Promulgating the Gospel

Gary Freitag gfreitag at GREATBATCH.COM
Tue Feb 3 10:44:46 MST 1998

>PapaPaul wrote:
>>         How do we convince our fellow citizens
>>         of the danger we see?  I'd like to see further discussion
>>         on the topic.
>>         And I'd like to toss in an idea here.  I think we could
>>         choose our targets more carefully.  While it may be fun
>>         to lay into a liberal, it is likely that we will get only
>>         a minimal return on our invested energy.  After all, what
>>         we are asking these people to do is:  1)  Unlearn your
>>         cherished philosophy,  2) Learn my cherished philosophy.
>>         Instead, I'd suggest we spend more of our time and energy
>>         on those family members and friends who really haven't
>>         developed a set philosophy.  The payoff should be a lot
>>         higher.

>Agreed. I don't know how many times I have tried to debate rationally
>with friends only to have them come back with emotional arguments (e.g.
>what about the children of those kicked off welfare, what about those
>who were raised in an abusive or dysfunctional home?) We can not change
>these people but maybe we can educate them. E.g. I asked friends to
>explain how the Repubs were going to starve children, they didn't know.
>Then again, I voted for Slick in '92 (before I had any political
>Raise the young with conservstive values and teach those with no strong
>political philosophy, I like that. An investment.


I use a few different strategies when debating with the "other side".

The first is the idea of a "trade-off".  Most people do not consider
actions or resources spent in some endeavor have ramifications
elsewhere.  For example, it is easy to support more funding for AIDS
research.  But what is usually left out of the conversation is that
funding for other diseases suffers (you do not have to limit your
comparison to similar items).  Perhaps more people are suffering
because there is less progress in curing diabetes or cancer because
those funds are diverted (don't these people care about those suffering
from cancer?).  Or perhaps that money could be used to raise more
people out of poverty (I like to compare programs that are also
supported by the person you are debating with).

In New York, vehicle inspection now includes emissions testing.  This
may improve air quality.  But I never see proponents admit the negative
impact on the poor who must drive older vehicles and therefore carry
the cost burden of repairs.  Frame the debate so that you are the
proponent of the poor, not the opponent of clean air.

The second strategy deals with "motive" versus "reality".  It seems
that people support programs with compassionate and idealistic goals.
They do not consider that with such good intentions, the results could
not only be neutral, but negative in nature.  A great example I use is
subsidies on higher education tuition.  While it sounds great to offer
"free" education at all, there are hugh negatives.  The first is that
people from lower income attend college at much lower rates-so who
benefits?  If poor people don't attend, they don't benefit.  I also
point out that pouring all this funding into education effectively
increases the supply and therefore increases the cost of tuition.  Let
them determine who suffers from that.

Another implicit falsehood is that the poor do not pay anything for
supporting all these programs- they are only beneficiaries.  It is easy
to identify the benefit of a monthly check to the poor.  However, it is
the poor that pay rent, and therefore, property tax; they pay in terms
of higher prices; in terms of sales tax.  Illustrations such as these
need to be used to show the benefit is much less than what they suppose
it to be.

A forth false premise that seems to permeate the opposition is that
government truly cares in a motherly way. One cannot deny that
government offers protections and help.  But I ask who influences the
actions of Washington?  Is it the poor?  All one has to do is follow
the campaign contribution trial to see it is dominated by rich people,
rich corporations, and other rich lobbying groups.  That money flows in
because they derive benefit from it.  It is therefore, easy to see that
the basis for funding AIDS has less to do with maximizing benefit, than
with who has the strongest political lobbying force.

I am sure there are a few more in my bag.


gfreitag at

More information about the Rushtalk mailing list