John C. Goodman
In Britain they are mourning the death of Margaret Thatcher. They are also celebrating. Celebrating? Yes, celebrating.

"Ding Dong the Witch is Gone," reads one sign. "I Still Hate Thatcher," reads another. Then there is "Rejoice, Thatcher is Dead" and "The Bitch is Dead." Try this link if you're up to viewing a lot of sickening photos and a lot of disrespect for Britain's greatest leader.

Granted, any crazy person can create a sign. But this is a good time to remember the conflict in Margaret Thatcher's Britain was not just about slogans on signs. She was actively engaged in a war of ideas.

Most of us have a good idea of Thatcher's political philosophy. Could you explain the political philosophy of her opponents? I think the basic beliefs of the left in Britain are not all that different from the beliefs of the left in this country. Yet you almost never hear it spelled out in clear detail.

So let me give it a try.

Let's start with what the left does not believe. Do they believe the political system should make everyone have the same income and the same wealth? No. Do they believe in the Rawlsian principle that public policy should always favor the least well off? No. Do they believe that government should intervene in the economy if and only if intervention increases GDP? No. Do they believe that government should intervene in the economy if and only if…?

Ok. Let's stop. The problem with all the ideas in the preceding paragraph is that they would restrict political decision making to a principle. If politicians were restricted to a principle — any principle — they would have very little discretion.

Let's suppose that we wrote the Rawlsian principle into the Constitution. Then we can imagine a Supreme Court striking down any law that did not benefit the least well off. Is this something that would appeal to the anti-capitalist mentality?

Here's what you need to understand about the political left. The last thing in the world they want is to take discretion away from government — at least in the economic realm.

So what do they believe in? Two things.


John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts."