Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 17, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4-THE LETHBRIDGE HCRALD-Wtdnttday, April IJMTOKIALS Here's to pragmatism! Nobody reads editorials during the Stanley 'Cup playoffs. That being the case, this is a good time to air a few unconventional thoughts on matters of current public controversy. They arise from the conviction that people habitually leap into an argument on the basis of principle without giving much thought to the practical aspects of the matter without asking the pragmatic question. Consider the case of Statistics Canada, which has come under fire for selling lists of names. A great hue and cry has been raised in Parliament over the propriety of such action, but nobody has asked the pertinent question: How much money did they get for the lists? A modest storm has risen over the allegation that certain people in Southern Alberta have been investigated as security risks. Among all the emotional points raised in this connection, no one has brought up the obvious question: What issues of national security are present in Southern Alberta? Then there is the continuing low-key argument over profits, where discussion centers on the semantics of whether they can be termed excess, windfall or just ordinary. No one has yet paid much attention to the question: Where does the money go9 These three questions may seem simple-minded, but they are considerably more penetrating than they seem and they lead to more insight into the real issues than long-winded arguments over principle. It's hard, for instance, to accept the idea that the sale of mailing lists is being challenged as a matter of invasion of privacy. Junk mail, which can be disposed of in the nearest trash basket, invades privacy much less than the constant flow of children to the door trying to sell something, or missionaries whose ringing of the doorbell always interrupts some task to pick two obvious and similar examples. Yet no one has stood up in Parliament to protest these habitual occurrences. The real issue is that junk mail has to be subsidized by the taxpayer ancl this comes right back to the question of economics and of how much Statistics Canada receives for its lists. A look at the second point, that is, the question of what national security can possibly be at stake in Southern Alberta, exposes the fact that there is none, except perhaps in the area of ideas. Furthermore, it reveals that people tend to be more frightened of ideas than of bombs, and forget that, unlike bombs, ideas can't be countered by regulations or investigations. The only way to defeat an idea is with a better one. As for where the profits go. most of them go into capital investment which, even if it is unwise investment, means jobs for someone. If, as is always implied by the terms, "excess" or "windfall." these profits are squandered on someone, somewhere, whose lifestyle is well beyond his worth two or three examples do come to mind this, too, provides jobs for people, yacht builders, diamond miners, artists, tradespeople. Money is only a medium of exchange and as long as it is circulating through the economy it is providing jobs for a wide variety of people with a wide variety of skills. The main problem is to see that it is distributed with some degree of equity throughout the chain according to the contributions made by all those who handle it, to make certain that someone is not paying too high or too low a price for a product, or being overpaid or underpaid for his labors, in relation to the rest of the chain. The Red Snowball Tree The movie that is currently packing them in in Moscow is far removed from The Exorcist or even The Sting. Nevertheless, according to reports from Moscow, it is causing a certain amount of cultural and cinematic shock. The plot of the movie, Kalina Krasnaya (The Red Snowball is simple and involves the unsuccessful attempt of a professional criminal to change the course of his life. By all accounts it is well made and superbly acted. As a realistic film with deep religious overtones and a sad, violent ending, it may seem to foreigners to fit the-Russian creative tradition, but it violates current doctrines of socialist realism and its fatalism, as one report pointed out, is out of line with Marxist-Leninism optimism about man's boundless capacity for self- improvement. The movie, which is playing to large audiences in 53 theatres in Moscow, seems to have official blessing, in spite of the fact that officials, when they appear, are portrayed unflatteringly the chairman of the heroine's collective farm appears in a drunken stupor. Whether this seeming relaxation of the rules opens the door creatively for Russian film makers remains to be seen. The situation is reminiscent of the publication, with Khrushchev's approval, of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. This was looked on as a real breakthrough for Russian writers but subsequent tightening of Soviet censorship killed off those hopes. And everyone knows what finally happened to the author. The name of Vasily Shukshin who wrote, directed and played the lead role in the movie is worth remembering. X 4 t nu i i arwOIIPfJ "I see Mr. Marchand has come up with the answer to our grain