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Margaret Thatcher and Life Insurance

When someone passes on, we should think about the impact that person had on our lives. When a figure the stature of Margaret Thatcher dies, people will be considering her impact for many years to come.

I greatly admired the “Iron Lady” for many reasons. She knew the difference between good and evil. She advocated for a moral society. She believed in personal freedom. She worked for privatization of the British economy. One of my favorite quotes about her is, “What mattered to her was less the breadth of her support than the depth of her convictions.”

It is interesting to me that a number of items in Mrs. Thatcher’s life relate to the world of life insurance. Here are a few I have found:

Early in her political career, she served as Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance.

In October 1960 Margaret Thatcher joined Harold Macmillan’s government as Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. The choice was less a matter of merit than of tokenism — Pat Hornsby-Smith had wanted to leave the government, and so it was necessary to find another woman. But Margaret Thatcher was in the right department to suit her talents. She ever afterwards thought that those capable of mastering the subject of social security were well-equipped for high office; it was one of the reasons why she later conceived such a good opinion of John Major as Minister of State (1986-1987).

 As Prime Minister, she re-regulated the life insurance industry, not over-regulated it.

…the 1980s was not a period of financial deregulation. Insider trading was made illegal in 1980. The life insurance industry, which had been almost free of regulation for over 100 years from 1870, was re-regulated from 1980 to 1982. Bank deposit insurance was introduced in 1979. The sale of investment and insurance products came under statutory regulation from 1986. Further, the first ever regulation of UK bank capital took place under Basel I, agreed while Thatcher was Prime Minister.”

The ‘Big Bang’ did allow more types of firm to trade in financial instruments, but it essentially replaced private regulation with public accountability.

She bemoaned government access to the personal information about private citizens, including through life insurance applications.

Bear in mind that she lived in a socialist country. However, her warnings about a centralized government database definitely apply to the USA – especially as it pertains to Obamacare enrollments in nationalized healthcare.

Consider our relations with government departments. We start as a birth certificate; attract a maternity grant; give rise to a tax allowance and possibly a family allowance; receive a national health number when registered with a doctor; go to one or more schools where educational records are kept; apply for an educational grant; get a job; start paying national insurance and tax; take out a television and a driving licence; buy a house with a mortgage; pay rates; buy a few premium bonds; take out life assurance; purchase some shares; get married; start the whole thing over again; receive a pension and become a death certificate and death grant, and the subject of a file in the Estate Duty Office! Every one of these incidents will require a form or give rise to some questions, or be recorded in some local or national government office. The amount of information collected in the various departments must be fabulous. Small wonder that life really does seem like ‘one damned form after another.’

A good deal of this form-filling will have to continue but I think it time to reassert a right to privacy. Ministers will have to look at this aspect in deciding how to administer their policies. There is a tendency on the part of some politicians to suggest that with the advent of computers all this information should be centralised and stored on magnetic tape. They argue that this would be time-saving and more efficient. Possibly it would; but other and more important things would be at stake. There would be produced for the first time a personal dossier about each person, on which everything would be recorded. In my view this would place far too much power in the hands of the state over the individual. In the USA there is a Congressional enquiry sitting on this very point because politicians there have recognised the far-reaching dangers of such a record.

What are your thoughts about the legacy and views of this “Political Phenomenon?”