are fed to them by conservative talk radio shows and other conservative media outlets. Many media owners are very conservative and stifle investigative reporting.
- Issue 2. Is Third World Immigration a Threat to Americas Way of Life?
YES: Mark Krikorian, from The New Case Against Immigration (Sentinel, 2008)
NO: Jason L. Riley, from Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders (Gotham, 2008)
Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, presents the case against immigration. He emphasizes the changes in America that make immigration less beneficial for America. The current immigrants are not much different than immigrants in the past century but they do not fit the new America as well as the past immigrants fit the old America. One part of the story is that the new America will not assimilate immigrants well. Jason L. Riley, an editor of the Wall Street Journal, applauds immigration because it will propel, not impede, economic growth. America has a flexible labor market, where both employers and employees can change the work situation as they need or desire. In the end, employers, workers, and consumers are all better off. America has a labor shortage that immigrants help fill without taking jobs in the aggregate from Americans. Riley also argues that new immigrants assimilate much like the old immigrants did.
Unit 2 Sex Roles, Gender, and the Family
- Issue 3. Does Divorce Have Long-Term Damaging Effects on Children?
YES: Elizabeth Marquardt, from The Bad Divorce, First Things (February 2005)
NO: Constance Ahrons, from Were Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say about Their Parents Divorce (Harper Collins, 2004)
Elizabeth Marquardt, Director of the Center for Marriage and Families, defends the common belief that divorce has devastating impacts on children and attacks Constance Ahronss counter-thesis. Constance Ahrons, co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, found in her research on the children of divorced parents that they do quite well in later life and most think that they were not harmed by the divorce.
- Issue 4. Does the Mommy Track (Part-Time Work) Improve Womens Lives?
YES: E. Jeffrey Hill, Vjollca K. Märtinson, Maria Ferris, and Robin Zenger Baker, from Beyond the Mommy Track: The Influence of New-Concept Part-Time Work for Professional Women on Work and Family, Journal of Family and Economic Issues (2004)
NO: Mary C. Noonan and Mary E. Corcoran, from The Mommy Track and Partnership: Temporary Delay or Dead End? The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2004)
Brigham Young University colleagues E. Jeffrey Hill and Vjollca K. Märtinson, along with Maria Ferris of IBM and Robin Zenger Baker at Boston University, suggest that women in professional careers can successfully integrate family and career by following a new-concept part-time work model. In contrast, Mary C. Noonan, an assistant professor in the department of sociology at the University of Iowa, and Mary E. Corcoran, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan, document the various costs of the mommy track for female attorneys, including lower salaries and decreased likelihood of promotion to partner.
- Issue 5. Should Same-Sex Marriages Be Legally Recognized?
YES: Human Rights Campaign, from Answers to Questions about Marriage Equality (Human Rights Campaign, 2009)
NO: Peter Sprigg, from Questions and Answers: Whats Wrong with Letting Same-Sex Couples Marry? (Family Research Council, 2004)
Americas largest lesbian and gay organization, the Human Rights Campaign, presents many arguments for why same-sex couples should be able to marry. The main argument is fairness. Marriage confers many benefits that same-sex couples are deprived of. Researcher Peter Sprigg presents many arguments for why same-sex couples should not be able to marry. The main argument is that the state has the right and duty to specify who a person, whether straight or gay, can marry, so no rights are violated.
Unit 3 Stratification and Inequality
- Issue 6. Is Increasing Economic Inequality a Serious Problem?
YES: James Kurth, from The Rich Get Richer, The American Conservative (September 25, 2006)
NO: Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy, from The Upside of Income Inequality, The American (MayJune 2007)
James Kurth, Claude Smith Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College, warns of very negative consequences for America of the growing income inequality from a conservative perspective. He also mentions the liberal criticisms of inequality but downplays their importance, because America has institutions that mitigate them. Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy, both economists teaching at the University of Chicago and Senior Fellows at the Hoover Institute, swim upstream on this issue by pointing out the positive consequences of the growing income inequality. The main reason for the increasing inequality is the increasing returns to education, which, in turn, inspire greater efforts by young people to increase their social capital.
- Issue 7. Has Feminism Benefited American Society?
