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Comparisons: Questions that Make People Think

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Government is often inconsistent and unfair. 

By asking the right questions, you can get people to see this unfairness and inconsistency, and lead them to question commonly-accepted coercive government programs.

Here are some examples:

“Why should people who spend their own money on country music be forced by the government to subsidize the tastes of people who like classical music?”

“Why should people who pay their own money to subscribe to newspapers and pay for cable news be forced by the government to subsidize the news preferences of NPR fans?”

“Why should families who are working and scrimping and saving so they can send their kids to a private school that best suits their values be forced by the government to also pay for the education of children of other families, many of whom are better off economically than they are?”

“Why should people who want to teach their kids to play tennis be forced by the government to pay for baseball, football and soccer fields for other people’s kids?”

“Why should people who don’t like sports, or who support other sports besides professional sports, be forced by the government to pay for stadiums and other giveaways to wealthy sports corporations?”

Note: I like to say “forced by the government” so it is clear that force is being used, and clear who is doing it.

To questions like this, you can also point out that many people suffer from these programs. I did that in some of those questions. Here’s another example, using the first question above:

“Why should people who like country music — and who, in these difficult economic times, may be struggling to pay mortgages and household bills — be forced by the government to subsidize the tastes of people who like classical music?”

And it’s not just music and sports, of course. Here’s a variation:

“Why should people whose intoxicant of choice is marijuana be arrested and imprisoned by the government, while people who prefer intoxicants that are arguably more dangerous, like liquor and tobacco, are left alone?”

“If someone needs a job, and someone else is willing to pay less than the minimum wage to have some work done, why should this private, consensual, and mutually beneficial arrangement be forbidden by the government?”

“Why are some people forbidden by the government to gain work skills by offering to work for less than the minimum wage, while university students are allowed to work as interns with low or even no pay in order to learn the ropes of high-paying professions?”

What other comparisons can you think of that will change your listeners’ minds, open their hearts, and let them see the injustice of government programs through the eyes of those who are harmed by them?

What happens to farmers if we end government farm subsidies?

in Communicating Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: If you remove all farm subsidies, what happens to the farmer when drought or flood hits and he losses his crop for one year?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Like other business people, farmers plan for bad years through savings, insurance, etc. If they fail to make such plans, they suffer the same fate as other businesses operating on the edge — they go under in tough times. They are bought out by someone who manages better. The displaced farmers find an occupation more suited to their particular talents.

Subsidies discourage good management and encourage inefficiency. As a result, consumers pay more for less.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions from Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for additional reading on this topic:

* “Five Reasons to Repeal Farm Subsidies“ by Chris Edwards, Cato Institute, May 31, 2013.

EXCERPT: “Why is farming so coddled by the government? It’s a risky business, but not uniquely so. Industries such as high technology, newspapers, and restaurants are very risky, yet they don’t rely on government handouts. Farming faces certain risks such as adverse weather. But high-tech companies are vulnerable to rapid innovations by competitors, and restaurants are vulnerable to changing consumer tastes and intense competition. … If farm subsidies were ended…a stronger and more innovative agriculture industry would emerge that would be more productive and more resilient in the long run.”

* “GOP Hypocrisy and the Farm Bill“ By Michael Tanner, Cato Institute, Huffington Post, July 12, 2013. In this op-ed Tanner dissects a federal farm bill and shows the anti-market, anti-consumer nature of farm subsidies — and the shockingly huge conservative support for them.

EXCERPT: “In 2011, the last year for which full data is available, the average farm household had an income of $87,289, 25 percent higher than the average for all U.S. households. And about a third of the farm subsidies go to the largest four percent of farm operators. If you want to see real ‘welfare queens,’ look no further than Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyler Farms, and Riceland Foods.”

Don’t Quench Their Thirst with a Fire Hose

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 18, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

When someone asks you about libertarianism, how much should you tell them?

a) Enough to stimulate their desire for more?

b) Enough to satisfy their interest?

c) More than they want to know. Everything you know about libertarianism.

All too often, libertarians act on answer “c.”

We quench their thirst… with a fire hose.

We give them too much information, too fast. They can’t absorb it. Can’t digest it.

“The secret of being a bore is to tell all you know,” wrote Voltaire.

Burying our listeners with information numbs their minds and turns them off.

Drowning them with unfamiliar assertions, ideas, facts, and thinking — intimidates and overwhelms them.

When “too much” fails, “almost enough” succeeds.

Why? Because “almost enough to satisfy” is “enough to stimulate their appetite for more.”

This is the key: Almost enough. Less than enough.

“Less than enough” whets their hunger for more information about libertarianism.

“Less than enough” stimulates their thirst for more.

“Less than enough” arouses their desire to learn more.

December 15 Is Bill of Rights Day!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Dear friend,

December 15 is “Bill of Rights Day” — a day to celebrate, honor and renew support for our precious Bill of Rights.

It was on December 15, 1791 that the Bill of Rights — the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution — went into effect.

One hundred and fifty years later, in 1941, December 15 was officially proclaimed Bill of Rights Day.

Some classrooms will hold Bill of Rights Day discussions, and some citizens and organizations will celebrate Bill of Rights Day.

Still, most Americans remain tragically unaware of the significance of this date. As Chris Bliss of MyBillofRights.org observed in 2011:

“The sad fact is that at this key crossroads in the life of our nation, the Bill of Rights is barely taught in our schools anymore, and is nowhere to be found in our public square. Worse, it is so uncelebrated in our public discourse that last December 15, while flipping through the morning news shows, I heard the following on no less than three networks: ‘It’s December 15, and you know what that means? It’s National Cupcake Day!’”

