Chesterton's Fence

As you probably realize, my education, especially my political education, is very, very hit-and-miss. A few things I know. Most I don't.

I'd never heard this quote by G.K. Chesterton before, and I'm pretty sure that it's an embarrassing thing to have never heard it before, because it seems pretty important.

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.

From Megan McArdle, who reminds herself of it when she thinks about doing away with a particular tax loophole without first ever discovering why it exists in the first place.

Posted by: Ace at 06:01 PM



Comments

1 Reader's Digest version: "Unintended consequences"

Posted by: t-bird at August 17, 2011 06:03 PM (FcR7P)

2 Watch your mouth, Chester!

Posted by: Barry From The Bus at August 17, 2011 06:04 PM (FcR7P)

3 Instead of having "answers" on a math test, they should just call them "impressions," and if you got a different "impression," so what, can't we all be brothers?

Posted by: Jack Handey, armed with good quotes at August 17, 2011 06:06 PM (UZuc4)

4 My uncleran intothis recently when he divorced his wife of 47 years.

Posted by: CozMark at August 17, 2011 06:06 PM (HK4Kc)

5 WTF? I need a hillbilly translation.

Posted by: ErikW at August 17, 2011 06:07 PM (6W9ZH)

6 Meh.

Chesterton was a Papist, and the reform he objected to was the Reformation.

Luther, Calvin, and Huss were no fools, Mi Amigos...

Posted by: CoolCzech at August 17, 2011 06:07 PM (kUaEF)

7 Nice quote.

Posted by: KG at August 17, 2011 06:07 PM (LD21B)

8 Too Long, Didn't Read

Posted by: Sarah Palin (TM) at August 17, 2011 06:08 PM (Pq8PI)

9 OK, can we talk Boobies now?

We haven't in AGES, I swear. It's a shame.

Posted by: CoolCzech at August 17, 2011 06:09 PM (kUaEF)

10 I think it was constructed to keep illegal aliens out of this country, but they are climbing over anyway, so we should set up guard towers with gun ports along the fence.

Posted by: huerfano at August 17, 2011 06:09 PM (kD+se)

11 This should apply double, though it's harder to see, to adding a thing to begin with. That is, policy makers should stop and consider the virtues of not having a regualation or complication before jumping in to "do something."

Posted by: Randy M at August 17, 2011 06:10 PM (vI8R6)

12 And a moat, with alligators.

Posted by: Barry Obama at August 17, 2011 06:10 PM (kD+se)

13
Posted by: CozMark at August 17, 2011 06:06 PM (HK4Kc)

Ran into what, a pile of unwashed dishes and laundry? Bet THAT reminded him why he married her!

Posted by: CoolCzech at August 17, 2011 06:11 PM (kUaEF)

14 12
And a moat, with alligators.


Posted by: Barry Obama at August 17, 2011 06:10 PM (kD+se)
I'm partial to piranhas, like in that Bond movie.

Posted by: KG at August 17, 2011 06:11 PM (LD21B)

15 Who is this G.K. Chesterton? Does he have a clothing line that he could pay me not to wear?

Posted by: The Situation at August 17, 2011 06:12 PM (9fDAi)

16 12 And a moat, with alligators.
Posted by: Barry Obama at August 17, 2011 06:10 PM (kD+se)

I would think Michelle skinny dipping in the moat would do.

Posted by: CoolCzech at August 17, 2011 06:12 PM (kUaEF)

17 Well he didn't mention any penumbras or emanations coming out of that fence or gate so he is clearly an illiterate teabagging son of a bitch. Just like those assholes that balance their checkbooks - what the fuck for? And living on a budget - real terrorist every damn one of them.

I'm allowing my inner libtard to run free for awhile.

Posted by: Sub-Tard at August 17, 2011 06:12 PM (0M3AQ)

18 Let's demand payments from Fortune 500 companies or else we'll run their ads in the comments section!!

Posted by: CoolCzech at August 17, 2011 06:13 PM (kUaEF)

19 That quote is from The Outline of Sanity, which I've been reading ever since Thad McCotter's book Seize Freedom! put me onto Chesterton's views on political economy.

I heartily recommend both.

And I must mention that McCotter is the only Chestertonian-type thinker in the presidential race.


Posted by: Kathy from Kansas at August 17, 2011 06:13 PM (2AfqM)

20 The flip side is that it becomes a principal of preservation of *everything*, no matter how inane, especially if it is obtuse , legalistic, and byzantine.

One of the reasons government has grown so insanely complex (how many pages of tax code and regulations on farming?) is that, while bureaucrats have roughly a lifetime to devote to defending the code, politicians generally have a few years to try to reform it.

The more complex it is, the harder it is to understand, define, expose to the general public, and justify its removal.

So, many complex laws are added, but few are removed.

You reach a point where either the whole thing collapses under its own weight, or you are forced to cut wholesale, with little understanding, because the system is designed to resist reform (in the direction of reduction, at least).

One factor of many, to be sure.

Posted by: Merovign, Dark Lord of the Sith at August 17, 2011 06:13 PM (bxiXv)

21 Chesterton is describing a true conservatism here. It isn't just gates. Think about, I dunno, the definition of marriage.

Posted by: blaster at August 17, 2011 06:14 PM (Fw2Gg)

22
Tax loopholes are social engineering by the government class. Yes, eliminating them would be disruptive, just like callously removing a tourniquet on a would inflicted by the person who also applied the tourniquet.
Thanks for the tourniquette, Stabby.
Or the tax code can be viewed as chains that have been wrapped around the body of our liberty by the ruling class when we were younger, healthier, and much slimmer.
From time to time the governing class rearranges these chains so we're not completely choked or to alleviate some of the pain they cause.And we vote for them for this false mercy.
Undoing the chains on our liberty has to be done carefully, because our body has grown around them, swollen and infected. It is going to be slow and sometimes painful to remove them.But wemust remove them.
We must reclaim our liberty.

