Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 12, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
LETHBRIDQE February The number one problem The energy crisis, environmental concerns, inflation, monetary reforms, food shortages, the moral dilemma of Watergate and lack of leadership in the western world all have made it easy to forget that the world's principal problem, too overwhelming to be called a mere crisis, is an exploding population. It is basic to most of the other problems of the world and will render their solutions meaningless unless it is also solved. And it is sometimes forgotten because it seems insoluble except by catastrophe. Bangladesh, the two-year-old nation that was carved out of East Pakistan, is the epitome of the population explosion problem. A few other countries, Mexico, Ecuador and the Philippines, for instance, may have a higher population growth rate, but the problem is more acute in Bangladesh because it is a small country of only square miles, poor and without resources. Bare statistics tell the story. Ten thousand babies are born each day in Bangladesh. Its present population of 75 million is expected to double in a decade. Although it is only the eighth most populated nation In the world, it has the highest density of population, with more than people per square mile. If the present growth rate continues this will reach by 1980. India, which is usually held up as a horrible example of over-population, now has 426 people per square mile. With its present population growth of three per cent a year, food needs increase each year by tons. There is an annual need for more jobs, more homes and more schools. The present annual per capita income is about The country is embarked on a five-year development plan which aims to reduce growth to 2.8 per cent within five years and has allocated million for family planning. In January of this year, family welfare field workers went into the field to dispense smallpox and cholera vaccinations, to give family- planning advice and to distribute contraceptives. Their number is expected to increase to by the end of the five years. Bangladesh is not facing its problem alone. The World Bank expects to spend between and million building health and birth control centres. The U.S. will probably contribute million, mostly for contraceptives. Canada, Britain and Sweden are also involved in family-planning programs. It should be kept in mind that family planning and the distribution of contraceptives alone will not be enough. Education and an increased standard of living are also necessary to cut down on the birth rate. Many experts make the simple but persuasive analysis that in a society like that of Bangaladesh, where a family produces an average of six children because it knows that half of them will die, upgrading nutrition for the children so that their chances of life are improved will result eventually in cutting down on the number of births and is the simplest approach to the problem. When all this has been said, there remains the as-yet uncalculated effects on Third World countries of the drastic increase in world prices for oil. It is not only possible, but probable, that the million allocated to family planning will have to be spent for that commodity. ART BUCHWALD Listening to Cod At a prayer breakfast here last week President Nixon urged Americans to join in silent prayer to determine God's will for the country. "Too often we are a little too he said. "We try to talk and tell Him what we want. What all of us need to do and what this nation needs to do is to pray hi silence and listen to God to find out what He wants us to do." Well I tried it. The other morning I was standing with my head bowed and God said, "You're awfully quiet this morning, Arthur." "I'm waiting for you to tell me what to do." "That's strange, Arthur. You usually have a long list of things that you ask of me." "President Nixon.said we should stop talking and we should listen to you and find out what you want from us." "I don't want anything from you. I'm doing fine." "I don't mean that, Lord. What should we, as Americans, do that would please "Well, for a start, you could clean up your air and your water." "Oh, we're doing that Didn't you hear President Nixon's State of the Union "I was at a church meeting that night. It still looks pretty bad from up here." "That's because of the energy crisis. You see, we've had to burn a lot of gook to get through the winter, and we've had to lower our environmental standards. But as soon as the crisis is over I'm sure we'll do something about the air and water. What else can we "You seem to be having some problems down there with inflation, Arthur." "I thought so, .too. But President Nixon says everything is just great and we're in terrific shape economically, and people have more buying power than they've ever had before." "Hmmm, it must have escaped me. I've been getting a lot of prayers. from unemployed people lately." "That's just because of the energy crisis. Nobody wants to buy big cars." "Then why don't they build small "God only knows. Is there anything else you'd like to "I wouldn't have mentioned it unless you asked, but Americans seem to be violating the Ten Commandments left and right." "Which one did you have in "The specific one is "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.' "I imagine you're referring to Watergate now." "You have to admit, Arthur, that someone