Ouch!

All Americans should be familiar with their Bill of Rights freedoms. Sadly, numerous surveys indicate most are not. A 1991 poll commissioned by the American Bar Association found that only 33% of Americans even knew what the Bill of Rights was. In one Gallup poll 70% did not know what the First Amendment was or what it dealt with.

The Bill of Rights is, of course, the great protector of American liberties. It boldly declares that people have certain inalienable rights that government cannot abridge — fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and more. It also provides procedures for defending those rights — such as fair trials and limits on federal power.

The Bill of Rights doesn’t belong just to America. It has inspired freedom fighters around the world. The Founders viewed their Revolution as the first blow in a struggle to win liberty for all the people of the world. The Bill of Rights is truly a document for everyone.

Thomas Jefferson made this clear in a letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

Bill of Rights Day is a great time for letters to the editor pointing out the vital importance of our Bill of Rights freedoms — and urging citizens to stand up for the Bill of Rights and reject the too-often-heard calls by politicians to sacrifice our precious liberty for (alleged) security.

Bill of Rights Day is a great time for speeches, public events, and other creative celebrations. For talking with family, friends, colleagues about this American treasure.

Here’s something that might be helpful. Several years ago students at Liberty Middle School in Ashley, Virginia prepared a short summary of the Bill of Rights.

While this condensed version doesn’t have the majesty, depth and detail of the entire document, it is short and easy to understand, and may be useful to you in discussions and letters. I’ve edited it just a bit.

THE BILL OF RIGHTS: First Ten Amendments to the Constitution

1. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble peaceably, right to petition the government about grievances.
2. Right to keep and bear arms.
3. Citizens do not have to quarter soldiers during peacetime.
4. No unreasonable searches and seizures.
5. Rights of the accused.
6. Right to a fair trial.
7. Right to a trial by jury in civil cases also.
8. No cruel and unusual punishments.
9. Unenumerated rights go to the people.
10. Reserves all powers not given to the national government to the states or the people.

As Adam Summers of the Reason Foundation observed in The Libertarian Perspective:

“The Founders must be spinning in their graves. Nearly everything the government does today is unconstitutional under the system they instituted. Governmental powers were expressly limited; individual liberties were not. Now it seems it is the other way around. …

“If the Bill of Rights is to regain its meaning, we must rededicate ourselves to the principles it asserts and be mindful that a government powerful enough to give us all we want is powerful enough to take away everything we have.”

Let it begin with you. This December 15, remind all Americans that we are, as the National Constitution Center puts it, a nation of “Bill”-ionaires.

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Yours for Liberty,
Sharon

Instead of “Government Subsidies”…

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 18, No. 22 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Libertarians often complain about “government subsidies” of various types. And rightfully so.

Like many people of other political views, libertarians object to government subsidies to corporations. To millionaire farmers. To baseball teams. And so on.

We are right to criticize such outrageous spending.

But consider using different phrasing.

“Government subsidies” sounds like the government is reaching into its pockets and handing out its own money.

We libertarians know, however, that the government has no money of its own. It is reaching into our pockets and the pockets of our fellow citizens, forcibly seizing money from us, and handing our money over to its favored special interests.

So let’s use language that makes that clearer. That tells who is really footing the bill.

Instead of “government subsides” to corporations, try “taxpayer subsidies” to corporations.

Instead of “government funding” of a project, try “taxpayer funding.” Or “taxpayer dollars.”

Or personalize it further.

“Subsidizing corporations with your hard-earned money.”

“Taking our money away from us and giving it to sports teams.”

“Taking money from struggling families and giving it to millionaires.”

Identifying the true victim of such schemes — telling where the money is really coming from — makes a far stronger case for stopping such spending.

Pointing out that it is taxpayer — not government — funding drives this point home.

This may open the eyes of people lulled into complacency by the notion of “government funding” and “government subsidies.”  It may help some people to realize, in a visceral and personal way, the outrageous nature of so-called “government subsidies.”

The Power of One

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 18, No. 22 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

One may be all you need.

You may be only one request away from funding for your libertarian project.

You may be just one phone call away from recruiting a great libertarian candidate.

You may be one email request away from enrolling 50 campaign volunteers in just one day.

You may be one fundraising letter away from raising the first $100,000 for your Libertarian campaign.

You may be one meme away from reaching 1,000,000 people hungry for what you’re offering.

You may be one paradigm-shifting campaign slogan away from winning 308,860 votes in Massachusetts: “small government is beautiful.”

You may be one simple idea away from rotating the X-axis, Y-axis Nolan graph into the Diamond Chart on the World’s Smallest Political Quiz — and capturing the imagination of tens of millions.

One idea. One person. One action.

One-derful.

 

Too Much Libertarianism?

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 18, No. 21 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Little Johnny had been playing outside. He came running into the house and asked, “Mommy, where did I come from?”

She’d been waiting for this question, so she took a deep breath, sat down with Johnny, and explained all about the birds and the bees and the wonders of how children are conceived and born.

When she finally finished, she asked him, “Did that answer your question?”

“I guess so,” he replied. “But Joey said he came from Boston.”

Sometimes we give people a lot more information than they want to know!

