Perspectives in Time

I know this seems like a grandiose title, but there is something I wrote a little while ago about the Villians of the piece. The last of the three villians named has died. Ronnie Reagan went first, then Milton Friedmann, 2006, now Maggie Thatcher. The last of the trio of people who’s impact on the world has been incalculable.

The other two passed without too much notice, but Maggie was different. People in Brixton celebrated. The old Left around the world heaved a sigh of relief, but not the joy of those in Brixton. We were bombarded with articles of why the Left hated her and so on. What a lot of rubbish. Hate is a specialty of the Right, not the Left, always has been. Why would those in Brixton celebrate? Simple, they were the ones who lost more than anyone else because of the changes implemented by Maggie.

I don’t think anyone on the bottom would suggest that the world economy is a lot better than it was before these people started tinkering, and a lot of people would say it is in worse state than it has ever been. Those on top, those who have the say, those who have the power resulting from those changes would tell us it is all good, and things have never been better. Of course, they would – they are the big winners. But what about others?

Look at Australia’s economy. We have been living on primary industry forever, but it has had an expanding manufacturing base since Federation. By the mid-1980s, a little over 45% of our workforce was employed in manufacturing somewhere. Today it is down to around 20%. This is a decline of more than 50% yet are there any alarm bells ringing? Is anyone screaming that something is wrong? Only those on the Left.

Is the economy doing well or not? No it isn’t, not from my point of view. Volatility in the stockmarket, decline in manufacturing, uncertainty in employment, increasing casualisation of the workforce are all hallmarks of an economy in decline. Yet we are told we have a great economy.

George H.W. Bush,  spoke about “voodoo economics” – before he became Reagan’s running mate. Afterwards, Bush embraced supply side economics and we are continuing to suffer. The idea is that tax revenues can be garnished from sales taxes, not from income taxes, not from other business taxes. That being the case, then income tax and other business taxes can be cut. The problem is the one we are experiencing now, downturns lead to dramatic drops in Government incomes. This pushes up borrowing and so the cycle of economic uncertainty is reinforced.

The “free market” does not really work that well but these policies are the mainstay of Thatcher’s legacy. if you want to call it that.

“Ding-dong the wicked witch is dead” has made it back to the top 40, purely as a result of Thatcher’s death. How tacky. I am sure that Maggie was a decent person, a likeable one, personally. Hard willed and ruthless publicly, like all such people, but personally, we need to remember she was a daughter, a wife, a mother, as well as a politician. Never met her, and I am sure that if I had I probably would have found her personable. It is her policies that I find deplorable. It is her ideas that should be challenged, not her memory. It is her legacy that should be discarded, not her name.

We would all like to be remembered by our intentions, and I doubt Maggie was any different.  Consider this, Samuel Johnson is often misquoted with “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” (He did not say the road bit, that came later.) The decisions that Thatcher, et al., made were all made in the belief that it was better than what was happening. For a time it was, but not now, now we need a change and that change is too slow in coming.

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About colinfraser

I claim the title of educator, because I want to me more than "just" a teacher.
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