When Margaret Thatcher Met the Estonian Prime Minister


From what I’ve read, Margaret Thatcher did great things for Britain. There’s obviously some residual anger about a few of her policies, but much of that is what you would expect to happen to someone who, as Lawrence O’Donnell put it, “gets rid of the bad socialism and keeps good socialism.”

In an episode of the Freakonomics podcast few years ago, Mart Laar, two-time Estonian Prime Minister, recalled an encounter with Thatcher. It occurred after his exposure to the work of economist Milton Friedman.

First of all, when you grow up and develop under the Communists, then first of all you see what is not working, and that means that the Communism is not working and all those left-wing socialist ideas of state control and so on, they are just not working. They are against the human nature, and they will fail. Which means that when you read the Soviet newspapers about one man who is especially dangerous, especially crazy, and absolutely mad, and we should destroy all the human beings and the economies and so on, and this man was called Milton Friedman. And of course I became interested and when I first read Milton Friedman, it was my first book on economy that I ever have read. Then of course I was very interested because I think most of the ideas were simple but here they looked like work. And when I became the prime minister I decided, Why not, as I was not so much informed what had happened in the world, and so I was sure that most other of the other countries in the world had introduced some of Milton Friedman’s policies a long time ago, and then I decided to follow them.

Laar is asked at what point he realized that Friedman had been unable to implement the policies he had advocated.

The flat tax I got on my first meeting with Margaret Thatcher, who I admired very much and who was a great admirer of Milton Friedman. I met her first when I had been prime minister I think for some months and so on, and when I told her what I am planning to do, she looked at me with these big eyes and said ‘you are one brave young man.’ And then a little bit introduced me on the realities of the Western world on which I was not very well informed. But I didn’t stop.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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