transport Inflation defies government action By W. A. Wilson, Montreal Star commentator OTTAWA Taken together, the last two Gallup Polls suggests that the public has a better idea than politicans of the limits on the ability of governments to control or determine in any precise way the economic climate in which we live. The second of the two polls showed, as anyone would have predicted, that people regard inflation as by far the most serious problem of the day, far ahead now of unemployment. The earlier of the pair of opinion samplings, however, snowed that the political parties are still at the same point in public esteem as they were when the 1972 votes were counted. It seems obvious that the Liberals would be far down if the public thought the government could end this inflation and was failing to do so, either from inertia, protection of special interests or whatever reason. Since they are not, it appears to follow that the public must understand some of the limits on the capacity of the state to manage human affairs. That is not always as well understood in the world of politics. The process of government today is both active and optimistic. It rests on the assumption that if action is taken the results will necessarily be better than if .ic action is taken. Not merely the political party that holds office but the whole bureaucratic apparatus is driven by the conviction that it must "do something." The option to do nothing is always there but it is not often chosen. When it is selected, it is very likely to be denounced as disreputable. The assumption that action should always be taken and that, if it were not for the blind stupidity of whoever is in government, the results would inevitably be good, is even stronger among the parties in opposition. Something like inflation is the spoiler in all of this. When inflation strikes the entire advanced world it preoccupies the minds of literally thousands of politicans and officials. If there were a simple cure, somewhere men would find it, put it into effect and then the problem would be over. Some of the causes of this inflation, and even some of the things to do about it. seem clear enough but they are not particularly easy and they certainly are not quick. One factor is that prosperity occurred simultaneously throughout almost all of the advanced world at the same time, raising total world demand to new high levels. In the past, prosperity has usually been spottier when one country, or group of countries, was prosperous there were generally others that were having difficulties. This unprecedented level of world demand was not accompanied by equivalent. increases in the availability of supplies and in some cases these were limited by poor crops. The result, of course, was soaring commodity prices on a world basis and it is because of the wide, international aspect of this that price and wage controls have proven such an unsatisfactory solution to the problem. Within our own economy, we have failed to achieve an economic miracle' and this is significant as soon as we define the true meaning of those words. The economic miracles which have impressed us, when the capacity of a nation's economy is not reached before potential limits also are reached. One of our problems, clearly, is that we have come to the capacity of the economy well ahead of its real potential. If this were not true there would not be, for instance a shortage of steel with relief from expanded capacity still two or three years away. Building supplies generally would be more plentiful, and so on. When we ask why steel capacity will not be fully expanded and match the nation's economic potential for sometime ye.t, it is possible to reply in fairly concrete terms. The short answer must be simply that the confidence necessary to commit a company to a expenditure did not exist two or three years before the decision actually was taken and it is quite possible to go further and trace the factors that produced this restriction on confidence. They vary, from purely domestic factors to the estimates made by individuals of the world's economic climate. Government actions have a role but not the whole role. That is one form of complication facing us and there is not much that can be done about it now except to let time correct the problem and to learn some lessons for the next occasion. One of these might involve tax reform. The obvious conclusion would be that while taxation systems must not be left static forever, and must undergo reform, it is unwise to throw everything into doubt at once. A step by step approach to modernization of the tax system would have been less disruptive, and had fewer and briefer effects on the confidence necessary for very costly decisions, than the process that actually was followed in this country. There are other forms of complication as well. Beef is almost a classic example. On one hand, there is doubt whether retailers have behaved fairly and cut their prices as wholesale costs came down. That is under examination by the Food Prices Review Board. But that is a short-term problem. By far the larger one is the long-term one that wholesale prices have dropped below the level of the costs created by high feed prices. The government's efforts to resolve