Intelligence Squared U.S. brings Oxford-style debating to America -- one motion, one moderator, two informed and provocative panelists for the motion and two against. John Donvan of ABC News -- Nightline is the official moderator of Intelligence Squared debates, which takes on the hot-button issues of the day to inform, enlighten and entertain.
Monday, August 12
Should We Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies?
Imagine a world free of genetic diseases, where parents control their offspring’s height, eye color and intelligence. The science may be closer than you think. Genes interact in ways that we don’t fully understand and there could be unintended consequences, new diseases that result from our tinkering. But even if the science could be perfected, is it morally wrong? Would it lead to eugenics and a stratified society where only the rich enjoy the benefits of genetic enhancement? Or would the real injustice be depriving our children of every scientifically possible opportunity?
Tuesday, August 13
Should we abolish the minimum wage?
The first attempt at establishing a national minimum wage, a part of 1933’s sweeping National Industrial Recovery Act, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1935. But in 1938, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a minimum hourly wage of 25 cents—$4.07 in today’s dollars. Three-quarters of a century later, we are still debating the merits of this cornerstone of the New Deal. Do we need government to ensure a decent paycheck, or would low-wage workers and the economy be better off without its intervention?
Wednesday, August 14
The GOP: Seize the center or die?
2012 was a disappointing year for Republicans. The failure to win key swing states in the presidential election and surprising losses in the House and Senate has prompted some reflection. Was their embrace of small government, low taxes, and a strong conservative stance on social issues at odds with shifting American demographics? Or did the GOP embrace the right platform, but the wrong candidates?
Thursday, August 15
Is the FDA hazardous to our health?
The Food and Drug Administration, the oldest comprehensive consumer protection agency in the U.S. federal government, is charged with protecting the public health. Under this mandate, it regulates drugs and medical devices for their safety and effectiveness. But is it a failing mandate? It’s long been argued that the FDA’s long and costly approval processes stifle innovation and keep life-changing treatments from the market. But the question remains: when it comes to public health, is it ever okay to sacrifice safety for speed?
Friday, August 16
Is cutting the Pentagon’s budget a gift to our enemies?
Political gridlock in Washington triggered across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, in March. As a result, the Pentagon has six months to eliminate $41 billion from the current year’s budget, and unlike past cuts, this time everything is on the table. In 2011, America spent $711 billion dollars on its defense—more than the next 13 highest spending countries combined. But the burdens it shoulders, both at home and abroad, are unprecedented. Could the sequester be a rare opportunity to overhaul the armed forces, or will its impact damage military readiness and endanger national security?
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