The Corner

Romney’s Thatcherite Moment

I am sure the Brits around here will correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that the single most criticized line Margaret Thatcher ever uttered was “There is no such thing as society.” All she meant was that when people ask for “society” to take care of them they are really asking for other individuals to bear a burden. She was not denying that the ties among people matter, that government has a role to play, or anything of that sort.

I thought of all the criticism Thatcher has gotten–from righty “communitarians” as well as lefties–when reading about today’s exchange between Mitt Romney and a critic, in which he said that “Corporations are people.” In context it is clear that all Romney meant is that corporate taxes are borne by people, which is obviously correct. But critics seem to be taking him to be making a much grander point. I hope this misunderstanding doesn’t have the lifespan of the earlier one.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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