Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 1, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4-THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD-Thursday, August Who benefits? The confusion that exists among economic analysts is nowhere better il- lustrated than in current, divergent opinions about the 11 per cent federal sales tax on building materials. One of them is contained in a report by the Economic Council of Canada, requested by the prime minister in January, 1972, on cyclical instability in the construction business. The other was precipitated by the report. To put each analysis briefly, the ECC feels that the tax is regressive and weighs more heavily on low income housing and it calls for its abolition. The Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada, on the other hand, sees no reason to eliminate the tax and says that this elimination would benefit high income buyers more than low in- come families. (There is general agree- ment that in the matter of housing it is the low income families which need relief.) These are, of course, conflicting analyses. It elimination of the tax would benefit high income families, that tax cannot be said to weigh more heavily on low income families. Yet these opinions were delivered by very respectable arganizations and by presumably compe- tent economists. They point out the dif- ficulty, if not the impossibility, of ade- quately analysing economic conse- quences within a given society and they also illustrate the difficulty facing politicians who must make economic decisions. There would be one clear beneficiary and that is the construction industry, which has been lobbying for removal of the tax. As removal of the 12 per cent sales tax did with the clothing industry, removal of the tax on building materials would allow the construction business to offset increased costs, possibly using up all of the 11 per cent with no benefit to the consumer, be he of high or low in- come. Judging unfitness Fitness to drive a motor vehicle is something the individual frequently assumes is his right to determine, judg- ing by the outraged reactions of many when refused a licence by an examiner. But the very fact that there are ex- aminers charged with the responsibility of issuing licences indicates otherwise. In determining fitness an examiner often relies strongly on the recommen- dations of physicians. While the ex- aminer is the one who makes the final decision, it is often the physician who is the object of the venom of the outraged reject. Sometimes physicians are tempted to avoid unpleasantness by mak- ing only cursory examinations or by pleading impreciseness in the definitions of fitness. By way of encouraging its members to discharge its responsibility in protecting society from the dangers of high risk drivers the Canadian Medical Associa- tion has issued a guide tor them in deter- mining fitness to drive a motor vehicle. Most of the things that would disqualify a person from safely operating motor vehicles appear to be readily assessable and leave little room for the exercise of controversial judgment. The major ex- ception is probably in the area of aging and its effect on ability to drive safely. Physicians may have to endure the dis- pleasure of that small group in society who are judged unfit to drive but they will have the gratitude of the majority who know that it is right and proper for fitness requirements to be strictly applied. Unfortunately this gratitude is seldom given utterance but it can be assumed in the public support increasingly being given to imposing stnctet laws regarding the operation of motur vehicles. The most obvious crackdown on unfit drivers relates to those impaired by the of alcohol. There is good reason to believe that this is having beneficial results and that the public approves. Timid physicians should take heart from this and stand firm in their assessments oi other kinds of impairment leading to disqualification from driving. THE CASSEROLE Canada is looking better to people abroad. Immigration during the first quarter of '74 (figures just received) was nearly double the '73 quarter. Portugal showed the biggest jump, to almost 10 per cent of the total. Greece was nearly double (to England and Scotland were up about a third. to Northern Ireland down, to 352. Hong Kong and India doubled, to and respectively. Jamaica was up 150 per cent, to 2.500. the U.S. 50 per cent to What ages? Half between 20 and 34, a quarter 19 and un- der. Where did they go? More than half to On- tario, 15 per cent each to Quebec and B.C., only 2.700 to Alberta. Just over half were male, just over half were getting employment. At what? Only 756 at agriculture. Dr. Peter Banks, president of the Canadian Medical Association told a meiiical conven- tion in Victoria recently that while medical men must have complete freedom in the day- to-day practice of their profession, the ul- timate control of medicine must be in the hands of laymen. A noted economic consultant, addressing a meeting of bankers, investment dealers and others concerned with the money market, ex- pressed the view that the economy is moving towards "a workable level of inflation." His audience did not include any elderly people, living on small, fixed incomes, which may ac- count for his failure to explain exactly how to calculate a "workable level of inflation" for an old-age pensioner. ANDY RUSSELL Wildlife management WATERTON LAKES PARK