Feature

Is it too late for our own Thatcher?

The week's news at a glance.

France

Guy Sorman
Le Figaro

History has passed France by, said Guy Sorman in Paris’ Le Figaro. In the 1980s, most big economies liberalized. The U.S. under Reagan and the U.K. under Thatcher made painful but necessary choices. They freed their markets from excessive regulation and stopped subsidizing unprofitable industries. The result today? Steady growth and low unemployment. France, by contrast, stuck to its “statist, centrist” model and grew “twice as slowly, with twice the unemployment.” Yet, still, we stubbornly resist market reforms, snidely condemning the concept as “Anglo-Saxon.” Such chauvinism is misplaced. “Are we to tell the Chinese, the Poles, and the Indians that their success with free markets has made them somehow Anglo-Saxon?” If nationalism demands it, we can easily ground liberalism in French thought. Remember, free-market pioneer Adam Smith stole many of his ideas from 18th-century French economist Jacques Turgot. The truth is, “liberalism is no longer Anglo-Saxon, just as socialism is no longer Russian.” When an economic model works in so many different parts of the globe, for so many different nationalities, it deserves our consideration. Even if it was invented in Britain.

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