is lying." "It seems that way, God, but then again we don't know all the facts, do "I do." "I forgot that. You probably do. Listen, what are the chances of "Is this a prayer or a "I was just curious. It would be fun to be the first one in the country to know." "I'd rather not comment on impeachment while the matter is now in the courts." "What else do you want for America, "Peace, good health care, protection of the individual and an excess profits tax on the oil industry. I would also like to see toe Arab oil embargo lifted before Americans really start getting mean to each other." "You'll have to speak to Henry Kissinger about that" "I have a call into him now, but he's out of the country." "Is there anything "There is a lot more, but I can't talk to you now. I've got Billy Graham on the other line." BATH WUti A FRIEND "Pucker up, boys, and let's ooze into the lilting 'Lip Service Lullaby'." Eugene Whelan's innovative agriculture reforms By Richard Gwyn, Toronto Star commentator There's all the difference in the between a belly- laugh and one that comes from the throat. The latter is polite, but thin, the former is spontaneous and explosive. Eugene Whelan, the minister of agriculture has a fine belly- laugh. He has also, as befits a farmer, a fine belly that curves outwards in A broad arc, making a continuing miracle of how his trousers stay up. .Amid the pressed suits and tidy minds of Trudeau's .cabinet, Whelan is best described as a "rampager." Among the more quotable of his unquotable comments to me was to describe Beryl Plumptre's Food Prices Review Board as "a god-damn bunch of screwball economists." He uses exactly the same language in cabinet, which is one reason the tussles over food prices between Whelan and Consumer Affairs Minister, Herb Gray, are hardly a contest. Fanning is hardly one of Trudeau's passions, ranking somewhere behind defence and ahead, possibly, of the Emergency Measures Organization. The surprise, therefore, is that the most innovative and far-reaching items in the Throne Speech, due at the end of this month, will deal with agriculture, adding up to a program to guarantee farm incomes come drought, over production, low prices. Whelan achieved this by rampaging. He has lobbied for his idea for a farm income stabilization' program for more than a year. He pushed documents at cabinet last spring and watched them languish. Whelan's chance came last summer when food prices caused a political crisis. He convinced cabinet the answer was not to hold down prices artificially, but to increase food production which meant in turn farm income security. Here Whelan spoke with authority, both as a farmer (220 acres near Amherstberg, Ontario, devoted to tomatoes, sweet corn, soybeans and chickens, "a god-awful noisy bunch of and as a one-time insurance salesman. Provincial agriculture ministers gave approval in principle to Whelan's plans last fall and confirmed it at a second meeting in Ottawa last week. His program goes to cabinet in April and should be out as legislation this summer. The idea has been tried before. Otto Lang brought down a bill to stabilize prairie grain incomes in 1970 and had to withdraw it in the face of farmer opposition. The reason, essentially, was that the farmers weren't interested in stabilizing prices or incomes when they were low. (Lang will bring in a revised bill at the coming Affluence accounts for part of the changed attitude. Net farm income in 1974 will be S4.5 billion, which is half again higher than last year and three tunes the average of the 60s.. Fanners, though, have vivid memories of the collapse of food prices during 1969-71. Inflation is the other factor. "Increases in food prices aren't says Whelan, "increases in production costs are." As farms become more mechanized so do their owners become more vulnerable to income changes because payments on equipment and mortgages must still be made. Whelan intends to guarantee both prices and incomes. Under the 1958 Stabilization Act, farmers are assured at least 80 per cent of the 10-year averaged price on nine designated commodities, such as pork, milk, eggs and poultry. Whelan will add sugar beets, potatoes, soybeans, apples to the list of protected products, increase the guarantee level to probably 90 per cent and shorten the price base period to three to five years, with prices indexed to the cost of living. Beyond this, Whelan plans to "insure and assure" farm incomes. No other country has anything like it and the practical difficulties, such as deciding whether a fanner is full- or part-time, are horrendous. In essence farmers, the provinces and Ottawa would contribute, probably one-third each, to a stabilization fund to be used when tunes are rough. For the scheme to work all farmers would have to join; The difficulty is that some farmers, most notably the free-enterprising cattlemen, want to have as little as possible to do with government. To solve that problem Whelan will apply his scheme, not across the board but progressively, commodity by commodity. Whelan has a raft of other plans: livestock insurance; government backed long- term export contracts; advancecash payments for all storable crops. None of this will mean price cuts to the consumer, though it should mean stabilized prices. To those who complain Whelan says, "I'd like to parachute them onto a farm, in say the Peace River country in winter. Or have them feed the chickens when the damn things are