Monday's death of Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gives us Conservatives a chance to wax nostalgic about days of greater prosperity and personal freedom. A lot of people like to think that Thatcher just rode the coattails of her beloved "Ronnie" Reagan during the 80's--but the record shows she was just as important as her American counterpart in turning around the economic and geo-political course of the world.
Thatcher tamed double-digit inflation rates and runaway deficits by contracting the monetary supply--and getting millions off the dole. She also freed the British people from the control of labor unions that constantly threatened the deliver of basic services and good with nationwide strikes. Thatcher got Government out of the auto industry (they owned Jaguar), running the banks, owning the telecommunications systems and the airplane building business--and AMAZINGLY, those industries all started turning profits when run by actual businessmen and not bureaucrats!
The Prime Minister put the military dictatorship of Argentina in its place by literally blowing the junta's Navy and Air Force out of water and the sky in the Falklands. She believed that increased military might was the only way to keep Communism in check in Europe--allowing the Soviet Empire to crumble from within its own walls. And most importantly, Thatcher insisted that in any attempt to create a "common European market" allow Britain to maintain its own currency--knowing that the socialist systems of countries like Greece, France and Spain were going to drag everybody down with them.
Not surprisingly, there were plenty of less-flattering remembrances of Margaret Thatcher yesterday. They came from Liberals who who claimed the rich got "too rich" during the Reagan-Thatcher years and that deregulation allowed people to make bad financial decisions twenty years later to trigger the current worldwide recession. I guess those folks want to think back to their own "golden age"--when inflation was 26%, and the Pound had to be floated by the International Monetary Fund, and the garbage sat uncollected in the streets for weeks, and Britons had to worry if coal would be available to heat their houses in the winter, and religious zealots took foreign diplomats hostage, and the people of Western Europe lived under a constant worry of rolling tanks or mushroom clouds.
Or perhaps, Thatcher's critics prefer the current "glory days" of socialism where unemployment is over 25%, where dictators looking for attention hold entire continents hostage with nuclear threats, where governments own carmakers and banks and bankrupt renewable energy companies again and where their countries are too broke to provide all of the benefits they were promised.
As depressing as it is to think back on how good things were when leaders like Margaret Thatcher were in control, you have to be optimistic that it's just a matter of time before voting majorities turn to people with her vision again--and bring order and fiscal sanity back to the world.