The Power of Language: How to expose BIG GOVERNMENT with our words

Language is the most powerful tool we have to expose and undermine Big Government.  It is also the most powerful tool Big Government has to crush Small Business.

lies-truth-smallOver the last few weeks Congress and the Administration have been trying to call government takeover of health insurance and health care “competition”.  They have hijacked words and are using them in completely new ways to try and trick people into believing they are selling something they’re not.

The expansionist and interventionist nature of Big Government means that it always has as its goal to set up Monopsonies (single payer systems in which they control the production of goods and services) or Monopolies (single provider systems in which they control the provision of goods and services).  They try to do it in the name of “competition” as if they actually plan on competing fairly (if at all) with the private businesses and charities they’re trying to muscle out of a market.

Battles against Big Government are often won or lost over whether or not we are willing to concede the actual terms of the argument to Big Government, or whether we’ll refuse to conduct the argument with Big Government’s terms.  Below are a few examples of how we can change the terms and, therefore, how people feel about Big Government’s activities.

“Revenue” vs. “Confiscation”

Here’s a glaring example.  Big Government calls taxation by the name of “Revenue”. The agency in charge of collecting taxes is even called the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Set aside whether or not it’s technically correct or not or has become such through use of the word for a long time, “revenue” is a business word.  That’s our word. That’s the word for sales – the free market exchange of goods and services between voluntary parties who are both made better off by the trade.  Revenue is something freely given for something of value freely received. Taxation is coercion and wealth confiscation by force.

At the very least, we should refuse to grant taxation legitimacy by calling it that.  Moreover, revenue is a “positive” word that government has hijacked.  When our goal is to reduce the size and intervention of Big Government, why would we ever concede to use words that might grant Big Government any semblance of legitimacy?

While taxation is an OK word to use when talking about the means through which Big Government finances itself, it is one that has become desensitized and still does not make strongly enough the central point that it is coercive.

So we propose to use the word “confiscation” instead.  When discussing our opinions with friends, family, employees and co-workers, we would say, “I think government confiscates too much,” or “Government confiscated 10% more of our private property this year than they did last year.

“Earnings” vs. “Private Property”

Notice that in the statement above we used the word “private property” instead of “earnings.”

“Earnings” actually should be a pretty good word to use because it implies that what is taken from people is something they’ve earned, or labored for, but this word has also been used for so long that people have become desensitized to it.

How about talking about confiscation in terms of “private property“?

Also, how about talking about the confiscation of private property in terms of “productive people” or the “productive sector” funding the “unproductive people” or “unproductive sector”?  Big Government, after all, merely redistributes the confiscated property of productive people, so let’s call it what it is.

“Welfare” vs. “Dependency Programs”

We talk about Government “Welfare” programs in language that implies they help others “fare” more “well”. We even use terms such as “Charity” or “Entitlement” to talk about these Big Government Programs. While it is true that some of these programs can provide temporary relief to those in need, the full truth is that they often create permanent dependencies and reward dependents for inactivity and bad behavior.

Furthermore, private charities (which have to compete for donations) are far more efficient at helping those in need and suffer when Big Government confiscates more private property to itself, rather than allowing those resources to be employed by the more efficient and accountable charitable organizations.

So, instead of calling these programs “welfare programs,” we can call them by the more accurate terms, “Government dependency programs” or “Government handout programs.”

Then we could say things like, “Government dependency programs confiscated 10% more private property from the productive sector” or “Government handout programs saw their rolls grow by 5% in the last quarter.”

That helps others see the truth about Big Government.

Big Government not only uses words to justify its big programs, but it also selects words that can be used to silence dissent and opposition to the programs. Think about the “Patriot Act.” It has nothing to do with being a patriot, but by using that name anyone who opposes the act it can be labeled “not a patriot.”  Cunning.   If you oppose “No Child Left Behind” you can be labeled as someone who does not support helping children succeed.  Think about the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act.  Nothing was improved or modernized so much as spending was drastically increased – the biggest Government Dependency Program expansion in decades.  But if you didn’t support it you were labeled as one who didn’t want to improve and modernize Medicare, and therefore were against the well-being of the elderly.

And that’s why it’s important to do our best to not conduct the debate in the terms Big Government tries to force upon us.

Our movement must use the terms we choose, words that expose Big Government for what is really is, helping others to see clearly the forces that impinge upon their freedoms. As we do so, we’ll help undermine the legitimacy of Big Government and we’ll counteract its efforts to hijack and change the plain meaning of our language and then use it against us.

We would love to hear your thoughts about what to call various government agencies and practices in order to more accurately show what they really are.  For example, IRS “audits” are really . . . what?

In the comments below, please provide your ideas for how we can use language to expose Big Government for what it really is. Also, if you’re aware of other resources on the web that have attempted or are working on this project, please provide links to them below.

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- who has written 71 posts on Small Business Against Big Government.

