Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 20, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
Thuridiy, Ftbruiry 20, LETHBRIDQE HERALD-5 Manitoba tackles absentee landlords By Fred Clevcrley, Herald special commentator WINNIPEG-A report on absentee land ownership in contained in a white paper prepared by the provincial government, could easily be interpreted as tick- ing off that government's own department of agriculture for its program of buying up marginal farm land and renting it back to suitable tenants. Last year the province ac- quired acres of Manitoba farm land which it has rented back to the original or new owners. However, the government's new white paper criticizes any absentee landlord arrangement, saying that farmers who have "sub- stantial investments in machinery, buildings and perhaps livestock have a very weak bargaining position vis a vis landlords. "In the report contin- ues, "if the farmer is totally dependent on'the use of the land, he is in no position to bargain at all. Economic life in the rural community stands to suffer from the rental arrangement (since) the money that the farmer must pay in rent he cannot spend in the region." The statements would appear to apply whether the landlord in question was domiciled in West Germany, was an urban or part of the provincial government's administration. The new white paper makes an attempt to distinguish be- tween private absentee own- ership and ownership by the state, but the differences are quickly lost in the arguments against any form of absentee ownership. The paper is interesting in that the research behind it es- tablished that little Manitoba farm land is actually owned by people other than those liv- ing on it, and that a recent public scare over the prospect of much land being bought, by wealthy West Germans, holds no water at all. There are West German holdings in Manitoba, but they seem to be concentrated in the prospective growth areas sur- rounding urban centres, and their purchase seems to be aimed at gaining from inflated prices as these centres grow, rather than the gradual acquisition of much of Manitoba's arable farm land. The research shows that ab- sentee ownership is concen- trated not so much in foreigners but in the hands of Manitoba's own city dwellers, who are also buying farm land in the hope of making speculative gains. The paper itself raises no concern about foreign ownership, dismissing the ac- Berry's World tual owners of non occupied land as irrelevant. "As far as the lessees of the land and the effects on the rural community are concerned, it makes no difference whether payment for land rental must be sent to Winnipeg, or Saskatoon, or Toronto or Minneapolis or to Hamburg, West Germany." It continues: "In economic terms, there is no difference between foreign ownership and ownership of farm land by non farming persons or cora- panies with Canadian citizenship except for the effects foreign ownership may have on Canada's balance of payments. There are, of course some non-economic reasons for being opposed to foreign ownership. While feelings of patriotism or whatever are as valid a reason as any for opposing foreign ownership, they are of little relevance in the search for a land policy that will further the objectives of max- imizing the well being of all Manitobans." There are some vague warnings in the paper about the trend toward more foreign farm land ownership in Manitoba during the next 97 years. The paper says something should be done, but does not say what that "something" should be. It is obvious that the govern- ment planners who wrote the document are not the ones who drew up the policy of the Manitoba Agricultural Credit Corporation, which last year stopped any loans for the purchase of land (the Cor- poration decided this was a field for the federal and allocated funds instead for the purchase of land in the name of the crown, for leaseback purposes to those farmers who needed cash to pay off debts, to enlarge their operations or to diversify their farms. However, the restrictions placed on the eligibility of farmers to participate in the scheme brought quick criticism from private lenders and from the federal farm credit organization itself. To qualify for the Manitoba plan, a farmer had to have an income of less than a year (an amount de- scribed by one private lender as sufficient to establish the fact that the man should not be farming in the'first place) and had to also agree to what the government described as "intense management" supervision. The intense management aspect was interpreted by those opposed to the program (including the official opposi- tion in the Manitoba legislature) as another part of the government's scheme to control agriculture by controlling the land. The opponents said, and the government quickly denied, that those who owned the land could call the shots on produc- tion simply by manipulating the rent. The government countered by saying it was prepared to sell the land back to the lessee after'five years, but soft- Book review Investigating a murder "Sometimes I teel like pulling a Giscard and "The Mullindore Murder Case" by Jonathan Kwitny (Doubleday Canada Ltd., E. C. Mullindore III was a young Oklahoma cattle baron who, by shoddy management, let his family ranch slip hopelessly into debt. He died one night after a .38 calibre bullet crashed into his forehead. Those are about the only non -debatable statements a reader can make after follow- wiih Citation cabinets. 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Contractors Cardtton, Alberta Phone 653-3778 or 653-3295 ing investigative reporter Jonathan Kwitny through his book. Just whether E. C. Mullin- dore III was murdered or not remains to be proven. A group of insurance companies spent a small fortune trying to prove suicide and thus avoid paying the life insurance claim. Of course, a small for- tune is worth the price to gamble in court when faced with, according to reporter Kwitny, the single biggest life insurance claim ever in the United States, more than million. The author, who first covered the insurance trial and the murder investigation for the Wall Street Journal, has fit together a complicated and plodding plot telling the downfall of the rancher's financial and personal affairs. We are given a generous portion of Oklahoma history as well as a glimpse into big league financial fraud where the players included organiz- ed crime money men the biggest big leaguers of all. Mr. Mullindore was out of