That can be true about libertarianism and political issues, too.

When someone asks you a question about libertarianism, begin by giving them a short answer. Start with soundbites.

Most people prefer to get a little information and then ask more questions, rather than getting a long lecture in response to one question.

A conversation goes much smoother when there’s give and take, so before going ahead and giving a longer answer, get permission from the other person. Ask them a question like one of these:

“Did that answer your question?”

“This is one of my favorite topics. Do you mind if I tell you a little more about it?”

“Do you have time to discuss this further?”

“Would you like to know a little more about this?”

Continue to be sensitive to their level of interest. Be alert to signs of disinterest, like fidgeting, looking around the room. Be ready to ask a permission question again, if the conversation extends.

(If you sense their attention is drifting, or time is an issue, you can also offer to supply further information in another form. “I know a great short article on this topic. Would you like me to email it to you?”)

Of course, sometimes you can sense that the person you’re talking with is very interested and desires to talk and learn more. But you’d be surprised — sometimes that is hard to tell, especially when you’re in the midst of talking about a great passion of yours. So play safe and ask.

It’s generally better to give too little — and leave them interested in hearing more — than to drown them in information.

As Michael Cloud likes to say: Don’t try to quench their thirst with a firehouse. Offer a glass of water instead.

Remember the old show business wisdom: “Always leave ‘em wanting more.”

Is Your Libertarian Activism “Only a Drop in the Bucket”?

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 18, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Why are you even bothering to support the Advocates?” asks your friend. “Your support is only a drop in the bucket.”

“Why are you volunteering to work at an Operation Politically Homeless booth?” asks your college roommate.

“One day at an OPH booth and you might help 40 or 50 people recognize that they lean libertarian – but that’s just a drop in the bucket.”

“Why are you forwarding Liberator Online articles to a dozen friends and coworkers?” asks one of your recipients.

“Even if you win one person over to libertarianism – it’s only one person. Just a drop in the bucket.”

“Only a drop in the bucket” means tiny, trivial, insignificant, can’t-make-a-difference, a waste of time… futile!

“Only a drop in the bucket” is intended to needle you, push your buttons, embarrass you, and make you feel stupid for doing what you’re doing. It’s designed to goad you into STOPPING what you’re doing.

But the “only a drop in the bucket” objection forgets that some small actions are independently powerful and have a huge impact. One small stone from David’s sling brought down Goliath. One small glass of water can save the life of a man dying of thirst. One square inch of Kevlar can save the life of a police officer.

More. One small action can set in motion massive consequences. One last snowflake can trigger an avalanche. A final straw can break a camel’s back.

CNBC’s Rick Santelli’s five-minute 2/19/09 economic rant from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange ignited the Tea Party movement.

More. One small action by one person PLUS one small action by others can total up to something far bigger. Buckets can be slowly – or very quickly – filled by such drops.

How many drops does it take to fill a one-gallon bucket? Drop sizes vary.

Depending on the size of the drop, it takes between 75,708 drops and 90,840 drops to fill a one-gallon bucket.

Using the 90,840 drops in a gallon number, if every subscriber to the Liberator Online puts “only one libertarian drop in the bucket” into that bucket, today, tomorrow, and the next day – we will overflow the bucket in less than three days. You and I and our fellow Liberator Online readers ALONE can overfill 141 one-gallon buckets every year.

And… we are NOT alone. There are all the activist libertarians in the Libertarian Party PLUS roughly 400,000 registered Libertarian voters in America. PLUS the millions of young libertarians who campaigned and voted for Ron Paul for president in 2012. PLUS the 15,700,000 votes that were cast for Libertarian Party candidates in 2012. Plus the libertarian campus organizations blossoming across America. PLUS the thousands who support CATO and Reason and the Independent Institute and FreedomFest. And the blogs, the newsletters, the podcasts, the videos, the letters to editors…

Your “one libertarian drop in the bucket” each day or week helps fill bucket after bucket after bucket for liberty.

And gets us closer and closer to freedom in our time.

Halloween: Share Some Scary Facts About… Government

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 18, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Holidays can be a great time to share libertarian ideas with family and friends, so be sure to gather liberty-themed facts, figures and stories specific for each holiday. (The Liberator Online is a good source for such information. We frequently share it in this column, or elsewere in the issue, as major holidays near.)

This month the scariest holiday of the year is approaching. In a few days bloodsuckers, devils and demons will roam the streets, demanding we hand over goodies or face retaliation. No, it’s not tax time or election season — I’m talking about Halloween!

Below is a short report from the free-market Cost of Government Center that gives some genuinely shocking figures about how much government is adding to the cost of your family’s Halloween celebration this year.

The Cost of Government Center is an affiliate of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), and its website has excellent similar reports about the impact of taxes and regulations on major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Share this information with your family and friends, if the appropriate opportunity arises, and you’ll surely open some minds about the scariest spook house of them all — the voracious federal government! Happy Halloween!

Trick or Treat? The Frightening Cost of Halloween – Courtesy of Government by the Cost of Government Center, October 27, 2011

Think Halloween is scary? Ha! It’s nothing compared to the Frightfest of taxes and hidden costs government adds to this beloved holiday.

Each year, parents spend $1 billion on kid costumes for Halloween. On average, for the estimated 41 million trick-or-treaters, each kid wears a costume costing almost $25 — a hefty sum for parents who know this annual investment is only going to get a few hours of use.

Taxes make up a shocking amount of that cost.

