Monday, July 30, 2007

Dr. Phil's Questions Applied to Government Programs

On Friday, July 27, the Free Market News published an article by Dr. Michael Cloud, co-founder of the Center for Small Government, entitled Dr. Phil's Simple Questions Can Open People's Minds. The article applies some of Dr. Phil's most common questions to government programs, and finds some fascinating results. I generally try to avoid reproducing someone else's work in full, but in this case, the article is so well-done and so well-written that you really need to read the whole thing. So here it is:

"...Then I yell at my teenaged daughter, tell her what'll happen if she keeps acting this way, and ground her for 2 weeks," says the frustrated mother.

"How's that working out for you?" asks Dr. Phil.

"She talks back to me or gives me the silent treatment. She sneaks out late at night. And she refuses to listen," says mom.

"Are those the kind of results you want?" asks Dr. Phil.

"No," answers the mother.

Then Dr. Phil discusses different ways of meeting both of their needs.

Dr. Phil asks simple questions about actions and consequences. About causes and effects. About behaviors and results.

What might happen if you and I asked these kinds of questions about government programs?

Anti-gun laws. "The Brady Bill and other new gun control laws have been on the books for over 10 years," says the anti-gun activist. "We're very proud that we finally have these laws enacted."

"How's that working out?" asks the freedom advocate. "Are fewer criminals getting their hands on guns? Are there fewer armed robberies? How's that working out?"

"Well, the same number of criminals are getting guns. And we have the same number of armed robberies," answers the anti-gun activist.

"Are those the results you expected? Are those the results you want?" asks the freedom advocate.


After an honest look at results, the freedom advocate can suggest and discuss different - perhaps counter-intuitive - ways of reducing crime. Ways that restore gun freedom and reduce gun crime. Ways of meeting both of their needs.

Government-run public schools. "We've doubled the number of dollars spent on each child during the last 12 years," beams the politician. "But we have so much more to do."

"You've doubled spending for each school child in the last 12 years? How's that working out?" asks the home schooling mom. "Have literacy rates dramatically improved? Have SAT scores substantially increased? Have math test results skyrocketed? Have dropout rates plummeted? How's that working out?"

"Well, we face a number of problems..." begins the politician.

"I'm sure you do," says the mom. "But with your doubled spending, are you getting better results or worse?"

"I don't know why, but literacy rates are lower, SAT scores have fallen, math tests results are worse, and dropout rates are nearly 30%," said the candid politician.

"Are those the results you expected? Are they the results you wanted?" asked the mom.


"Would you be interested in considering different - maybe even revolutionary - approaches to getting children a much better education for a lot less money?" asks the home schooling mom.

Disaster Relief. Food Stamps. Welfare. Social Security. Medicaid. Medicare.

Imagine asking Dr. Phil's elegantly simple questions about each and every government economic and social program.

Cause: "What are you doing now?" Effects: "How's that working out for you?"

Action: "How are you handling this now?" Consequences: "What kind of results are you getting?"

Dr. Phillip McGraw keeps it simple: What are you sowing? What are you

Then he asks: "Is this what you want?"

Sometimes he follows up with: "If you keep doing what you're doing, you're going to keep getting these results. Do you want that?"

This is when Dr. Phil offers new and different choices and actions. And the different results they produce. To change what you're reaping, change what you're sowing. To stop reaping what you're reaping, stop sowing what you're sowing.

A wise approach to counseling. And to government programs.

Whether you read Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters by Dr. Phil McGraw to learn this more fully, or simply remember his key questions above, the more often you use this approach, the more often you'll change the hearts and minds of those you speak with.

How would that work out for you?

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