Stoll: Thatcher’s Crucial Legacy Transforming British Economy

Monday, 08 Apr 2013 10:52 AM

By Ira Stoll

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 Of all the possible ways to remember Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — victorious cold warrior, pioneering woman politician, resolute American ally — the one that’s probably most relevant today is the way she transformed Britain’s domestic policy and economy.

The numbers tell the story. As The Telegraph reports, when she took office in 1979, the top British tax rate on earned income was 83 percent; on “unearned” income, 98 percent. By the time she left office in 1990, the rate had come down to 40 percent.

It was a classic supply-side success story. The growth encouraged by the lower rates (along with an increase in the value-added tax that shifted the tax burden to consumption rather than income) caused government revenues to more than triple, to 187 billion pounds in 1990 from 57 billion in 1979.

Yet because the private sector grew faster than government spending, even during a Cold War military buildup and a war in the Falkland Islands, government spending as a percentage of GDP in Britain shrank during Thatcher’s administration, to 39 percent from 47 percent. Britain had annual real GDP growth of 4 percent in 1986, 4.6 percent in 1987, and 5 percent in 1988.

As if that weren’t enough, the Telegraph summary continues, she privatized government-owned gas, electric, coal, telephone, and airline companies, and she sold the “council flats” housing projects to the tenants who lived in them.

How did she do it? There are all sorts of possible explanations, including the fact that Britain in the late 1970s, like America, had sunk to such a sorry state that there was a market for solutions that were alternatives to the big-government conventional wisdom. But the point that seems most salient from this distance is Thatcher’s steadfast confidence in the basic principles behind her policies. It was, as she put it in her “Iron Lady” speech, “my defense of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life.”

She explained those values in her 1988 Bruges Speech, speaking of how “From classical and medieval thought we have borrowed that concept of the rule of law which marks out a civilized society from barbarism. And on that idea of Christendom, to which the Rector referred—Christendom for long synonymous with Europe—with its recognition of the unique and spiritual nature of the individual, on that idea, we still base our belief in personal liberty and other human rights.”

She went on, “The lesson of the economic history of Europe in the ’70s and ’80s is that central planning and detailed control do not work and that personal endeavour and initiative do. That a State-controlled economy is a recipe for low growth and that free enterprise within a framework of law brings better results … and that means action to free markets, action to widen choice, action to reduce government intervention. Our aim should not be more and more detailed regulation from the centre: It should be to deregulate and to remove the constraints on trade.”

Even The New York Times obituary, beneath a home-page headline characterizing the heroine of the Cold War as “divisive,” seemed to grasp what it describes as “the principles known as Thatcherism — the belief that economic freedom and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression.”

What to make of Thatcher in America today, when talk of a 4 percent growth rate is dismissed as a “fantasy” by distinguished commentators? Today, the tax debate between the political parties seems to be about how much to raise taxes, not how much to cut them. In today’s America, mere minor reductions in planned growth in government spending trigger paroxysms of political opposition, and the prospect of reducing government’s share of the economy, as Thatcher did, by 8 percentage points seems remote.

But it probably seemed remote in the late 1970s, too, that Britain’s first woman prime minister, who had grown up in an apartment above her father’s grocery store, would reshape a failing post-Colonial power into an exemplar of liberty. And who would have thought then that, 30 years later and an ocean away, she would be inspiring those of us who believe that even after Thatcher’s (and Reagan’s) Cold War victories and tax cuts, there yet remains room for another political leader with the conviction and skill to redefine the possibilities for growth and economic freedom?

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and of Smartertimes.com.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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LIGHTER SIDE

ALERT ALERT

Clinton Donor And Tax Cheat Tied To Russia

“Do as we say, not as we do.”

That seems to be the slogan for Hillary Clinton and her political allies, and it’s especially apt in light of new information about one of Clinton’s largest campaign donors.

While the left is still trying to attack President Trump and his family over unproven business dealings and largely debunked connections to Russia, a new report indicates that it was Hillary Clinton’s team who were doing those exact things.

“Fox News has learned that one of the top donors to the ‘Hillary Victory Fund’ (HVF) in 2016 was a Los Angeles-based attorney who is alleged to have misused company funds to create his own $22 million real estate portfolio,” that outlet reported on Thursday.