Posted by: Minuteman at August 17, 2011 06:15 PM (hbAPu)

23 meh.. tax loopholes don't need much understanding. They are social manipulation by do-gooders or as a reward to political allies.

The bottom line is some group is getting a better deal than the others. That's wrong. A straight tax rate, or a couple of tax rates with no deductions is the most fair and democratic. Period.

Let's quit the favoritism and gerrymandering of society through tax law - and fire 100k IRS employees at the same time.

Posted by: Chi-Town Jerry at August 17, 2011 06:16 PM (f9c2L)

24 Think about, I dunno, the definition of marriage.
Homophobe!
</sarc>

Posted by: Sean Bannion at August 17, 2011 06:16 PM (HUZDZ)

25
I'd never heard this quote by G.K. Chesterton before, and I'm pretty
sure that it's an embarrassing thing to have never heard it before,
because it seems pretty important.

Of course you don't know it; YOU'RE AN EWOK! Of course most of the rest of us didn't know it; WE'RE MORONS MORONETTTES.

What do you think we all are, Harvard Law Graduates cum Constitutional Law Professors cum Community Organizers cum STUTTERING CLUSTERFUCKS OF A MISERABLE FAILURE?

Sheesh.

Posted by: John P. Squibob at August 17, 2011 06:16 PM (MrneO)

26 I love it when lefties rail against "Big Business." I always like to point out two things to them.
1. They are complying with the law as written, like good corporate citizens. Why else would big companies have a legal department?
2. If the business is publicly held and issues stock, that money also goes into the retirement accounts of many fellow Americans.

Posted by: BackwardsBoy at August 17, 2011 06:16 PM (d0Tfm)

27 Rick Perry doesn't tear down fences. Rick Perry is a fence. Like the Great Wall of China. That kind of fence.

Posted by: Gene Simmons at August 17, 2011 06:16 PM (9fDAi)

28 Fence, we don't need no stinkin' fence. I've got men with guns.

Posted by: I, Cowboy at August 17, 2011 06:17 PM (PcoXF)

29 You should read some for that old Tory Dr. Johnson.

Posted by: toby928™ at August 17, 2011 06:17 PM (GTbGH)

30 21
Chesterton is describing a true conservatism here. It isn't just gates. Think about, I dunno, the definition of marriage.

Homophobe. An anus doesn't have a gate, it has a sphincter. Which is like hanging a sign saying push something up here and we are a couple and the hamster makes three. Diversity makes us stronger.

Posted by: Sub-Tard at August 17, 2011 06:17 PM (0M3AQ)

31
The Baby Boomer generation has especially violated this principle.

One of the mottos of the most narcissistic generations in the history of the US was "Don't trust anyone over 30!"

"Defying convention" and "questioning authority" are goods in and of themselves, in contradistinction to what Chesterton says here.


Posted by: dan-O at August 17, 2011 06:18 PM (BAjNF)

32 The problem with this is that it means that we cannot get rid of anything, 'IF' we cannot define the reason for its existance in the first place... and there are some things put in place 'just because'.
There are many rules and regulations put in place because some busy body thought it was a good idea... and everyone else was too busy minding their own business to notice the infringment.
Take the current California law, that says if you win a New contract to clean buildings, you MUST hire the existing staff for 60 days... and can only fire them for cause after that. They are now expanding that law to ALL the maintenance staff... which flys in the face of private property, free enterprise, and freedom of association (to hire who you want).... in order to ensure that a union does NOT loose a contract, as a union would have 60 days with the current employees to organize and force you to become a union shop (although they will never admit this)...
Sometimes, monstrosities do arise... and while folks equivocate over the reason for its existance, continues to be a detriment... we are too inclined IMO to leave bad laws inplace, vice getting rid of them.

Posted by: Romeo13 at August 17, 2011 06:18 PM (NtXW4)

33 Posted by: Sub-Tard at August 17, 2011 06:17 PM (0M3AQ)
I just spewed my last Mountain Dew on the carpet. You owe me a Mountain Dew

Posted by: Sean Bannion at August 17, 2011 06:18 PM (HUZDZ)

34 Is there any justification for the existence of the Fed that isn't a conspiracy theory?

Posted by: Methos at August 17, 2011 06:19 PM (sOXQX)

35 Later in that chapter he convices the neighborhood kids that white washing chestersons fence is so fun they trade their toys and snacks just to get the chance to help!

Posted by: Oh shit, Joe Biden is opening his mouthhhhh! at August 17, 2011 06:19 PM (q177U)

36 This reminds me of the aftershock of Shock and Awe. After wiping out Saddams administration and disbanding his government we found out the reason for Saddams rule with an iron fist policy.

Posted by: sonnyspats at August 17, 2011 06:20 PM (I/MzF)

37 Thanks alot Dickhead, put her in YOUR hot tub first then tell me all about it

Posted by: Al E Gator at August 17, 2011 06:20 PM (ZDUD4)

38 Fence, we don't need no stinkin' fence. I've got men with guns.
Posted by: I, Cowboy at August 17, 2011 06:17 PM
That's not a real poem. It didn't even rhyme.

Posted by: fluffy at August 17, 2011 06:20 PM (O6q63)

39 "But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion."

can you say epa mr. traditionalist?

Posted by: newrouter at August 17, 2011 06:20 PM (Xd/XA)

40 Butt-holes: they serve a dual puopose.

Posted by: bwany fwank at August 17, 2011 06:20 PM (roFKc)

41 The problem with this is that it means that we cannot get rid of anything, 'IF' we cannot define the reason for its existance in the first place... and there are some things put in place 'just because'.
It doesn't mean that at all. All he is saying is, before you take the wrecking ball to something, stop and ask yourself an obvious question first.
Why is it here?
If you do that and you still have a good reason to tear it down...do so.

