Thatcher a Hero or Horror?

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1979, she wanted to change the economy of her country. “Pennies don’t fall from heaven,” she said in an NPR interview. “On earth, they have to be earned.” (

She wanted to change the nature of her country, maybe of the world in an interview with David Frost, she quoted “a world finance leader” who said, according to Thatcher,   “if you can roll back the frontiers of socialism, and roll forward the frontiers of freedom, other nations will follow.”  ( Thatcher loved the quote, and may have used it to guide her economic policies over her historic years as leader of her country.

According to Malcolm Dean, a writer for The Guardian, offered harsh criticisms of Thatcher’s policies. From the moment she was elected, Dean noted, “she made it clear she would be cutting benefits and squeezing public services. Dean said that Thatcher said that “public expenditure is at the heart of Britain’s present economic difficulties.”  ( She is also said to have said, “There is no such thing as society”  in a magazine interview she gave to Woman’s Own Magazine in 1987.

It is no surprise, then, that she was a good friend of the late President Ronald Reagan; the two of them were friends, and from where this writer sits, is was his economic policies, in particular his “trickle down” theory of economics, that helped begin this nation’s fall into economic disrepair. He was entranced with Thatcher and was said to have learned much from her.  Under Thatcher, the poor, especially pensioners and children, were worst his by her economics, and housing was the worst hit service.  Dean notes in his article that under Thatcher, child poverty more than doubled. Her policies, noted Tory minister Sir Ian Gilmour, was disastrous for far too many people. “The sacrifice imposed on the poor produced nothing miraculously except for the rich,”  Gilmour is reported to have said.

This writer is unsure of just how much Thatcher influenced Reagan, but influence was definitely there. Thatcher wanted smaller government; one of the things she did was to break the backs of trade unions in Great Britain because she believed their propensity to strike adversely affected economic growth. The government didn’t “owe” the poor anything; they were not to be given “pennies from heaven,” but would have to earn them. It seems Ronald Reagan believed that as well. He adopted the “trickle down” economic theory, a term and concept that actually began in the 1920s, and pushed it to a wildly excited Conservative party. The theory is that if taxes are cut for the wealthy, they will earn more, invest in “productive economic activities,” and will stimulate growth and more tax revenues from the wealthy which will then “trickle down” to the poor.

It has not worked, and according to some in Great Britain, Thatcher’s policies ripped apart any possibility for economic stability for the poor and made or caused the divide between rich and poor to grow ever wider. The same frightful condition exists in our own country, the chasm between rich and poor having become so wide that many call our nation an oligarchy, not a democracy at all.

Thatcher was also said to be an opponent of feminism; a reporter this writer heard on NPR this morning said that she said she hoped feminism failed. She did not have other women in her cabinet, and was unapologetic about it.  She had crashed through the glass ceiling but it seems she didn’t care to help anyone else do it.

Is the apparent fact that Thatcher had so little regard for those who struggle the most – the poor, the elderly, and women – the reason she was so tough? While her toughness is admirable, when it is juxtaposed against her apparent insensitivity for the downcast is not so admirable at all.

In these days, the “s” word, “socialism,” is thrown around like it is a deadly germ. It is as hated a word and/or concept as is “liberalism.” And yet, many who call themselves Christian follow a man named Jesus who apparently had great disgust for the Roman economy which created in like fashion as do countries today, a great gulf between the rich and the poor. It seems from the reading of this writer that Jesus advocated for the poor, for “the least of these,” and yet, Thatcher, Reagan, and perhaps many of today’s politicians, regardless of party, don’t share that sentiment. They derive a different hermeneutic from the same texts that I read …and their interpretation allows for the casting aside of the least of these with little conscience. Or so it seems and feels that way.

As a woman, I admire Thatcher’s strength, but her comments that show a clear and distinct disregard for those who struggle, frankly, are troubling. Ultimate strength is probably the capacity and desire to help and empower “the least of these” while forging ahead a strong economy. It seems that unless “the least” are more included in the capability to make a decent, dignified living, one doesn’t have a healthy country or economy at all. She was dubbed “The Iron Lady,” but her policies leave me feeling that her iron was a tad rusted…

A candid observation …

Gun Control an Issue Only if You’re the Right Color?

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan.
Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been fascinated by the arguments and wrangling over gun control – specifically, not understanding why some think that banning assault weapons and magazines which have more than seven rounds of ammunition does NOT mean anyone is proposing that nobody own a gun.

But I am even more fascinated that the idol of modern-day Conservatives, Ronald Reagan, actually signed into a law a bill that repealed a law that had permitted citizens to carry loaded weapons in public places. The so-called Mulford Act was signed into law in 1967, when Reagan was governor of California. The measure was introduced by Dan Mulford, an East Bay legislator.

Apparently, some Americans were a bit nervous about the work of the Black Panthers, who back then, had formed “police patrols.” Members of these groups would listen on scanners for police calls and when something was happening in the black community, would rush to the scene, “law books in hand and inform the person being arrested of their  constitutional rights.” ( These individuals would also carry loaded weapons, which they apparently displayed….but “they were careful to stand no closer than ten feet from the arrest so as to not interfere with the arrest.”

When the Mulford Bill was passed, members of the Black Panther Party protested, and went to Sacramento, carrying their loaded weapons (including rifles and shotguns).

According to a piece that appeared on the site “Keep and Bear Arms” ( Reagan “imposed gun control on America.”  According to the article, “Reagan declared his support for  a bill requiring a seven-day waiting period for handgun purchases.” The site confirms the fact that “Governor Ronald Reagan …signed the Mulford Act of 1967, “prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one’s person or in a vehicle, in any public place, or on any public street.”  The law, says the article, “was aimed at stopping Black Panthers, but affected all gun owners.”

The saddest thing about this entire gun control debate is that it really shows that the country really is not able or willing to deal with the proliferation of guns that exist in urban areas, where young men are shooting young men, most often poor and black. There are babies, black and brown babies, being slaughtered every day on city streets, but nobody really seems to care. There has been no cry for gun control on a level that would impinge upon ownership of handguns. If that were the case, there would be some legitimacy to the hue and cry that the call for the control of the sale and ownership of guns would be threatening the general right of people to own guns.

The fact that the Conservative’s darling, Ronald Reagan, signed the Mulford Act because he wanted to get assault weapons out of the hands of the Black Panthers says volumes about his feelings on race. If whites had shown up at arrest sites with loaded weapons, presumably to protect other whites from possible mistreatment by and from law enforcement, would the Mulford Act have been introduced?

What people are protesting today is valid; there is no need for anyone in an American city to have a military-style assault weapon.  Most of the massacres we have seen, with young men using these types of weapons, have involved young white men. If the majority of these attacks had been carried out by African-American men, would the protest against banning their sale and use be as vehement?  Would a law, similar to the 1967 Mulford Act, have already been passed?

Someone is going to groan, and say I am playing the race card, but the card has been played already by some, including Anne Coulter. The biggest problem with guns, she says, is in the inner cities of America. Perhaps, she again said, it is a problem of demographics…Her statements are telling, though, because even with the high number of homicides in urban areas, there is no cry for gun control. The cry from those protesting gun control is that “we need to protect ourselves” from government tyranny and thugs.

The thugs they’re talking about are not the troubled young men who have committed mass murders. The young men who carried the assault weapons and carried out such heinous crimes seemed to have come from nice …suburban, white homes.

A candid observation …