YES: Barbara Epstein, from The Successes and Failures of Feminism, Journal of Womens History (Summer 2002)
NO: Kate OBeirne, from Women Who Make the World Worse (Sentinel, 2006)
History Professor Barbara Epstein argues that the feminist movement has been highly successful in changing the consciousness of Americans to an awareness of the inequality of women and a determination to resist it. She explains how feminists succeeded at the consciousness level but have declined as a movement for social change. Journalist Kate OBeirne argues that feminism is unpopular with women and is pushing an agenda that most women do not support. She claims that most women have concluded that the feminist movement is both socially destructive and personally disappointing.
- Issue 8. Has Affirmative Action Outlived Its Usefulness?
YES: Curtis Crawford, from Racial Preference versus Nondiscrimination, Society (March/April 2004)
NO: Lawrence D. Bobo, from Inequalities that Endure? in Maria Krysan and Amanda E. Lewis, eds., The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity (Russell Sage Foundation, 2004)
Curtis Crawford, editor of the Web site http://www.DebatingRacialPreference .org, explores all possible options for bettering the situation of disadvantaged minorities in a truly just manner. He argues that the right of everyone, including white males, to nondiscrimination is clearly superior to the right of minorities to affirmative action. Sociologist Lawrence D. Bobo demonstrates that racial prejudice still exists even though it has become a more subtle type of racism, which he calls laissez-faire racism. Though it is harder to identify, it has significant effects that Bobo illustrates. In fact, it plays a big role in current politics.
- Issue 9. Are Barriers to Womens Success as Leaders Due to Societal Obstacles?
YES: Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli, from Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership, Harvard Business Review (September 2007)
NO: Kingsley R. Browne, from Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality (Rutgers University Press, 2002)
Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli contend that barriers exist for women at every stage of their career trajectories, resulting in not a glass ceiling, but a labyrinth. Kingsley R. Browne asserts that the division of labor by sex is rooted in biologically based differences between women and men. Evolutionarily based natural selection has led to inclinations that make women and men better suited for different types of jobs.
Unit 4 Political Economy and Institutions
- Issue 10. Is America Dominated by Big Business?
YES: G. William Domhoff, from Who Rules America? Power, Politics, and Social Change, 5th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2006)
NO: Sheldon Kamieniecki, from Corporate America and Environmental Policy (Stanford University Press, 2006)
Political sociologist G. William Domhoff argues that the owners and top-level managers in large income-producing properties are far and away the dominant power figures in the United States and that they have inordinate influence in the federal government. Political scientist Sheldon Kamienieckis research finds that business interests do not participate at a high rate in policy issues that affect them, and when they do, they have mixed success in influencing policy outcomes. In fact, environmental and other groups often have considerable influence vis-à-vis business interests.
- Issue 11. Does Capitalism Undermine Democracy?
YES: Robert B. Reich, from How Capitalism Is Killing Democracy, Foreign Policy (September/October 2007)
NO: Anthony B. Kim, from Economic Freedom Underpins Human Rights and Democratic Governance, Heritage Foundation Web Memo (March 18, 2008)
Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, accuses capitalism of undermining democratic governments ability to serve the public good and advance the general welfare. The political power of the corporations exceeds that of the people so many nations with democratic elections do not function as democracies. Anthony B. Kim, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundations Center for International Trade and Economics, contends that economic progress through advancing economic freedom has allowed more people to discuss and adopt different views more candidly, ultimately leading societies to be more open, inclusive, and democratic.
- Issue 12. Should Government Intervene in a Capitalist Economy?
YES: Joseph E. Stiglitz, Government Failure vs. Market Failure: Principles of Regulation, paper prepared for the conference Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation, February 13, 2008, Yulee, Florida
NO: Walter Williams, Future Prospects for Economic Liberty, Imprimis (September 2009)
Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia University, argues that the government plays an essential role in enabling the market to work properly. Capitalism runs amok if it is not regulated to protect against abuse and ensure fairness. Walter Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, argues that the founders defined a small role for government in the Constitution and protected the freedom of individuals. Now the role of government is increasing and individual freedoms are declining. The free market has achieved great prosperity for America and the intervention of government has had net negative impacts.
- Issue 13. Has Welfare Reform Benefited the Poor?