his class here as was another Oklahoman, former.New York Yankee baseball star Mickey Mantle. The former baseballer faired much better than Mullindore. Mantle got out of the quagmire while the getting was good. This true story has family strife between in laws and even a hint of a star crossed love affair between the heroine and her husband's supppsedly devoted man ser- vant. What mystery fiction plot could offer more? The book would be especial- ly good reading for Southern Albertans who have some appreciation of our own dis- trict 'cattle empires and the men who built and run them. What follows here might not be cricket but then again Investigative reporter Kwitny begins Chapter 30 with "On June 13, 1971, Toronto, Canada was just thawing from the previous winter's snow." The author explains it was the spring thaw, in mid-June, that allowed the body of a shady con man, mixed up in the Mullindore web, to be found partially buried 30 miles north of Toronto. That's a bit late for a spring thaw, even up here in the wild tundra one abruptly meets when travelling north across the 49th. Weather records for the three weeks preceding June 13, 1971 show temperatures in Toronto averaging highs in the 70s dur- ing the day. June 12 and H were both in the middle 70s. A pity the reporter and the Canadian publisher should blunder on such a simple matter. It was nearly enough for rne to question the more intricate details of the research. Nearly, I say. TERRY MCDONALD pedalled the regulation which put a close to prohibitive price on any buy back. The opposition will likely make much hay of the fact that the government's own white paper on land ownership, and domestic, in effect supports their position on the Agricul- tural Credit Corporation's purchase and lease program. Tied as it is to intense man- agement, the control' of the individual farmer over his production has been largely lost, and the lease rates have been tied to the government's long term borrowing rates, and so are feeling the full effect of inflation. But the official opposition, the Conservative party of Manitoba, must be secretly happy that the land ownership paper isn't nearly as bad as they had expected. They had dreaded the publication of the document, fearing it would contain the most radical thoughts of the province's socialistic deputy minister of agriculture, W. P. (nicknam- ed Red Willy) Janssen. But the Conservatives are convinced that the first draft of the paper was just that. In spite of government denials, the Conservatives say the original draft was so radical, so socialistic in the matter of land ownership that it was completely rewritten on cabinet instructions. Despite the rewrite, if one occurred, the paper is sure to be the .target of many attacks during the coming session of the Manitoba legislature. Educational jargonese By Louis Burke, editor of Canadian Short Story Magazine What is jargonese? Any good dictionary, states the word itself originates in old French and that it means a warbling or a chattering magpie talk in other words. Then, it usual- ly goes on to define the word "jargon" as "confused unintelligible and so on. So jargonese occurs when a whole heap of these words are put together by so-called experts to confuse the public. Every subject and line of work has its own forms of jargonese today, of course. But education appears to have far more than its share. Educational terms multiply like snowflakes in a blizzard: they ?row thicker and thicker as the decades roll on. Ad- ministrators delight in their manufacture because they are the tinsel to dazzle the people. One such snowflake of jargonese is the term "non-achiever." There is nothing more absurd in education than this expression. It is merely "newspeak" for the old and often cruel term "failure" which modern psy- chology in education wants to phase out. The real question is concerned with where the "non-achievement" lies with the student, the parent, the teacher, or the administrator? It rests squarely, of course, with the school trustee, that political entity which has failed to provide adequate funds and facilities to enable all students to achieve reasonably well. Continuous progress and objective based education are other words of a jargonese nature: chiller chatter expressions quite meaningless, but terribly erroneous in educational philosophy and psychology. They erode the concept that students must pass certain stages before going on to the next one. For some, continuous progress means endless failure and if objective based educa- tion does not include the idea of it too adds up to disaster lor many students. Such terminology is the result of flab and fat thought intended to confuse parents, and create work to justify high salaries. The latest piece of educational jargonese is "executive assistant to the superintendent." What in heaven's name is this? At last, education has gone the big business road. An executive assistant to the superintendent could be nothing more than a very expensive paper pusher. Tragically, however, it is much more than that. It is an outrageous classroom "rip-off." Three or four teachers might be employed for the price of this nonsense. Some classrooms are heavily overcrowded: students are deprived of adequate facilities: education suffers: parents are thereby getting less for their children: the public is being cheated for its money. Every addition to the upper level means less and less for the classroom level where the real education takes place. There is no end to the roguery used in the name of better education. All of it is covered up in educational jargonese; a magpie language intended to blanket a classroom "rip-off" in funds, facilities and teacher per- sonnel. The public does not have to take this nonsense forever. Even a-superintendent can make mistakes, and does make them often. The face in the mirror From The New York Times Throughout most of history, men have acted as if life were cheap. In the ancient era, there were brief, sunlit interludes in Athens and in Rome when life was highly valued but even then only in the governing classes. In most Western history, men have routinely squandered lives their own and those of others in the waste of war, they have fatalistically accepted high death rates from disease and accident, and have casually engaged in cruel and life endangering customs. If this was true in the West, the rhythm of history in the Orient is yet more rigorous and relentless. One has only to think of the un- known men who perished toiling