Posted by: Sean Bannion at August 17, 2011 06:20 PM (HUZDZ)

42
OH MY GOD!!! Ace! Every GOOD Conservative KNOWS that quote BY HEART!!!!!
Consider yourself banned.

Posted by: Sharkman at August 17, 2011 06:21 PM (wMsKw)

43 A few things I know. Most I don't.
That's OK, if you have common sense, you can figure most of it out on the fly. We're all in uncharted territory today. How many people have you heard say, "I've never seen anything like this in my life?"

Posted by: BackwardsBoy at August 17, 2011 06:21 PM (d0Tfm)

44 The Argument from Personal Ignorance is a staple of liberaldom.

Posted by: toby928™ at August 17, 2011 06:21 PM (GTbGH)

45 I love it when lefties rail against "Big Business." I always like to point out two things to them.
Lefties are all wrong on this. Big business can't at all be counted on to protect or promote free enterprise. All to often they are happy to see the market perverted by niggling (IDM) regulations if it comes to benefit them reletive to their competitors.

Posted by: Randy M at August 17, 2011 06:21 PM (vI8R6)

46 Don't feel bad ace. I've never heard of Chesterton's Fence. And I didn't hear about Cerniglia's Nipple until I was 35.

Posted by: Empire of Jeff at August 17, 2011 06:22 PM (lbo6/)

47 GK Chesterton? Never heard of him.

Posted by: Charlie Gibson at August 17, 2011 06:22 PM (ZDUD4)

48
The problem with this is that it means that we
cannot get rid of anything, 'IF' we cannot define the reason for its
existance in the first place... and there are some things put in place
'just because'.Posted by: Romeo13 at August 17, 2011 06:18 PM (NtXW4)

I don't think his quote applies when the thing in question is in violation of some fundamental principle, as in the case of that CA law you point out. The violation itself is enough justification, just as Obamacare needs to be repealed regardless of the reasons for it being passed.

Posted by: KG at August 17, 2011 06:23 PM (LD21B)

49 And the inverse principle, "We have to pass it so we can find out what's in it."

Posted by: Merovign, Dark Lord of the Sith at August 17, 2011 06:23 PM (bxiXv)

50 34 Is there any justification for the existence of the Fed that isn't a conspiracy theory?
Posted by: Methos at August 17, 2011 06:19 PM (sOXQX)
1. Create Fed Reserve Bank
2. ????
3. PROFIT!
(and in this case, it WORKED!)

Posted by: Underpants Gnomes, Banking Division at August 17, 2011 06:23 PM (NtXW4)

51 How does Chesterton handle seeing a turtle on the fence post? Should we gently pick it up, place it on the ground and allow it to proceed on its slow way? Or should we respect that someone had a good reason for putting the turtle on the post and leave it to die paddling its little arms and legs in the air while craning its ugly little turtle neck in panic? What would Jesus do?

Posted by: Sub-Tard at August 17, 2011 06:23 PM (0M3AQ)

52 Oh btw, Romeo, does your company by any chance have room for one more? =/

Posted by: KG at August 17, 2011 06:23 PM (LD21B)

53 >>> There are many rules and regulations put in place because some busy
body thought it was a good idea... and everyone else was too busy
minding their own business to notice the infringment.
Well it is important to note that Chesterton is not saying that we should simply leave all gates in place where they are.

He is merely saying this: that to tear it down, we must show that its existence is unreasonable. In order to show that, we need to know the reasons it was put up in the first place. This will not be a mystery; the reasons for why it was put up can be determined if you just try.

In the case of your example, you need to simply understand why proponents of that law wanted it to exist, then refute such reasons, then propose to remove the law. This isn't hard to do.

Posted by: dan-O at August 17, 2011 06:23 PM (BAjNF)

54 I have also heard it said that it is the duty of the skeptic to explain why things should be changed, not the duty of the traditionalist to explain why they should not.

Man is a reasoning creature, but not necessarily a reason giving one.

Posted by: toby928™ at August 17, 2011 06:23 PM (GTbGH)

55 Big business can't at all be counted on to protect or promote free enterprise. All to often they are happy to see the market perverted by niggling (IDM) regulations if it comes to benefit them reletive to their competitors.
True 'dat.
But at least you know that. Lefties don't understand economics, so things like a consideration of externalities never occur to them.
Business = bad
Returning to agrarian economy and a lower standard of living and health care = good.
That's the lefty world in a nutshell.

Posted by: Sean Bannion at August 17, 2011 06:24 PM (HUZDZ)

56 51, He would take one turtle and make soup for thousands.

Posted by: Oldsailor's poet at August 17, 2011 06:24 PM (ZDUD4)

57 How many people have you heard say, "I've never seen anything like this in my life?" Posted by: BackwardsBoy at August 17, 2011 06:21 PM (d0Tfm)
Rick Perry never says that. People say that about Rick Perry.

Posted by: Gene Simmons at August 17, 2011 06:24 PM (9fDAi)

58 Lefties *not* are all wrong on this, I meant.

Posted by: Randy M at August 17, 2011 06:24 PM (vI8R6)

59 A one and a two and a...


Posted by: I, Cowboy at August 17, 2011 06:24 PM (PcoXF)

60 Build the Chesterton Fence.

Posted by: California Red at August 17, 2011 06:24 PM (7uWb8)

61 Heh. Poor little Megan McArdle didn't really even understand what carried interest was, but she was dead set against it.

Someone please remind me why anyone gives a rats ass what she says about anything.

Posted by: Andy at August 17, 2011 06:25 PM (d20MQ)

62
But come on, we know why EVERY tax loophole exists - because some congresscritter had in their constituency a corporation or people that would benefit from the loophole. I mean that's gotta be 90% of them, and even if it's not, I don't have to "go away and think about it" I can tell you that immediately, right now.
The loophole exists because the tax was generally too onerous, so to get the votes, somebody had to be bribed - err, pardon me, "whipped" - with a favor for their constituency, who in turn could give money to the person voting for the loophole.
This is why the founders envisioned taxes that were collected evenly across the board, to avoid exactly this type of corruption.
I honestly care little about the math - I think the moral imperative is the greatest reason to support some kind of flat taxation scheme, regardless of where it's collected.

