AEI President Arthur Brooks on Margaret Thatcher's Legacy

AEI President Arthur Brooks issued the following statement today on the passing of Margaret Thatcher:

Margaret Thatcher’s passing at the age of 87 is a great loss for Britain and for freedom. Lady Thatcher played a pivotal role not just in reversing Britain’s post-war economic stagnation, but as a powerful and articulate voice for human liberty and free enterprise around the world.

As the daughter of a Linconshire grocer, Mrs. Thatcher saw first-hand how building a business was about more than money; it was an act of faith and a labor of love. She also saw how public policies could stifle entrepreneurship, and how government failure was as pernicious a threat as market failure. Her government came to power in 1979 on the heels of the inability of the Labour government to control either inflation or public employee unions, to the point where garbage was going uncollected and human corpses were stacking up as gravediggers went on strike.

Perhaps most admirably, Mrs. Thatcher’s 11 years as prime minister were rooted in a commitment to ideas, not political expediency. One great story illustrates this: In 1975, as the newly elected Tory leader, Mrs. Thatcher interrupted a speaker urging the Conservatives to take a “middle way” on a variety of policy issues. She pulled a copy of Hayek’s “The Constitution of Liberty” from her briefcase and slammed it on the table, exclaiming, “This is what we believe!” As I wrote recently in the journal “National Affairs,” Hayek’s examination of the role of government in “The Constitution of Liberty” is something conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic would do well to remember today.

Mrs. Thatcher was a political pugilist, but she fought for the ideas of freedom and human liberty. She had a preternatural understanding of how to make the moral case for free enterprise — and why a big and growing state threatened both entrepreneurship and human virtue.

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About the Author

 

Arthur C.
Brooks
  • Arthur C. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise at AEI.

    Immediately before joining AEI, Brooks was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government at Syracuse University, where he taught economics and social entrepreneurship.

    Brooks is the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles on topics including the role of government, fairness, economic opportunity, happiness, and the morality of free enterprise. His latest book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (2012) was a New York Times bestseller. Among his earlier books are “Gross National Happiness” (2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (2008), and “Who Really Cares” (2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a classical musician in the United States and Spain.

    Brooks is a frequent guest on national television and radio talk shows and has been published widely in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

    Brooks has a Ph.D. and an M.Phil. in policy analysis from RAND Graduate School. He also holds an M.A. in economics from Florida Atlantic University and a B.A. in economics from Thomas Edison State College.


    Follow Arthur Brooks on Twitter.

  • Assistant Info

    Name: Danielle Duncan
    Phone: 202.419.5213
    Email: danielle.duncan@aei.org

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