Viv Forbes’ Political Poetry
by Viv Forbes
Viv Forbes has been the most productive Australian free-market advocate for each of the last 35 years. He is still brilliantly active as Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition. More information about him is at VivForbes.info.
- “The Do-Gooders”
- “Ten Little Businessmen”
- “Land of the Free”
- “The Numbered Men”
- “The Politician”
- “Stale Eggs in the Valley”
- “The Federation Cross”
- “The Spectator”
It was a happy settlement
the people strong and free.
They tended flocks and tilled the soil
and fished upon the sea.
The north wind brought the raiders
with their swords and greedy eyes.
They stripped the land and left behind
a blight of funeral pyres.
“We must unite” the people said
“to beat these robber bands.
We’ll arm ourselves and train our men
to sweep them from our lands.”
T’was thus they formed a government
to save them from the foe.
It levied tax and raised the troops
and laid the looters low.
The system was a great success
and wealth grew all around.
The idle troopers then were used
to police the roads and towns.
A thinker from a foreign land
said “You must help the poor.
Ya orta get the government
to pass a welfare law.”
AORTA spread like smallpox germs
it raced down every road.
As every loafer raised his voice
“AORTA ease my load.”
“AORTA keep the prices down,
AORTA teach the kids,
AORTA start a dancing troop,
AORTA print the quids.”
Alas, AORTA has a sting,
a dreadful side effect.
It brings a rash of taxes
which the troopers must collect.
The troopers’ swords grew rusty
and the farms were filled with weeds.
The cities turned to hives of drones
whose product was “Free Feeds”.
But hungry eyes were watching still
the grim north wind did blow.
Soon bloated corpses filled the streets
“AORTA” laid them low.
2. “The Do-Gooders”
They put taxes on tobacco
so the smokers turned to pot.
They put levies on tomatoes
so the growers let them rot.
They tried a tax on imports
but the smugglers beat them there.
So they whacked a tax on whisky
and the stills grew everywhere.
They nationalised the railways
but the service was so poor,
That the people all bought Holdens
just to get from door to door.
They tried to run the airlines
but the prices went so high,
That they formed a new committee
just to regulate the sky.
They paid men to be idle
so the unemployment grew.
They subsidised the failures
and the bankrupts swelled anew.
They gave “free” education
but its value fell to naught.
So they underwrote the opera
but found culture can’t be bought.
In the name of “health and welfare”
they paid all the doctors’ bills,
But the health-tax was enormous
just to pay for all their ills.
In the name of “Life be in it”
came a Ministry of Sport,
But the horde of paid officials
made this just another rort.
“Let’s have welfare for the needy”
said a well-paid bureaucrat,
So to make sure they were needy
all the oldies spent their fat.
In the name of “Job creation”
they spent money in great gobs,
But the taxes grabbed to fund it
killed a hundred thousand jobs.
“No more of this do-gooding”
said the people in disgust,
“Stop helping us at our expense
or we’ll all end up bust.
Just pay the troops and run the courts
and police the local beat.
For all the rest, just let us be,
and our troubles will retreat.”
3. “Ten Little Businessmen”
Ten little businessmen at the starting line,
One forgot to register
And then there were nine.
Nine little businessmen set up in the state,
One got closed by union rules
And then there were eight.
Eight little businessmen seeking out their heaven,
One got beat by bureaucrats
And then there were seven.
Seven little businessmen copping lots of kicks,
One had all his land resumed
And then there were six.
Six little businessmen flat out to stay alive,
One failed to pay his income tax
And then there were five.
Five little businessmen yet to close the door,
One fell foul of factory laws
And then there were four.
Four little businessmen almost on their knees,
Officials put a quota on
And then there were three.
Three little businessmen paying all their dues,
One forgot to file a form
And then there were two.
Two little businessmen their finance almost done,
Inspectors made one close his doors
And then there was one.
One little businessman working just for fun,
He’s off next week to USA
And then there’ll be none.