Posted by: BoB at August 17, 2011 06:25 PM (eniev)

63 I can see the Chesterton fence though the Overton window.

Posted by: Oldsailor's poet at August 17, 2011 06:25 PM (ZDUD4)

64 Build the Chesterton Fence.

Dr Johnson prefers a mine field.

Posted by: toby928™ at August 17, 2011 06:26 PM (GTbGH)

65 @55 "Returning to agrarian economy and a lower standard of living and health care = good."
We can haz iPads though right?

Posted by: California Red at August 17, 2011 06:26 PM (7uWb8)

66 Posted by: Sean Bannion at August 17, 2011 06:24 PM (HUZDZ)
Yes, you can't really call someone knowledgeable for a fact they know through faulty logic and unfounded premises.

Posted by: Randy M at August 17, 2011 06:26 PM (vI8R6)

67 33
Posted by: Sub-Tard at August 17, 2011 06:17 PM (0M3AQ)
I just spewed my last Mountain Dew on the carpet. You owe me a Mountain Dew

You should try Sun Drop. I also can recommend Cheerwine. Both excellent NC products made by good families.

Posted by: Sub-Tard at August 17, 2011 06:27 PM (0M3AQ)

68 Hah! I had originally read it as referring to Meghan McCain and thought of course, she read an Op-Ed, didn't understand it and agreed with the conclusion because the author was Warren Buffet, nothing could be simpler. Then I clicked over and saw it was Meghan McCardle...and nothing really changed.

Posted by: BuckIV at August 17, 2011 06:28 PM (AtjNL)

69 The Chesterton Fence.

Is that a Robert Ludlam novel?

Posted by: Dr. Varno at August 17, 2011 06:28 PM (QMtmy)

70 59 Dave in Texas?

Posted by: fluffy at August 17, 2011 06:28 PM (O6q63)

71 We can haz iPads though right?
That's the shit that always cracks me up about lefties. You catch them at the local indie coffee shop drinking locally roasted fair-trade coffee bitching about "corporate America" while...
...yakking on their cell phone, while scrolling on their iPad looking for tickets to the next concert.
They never even see the irony.

Posted by: Sean Bannion at August 17, 2011 06:28 PM (HUZDZ)

72 Superman sleeps in Rick Perry pajamas.

Posted by: BackwardsBoy at August 17, 2011 06:28 PM (d0Tfm)

73 66, So what your saying is knowledge must be factual to be Knowledge? Now there is a freaking concept.

Posted by: Oldsailor's poet at August 17, 2011 06:28 PM (ZDUD4)

74 Two years from now somebody in Chesterton is going to have a concern about a local ordinance for fences that's controversial, and find this in the search, and they're going to real this comment and say "What the Hell, somebody knew ahead of time what I... was going.. to... STOP IT! STOP TYPING WHAT I'M GOING TO SAY TWO YEARS LATER!"

And then totally freak.

Just wait.

Posted by: Merovign, Dark Lord of the Sith at August 17, 2011 06:28 PM (bxiXv)

75 52 Oh btw, Romeo, does your company by any chance have room for one more? =/
Posted by: KG at August 17, 2011 06:23 PM (LD21B)
LOL... actualy depends on how well we did in a meeting today.
A guy here is looking to retire from his business, and is being very careful who he hands his clients off to....

Posted by: Romeo13 at August 17, 2011 06:29 PM (NtXW4)

76 But come on, we know why EVERY tax loophole exists - because some congresscritter had in their constituency a corporation or people that would benefit from the loophole.
Yes, the question shouldn't be "Why is this tax-loop hole here" but "Why did our society prize equality before the law?"
When you have unintended consquences stemming from actions to address unintended consquences of actions to address unintended consequences ad nauseum, sometimes you have to conceptually return to first principles.

Posted by: Randy M at August 17, 2011 06:30 PM (vI8R6)

77 Speaking of regulation, I see that three of the four big tobacco companies are suing so that they will not have to post those graphic health warning pictures. I'm content to let others fight that battle. But I would like to see graphic mental health warnings broadcast every five minutes on MSNBC. Something in the nature of "If you watch Maddow, you could go this crazy," with video of a straitjacketed psycho trying to chew his way through iron bars or something.

Posted by: WalrusRex at August 17, 2011 06:30 PM (Hx5uv)

78 Can we put razor wire on the fence? Its not like we are tearing it down or something.

Remember fences around drive in movies? What the fuck was the point?

Posted by: Sub-Tard at August 17, 2011 06:30 PM (0M3AQ)

79
Empire of Jeff, you magnificant bastard. I put "Cerniglia's Nipple" into Google Images search, and guess who was occupying just about the entire second row?
That's right. Christina Hendricks' enormous "recreational vehicles."
Well done, lad. Well done, indeed.

Posted by: Sharkman at August 17, 2011 06:31 PM (wMsKw)

80 34
Is there any justification for the existence of the Fed that isn't a conspiracy theory?


Posted by: Methos at August 17, 2011 06:19 PM (sOXQX)
Yes. As much as some conservatives hate the Fed, an independent central bank is the last, best check on the treasury starting the printing presses. Yes: it could be worse than QE!

Posted by: In Exile at August 17, 2011 06:31 PM (gky8v)

81 LOL... actualy depends on how well we did in a meeting today.
A guy here is looking to retire from his business, and is being very careful who he hands his clients off to....

Posted by: Romeo13 at August 17, 2011 06:29 PM (NtXW4)
Oh, good luck with that. Hope it works out.

Posted by: KG at August 17, 2011 06:32 PM (LD21B)

82 This is a great argument for zero-based budgets.
In fact it's a good question for just about anything, but particularly when the governmentwantsto dosomething: "Why?"

Posted by: BackwardsBoy at August 17, 2011 06:32 PM (d0Tfm)

83 80, Key word, "Independant", instead we have a political football.

