Michael Cloud, in his wonderful book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion, teaches a “Six-Step Recipe for Cooking Big Government.”
The six steps are a pattern to follow when talking with others about a proposed Big Government program.
The steps are predicated on helping others who naively support Big Government programs see that these Big Government programs don’t work because they can’t work.
If you want to change hearts and minds – and that’s what we’re trying to do – step one is the most fundamentally important to ensure that steps 2-6 are most effective.
The six steps are:
1. Empathize with the person’s (or program’s) positive intentions
2. Explain that Big Government programs don’t work
3. Provide evidence that Big Government programs often make things worse for the very people they’re intended to help
4. Show that Big Government Programs create new problems
5. Teach that Big Government Programs are wasteful and costly
6. Explain that Big Government programs divert money and energy from positive and productive uses
We’ve used this formula for years and it works. It changes hearts and minds. Most people are reasonable and respond to such, but they’ve been conditioned – usually through mind-numbing public education programs taught by people who eat at the government trough – to believe that government is inherently good, efficient, and the cure for all ills that ail mankind.
The example below shows how we can apply the six steps to help a friend who cares deeply for the suffering sick and so – as conditioned – invariably thinks the solution is to be found in the establishment of a Big Government program. Where we’re employing each of the six steps I’ve noted the corresponding step below (in parenthesis).
FRIEND: “I just think everyone should have health insurance and that sick people should be able to get medical treatment even if they can’t pay for it. No one should have to suffer without health care. So I support government run health care.”
YOU: (1) “I think it’s great that you want to see sick people get the help they need. Like you, I want to see sick people get the treatment they need. I also don’t want to see people suffering and I think all of us should be concerned and feel for people who are in need. And I think that there are things that can be done to help people get more insurance coverage and needed health care.
(2) But the question is, can government actually do this or will it just make things worse? – It seems that the evidence is very strong that historically government programs intended to help with health care have not worked. Just took at the government’s Medicare program, which was established to provide health care to older people. Medicare started in 1965, just 44 years ago. And already, the program has cost more than ever expected and hasn’t really helped out people the way it was intended. According to the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, Medicare is predicted to go bankrupt by 2017.
(3) All those people who have been paying in will have nothing unless other, non-retired people start paying drastically more money into the system just to pay for the people on it now – money that they themselves will then not receive when they retire. How does a system that takes people’s money for 44 years, then goes bankrupt and leaves them with no services, help people?
(4) What do we do about these new problems the program created? A whole bunch more people dependent on government and no money to pay for it. And the government took their money in the form of a Medicare tax so they don’t even have that money now in their retirement to pay for their own health care.
(5) The thing is, government always significantly underestimates its own costs. Whether they do it deliberately or not isn’t important; they’re just not a good source for honest analysis. Did you know the following?
In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee predicted that Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. In reality, the program cost over $110 billion in 1990.
In 1987, Congress estimated that the Medicaid Special Hospitals Subsidy would reach $100 million in 1992. The actual cost exceeded $11 billion.
In one case, Congress underestimated costs by 10 times. In the other case they underestimated costs by 110 times!
The truth is that government has proven itself incapable of predicting costs or staying within budget, and that’s why all their programs are going bankrupt and leaving people worse off.
Despite the government’s best intentions, it can’t take care of people. By trying to do so it’s bankrupting us all. More government programs will just mean we’ll be bankrupt that much more quickly.
(6) Just think where we could have been right now if government hadn’t taken all that money away from people and wasted it. The people it took from could have saved their money and taken care of their own post-retirement health needs. They would have known it was their responsibility to save for it rather than being dependent on a government that wasn’t there for them.
What we need to do is get government out of the health business. We need lower taxes so that people can keep more of their own money. We need to keep government out of our lives so that an economic climate favorable for job creation can take root. After all, having a job is the #1 way to get health care and health insurance, since either you’ll have money to purchase a policy or pay directly for health care or your employer will do it for you. Having a paycheck is the best way to build up a savings for your own retirement health-needs.
A low tax environment means that businesses can also create more jobs because they have more resources to work with – resources that haven’t been confiscated by the government.
The truth is, if we really care for the poor, the elderly, the needy, we will oppose government getting involved since it just makes their – and everyone else’s – situation worse. In fact, Big Government policies actually create more neediness and dependency by confiscating so much of people’s hard earned property and handing it to wasteful bureaucrats.
We can take responsibilities in our families and local communities to help one another, to help our friends and neighbors. By turning over this responsibility to the government, we lose the opportunity to really help them and instead leave them in a position of being dependent on an entity that will ultimately abandon them.”
And that’s it. This approach can be done for other big issues such as:
The Poor (how Welfare and the resulting Dependency keeps peopel poor)
The War on Drugs (how Prohibition doesn’t work and leads to Violence and Dangerous Black Markets)
Bailouts (they create Moral Hazard and the Too Big to Fail Mentality means that failing businesses are allowed to parasitically live off the productive ones)
Education (Public Education’s Failure to improve education despite ever increasing levels of spending)
We’d really encourage you to take a little time and think through this and prepare to be able to help others understand the truth about Big Government and how it hurts them. Also consider picking up the book, Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion. (Disclosure: if you click on that link and buy the book, we get a small kickback from Amazon.com, which we’ll plow back into marketing the group to more people).
In the comments below, please take shot at a way to do the above with other important topics. By sharing your thoughts below it will help all SBABG members to create better narratives that we can share with others. What do you think? What are your ideas?