Kids’ costumes are almost all made of heavily taxed synthetic fibers. On top of the state sales tax paid at the register, the government increases the cost of buying these costumes by imposing a 17 percent tariff on many of these imported costumes. Businesses not only have to absorb these costs, but also those imposed by income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workmen’s compensation taxes, and other payments to federal, state, and local forms of government.

When all is said and done, government taxes compose a terrifying 47.82 percent of the cost of the average kid’s costume — $11.66 of the average price. Boo!

But the government’s tricks don’t end there. The Halloween season brings with it $2 billion in candy purchases. Due to excise taxation on sweets in addition to the burden of taxes placed on the confectionery industry, the government takes a 30.81 percent bite out of the average trick-or-treaters’ candy haul. Ouch!

Altogether, the cost of celebrating our scariest holiday is made all the more frightening by the costs imposed by government: hidden taxes and other costs constitute 40.91 percent of your Halloween celebration.

This amounts to a burden of $688 million — or $16.80 per kid. The remaining $1.3 billion of candy not distributed during trick-or-treating represents another $406 million in taxes. Finally, after including taxes on adults for decorations and costumes the total Halloween tax bite comes to… a bloody and bruising $2.7 billion.

And the cost is even higher if you attend a spooky party with alcoholic beverages. Wine, distilled spirits and beer are all subject to more hidden taxes. Going out to dinner instead of trick-or-treating also carries higher government costs. And if you have to drive your kids to trick-or-treat, the government bite of gasoline also takes a hefty bite out of your wallet.

Wherever you turn, wherever you go, you can’t escape the bloodsucking horror of… the federal government.

Hey, if you’re still searching for a truly bone-chilling costume idea, may we suggest you dress up as… Uncle Sam.

(Please note: The Cost of Government Center posted this on October 27, 2011. You might check their excellent website as Halloween nears to see if they’ve published an updated 2013 version. If you use these figures, especially outside of casual conversation, you might want to point out the date, i.e., “as the Cost of Government Center noted on Halloween two years ago…”)

World’s Smallest Political Quiz used to explain libertarianism and Libertarian Party at CPAC

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 18, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Libertarian Party Chair Geoffrey J. Neale presented and explained the Libertarian Party at the Sept. 28, 2013, Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in St. Louis, Mo. CPAC is one of the most influential conservative gatherings in the world. attended by activists and office holders from across the United States.

Neale’s presentation came during a panel discussion titled: “Can Conservatives and Libertarians Ever Get Along?” I was pleased to note that Neale began by using the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz to clarify what libertarianism means – yet another proof of the marvelous effectiveness of this amazing tool and the clear thinking about politics it promotes.

The entire transcript of the debate can be read here, and the debate is also onvideo.

Here are some excerpts from Neale’s presentation:

“The Libertarian Party was built on a very simple principle: liberty. Freedom to do what you want as long as you respect the rights of others.

“One of our [party's] founding fathers, David F. Nolan, who, sadly, passed away three years ago, created this little chart, a test, known as the Nolan Chart or the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. It differentiates people based on whether you should have the right to decide your life on economic issues or social issues. [It shows where] you fit in a [two-dimensional] political spectrum.

“People in the middle, we call Centrists. People who are strong on social freedoms, but not on economic freedoms, we call Democrats. People who are strong on economic freedoms, but not so much on social issues, we call Republicans. People who are strong on both we call Libertarians, and people who are strong on neither we call authoritarians. [Editor's note: Although Neale is using political party names here in the context of his presentation, the Quiz itself uses political terms – Right/Conservative and Left/Liberal.]

“David Nolan wanted to make a differentiation. He said, ‘It’s really not about left or right, it’s about authoritarian vs. libertarian.’ …

“So, for Libertarians, it’s not about left or right, it really is about right or wrong. … Libertarians are opposed to the initiation of force or fraud. Let me translate that into Christian: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is a moral statement; it is the essence of coexistence in any civilized culture. …

“What we believe in is voluntary association and disassociation. When you take government influence, oppression, and action out, and you allow good people to interact, they do wonderful things. I have faith in the human spirit, in human nature. When not perverted by outside sources, [they] act very well together.

“What we need is the freedom to act as good people, and we all have it within us. But the government is getting in the way of our human nature.”

Great presentation! I would only add that, along with Dave Nolan, Advocates Founder Marshall Fritz (pictured on the left with Dave in the photo below) also deserves credit for the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. Dave’s great insight was the chart that appears on the Quiz. Marshall’s contribution was to add ten extensively-researched and tested questions alongside the chart, to allow people to quickly find where they fit on Dave’s chart and thus discover what political group most agreed with them.

The combination of Dave’s chart and Marshall’s questions and packaging created the irresistible eye-opening political tool that has taken the idea of a multi-spectrum political map that includes libertarians to tens of millions of people around the world.

Thanks, Geoffrey Neale, for being a part of that ongoing revolution – for taking the mind-opening Quiz and the ideas of liberty to this highly influential CPAC audience!

Yours for Liberty,
Sharon

Dramatically Improve Your Conversations with These Simple (But Too Often Ignored) Tips

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 18, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In past columns we’ve talked a lot about the vital importance of listening. In my communication seminars libertarians are often startled to learn about the power that active, genuine listening can add to our communication efforts.

It is equally important that the person you are conversing with be aware that you are carefully, sincerely and respectfully listening to what he is saying.

