Contending Voices

Debating today’s social priorities

To Limit Pollution and Improve Social Welfare, Stop Focusing on Growth

Plastic, cardboard, and methane are being produced, used, and thrown away in growing quantities. This threatens to destroy the social fabric of life on Earth—not to mention life itself. For decades, economic growth has been billed as the only path forward: With a booming economy, there will finally be enough to go around for everyone, and social welfare can then be improved. But there is already enough to go around. To improve social welfare, what we need now is to share more of what is currently being produced.

Photo by Matthew Sichkaruk/Unsplash

In Pursuit of Freedom

Claims for freedom by Black Lives Matter demonstrators and by MAGA supporters show that there can be clashing meanings of “freedom.” What factors are contributing to this tension? This essay explores the ways in which social and ethnic groups and society’s many institutions complicate the concept of freedom. It points to a basic lesson: Learning and compromises are necessary before we can agree on what it means to be free.

A silhouetted hand holding a mobile smart phone with colorful abstract lights surrounding it

How Social Priorities ‘Pop Up’ in Pop Culture

Popular culture is undoubtedly an arena for debating social priorities. And with the rise of social media, these debates now happen at the global level—often through the exchange of music and other types of art. Sometimes, such debates evolve into deep ideological discussion and can spur worldwide movements for social justice.

Abstracted image of a pixelated world map superimposed with a digital screen of the stock market highs/lows

Survive COVID-19, Revive the Economy

In response to COVID-19, dedicated health care workers saved millions of lives, and communities all over the world came together to support one another. But it is government leaders and CEOs who have claimed credit for this work. Given their track record of greed, why should these leaders be trusted to guide the next step in overcoming the pandemic—economic recovery?