Talking to Regular People Regarding Economic Reform

Posted on Sunday, 14th August 2011 @ 03:41 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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People who have taken some alternative economics classes, read some alternative economics books (e.g. Henry George, Ellen Brown, Stephen Zarlenga etc.), often ask me, “now that I’ve read/learned there are better ways to do things, how do I broach the subject with people?  I am eager to get the good news that there are solutions out there, but I don’t know how to do it!”  Or, perhaps, like Howard Beale in the movie Network (1976), They are just “Mad as Hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore!!!”


Well, this is surprisingly easy because it turns out almost everyone who isn’t an entrenched elite, realizes there is something wrong with the system, and already has ideas they want to share, even if they’ve never studied economics and just listened to, or read, the news.


Here are some things to keep in mind:

–  Bring some business cards, fliers listing action steps or upcoming meetings, what else can you carry with you?  Be prepared anywhere, anytime.

–  Know your alternative proposals cold.  You will be talking to people about something they have likely never heard about before in the MSM (e.g. Greenbacks (debt-free U.S. Notes); The Single Tax; CAFRs; Ending the Federal Reserve; State/Public Banking). People have been so brainwashed into thinking there cannot be a better way to do things that, even if they think something is wrong, they will come up with knee-jerk clichéd reactions as to why X or Y cannot be done.  Have your answers ready for them. Prepare. Rehearse with a friend(s) (preferably one who doesn’t already know what you know). Above all, try to see the problem form their perspective. This will not only help you solidify your answers, it will help you be able to answer a wide variety of different audiences.

–  Don’t forget to tailor your answers to specific audiences:

  • When talking to a Progressive, stress human rights and economic justice
  • When talking to a Conservative, stress Sovereign Rights (e.g. the Sovereign Right to produce our own money instead of a private bank) and liberty (lately, progressives are just as concerned about the loss of liberty as conservatives)

–  Appeal to emotions!  People won’t be motivated to listen, let alone rise up to solve problems, unless they feel emotionally driven (remember Beale, again, just don’t get co-opted by big business, like he did).

–  Know how to steer the conversation towards solutions. Don’t have a pity party! Don’t have a gripe session! Stress the positive! Everyone knows things are bad (see Howard Beale, above, but remember, Beale said he didn’t know what to tell you to say about how to fix things.  You do….don’t you?), but if we want to be Solvers and not Gripers, we have to know how to move forward. Here is where you will lose at least three quarters of your audience because, sadly, most people are perfectly comfortable just talking endlessly about how bad things are, without wanting to learn to consider solutions to make them better. Learn to recognize this is their comfort zone, and move on. (I’m going to assume you are not one of these people, or you would not have read this far).

Talking to people is simple.  You can say something like:
“Hey guy/gal, you’re worried about jobs?  Did you know there is a way for government to create public works projects without increasing the debt, increasing taxes, or inflating the economy?  It’s by re-issuing debt-free United States Notes.[1]  These are our longest-lasting currency, first issued by Lincoln to fund the Civil War, when NY Banks wanted 24-36% interest, and still in circulation through the early 1990s.  Congress can issue these at any time, for any reason, and apply them directly to areas where we need millions of people to work, like infrastructure….”

Then, if they are really curious about why/how we got into this boom/bust, you can say something like:

“Hey guy/gal, let me tell you why we really have major economic busts every 18 years or so.  It’s not just because we have poor regulation/regulators, because of greed, or even because of stupid and bought-out politicians.  It’s partly all of that, but there is something else, something called the Land cycle.  Let me tell you about it and how the Single Tax on Land could fix it…”


Or, if they are angry that so much taxpayer money seems to go into a black hole, you can say something like:

“Hey guy/gal, did you know there are trillions of dollars in unspent government agency and pension funds?  It’s true, and anyone can see this by looking at the local, State, and Federal Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, online.[2] These funds are typically invested out-of-state, in private banks, some of which lose money on their investments, and some of which then turn around and charge the states interest back on loans to the state on money they had already collected in taxes!  There is a better way.  Let me tell you about State Banks…”


These are just three examples of how to begin a discussion on real, and major, economic reforms.  There are many others, depending on your expertise and particular area of interest.


— Scott Baker, president of Common Ground-NYC; New York State Coordinator of Public Banking; Blogger at Huffington Post and Op Ed News.

[1] Be prepared to repeat or explain complicated phrases like this. Remember, you are having a conversation, not reciting a monologue.

[2] See footnote 1 above

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