the difficulty through a subsidy proved extremely difficult, perhaps through its own fault, perhaps through the complexity of that trade. The new restrictions on imports for health reasons may have a greater effect but the lesson remains the same: sharp reductions in one level of prices are more likely to produce shortages than lasting relief. To a great extent, many of the effects of inflation can be mitigated, as they have been in Canada. Through higher state pensions, increased family allowances, reduced tax rates. But not all of them. The outstanding example is the entire private pension field where, with no more than a handful of contrary examples in the entire country, pensions are being eroded at disastrous speed by this inflation. Predictably this is becoming a major social problem and neither private industry nor the government is doing much to head it off. Neither are the opposition parties in Parliament or the provincial governments. It seems clear that this problem must become critical before action will be taken. The choice between action and inaction is not always wisely made in the political process. ART BUCHWALD Weak French aspirants spell end of Gaullist era By Joseph Kraft, syndicated commentator A most generous offer WASHINGTON It looks as if there's going to be some hard bargaining between President Nixon's lawyer, James St. Clair, over the tapes and evidence the House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed. While the president has said he was willing to co- operate fully with the House so we could put Watergate behind us, Mr. St. Clair as his defence lawyer has to think of protecting his client. This is how the negotiating may go. "Mr. Doar. this is James St. Clair, How's everything on The "Just fine. Mr. St. Clair. What's new at the White House that we should know "That's what I'm calling about. You guys didn't have to send us a subpoena. We promised we'd co-operate with you fully. When you voted a subpoena it made it sound as if we were dragging our feet." "I know." "Now look, Doar, we want to be reasonable down here and we're willing to give you everything you've asked for." "You 'Yes. with the only exception that it doesn't harm the presidency or violate the Constitution. As Mr. Nixon's lawyer I believe I'm in the best position to know what is relevant to your impeachment hearings. I've sifted through every piece of evidence and I give you my word a lot of the stuff you're requesting is not worth fighting for." "How do we know that if we haven't heard the tapes9" "I heard them, and the president's heard them, and H. R. Haldeman's heard them. Why can't you take our word for it that there is absolutely nothing on them that can contribute to NMr. Nixon's impeachment? What on earth would we have to gain by keeping evidence from your "I'm certain. Mr. St. Clair. that what you say is true, but there are some members of the committee who have a thing about presidential tapes. Now are you going to turn them over to "That's what I'm calling about. We're willing to give you 42 tapes as requested." "Then we don't have a problem." But the president feels he should have the right to decide what 42 tapes to give you. That's only fair." "I don't get you." "The president is offering instead of the Kleindienst telephone conversation of April 15 a tape of his call to congratulate Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins for winning the Super Bowl. The president says it's a much jazzier tape and he's sure the entire House committee would enjoy it. "He is also offering in place of his conversations with Haldeman and Ehrlichman on April 16. 1973. the complete unedited tape of his talk with David Eisenhower on Feb. 12. 1969. He would also like to substitute the Colson material you've asked for with a tape of a very funny meeting he had in the Oval Office with Miss Cherry Blossom of 1972. "To show his good faith the president has authorized me to turn over to you the tapes of all the prayer breakfasts at the White House, as well as a complete tape of Pearl Bailey singing -When The Saints Go Marching In.' Furthermore, he is throwing in a tape of a personal message he dictated to Secretariat when he won the triple crown. "He feels these tapes are something the House could play over and over again. Believe me. Mr. Doar. the ones you people have asked for are dull and repetitious, and you'd be bored to death. The ones we're offering you would give you hours of listening pleasure." "Thanks. Mr. St. Clair, but no thanks. We still want the tapes we asked for." "Okay Doar. The president asked me to give you a message if you refused his generous offer." "What is that9" "He told me to it'll you 'That does it. No more Mr. Nice Guv. PARIS The political legacy of General de Gaulle centred on two quasi religious principles. There was the special place of the president in France and the special place of France in the world. With the death of Georges Pompidou, the general's successor as president, both concepts come up for grabs. The first stages of the campaign to elect a new president here suggest mainly that the one sure loser will be the Gaullist legacy. The general's concept of the presidential role was highly narcissistic. The idea was to have a towering figure