The Policy Side of the Royal Wedding

CEI’s own John Berlau has a fantastic piece in The Wall Street Journal today (on both sides of the Atlantic!) about the Royal Wedding. It isn’t your usual fluff piece though – it argues that Kate Middleton’s family is a great example for Britons, because they are entrepreneurs:

The Middletons symbolize the opportunity that exists in a free-market system for those who take advantage of it. It is worth noting that they founded Party Pieces during the Thatcher era, when the Conservative government focused on lifting barriers to entrepreneurs through lower taxation, less regulation and privatization. Coincidentally or not, the year Kate’s parents started their business, 1987, was also the year that their longtime employer British Airways was sold off, with shares of stock going to its workers.

It’s worth pausing to think about how else Britain – and the world – has changed since the 1980s, and London’s Centre for Policy Studies has done just that, with a list of thirty indicators that show the direction of social trends since Prince William’s parents were married in 1981.

Individual wealth is up, but so is public spending. House prices are way up, interest rates are way down. Strike action – the British disease of the 1970s – has almost ceased to exist; so has British manufacturing. The public is dissatisfied with the main political parties, but they elect far more female MPs. Food and air travel are less expensive; gasoline and beer are more expensive. There are far fewer marriages and children born in wedlock; there are far more immigrants and people born outside the country. Health spending has doubled; so has the prison population. Choice in television channels has exploded, but many fewer people read newspapers.

It is probable that the indicators go the same way in the U.S. This, it seems, is a useful practical definition of progress, whatever self-styled conservatives and progressives might say, and the entrepreneurialism exemplified by the Middletons has been a vital part of achieving that progress.