Claire Berlinski disputes recent articles suggesting that the Thatcher era is finished citing a lack of understanding of what she should for:
The cover of Newsweek recently announced that it’s the end of the era of Thatcher. The Washington Post followed suit. These headlines suggest a very significant confusion about what, precisely, Margaret Thatcher stood for. They are an injustice to her legacy … It is true that Thatcher promoted deregulation. But the deregulation she favored had nothing to do with the meltdown on Wall Street. She was certainly not an advocate of regulation-free capitalism, as these headlines imply … No free-market economist in his right mind asserts that there should be no regulations or laws whatsoever. In fact, contract law and certain kinds of regulation — remember that “regulation” is just another word for “law” — are fully understood by free-market enthusiasts to be essential to the functioning of a free-market economy … No one connected to Thatcher would have dreamt of disputing this .. . Thatcher’s point was that the laws and regulations on the books must be good ones … she favor removing regulations that massively burdened the British economy … But at the same time, she was a passionate proponent of the kind of regulation that makes free markets function properly. Those who say Thatcherite deregulation has been discredited never say which regulations and laws shouldn’t have been passed during her time in power, or which ones should have been, and when. They don’t say so because the laws and regulations she did promote were good ones and remain good …Read the whole piece here
True that the intellectual atmosphere is changing, indeed Alan Greenspan’s recent commentary is proof of this but to blame conservatism for this demonstrates a lack of understanding. Some commentary defends Thatcher and points the blame on the greed is good concept born of Ayn Rand, yet this too is incorrect. Rand never said that ‘greed was good’ being more an advocate of ‘rational self-interest’ and one who viewed crime and fraud as not merely wrong, but highly irrational. Rand would have opposed the statist interventions within the banking and finance sectors that helped create the mess we are in.
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