Kapil Komireddi sends the amazing story of the day Margaret Thatcher, not yet prime minister, met one of India's leading "God men," as the Indians amusingly call them. The story comes from the memoirs of K. Natwar Singh, a high-ranking Indian diplomat.
Chandraswamy did not disappoint Mrs Thatcher. He prophesied that she would be Prime Minister for nine, eleven or thirteen years. Mrs Thatcher, no doubt believed that she would be Prime Minister one day. Nine, eleven, thirteen years was a bit much. Mrs Thatcher put one final question. When would she become a Prime Minister? Chandraswamy announced — in three or four years. He was proved right. She was PM for eleven years.
This narrative should have ended here. But there was an aftermath. The Commonwealth Summit was held in Lusaka, Zambia in 1979. Mrs Margaret Thatcher had by then become Prime Minister. I had been posted to Zambia in August 1977. Along with other High Commissioners I went to Lusaka airport to receive Mrs Thatcher. When she greeted me and my wife, I gently whispered “Our man proved right.” For a moment she looked flustered. She took me aside, “High Commissioner, we don’t talk about these matters.” “Of course not, prime minister, of course not,” said I.
I welcome recognition of defense and infrastructure spending as important parts of a modern Republican program. That said, there's something more than a little disturbing about this New York Times report on the recent activities of the American Conservative Union:
In a draft proposal circulated to defense and transportation industry executives in recent weeks, the [ACU] is offering to use its grass-roots organization, annual conference and movement clout to lobby against cuts to federal military and infrastructure spending.
The group is also proposing to incorporate favorable votes on military and infrastructure spending into its widely cited Congressional voting scorecard, “the ‘gold standard’ for elected officials,” according to the proposal, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. …
“Constitutional conservatives recognize that not all government expenditures are equal,” the proposal says. “These investments are core, constitutional federal responsibilities and should be so treated in the allocation of federal resources.”
Christina Sommers makes an incisive point at the American Enterprise blog: in a crazy way, Sheryl Sandberg is right about "lean in": if women are given the choice of a "mommy track," many of them will … want to take it.
Studying Sweden's generous family-leave policies, Sommers notes that they have had the effect of encouraging more Swedish women to work some of the time - but fewer of them to reach the very top as compared to their U.S. counterparts.
Though the United States has fewer women in the workforce (68 percent compared to Sweden’s 77 percent), American women who choose to be employed are far more likely to work full-time and to hold high-level jobs as managers or professionals. They also own more businesses, launch more start start-ups, and more often work in traditionally male fields.
The Daily Mail and the Morning Star don't quite agree on the Iron Lady. (Then again, what commie rag would mourn the death of a legendary Tory Prime Minister?)
H/T Tom Doran
The New York Times discovers the moral hazard created when the federal government repeatedly provides massive disaster assistance to people who build homes and businesses along our nation's most flood-prone shorelines:
It should be obvious that the more people we move out of harm’s way in the reasonably near future, the better off we will ultimately be.
But we are doing the opposite, offering huge subsidies for coastal development. We proffer federally backed flood insurance at rates bearing no resemblance to the risks. Even more important, we go in after storms and write big checks so towns can put the roads, sewers and beach sand right back where they were.
We are, in other words, using the federal Treasury to shield people from the true risks that they are taking by building on the coasts. Coastal development has soared as a direct consequence, and this rush toward the sea is the biggest factor in the rising costs of storm bailouts.
Texas fears a collapse of the international monetary system, so they're working to bring back gold, reports Bloomberg.
In Texas, lawmakers are considering a measure supported by Republican Governor Rick Perry to establish the Texas Bullion Depository to store gold bars valued at about $1 billion and held in a New York bank warehouse. The gold is owned by the University of Texas Investment Management Co., or Utimco, which took delivery of 6,643 bars of the precious metal in 2011 amid concern that demand for it would overwhelm supply. The proposed facility would also accept deposits from the public, and would provide a basis for a payments system in the state in the event of a “systemic dislocation in a national and international financial system,” according to the measure.
Should Texas take such a step, it would offer sovereign backing for deposits and make buying and storing gold easier, said Jim Rickards, senior managing director at Tangent Capital Partners LLC in New York and author of “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis.” He said the coin measures, while impractical, have symbolic value.
“We are seeing a distinct movement back to a world where gold is considered money,” Rickards said.
News you can use, from the Wall Street Journal:
[W]hen going from bright light to maximum darkness, studies have shown, eye sensitivity continues to change for up to 25 minutes, he says. …
"Ever wonder why a pirate wears patches? It's not because he was wounded in a sword fight," says Dr. Sheedy. Seamen must constantly move between the pitch black of below decks and the bright sunshine above.
Smart pirates "wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside." Should a battle break out and the pirate had to shimmy below, he would simply switch the patch to the outdoor eye and he could see in the dark right away—saving him 25 minutes of flailing his cutlass about in near blindness.
