Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 18, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4-THE LtTHtmOOe HERALD Monday, February II, 1W4 Cause for rejoicing Getting good advice from the experts By Bruce Hutchison, Herald special commentator Among all the gloom pervading world affairs today there is at least one place where the sun has broken through: Sudan. Almost two years ago the news was broken that secret negotiations showed promise of ending the harrowing 17-year civil war between the Nilotec southerners and the mainly Muslem northerners. Subsequently agreement was reached and the healing of the divided nation has been taking place. In a little over a year, displaced persons have emerged from the bush or returned from exile to start a new life. The United Nations high commissioner for refugees, Prince Sadruddin Khan, calls it a milestone in the history of refugee problems. One of the really encouraging features of the rehabilitation program in southern Sudan is that the people have not only been provided with food and medical care but have been set on the way to becoming self-sufficient. Every farmer has been given seeds and basic tools and there is hope that after this season's crop they will be able to look after themselves. The most remarkable thing about Sudan is that the agreement reached a few months ago has been so sensitively followed that a genuine reconciliation appears to have been effected. This is an almost unbelievable achievement in view of the long period of fighting in which hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives. Much of the credit goes to President Jaafar Nimeiry who has been able to project himself as a champion of the southerners without overlooking the northerners. This is an uncertain world and something could upset the smooth progress of restoring a nation, but at present Sudan presents an encouraging picture in welcome contrast to so much else that is happening today. As a trained economist himself, my neighbor Horace Snifkin, read all the official economic forecasts recently issued by the governments of the world, but the more he read the less they seemed to mean. Dissatisfied with second-hand information, he went straight to the source and, in Ottawa, first called on Dr. Egbert Woodwind, PhD., the backroom genius of the Economic Council. "It's all perfectly said Dr. Woodwind. "It only looks complicated in the silly newspapers. Leave aside the details, get down to the basics in plain English that anybody, even you, can understand. Then what do we find? a word, the economy this year has minimal flexibility, with marginal inputs, variable outputs, a good deal of arbitrage, plus some fiscal drag, inadequate infra-structure, excessive prime rates, but as against that compensatory liquidity and negative, or perhaps positive, cyclical credit ratios, exponential acceleration and functional volatility in the GNP deflator, indexed pensionwise, budgetwise and otherwise. I can't put it more clearly than that." Even this simple answer did not satisfy Mr. Snifkin and he called on Mr. X, the towering brain of the finance department, whose name is never mentioned. "There's no economic danger, said Mr. X. "It's all political. The government foresaw the present situation long ago and prepared for it. Nothing surprised us. All our plans were laid down in advance. Mr. X admitted, "we failed somehow to get the facts over to the voters. They didn't seem to know that we knew what we were doing at every point, and even John hasn't been able to explain why we've been right from the start. So the only risk is that the country may be psyched into a recession, or even an election. And nobody wants that, except the public and Bob Stanfield and he, poor guy, is psyched already." From Ottawa Mr. Snifkin flew to Wall Street where he talked with his old friends in the famous brokerage house of Mummery, Cozen and Snark. Ulysses S. Mummery, the senior partner, was completely candid. he said, "the economy slows down far enough we're going to have a recession. If it The Molotov cocktail quip Recent polls showing the Heath government with a considerable lead in the upcoming British elections will be welcome' news to hard-headed parly strategists. This is the first election following the most extensive redistricting since 1950 and at that time 70 MPs lost their seats because of redistribution of constituencies. Five seats have now been added, so that Parliament will reassemble with 635 members. Major changes were made in 311 districts and 15 Labor members, according to experts, have definitely lost their seats. The Conservatives originally thought they stood to gain 15, but then decided this was too rosy an estimate. Their optimism will rebound with the new public opinion polls. About 40 million