25 Responses to “The Power of Language: How to expose BIG GOVERNMENT with our words”

  1. Vera Says:

    I love your ideas. I do suggest that you have someone proof your copy so that the typos, etc. don’t detract from your well deserved credibility!

    • admin Says:

      Thanks. This one did get proofed, so looks like some things got by the editor. I just did a read through and caught 2-3 things . . . if you see anything, post it here. We’ll double the effort next post.

  2. RoAr Says:

    IRS Audit = Government Confiscation Agency Investigation
    Medicare = Old People Handouts or Handouts to the Elderly
    AmeriCorps = The Youth Government Indoctrination Program
    Cash for Clunkers = Handouts for Hoopties

  3. Amanda Says:

    Amazing! Once I crushed my pair of government-sponsored rose colored glasses my vision has greatly improved!

  4. bjeanne Says:

    Cash for Clunkers -Landfill Fillup
    Thank you for helping me help others to understand that TRUTH!!

  5. Justen Robertson Says:

    IRS Audit – Confiscatory Home Invasion
    War on Drugs – War on Personal Freedom (thanks, Bill Hicks)
    War on Poverty – War on Production
    War on Terror – War on Little Brown People
    War on Crime – Use of Military Tactics Against Civilians
    FDA – Should be FCA: Federal Cartel Administration
    Public-Private Co-op: Pigs and Hucksters gang

    I like how we name fake “wars”. Pick your enemy, find its polar opposite (or some tangentially related subject) and name the war after that instead.

    • Diane Says:

      Have you ever noticed how any time we have ‘war’ on something, we get more of the thing we are fighting? The “War om Poverty” produced more people in poverty, the “War on Drugs” didn’t even change the street price of the drugs it ‘fought.’
      Thanks, can we now have ‘war on civil liberties?’ If so, we’ll have more of them. . . We already have a real, live war against them, they just call it health care reform.
      oh, and flove the “Handouts for Hoopties.” That rocks.

  6. Good Grief Says:

    Careful – a lot of the words you chose have severe negative connotations to the people you are trying to convince. Confiscation won’t play well. “Independents” don’t have an aversion to taxes. They may indeed be against unfair or unjust taxes.

    It can get very philosophical and the result unpredictable.

    You goal shouldn’t be to empahsize being correct, but being understood.

    • admin Says:

      While this may be true in the case of some, the point IS to use a term that has a negative connotation to listeners. Independents may or may not have an aversion to “taxes” but they do have an aversion to “confiscation.” The idea is to get them to question whether or not taxation is, indeed, confiscation and what the implications of that is.

      Our feelings about taxes are often ambiguous and vary with whether or not we approve of the “service” received for the tax payment or whether we feel the use of the funds is immoral. When others understand that by being forced to fund programs they may have an aversion to, or that by refusing to give their dollars to a program they find to be immoral (war, abortion, dependency, whatever) could result in their imprisonment, they come to understand that it truly is “confiscation.”

      Your point, though, is a good one – users of these words have to determine how effective the use will be for the audience. The point is not to inflame or aggravate. The point is to give pause and have others reconsider how Big Government intervenes in their lives in negative ways.

  7. Nicholas McIntosh Says:

    Great article. I have said for years now that the Government has stolen my money rather than saying that I have paid taxes. Love the idea of calling welfare “Government dependency programs.”

  8. Richard Foster Says:

    I agree with the use of appropriate terminology, but primarily to satisfy the need for clarification! In my opinion, if people are merely honest enough to be willing to clearly identify the basis of their opinions, coming to a mutually acceptable position is an simple task. For example, I don’t agree with any of Justin’s definitions of terms but at least I understand where he is coming from.

    Nevertheless, using conservative biased terms such as “confiscation” is not much better than using liberal biased terms such as “revenue!” I would much prefer calling taxes “contributions” or “assessments” and then requiring them to stay within the boundaries of those terms! Both contributions and assessments have the connotation of willingness to pay! To a certain extent I am willing to contribute to government infrastructure and to pay assessments for benefits. However, beyond those points, my willingness to pay is exceeded!

    The worst form of terminology, however, is two-sided terminology. Two-sided terminology has a double meaning depending upon the listener. For example, when Obama says he will “change” America, he is using two-sided terminology. On the one side, he reaches the moderate supporters by implying changes within the context of acceptable American mores. On the other side, he appeals to the radical supporters that advocate sweeping changes outside the boundaries of American culture. Such terminology inhibits clarification and often masks hidden agendas.

    Terminology is important for clarification. Clarification is important for honesty!

  9. Herbalicious Says:

    I’m a medical cannabis patients in CA and I like to call the Drug Enforcment Administration (DEA) the Deficit Enforcement Agency or the Department of Justice (DOJ) the Department of Injustice. The War on Drugs= A War on ME!

    I agree with the idea that words are powerful and I’d like to write something similar for the medical cannabis movement.

    Thank you,

  10. Scott Says:

    On the ‘begging for my money back’ booklet the IRS director thanks me for VOLUNTARILY paying my extortion. I guess Wesley Snipes’ lawyer missed that in his trial.

