Worstall’s Corollary To Chesterton’s Fence

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The great political question, the one that comes before all others, is why is this bastard bastard lying to me? The bastard. Around here we take that as being just normal, our interest focusing on how is this bastard bastard lying to me? The bastard. We can run this logic the other way around of course, and if we can’t see nor find the lie then we can reluctantly conclude, however absurd it seems, that the politician is not lying. This works as with science, as with scientific proof. Continual testing which fails to disprove a theory does not prove it, it merely leaves it as the best explanation we’ve got so far, a theory which is always subject to further such testing. The edifice of science being that design of such tests which attempt to disprove what we think we know about how the universe operates. It only takes the one awkward little fact to be a disproof though.

So it is in politics. Absence of evidence the bastards are lying is only evidence that they’re not so far, or that we’ve not caught them. Evidence of lying brings the edifice down, as it should.

This is akin to, but not the same as, Chesterton’s Fence. If you’re out in the country with a friend and come across a fence one cannot conclude that the fence is not needed so let us grub it up. You know, sleeves rolled and attack right now. It is only if we can work out why the fence was placed there in the first place, understand the reason for it, further determine that this reason no longer applies nor has validity, only then can we call in the navvies to pull it down.

Thus Worstall’s Corollary to Chesterton’s Fence. Quite clearly the reason being offered for whatever political fence is likely – near certainly – going to include some lie or other. Our task is to work out what it is, to see whether the underlying reason is still valid or not.

An illustration from today:

Britain could become a safe haven for child sex offenders seeking to evade justice in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the NSPCC has warned ministers. The charity has written to Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, who has made the fight against child abuse a top priority, warning that the loss of EU agreements on extradition and arrest of child sex offenders would prevent police bringing them to justice as quickly and easily as they do now. It says the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), introduced in 2004 after the 9/11 terror attack, has enabled police to capture and then extradite wanted sex offenders within days. Before its introduction it could take a year to bring a child sex abuser to justice whereas now a wanted offender can be surrendered to a prosecuting country within 14 days, where the person consents, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.

Yes, they go on to qualify this but that’s about as much of any newspaper story as the average reader covers.

It certainly presses the hot buttons, doesn’t it? Kiddie fiddlers getting off with it? That slightly missing the fact that being held for extradition isn’t a fun process in itself. But still, we can see heart strings being tugged, emotions appealed to. 14 days or one year? Well, quite, so the only right thing to do is continue to send £13 billion a year to Mr. J-C Juncker for him to spend as he sees fit.

So, where’s the lie? Here:

where the person consents

They are comparing the time taken for a bad’un to unfairly shelter in fear behind the shield of the law to that time taken for a good’un to agree to go clear their name, leap on the next plane in their eagerness to beat off the vile calumny being perpetrated against them. These are not, we might note, the same thing.

We might think that we shouldn’t describe the NSPCC is doing politics but seriously folks, what else do you think they’re doing here? They’re lobbying about the law and how it might be changed. That’s politics. In fact, the NSPCC does little other than politics:

The NSPCC lobbies the government on issues relating to child welfare, and creates campaigns for the general public, with the intention of raising awareness of child protection issues.

That may not be electoral politics but it is indeed politics.

So, our great political question, why are the bastards lying to us? Worstall’s Corollary being to work out what is the fence they’ve put in there to do so?