British citizens are eligible to vote and a further complication to the election is the fact that the annual new register of voters is being published in mid-February and gives campaigners less than two weeks to canvass for votes. While the odds favor the Conservatives in the Feb. 28 election, it is timely to recall a remark Molotov was supposed to have made to Ernest Bevin. "The disadvantage of free ejections is that you can never be sure who is going to win." Lights needed Two exits from Scenic Drive are not adequately illuminated and could result in accidents. They are at 16th Avenue and at 24th Street. The one at 16th Avenue probably doesn't cause drivers as much trouble as the one at 24th Street which is difficult to discern even by people who use it regularly, "i t. Most exits have lights that appear to be specially installed to help the motorist. The two exceptions have only the regular street lighting which is not sufficient. The fact that these exits have been tolerated for years .without better lighting is no reason for allowing the condition to exist longer. Even reflectors marking the curbtwould be appreciated by the Tegular users and would be a boon to those unfamiliar with the city. RUSSELL BAKER Unmitigated Gaul WASHINGTON It is difficult to imagine any harder work these days than being a Frenchman. French friends insist, however, that nothing is easier. All you have to do is be right when everyone else is wrong. It is a labor, they tell me, that buoys the spirit and leaves'the self-esteem refreshed. My problem is that I am usually wrong when everyone else is right my friend Pierre explained the other night "Being an American, you can hardly help being wrong on every occasion of the slightest significance." Pierre was here last week with the French .delegation to the international oil conference. .1 knew Pierre from the old days when he used to explain that I always ordered the wrong food and wore the wrong necktie, but he disagreed completely. ___ "In that I asked, "would you be good enough to remind me of your correct name? "No." he said. That left no alternative but to go calling him Pierre and sounding like a fool. That was inevitable, Pierre said, since he had never known me to sound like anything else. He could suffer it he said, as long as I didn't do it in French, for. he explained, my French accent was "a monstrous insult to the tongue of civilization." I offered apologies for the accent but Pierre refused to accept them and explained that ray haircut was atrocious. Pierre's delegation had come from Paris to disagree with American proposals for dealing with the oil crisis. Afterwards, he said, they were going to Tokyo to disagree with some blueprints for a new skyscraper in the Ginza and from there to Agra to disagree with the angle of the moonrise behind the Taj Mahal. It sounded like bard work, but Pierre said, "nonsense." It was a pleasure for a Frenchman to know that be was fulfilling France's duty to humanity. He spoke of Joan of Arc, of Louis XIV, of Napoleon and De Gaulle. I said I had always admired Talleyrand, too. Pierre explained that this illustrated the sophomoric quality of my mind. The sensible course seemed to be attentive silence, which I maintained while Pierre explained that Britain was washed up as a result of not following France's leadership, that Chicago had been disastrously located in the wrong place because of the stupidity of its founders, and that my shoes were in unutterably bad taste. I smiled to show that I was learning, but kept quiet. "Can't you sustain even a minimum of witty and civilized asked Pierre. He seemed to be ready to hear more talk, no doubt because he needed some fresh material to disagree with. "That Paris is a helluva I said. He smiled. "That Madame de Sevigne was a helluva letter writer." His smile thinned. "That Louvre is a helluva picture gallery." His smile vanished. He became solemn. Something had touched him deeply and the old warmth of friendship softened his voice. "My dear naive old AnghhSaxon he "when will yon ever learn to model your behavior on the principles of Gallic civilization? That is no way to speak of another's country." He was not offended because things French bad been praised in coarse terms, he said, but because they had been praised at all by one who was not French. If a Frenchman had the despicable luck to be bora American, or Russian or anything else, he would never never! permit himself to speak well of France or any other nation except the one in which be had had the despicable luck to nave been born, Pierre said. Such behavior was worse than childish. It was sn-French. "Would it be more civilized if I said that Paris is a I asked. "Not more he explained. "But a little less barbaric." We embraced in a moment of understanding. "You're okay, I said. He disagreed, and explained that my eyes were the wrong color. 