Bert Kelly, 22 October 1980. Economics Made Easy (Adelaide: Brolga Books, 1982), pp. 244-46, as “Dr Stretton.”
Recently I read a review of the book Labor Essays in which particular attention was paid to an essay by Hugh Stretton which the reviewer said “is a remarkably incisive and passionate piece of political advocacy. He analyses the divide-and-rule tactics which have recently led to a noticeable decline in middle-class compassion and social concern, and puts the so-called tax revolt into its proper perspective as a form of class warfare.”
Then the reviewer goes on to quote directly from Mr Stretton’s essay. “If the reactionaries can recruit a sizeable minority of workers and their wives to the alliance against the welfare population … then the bastards will have won.”
That quotation makes me miserable because it shows how even a man of Mr Stretton’s intelligence and rectitude thinks. Many people, particularly socialist intellectuals, see the behaviour of people who disagree with them as part of a deep laid plot of evil, well organised capitalist groups who, with relentless cunning, have worked out some reprehensible way to grind the faces of the poor. “Then the bastards will have won”, they say.
These people should remember the story of the schoolteacher in America who was giving her class a lecture on the American Indians. At the end she asked if there was anyone in the class who had Indian blood in his veins. Little Tommy put up his hand. “How very interesting,” she gushed, “Which tribe?” “It wasn’t no tribe, Ma’am” Tommy replied, “It was just a wandering Indian!”
Most of the tax revolt is not the work of an Indian tribe, it is not class warfare at all, it is not a plot by a lot of bastards who have planned some cunning campaign, but it is the reactions of simple sods like me. To illustrate this, I will describe how the taxation iron entered my soul way back in 1947. Things were really tough on the farm then, with little spare cash and Mavis with three kids at foot and with many quite proper demands for more money to be spent in the home. So I made the rash decision to grow 120 acres of mustard under contract. It was rash because I didn’t know anything about the crop and neither did anyone else in the district. I suppose I should have grown wheat which I understood but the wheat stabilisation scheme discouraged me from growing what the world wanted. This is the way of stabilisation schemes.
I sowed the 120 acres in May, braving the scornful remarks of my friends and neighbours, “Pride goeth before a fall” and so on. The wretched crop did not germinate, so I sowed the paddock again at the end of June, working the tractor at night with a kerosene lantern hanging on the starting handle. There were no frills in those days, no air conditioned cabs, not even headlights.
The crop behaved splendidly from then on and by the end of December it was about 7 feet high and ready to reap. But when we took the old ground-drive header into the crop, we found that mustard has to be reaped when the weather is cool, otherwise the seed shatters. So, having sown the wretched crop at night, we now found that we had to reap it at night also, still with the lantern hanging on the handle.
However, we kept at it, going round and round and taking off bags of mustard with gratifying regularity. It was when I was clearing out a bunged up thresher in the middle of the night, with my head down and my tail up, which gives one a jaundiced view of the world, that I started to do some mental arithmetic. Then suddenly I realised that Mr Chifley (he was then Treasurer) would metaphorically be waiting at the heap to take away half the proceeds.
That was when the tax revolt started with me, in the middle of the night while reaping a crop I had sown at night, while the district sneered at me for taking foolish risks.
This old fashioned determination to keep what you have worked so hard to win, and have run uncomfortable risks in the process, this is the mainspring of the tax revolt. It is all very well for well heeled civil servants or academics living comfortably in ivory universities, to sneer at the bastards who are taking the risks that make the economy go round. I admit that we are not doing this to benefit our fellow men; we are trying to benefit ourselves. But in the process we benefit pure and noble people like Mr Stretton also. And then he reckons we are bastards!
Inside every tax moonlighter there is a small business man trying to get out.
- Bert Kelly on Journalism
- Move for a body of Modest Members
- Modest Members Association
- Bert Kelly's Maiden Parliamentary Speech
- Government Intervention
- 1976 Monday Conference transcript featuring Bert Kelly
- Petrol for Farmers
- Some Sacred Cows
- Experiences in Parliament
- Spending your Money
- Who needs literary licence?
- A touch of Fred's anarchy
- Supply and Demand
- Bert Kelly on Disaster Relief
- Bert Kelly Wants to Secede
- Under Labor, is working hard foolish?
- An Idiot's Guide to Interventionism
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Side Benefits Argument for Government
- Bert Kelly gets his head around big-headed bird-brained politics
- First Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Second Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Third Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Fourth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Fifth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Sixth Modest Member (Bert Kelly) AFR Column
- Bert Kelly on the 2011 Budget and Australia's Pathetic Journalists and Politicians
- Bert Kelly, Bastard or Simple Sod?
- Liberal Backbencher Hits Govt. Over Import Restrictions
- Bert Kelly feels a dam coming on at each election
- Bert Kelly Enters Parliament
- Why take in one another's washing?
