Actually this is from her 1977 appearance on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, where she discussed the topic, “What Have We Learned From The Failure Of British Socialism?” But given that transforming America into the failed socialist England of the 1970s seems to be one of Mr. Obama’s goals, it dovetails perfectly with the choice today’s American voters face:
I think you’ve got to recognize at the outset that broadly speaking there are two ways in which any government can proceed. One is a way based on what you and I would call a free society, which is enshrined right to the heart of the American constitution. The other one is a way which allows only one view both of economics and politics and in which almost everything is either owned or controlled by the state including the media, including the ideas, including freedom of discussion, and everything. There is no freedom of discussion. Now between those two ways–the free society and the totally controlled society–there are, of course, variations. I think what we’ve learned in Britain is that we’ve gradually over the last certainly 12 or 13 years with perhaps a little interruption gone further and further away from the free society towards something else. At the same time we’ve found–I don’t find it strange, but some other people do–that we have stopped creating wealth. We’ve had a large number of increasing restrictions, and we’ve been finding two things. First, that we are more and more concentrating on redistributing the wealth we’ve got, rather than creating any more. To create more you need a slightly freer society, and you need an incentive society. Naturally when I see that happening I look with very great alarm to societies which have gone even further left. That is, they’ve tried to redistribute even more and haven’t had the incentives for people working hard on their own account, doing well for their families, and often then being able to create jobs for others. They’ve produced a much more prosperous society than we have. But by and large you’ve got the two broad different economic and political approaches.
Similarly, we can look to the collapse of New York in the late 1960s and 1970s as well, as Seth Mandel does at Commentary, exploring “Obama and the Lessons of John Lindsay:”
It’s a familiar story: the government puts in place policies that drive up prices. Consumers complain, and so the government enacts price controls intended to curb the problem, but ends up aggravating it by distorting the market and forcing producers to make up the lost revenue elsewhere. Have the technocrats learned this lesson? Hardly. The Obama administration enacted its health care reform bill that would cause premiums to rise. Once they figured this out and consumers howled, the Obama administration began making plans to add–you guessed it–price controls into the mix. As it happens, Obamacare is already designed to increase price controls.
Lindsay actually won re-election, but he was forced to base a good part of his campaign on his own likeability and the lackluster charisma of his opponent (again, sound familiar?). That was all fine for Lindsay, but not for the city he served. His second term saw job losses mount—factory job losses tripled what they were in Lindsay’s first term.
The good news is that with more effective governing in subsequent administrations, the city eventually recovered from John Lindsay. It turns out that personal charisma and lofty rhetoric are no match for competent economic management.
Or to set the Wayback Machine to the 1930s, insert obligatory “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard” Mencken quote here.
(Incidentally, just a reminder that if you’re on Amazon Prime, there are 172 episodes of Firing Line available for online viewing, or on your Roku box, which is where I stumbled over the Thatcher quote last night.)
Related: Welcome Instapundit readers; and speaking of transatlantic politics then and now, Walter Russell Mead notes:
Andrew Sullivan may have hauled down the flag on the circumcision issue, acknowledging that respect for religious freedom requires allowing both Muslims and Jews to perform essential required rites of their respective faiths, but he’s taken up another unlikely cause: that people should support President Obama because he is really the ‘best’ kind of British Tory.
In much the same that Andrew believed in 2004 that John Kerry “may be the right man — and the conservative choice — for a difficult and perilous time.”