The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The effect of partisanship

There are organizations that give liberal/conservative ratings to politicians. And in terms of how they vote, they are probably accurate. But the effect of partisan affiliation has to be taken into account, and usually is not.

Case in point: The National Journal's rankings are given for Senators, based on their votes. If one leaves out Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who is no longer serving, the most liberal Republican is Susan Collins of Maine, with a 45% liberal, 55% conservative score. The most conservative Democrat is Joe Manchin of West Virginia, with a 47.7% liberal, 52.3% conservative score. (It appears that the National Journal uses the same votes to determine the two scores, as they always add to 100%.) Doesn't look like there's a lot of difference, right? And once the Senate is organized, probably true.

But that “once the Senate is organized” caveat is important. For Sen. Collins will reliably vote for Mitch McConnell's team to organize the Senate. And Sen. Manchin will just as reliably vote for Harry Reid's team. And who wins will have a major impact on what the Senate will do. So there's a lot more than 2.7 percentage points' difference in their effect on the Senate.

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