September 23, 2009

MILTON FRIEDMAN, MARGARET THATCHER, ARTHUR LAFFER, & JUDE WANNISKI ALL IN ONE:

Irving Kristol's gone – we'll miss his clear vision: Irwin Stelzer pays tribute to the humanity and intelligence of the godfather of neoconservatism. (Irwin Stelzer, 22 Sep 2009, Daily Telegraph)

It was Kristol, too, who realised an important fact that underlies much of David Cameron's thinking: culture affects economic performance. The family must be preserved, as it is the source of the stability that permits people to look to the future, save and invest. Crime must not be condoned, lest society unravels. Welfare that induces dependence is a disservice to the recipients, even if those who make it available feel good. And capitalism must produce results that are fair and seen to be fair, and be adapted to changing circumstances, which is why he never gave more than Two Cheers for Capitalism (the title of one of his books). To the end of his days, Kristol followed the British press, and worried about the future of the country in which he had lived after the Second World War, and much admired.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Irving is not the only influential Kristol. His wife, the Victorian historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, argues for Victorian virtues of community, help for the deserving poor, and a willingness to rely on shame to govern individual behaviour, prompting Prime Minister Gordon Brown to become an unabashed fan, even contributing an introductory essay to her book on the British, French and American Enlightenments. This worries Brown's Left wing, but anyone who knows the Prime Minister understands how Himmelfarb's extolling of Victorian morality appeals to his better angels.

Irving Kristol is gone. We will miss him, those whose lives were enriched by association with him, and the far greater number who benefited from his influence on economic and social policy, both in my country and in yours.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 23, 2009 7:14 AM
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