Posted by: aboutalbion | April 20, 2013

Farewell to trickle-down

This week, the UK has said goodbye to Mrs Thatcher.  She was the significant Prime Minister of my lifetime.  And I’m finding it difficult to put into words what I feel.

I was aware of someone who seemed larger than the political party of which she was the leader.  I was aware of someone who divided her party into two camps [‘dry’s’ and ‘wet’s] and then talked over the heads of political opponents directly to the British people.

Influenced by Friedrich Hayek, she talked a lot about ‘freedom’ from government control.  Since (to my mind) freedom and equality are in an inverse (or reciprocal) relationship, I observed that the result of her thirteen years of high office was to increase social inequality.

This heightened social inequality between the ‘have’s’ and ‘have not’s’ expressed itself with reference to ‘the property ladder’.  The ‘few’ were applauded for creating wealth, and quality houses prices increased significantly, and even in this funeral week it was widely said that Mrs Thatcher put the ‘Great’ back into Great Britain.  For myself, I do not daydream that the UK can (or will) become an imperial power again.

The ‘many’ were asked to believe in the idea of ‘trickle-down’.  This was the notion that if the ‘winners’ were legally allowed to grow money trees, then some fruit would trickle down to the ‘losers’, so the ‘losers’ wouldn’t really be ‘losers’ after all.

I try to keep my ear close to the ground, but (so far) I haven’t read about any nation state that has successfully demonstrated that the doctrine of trickle-down can be made ‘to work’ (to the satisfaction of all concerned).

The ‘great person’ theory of history does not convince me.  So I incline to the view that, in Mrs Thatcher, the UK had the leader it deserved.  I appreciate the letter in “The Times” [13 April] which included the following extract:

Thatcherism is a dogma that exemplifies much of post-war Britain.  It states that what a person does or owns is of greater value than what a person is. …  From it stems materialism, acquisitiveness … and a failure to ‘love our neighbours as ourselves’ …  I suspect that in a century or so historians will look back on Thatcher … as an inevitable product of a rootless, cynical, morally bankrupt society.”

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