Posted by: Oldsailor's poet at August 17, 2011 06:33 PM (ZDUD4)

84 59A one and a two and a...


Posted by: I, Cowboy at August 17, 2011 06:24 PM (PcoXFHey I was adjusting my metronome.

Posted by: Mr. Skeezer band room pervert at August 17, 2011 06:33 PM (I/MzF)

85 Dr Johnson prefers a mine field.
Posted by: toby928™ at August 17, 2011 06:26 PM (GTbGH)
Five miles wide with razor wire and posted warnings.

Posted by: ErikW at August 17, 2011 06:33 PM (6W9ZH)

86 73 66, So what your saying is knowledge must be factual to be Knowledge? Now there is a freaking concept.
Actually, I was trying to be slightly less facile and say that even correct conclusions must be supported for the person reacing them to be considered intelligent.
Otherwise they're just lucky, slinging enough mud and getting a bit to stick.

Posted by: Randy M at August 17, 2011 06:33 PM (vI8R6)

87
A one and a two and a...
Well, I certainly hope he was beating in rhythm, preferably while listening to the 1812 Overture.

Posted by: WalrusRex at August 17, 2011 06:33 PM (Hx5uv)

88 70 He hasn't posted...

badda boom

Posted by: I, Cowboy at August 17, 2011 06:34 PM (PcoXF)

89 When you have unintended consquences stemming from actions to address unintended consquences of actions to address unintended consequences ad nauseum, sometimes you have to conceptually return to first principles.
Posted by: Randy M at August 17, 2011 06:30 PM (vI8R6)
My faovorite are those who say 'its in the Governments interest to...' to put forth somthing they wish...
As if the Government was a thinking entity unto itself, and thus has interests independent of what its people want...

Posted by: Romeo13 at August 17, 2011 06:34 PM (NtXW4)

90 Proto-RINO!
He refutes himself. The eternal (that's, like, a hint) call to "destroy" "institutions" has a history, use, and purpose that Chesterton doesn't understand, or that he dishonestly elides, in an attempt to "clear it away." So he's just "folly"-ing.
Here's the thing with Chesterton. He's a hardcore nihilist—of the "how things are is the only way they could be, or they'd already be different, wouldn't they?" sort (pretty much like me)—and he doesn't know it, or know how to fight it. Or he's terrible at hiding it, because the only thing he has to cover it with (the bad kind of conservatism) doesn't fit over the hole.
I'm a fan. He's always wrong.

Posted by: oblig. at August 17, 2011 06:34 PM (xvZW9)

91 They are complying with the law as written, like good corporate citizens. Why else would big companies have a legal department?

Because lawyers are the lubricant by which corruption enters the body politic.

Posted by: AmishDude at August 17, 2011 06:36 PM (73tyQ)

92 Yep....this is the basic arguement the Lefty's bring up whenever you talk about changing S.S., Medicare or ObamaCare, althought they do not know of the proper name for the arguement.
One of the favorite arguements is that it doesn't matter what happends to S.S. or Medicare it will just be replaced with the same thing under a different name. There is real stupidity in that thinking because itassumes that these programs are as good as they can be, andthere is no changes that can be made to make thembetter, moreefficient, and solvent. Which anyone one knows anything about the subject can tell you.......these programs are the prime example outdates government inefficiency, waste, fraud and abuse.

Posted by: Jive Turkey at August 17, 2011 06:38 PM (JMsOK)

93 9
OK, can we talk Boobies now?





We haven't in AGES, I swear. It's a shame.

Posted by: CoolCzech at August 17, 2011 06:09 PM (kUaEF)

okay here ya go

Posted by: chemjeff at August 17, 2011 06:40 PM (s7mIC)

94

Normal
0




From Megan McArdle, who reminds herself of it when she thinks
about doing away with a particular tax loophole without first ever discovering
why it exists in the first place.

I have absolutely gown to despise the term "loophole". Originally a "loophole" meant some flaw in the way a law was written that allowed people to bypass the law or the intent of the law.

The Commiecrats have bastardized the use of the term now to the point that it means anything they do not like or that does not help their parasite supporters.

The current two big tax loopholes those SOBs want to attack now is the home mortgage interest deduction and adding a new tax on employer provided health insurance.

And guess what, our new panel member from MI that weeping Boner put on the panel is ok to put those on the table.

Posted by: Vic at August 17, 2011 06:40 PM (M9Ie6)

95 Yes, but may I vote against Obama in the 2012 election? I see no purpose, rhyme or reason to his existence, so Chesterton would council that I wait.

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo (NJConservative) at August 17, 2011 06:41 PM (LH6ir)

96 The current two big tax loopholes those SOBs want to attack now is the
home mortgage interest deduction and adding a new tax on employer
provided health insurance.
Well with the first one I'm okay with it too, actually - I never understood why the government should incentivize house debt.

Posted by: chemjeff at August 17, 2011 06:42 PM (s7mIC)

97 "want to attack now is the home mortgage interest deduction"
In the end they will Means Test it....remember it's all about Wealth Redistribution!

Posted by: Jive Turkey at August 17, 2011 06:44 PM (JMsOK)

98
Ace, you better stop reading Chesterton. None of the coolcoffee house kids do.

Posted by: simplemind at August 17, 2011 06:45 PM (za3QZ)

99
In the end they will Means Test it....remember it's all about Wealth Redistribution!

Posted by: Jive Turkey at August 17, 2011 06:44 PM (JMsOK)
And that will drive housing prices down even more, but only for the "wealthy" people who can afford expensive homes, or more realistically, people who live in expensive areas.It will be a mess.

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo (NJConservative) at August 17, 2011 06:46 PM (LH6ir)

100 see also taxes. The Johnstown Flood Tax, being a perfect example of a fence which has outlived its usefulness.

Posted by: Kevin in ABQ at August 17, 2011 06:49 PM (BvTwT)

101 93, You aint right.