4. “Land of the Free”
One day in the land of the strong and the free,
John Rover said “Brother, this job’s not for me.
All I do for my pay
Is file forms every day
I’ll resign and produce for my fee.”
“I’m strong and determined, I’ll get me a farm,
I’ll build with the brawn of my arm.”
But alas for John Rover
His quest was not over
For his lawyer was filled with alarm.
“You’ve no permit for dairying, you’ve no quota for eggs,
You’ve no licence for honey or pigs.
You can’t trade in wheat
They’re closing down meat
And there’s levies on apples and figs.
“Not to worry” said John “I’ll work with my hands,
I can build, I can paint or drain land.”
But the council said, “No,
Such a man has no show
Til he’s licensed, and numbered, and planned.”
“Forget it,” said John, “I’ll go work in the mine,
They need men who are willing to sign.”
But the men on the picket
Said “Show us your ticket
Or there’s no work for you on this line.”
So John packed up his bluey and went back to town,
“There’s one place they won’t turn me down.
I’ll rejoin the department
And forget where my heart went
I’ll be sure of good pay with the crown.
John Rover now sits at a desk, sipping tea;
He handles the permits and fees.
When they speak of their schemes
He still thinks of his dreams
Of what could be in the land of the free.
5. “The Numbered Men”
One day while I was driving down the highway in the sun
I sat behind a milk truck just returning from his run.
His sign said “Licensed Vendor” and it made me feel secure
That only numbered milkmen could come knocking on my door.
Then I saw a licensed builder with his number on the door
And a plumber with a permit which was issued by the law.
Then a hawker and publican each with his licence plate
And a licensed money lender with his number on the gate.
I pulled into a café, which was licensed to sell beer
And struck up conversation with a licensed auctioneer.
He’d just been selling forfeit goods to pay the fines imposed
On a maverick hardware dealer whose late trading he’d exposed.
A warm glow spread inside me as I drank a licensed beer
And I pictured the inspectors who called in every year
To check upon the numbered men and safeguard fools like me
Who’d waste their money buying things from men who paid no fee.
I thought of all the union men whose cards protect their job
And dairy men whose quota scheme defends them from the mob.
The teachers who are registered, the chemists with their guilds
And lawyers with their closed cartel which keeps their coffers filled.
As I sat among the numbered men it suddenly occurred
That I was just a cleanskin in a tamed and numbered herd.
Somehow I’d missed the muster when the planner combed the land
And now I was a maverick, a man without a brand.
The numbered men live sheltered lives, their keeper is the State,
Their job depends less on their skills than on their licence plate.
Their future is determined and their charges are prescribed,
And the standards of their conduct are in rules and acts described.
But thank the Lord for mavericks, who don’t fit in the mould,
They help distract the licence-men from getting far too bold.
Without the help of mavericks, the planners would persist
Till we all need applications for a licence to exist.
6. “The Politician”
There was a young man of ambition
Who wished to improve his position.
He was no good at school
And he couldn’t use tools
So he chose the career politician.
First he set out to learn elocution
For he quickly had reached the conclusion
That to lie with conviction
Would win more elections
Than to mumble the truth in confusion.
“And my policies must not offend.
There’s no room for ideas that won’t bend.
So I’ll stand in the middle
And use high sounding riddles
To attract all the mugs from both ends.”
And his father, who’d try any way,
Said “Son, if you want to make hay,
You must promise them more
Of the things they adore
While forgetting to mention who pays.”
“And everyone’s tax must come down.
(At least that’s how it must sound)
In a fiscal mishap
You can make up the gap
By printing more notes to go round.
“This will result in inflation
And complaints will arise in the nation.
But you must maintain
That the cause of the pain
Are the villains evading taxation.”
The poll was a one sided game
“A statesman” the media exclaimed.
In the house he was cheered
For a speech that was geared
To the old, the poor and the lame.
Then his father outlined his mistake
“That must be the last speech you make.
To keep your safe job
Don’t risk stirring the mob
Till you pick up your golden hand-shake.”