Contrary to what might be fairly termed popular belief, there is no special magic involved with good wildlife management. It is simply the recognition of the fundamental reouirements of life necessary to various species, each oc- cupying its own space in the interwoven tapestry of the ecology. Man, through his numbers and overbearing tendencies, must come to recognize that he too is a part of nature and must take the required steps to in- sure his own future by knowing it is tied to that of all other associated forms of life. The concern for wildlife, especially rare and endangered species, is probably greater now than at any point in human history. Yet how many of us really understand what causes the decimation of certain species? People tend to blame hunters. While it is true that the passenger pigeon and the heath hen were wiped out by hunters, and the bison and pronghorn antelope nearly followed at a time when game law was practically non-existent, species that are annually harvested by hunters in great numbers are amongst the most common today. Of the present 104 species of rare and endangered wildlife in North America, only a few are hunted. A rare species is one not presently threatened by ex- tinction, but present in such small numbers it could become endangered. The endangered species are those with their prospect of sur- vival and reproduction in real jeopardy. Illegal killing accounts for some and likely the best example is the American alligator being poached for its hide. But only three species are involved in this activity. Pesticides have been the cause of the decline of several species, but again only three rare and endangered species are ac- countable to it. Some species have always been rare because of the specialties of their habits and environmental requirements, but there are only five of these. There are five more species that man deliberately tried to wipe out as pests, because they competed with him. and he very nearly succeeded. Paramount among these is the grizzly bear and the wolf. Past exploitation has put 16 species on the rare and endangered list. These were harvested with no limits whatever by market hunters and include six species of whales. In contrast to this no species has been decimated to dangerous limits by sport hunting under regulated hunting programs. But 72 kinds of rare and endangered wildlife got that way through loss of suitable habitat. The greatest single threat to wildlife is the destruction of habitat through various kinds of incompatable land use. The drainage of natural wetlands and marshes to make room for various developments and agriculture has taken a heavy toll. Some species simply won't tolerate the intrusion of man into their habitat, for they must have seclusion and space. The California condor is one of these. The grizzly bear essentially re- quires wide reaches of wilderness country, for even though the big bear leans over backward to get along with man, man is afraid of him and tends to wipe him out when their trails cross too often. Other species decline when man introduces competition for suitable range and the diseases and parasites that go with such intrusion. Certainly these changes wrought on the face of the land will not kill as quickly as the hunter's gun, but the effects are far more devastating and permanent. For when man deprives wildlife of vital food and living space, he not only destroys that particular generation but also all other generations to come. Benefitting from a crisis By C. L. Sulzberger, New York Times commentator BEHRY'S WORLD Headquarters, Allied forces, SOUTHERN EUROPE Although the Cyprus crisis is still not over, it is likely its negative short- term impact will eventually be exceeded by the long-term benefits produced for the NATO and United States posi- tion in the Mediterranean. If present developments progress as expected, the political defeat suffered by the Soviet Union in Egypt, depriving its air force and fleet of some previous facilities in the East Mediterranean, may well be transcended by the improved strategic outlook for the West coming in the wake of a brief internecine war. Democracy has been restored in Greece after a seven-year itch oi military dictatorship. This would not have come so abruptly had not the departed junta behaved over Cyprus with a stupidity rare even by its own stan- dards. Democracy has likewise been strengthened in Turkey by that country's success in the Cypriote show- down. And whatever comes in Cyprus itself, once true peace is restored there, can only be welcomed by NATO. Naples is a useful vantage point from which to judge this affair since it is here that Af- south (acronym for NATO's most important Mediterra- nean command) is located. Of the five nations whose forces are commanded by Afsouth, two (Greece and Turkey) have just been at war. A third (Britain) is directly involved in Cyprus where it maintains bases; a fourth, the United States, provides the Sixth Fleet on which the Mediterranean relies in case of war; and the fifth, Italy, is wholly exposed during any serious conflict in this famous inland sea. For" an instant it looked as if only Russia could benefit from the Cyprus affair. However, Moscow acted with prudence and propriety and made no moves to upset the uneasy balance when Greece and Turkey, without con- sulting Afsouth, deployed some NATO-committed forces to face each other. The paramount gain for the West has been in Greece. The return