Have our politicians really dismissed the orthodoxy of the right? Have we realized the dismal future of countries ruled by the cult of American president Ronald Reagan and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher? It comes as a surprise to those of us that lived through the 1980s of Reagan and Thatcher’s reigns that an actor and a chemist could have had the impact they did on economic theory.
Nobody ever accused either leader of deep thinking. Reagan’s departure from the White House was accompanied by his mind dipping deeper into the mists of stages of Alzheimer’s. Thatcher spent her last years as prime minister fending off revolts from within her own political party. And yet their legacies live after them.
Today, Reagan is still an icon for republicans in the U.S.A. They call it Reaganomics. Many still believe that his slashing of taxes while building up the military was the right approach for the times. All he really accomplished was larger deficits
Thatcher was also a militarist but her tax cuts were less effective and she put too much effort in trying to bend U.K. unions to her will.
Where their economics did not work well was in Canada. While their friend Brian Mulroney was prime minister of Canada for the last half of the 1980s, his regime was reviled and decimated in the liberal return under Jean Chrétien in 1993.
But Reaganomics lived on in Canada under Chrétien’s finance minister Paul Martin. Shipping magnate Martin and Chrétien were not friends and the enmity between them sent many mixed messages to Canadians. It was not until Martin got his chance to become prime minister that Canadians could reject him at the polls. It was as though, if you were going to have to conservatives in power, why not opt for the real ones?
Canadians were inflicted with conservative economics for the next twelve years and were offered sunny days again in 2015 by Justin Trudeau and the liberals. They are still waiting for those sunny days to materialize.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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