YES: David Coates, Cutting Welfare to Help the Poor, from A Liberal Toolkit: Progressive Responses to Conservative Arguments (Praeger, 2007)
NO: Stephanie Mencimer, Brave New Welfare, Mother Jones (January/February, 2009)
David Coates presents the argument for welfare reform, which is that most poverty is self-induced; the previous welfare program created poverty and many other problems; and the reform reduces poverty, improves the lives of the people who left welfare, and solves other problems. Stephanie Mencimer, staff reporter for Mother Jones, does not denigrate the current welfare law but documents the horrible way welfare is administered in many states. Many welfare workers deny many benefits to many people who qualify for welfare. Thus, many welfare benefits do not reach the poor.
- Issue 14. Is Competition the Reform That Will Fix Education?
YES: Clint Bolick, from The Key to Closing the Minority Schooling Gap: School Choice, The American Enterprise (April/May 2003)
NO: Ron Wolk, from Think the Unthinkable, Educational Horizons (Summer 2004)
Clint Bolick, vice president of the Institute for Justice, presents the argument for school choice that competition leads to improvements and makes the case that minorities especially need school choice to improve their educational performance. Educator and businessman Ron Wolk argues that school choice and most other educational reforms can only be marginally effective because they do not get at the heart of the educational problem, which is the way students learn. Too much attention is directed to the way teachers teach when the attention should be placed on how to stimulate students to learn more. Wolk advocates giving students more responsibility for their education.
- Issue 15. Should Biotechnology Be Used to Alter and Enhance Humans?
YES: Presidents Council on Bioethics, from Beyond Therapy (Regan Books, 2009)
NO: Michael J. Sandel, from The Case Against Perfection, The Atlantic Monthly (April 2004)
The Presidents Council on Bioethics was commissioned by George Bush to report to him their findings about the ethical issues involved in the uses of biotechnology. Included in this selection are the expected positive benefits from the biotechnologies that are on the horizon. Political science professor Michael J. Sandel was on the Presidents Council on Bioethics but presents his private view in this selection, which is very cautionary on the use of biotechnology to alter and enhance humans. Many other uses of biotechnology he praises, but he condemns using biotechnology to alter and enhance humans. In these activities, humans play God and attempt inappropriate remaking of nature.
Unit 5 Crime and Social Control
- Issue 16. Is Street Crime More Harmful Than White-Collar Crime?
YES: David A. Anderson, from The Aggregate Burden of Crime, Journal of Law and Economics XLII (2) (October 1999)
NO: Jeffrey Reiman, from The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice, 5th ed. (Allyn & Bacon, 1998)
David A. Anderson estimates the total annual cost of crime including law enforcement and security services. The costs exceed $1 trillion, with fraud (mostly white-collar crime) causing about one-fifth of the total. His calculations of the full costs of the loss of life and injury comes to about half of the total costs. It is right, therefore, to view personal and violent crime as the big crime problem. Professor of philosophy Jeffrey Reiman argues that the dangers posed by negligent corporations and white-collar criminals are a greater menace to society than are the activities of typical street criminals.
- Issue 17. Should Laws Against Drug Use Remain Restrictive?
YES: Herbert Kleber and Joseph A. Califano Jr., from Legalization: Panacea or Pandoras Box? The World & I Online (January 2006)
NO: Peter Gorman, from Veteran Cops Against the Drug War, The World & I Online (January 2006)
Herbert Kleber, the executive vice president of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), and Joseph Califano, founder of CASA, maintain that drug laws should remain restrictive because legalization would result in increased use, especially by children. Kleber and Califano contend that drug legalization would not eliminate drug-related violence and harm caused by drugs. Author Peter Gorman states that restrictive drug laws have been ineffective. He notes that drug use and drug addiction have increased since drug laws became more stringent. Despite the crackdown on drug use, the availability of drugs has increased while the cost of drugs has decreased. In addition, restrictive drug laws, says Gorman, are racist and endanger civil liberties.
- Issue 18. Are We Headed Toward a Nuclear 9/11?
