Why rules are awesome and exceptions suck

Deborah over at The Hand Mirror has an excellent post from a while back on how a tiny exception in Act’s proposed tax cuts devalues women’s labour, by hitting part-timers (who are disproportionately female) with extra tax. This hits on a vein that’s essential to my feelings about not only feminist thought, but also queer rights, race relations, disability issues, and even economic productivity/fairness, so I’d like to expand on Deborah’s objection to an exception that hurts women more than men.

This is a great example of why in all types of complex systems- from Human Rights laws to the tax code to social progression- ideas that can be elegantly expressed as rules that have no exceptions make the best guidelines to live by. (I should point out that adding just a few “inclusions” to a restrictive rule is effectively the same thing as making a more inclusive rule with lots of exceptions, it just cuts down on admin costs a little more.1) Continue reading