    –verb (used with object) 1. to seize as forfeited to the public domain; appropriate, by way of penalty, for public use.
    2. to seize by or as if by authority; appropriate summarily: The border guards confiscated our movie cameras.
    –adjective 3. seized.

    Confiscate is pretty good but I think Extort is better (1a)
    Remember Government is the threat of violence, if the Government says you have to do something and you resist long enough and strong enough it will come to violence.

    –verb (used with object) 1. Law. a. to wrest or wring (money, information, etc.) from a person by violence, intimidation, or abuse of authority; obtain by force, torture, threat, or the like.
    b. to take illegally by reason of one’s office.

    2. to compel (something) of a person or thing: Her wit and intelligence extorted their admiration.

  11. Reasonsjester Says:

    Public education – Government indoctrination
    Social Security Administration – The Don’t Plan for Retirement Administration
    Federal Communications Commission – The Regulate Free Speech Commission
    The Federal Reserve Bank – The Unaccountable Cartel of Money Manipulation
    The Department of Agriculture – The Department of Farmer’s Subsidies
    The Department of Energy – The Department of No Drilling
    The Department of Homeland Security – The Department of Monitoring Right-Wing Extremists

    • Ken Rhodes Says:

      Change “The Department of Homeland Security – The Department of Monitoring Right-Wing Extremists” to say:
      The Department of Homeland Security – The Department of Monitoring Free-Thinking Individuals.

  12. Jed Says:

    It’s about time someone on our side uses language as effectively as the left has all these years… this is brilliant.

  13. Bob Monty Says:

    A friend sent me this link thinking that I would be impressed because of my love of words and language. I don’t mince words; I mince clams, so here’s my opinion:

    What I found is that we have people here arguing semantics, spell-check and grammar about what to call government intervention in our lives. But what will that do? Are there people from the “government” reading this and saying, “Whoooeee, we’d better look out because the sheeple are getting angry and using words to express that anger.”? Probably not.

    My first suggestion is to get a grip (on reality).

    Second, start recruiting candidates and work to throw out all the current government drones and replace them with new drones — people who will be become drones once they realize the trappings of power over other peoples’ lives. Then throw them out in the next election cycle.

    Stop whining about government unless you’re willing to stand straight up in the open and declare the famous Howard Beale line: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.” And then don’t forget to act on it. Otherwise, this is just a waste of time and electricity… and words.

    • dan Says:

      No “Clam Mincer” it serves as a story being told,and the citizens of this country reading the story,and at the end of the book realizing we can change the ending so long as we put the dam book down and take action our selves. SO this post, exposing the “terms” of government usage,is a small but helpful way of taking away the Vail of government intervention and slavery, and so long as people are willing to write and educate others, it will and has served as a vessel of education, that otherwise our government does Not want us learning exists.

    • kanye Says:

      Good points. I think articles and “words” like this, are however powerful catalysts to get people up and moving. I, for one, am going to Washington DC to protest on 9/12 because of a direct result of SBABG. I’m about to stand straight up in the open and declare “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.” I would not have done this before getting educated and reading important articles like this.

      I know of others too who are worried about the power grab by this administration and the encroachment of the govt into our lives. In my circle, people have had enough and it’s movements like this that really get people informed and motivated to actually “do” something.

  14. Conservateacher Says:

    To add to Monty’s comment, the youtube link shows me at a recent protest – with my signs. While I didn’t get into the Town Meeting, tons of cars driving by saw my messages. Was there something else I could have been doing on my summer day off? Sure. But this was the most important thing I could have done on that day. I spoke with a bunch of liberal “protestors” at the rally. They used words and verbage similar to what the blogger described. I appreciate your helping me stay informed.

  15. Bob Monty Says:

    I have seen Conservateacher and her husband at the rallies holding signs trying to be part of the solution. The problem is all the leftover Moonies from the days of Sun Myung Moon who outnumber the people opposed to government intervention in our lives. They show up at the rallies because that is the only life, and income source, that they have.

  16. dan Says:

    Definitely a great illustration on how our government coerces the masses into thinking certain ways on certain subjects, yet is done in such broad strokes!

  17. D Davis Says:

    Recently found this quote from Thomas Paine that makes this point.

    “What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.” ~Thomas Paine

    So, according to Paine, tax is not just confiscation but plunder!

    “Plunder rates are set to rise by 30%!” Has a nice ring to it.

  18. Bob Monty Says:

    Well here we are just three days away from one of our favorite Christian holidays: Thanksgiving – where we give thanks to the Almighty for our bounty and our eroding freedoms.

    And everyone stopped posting here in late August — 80 some days ago. Why is that? Is it because the readers saw that merely posting words back and forth online wasn’t getting anything done? That actions by people like Conservateacher are what is really necessary?

    You see — that was the point I made that Dan and Kanye completely missed. And Dan: it’s veil – not Vail. This is supposed to be a stop for wordsmiths. Start acting and spelling like one.


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