4 convert? By DOUR Walker Selfish patipaaliflte interests silly _ v i By James RestoKNew York Times commentator" WASHINGTON At critical points in American history, beginning of course with Lafayette, some Frenchman De Toqueville, Pierre L'enfant, Paul Valery, Jean Monnet or some other .prophetic genius always seems to turn up in Washington to guide us through our troubles, and the latest of these is Michel Job- ert, the lean, ironic and highly intelligent envoy of the Pompidou palace and government. The Nixon administration was in trouble here with Europe, Japan and almost everybody else until Jobert came to the rescue. It was running out of supporters at home and abroad and it was running out of gas. Even its famous detente with the Soviet Union seemed a little shaky after Alexander Solzhenitsyn was drummed out of his homeland for telling the truth. What Jobert did, speaking for President Pompidou at the Washington energy crisis, was to dramatize the dangers of nationalism in dealing with the world problems of defence, money, trade and energy, widen, the gap between France and other European Common Market countries, and bring Washington and the western European capitals, except Paris, closer together. It was quite an achievement. He made Nixon look good. Washington itself was in a distracted and vaguely isolationist mood until Jobert arrived here with his Gaullist orders from Pompidou. President Nixon himself had been talking publicly about solving the energy crisis by mounting a nationalistic policy "operation independence" that would save America and let everybody else fish for themselves. Also, to put it bluntly, the Congress of the United States was in a bloody and ugly mood, rejecting aid to the poor nations of the world, dismayed by the political problems of Heath in Britain, Brandt in West Germany, and Brezhnev in the Soviet Union and wondering if it shouldn't concentrate on clearing up its own problems and scandals at home rather than fussing with other folks' problems abroad. Enter now Michel Jobert at the Washington energy conference. It was poorly prepared, he said. Too sudden'. And he was right on both points. But then he went on: the big industrial countries should not get together to solve their common problems, even though the oil producing countries had got together and hiked the prices of fuel four- fold, because this would produce a confrontation between the producers and the consumers. France would have none of it, said Jobert Paris would go it alone. And besides, the United States was not thinking about a world energy policy but merely using the energy crisis to regain its dominance over the other industrial countries. This was old-fashioned Gaullist doctrine, but it was not only inaccurate but almost comical. -The Nixon administration cannot even dominate itself or control the Washington Congress, let alone dominate Europe now the major trading bloc in the world or Japan, which is outselling 'most American producers even in the American market Seldom has the stupidity of outdated intellectual concepts been more apparent. The interesting thing about this energy conference was not that the Nixon administration was strong, but that it was weak, (and therefore had to be sensible and even generous) not that it was trying to dominate its old allies, but that it was reaching out to them for help, asking for sort of a reverse lend-lease for an America in trouble. This was what Henry Kissinger was trying to say to Europe last April in his Waldorf-Astoria speech, when he was almost imploring Europe to work with the United States for a new world order. This was also what he was saying at the beginning of the energy conference here when he offered to put the Instead of waiting around outside the church on a recent Sunday I was Inside where I could keep an eye on Etepeth and maybe prod her along a bit The crowd had thinned to a handful when I noticed Beth Sproul comein from outside looking farStan who was talking to somebody in the "Do yon see that'" Beth asked me. "Why don't you write about that instead of always taking after the women for their talking'" I admitted that it appeared as though I should revise a filler I already had in print waiting for a hole in the page. But subsequently it occurred to me that probably Stan had finally resigned himself to joining Beta in the post-service activity favored by our wives. natural resources and the advanced technology of the United States at the disposal of both the oil-producing and oil consuming states to solve the energy problem by conserving and sharing energy and working together on atomic, solar and thermal energy for the future. But Nixon and Kissinger were not able to persuade