By the numbers
A recap of the past year’s issues and our readers’ responses
AS IT HAS WITH so many things, the
Internet has had a profound effect on our
monthly Debate department. Not only are
Costco members weighing in on the Debate
questions, but now—especially with hot-but-ton issues—even nonmembers are getting
involved, often due to someone posting a
blog entry or Tweet stating that Costco is taking a position one way or another. (Just as a
reminder, Debate is strictly for edification,
interest or amusement. Costco and The
Costco Connection take no position on any
With that in mind, here’s a rundown of
all of the Debate questions for 2009.
In January we asked about the possibility
of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.
Most believed it is plausible, some were
doubtful, and some humorously questioned
its existence here on Earth. Our March question on animals having rights drew heated
responses, with many suggesting that equat-
ing animal rights to human rights was ridiculous and pondering a world in which animals
could vote. Some pointed out that had we
asked, “Do animals have rights?” their vote
would have been positive. Government-related questions stimulated quite a few
responses doubting the government’s ability
to accomplish anything. Yet every so often, as
with our May and July questions, the majority
still wanted to see them try.
Here are the issues we looked at in 2009:
January ✔Yes 86% No 14%
Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?
Yes H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D., executive director emeritus, SETI League Inc.
No Astronomer Benjamin M. Zuckerman, professor emeritus of physics, UCLA
July ✔Yes 67% No 33%
Should the U.S. develop high-speed rail lines?
Yes David Crane, special adviser to Governor
Randal O’Toole, senior fellow, Cato Institute
February Yes 34% ✔ No 66%
Should dating co-workers sign a love contract?
Yes David B. Ritter, management representative,
labor and employment law
No Francie Dalton, business consultant and
founder, Dalton Alliances Inc.
BRAND X PIC TURES/RF
August Yes 46% ✔ No 54%
Should mail delivery be cut to five days a week?
Yes Stephen Kearney, senior vice president
customer relations, U.S. Postal Service
No William J. Dennis, National Federation of
Independent Business Research Foundation
CHRIS A RUSNAK
March Yes 8% ✔ No 92%
Should animals have the same rights as people?
Yes Matt Prescott, director of corporate
No David Martosko, director of research, Center
for Consumer Freedom
September Yes 46% ✔ No 54%
Is legislation the right way to deal with
Yes Linda T. Sánchez, congresswoman, California
No Eugene Volokh, professor of law, UCLA
April ✔Yes 74% No 26%
Should we remove the income tax on
Yes Sam Johnson, congressman, Texas
No Patricia M. Anderson, Ph.D., professor of
October Yes 35% ✔ No 65%
Should we rely more on wind energy?
Yes Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind
No Lisa Linowes, executive director, Industrial
Wind Action Group
May ✔Yes 65% No 35%
Should government regulate consumer
protection for air travel?
Yes Kate Hanni, executive director, Coalition
for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights
No Kevin Mitchell, chairman, Business
June Yes 46% ✔ No 54%
Do timesaving devices really save time?
Yes Jennifer DeLeo, associate editor,
No Lowell Monke, associate professor of
education, Wittenberg University
November Yes 38% ✔ No 62%
Should we have a Consumer Financial
Yes Ira Rheingold, executive director, National
Association of Consumer Advocates
No Chris Stinebert, president and CEO, American
Financial Services Association
December ✔Yes 78%
Should you stay home for
Yes Bella DePaulo, author
No Eileen Ogintz, family travel expert
and creator of the syndicated
column “Taking the Kids”
You can reach us with your Debate comments and suggested questions at P.O. Box 34088, Seattle,
WA 98124-1088; by fax at (425) 313-6718; or by e-mail at