It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
Herb Stein's law
by James Bowman
On the fiscal cliff and Herb Stein's tautology, “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t.”
was right!Support The
Towards the end of his life, I got to know the late Herb Stein, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Nixon and Ford, and I now regret never having asked him for the definitive version of what has come to be known as Herb Stein’s Law. Google tells me that the law is: “If something can’t go on forever, it will stop,” but I like to think that Herb would have preferred what seems to me the more rhetorically satisfying version, whose provenance I cannot now recall: “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t.” Either way, what amounts to a simple tautology has shown again and again its power to strike through the vaporous fogs of public debate to astound us with the force of revelation—although, as I write, it appears not yet to have done so, except in a few odd corners out of the way of the dominant media, in the case of that now legendary precipice, the “fiscal cliff.& ...
This article is available to subscribers and for individual purchase
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 January 2013, on page 65
Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.comhttp://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Herb-Stein-s-law-7531
E-mail to friend
by James Bowman
Comparing those who disagree with you to Nazis shouldn't be a viable rhetorical strategy, so why is it so common?
The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
Introduction to The Kennedy Phenomenon
The Kennedy Phenomenon: "Watching the Kennedy Train-Wreck"