Perspective and Iron Ladies

So I came home last night to a house that looked like a hurricane blew through in my absence.

My bride had spent the day babysitting our new niece, and once I got home she had to dash out to return the sweet little thing. Upon entering the house, it was a complete disaster. Kids toy's everywhere. Laundry on the floor. Kitchen a wreck. It was close to dinner time but there was no dinner, nor the slightest signs of dinner preparation, anywhere.

I simply assumed that my wife had spent the day, well, babysitting, and that the task obviously overwhelmed her abilities to accomplishing anything else.

No biggie. I boiled some water and got the pasta going. Chopped an onion and started sauteing, assuming that she would return promptly and finish the job. Only she took longer than planned.

I ended up just making dinner.

She returned as me and the girls were sitting down to eat, looking rushed and haggard.

Naturally, I launched into my concern that this new babysitting gig is going to get the better of her, and noticed (nicely, I promise) that it looked like she hadn't done anything except let a bomb go off in the living room while she was tending to the baby. Her response, I must admit, surprised me:

"Oh, I got so much done today!"

Apparently my eyes couldn't pierce the veil and see through the external appearances. I didn't see the three loads of laundry washed, dried, and put away. I didn't see the girls' closets transformed from garbage dumps to models of modern efficiency. Laundry on the floor was not a sign of degenerate barbarism, but a pile ready to take down to the wash.

Perspective, it (now) appears, matters. I thought she was going soft, and it turns out she's my very own Iron Lady. (Although her last foray into actually, well, ironing for me was an adventure.)

I am reminded of the importance of perspective when it comes to the death of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. I am very fond of Lady Thatcher for many reasons, most of which revolve around the fact that I very non-secretly share most, if not all, of the late Prime Minister's political convictions. I admire her verve, her resolve, and, most of all, her articulate and entertaining beat-downs of socialist MPs peddling their tripe.

On the other hand, I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in Scotland. And the little matter of situation and perspective comes to the fore when one reads their reactions to the death of Lady Thatcher. I read from one friend that many drams of Scotch would be consumed in small mining communities celebrating her demise. She was, to hear many tell it, a ruthless hater of humanity and enemy of the poor.

Now, somebody is right and somebody is wrong. No amount of eyeballing the facts from different angles is going to make both "champion of human liberty and economic prosperity" and "hater of humanity and the poor" true. To really grasp the truth it is necessary to peer through mere appearances, just like I needed to look beyond the living room into my kids' closets. And it is also important to examine the people doing the assessing. What are their assumptions?

It is really not a surprise that someone who strongly supports nationalized industry, trade unions, and believes that everybody is entitled to employment with ever-increasing pay would find Thatcher's ideology terrible. It is a clash of worldviews at that point. How does one bridge that unbridgeable gap? Well, maybe, just maybe, some economic facts might help. Here are some, in one helpful chart.

040913thatcher.jpg

Now that's some perspective. And Thatcher's detractors know these sorts of facts, which is why they don't talk about the economic prosperity she unshackled. Instead, they shift to talking about economic "inequality" or the "wage gap." Here in America that's called "moving the goalposts." It isn't enough that poor people got richer, LOTS richer, under Thatcher's management. Because it means that rich people got LOTS richer, too.

And there (precisely there) we discover the real and incredibly ironic reason people hate Thatcher: she just didn't "do" envy and greed.

You read that right. Enemies of free enterprise oppose it because it is, they believe, the ideology of the "greedy." But it is they who are strangled by envy and greed. Thatcher herself said it best:

What the Honorable Gentleman is saying is that he would rather the poor were poorer, provided the rich were less rich.