Here are some ways you can demonstrate to the other person that you are genuinely listening. These aren’t tricks or gimmicks. Using them will not only show the person that you are listening. You actually will be listening better.

1. Deliberately move away from distractions. Turn off the radio or TV. Put your cell phone away, turn it off, or at least move it further away from you.

2. Make eye contact. This connects you with the speaker. It’s not necessary (or appropriate) to stare at the person, but simply make natural, appropriate eye contact as the person is speaking.

3. Lean forward slightly. This is a natural movement when you are paying attention to something or someone, and the other person intuitively realizes this.

4. Nod when you agree with what the person is saying and/or when you are sure you understand or relate to what the person is saying.

5. Make short remarks when appropriate like, “I see.” “I understand.” “Yes.” “I agree.”

6. When the person finishes, before you start giving your opinion, do one of these three things:

* Ask a question that encourages the person to add to what they were saying.

* Ask a question that gets the person to clarify what they were saying.

* Summarize briefly what you think their major point was, and confirm with them that you are correct.

7. Three DON’T's:

* Don’t lean back and cross your arms over your chest. This indicates an unwillingness to be open to what the other person is saying.

* Don’t interrupt to correct or disagree with what the person is saying. Let them finish.

* Don’t spend your listening time planning on what you will say when they get through. Instead, focus on understanding what they are saying. Really listen.

Surprisingly, these simple techniques are often ignored, and communication suffers badly as a result.

Watch for them in your next few serious conversations. Notice if your listeners are using these indicators of serious listening. See how you feel when they do — and when they don’t.

It takes an awareness of them, and some practice, to use them effectively. But the payoff is worth it. You will find your communication and conversations are greatly improved. And you will win more friends — both for yourself and for the cause of liberty.

The Reverse

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 18, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Tired of long, drawn-out arguments about government? Worn out from explaining why government fails and makes things worse?

What if you could convince your listener to persuade himself about libertarianism? What if you could persuade him to marshal compelling and convincing evidence and arguments that would change his mind about libertarianism?

Persuade himself? How?

The Reverse.

Instead of telling him what’s right with liberty and wrong with government, ask him.

“What’s one thing that government does now that you think it definitely should not do?”

Or: “What’s one activity that government engages in that it should stop doing?”

Or: “What’s one government program that’s a dismal failure or a waste of money that government ought to shut down?”

Then ask, “Why?”

After he tells you why, ask him to tell you more. Ask him to elaborate and expand. To tell you about the consequences of the bad program. To give you examples.

Then play Devil’s Advocate. Ask him how he would respond to possible objections.

“Suppose someone said X, how would you answer that objection?”

“Suppose someone said Y, how would you answer that objection?”

He will argue himself into a libertarian position. And he will give you the evidence and arguments that are most convincing to him.

The Reverse lets your listener pick the part of government that he’s most opposed to, do your arguing for you, and in the process intensify his opposition.

How and why does it work?

  1. It begins with what your listener already believes. It respects his beliefs and values.
  2. It creates rapport. Agreement. You both agree that government should abandon this activity or program.
  3. As Pascal wrote, “We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others.”
  4. As Win Wenger writes in The Einstein Factor: “The sheer act of expressing our thoughts on some subject causes us to learn more about that subject, even when no new information has been provided from without.”

Why does The Reverse work?

To truly learn a subject, teach it.

To help our listeners learn, we must ask them to teach.

If not you, who? If not now, when?

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 18, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: Sometimes when I criticize government, I am told that if I don’t like it here, I should go somewhere else. Essentially, the old “love it or leave it” line. What’s a good response?

MY SHORT ANSWER: One response I use goes like this:

“I love my country and its heritage of liberty. When I see it going astray, I want to help it get back on track.

“Our government once endorsed slavery. Where would we be today if the abolitionists had left, instead of helping our nation extend its heritage of liberty to black slaves?

“When our government makes a mistake, it’s up to us to correct it. If not us, who?”

Success Stories – How We Can Find Thousands of New Libertarians and Bring Them into the Libertarian Movement

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 18, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Dear friends,

Campus libertarians are having great success using free OPH kits provided by the Advocates to reach the libertarian leaders and activists of tomorrow!

So far we’ve given over 900 OPH kits free to campus libertarian groups who’ve requested them. It’s one of the biggest outreach efforts in our history.

And libertarian students are putting those OPH kits to work!

Before I share a couple of recent OPH success stories with you, let me offer some numbers for you to consider:

  • Imagine if just 200 OPH kits were used just three times this coming year by students and other libertarian groups.
  • That would be 600 OPHs in total.
  • Now imagine each OPH discovered and activated just 20 new libertarians. (That’s a very reasonable expectation, based on years of experience.)

 

The results: 12,000 new libertarians discovered and brought into the liberty movement!

Imagine what a difference that could make to liberty in America.

And that’s a low estimate. OPHs are so easy to do, any group can do them several times a year.

There’s no reason libertarians couldn’t put on 1,000 OPHs per year. Or many more than that.

Opportunities abound: music festivals, political events, demonstrations, gun shows, fairs, festivals, on campus… anywhere people are gathered, you will find success with your OPH.

That’s been proven, over and over again, since the Advocates first created and introduced OPH in 1987.

Actually, as an OPH kit user don’t think of yourself as just working to grow and expand your own local organization’s membership — vital as that is.

