The Corpus Callosum

Ideological Reasoning

I won’t rehash the distinction between faith-based and reality-based
reasoning, figuring that most blog readers — at least the progressive
ones — know the meaning and context.

However, I would like to make one point.  Reasoning that is
reality-based can come in different flavors; not all are linking
specifically to faith.  Some are linked to ideology.
 This is
an insidious kind of cognitive error to which we all are susceptible.

Here’s an example from a recent Washington Post article:

War Fails to Offer Rate Relief in Montgomery

By Ann E. Marimow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 18, 2007; Page C11

Bills for thousands of Montgomery County cable
viewers will
increase by 4 percent starting March 1, when Comcast Corp., suburban
Maryland’s largest cable television provider, raises rates throughout
the Washington region.

Montgomery leaders had hoped that competition from a new provider,
Verizon Communications Inc., would help lower prices. But Comcast said
recently that cable bills would climb in line with increases for
subscribers throughout Maryland, the District and Northern Virginia…

…The Montgomery and Prince George’s county councils signed off in
November on agreements to allow Verizon to begin offering fiber-optic
television service. Company officials hailed the “benefits of choice”
for customers, including less expensive service…

…So much for the idea that “competition will bring down rates,” said
Montgomery County Council President Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern
County), who has long clashed with the industry over regulation. “That
clearly hasn’t happened.”

Congress deregulated most cable rates in 1996, opening the door to
competition but leaving local jurisdictions with little authority over
pricing. County officials can regulate only the most basic service…

There is more, but the snippet contains the essential details.
 Competition does not always lead to lower
prices.  Deregulation does not always lead
to more competition.  

Politicians often tell us, “If we do X, then Y will happen,” where Y is
some desirable outcome.  But they never seem to put into place
any mechanism to ensure that Y will happen, or say what they will do if
Z happens instead of Y.  We’re supposed to just take in on

Note: this is an equal-opportunity rant.  All parties are
guilty of this one.