YES: Brian Michael Jenkins, from Terrorists Can Think Strategically: Lessons Learned from the Mumbai Attacks, Rand Corporation (January 2009)
NO: Graham Allison, from Time to Bury a Dangerous LegacyPart I, YaleGlobal Online (March 14, 2008)
Brian Michael Jenkins, senior advisor to the President of the Rand Corporation, in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, posited that a team of terrorists could be inserted into the United States and carry out a Mumbai-style attack, as terrorism has increasingly become an effective strategic weapon. Graham Allison, Harvard professor and director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, affirms that we are not likely to experience a nuclear 9/11 because nuclear terrorism is preventable by a feasible, affordable agenda of actions that . . . would shrink the risk of nuclear terrorism to nearly zero.
Unit 6 The Future: Population/Environment/Society
- Issue 19. Are Declining Growth Rates Rather Than Rapid Population Growth Todays Major Global Population Problem?
YES: Michael Meyer, from Birth Dearth, Newsweek (September 27, 2004)
NO: Danielle Nierenberg and Mia MacDonald, from The Population Story...So Far, World Watch magazine (September/October 2004)
Michael Meyer, a writer for Newsweek International, argues that the new global population threat is not world overpopulation but underpopulation in many countries. Declining birth rates will ultimately lead to declining population and increasing ratios of older people to younger people in many countries. This situation creates immense problems in supporting the elderly and maintaining a healthy economy. Danielle Nievenberg and Mia MacDonald counter those who fear negative consequences of stable or declining population. The worriers fail to notice the benefits of a stable population. Furthermore, the population decline thesis is overblown. The population of developed countries with healthy economies is likely to grow through immigration. Stable or declining population countries will only have to change some policies to avoid the anticipated serious problems.
- Issue 20. Is Humankind Dangerously Harming the Environment?
YES: Lester R. Brown, from Plan B 4.0, Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Earth Policy Institute, 2009)
NO: Bjorn Lomborg, from The Truth about the Environment, The Economist (August 4, 2001)
Lester R. Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and now president of the Earth Policy Institute, argues that population growth and economic development are placing increasingly harmful demands on the environment for resources and to grow food for improving diets. Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, presents evidence that population growth is slowing down; natural resources are not running out; species are disappearing very slowly; the environment is improving in some ways; and assertions about environmental decline are exaggerated.
- Issue 21. Is Globalization Good for Humankind?
YES: Johan Norberg, from Three Cheers for Global Capitalism, The American Enterprise (June 2004)
NO: Martin Hart-Landsberg, from Neoliberalism: Myths and Reality, Monthly Review (April 2006)
Author Johan Norberg argues that globalization is overwhelmingly good. Consumers throughout the world get better-quality goods at lower prices because the competition forces producers to be more creative, efficient, and responsive to consumers demands. Even most poor people benefit greatly. Martin Hart-Landsberg, Professor of Economics at Lewis and Clark College, argues that globalization has enhanced transnational capitalist power and profits at the cost of growing economic instability and deteriorating working and living conditions.
- Issue 22. Is Big Government Bad?
YES: Jim DeMint, from Saving Freedom (Fidelis, 2009)
NO: Jeff Madrick, from The Case for Big Government (Princeton, 2008)
Senator Jim DeMint argues that the federal government should be as limited as possible. It must protect the nation, guarantee freedom, provide justice and equal treatment, and provide a few other services that promote welfare, but it must avoid trying to solve all problems. Large government stifles the economy, wastes money and resources, reduces freedoms, and could expand to the point that it destroys the nation. Humanities professor Jeff Madrick argues that many government interventions in the economy since the end of World War II have been successful in furthering economic growth and addressing many problems that required government intervention. America is much better off because of many of the activities of the government.
- Issue 23. Do Women Make Better Leaders?
YES: Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli, The Female Leadership Advantage: An Evaluation of the Evidence, The Leadership Quarterly (2002)
NO: Herminia Ibarra and Otilia Obodaru, from Women and the Vision Thing, Harvard Business Review (January 2009)
Professor of social psychology at Northwestern University Alice Eagly and senior lecturer of psychology at Wellesley College Linda Carli review the literature on leadership and report that women have characteristics that make them better leaders for todays organizations. Professor of leadership and learning at the worldwide business school INSEAD Herminia Ibarra and her doctoral student Otilia Obodaru argue that men make better leaders because they have a genetic advantage of higher visionary skills than women. Women outperform men in some other skills useful to leadership but none as important as visioning that is critical for strategizing and understanding dynamic environments.