You should also think of yourself as part of a national OPH movement. With enough OPHs, on and off campus, we can reach millions of Americans with the ideas of liberty — and bring tens of thousands of them — every year — into the liberty movement.

OPH is revolutionizing America. Those who are using OPH now are building the liberty mass movement of tomorrow.

Americans are hungry for the ideas of liberty. They’ve never been so eager to hear the message your OPH booth can bring them. There’s never been a better opportunity — and there is no better tool than OPH.

Now, some exciting new OPH success stories!

1. University of Missouri Young Americans for Liberty: Over 50 New Recruits

In early September the University of Missouri chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) used OPH to educate and recruit at the Student Activity Mart.

Member James Chappelow says OPH “rocked the Student Activity Mart.”

“We recruited more than 50 new interested students and provided a public service to Mizzou students of all political stripes by helping them get in touch with their own ideas and beliefs using the World’s Smallest Political Quiz,” Chappelow reports.

Fifty new students signed up! And many other students were educated about liberty and the political spectrum. Congratulations!

2. Bowling Green Young Americans for Liberty: 100 Students Signed Up

Reports Sam Link of Young Americans for Liberty at Bowling Green State University in Ohio:

“We used the OPH kit to help spread the word and recruit during BGSU’s Campus Fest.

“We were definitely the most active political table at Campus Fest. The Quiz was a huge [help] in bringing students to the table and we were able to sign up around 100 people that day!

“Thanks for the OPH kit!”

Thank you and the Bowling Green YAL for using OPH, Sam!

These students are showing what’s possible with OPH. It’s easy, fun, and turns a boring ho-hum literature table into a crowd-pleasing, crowd-drawing event.

OPH offers the libertarian movement the opportunity to easily reach the public with our ideas and recruit tens of thousands to our side.

Take advantage of this amazing, proven tool!

Learn more about OPH (Operation Politically Homeless) — the libertarian movement’s most successful outreach tool.

* Campus libertarian groups: Learn more about our free OPH kit offer.

Yours for Liberty,
Sharon

Give Them Something!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 18, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Maybe you’ve just met someone at a party. You’ve had a great discussion about libertarianism. Now it’s time to leave. You may never see this person again.

Or you’ve just delivered a speech on libertarianism to a service club or high school class. You’re thanking the teacher for inviting you and thanking the class for their questions. In a moment you’ll be gone.

Or you mention to your cab driver as you return to the airport that you’ve been to a libertarian conference, and he says “Libertarians — yeah, I’ve been hearing more and more about them.” And now, after a good conversation, you’re stepping out of the cab.

Don’t overlook the crucial last step in your conversation. Don’t let their current interest and enthusiasm and curiosity dwindle away. Act right now — while they are eager to learn more.

Give them something.

Give them some way for them to easily continue their investigations into libertarian ideas and the libertarian movement. Give them information. Give them a web address or email address or other contacts.

Here are some suggestions.

World’s Smallest Political Quiz cards: The Quiz card is designed for this. It’s an outreach kit on a card. The Quiz itself is fun, irresistible, and eye-opening. The back has links to solid, persuasive information about libertarianism.

Quiz cards are attractive and easy to carry in a wallet, purse, pocket, glove compartment, etc. I always have them with me.

Give them more than one. “Here’s one for you — and a few to share.” You can hand-write your contact information, or the name of a libertarian organization or website you’re familiar with, on the card when you give it to them.

Other cards: Don’t have a Quiz card handy? (Shame on you! :) Give them a business card, or any other piece of paper handy, with a good libertarian website or other information. Don’t just write down the web address or email address. Write something like: “More info on libertarianism” so when they see the paper again, they’ll know what it is. If appropriate, give your own contact info as well.

Books: If you want to give a book, there are several great introductory books.Libertarianism In One Lesson is renowned as the best short introduction to libertarianism available. Mary Ruwart’s Healing Our World is especially appealing to concerned, compassionate, spiritually-inclined idealists who want to make the world a better place. David Boaz’s Libertarianism: A Primer is one of the best all-around introductions to libertarianism.

Other: Does your local libertarian organization have a card, a hand-out, an introductory pamphlet? If so, keep some handy. If the person is local to you, and you want to talk further with them, give them your email address or phone number.

As the Boy Scouts famously advise: Be prepared!

Help make that unexpected conversation, that successful presentation, that great talk with your niece, the beginning of a longer journey into libertarianism.

Make it easy for them to take the next step.

Give them something.

4 Big Factors That Make More People More Receptive to Libertarianism

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Power Point section in Volume 18, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

What really changes people’s minds about libertarianism?

Sometimes it’s what you say.

Sometimes it’s how you say it.

Sometimes it’s who you say it to.

Very often, it’s what’s going on with Big Government… while you’re having the libertarian conversation.

And it’s 4 big factors. You can express it as a formula: P2C2. That’s Big Government Problems, Pain, Costs and Consequences.

Big Problems caused or sustained by Big Government. Massive unemployment. Huge amounts of time wasted complying with government paperwork, rules, and resolutions. Huge Social Security problems. Big Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare problems. And don’t forget the problems created by the problems.

Intense Pain caused or sustained by Big Government. Overwhelming pain. Caused by Big Government problems — or trying to cope with with the problems.

The pain of paying 47% of your income in taxes. The pain caused by trying to understand and correctly fill out government paperwork, trying to understand and comply with government regulations. Throbbing pain as you fill out forms for your small business, enroll your children in public schools, and as you fill out government paperwork… while waiting to see a doctor.