the Europeans with their rhetoric about partnership and interdependence to create a new order of money, trade and energy in the world. It took the French to make the point clear, and the precision and determination of Jobert to drive it home. He argued that the main problem was not a shortage of fossil fuel energy but a surplus of American political energy, and that France would have none of this wicked scheme of American domination, but would solve her energy problems on her own. The American politicians and newspapers have criticized Jobert for this, and they have been very unfair. He didn't wreck this ill- prepared conference but saved it The amiable debates between him and Kissinger were not destructive but constructive. They surfaced the conflict that has been there all along between the United States and the Common Market countries, and in the end, all of them except France decided to try to find common solutions to what is obviously a common world problem. So two cheers for Jobert Instead of blaming him, we should be sending him a valentine. Without his eloquent defence of selfish nationalistic interests, we might never have understood how silly they were goes up, we won't. And I tell you in confidence, without any reservation whatever, that if the economy goes up so will the stock market but if the economy slumps then stocks will fall. You can count on that. "Between ourselves, I'm advising our clients to buy stocks right now, or sell them. Anyone who has the courage to follow this advice will make big money, or lose it. So on the whole I'm bullish, or bearish, as the case may be. And by the way, could you possibly lend a hundred bucks, or even fifty? Well, for old time's sake you might at least take me to lunch." Mr. Snifkin bought Mr. Mummery a modest lunch and flew to Washington. There he found another old friend, Rufus Biffle, chief adviser to the president's Council of Economic Advisers, in a state of high dudgeon. "This talk of a said Mr. Biffle, "it's .outrageous. Why, it's subversive, almost treason. The president has said, in a solemn message to Congress, mind you, that there will be no recession. Those are bis exact words no recession. "As a Mr. Biffle added, "you may not understand our system of government but when the president makes an order, with all the power of the constitution behind him, that's it. Executive privilege we call it And anyone who violates the order is breaking the law and should be locked in jail, or at least in the Watergate Hotel. "Oh, sure, our forecasts last year were a little out of line, about a hundred per cent, but that was due to a purely technical error. Some stupid clerk pushed the wrong button on the computer, or some careless stenographer blurred the tapes, but we've made the necessary repairs and the figures this time are absolutely reliable. Recession just can't happen. The president has said so. Even then Mr. Snifkin was not fully satisfied. He flew to London and the secret'off ice of his wartime comrade, Adrian Toodle, probably the most influential fiiiahcier in London who, at the moment, was wearing wool mittens, three sweaters and a fur parka. As always, Mr. Toodle appeared full of high spirits from a bottle on his desk, and with all his well-known expertise, spoke in the down- to-earth, layman's language of the City. "A spot of trouble, old boy" he said. "Sticky wicket, eh? Nothing more. Muddle through and all that. On the other hand, I mean to say, what? Of course. "Take Mr. Toodle went on. "Knows nothing of finance, Ignorant, but quite a clever chap, actually. Makes a very decent speech. Austerity, blood, sweat and tears, you know. Good for morale. Bucks up the troops no end. Backs to the wall. Lose the battle, win the war, and so forth. And the labor unions. Good chaps, too, play their little games but sound in the crunch. You understand, old boy. However." Asked for advice on Mr. Snifkin's personal investments, Mr. Toodle gave it freely. "If I were he said, "I'd hedge against inflation, depression, revolution and all that sort of rot Buy claret old boy. buy claret Jolly fine this year. Not Burgundy or port Poor stuff. Frankly, I've taken all my friends out of government bonds and gilt- edge stocks. Too risky. Put into claret Only safe hedge these days. Don't listen to the economists, always dotty. Buy claret oW boy, and you can retire on it" So Mr. Snifkin has come home to retire, his mind wonderfully clarified at last has basement Ml of the best claret. But somehow the supply keeps shrinking, like his bonds, bank account and life insurance. Maybe he has too many friends. S LHTMBWOGE HERALD CO LTD Prapftetors Second Mifl RegttrMfcm Wo O012 CtEO MOWERS. feWWf OOHW.O R ROVF MfljES ROBERT M FGNTON DOUGLAS X WAUCER HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"