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As to PR, the consensus seems to be that the fewer pages you link to from a page, the more PR that page has to offer will be passed on to the pages linked to. IMHO it should do what you want. Someone else may have more input.
A final thought: when you're seeking link exchanges, check whether a link from one of the other site's houskeeping pages might be advantageous. Example: Something simple like "We're proud to be listed in blahblah.com" on their About Us page might be surprisingly beneficial PR-wise, depending on how their site is structured.
I don't think anyone knows if blocking Google with robots.txt or noindex etc. would reallocate the available PR to the other pages being linked to.
AFAIK, Google's PR is a distribution function across the entire Internet, with the sum of PR of all pages = 1. I assumed that it was across all the pages that they index - I think this is a reasonable assumption. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
This raises a good point. How much PR is passed on every generation? In other words, if a link from A is worth PR x, and A links to B, and B links only to C, how much PR will C gain? I'd be sure it is less than x, but maybe I am wrong.
<speculation> I think that's the theory but I'm not sure how it would work in real life when some pages are blocked. I think it would be a fair bit of extra info to track if Google could see, say, 15 links on a page but one of those pages wasn't supposed to be indexed. Depending on how the blocking was done, Google would not know not to index the page until it had followed the link. Would it back up and reallocate the PR or would it just keep going? Would each link be given 1/14th of the available page rank or would 14 pages each get 1/15th and the remaining 1/15th which would have gone to the blocked page would just fizzle out or something? </speculation>
We might be able to get some clues to this if someone had any examples of "blocked" pages with some strong links pointing to them. Would such a page show PR if you visited it?
I've seen cases where it seems as though Google is listing pages that it hasn't actually indexed yet, on the strength of their links. I'm wondering if there's a parallel here. A non-indexable page should not show up in the SERPs, but if you went directly there, would it show a PR on the strength of its links? Hmmm ...
I'm sure you're right that there would be some PR shrinkage when A links to B links to C links to D ... even if they each had only the one link. That would be the "damping factor" at work.
An external JS would prevent Google from recognising the link. So that would stop the PR to that page.
But I agree with Mack, as long as there are no external links on the page PR will be preserved and linking to the privacy, legal, etc isn't a big issue
But that's just me. If some of your housekeeping files help distribute some PR in a site, I don't see what wrong with that. Most sites people develop on the web are all interlinked to their housekeeping files such as TOS and privacy agreement, etc.