Ballooning Costs of Big Government programs — or complying with them. Big Government puts the POUND into the comPOUNDing costs of everything it touches.

Welfare, warfare, regulation, mandates, and more. Ever-growing costs that squeeze every last dollar out of your family income and savings.

Cascading Consequences of Big Government policies and programs. Marijuana prohibition promotes gangs and gang violence that fosters more drug enforcement cops and costs, more arrests and prosecutions, and massive numbers of long-term prisoners serving time in jails and prisons for selling, possessing, or buying marijuana or other drugs.

U.S. government foreign wars, gunboat diplomacy, occupation forces, military aid to foreign despots create new enemies, are often paid for by overspending, inflation, and debt.

Consequences – all of which hurt taxpayers, weaken the economy, and flush American wealth into bottomless sewers.

Want to make people far more receptive and responsive to your libertarian suggestions and solutions?

Want to amplify the impact of your persuasive libertarian proposals?

P2C2. Big Government Problems, Pain, Costs and Consequences.

First, show and tell them how huge, intense, extensive and expensive the Big Government policies and programs are.

Second, tell them: “This is America. Birthplace of freedom. We can do way better than this.”

Third, offer them libertarian solutions. Freedom remedies that reduce and remove the root cause of the huge problems, pain, costs, and consequences: Big Government programs.

Fourth, tell them the huge, immediate, direct benefits of reducing and removing these wasteful and harmful Big Government programs: dramatically less burden on them and their families, radically lower taxes and higher take-home pay for them, their co-workers and their neighbors — and ever-growing economic, social, and personal liberty for all of us.

Fifth, let them know that that’s just a taste of libertarianism — and ask them if they’d like to find out more.

Sixth, if they say “yes” to learning more about liberty, see that they get immediately some great introductory material. Books such as Libertarianism In One Lesson by David Bergland or Healing Our World by Mary Ruwart. Free online information about libertarianism and the liberty movement — the Advocates has lots of good introductory material at our website, under the tab “Libertarianism: What You Need to Know.” A free subscription to the Liberator Online.

You’ll be glad you did.

Listen Up! The Incredible, Free and Too Often Neglected Benefits of… Listening

in Communicating Liberty by Sharon Harris Comments are off

One of the most important — and frequently overlooked, and surprisingly difficult — secrets of truly successful communication is active listening.

In our eagerness to tell people about the ideas of liberty, we may miss out on the huge benefits of simply stopping and listening to what the people we are talking are saying in response.

Here are some of those benefits:

1. You learn what the other person’s primary concerns and interests are. This gives you a chance to address those directly, instead of talking about something the other person doesn’t care about.

2. You find out about any misconceptions they may have about libertarianism. This gives you a chance to clear those up.

3. You can discover areas of agreement, thus creating invaluable rapport.

4. Perhaps most importantly, you show the other person that you are interested in them. People tend to be reciprocal, and therefore they in turn will be more interested in you and what you have to say.

Most people don’t take the time and effort to do this. As Stephen Covey writes: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.”

When you make the effort to listen actively, you immediately become far more effective communicator.

To be a good listener, you must REALLY listen — not just pretend. Breathe and focus on what the other person is saying. When needed or appropriate, use the Echoing technique (described in another chapter) to be sure you’ve really understood their concerns.

While this is SIMPLE, it’s certainly not EASY. You’ll find this out when you try it. Active listening is a skill that must be developed (though you’ll reap benefits the very first time you try it).

But it is worth the effort. The benefits are powerful. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your communication.

The Power of Echoing

 In one Dilbert cartoon, the obnoxious Dogbert character tells a communication seminar:

“There’s really no point in listening to other people. They’re either going to be agreeing with you or saying stupid stuff.”

Thank goodness Dogbert isn’t a libertarian!

The fact is, every successful persuasion conversation starts with listening.

Attentive listening assures the other person that you care about what they think, and allows you to effectively address their concerns.

But how do you know you’re really hearing what they’re saying?

It’s simple: Repeat what the other person said. Then ask: “Is that right?”

This technique is called “echoing.” Echoing lets someone know that you listened to them, heard them correctly, and understood what they said.

Example: They say, “In a libertarian society, wouldn’t poor people starve without government welfare?”

You say, “You’re concerned that poor people wouldn’t get the help they need in a libertarian society, and would starve. Is that correct?”

Wait for their response (and listen to it!). Then you can talk about how liberty helps the poor.

Echoing lets the other person know you’re listening. It also helps you fully understand their concern.

It’s a simple but powerful technique that builds the respect and rapport that is necessary to engage in constructive and persuasive conversation.

Is there an exception to this rule? Only one: Don’t listen to Dogbert!

Libertarian Renaissance!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner in Volume 18, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Dear friend,

Want a blast of GREAT news? Uplifting, exciting, motivating news?

Then check out the first article in this issue’s Intellectual Ammunition section: “New Poll Finds ‘Libertarian Renaissance in America.’

This is an explosive story, and it is wonderful news for the libertarian movement!

This breakthrough is no accident. Every person reading this who has helped spread the word of liberty — whether you’ve been doing it for decades, years, or just a few months — helped make it possible.

Congratulations and thanks to all of you freedom fighters!

As the article indicates, there is still much more work to do. The liberty movement’s job is just beginning. Millions of Americans have still not heard the libertarian message. Millions of potential libertarians have yet to be discovered, convinced, and brought into the liberty movement.

