On October 5, 2011, Acton welcomed John Blundell, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, to deliver a lecture as part of the 2011 Acton Lecture Series. His address was entitled “Lessons from Margaret Thatcher,” and provided insight into the Iron Lady from a man who had known Thatcher well before she became the Prime Minister of Great Britain. You can watch his lecture below.
Brian Burrough has a mostly enjoyable New York Times review of a book that’s mostly positive about my native state’s mostly small-government formula for economic growth. Some excerpts:
Ms. Grieder, a onetime correspondent for The Economist who now works at Texas Monthly, and a Texan herself, has written a smart little book that … explains why the Texas economy is thriving. It’s called “Big, Hot, Cheap and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas”….
What might be copied, Ms. Grieder indicates, is the so-called Texas model — that is, a weak state government with few taxes and fewer regulations and services. It would be far harder to replicate the state’s civic DNA, which features traits that can be traced to its decade, beginning in 1836, as a stand-alone nation (independent, suspicious of Washington), the late-1800s cowboy era (self-reliant, fraternal) and the 20th-century introduction of oil and entrepreneurialism (pro-business, skeptical of government)….
Outside writers have been regularly caricaturing the state since the novelist Edna Ferber introduced America to postwar Texas with “Giant” in 1952. The canon ranges from “The Super-Americans,” by John Bainbridge (1961), to “As Texas Goes … : How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda,” by Gail Collins, a New York Times columnist (2012). Ms. Grieder’s is the rare book that takes stock of the Texas model without ridiculing many of its traditions and politicians.
My one concern is that the book’s author seems enamored of Gov. Rick Perry’s crony capitalist strategy of using subsidies to attract companies to the Lone Star State, a habit that is anything but small government and likely to come back to bite. On the whole, though, the book and the book review appear to give far more props to low taxes and limited government than I thought possible for a work endorsed in the pages of The New York Times. Maybe there’s hope for those city slickers after all.
More interesting archival video and quotes here, including:
“No one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions. He had money as well” — Television interview, 1980.
Lady Margaret Thatcher has passed away from an apparent stroke at the age of 87. Here are nine things you should know about the former British Prime Minister.
1. Thatcher was not only the first—and only—woman to become British prime minister, she was the first to win three elections in a row. When she retired as a Prime Minister she was given the title of Baroness and joined the House of Lords.
2. Thatcher graduated from Oxford University in 1947 with a B.S. in Chemistry (specializing in X-ray crystallography), and worked as a research chemist before becoming involved in politics.
3. Thatcher helped develop soft-serve ice cream.
4. In 1970 Margaret Thatcher became Secretary of State for Education. In the post she stopped free milk for schoolchildren earning her the nickname ‘Thatcher, the Milk Snatcher.’
5. After a speech in 1976 in which she condemned Communism, a Soviet journalist dubbed her ‘The Iron Lady.’ She is said to have liked the nickname.
6. From 1993 to 2000, Thatcher served as chancellor of the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia.
7. On October 12, 1984, Thatcher narrowly escaped an IRA bombing assassination attempt at a Brighton hotel, in which five others were killed.
8. Ronald Reagan called her the “best man in England” and she called him “the second most important man in my life.”
9. Thatcher was brought up as a devout Methodist and remained a Christian throughout her life.
She toasted President Ronald Reagan after his then controversial Westminster speech in 1982, declaring, “We are so grateful to you for putting freedom on the offensive.” It is often forgotten today that 195 of the 225 Labour MP’s boycotted Reagan’s harsh condemnation of the Soviet Union. In her book, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, she reminded Americans to “never believe that technology alone will allow America to prevail as a superpower.”
Thatcher had a strong tie to the Acton Institute. She was the recipient of the 2011 Faith & Freedom Award. She was also interviewed in the pages of Religion & Liberty. Below is a great excerpt from that 1992 interview:
R&L: Would you comment on the temptation to identify virtue with collectivism?
Thatcher: Liberty is an individual quality and a moral quality. It does not exist in the abstract, but only in a civilized state with a rule of law. Without that, the strong would oppress the weak. The collective law is what makes individual freedom work. I remember a famous quotation of George Bernard Shaw, “Freedom incurs responsibility; that’s why men fear it.” Too many people try to cast their personal responsibility on to the state. It is so much easier to parade with banners demanding that government do something to remedy a wrong than it is to take action oneself. But it will build neither character nor independence.
The ultimate collectivist was, of course, the communist state. It operated the most total tyranny the world has ever known. It had all of the brutal, evil characteristics of other tyrannies, with its secret police, absence of remedy, and no opposition. In addition to that, it confiscated everyone’s private property and took away everyone’s job, so they became totally dependent upon the state.
The danger is that the more you turn to the state, the more you are diminishing the sense of freedom and the responsibility of the individual, and the more difficult it is to re-establish when the Communist system has gone.
As has been mentioned today on the PowerBlog, Margaret Thatcher was a recipient of Acton’s Faith and Freedom Award in 2011. Due to her declining health, she was unable to accept the award in person. Accepting the award in her place was John O’Sullivan, the Executive Editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and former senior aide in the Thatcher government. The comments of O’Sullivan on Margaret Thatcher, her government and her character are below.
Lady Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, has passed away from an apparent stroke at the age of 87.
In 2011, the Acton Institute presented Lady Thatcher with its “Faith and Freedom” award which “recognizes an individual who exemplifies commitment to faith and freedom through outstanding leadership in civic, business, or religious life.” Thatcher served as Prime Minister for eleven years, during which time she struggled to reform and stabilize Great Britain’s economy. However, she will likely best be remembered for the role she played, along with Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, in bringing down the Soviet Union’s Communist regime.
Acton will be providing more coverage of Lady Thatcher’s political and economic contributions here on the PowerBlog as the day continues.