- Bert Kelly breaks the law, disrespects government and enjoys it
- Gillard's galley-powered waterskiing
- Can price control really work?
- Should we put up with socialism?
- We're quick to get sick of socialism
- Time the protection racket ended
- Can't pull the wool over Farmer Fred
- People not Politics
- Bert Kelly admits he should have had less faith in politicians
- Labor: a girl who couldn't say no
- Why leading businessmen carry black briefcases
- Ludwig von Mises on page 3 of AFR
- Mavis wants the Modest Member to dedicate his book to her
- Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
- Bert Kelly reviews The War Diaries of Weary Dunlop
- Bert Kelly reviews We Were There
- Tariffs get the fork-tongue treatment
- Bert Kelly reduces government to its absurdities
- Politician sacrifices his ... honesty
- It's all a matter of principle
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Infant Industry Argument
- Bert Kelly Untangles Tariff Torment
- Bert Kelly resorts to prayer
- Eccles keeps our nose hard down on the tariff grindstone
- "Don't you believe in protecting us against imports from cheap labour countries?"
- Even if lucky, we needn't be stupid
- Great "freedom of choice" mystery
- Small government's growth problem
- Tariffs Introduced
- More About Tariffs
- Sacred cow kicker into print
- Modest Member must not give up
- Traditional Wheat Farming is Our Birthright and Heritage and Must be Protected!
- Bert Kelly brilliantly defends "theoretical academics"
- The Society of Modest Members
- John Hyde's illogical, soft, complicated, unfocussed and unsuccessful attempt to communicate why he defends markets
- Modesty ablaze
- Case for ministers staying home
- The unusual self-evident simplicity of the Modest Members Society
- Animal lib the new scourge of the bush
- The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Krill
- Repeal economic laws, force people to buy new cars and enforce tariffs against overseas tennis players
- Thoughts on how to kill dinosaurs
- Let's try the chill winds
- Taking the Right's road
- Bert Kelly: "I did not try often or hard enough"
- Bert Kelly "lacked ... guts and wisdom"
- A look at life without tariffs
- The Gospel according to Bert
- Tiny note on Bert Kelly's column in The Bulletin in 1985
- Why costs can't be guaranteed
- Hitting out with a halo
- Paying farmers not to grow crops will save on subsidies, revenge tariffs, etc
- "The Modest Farmer joins us" | "How The Modest Farmer came to be"
- Bert Kelly Destroys the Freeloading Justifies Government Argument
- Government Intervention
- Bigger Cake = Bigger Slices
- Bert Kelly on the Political Process
- Charabanc: Part 1
- Charabanc: Part 2
- Charabanc: Part 3
- Relationships with the Liberal Party
- Tariffs = High Prices + World War
- Bert Kelly's Family History
- Bert Kelly's Pre-Parliament Life
- Why Bert Kelly was not even more publicly outspoken
- WEATHER IS USUALLY UNUSUAL
- How to stand aside when it's time to be counted
- How the Modest Member went back to being a Modest Farmer
- My pearls of wisdom were dull beyond belief
- Bert Kelly on Political Football
- Ross Gittins Wins Bert Kelly Award
- Interesting 1964 Bert Kelly speech: he says he is not a free trader and that he supports protection!
- This is the wall the Right built
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- Is the Budget a cargo cult?
- Will we end up subsidising one another?
- Do we want our money to fly?
- Can a bear be sure of a feed?
- How to impress your MP -
- The time for being nice to our MPs has gone ...
- Don't feel sorry for him -
hang on to his ear
- Trade wars can easily end up on a battlefield
- Tariffs Create Unemployment
- Bert Kelly recommends Ayn Rand
- Bert Kelly's Satirical Prophecy: Minister for Meteorology (tick) and High Protectionist Policies to Result in War Yet Again (?)
- Bert Kelly in 1972 on Foreign Ownership of Australian Farmland and Warren Truss, Barnaby Joyce and Bill Heffernan in 2012
- Parliament a place for pragmatists
- Of Sugar Wells and Think-Tanks
- Bert Kelly: "I must take some of the blame"
- A Modest Farmer looks at the Problems of Structural Change
- Government Fails Spectacularly
- Know your proper place if you want the quiet life
- Bert Kelly on political speech writers
- Perish the thawed!
- Modest Farmer sees his ideas take hold
- Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
- Why no-one nails the Big Green Lie
- A case for ministerial inertia
- Why politicians don't like the truth
- Ominous dark clouds are gathering
- Better to be popular than right
- Crying in the wilderness
- Ivory tower needs thumping
- Bert Kelly asks, "How can you believe in free enterprise and government intervention at the same time?"
- Rural Problems
- Unholy state of taxation
- Boring economics worth a smile