61. Income Gap. “Income gap” is a hot topic, but what “gap” are we talking about? Once you have decided on the group you want to research, the keywords will be for that group. This is a topic that can be argued from either side. One group deserves to earn the same pay as the other because . . . or it does not, because . . . Following are some “gaps” from which to select:
- Any ethnic group versus whites
- Executives versus workers
- Women versus men
- Educated versus skilled workers
- Rich versus poor
Statistics will be important to establish your premise. If you can find case examples, they would be even better.
62. Media Bias. Many feel that media influence has become unhealthy; that the media have begun to select the issues Americans consider important rather than the other way around. The competition for speed of news delivery on the Internet and television has increased the pressure to sell information. Keep in mind that you are looking for information in the very same sources you are examining. This may be a good topic for interviews. Consider the following questions:
- What impact has the Internet or television had on public thinking?
- How has the speed of communication affected what people think?
- What about the pressure on the news reporters or anchors? Does it affect ethical behavior?
- How are corporations using advertising to sell a corporate image?
- Does the nightly news influence people to have a particular viewpoint?
- Does the nightly news influence politics?
- In what ways might an advertiser influence the media?
63. Medical Marijuana. When California, Colorado, and Arizona offered voters a chance to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, it created a nightmare for drug enforcement officials. Most materials on this topic have been published since 1997.
- What are the legal implications of medicinal marijuana use?
- What are the medical alternatives?
- Is marijuana an effective remedy against pain? If so, is it fair to withhold it from patients?
- What are the side effects of long-term marijuana use?
- What are the legal ramifications; for example, state law versus federal law?
- Will prescription marijuana undermine drug enforcement? How can it be controlled?
64. Mergers and Megacompanies.
- What has occurred to make mergers so widespread? Is this good? Bad? What are some of the repercussions?
- What are the true benefits of merging and creating megacompanies? Is this trend safe for the economy?
- Downsizing is a big part of merging. Is this contributing to unemployment?
- Who is affected by downsizing? (Downsizing may be treated as a separate topic.)
- Does this trend affect feelings of company loyalty and the work ethic?
65. NAFTA. The North American Free Trade Agreement allows easier trade among member nations. Without tariffs, are U.S. companies moving their production to Mexico, where they can pay lower wages and lower their environmental costs? At this time, only the United States, Canada, and Mexico are part of NAFTA. You might consider finding statistics about success or failure and choose a side using historical data to support your position.
- Does the agreement affect survival of companies or employment in the United States?
- In what ways does this agreement affect the environment?
- Is it easier to smuggle drugs across the border? What other problems might occur?
- Is there a way to create fair taxing for U.S. highway use without discouraging foreign trade?
- Now that the agreement has been enforced for several years, has the economy benefited in expected ways?
- Should NAFTA be expanded to include all of the Americas?
66. Non-traditional Families. Non-traditional families as a topic can cover anything from changing values to types of new families, including extended, blended, alternative, single-parent, gay, or adoptive. If you like the idea but do not know how to proceed, we suggest you read a little from the first two or three books in the “Background and Statistics” list for ideas on refining this to a manageable topic. Select an issue such as “Fathers as head of single-parent families.” We even found a lot of information on “grandparents raising grandchildren.” Be sure to narrow the topic, or you will be frustrated by too much information that does not fit together. Some suggestions are:
- Alternative Families
- Blended/Extended Families
- Family and Society and Changes
- Family Values
- Morality and Family
- Religion and Family
67. Ozone Layer. Modern technology is blamed for damage to the ozone layer miles above the Earth. Developed nations have agreed in the Montreal Protocol to stop producing some offending products, but they have not convinced developing nations to do the same. There is a great deal of controversy among scientists about the level of harm that has been done. If you select this topic, do your homework. Get good background information—the newer the information, the better.
- What has caused the environmental problems we have today? Is there proof?
- What can be done to repair the damage?
- Does it directly affect us now? What about future generations?
- What is the government’s role in this issue?
- What laws have been passed by Congress to clean up the air and the environment?
Consider researching a single aspect of this enormous problem; for example, whether the greenhouse effect is the cause of the warming weather conditions.
68. Police Brutality. Believe it or not, there have always been rumors charging police misconduct. This is a topic you may want to argue either side of and for which there will be plenty of information, especially in newspapers. It is a high-profile topic, so if you choose it, try to keep your line of reasoning professional and use valid sources to reinforce your argument. Following are a few questions to get you focused:
- What constitutes excessive force?
- What role do race or other prejudices play in police violence? Research the Rodney King case and other more recent court cases.
- What are possible solutions for preventing police misconduct?
- Is punishment for police who have been convicted always fair and consistent?
- Would the use of civilian review boards be more effective?
- What about police rights?
- Is violence an integral part of police work? Could it be a reaction to the work environment, or an attribute of the people attracted to the profession?
- Is general ethical behavior a part of this problem?
69. Political Correctness. We think of the phrase “political correctness” as an invention of the 1990s. Actually, the term “politically correct” was first mentioned in a Supreme Court case in 1793. In the 1930s, the phrase was used by the Stalinists in the Soviet Union. The negative connotations of this term are fairly recent. For a more positive point of view, use the word “multiculturalism.” On this topic, you could simply be talking about using gender words correctly; for example, chairperson instead of chairman.
- How important is political correctness in today’s society?
- Have we taken concerns about gender bias too far? Not far enough?
- Are we taking our correctness to ridiculous extremes?
You might have fun with this topic. There are a few standup comedians who love this topic.
70. Rape. This topic is extremely broad and as old as time. Date rape and male rape are newer facets of this topic. Pick a single argument that interests you and refine it. Consider the psychological damage to rape victims. See if you can find information about what causes men (or women) to commit rape.
- Acquaintance or Date Rape
- Spousal Rape; Statutory Rape; Male Rape; Incest
- Victim’s psychological trauma
- Should rape victims file charges? Is it worth the mental anguish?
- Do the courts mete out appropriate punishment for this crime?