who would incarnate France itself. He would be elected for seven Letters years and would guard as his own special province the long- term interests of the country, notably in national security. He had powers to dismiss the National Assembly and order new elections, but was not himself subject to direct parliamentary control. For. more than anything else, he was to rise above the petty play of party politics. In the past few days, however, the jockeying for position in the race to succeed M. Pompidou has outdone the worst excesses of the bad old days. "Bordelique" or bordello-like is the word now being used here to describe the manoeuvres of the major aspirants for the presidential office. Wrecking plant useful With reference to the article in The Herald. April 9, pertaining to the County of Lethbridge council decision okaying expansion of Marshall Auto Wreckers property east of the city: I was somewhat distressed at the comments that the county had okayed a junk yard expansion. I feel The Herald staff could have used better terms to identify an auto wrecking plant. Many automobiles in southern Alberta are on the road today because auto wrecking plants have been able to supply parts when repairs are needed. In addition, with the high cost of new parts the used parts from auto wrecking plants are of necessity. Manufacturers of new parts are at present overburdened by the demands placed on them by the public. As a result, people in Southern Alberta are fortunate to have auto wrecking plants available to supply parts required to facilitate immediate repairs when required. Hats off to private industry which takes the fortitude to invest large sums of capital for future use and need. WAYNE F. STEWART Lethbridge Former Premier Jacques Cha ban-Del mas announced his candidacy even before M Pompidou was buried tht better to break up any move against him from his own Gaullist party. Finance Minister Valery Giscard d'Estaing of the Republican Independents said he would not declare until after the period of mourning a device to discredit the early announcement by M. Chaban- Delmas. Former Premier Edgar Faure. a veteran centrist politician, announced his candidacy early in order to break up the present governing coalition which links the Gaullists and the Republican Independents. The declined to put forward their own candidate presumably so that it would not be demonstrated that they had less votes than the Socialists who have a strong presidential candidate in former interior minister Francois Mitterrand. Not only have cheap political games marked the debut of the campaign but the candidates are a good deal less than Olympian in stature. M. Faure. for example, is a political trickster known for his capacity to come down in an ambiguous fashion at precisely the point where one side of an issue folds into the other. M. Chaban-Delmas has been involved in a malodorous tax scandal. M. Mitterrand, whom I visited at his home the other day. presents himself as a family man of grave dignity. But not so long ago he was known, because of what looked like a self-organized assassination attempt, as a publicity-seeking adventurer. Given these personal qualities the candidates are not going to be in position to impose their own views in the imperious way of Gen. de Gaulle. They are going to have to court popular favor and make deals right and left. Inevitably the presidential office will lose prestige and the National Assembly will acquire authority. France is already on the way back to being a parliamentary republic. The institutional transition finds an exact counterpart in foreign affairs. Because of his prestige Gen de Gaulle was able to impose on this country a policy which stressed French independence as a nuclear power pursuing its own special interests in dealing with the Communist world, the Near East and Europe. Most of the candidates are already on record against the Gaullist foreign policy. M. Faure is so well-known for his fidelity to the Atlantic alliance that he has been trying to correct the image by visits to Eastern Europe. M. Mitterrand, though backed by the Communists, favors an integrated Western Europe. So strong is his support for the Atlantic alliance that he startled George McGovern by the vehemence of his insistence that American troops remain in Germany. As to M. Chaban- Delmas, his chief adviser, Jacques Delors. believes the French economy can only be managed in the context of European co-operation. No doubt there will be some lip service paid to Gaullist principles during the electoral campaign, and perhaps the first months of the new regime. But the long-range outlook goes the other way. All signs indicate that this country is on the point of closing the Gaullist parenthesis in French history. The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th St. S. LethBridge, Alberta LETHBRIDGE HERALD CO. LTD. Proprietors and Publishers Second Cliss Mail Registration No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS, Editor and Publisher DON H. PILLINQ Managing Editor DONALD R. DORAM General Manager ROY F. MILES Advertising Manager DOUGLAS K WALKER Editorial Page Editor ROBERT M. FENTON Circulation Manager KENNETH E. BARNETT Business Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"