Lennie Lower

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Lennie
Lower was one of the most famous journalists in Australia during
the 1930's and 1940's. He was a prolific writer of satirical vignettes
(for a long time he wrote eight columns a week, plus other projects).
Some of his writing cover the same issues discussed in this venue.
However, Lower's thoughts have been totally neglected by almost
all Austro-libertarians. To remedy this situation I offer readers
a sample of his more relevant writings. In these three articles
from Here's
Another
(1932), he writes about the gold standard and the
nature of gold.

A
LOWER STANDARD

One
of the brightest spots in our hitherto drab life is the abolition
of the gold standard in favour of a note standard.

The
British Government is merely following a procedure which we
have advocated and put into practice for many months past.

Some
of our notes have been classics.

DEAR
SIR, — Owing to the present financial depression, we find ourself
unable to meet your just demands immediately. However, we are
expecting shortly a legacy from a wealthy relative in Fiji,
and you may rest assured…

Then
there was the other one which always worked. You simply pin
the note on your door: "BACK IN TEN MINUTES." You
then go away for eleven years, and are never heard of again.

GAS
CO.

Sirs,
— Your insulting message reached me this morning. Need I say
that I was disgusted and annoyed? This is the fourth final notice
I have had from you. Any more of this, and I shall be compelled
to request you to send a man to cut off my gas supply.

This
usually fixes things. Of course, there are faults in the system.

Yesterday
we were presented with a note, "I.O.U. 5/-. Signed, L.
W. Lower." So we went back to the gold standard.

The
whole thing is very involved. Mean to say, come home and find
on kitchen table a note, "Waited up till 2 o’clock. Where
have you been? Your dinner is in the oven."

That
sort of note is NOT negotiable.

HOW
TO DISCOVER A GOLD MINE

The
gold quest is still on. Countless unemployed are now working
like mad, though still practically unemployed. We ask you, citizens,
what do you know about gold? Echo answers, "Ask me?"

What
do you know about quartz?

Quartz
is what you get milk in.

What
is a quartette? It is a pint and a half.

Gold
is found in veins and seams. How vein it seems?

The
unsuccessful prospector spends all his life tapping rocks. The
successful prospector spends about three weeks rocking taps.
After which he sets off for the desert once more.

Alluvial
gold is usually dished from the start. From the cradle to the
grave, so to speak. More trips are made from the cradle to the
grave than from the cradle to the "Australia."

Which
reminds us of minny golf courses. There are too minny golf courses.
Which also reminds us that very few golfing prospectors tell
the hole truth.

Mines!
Mines! What do we know about mines? Mine’s a beer!

My
heavens, amigo (Spanish) if you had to fill up a certain amount
of space like this, you would also do as we do.

We
are stonkered for ideas. There comes a tide in the affairs of
men when they rush to cover. When they go into nursing homes.
When they discover that they have important business about 300
miles away. When they say, “You know damn well I don’t like
baked rabbit!” and such harsh words.

One
touch of Nature makes the whole world kin. Two touches, and you’ve
got it suspicious.

Let
us then away.

WHAT
GOLD IS HOW TO GET IT AND WHERE IT IS

It’s
not a bit of use looking for gold if you don’t know where it is.

People
are pegging out claims all over the place when they would be
better employed pegging out the washing.

Gold
is a metallic auriferous gold metal which is found in large
or small single lumps, or linked together as is in gold watch-chains,
or invisible, such as sovereigns.

Amateur
prospectors must remember, however, that it is illegal to peg
out a claim on a man’s stomach just because he has a gold watch-chain.

Alluvial
gold is found in creek-beds, water-holes, drain-pipes, and various
other places. It is found on mountains and in valleys, etcetera.

It
is also not found in many of the above places. That is the catch.

The
best way to tell gold is to pass the nugget around a crowded bar,
and ask them if it’s gold.

If
it comes back, it’s not gold.

It
should be no surprise, after reading his writings on gold, to discover
that his writings on war are equally instructive. We need to bask
in the glories of war, and not let it all go to waste. War is when
the government makes a killing. It's about time, in the true spirit
of democracy, that we share in the spoils, and there's no one better
to guide us than Lennie Lower. This article is from pages 30 and
31 of his Side Splitter (1941):

SPOILS
OF WAR

We
now have a Chairman of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission.
This is to sell off surplus war material after the war is over.

It
might be a good idea to buy up some of this stuff and sell it
at a large profit when we have our next war.

A
second-hand tank could be let out as a flat, for instance.

You
could shell peas much quicker with a machine-gun, or a pea-rifle
or something.

I
could think of a lot of uses for gas masks.

Naming
no names, of course.

And
you needn't look at me like that.

And
I would like a bulldozer with a direction-finder on it.

No
trouble getting home. The direction-finder gets you home, and the
bulldozer gets you in.

No
key required.

I
would also like an after-the-war parachute. My pyjamas are in
a terrible state, and no coupons, and I think it would be swell
just to blow into your pyjamas and float up to the ceiling,
out of the window, up the street (following me?), and just have
a look about to see where you parked your jeep the night before.

I
would like a jeep to play golf in.

It
would save a lot of mucking about.

What's
more, I could do with a few booby-traps.

I
am prepared to pay good dough for these.

How
jolly to see the landlord blown fifteen feet in the air, and
when he came down you could say: "Well, it serves you right!
I've been complaining about our bath-heater for eight months!"

That
would give him something to ponder on.

There
will be miles and miles of barbed-wire left over, which will
be very handy for scrubbing pots and for clotheslines.

Especially
clothes-lines.

The
head of the house tells me that she can't buy clothes pegs these
days. Which reminds me again of my pyjamas.

When
I get into my pyjamas I seem to come out the other side. The
buttons are all there on the coat, but what's the use of that?

My
pyjamas are now hung out to dry in the bathroom, so that the neighbors
won't see them.

Which
is damn silly, because I don't think any of our neighbours have
any pyjamas at all.

Not
that they really need them, being married, and the cold weather
and all that.

I
would like most from the Chairman of the Commonwealth Disposals
Commission a tent.

Just
a tent!

"A
tent, my ration book and thou — and Mr. Curtin — the wilderness
were paradise enow."

I
quote of course.

I
would never say "enow." The compositors wouldn't stand
it.

But,
man, if there's going to be any surplus war stores, I still
want to buy my old regimental sergeant-major.

Also
a bugler and a cook.

Would
I like to see an out-of-work ex-provost? Pounds I would pay for
him.

Lastly,
I would like from the army surplus stores a couple of those
bed-boards for guests who stay for the week-end. And a kitbag
full of things that stick into your neck when you use them as
pillows.

I
do not want a submarine.

It
would disturb our goldfish and, besides, I'm sunk already.

There's
one thing about it: If we hadn't had a war, we wouldn't have
had all these things left over.

Aren't
we lucky!

Whether
you like him for a laugh or a lesson, or both, or neither, there
is no doubt that Lennie Lower would be a welcome read in today's
mainstream newspapers, just as he was in the far bleaker years of
The Great Depression. On foreign policy he would probably talk of
the inevitability of another war in the Middle East on the basis
that Iraq is the past tense of Iran. He would have questioned the
strategy behind the use of missiles on an etymological basis. Throughout
all this he would be principled, sticking to the almost universal
belief, shared by The Remnant and The Masses, that no government
is better than democracy.

April
12, 2005

Benjamin Marks [send him mail]
is a hardcore Austro-paleo-libertarian theorist and activist.

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