"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance"

--James Madison--

"The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians"

--George Orwell--

Political Style Boxes

Since reality consists of shades of gray, rather than black and white, many attempts have been made by people to evaluate and quantify everything from the concrete to the ephemeral, and everything in between.  In the investments world especially, there have been many methods developed to show an overall picture of how an investment is manged or performs.  Also, the style of investing.  Nothing is entirely "growth" or entirely "income".

One of the better tools that business has come up with to illustrate attitudes, style, and even performance is the "style box", which are used to generate scatter charts in response to queries of different attributes.  They consist of two axes, each of which are differentiated by a zero point.  Before they're filled out, they look like this:

Obviously, the criterion listed on this chart are political.  But what does it mean?

All policies have some element of liberty vs authority.  They also have an element of liberal vs conservative political theory.  Liberal policies can have authoritarian elements, or libertarian elements.

Liberal authoritarianism is reflected in  safety regulations, for example.

Liberal libertarianism is reflected in universal suffrage.

Conservative authoritarianism is on our coinage.  We shall trust in god or else!

Conservative libertarianism is reflected in lax gun laws.

Everybody will still define these terms as they see fit.  We all have different perspectives, and sometimes the differences are too big to be demonstrated with style boxes.

Here are examples of policies, and where I believe each fits in the "political style box":

1. Imposition of social programs requiring mandatory participation and taxation.


Why? Collection of any tax requires governmental authority to collect, and additional governmental authority is needed to enforce participation.

2. Repeal of prohibition laws.


Why?  Rejection of governmental authority in areas where governmental authority should never have been granted in the first place.

3. Taxes?  No way, man!  Well, maybe a little consumption tax and service fees.


Why?  You're kidding, right? 

4. Travel restrictions ostensibly to "fight terrorism".


Seeks to increase governmental authority for the specific purpose of limiting citizen movement.

So that's the general idea.

I have written a short political attitude quiz, using some popular subjects picked at random.  If you want to take it and "score" it yourself, that's great.  If you want to share it with us, even better.

If you don't mind me scoring it, or don't understand quite how it works, or would like a printable copy of your chart, then you can e-mail me your answers to jmadison.files@gmail.com.

With your permissions, I would also like to display your "style boxes" here, either anonymously  or by user name and avatar.

Anybody with questions, comments, or other feedback is encouraged to leave them in the comments or tell them to me via e-mail.

And now:

JMadison's Political Style Quiz

1. Do you believe that the US social insurance program (currently    Social Security and Medicare) should be expanded to include       univcersal health insurance?
a. Yes
b. No

2. If yes, then which system do you believe would be most desirable:
a. Single provider
b. Single payer
c. Public private hybrid.

3. Do you believe that freedom of religion means that we sometimes must allow religious denominations to make public displays of their religious values or laws on public property?
a. Yes
b. No

4. Do you favor the current Federal Reserve system, or would you rather restore Congress' authority to set interest rates and precious metals prices, and require the Treasury to maintain banks' cash reserves directly?
a. Yes, leave the system as is
b. No, let's transfer the authority to Congress and the Treasury
c. I'm open to possibly reforming the current system
d. Other--Please provide a short explanation.

5. Do You believe that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution establishes a personal right to own firearms?
a. Yes
b. No

6. Do you feel that the government has gone too far or not far enough to prevent future terror attacks?
a. Too far
b. Not far enough
c. Too far, but they can't abandon the current system altogether
d. Not far enough, but the system can still be improved

7. Do you support ending the individual income tax?
a. Yes
b. No

7a If yes, then what would you favor replacing it with?
a. A national sales tax, or a VAT
b. Increased excise taxes and import duties
c. A corporate gross receipts tax
d. A capital transcations tax
e. Other--Please provide a short explanation.

7b If no, then which of these reforms would you support?
a. Raise marginal rates
b. Eliminate breaks for investment income
c. Eliminate tax credits
d. Other or None--Please provide a short      explanation.

8. Which of the following military expenses do you feel should be cut early and deeply?
a. New toys (new planes, missiles, ships, etc)
b. Overseas bases and invasions
c. Personnel
d. Disband the military, except for a small   security force
e. Do not cut the military budget.  Cut the budget elsewhere first.

9. Do you support ending any of the following prohibitions:
a. Marijuana
b. Prostitution
c. Amphetamines
d. None of the above

10. Do you believe that prison sentences in the US are generally:

a. Too lenient
b. Too harsh
c. Just about right in most cases

11. Do you believe that most American business sectors are:
a. Over regulated
b. Under regulated
c. Properly regulated

12. Which business sectors do you believe are most in need of regulatory reform, either for more or less regulation:
a. Investments and insurance
b. Health care
c. Banking
d. Mining/extraction
e. Energy production
f. Manufacturing
g. Agriculture, fishing and timber
h. Other

13. Do you believe that the Federal Government is:
a. Too small, and inadequately able to               influence state and local laws and regulations
b. Too large, and has too much authority
c. Is acceptable as currently composed

14. Do you believe that American foreign policy is:
a. Too active
b. Too isolationist
c. Balanced

15. Do you actively support and of the following political parties?
a. Republican
b. Democratic
c. Green
d. Any Socialist Party
e. Any Libertarian Party

f. Any "Constitution" Party
g. Prohibition
h. I am an antichrist
   I am an anarchist
   Don't know what I want 
   But I know how to get it
   I wanna destroy the passerby
   'Cos I wanna be anarchy

JMadison's "Style Box"