of the civilian Caramanlis government, led by a strong man and ex- perienced ministers, is an overwhelming plus. NATO should soon set about restor- ing the Greeks to the status of full political partnership. American military help had been cancelled by a Congress which heartily disliked the junta. It can now be hoped that either the current aid bill can be given a last-minute amendment from the floor or that an amendment may be tacked to some other pending bill to avoid delay in restoring assistance. The Greek forces need beef- ing up. Some of their best of- ficers were eased out by the dictatorship. But it is hoped here that the previous vigor can be restored to NATO's southeastern (Greek-Turkish) sector. Manoeuvres are scheduled to be held early this autumn by Greek, Turkish, and U.S. units; and a decision must soon be taken whether to carry them out. There is hope the answer will be affirmative to reassert allied unity to Moscow. Two other military factors are the necessary return to Turkey of Greek officers and men withdrawn from NATO sub-headquarters and in- stallations there and also reaf- firmation of U.S. support for homeporting of naval units near Athens. This arrange- ment was made against nor- mal navy tradition (which favors rotating ships) when the defence department told its admirals they could no longer maintain more than 12 aircraft carriers for budgetary reasons. As a result it would have been impossible to honor the American commitment to NATO of two carriers available for any war un- less one was homeported, thus keeping it in the area at less cost. The project was carried out, but Congress hitherto ob- jected because it disliked the Athens regime. Now, as a matter of fact, there is hope that relatively soon democratic government can succeed Franco in Spain and possible homeporting accords may be made with that country. As for Cyprus itself, once tranquility is established, the worst that could happen, in NATO terms, is that it would return to its pre-crisis policy of non-alignment. Despite an inexplicable Washington pre- judice against President Makarios, that wily archbishop-politician has quietly winked at anti- submarine air patrols from British bases on the island. He also allowed a couple of hundred U.S. marines to dis- embark and remain there a few weeks when the space they occupied on an American carrier assigned to remove obstacles from the Suez Canal was required for demining equipment and crews. All in all. as seen from Naples, the silver lining that must ul- timately emerge from the Cyprus cloud will prove more significant than the cloud itself. "Isn't there anywhere the natives are NOT restless Complicated consumer credit By Dian Cohen, syndicated commentator MONTREAL Consumer credit outstanding has almost doubled since the present inflationary period began in 1968, going from billion to billion. There are certain- ly indications, if not actual proof, that such free-wheeling credit aggravates inflation by putting more purchasing power into the hands of con- sumers than there are goods and services to buy. Why doesn't the government just slap controls on consumer credit if it really wants to fight inflation? That's a ques- tion which is being asked with increasing frequency. One answer is that Ottawa doesn't know how to do it effectively, short of outlawing credit cards altogether. Another is that the government isn't sure such a move won't precipitate us into recession. Back in the halcyon day before the Korean war, the consumer price index was ris- ing by two or three per cent a year. In 1950-51, it jumped 10.6 per cent. The government jumped too, and slapped on credit controls. Anyone who bought a car or motorcycle had to pay one-third in cash and the balance within 18 months. On other consumer goods, you had to put 20 per cent down and got no more than a year and a half to pay off the debt. Penalties for retailers who didn't go along with this un- popular legislation were fines and jail terms. Within a year, the inflation rate was down to 2Vz per cent, and in another year the cost of living had actually declined. In 1970, probably after reviewing this pleasing history, Finance Minister Edgar Benson announced that the government was going to implement credit restrictions. Two months later he said some problems had cropped up. Credit controls were never implemented. The problems which had arisen, and which have ap- parently still not been solved, centre on the complexity of the consumer credit industry. In 1951, consumer credit was pretty straightforward. Small loan companies gave cash loans, items bought on credit could be put on a 30 or 60 day charge account or financed in convenient monthly instalments. The intervening years have witnessed a phenomenal con- sumer preference for bank loans rather than direct instal- ment financing. Ordinary per- sonal bank loans account for more than half of all con- sumer credit outstanding. If credit unions and caisses pop- ulaires are included, the percentage rises to over 60 per cent. In addition, credit cards, now used to buy every known item or service, came upon the scene only in the 1960s. Ob- viously, the application of a simplistic formula of minimum down payment and specific time repayment won't work. For example say you pre- sent a credit card for cash. With credit controls, would you have to pay one-third in cash for your cash credit? What about simply making consumer credit more expen- sive, thereby