Margaret Thatcher died today. She was 87. Much has and will still be said about her time as PM and her legacy. By the decrepit socialist standards of the day, Thatcher was (and mostly still is) considered a rabid free market capitalist.
Under her Prime Ministership, the UK got working again. A business ethic returned. Unions shrank. Some state behemoths were privatised (alas, not the beloved NHS). The UK became richer and London a magnet for global talent.
But it is equally true that she was no fiscal miser. Her government borrowed and spent handsomely. She built a muscular military. She failed to take Hayek’s advice to reform the monetary and banking system.
Moreover, we should judge Thatcher’s legacy by assessing the foundations she laid for the consolidation and extension of liberty. Of course in this respect we must unfortunately judge her unfavourably.
The UK’s financial system is broken. The UK outside of London remains, by and large, a quaint socialist village on London’s tax life support. The NHS is bigger and badder than ever. Welfarism rules the roost. The Lib Dems are in government! The state is growing at an alarming rate. Regulation is increasing. UK dynamism is dying.
Thatcher was capitalism-lite. She was a muscular-state conservative. She was the queen of realpolitik. She laid no meaningful platform for truly lasting liberty and economic progress.
Ultimately, against the juggernaut that is social democracy, Thatcher probably did the best she could do. If politics is the art of the possible, she may have, for her cause, done all that was. But, sadly, it wasn’t enough. Most importantly, she couldn’t or wouldn’t fix the fatal flaw of modern economics: the post-Bretton Woods fiat-debt monetary system presided over by monetary central planning authorities. A system in utter opposition to free markets that feeds the total state.
Either she didn’t care for reforming the monetary system, or she did but couldn’t.
At best therefore, valiant and courageous as she might have been, she ultimately failed, a conclusion emphatically confirmed by the sclerotic state of modern Britain.