Bobby Jindal's tough year, as reported by the New York Times:
Unfavorable polls, once discounted as the byproduct of an ambitious agenda, were only getting worse — recently much worse.
The governor’s statewide school voucher program, a pillar of his education reform package, was blocked by a trial court judge on constitutional grounds.
Judges have since also blocked his revamp of teacher tenure rules and a change of the state retirement system (the administration has appealed the rulings and is pushing for legislative action should they stand).
Here's an interesting idea from India for politicians aspiring to improve the efficiency of government:
In a state assembly debate, Goa's water and civil supplies minister Dayanand Mandrekar said he agreed with the state's former tourism minister, who had been convicted of assaulting an official, that civil servants are lazy and that hitting them is justified.
In 2011, Goa's former tourism minister Mickky Pacheco was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for slapping an official. According to the Times of India, Mr Mandrekar said: "Sometimes officials do not do any work properly and do not listen too. Then like he (Mickky Pacheco) said, they should be slapped."
There have been a series of incidents throughout India in the last few years of political leaders slapping civil servants who had not carried out their instructions.
Harry Reid is threatening to kill the filibuster if the GOP doesn't cease using it to block the appointment of judges. (By the way, if you're interested in the filibuster reform discussion, follow Talking Points Memo's Sahil Kapur.) But this isn't the first time Democrats have threatened the nuclear option. Greg Sargent vents about their willingness to cry wolf:
By my count, this is at least the third time a Dem Senate leader has threatened to revisit rules reform. Yet the obstructionism continues with no action on Reid’s part.
Reid needs to stop threatening to revisit the filibuster unless he actually means it. Empty threats accomplish nothing. Indeed, they’re counterproductive. They make Dems look weak. They inflate expectations among Dem base voters — and supporters who worked hard to reelect Obama and Dems to Congress — that we may soon enjoy a functional Senate.
Reid's got a point on the judiciary: there's not a strong case for the prolonged silent filibusters and holds that are hollowing out the benches of federal courts. I support a filibuster reform that significantly increases the cost for a Senator who wishes to hold a nomination, and if Reid is the guy who gets that done, good.
Charles Moore on Margaret Thatcher: (from a BBC radio interview transcription on the Spectator blogsite)
One reason for her success is that she was constantly underrated by her opponents. They either thought she was too extreme or they thought she was too crude and unsophisticated and they didn’t understand that she was tapping in to a very wide appeal which went way beyond her party, much more than most previous Tory leaders... way beyond her party to people of the upper working class and rising middle class, who wanted more freedom and independence and prosperity and were fed up with too much power and because Mrs Thatcher always sold herself as a conviction politician, which was true that she was, I don’t think everybody quite realised that she was a politically very cunning politician, and she knew when to strike and when not to strike and she was extremely good at conveying the message very strongly, so she set herself up in a very clear and defined way which allowed people to understand where she was going and enough people supported it for her to win three times.
I think that she lost support from her Cabinet colleagues over Europe because they were very determined to go in for ever closer union, and she was against it. It’s right that the poll tax was extremely unpopular in the country and that weakened her political position, but the coup against her by colleagues I think was driven by the European issue.
My CNN column wonders whether Republicans can get their act together before 2016:
Democrats acting like Republicans. Republicans acting like Democrats. The 2016 presidential contest is shaping up to be the political equivalent of gender-bending.
Democrats are coalescing early around a front-runner who certainly will be lavishly funded, Hillary Clinton. She's campaigning on the familiar GOP platform: "Next in line."
Meanwhile, a twice-beaten Republican Party finds itself doing as Democrats often did in the Reagan era, surveying a field of little-knowns and hoping for magic. The Republican field is led by two freshman senators: Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, plus a member of the House and the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan.
This clip of Margaret Thatcher magnificently expresses the confident purpose of the conservatism of the 1980s.
Throughout the capitalist world, economies had faltered and stagnated in the 1970s. In order to accelerate growth, reforms had to be made: inflation must be stopped, labor markets liberalized, state-owned enterprises sold. Advocates of these changes recognized that they would enrich some more than others. But as Mrs. Thatcher promised, virtually everybody would be made better off in this more open economy.
The challenge for the conservatives of the 2010s is that since the late 1990s, it has ceased to be true that all have been made better off. Between 1999 and 2007, the typical worker actually saw his or her income decline. This is a very different situation that cannot be wished away by an increasingly cliche-ridden "moral defense of capitalism." What's needed today are reformers as visionary and brave as Margaret Thatcher who will defend capitalism by making capitalism more defensible - by extending its benefits more widely and mitigating those of its risks that can be mitigated.
Critics often quote Thatcher as saying, "There is no such thing as society." This quote is supposed to confirm Thatcher as an anti-social radical individualist of the Ayn Rand distemper. She was no such thing, as the full quote in all its context amply corroborates. Thanks to the Spectator of London for the text & link.
I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first… There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.’