Monday, January 28, 2013

The Problem with Socialism

The first meme I ran into this morning was posted by a not-for-profit organization called ForAmerica.

ForAmerica's mission statement as described on facebook is as follows:

". . .  to reinvigorate the American people with the principles of American exceptionalism: personal freedom, personal responsibility, a commitment to Judeo-Christian values, and a strong national defense. We believe in limited government with Constitutionally-enumerated powers only. We believe that the size of the federal government should be dramatically reduced and that government's regulatory stranglehold on the free enterprise system should be lifted. We believe in freedom." 

The woman pictured is indeed Margaret Thatcher, and the quote is essentially an accurate representation of the sentiment she was expressing, though not accurately quoted.  Thank you to for saving me a lot of research time.

The quote comes from a television interview in 1976, when Thatcher was leader of the Conservative Party, before she became Prime Minister.  She was speaking out in criticism of the Labor Party.  Here's  the exact quote:

". . . and socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess.  They always run out of other people's money."  She goes on to say:

"It's quite characteristic of them.  Then they start to nationalize everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalization, and now they're trying to control everything by other means.   They're progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people."

I am a novice at generating memes, but here is one I created as an alternative to the one shown above:

The photo I chose was taken in 1976 and the quote is presented accurately.The two memes are not truly an apples-to-apples comparison. I did not find a color photograph from 1976 and the meme generator I used did not provide me with fancy text editing options. 

Nevertheless, it is obvious why the creators of the first meme chose to paraphrase in order to make their point.

There's nothing wrong with paraphrasing, of course;  what's not legitimate is putting the paraphrased words in quotation marks and presenting them as a direct quotation.

So why would the folks at ForAmerica want to circulate such a meme today?

Since their facebook page contains this imperative,"
Visit and send a message to your Senator urging them to Repeal ObamaCare.", I think it is safe to speculate that they are using this meme to speak against the dangers of socialism, suggesting that ObamaCare is a socialist program created by a socialist administration.  They must believe that Margaret Thatcher is a well-respected figure and hope to convey some of her authority to their cause.

During Thatcher's administration, The National Health Service was certainly a subject of debate and reforms were proposed and some instituted, but Thatcher made no effort to abolish it.  

Peter Hoskin noted last fall in an article for ConservativeHome:

"Even between the covers of that contentious 1981 Budget there are sections that undermine the modern caricature of Margaret Thatcher. The levies imposed on banks, North Sea oil, petrol, tobacco and alcohol were booted skywards — testament to the fact that, if you want to cut the deficit quickly, then short-term tax increases are often an effective way to go about it. And the Budget’s targets for cutting public spending were subsequently missed — testament to another fact, that the best-laid fiscal plans can be battered out of shape by a jittery economy.

And on it goes. Did you know that defence expenditure actually declined slightly over the Thatcher Years, albeit driven by the decline of the Cold War? Or that health expenditure rose by around 30 per cent? Indeed, while she would go on to push controversial measures such as tax breaks for private medical insurance, the early Thatcher Years were much like the early Cameron Years in their careful regard for the NHS. There aren’t, after all, many stages of evolution between “The National Health Service is safe in our hands” and “I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS”.

Hoskins concludes with a paragraph which demonstrates what I believe is likely the truth for most well-meaning administrations:
"The truth about Margaret Thatcher has more sides to it than many people, her admirers as well as her opponents, care to admit. This doesn’t detract from her political legacy; quite the opposite. It reveals it for what it is: a whole, and not just a jumble of parts."
In other words, Margaret Thatcher's beliefs and opinions are far too complex to be accurately captured by a sound-bite or an Internet meme.


If I were mischievous by nature, I might be tempted to circulate this meme:

...just for fun.

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