So he said yea or nay right on cue
While his perks and his income they grew.
But the people back home
Wondered what had become
Of the silver tongued pollie they knew.
7. “Stale Eggs in the Valley”
There once was a farmer, O’Malley,
Who kept the best hens in the valley;
He took eggs to town
And sold them all round
They all loved old farmer O’Malley.
Then the Egg Board said “Have you a permit?”
But O’Malley refused to confirm it.
He told those from the board
Who descended in hoards,
“I don’t need your permit, I’ve earned it.”
The board said “This must be corrected
For the public they must be protected.
You’ll pay up your fees
Or you’ll end on your knees,
We’ll be round the next day to collect it.”
Now this was a shock for O’Malley,
But he didn’t dilly or dally.
He got all his chooks
And hung them on hooks
And sold them to butcher McNally.
The thugs from the board came next morning.
They said “We gave you fair warning.
We’re taking your hens
We’re locking your pens
And we’re slapping a writ on your awning.”
O’Malley’s kind features went hard,
Then he smiled as he played his last card –
“If you want to steal chicks
You’ve got to be quick
But you’ll find not a hen in this yard.”
Now the egg men have fallen from grace
And they get lots of egg on their face.
Though the board tries to please
With its quotas and fees
There’s not a fresh egg in the place.
And O’Malley now lives on relief,
And he sits and nurses his grief
As he thinks of the time
When to serve was no crime
And the life of such boards would be brief.
8. “The Federation Cross”
Away back in the good old days
when men could find a job;
When money was as good as gold
and tax was just two bob;
When men would work and say with pride
that they weren’t on the dole;
T’was then that politicians came
to play an active role.
“We must unite,” the statesmen said
“in case we have to fight;
We need a central government
to maximise our might.
We’re all Australians too, you see,
not rough colonial folk;
We need a sign to show the world
this nation is no joke.”
“We’ll plan a grand new Commonwealth
of which we can be proud;
We’ll build a national capital
with lakes and parks endowed;
For no expense can be too much
with national pride at stake;
Our children will recall with thanks,
we did it for their sake.”
They confiscated men and tools
to build themselves a home;
It started with a gabbing place
where useful flocks once roamed.
They capped the hills with monuments
and manicured the grounds
And the quarters of their servants
spoilt the land for miles around.
Then their horde of tax collectors
spread like locusts through the land,
And their rules and regulations
drained the cash to lawyers’ hands.
The courts became political
(mere creatures of the State)
The rule of law and common sense
became quite out-of-date.
The people then grew restless
at this cross they had to bear;
“It’s time for us to question
if this road leads anywhere.
What should have been our watch dog
sitting quietly by the gate
Is in the house and now he snarls
if we don’t fill his plate.”
We must dismiss the traitors
who have got us in this mess;
The federation must return
to things it can do best.
Defence is what we hired them for
not meddling in our lives;
If they protect, while we produce
a new dawn will arrive.”
9. “The Spectator”
Are you down among the players when the game gets really rough?
Are you standing for the victim when the bullyboys get tough?
When the herd-men bay in unison, is yours the “No” we hear,
Or are you in the grandstand with your esky full of beer?
When a modern-day dictator says your life belongs to him,
Do you risk your safe position by not bowing to his whim?
Do you laugh at mass opinion when you know that it is wrong,
Or do you think that truth is learned by listening to the throng?
When “democrats” are shouting that you can’t tell right from wrong,
When the law depends on circumstance and bends before the strong,
When “National Interest” demagogues are ranting in the street,
Is yours the one dissenting voice, or are you hiding from the heat?
Is your name among the builders when they write the book of life?
Would you be called a helper when your friends are having strife?
When your child is seeking guidance, are your answers straight and clear,
Or do you say “Please count me out, I’m needed over here?”
Do you believe the state cocoon that binds men till they die
Is just a crutch that keeps them weak and pays them not to try?
Will people say “At least he tried” when someone shoves the knife,
Or are you just a viewer at the silver screen of life?