Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

RIP Margaret Thatcher

April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher, one of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers died of a stroke today. She took control of a nation in decline and turned things around, at least temporarily, giving Britain one last moment of glory. Unfortunately none of her successors have seen fit to continue her policies, even her own Conservative Party, and so Britain is on the way down again. On the international stage, she was a stalwart supporter of freedom and a friend to America. She, along with President Reagan was instrumental in winning the Cold War and ending Soviet tyranny. She will be greatly missed.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

 

 

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God’s Fury, England’s Fire

January 21, 2013
Cover of "God's Fury, England's Fire: A N...

Cover via Amazon

The English Civil Wars, which were fought  from 1642-1649 were every bit as significant event in English History as the American Civil War was in the history of the United States. It is often said that the American Civil War was a fight of brother against brother. This was not true except perhaps in the border states. The English Civil War really could be a fight between brothers. There were few consistent patterns which determined which side any one individual might take. Even in regions that were solidly in favor of the king or Parliament, there were those who supported the other side.

Indeed, the English Civil War could be considered the first of the modern revolutions that have changed the world, predating the French Revolution by a century and a half. This war, which began as a dispute over King Charles’s royal prerogatives to rule and raise money without the consent of Parliament, and over questions involving the extent of the Reformation over the Anglican Church, became, once shots were fired, a war to determine how England, and to some extent Scotland and Ireland, were to be governed. Was the king to rule by divine right or did the people, through Parliament possess the sovereignty?

As the war continued, positions hardened and became more radical. By the end of the decade, the Levellers were calling for the end of the class system and something like a modern idea of democracy. There are arguments over how much freedom of conscience should be granted for dissenting religious views, and just what were the dissentients, the ones who favored the traditional forms of worship and the authority of bishops, the Presbyterians, or the Independents? By the end of the war, Charles I had been executed and England became a republic. Even though the English Commonwealth only lasted until 1660 and ended with the restoration of King Charles II, the English Civil Wars had a lasting effect on the political development of Britain and ultimately led the way to Britain’s modern constitution.

Michael Braddick’s God’s Fury, England’s Fire is a comprehensive history of the English Civil War and the crises that preceded it. Braddick explores in detail the issues and factions which led to the breakdown of England’s political system in the years preceding the war. While this is a history of a war, Braddick seems less interested in the military history, which he does cover more than adequately, than in the ideas raised by the war. He spends quite a lot of space describing the arguments raised by the writers of pamphlets from differing factions and the role of public opinion in determining the positions held by more prominent actors in the struggles. (The fact that the decreasing cost of printing made it more possible for more people to put their opinions out into the marketplace of ideas was one of the factors that made the kingdom harder to control.) Braddick also tries, with some success, to give an idea of what the war was like from the perspective of individual soldiers and the villages where much of the fighting took place.

God’s Fury, England’s Fire should not be, perhaps the first book to read about the English Civil War but it is indispensable in learning about the issues over which the combatants fought.

 

 

Wealthy French Flee France

July 19, 2012

Who could have seen that happening? People don’t want to pay higher taxes if they don’t have to. Amazing. I read about this flight of the wealthy in The Telegraph.

The latest estate agency figures have shown large numbers of France’s most well-heeled families selling up and moving to neighbouring countries.

Many are fleeing a proposed new higher tax rateof 75 per cent on all earnings over one million euros. (£780,000)

The previous top tax bracket of 41 per cent on earnings over 72,000 euros is also set to increase to 45 per cent.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is delighted by this exodus.

Prime minister David Cameron angered the French last month when he said he would “roll out the red carpet” to wealthy French citizens and firms who wanted move out and pay their taxes in Britain. He told the B20 business summit in Mexico in June: “I think it’s wrong to have a completely uncompetitive top rate of tax.

“If the French go ahead with a 75 per cent top rate of tax we will roll out the red carpet and welcome more French businesses to Britain and they can pay tax in Britain and pay for our health service and schools and everything else.”

At this point, I would like to go back a little in history. Andrew Mellon was the Secretary of the Treasury back in the 1920’s. He served under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. When he first became Secretary, in 1921, the highest tax rate was 73%. He proposed dropping the rate to 25%. America was in the middle of a bad depression then and many people were afraid that such tax cuts for the wealthy would lead to a loss in revenue for the government. Mellon responded that it was better to have a low tax rate that people actually pay than a high tax rate that people evade. It turned out that he was right.

I hope that Barack Obama is paying attention to these lessons. I have a feeling that he cares more about punishing the evil millionaires and billionaires than in maximizing revenue to the government.


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