WASHINGTON -- On the occasion of Lady Thatcher's death, there is widespread admiration and even applause for her premiership, but surely there ought to be gratitude too. After all, without her -- and without President Ronald Reagan -- the poor would be much poorer and without hope of bettering themselves. That was socialism's notion of equal opportunity. Moreover, we might all be living in a world devastated by nuclear war. I do not know what the conditions of that world would be, but I am grateful not to live in it and my guess is that the vast majority of inhabitants of the former Soviet Union and its satellites are grateful too.
Of course, there are some who wish that Lady Thatcher had never lived. They think that the poor are poor because of her (and of Reagan), and as for the post-Cold War world, I have not a clue as to what they think. Maybe they attribute today's peace among the world's nuclear powers to Mikhail Gorbachev or to the Tooth Fairy. They certainly do not thank Lady Thatcher or that stupid actor.
The enduring existence of Lady Thatcher's critics is proof that, just as Scripture says, "The poor you shall always have with you." So will you always have those who exploit the poor. By that I mean the welfare workers, the endless squads of counselors, the theoreticians of poverty and, forget not, those popinjays who feel very good about themselves because they can abominate those who really have done something about poverty. I have in mind Lady Thatcher and her co-conspirator President Reagan who got their countries economies going again, providing jobs and -- when needed -- relief for the down and out. |
Today, we in the West do not really have many poor souls who are destitute. We may have those who live in hardship, and we certainly have those who live in relative deprivation from the rest of us. Yet real destitution is difficult to detect even in back alleys, and there are limits to what can be done for such sad cases. As for the modern poor -- those who live in relative deprivation -- they are better off today because of the productive economies that Lady Thatcher and President Reagan opened up. Today, these poor have at least the hope of improving their lot, particularly if in America we can rid ourselves of the slow-growth economy vouchsafed us by our president from the community action wing of the Democratic Party.