Are they celebrating the legacy, or the death, of Margaret Thatcher?

Many conservatives wonder why intellectuals from the left would attack the recently departed, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with such blood lust.  Non-political types wonder how anyone could take to the streets to celebrate the death of a leader that didn’t commit mass genocide, incarcerate her enemies, or commit any attrocities.  There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with the politics of a leader, those that don’t follow politics say, but why would anyone riot, loot, and injure other people to celebrate their death?

Thatcher and Reagan

Thatcher and Reagan

As for the revelers that took to the streets to celebrate the former Prime Minister’s death, IB Times UK reporter Ewan Palmer stated that: “There was the notion that this morbid celebration has been planned in thousands of people’s heads for more than 30 years.”{1} Dominic Gover’s IBT World article continued, saying, “Many revelers appeared younger than the 23 years which have passed since Thatcher left office.”

Josef Stalin had a term for these people.  He called them “useful idiots”.  It was a term he reserved for those people he perceived to be uninformed propagandists that cynical leaders could use to promote a cause.  Most useful idiots will “support” any cause that allows for public drinking, violence, theft, looting, and violence against police under the guise of a “noble” cause they know little to nothing about.

The answer regarding why a more academic theoretician, like Paul Krugman, would join the dance upon Thatcher’s grave is simple: Politics.  If “The Iron Lady’s” legacy were allowed to flourish, unchallenged, it would not speak well of Krugman’s Keynesian goals for worldwide acceptance of government controlled economies, and the thrust of President Barack Obama’s beliefs that he can turn the U.S. economy around through government infusions of cash.  Margaret Thatcher may not have provided the world the antithesis of Obama’s policies—she was for socialized medicine, increased taxes, some gun control legislation, and she believed in global warming—but the changes in taxes she passed, and the limits on the regulations of business she called for, could undoubtedly be called different from those policies Obama and Krugman favor.  It’s vital to their continued progress, therefore, that Krugman, and all leftist intellectuals, take any opportunity to diminish any conservative’s historical record…Even if that opportunity arises before the dirt is on their coffin.

“Did Thatcher turn Britain around,” Paul Krugman asks in his most recent column.  The thrust of Krugman’s argument that she didn’t necessarily do so, is based on two points.  The first that Krugman never explicitly states is that Britain’s turnaround was coincidental to Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister, and that Thatcher happened to be in the right place at the right time.  He elucidates this point with a graph that compares Britain’s per capita GDP, and unemployment rates, with those of France’s during Thatcher’s tenure.  The title of the chart is UK GDP per capita relative to France, but this author doesn’t see where the France line appears on the chart.  Perhaps it was done in total comparison, but that’s difficult to discern.  Regardless, Krugman notes: “A long decline ended and turned into a revival.”  The second graph shows that France’s unemployment rate was lower for much of her tenure, until around 1994 when Britain’s rate of unemployment figures went below France’s and has stayed there to the present day.  This leads to Krugman’s second argument: If Thatcher did, in fact, turn Britain’s economy around, “why did it take so long?”

“Thatcher came to power in 1979, and imposed a radical change in policy almost immediately.  But the big improvement in British performance doesn’t really show in the data until the mid-1990s.  Does she get credit for a reward so long delayed?

This is, by the way, somewhat like a similar issue in America: right-wingers were eager to give Ronald Reagan credit for the productivity boom of the Clinton years, which also didn’t start until around 1995; if Reagan could get credit for events that were 14 years or more after his 1981 tax cut, shouldn’t Richard Nixon be given credit for anything good that happened in the Reagan years?”{3}

The latter argument can be diffused with one name James Earl Carter.  If Nixon did anything to turn the economy around in the manner that Reagan or Thatcher did, with the same degree of lag before it could take full effect, that would’ve been thrashed by the inept policies of the Carter administration.  Reagan was followed by George H.W. Bush, and Bush continued, for the most part, the policies of Ronald Reagan, so the analogy doesn’t hold up on that front.  On the administrative front, Nixon was not the conservative that Reagan was.  He enacted wage and price controls, expanded social security, and he continued LBJ’s Great Society programs.  Reagan’s policies were almost in direct contrast to many of Nixon’s, even though many historians now say that Nixon was a secret advisor of Reagan’s.

As for the question regarding why Thatcher’s policies, and Reagan’s, had such a lag in terms of results—that Krugman admits coincidentally “didn’t start until around 1995″—Krugman was involved in a CNBC debate with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly where Krugman rhetorically posed this question.  Bill O’Reilly responded:

“Call any corporation — any high-tech corporation in Silicon Valley and just ask them when their R&D ramped up and when their machinery that has led the world, the United States and the world, when it started getting — they will all tell you it happened during the Reagan administration when corporate taxes were cut.  There was more income to devote to that.”{4}

The point O’Reilly was making was that a company’s R&D (Research and Development) departments allow that company to create better products, and that it may take some time to create these products, get them to market, and eventually show a profit on them.  One could say that Microsoft became Microsoft during this period, and that the many companies that would make up the tech bubble—that fueled the soaring stock market of the mid-‘90’s—were made during this period.  But it’s tough to definitively say that the Reagan tax cuts on corporations definitively led to the corporate profits, that funded greater R&D, and eventually fueled the mid-‘90’s tech bubble.  We do know that the time it takes a pharmaceutical company to research and develop a product, test that product, and eventually show a profit on that product can be around twelve years, but that could be disregarded based on the impediments put into that process by the FDA.  We can assume, however, that putting out something as complicated as a computer’s operating system can involve a great deal of the same trial and error measures of those involved in the pharmaceutical industry, at least when it comes to the time it takes to perfect it, make it market ready, and then profitable.  We also know that any projections Krugman puts forth on this topic are at least as informed, if not less so, than ours, for he has never spent any time in private sector, and that the basis for his initial interest in economics are the novels of science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. {5}

Due to the fact that it took more than a decade for all the changes that Thatcher and Reagan enacted on their respected economies, it is difficult to definitively say that their policies coincidentally turned their country’s economies at the same time.  It’s difficult to definitively say that economic cycles being what they are, that an upswing was not inevitable regardless who was in office, but with all of these coincidental circumstances lining up perfectly, leftist economists, like Krugman, feel it incumbent upon them to insert as many question marks as possible into their recounts of the historical record.







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