Posted by: Oldsailor's poet at August 17, 2011 06:51 PM (ZDUD4)

102 Posted by: Kevin in ABQ at August 17, 2011 06:49 PM (BvTwT)

But think of all the good that the state of Pennsylvania has done with the money!

Hah, Hah, Hah!

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo (NJConservative) at August 17, 2011 06:51 PM (LH6ir)

103 In the comments section over at The Atlantic, McArdle writes:
<em> " See above. The tax code is not a referendum on who we don't like."</em>

Why yes Megan, yes it is. The US Tax Code is chock full of weapons. Which is why is 6000 pages long and is ever growing.

Posted by: Rex Harrison's Hat at August 17, 2011 06:56 PM (4136b)

104 As you probably realize, my education, especially my political education, is very, very hit-and-miss. A few things I know. Most I don't.
I'm also guessing that you went to law school. As I went to journalism school, I'll further guess that there are a lot more things you know that I know.
That said, I need to ask: Is loophole a for-real legal term? Or is it just a loaded word to help someone like me develop an opinion -- and an emotion -- before I accumulate any knowledge? I mean, a loophole isn't a legal classification of a law or a part of a law, is it?

Posted by: FireHorse at August 17, 2011 06:58 PM (gTGz3)

105 This explains perfectly how Chuck Norris became a martial artist:



Chuck originally fancied himself a guitar player, until he ran into the
likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan. He then decided he'd dabble into politics,
whereupon he met Rick Fuckin' Perry.



The rest is history, my friends.

Posted by: Fritz, moron translator at August 17, 2011 07:01 PM (+KjE2)

106 In my not so humble opinion esoterics are nice and clean, whereas facts are the ugly and malformed evidence of reality.

Mr. Chesterton I suggest a rewording where the gate called Social Security/Welfare/public dole is found. Specifically I say 'It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street.' FIFme

Furthermore I agree whole heartedly with this excerpt "But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social
institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If
he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he
may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have
since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer
served."

Simply because it started with a grand 'publicly stated' design does not mean that the current state was and is the actually desired end state. Rest that on your mind.

It is precisely BECAUSE I know what Social Security was, is, and forever more desires to be that I demand its destruction/elimination/and REFUDIATION!


Posted by: Blacksmith8✡ at August 17, 2011 07:07 PM (Q1qy3)

107 How can Thad McCotter call himself a true conservative when he is a supporter of Unions? Aren't these diametrically opposed?

Posted by: Lonely Conservative in MI at August 17, 2011 07:09 PM (rZZA3)

108 That quote, in my opinion, perfectly illustrates the difference between conservatism and libertarianism, and why I am the first and not the second.

Posted by: Matt from CO at August 17, 2011 07:12 PM (72XhF)

109 I had read several of Chesterton's Father brown books before coming across one that had what seemed--since I had not seen it it the previous books--an out-of-the-blue anti-semitic rant about the evil Jooooooooos.
Haven't read a word of him since.

Posted by: SOYLENT GREEN at August 17, 2011 07:14 PM (zUc6c)

110 Of or related to.."Bureaucratic Darwinism"--have a problem? create a Bureaucracy to 'fix' (eliminate) it. From the moment of inception, the Bureaucratic (biological) imperative becomes propagation, passing on 'genes' to the next generation (continuation of the line), and/ or self sustainment--problem? What problem...

Posted by: Monsuier DeFarge at August 17, 2011 07:17 PM (moAr0)

111 109 I had read several of Chesterton's Father brown books before coming across one that had what seemed--since I had not seen it it the previous books--an out-of-the-blue anti-semitic rant about the evil Jooooooooos.
Hmmm what book? "What's Wrong With the World" is one of may all time favorite books, didn't detect any anti-semetism, though he has some hilarious critiques of Japan.

Posted by: bernverdnardo at August 17, 2011 07:32 PM (xXhWA)

112 The quote here reminds me of another of Chesterton's: "Any true reformation is a restoration". It was part of a larger point on the silliness of change for change's sake, so timely today.

Posted by: bernverdnardo at August 17, 2011 07:35 PM (xXhWA)

113 16
12 And a moat, with alligators.


Posted by: Barry Obama at August 17, 2011 06:10 PM (kD+se)



I would think Michelle skinny dipping in the moat would do.


But the alligators and piranhas would come out before Michelle went in. Right?

Posted by: PETA at August 17, 2011 07:37 PM (u+8qs)

114
What I meant in #4 was he said that before he divorced her he couldn't remember why they had ever gotten married and then after being single for a few months he did.
I think FAHayek wrote a book that touched on this topic too. His point was that over the millenia that civilization developed people started doing things a certain way because that wayworked best (like-men and women getting married as opposed to marriage being unheard of).

Posted by: CozMark at August 17, 2011 07:38 PM (HK4Kc)

115 Yeah, saw that from McMegan. It's a great shorthand for an important idea.
Chesterton's Fence.
The Broken Window Fallacy.
more I can't think of because I'm stupid.

Wish I had list of these. All I can think of now is Chekhov's Gun. Which doesn't apply at all in this scenario.


Posted by: Clubber Lang at August 17, 2011 07:48 PM (QcFbt)

116 In the end they will Means Test it....remember it's all about Wealth Redistribution!

Homeowners add quite a bit of money into the economy so I wouldn't want to do away with the deduction completely (also because I benefit from it), but I wouldn't have a problem with an upper limit on the deduction.

Something like a maximum $30,000 deduction would be reasonably fair.

Posted by: Hollowpoint at August 17, 2011 08:00 PM (SY2Kh)

117 This is why liberals just blame everything on discrimination.

Marriage? Cuz people hate homosexuals.

Borders? Cuz people are racist.

Law and order? Cuz people hate the underclass.

Family? Cuz people hate women.

Having decided that the reason for civilization itself is based on hate, liberals seek to destroy it. It makes perfect sense to liberals.


Posted by: JohnJ at August 17, 2011 08:05 PM (Tt6ky)

118 113
16
12 And a moat, with alligators.


