Thatcher's Legacy: Government Isn't the Boss of Me

Former British prime minister dead at 87

“Individualism has come in for an enormous amount of criticism over the years. It still does. It is widely assumed to be synonymous with selfishness. … But the main reason why so many people in power have always disliked individualism is because it is individualists who are ever keenest to prevent the abuse of authority.” – Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World.

Today at NewRepublic.com, the lead article is titled “Why Paternalism Is Your Friend.” Maggie Thatcher would have enjoyed eviscerating that.

Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher died today from a stroke at the age of 87. A lioness for economic freedom, she was also the first female prime minister in British history. For those American women who have yet to see a female president, Margaret Thatcher was and remains an inspiration.

Underlying her tremendous success at revitalizing the British economy was the understanding that, as she put it so succinctly, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” This coincides with Rule 5 of Lawrence W. Reed’s “Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy”: Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.

One may quibble about the necessity of re-acquiring the Falkland Islands: that is outside the bounds of the Mackinac Center’s concerns. But when it came to defending economic freedom, the last century has seen few who battled so courageously to unshackle the British people from extortionate special interests, preserve property rights, and enshrine individual rights above those of powerful politicians. The fact that she was a woman was immaterial, inherently proving the feminist point.

In particular, the so-called Iron Lady’s battle with Britain’s beleaguered and puttering trade unions and nationalized industries jumpstarted the nation’s manufacturing sector, and put to bed tired public policies proven to fail. In fact, privatization is seen by some as Thatcher’s most lasting and international legacy.

We can’t argue with that, as our yearly School Privatization report inculcates the importance of minimizing taxpayer burdens in favor of service accountability and increased focus on education.

At the end of her life, Thatcher remained a powerful enough figure to be remembered the world over. Her fight for economic freedom is a fight we endeavor to continue in Michigan, and hopefully beyond.