Tech Boom Tensions
The creation of a robust, local tech economy – and the attraction of the high-wage earners who work in it – can be transformative for a local economy. But others wonder how their community will ensure equitable access to these new opportunities. For example, newly created jobs are often given to newcomers rather than to longtime residents, and others worry about gentrification. High-tech economic gains may be real, but are the spoils enjoyed by all?
Liberty and Equality
The tension between preserving liberty and promoting equality is longstanding. On June 26, 1787, at the Constitutional Convention, Alexander Hamilton said: “Inequality will exist as long as liberty exists. It unavoidably results from that very liberty itself.” The push-pull between liberty and equality manifest in all kinds of ways — from discussions on the economy to freedom of speech to gun laws, to name just a few. Many of today’s most heated political debates relate to which ideally should be prioritized, or how to strike the right balance between liberty and equality.
Voter ID Laws
Today, one of the most significant debates around voting rights relates to voter identification laws. Proponents argue that voter ID laws can instill confidence in our democratic system by limiting voter fraud. Meanwhile, opponents say that voter ID laws place an undue burden on voters and reduce participation. They emphasize a disproportionate impact on minority groups and point to a long history of disenfranchisement of the same groups. Ideally, elections would be both secure and accessible. But ultimately, a tension exists between wishing to ensure that elections are as safe as possible and want to ensure that there are as few barriers to voting as possible.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants Americans arguably “the most protective free speech standard in the world.” While freedom of expression is indispensable to a free and democratic society, and has been key to scientific, social, and political progress, the Constitution protects many forms of speech, including hate speech, that are popularly deemed to be harmful to society. Today, there exists tensions over whether, or to what extent, our institutions – from schools, to newspapers, to social media platforms – should embrace freedom of expression as a guiding ethic.
Monuments and Memorials
There has been a national movement to rename buildings or tear down statues that are named after or dedicated to historical figures who harbored or actively promoted racial prejudice or outright racial violence. Today, there are tensions and ongoing debates over whether such initiatives brush our racist history under the rug or offer a more nuanced understanding of flawed characters who for so long have been built up as heroes for idolization. There is also a fundamental disagreement over who is worthy of societal praise and should have their legacy preserved, versus who should be the subject of disdain.