discouraging people from using it? The chartered banks' prime lending rate has increased almost 40 per cent since last year. Consumer credit rates have increased only in step with the cost of living about 12 per cent. When credit was curbed in 1951, inflation was stopped dead in its tracks. Unemploy- ment remained less than 3 per cent of the labor force. Such seems not to be the case today. Tightening credit availability has tended, in re- cent years, to aggravate infla- tion rather than alleviate it. It has also brought with it massive and intolerable un- employment. by NEA. Inc "Make it snappy, will ya, buddy! We're tryin' to do your Europe in two-and-a-half New Ethiopian PM By Colin Legum, London Observer commentator LONDON Ethiopia's new prime minister, Lij Michael Imru Haile Selassie, is no relation of the Emperor; nor is he a favorite at the Emperor's court. His choice by the Ethiopian army as the successor to Lij Endelkatchew Makonnen, who was appointed after the successful challenge to the old Imperial establishment last February, marks an impor- tant but not yet decisive change of direction in the con- tinuing Ethiopian crisis. The present crisis began over five months ago when national economic discontent led the army to act in support of demands for radical reforms in the constitution and government of Ethiopia. It is essentially a crisis ovpr power for while the emperor has lost his immense power he still has managed to retain his considerable authority; and while there were challengers for power, there was no single group or leader, either in the army or outside it, capable of replac- ing him. This has left the 25 million Ethiopians shuttling around in a dangerous political vacuum. The contending forces inside the army have so far been un- successful in either unifying their own ranks or in produc- ing an agreed candidate who can be given their wholehearted support. Makonnen was bound to fail because he had neither the power nor the authority to initiate policy on his own. He presided over a divided cabinet, and he could do nothing effective without first getting the approval of either the emperor, or of the divided army. The question now is whether Michael Imru can succeed where Makonnen failed. Although Imru, like Makonnen, comes from the Shoan aristocracy, his family background and personal record are quite different from his predecessor's. His father is the legendary Leul-Ras Imru, a great warrior who played an impor- tant part in helping the emperor to establish his power, and, later, in leading the resistance against the Italian invaders of Ethiopia in the 1930s. But unlike many of the Rases the warrior princes Imru was an enlightened liberal, even a radical. He had become increasingly disenchanted with the emperor's rule over the past 20 years. His most radical action, after returning from his post as Ambassador to Washington in the late 1950s, was to sur- render much of his vast landholdings to his tenants and servants since when he has been known as "the Red Ras." His action greatly strengthened the demand of the radicals who had been campaigning for years for ex- tensive land reforms still one of the crucial demands 01 the army today. In the unsuccessful arnv coup of I960, the leaders nam- ed Ras Imru as their new president. Whether they hac consulted him beforehand stil remains uncertain but the fact of their naming him shows how much value the young revolutionaries who hac led the coup attached to getting his name associatec with their effort to replace the emperor. His son. Michael Imru, now 44 years old. grew up in thif liberal home and became associated in the popular mine with radical interest Although he has held high posts in the government ser vice, he was always reluctan to hold ministerial rank in any of the previous governments preferring to serve in diplomatic posts abroad in Washington, at the Unitec Nations and latterly in Swit- zerland. His sister, however became the first woman minister and is still a junior minister for foreign affairs. Michael Imru agreed to return home last February to become a minister when En- dalkatchew Makonnen formec his new government; but he quickly shifted posts to become a minister in the of- fice of the prime minister engaged chiefly in economic planning. However, he war not happy in this post, and wae clearly not working easily in harness with Makonnen. Nobody has ever doubtec Michael Imru's intelligence or his dedication to the need to liberalize the ancient Ethio- pian empire; the question ir whether he has inheritec enough of the warrior-like qualities of his sire. He has had little opportunity in the past to show his real mettle. Now he has the opportunity to reshuffle his cabinet and to make himself the master ot his government in a way denied to Makonnen; but whether he can outmanoeuvre the clever old emperor who still manages to pull the strings from his palace with much of the old cunning that had made him such a for- midable ruler and whether he can obtain the kind of man- date he needs from the still divided army to introduce reforms still remains to be tested. they're out! The lethbrutge Herald 504 7th St. S. Lethbridge. Alberta LETHBRIDGE O CO. LTD. Proprietors and Publishers Second Class Mail Registration No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS, Editor and Publisher DON M. PILLING Managing Editor DONALD R. DORAM General Manager ROY F. 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