But momentum is at last on our side — thanks to your hard work. We have moved from obscurity and small numbers to a large and growing and passionate movement determined to make liberty once again a burning issue in American politics.

Libertarian ideas are spreading, and the future looks bright, despite the very real threats to liberty still holding center stage today. Libertarians have a real chance to grow into a movement that will replace today’s statist quo and restore and advance liberty in America and throughout the world.

The Advocates is here to help you take this renaissance to the next level! Our tools, our publications, our programs all exist to help you learn and use the most effective ways to spread the ideas of liberty.

We can help you grow your libertarian organization. We can help you take libertarian ideas to your family, friends and colleagues, to influential opinion leaders and to the public: persuasively, accurately, successfully.

Check out what we have to offer. Attend one of our upcoming trainings, orcontact me to arrange a training for your group.

Get an OPH kit (FREE for campus libertarian organizations).

Try the card version of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

Suggest to your libertarian friends that they subscribe to the Liberator Online.

Thank you again for everything you have done for liberty — and thank you in advance for your continuing work to bring about future successes for our movement!

Yours for Liberty,
Sharon Harris

Quick and Easy E-Ways to Help Others Discover Liberty

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the Liberator Online, Volume 18, No. 17Subscribe today!)

judge_jim_gray_interview_37405be026f

“What is your political philosophy? It is an interesting question that few people really give time to think about.”

That’s how Judge Jim Gray — retired Orange County Superior Court judge and 2012 Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate — began a recent column in the Daily Pilot, a newspaper published by the Los Angeles Times which serves Newport Beach and Costa Mesa in Orange County, California.

After an amusing and enlightening comparison of sports to politics, Gray got down to the essentials.

He described “the libertarian values of both financial responsibility and social acceptance” and then asked the reader: “Are those your values too?”

He concluded by offering readers a way to find their place on the political spectrum: take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

“I think you will find the results to be quite revealing,” he concluded.

Thanks, Judge Gray!

Judge Gray’s article offered nearly 100,000 Daily Pilot readers the chance to take the Quiz. Many of those who do will discover — perhaps for the very first time — that they are libertarians, or at least libertarian-leaning.

I know that most of you reading this don’t write newspaper columns or run for vice president of the United States.

But you, too, can quickly and easily help lots of other people encounter the eye-opening, enlightening power of the Quiz.

Here are two simple ways.

1) Share the Quiz on Facebook and through other social media. Take the Quizonline and right-click on the graphic that shows your results. Save the image and post it on Facebook and other sites. Add a caption along these lines:

“Here’s how I scored on the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. Try it and see which political group agrees with YOU the most in the world of politics!”

Fast, easy, and guaranteed to stimulate interesting comments!

2) Put the Quiz as a signature in your emails. You’re probably familiar with signatures. These are the little quotes or sayings or personal notes seen at the bottom of email messages and online forum posts. Most email programs can be configured to generate them automatically. Signatures have been described as “email bumperstickers.”

Here are some suggested wordings for signatures featuring the Quiz.

  • Are you liberal, conservative, libertarian — or other? It only takes a minute to find out! Try the world-famous World’s Smallest Political Quiz online at: www.theadvocates.org/quiz
  • Fun! Fast! Revealing! Try the world-famous World’s Smallest Political Quiz at: www.theadvocates.org/quiz 
  • Who agrees with you in the world of politics? Find out by taking The World’s Smallest Political Quiz at: www.theadvocates.org/quiz
  • Discover your real political identity in minutes — take the world-famous World’s Smallest Political Quiz online at: www.theadvocates.org/quiz


Prepare different signatures for different audiences. Most email programs allow you to have a variety of prepared signatures ready. Make sure the signature you choose is appropriate for the person(s) who’ll be reading it. Also, variety is the spice of liberty — switch messages frequently so you won’t bore your regular correspondents. 

If you email regularly, you can effortlessly and effectively reach a lot of people with these “email bumperstickers” for liberty. 

How many people you reach with these two fast and easy e-methods depends on you, of course. How often you email. How many people you interact with on social media.

But you might be surprised by the numbers. And the Quiz is so intriguing and fun that many of the people you share it with will in turn pass it on to their friends, family and colleagues.

Even if you reach only a few people, you can make a huge difference. Many liberty activists got their introduction to libertarianism by a chance encounter with the Quiz — and they went from there to bring the ideas of liberty to many thousands of people.

If everyone receiving this article used these two easy and simple ideas, and reached just a few dozen people over the course of a year… that would add up to over a million people reached with the Quiz and the ideas of liberty.

And that doesn’t even count the ripple effect — the outreach that some of those you reach would in turn engage in.

Not bad for a few minute’s investment!

One-Minute Liberty Tip: Fast, Fun and Funny

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the Liberator Online Volume 18, No. 15. Subscribe here!)

Here’s a fun, funny and fast way to communicate the essence of how libertarians view government.

It’s been circulating among libertarians and other small-government advocates for many years.

With the right audience, it will draw laughs and knowing nods — and win them to your side.

Here it is:

“Smokey the Bear’s rules for fire safety also apply to government — keep it small, keep it in a confined area, and keep an eye on it.”

It works great as a quick remark in a casual conversation, or as the opening to a more detailed and precise discussion of libertarianism and the nature of government.

* * * * * *
Sharon Harris is president of the Advocates for Self-Government.  

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