“He has also been considered by California to be one of the state’s biggest tax cheats, and allegedly has ties to the (Russian) Kremlin,” Fox continued.

The man’s name is Edgar Sargsyan. His deep pockets greatly benefited Clinton’s campaign, with contributions of at least $250,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund in 2016.

He was also in charge of an elite fundraising dinner to benefit Clinton, where donors paid $100,000 per couple just to attend the ritzy event. But in true Clinton fashion, the money apparently went missing.

Sargsyan is now “being sued by his former company for allegedly diverting those funds to start his own real estate company,” according to Fox.

Now, people are asking hard questions about Clinton’s buddy Sargsyan, including whether his contributions were part of a pay-to-play scheme and if he had shady connections to foreign governments.

“Nobody gave to the Hillary Victory Fund out of the goodness of their heart or some generalized desire to help 33 random state parties,” pointed out attorney Dan Backer from the Committee to Defend the President.

“They did so to buy access and curry influence — something the Clintons have been selling for nearly three decades in and out of government,” he continued.

Trying to buy political influence is sadly common, especially when it comes to the Clintons. What is raising more red flags than normal, however, is the evidence that Sargsyan is no run-of-the-mill campaign donor.

“The really scary question is, what did this particular donor with this strange web of connections hope to buy for his quarter-million dollars?” Backer asked Fox News.

That web of connections is strange indeed.

The Committee to Defend the President is now alleging that SBK, a major Sargsyan-linked company “is an investment firm that is affiliated with United Arab Emirates president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and its international affiliate has business interests in Russia,” according to Fox.

“Among its dealings was a bid to finance $850 million for a major bridge project to connect Crimea with Russia,” the group claims.

“He worked for SBK, and SBK appears to have bid on some Crimean/Russian bridge project,” Backer said. “That’s usually an indicator of political favor and connections.”

It raises several chilling questions: Was Sargsyan paying a quarter million dollars to Clinton for political favors, and — more disturbingly — was that money actually from sources in Russia in order to smooth the way for its construction plans?

Nobody knows for sure. What is clear, however, is that there is a pattern of dirty money surrounding the Clintons, with the “Uranium One” and “Clinton Foundation” scandals just two of the most well-known examples.

“It reinforces how fast and loose the Clinton machine was when it came to ‘Hoovering up’ these megadonor checks, not just from questionable Hollywood and Wall Street elites but potentially from foreign influence peddlers using who knows what money,” Backer told Fox News.

“It reinforces the need to take a long hard look at not just the unlawful money laundering process, but the way in which they were solicited as well,” he continued. “The Clintons have never shown a great deal of concern for whomever it was cutting the checks — whether it’s foreign influence peddlers or Hollywood smut peddlers like Harvey Weinstein.”

If those claims are even partially true, then America dodged a bullet in November of 2016 — and it’s worth keeping the pile of foreign-connected Clinton scandals in mind the next time the left tries desperately to tie Donald Trump to Russia. Perhaps they should look in the mirror.

SLAVEHOLDER??

Washington Post Compares
Jeff Sessions To Slaveholder’

The Washington Post compared Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “slaveholders” after he quoted the Bible on Thursday while discussing his department’s policy of prosecuting all illegal immigrants who cross the border.

Sessions made the statement during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

WaPo ran a story entitled “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families” by general assignment editor Keith McMillan and religion reporter Julie Zauzmer on Friday.

Rather than detailing the statistics Sessions cited in the speech that explain the immigration policy, the story quoted John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“This is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made,” Fea said.

Sessions spent much of the speech discussing the numbers behind current immigration policy, including separating families at the Southwest border.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said.

“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

“The previous administration wouldn’t prosecute aliens if they came with children,” Sessions said.

“It was de-facto open borders if you came with children. The results were unsurprising. More and more illegal aliens started showing up at the border with children.”

Sessions laid out the numbers in the speech.

“In 2013, fewer than 15,000 family units were apprehended crossing our border illegally between ports of entry in dangerous areas of the country,” he said.

“Five years later, it was more than 75,000, a five-fold increase in five years. It didn’t even have to be their child that was brought, it could be anyone. You can imagine that this created a lot of danger.”

The U.S. has the “opportunity” to fix its broken immigration system now, Sessions said.

“I believe that’s it’s moral, right, just and decent that we have a lawful system of immigration,” he said. “The American people have been asking for it.”

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