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Mar 5, 2009

Hayek Had 'Inflation' By The Balls: Photographic Evidence.

Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek, with Ron Kitchings bull 'Inflation' who according to Ron, "never stopped growing."

An article by Michael Connor in Quadrant Online pointed me to an account by Ron Kitching of how the month long visit of the Nobel prizewinner F.A. Hayek to Australia was arranged in 1976 – and how he introduced the great man to Inflation. Ron is a legend in his own right in the mining and exploration industry having been one of the founders of Glindemann and Kitching, which became one of the biggest and most innovative drilling companies in Australia.

This is an early picture is of Ron, with John Campbell Miles discoverer of Mount Isa. (Click to Enlarge.)

Ron was an early convert to free market economics after reading Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” when he was trying to find out how and why governments could regulate the economy to such an extent that an ostensibly booming industry (like mining) was reduced to penury. His book, “Understanding Personal and Economic Liberty” is on my “highly recommended” list.

Hayek was (initially) invited to Australia for a lecture tour by economist Mark Tier. However, Hayek, at that time, had to decline, but as circumstances changed and he wrote a note to Sydney Economist/Barrister Roger Randerson, whom he once tutored at The London School of Economics, saying that he could squeeze in a month before going on previously scheduled visits to new Zealand and Japan.

He was contacted by Roger at Ron’s urging and replied that if airfares and accommodation were arranged and the lectures were confined to no more than two per week, there would be no fee, an incredibly generous offer. Incredibly no support from the business community could be obtained, and the two of them underwrote the tour themselves. Business at that time were running scared, as the inept, scandal ridden government of the pompous socialist Gough Whitlam had been replaced by the Fraser one, which was so bad it made many nostalgic for Gough.

Fraser is now remembered for two reasons, the first, being for his pivotal role as the principal architect in the installation of Robert Mugabe as President of Zimbabwe, his role being described by African leaders of the time as "crucial in many parts", and vital. The second was the “Memphis trousers affair,” in which he as the Chairman of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group was found in the foyer of the Admiral Benbow Inn, a seedy hotel popular with prostitutes and drug dealers, wearing nothing but a towel and confused as to where his trousers were. But I digress.

Ron describes Hayek's stay at his Atherton property, and his meeting with “Inflation” as follows (abriged): - 
He then noticed hanging on the wall of the bar, a large picture of a magnificent Brahman Bull I owned. He asked about the Bull, so I told him he was a prize winning show bull which I had nicknamed Inflation as he would not stop growing. “He weighs 3,000 pounds in his working clothes,” I told the small gathering present.

“Well, while I am here, I would like to meet him,” Hayek exclaimed. So I put that on the agenda.

I got this bright idea that I’d put the bull in the yard, get a step ladder put Hayek on the bull, (if he agreed), and take a picture which would carry the caption Hayek’s on Top Of Inflation. I told my wife and that was the end of it. She would not under any circumstances countenance such a move. “What if the Professor fell off and was injured?” So that project was abandoned.

Nevertheless Hayek still wanted to meet the bull. Next day I took him down the paddock and took several pictures of him and the bull when another idea popped into my head and I quietly mentioned it to him. He was delighted to have a bit of fun. The caption of course was to be Hayek's Got Inflation By The Balls.

Well the old boy was delighted. He was quite at home with animals and had palled up with the bull, which was an easy matter with this particular animal. So he posed and I took the picture. He predicted that if the Americans got hold of a copy, the picture would become famous.
Years later a copy (with caption) was presented to Margaret Thatcher, much to her delight.

Ronald Kitching is a life member of the Mont Pelerin Society who made a major contribution to F.A. Hayek’s lecture tour of Australia in 1976 . He also authored the book “Understanding Personal and Economic Liberty”.


  1. Jim, this is friggin' hilarious! You're quite a witty guy for a backwoods Australian roughneck.

    May I re-post to Worldwide Liberty??

    Email me to let me know.

  2. Thanks fellas, permission is on the way Eric, go for it.