Posted by: Barry Obama at August 17, 2011 06:10 PM (kD+se)



I would think Michelle skinny dipping in the moat would do.


But the alligators and piranhas would come out before Michelle went in. Right? Posted by: PETA at August 17, 2011 07:37 PM (u+8qs)


If they saw her coming, they would.

Posted by: JohnJ at August 17, 2011 08:08 PM (Tt6ky)

119 6 Meh. Chesterton was a Papist, and the reform he objected to was the Reformation. Luther, Calvin, and Huss were no fools, Mi Amigos...
Posted by: CoolCzech at August 17, 2011 06:07 PM (kUaEF)
Bwahaha
Exactly the point

Posted by: dagny at August 17, 2011 08:40 PM (XiXvG)

120 I think the first question that should be asked is: Is it constitutional, in the framers' definition and the Federalist Papers understanding? If the Fence was erected unconstitutionally, throw it out and we, as citizens have to deal with it. F the soft landing of the socialist utopia, it's a opium pipe dream. ( I know, don't comment drunk and angry).

Posted by: bag end 2-electric boogaloo at August 17, 2011 08:51 PM (PNUbK)

121 Chesterton sounds positively avuncular, defending the social strictures (in this country we called it a "caste system") of Edwardian England. Transplant the same argumentation to modern South America, or China, and see how you like it.

Although, I see we have a Saddam Hussein defender above, so as far as I'm concerned, Godwin is right out the window. American conservatives have never met a "real" (European) conservative. Like European "liberals," they're assholes. You couldn't live under them, or with them.

Posted by: comatus at August 17, 2011 08:57 PM (W5ilH)

122 F-ck all that.

If something don't make any g-d damn sense, then I am not
going to try to understand it or why someone thinks it's a peachy keen
idea.


Posted by: McLovin at August 17, 2011 09:02 PM (j0IcY)

123 >>The problem with this is that it means that we cannot get rid of anything, 'IF' we cannot define the reason for its existance in the first place...

I'm not really seeing that.

…Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody…

…If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served…

Posted by: Dejah T. Baggins at August 17, 2011 09:10 PM (tydO9)

124 If you think missing that from Chesterton is bad, you should read the rest of what he has to say. My Lord, the man dings my bells like a drunken boatwain's mate at noon. I love reading him, but it is heady with double, triple, entendres and a crisp understanding of reality. He has more to say in our time then he ever did in his own.

Posted by: Doom at August 17, 2011 09:10 PM (1awZ0)

125 Kind of like those rocks that those Japanese old-timers put up on the hillside inscribed "Don't build your houses below this point." http://tinyurl.com/3zcgpjw

What did they know, the old fogeys?

oh, and Chesterton wasn't an anti-Semite.

http://tinyurl.com/3lqbl47

Posted by: Abigail Adams at August 17, 2011 09:13 PM (H3sjL)

126 I'm a fan. He's always wrong.


Posted by: oblig. at August 17, 2011 06:34 PM (xvZW9)

You might not be aware, but Mr. Chesterton's writings consist of more than the quote above. To the extent that something intelligible can be gleaned from your comment, I assume that you favor socialism, as Chesterton was an early critic of socialism, communism, feminism, et al. From the same tome as the above quote:

"Socialism is a system which makes the corporate unity of society responsible for all its economic processes, or all those affecting life and essential living. If anything important is sold, the Government has sold it; if anything important is given, the Government has given it; if anything important is even tolerated, the Government is responsible for tolerating it. This is the very reverse of anarchy; it is an extreme enthusiasm for authority. It is in many ways worthy of the moral dignity of the mind; it is a collective acceptance of very complete responsibility… A Socialist Government is one which in its nature does not tolerate any true and real opposition. For there the Government provides everything; and it is absurd to ask a Government to provide an opposition.
You cannot go to the Sultan and say reproachfully, “You have made no arrangements for your brother dethroning you and seizing the Caliphate.” You cannot go to a medieval king and say, “Kindly lend me two thousand spears and one thousand bowmen, as I wish to raise a rebellion against you.” Still less can you reproach a Government which professes to set up everything, because it has not set up anything to pull down all it has set up. Opposition and rebellion depend on property and liberty… The critic of the State can only exist where a religious sense of right protects his claims to his own bow and spear; or at least, to his own pen or his own printing press. It is absurd to suppose that he could borrow the royal pen to advocate regicide or use the Government printing presses to expose the corruption of the Government. Yet it is the whole point of Socialism, the whole case for Socialism, that unless all printing presses are Government printing presses, printers may be oppressed. Everything is staked on the State’s justice; it is putting all the eggs in one basket. Many of them will be rotten eggs; but even then you will not be allowed to use them at political elections."
Always wrong?

Posted by: Alec Leamas at August 17, 2011 09:34 PM (E659g)

127 Also, Chesterton was known toregularly carry a pistol about his person.

Posted by: Alec Leamas at August 17, 2011 09:36 PM (E659g)

128 Well, sorry, but I reject the basic premise here, especially as it relates to GOVERNMENT action.

As this country was founded, the people are supposed to restrain the gov't, not the other way around. And as such, the government SHOULD be continuously jusitfying 1) its existence, and 2) every single thing it does. So in the case of this "mysterious fence", it is not incumbent upon the citizens who are rightly supposed to be in charge, but the gov't to both KNOW the reason the fence has been erected, AND be prepared to defend that reason.

If, in fact, nobody actually KNOWS the reason, then most likely, that reason is flawed.

Remember, the government that governs best is the one that governs least. By that standard, the default position would be that the world would be a better place WITHOUT the fence, and if the government would like that fence to remain, fine, justify that.

Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that in the quoted text it states that "There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools", but again, in this case we aren't talking about our "fathers", but elected government bureaucrats, for whom the default position that they are "fools" is probably more correct than not.

Sadly, the one thing I find just exactly perfect here, is the notion that government technocrats could respond to a request to remove a fence that seems unnecessary by saying "Well, if you go find out why that fence is there, then we'll remove it". Yeah, that sounds straight out of DMV Management 101. Substitute "rule" or "regulation" for the fence and now you have "Government 101".

