Friday, June 22, 2012

Problems With The Principles Of Liberty Report

A group of grassroots activists attempted to rate the Colorado Legislators under this report.  However, the report is deeply flawed and should not be used.

The report basically has three problems: (a) what it chooses to measure; (b) how it chooses to weight its measures; and (c) how it applies each measurement.

Starting with problem (a) if you look at the report, it factors in the following things:
Individual Liberty
Personal Responsibility
Property Rights Free Markets Limited Govt
Fiscal Responsibility
Rule of Law
Election Integrity
Transparent, Accountable Govt
Education (Choice, Excellence)
Sanctity of Life

Now some of these things are appropriate to include (Personal Responsibility Property Rights Free Markets Limited Govt Fiscal Responsibility). Others however, while potentially good, only have an attenuated relationship to a liberty principle (Election Integrity Transparent, Accountable Govt Education (Choice, Excellence) Sanctity of Life). And then the rule of law one lends itself to ambiguity and inconsistent application (more on that below)

Moving to problem (b) these categories are apparently unweighted. Thus, supporting a broader CORA law would seemingly carry as much weight as opposing a hypothetical $5 billion spending increase. Throw in the apparent unweighted nature of the different categories (supporting free markets is apparently as important as opposing abortion) and what you have is a very poorly designed metric. 

Finally, getting to problem (c): this report had support for an anti-liberty employer mandate rated positively under support for "rule of law" presumably because it supported enforcement of a federal law. Based on this logic, whether a law is anti-liberty is irrelevant for determining "rule of law score." Instead, all that matters is if the state bill contributes to the implementation or enforcement of an existing federal law. Under such a logical scheme, a future SB200 bill would have to be rated positively under "rule of law" as it would help with the implementation/enforcement of a federal law...even though such law (Obamacare) is a monstrosity to the liberty movement.

PROVISO: Although I think the overall report still needs much work, that does not mean that the report is meritless. Specifically, I would urge people to take a look not so much at the overall report card but rather at the bill-by-bill summary. I think there was a lot of good work that went into that. In the future, I would hope that the reports' authors would post their copious notes/justifications online for how the ratings were determined so that there could be more transparency.

About the author (updated in July 2012): Elliot Fladen is an attorney practicing law in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Nothing in this blog is meant to constitute legal advice unless explicitly stated to the contrary.

No comments: