Pausing a Moment on “Subjectivity”

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One aspect of the Warwick Beacon article on the Freedom Index that Monique didn’t mention earlier deserves the head-shaking reaction: “What?”

“They have an interesting way of ranking legislators. They’re very subjective,” [Representative Joseph Solomon, D, Warwick] accused.

Stenhouse said, “It’s completely objective. We rank the bills before anyone even votes on them.”

However, Chartier, said, “we have created the criteria…but yes, it’s subjective.”

In choosing the bills, they admit that it is what is aligned with their principles, but Chartier stressed that the bias was “not in a partisan or politics way.”

Can we pause a moment and consider how one could possibly grade legislation objectively?  Even if it were possible to chart legislation by its certain effects, one would still have to decide whether those effects are the proper goal of government… or are even desirable.  Even the most fevered central-planning progressive should have to swallow hard before claiming that legislating or assessing legislation can be done objectively.

Exchanges like the above reinforce the feeling that politicians and journalists let themselves get into hopping-from-cloud-to-cloud frames of mind without realizing that they’ve left any solid footing behind.  Here’s the bottom line with the Freedom Index:  The principles that we apply to political philosophy are ultimately subjective (although founded in objective assessment of how the world works).  We apply those principles to legislation as objectively as we can and then collect votes on legislation in an entirely objective manner.

Anybody who tells you that they approach politics and policy with complete objectivity is trying to take something from you.  Of course, if there’s anything we can objectively say about Rhode Island government, it’s that a great many people are trying to take things from you.



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