Less is ALWAYS more when it comes to government, and in the age of Obama when government is now spending 26% or more of GDP, I will take my chances every single time eliminating rules and regulations nobody knows the basis of.

Posted by: deadrody at August 17, 2011 09:39 PM (Gc1ql)

129 How can Thad McCotter call himself a true conservative when he is a supporter of Unions? Aren't these diametrically opposed?

Chesterton advocated a Distributivist economic system - one in which capital was distributed (but not re-distributed) broadly. In sum- this is frommy recollection havingread the man far too long ago -he thought it was a good idea if lots of people could acquire things like tools or horses and plows orland, etc. with which to work for themselves or with which to bargain for a better wage. He critiqued the sort of absolutist feudalist system of pure capitalism - the sort of system where you live in a company town and are in hock to the company store and die in debt to the company.I think heenvisioned something more along the lines of what we might call microbusiness/mom-and-popbusiness and independent contractors.
I do believe that Chesterton wrote in favor of a sort of "guild system" in which apprenticeship, training and the acquisition of tools and equipment by workers would be made possible as a means of makinga workersomewhatindependent of, andin a better bargainingposition for his labor withcapital. I don't know that he did or would advocate in favor of forced collective bargaining.

Posted by: Alec Leamas at August 17, 2011 09:51 PM (E659g)

130 None of these artsy-fartsy quotes are going to matter much once the math catches up with our economy. For instance, we won't need to debate the necessity of the Dept. of Education because the employees, although not having been fired, will no longer show up for work once the paychecks start bouncing.

It's actually kinda funny that some folks still seem to believe these type of debates matter anymore. They don't.

Posted by: OkieTea at August 17, 2011 10:18 PM (8bteu)

131 Thanks Alec. That explanation is a good one..

Posted by: Lonely Conservative in MI at August 17, 2011 10:28 PM (rZZA3)

132 Thanks for taking the time to line all this out for all of us. This kind of blog post was extremely helpful to me.

Posted by: Jimmy Choo at August 17, 2011 11:07 PM (Wa1a/)

133
Morons, I'm really very disappointed in you. Y'all have got to be smarter than this. Chesterton is just saying that before you change something, make sure you know why it's done that way. Otherwiseyou could have a disaster on your hands, of the "how were we supposed to know?" variety. Didn't say "no, no, never change anything," he just said to look at it intelligently first. You are not a bunch of libtards to skim it, pick out something that can be twisted into a negative, and then get nasty about it. Man, am I disappointed in you.

Posted by: Kathy C at August 18, 2011 01:41 AM (T9l3S)

134 it is a matter of perspectives. if by reformer you mean someone who wants to reverse the inordinate growth of government, the doesn't really apply (that's why it is inordinate). if by reformer you mean someone who wants to destroy the foundation of western civilization, such as capitalism, traditional family, scientific method, liberal democracy, then yes, totally true. incidentally reformers where of this second kind during GKC's time.

Posted by: aso at August 18, 2011 02:30 AM (g0cTv)

135 "The flip side is that it becomes a principal of preservation of
*everything*, no matter how inane, especially if it is obtuse ,
legalistic, and byzantine.


No, read the quote. What he asks is that you make a serious effort to understand what you are abolishing, before you abolish it. As in, "serious effort", not "pro forma" effort.


Posted by: pucke at August 18, 2011 05:14 AM (JNhC3)

136 "This is why liberals just blame everything on discrimination.

Marriage? Cuz people hate homosexuals.

Borders? Cuz people are racist.

Law and order? Cuz people hate the underclass.

Family? Cuz people hate women.

Having
decided that the reason for civilization itself is based on hate,
liberals seek to destroy it. It makes perfect sense to liberals."

A very succinct summary of why liberalism is such a destructive force, besides the nihilism thing, that is.

Posted by: pucke at August 18, 2011 05:17 AM (JNhC3)

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Posted by: ladiono at August 18, 2011 06:06 AM (fa4rZ)

138 Meh. (your quote above) ... "Chesterton was a Papist, and the reform he objected to was the Reformation. Luther, Calvin, and Huss were no fools, Mi Amigos..."
I'm always amazed by people who try to tack Wycliffe, Hus, and Zwinglionto Protestantism, and elude toa myth that Luther and Calvin were 'influenced' by themwhen, in fact, those three were the very antithesis of Nicene Protestantism. They were Arians.
Neither Luther nor Calvin, nor the Church of England,embraced Wycliffe, Hus, or Zwingli because of their denial of therole of sacrament in faith.
Chesterton's observation stands. Neither Luther nor Calvin tore down the gate of Sacrament the way the reformers Hus and Wicliffe did. And what applies to theology applies just as well topolitics.
Intellectual Honesty is a Sacrament sectarians and secularists alike should adore. It avoids the error of revisionism under the guise of reform.

Posted by: Idylewylde at August 18, 2011 01:16 PM (JjnS1)

139 just trying it out

Posted by: mrscorpio at August 18, 2011 03:46 PM (sVB51)

140 1908In autumn, only38Years of emperor guangxu falls ill, for a long time by
tuberculosis, liver, MBT Shoes
heart and rheumatism the bonds of chronic disease due to its immunity, resulting
in serious decline cardiorespiratory failure complicating acute infection and
death.Historical coincidence at, in, was the emperor guangxu before74Old empress
dowager GHD Hair
Straighteners cixi also because ate a little not the right thing, GHD Straighteners loose
bowels a long time.The death of the emperor guangxu maybe to a terrible shock of
empress dowager cixi, dying after the old more think more think his life is too
hard, all hope are turned to in order to naught.MBT This year in emperor guangxu
only38After the age of the premature death of the adopted son, empress dowager
cixi also within the snow

Posted by: GHD Straighteners at August 19, 2011 05:07 AM (ZzqXu)






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