The Happy Slave

This is my surrender to the Powers that Be, who wish we all were just happy little slaves, tooling along without a care in the world, doing what our better-educated masters tell us to do, not daring to step out of line. I'm so bad at surrender...

Location: Indianapolis, United States

I'm an old-fashioned Get-out-of-my-face-atarian. So long as the gubmint left me alone, I had no problems with it. Gubmint wants to run my life, so I'm doing something about it. (Not just blogging, either.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Scoring the cards some more.

The various political "scorecards" (see my recent frothing, below) are very often the product of a single person or small group. As I have been recently reminded, this means that there are very limited resources at play, here. I propose the following:

Those of us who want to give a portrayal of our US government on some kind of "freedom scorecard" might do well to form alliances and share the effort. Ideally, there would be enough of us so that each person would only have to worry about a single state. It is far easier to comb through the votes for one state's worth of Congresscritters than it is for the whole Congress.

Second, there needs to be a set of specific, evenly-applied criteria for selecting "critical" votes and this should reflect several approaches to the question of "freedom". As a romantic, I'm of the opinion that Liberty is something larger than can be fully understood by any single mind. As a biologist, I'm a fan of the "more traits" school of taxonomy. These principles would reduce individual bias. Thus, a broad variety of people would be preferred. However, this also means that participants must understand that, in the real world, dogmatic purity must often be set aside to actually do anything even remotely useful.

Third, both "snapshot" (single year) and "career" scorecards are useful. Each shows something different. Fortunately, as "snapshots" are compiled, "careers" would become easier to track. While an elected official's overall attitudes show up in a career card, annual snapshot cards are far more useful in reflecting which specific stimuli produce which specific responses in a given legislator. Who can be directed (or panicked)? Who sticks by his guns, no matter what (even if it's irrational)?

Therefore, I am going to stick my neck out and volunteer my time to form a voluntary association with no funding and no resources. However, I do have a preliminary protocol.

  1. Use a Nolan-style dual criteria of "Economic Freedom" and "Personal Freedom".
    1. Define a "pro-liberty/pro-freedom" position that we are all able to stick to, even if it disagrees with our ideas of "justice", "fairness", "social equity", or other confounding issues.
    2. This position will guide our evaluation of the various Congressional votes.
  2. Define the "critical roll-call votes" for a session of congress, starting with the current session or the most recent completed session.
    1. There will be no less than 21 votes in each of the two areas, and the number of votes considered will not be divisible by two or five.
      • This is just a gimmick to avoid "on-the-line" classifications, which are annoying to calculate.
    2. Each vote will be explicitly associated with our position guidelines.
    3. Each vote option will be associated with one of four values: -10, 0, +10, and "na".
      1. The -10 score will be for the vote option that opposes "greater liberty".
      2. The 0 score will be for "abstain", or absence of a seated official.
      3. The +10 score will be for the vote option that is in accord with our "liberty" standards
      4. The "na" score will be for those officials who had not yet been seated by the time of the vote.
  3. Volunteers will allot the various states among themselves, ideally having a roughly equal number of total Representatives and Senators for each volunteer.
  4. Each volunteer will take the Representatives and Senators for the appropriate state (or states) and tally the roll-call votes according to the positions in our guidelines, then report back the scores.
  5. Scores shall be available to all members and the public, by some fairly convenient means. Portrayal and analysis will be at the option of individual members. That is, aside from the "Nolan-style" criteria, there will be no "official presentation". Individuals will be free to spin this all they want.

That's my proposal. Does anyone want to call my bluff, or shall I keep merrily hurling the "partisan shill" charge to all and sundry?