Gauging popular opinion
Here are the issues we looked at in 2013:
You can reach us with your Debate comments and suggested questions by email at
email@example.com; or go to
click “Current Issue” at the bottom of the home page, then click “Informed Debate” in the contents column on the left.
January: Is renting a home better than buying?
Yes 26% No 74%
Yes Robbie Cronrod, board member, American
Apartment Owners Association
No Gary Thomas, 2013 president, National
Association of Realtors
February: Is cash on its way out?
Yes 32% No 68%
Yes David Wolman, contributing editor, Wired
No Martin Brinkmann, online journalist;
founder, Ghacks Technology News
March: Can a fallen leader still promote
a good cause?
Yes 51% No 49%
Yes Stephen Powell, executive director,
No Ronald E. Riggio, professor, Claremont
April: Are vehicle black boxes a good idea?
Yes 35% No 65%
Yes Jackie Speier, U.S. representative, California’s
14th Congressional District
No Marc Rotenberg, executive director, Electronic
Privacy Information Center
May: Is golf a sport?
Yes 59% No 41%
Yes Neil Wolkodoff, program director, Denver Center
for Health & Sport Science
No Michael Graham, radio host, New England
June: Are U.S. manufacturing jobs still important to
Yes 97% No 3%
Yes Jon Rynn, visiting scholar, CUNY Institute for Urban
No Enrico Moretti, University of California, Berkeley
July: Should offshore bank accounts be taxable?
Yes 50% No 50%
Yes Chye-Ching Huang, senior tax policy analyst,
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
No Daniel J. Mitchell, senior fellow, Cato Institute
August: Are standardized tests a fair measure of
Yes 10% No 90%
Yes Richard P. Phelps, founder, Nonpartisan Education
No Karen Zittleman, teacher; author
September: Is America giving up too much privacy
Yes 81% No 19%
Yes Neil Richards, professor of law, Washington
University in St. Louis
No Paul R. Pillar, former deputy chief, Counterterrorist
Center at the CIA; author
October: Should we separate commercial banks
from investment banks?
Yes 90% No 10%
Yes Sheila Bair, former chair, Federal Deposit Insurance
No Mark J. Roe, professor, Harvard Law School; author
November: Should the DUI limit be lowered?
Yes 29% No 71%
Yes Mark Rosekind, member, National Transportation
No Gary Biller, president, National Motorists
December: Is regifting tacky?
Yes 32% No 68%
Yes Yvonne Durant, writer; etiquette blogger
No Jodi R. Smith, president, Mannersmith Etiquette
A recap of the past year’s issues and our readers’ responses
Vehicle black boxes?
Golf a sport?
Privacy or security?
READERS SOMETIMES ASK why we run a
The Connection’s intent is to look at a range
of issues that may affect or be of interest to our
members and let them weigh in. Because the
space for Informed Debate is limited, the goal
isn’t necessarily to resolve each issue, but more
to encourage dialogue by getting people thinking and talking about a variety of topics.
As in previous years, 2013 questions ran
the gamut from serious concerns, such as buy-
ing versus renting a home (buying won out)
and separating commercial banks from invest-
ment banks (separate ’em, said the majority),
to the more frivolous debate on the status of
golf (most voters believe golf is a sport, not just
It’s clear that respondents cherish their
rights as American citizens, and the majority
tend to dismiss any idea that has any element
of infringing on those rights, even if the cause
seems worthwhile. That was the consensus
when we asked about putting black boxes in
cars: 65 percent were against it. A full 81 per-
cent feel we’re giving up too much privacy in
the name of security, and 71 percent don’t feel
the DUI limit should be lowered, although
many advocated stronger enforcement of the
Whatever topic is put forward, members
are quick to question the questions, the
answers and the debaters, and to offer opinions about the topic. For that, we at The
Connection are grateful. Despite the fact that
Informed Debate has been part of our magazine for more than 25 years, we’re never too
old to learn.
Hmm, maybe there’s a debate in that.