yelling at you." Third possibility in U.K. election predictions By David MacDonald, Herald London commentator LONDON Who will be. the real winners in the election called by Mr. Heath as Britain slides towards economic and industrial chaos? It could hardly be more difficult to predict Certainly the Gallup poll published the day of the election announcement showing a three-per cent lead for Labour should cause the Conservatives little heartache Although last month's two per cent Tory lead has disappeared, opinion polls forecast Labor victory before Mr. Heath's June 1970 election win. Britain's electorate is in a volatile mood and experienced political commentators here say as much as 25 per cent will not decide on bow to vote before the Feb. 28 polling day. There is no certainty that Mr. Heath will be regarded by a majority of voters as a decisive figure striving to save the country from industrial anarchy and Communist conspirators. Letters Swift action Now that the provincial government has seen fit to use some of its huge natural resource revenue to take the educational load off the homeowner, let us challenge our municipal administrators to delete this charge in its entirety from the tax rolls. If swift action is not taken, the municipalities will quickly find some other use for our educational tax dollar, and we the taxpayers win never see the benefit JOHN E. FORTUNE Lethbridge Delightful production In regard to the recent Lethbridge Symphony production of which Pat Orchard was so critical, I would like to say that the 300 who went were delighted with what they beard We did not go to be critical but to enjoy those who worked hard to present the program. I feel Pat Orchard could not have stayed to partake of the informal reception at the conclusion of the program. If she had, she wooid have heard toe same favorable praise that we beard from people all around They too had come for the sneer joy of sharing with those who did their best to bring as their pniKiain. MARY SCHETBNER CoaMaie. He seems to have made tac- tical errors that can be ex- ploited by both the miners and the Labor opposition to tar him with the brush of inflex- ibility and lack of foresight His chancellor of the ex- chequer, Mr. Anthony Barber, has in recent days been almost a liability, with dithering discussions of the economy in the House of Commons. It is a desperate gamble for Edward Heath. He must win convincingly or be is finished politically. It is vitally important to Britain that a strong government of whatever party, be returned to restore domestic and international confidence. What is eminently possible in the existing con- fused situation is the opposite an increase in the number of seats held by the tiny Liberal party giving them the balance of power and the patchwork solution of a national guveimueiit Harold Wilson, who has hardly demonstrated in recent months that be is a dynamic, trustworthy alternative, is un- likely to survive anything other than a Labor victory. In the Labor ranks this would open the door to Mr. James Callaptisi or Mr. Roy Jenkins, wU !r. Jenkins having the edge scauseofhis economically moderate stance. Mr. William Whitelaw, who has privately urged a com- promise settlement with the miners while publicly support- ing Mr. Heath, is widely known to have against the general election at this time. He would have an excellent chance of becoming the next Tory leader. Mr. Heath's fall would be loudly applauded by Mr. Enoch Powell, who last week termed a snap election "immoral" and this week called the cabinet "totally imbecUic." Mr. Powell is a major figure among the one- third of Tory MPs who were opposed to calling this election. Mr. Whitelaw could well lead a national unity government containing Mr. Jenkins and senior Liberals. His achievements in Ulster and his general stance in the miners' dispute have made Mr. Whitelaw possibly the most credible politician in Britain. The Labor party will fight the election on the issue: Does Britain no back to work with Labor or continue industrial chaos under the Tories that could make Britain the poor man of Europe by the end of the decade? Mr. Heath is asking for the return of a strong Conservative government with a mandate to take tough 'decisions. He also wants an answer to whether the country will be governed by the people, through their parlia- ment, or by radical trade union leaders like Communist Michael McGahey of the miners' executive. The prime minister has fought bravely to preserve his antitinflation phase three policy, with its built-in special case for the miners. But his government has permitted property speculators and major industrial firms to make large profits. And some company chairmen have damaged him by taking steep salary increases, including one of fifteen thousand pounds sterling or 172 per cent last month. In three-day Britain, smarting under emergency regulations, no politician really knows what the British electorate is going to decide on Feb. 28. But it may turn oat to be neither Mr. Heath nor Mr. Wilson. The Lethbridge Herald 504 St. S. Ufflibrtogt. Albertt LETHBWDGE HERALD CO. LTD. Proprietors and Second Clan Man Regwratton No. 0092 CtEQ MOWERS, Editor and PuWMher OONH. PtLUNQ Managing Editor ROT F. MILES Manager DOUGLAS K. WALKER Page Editor DONALD R. OORAM General Manager ROBERT M. fEMTON OirotfiaBon Manager KEMNETH E. 8ARWETT BttWnecs Manager THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"