Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – a champion of free-market economics and individual liberty – died today in London. The following statements from staffers, fellows, and policy advisors at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution.
“Margaret Thatcher showed the immense ability of government policy to do either good or harm. She transformed a socialized, backward, union-dominated British economy into a modern success story in just a few short years, through market-opening, individual-empowering policies. For this she was vilified as heartless and mean-spirited. But to those of us who really want the poor and underprivileged to have a chance to succeed, she was and remains a true heroine.
“Margaret Thatcher did what others thought was impossible: She embraced free market reforms, privatized industry, and turned Great Britain from the sick man of Europe into an economic powerhouse. She unshackled British workers from the dead hand of endless regulation and in so doing brought prosperity to the people.”
“I met Margaret Thatcher in the late ’90s. She was a gracious human being and carried with her a commanding presence. Her policies saved the United Kingdom from the crippling effects of the unions and saved the country from economic ruin.
“At a time when the world was facing a growing threat from economic collectivism, Lady Thatcher stood firmly rooted in the principles of economic liberty. Her refusal to cave in to the onslaught of union threats, and the plea for greater government spending and higher taxes, meant that Britain transitioned from a nation mired in stagflation to one that came to be admired for pragmatic free market reforms. The last of the giants of 20th century economic liberty will be missed more than the world is prepared to comprehend.”
“Today, the world mourns the loss of one of the true champions of liberty in the second half of the 20th century. Together with President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s steadfast opposition to communism, and willingness to confront it wherever in the world it was found, was indispensable in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union and putting an end to the threat it posed to freedom-loving people everywhere. As a champion of free markets, she took on Britain’s trade unions and won.
“The passing of Margaret Thatcher reminds us that the challenges we face at this time are not so different from the challenges faced by her – in both cases, a moribund economy, a crisis in leadership, and an intellectual climate dominated by the left. In her case, she interested the working class in deregulation and privatization by enabling them to share in the potential profit, and so united the interests of the fraternity of the productive classes, both labor and capital.
“Mrs. Thatcher did a world of good for human liberty, especially in the area of political economy. Her courage and clarity of vision are badly needed anytime but were especially in short supply when she spoke up.”
“Margaret Thatcher was living proof that conservative principles, when exercised intelligently and compassionately, can salvage any government that has become addicted to the ills of socialism. When she was elected to become the first woman to lead a major Western democracy, England was regarded as Europe’s sick old man. She won three successive general elections and served as British prime minister for more than eleven years (1979-90), a record unmatched in the 20th century.
“Perhaps Margaret Thatcher’s most famous quote is this: ‘The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.’ How prescient was this remark given what we are now seeing in various European countries? One has to wonder how the U.S. can be so blind as to continue to follow the rest of these statist lemmings as they approach their own cliff.”
“Once can’t appreciate just how important a figure Margaret Thatcher was unless one knows something about the state of Britain in 1979, when she kissed hands and became prime minister. The country was so weakened, so dispirited, so hobbled by labor unions and an antiquated socialist ideology, that in every respect it resembled the United States of 2013.”
The Heartland Institute is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.