Margaret Thatcher and the Welfare State



    This is a paragraph from a college essay censored by my teacher. She was furious that I dare to question socialistic ideas which try to spread in the UK and agreed to accept my work only on condition that I remove "controversial" fragments.


    Margaret Thatcher and flaws of the welfare state.


    After 5 years of Labour rules Margaret Thatcher, the leader of the conservative party came to power in May 1979. At that time government owned phone monopoly, gas monopoly, all electricity production and generation, most of housing, majority of the motor car industry. UK had the last position in economic growth in Western Europe. The country was paralysed by constant strikes. Inflation was very high reaching 23.7%.
    Thatcher based her politics on simple obvious rules: free and developing economy, respect for individual freedom. She understood the importance of such virtues as hard work, responsibility of individuals for their own life, devotion to family.
    Thatcher managed to restore private ownership and management of the British economy by privatisation process. She won the battle with leftist almighty trade unions and with Arthur Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, a Stalinist, who had supported soviet intervention in Hungary ending 1956 uprising, a man who condemned Solidarity Union in Poland for its attacks on communistic government.
    Thatcher eliminated socialism from the UK which had brought the country low through excessive levels of government spending and taxation, lax financial discipline and excessive power for the trade unions. “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of the people’s money” (Thatcher in TV interview 1976). Margaret Thatcher’s legislative changes – privatisation, weakening the power of trade unions and shifting the balance of power in employers’ favour transformed Britain into prosperous leading economy. Inflation has been suppressed, job efficiency raised. When income to the budget became higher, taxes were lowered and international debts paid.
    The changes were drastic, especially liquidation of unprofitable shipyards, mines, steelworks (started nota bene by Wilson labour government) but inevitable. Let me present a famous quote of Mrs Thatcher: “Gentlemen, if we don’t cut spending we will be bankrupt. Yes, the medicine is harsh, but the patient requires it in order to live”. David Cameron said about Thatcher “She didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country”
    I will never forget the impression Mrs Thatcher made on me while I listened to her lecture as a student of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków at the beginning of 1990’s. Absolutely self-confident person, yet paying respect to the others was telling about importance of freedom, capitalism, individualism, the importance of everybody’s responsibility for their own life to us who experienced years of socialism since Poland betrayed by Churchill and Roosevelt in Yalta 1945 became part of a Soviet bloc. We have just regained our freedom and there was a person supporting us, a person who came from free capitalistic country aware of the evils of socialism which my parents and I had experienced and would never like to have it back.
    Many achievements of the welfare state are indisputable, among them National Health Service (spendings on which were significantly raised at Thatcher’ s time), free access to education, secured safety and wellbeing of disabled people and of lonely old people incapable of living on their own. However, growing over protectiveness of state, increased government control and social interventions; high taxation and interventionism in the economy stand in contradiction to capitalistic free economy and hinder its development. Moreover, welfare system is massively overused. There are families who are well off living on benefits where nobody worked for years. Typical welfare family receives benefits which value can sometimes be higher than wages. It is demoralising. If welfare pays better than work, why choose to work?
    Tony Blair, a labour Prime minister 1997 - 2007 has commented that the welfare state is “associated with fraud, abuse, laziness, a dependency culture, social irresponsibility encouraged by welfare dependency” (Toynbee Hall London, 18/03/1999)
    In a welfare state people demand more and more unaware of the fact that the welfare state takes their own money. Numerous officials become assets managers and the cost of administration of those assets gets higher than the value of a help given. To put it simple if a government “gives” you £100 it means it had to take from the society £150. Margaret Thatcher stated at the party conference in October 1983 “Let us never forget fundamental truth: the state has no source of money. (…) There is no such thing as public money. There is only taxpayers’ money”.
    Obviously, some redistribution of income is necessary for financial social safety net, however success should be attributed to hard work, not distribution system from the government. Because of thriving social democracy in the European Union people demand more and more benefits rather than demanding to keep more of what they earn. Overprotective governments prevent people from development. Hard working, resourceful people who earn money are forced to support not only those in real need but also a growing group of idle, inactive, and indolent citizens. According to Dennis Prager, an American conservatist, author, and public speaker, in a welfare state taking care of yourself is no longer a virtue because the government will take care of you. Teaching people to work hard and take care of themselves as well as the others and making them understand that they should earn what they receive is fair and produces less selfishness. Socialism and welfare state destroys the aspiration of being independent. Capitalism teaches people to work more whereas socialism teaches people to demand more. (https://www.prageru.com/videos/socialism-makes-people-selfish)
    Embarrassingly, Britain now has the highest proportion of working-age people on disability benefit in the developed world. And while just 3 per cent of Japanese people and 5  per cent of Americans live in households where nobody works, the figure in Britain is a 13  per cent. Tens of thousands are apparently unable to work because of dizziness, depression, headaches and phobias, while 2,000 people claim benefits because they are ‘too fat to work’.
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