photo from Wikipedia
The Economist starts its piece on her this week with this truth: “Only a handful of peacetime politicians can claim to have changed the world. Margaret Thatcher was one.”
When she was voted into Britain’s most powerful position in 1979, that country’s top tax rate was 98%, which had put the brakes on job creation. She drastically cut income and corporate taxes, while simultaneously cutting government spending—from 44.6 per cent of GDP in 1979 to 39.4 per cent of GDP in 1991. (Our economy works best when government spending is held well below 20%; Obama likes it at 25%. So you can see Britain was in bad straits.) She led Britain from a declining country, with ever lower standard of living compared to the rest of Europe, to an economy growing at 3% per year throughout her decade-plus. In fact, for two decades (good decades for the US), Britain’s standard of living rise exceeded the US, Japan, Germany, France, and Italy.
She came at a time when the country was in the throes of union-induced misery. The unions had a stranglehold on politics, politicians, and private enterprise. It took an iron will to stand up against them. She did it with good grace and humor—very much like her US counterpart of history, Ronald Reagan.
Like Reagan, she was highly quotable. One of the famous ones is, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
I love this two-minute clip of her standing up against socialism in parliament:
Here are a few more favorite quotes:
To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: “You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.” [at Conservative Party Conference 1980]
[on whether to have UK join Europe in a common currency]: No, no, no.
Ronnie [Ronald Reagan] and I got to know each other at a time when we were both in Opposition, and when a good many people intended to keep us there. They failed, and the conservative 1980s were the result. But in a certain sense, we remained an opposition, we were never the establishment. As Ron once put it: the nine most dangerous words in the English language are “I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.” As usual, he was right.
Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult,
is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.
I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.
Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be
nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.
Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.
There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women,
and there are families.
I just owe almost everything to my father and it's passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in a very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election.
You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.
A good source for pages more of her gems is BrainyQuote.
For a larger taste, I suggest a speech she gave here in the US, at Hillsdale College in November 1994, on “The Moral Foundations of Society.” I think I would like to make her an honorary member of the Spherical Model think tank. She
understood the basic
|Statue of Margaret Thatcher at Hillsdale College|
Photo from Hillsdale email newsletter 4-8-2013
Here’s an observation that concerns me as I reflect this week. Decades of southern hemisphere practices (on the Spherical Model) build up problems, piling them into mountains. A leader who understands freedom, free enterprise, and civilization comes along every once in a generation, and turns things in the right direction. Evidence accumulates to prove that the principles our Constitution writers recognized are true, that they lead to thriving in every sphere. Nevertheless, as soon as the heroic leader no longer holds the world on his/her shoulders, the enemy slides back into their previous positions, as though trying to erase the good times, denying they happened. And problems mount again.
How do we get a critical mass of heroes to overcome the ubiquitous tyrannists? We need more Margaret Thatchers. We need more Ronald Reagans. We need them in leadership positions. But we also need many more smaller heroes, regular people whose voices may not carry as far, but who recognize truth and stand up for it—we need those heroes to prevent us from sinking ever downward.
I have answers about what the necessary principles are; many of us do. I don’t have answers about how to get the word out on what the principles are. I just try to be one of the quieter but needed voices.