to build the pyramids, of the millions who have died young in India's famines, of other millions swept away by the repeated flooding of China's great rivers. Paradoxically, when life was most perilous, it was least valued. Only since the Renaissance and with gathering speed in the last two centuries as medical science and im- proved sanitation have lengthened the span of life have human values changed. Rather than regarding recurrent wars as normal, statesmen have introduced the concept of permanent peace into their calculations and their rhetoric. Capital punishment has come to seem a moral anachronism. Protest movements have developed against diverse kinds of inhumanity such as cruelty to the retarded and the insane, to children and to animals. But while modern consciousness has striven to nurture and enhance life, science and technology have increased man's capaci- ty for destruction. While life-saving an- tibiotics were being discovered in one country, millions of people in another country were being murdered in racial death camps. A war fought by the democracies to combat totalitarian violence ended in the man made firestorms of Dresden and Tokyo and the nuclear ruin of Hiroshima. Civilization depends upon man mastering the duality of his nature. If the capacity to create and affirm life is to prevail steadily over the rival capacity to choose death and to destroy, then the supreme ideal must be that each life is precious. It is possible to disagree as to whether life begins at the moment of conception Pr the moment of birth, but there is no disagreement about what is required to sustain and improve life from birth onward. In brief, it is what Norbert Wiener once described as "the human use of human beings." Every civilized person has due regard for the needs of society and the claims of posterity. But no countenance should be given to procrustean doctrines that would sacrifice the health and happiness of this generation in order to achieve a putative Utopia for the next generation. We cannot build the future by murdering the present. The humane ideal may seem elementary, even banal. Yet much of the misery in the world today exists because governments and persons of power still put abstractions ahead of the self evident good of particular in- dividuals. The Ford administration seeks the ideal of "cutting the cost of government" by raising the marginal cost of food stamps to impoverished families. Rival factions in Cambodia strive for power and lob shells at grandmothers and small children cowering in trenches in their deadly determination to ob- tain it. Businessmen and officials in India, Bangladesh and elsewhere allow other human beings to starve to death because they refuse to reorganize ,the profitable grain trade. In place of fantasies and abstractions, one has to see people. Instead of national security, there has to be envisaged a widow's grief and a dying soldier's knifing pain. Instead of money's silence, there has to be heard the whimper of a hungry child. Instead of "the revolution" or "the there has to be imagined a tired man's aching weariness. In place of dehumanizing categories "Asian "welfare "the "the "the enemy" there has to be a look at the human being. There are no abstract humans. There are no cheap minds or cheap bodies. There are persons. Every one of them holds his or her own life dear. Every one of them looks rather like the face each of us sees in the mirror. Berry-picking fever By Helen Schuler LETHBRIDGE The day dawned bright and clear, promising to be hot later on. On that day we developed a malady called "berry picking an insane desire to go out and pick anything edible we could find. My neighbor, like me, has nostalgic rural roots, and is usually game for any scatter- brained escapade I cook up. So we collected our little buckets and off we went to find a berry patch. Finding a patch is quite an art. Posted land is out, of course, and ethics for- bids going to a spot habitually used by someone else. That's too much like pre- empting someone's favorite fishing hole. So it was considerable time before we found a spot. The pickings were slim this year the saskatoons were pretty well dried up on the hillsides, and the black currants either hadn't set or had already been picked clean. However we finally found a spot in the rough river breaks where there were a few. A crashing in the bottom of the coulee told us we had company a big mule deer flashed put into the open, and stopped to see who had invaded his privacy. Since we were downwind, he didn't seem unduly alarmed. He made a few bounds in his rubber-ball way, then stopped to look as over again. We made no move, and seemingly satisfied that we meant him no harm, he moved leisurely over into the next coulee. As our picking brought m closer to the river, a family of Canada geese, resting on sandbar, watched us warily, and when we drew uncomfortably near, slipped into the water, and floated off downstream. The "Peet! Peet! of a spotted sandpiper warned us she had her family on the sandbar too. A golden marmot whistled his challenge from a rocky ledge. Like ill the wildlife, he resented the human intrusion. Eventually we each settled to a patch. I had managed to find a nice one right in the middle of a thriving patch of poison ivy. Maybe this was why it had been ignored by other pickers. The bushes were alive with ants, tending their aphid dairy farms, and they too resented my intrusion, showing their dis- pleasure by crawling on my arms, around my heck, and under my belt, chewing enthusiastically wherever they could catch hold. I suppose many would think us daft, to en- dure heat, insects, and poison ivy, just for a few berries, when a simple trip to a nice air conditioned, bug free store would net us all the fruit we could possibly need. I suppose we are. But there is something very satisfying about finding and harvesting the bounty which the natural world provides. And there is the added pleasure of being out in the real world, and of participating in the natural seasonal rhythms of growth and harvest. The talkers By Doug Walker Judi has a class of Grade 8 girls in the Sun- day School at McKillop United Church. We get the impression that they are a rather talkative bunch so I wasn't surprised by what happened when I substituted for Judi one Sun- day. Arriving with my briefcase full of books, I casually said to the girls, "I've brought a supply of manacles, whips, thumbscrews and other implements of torture to keep you in line." "And gags, too, said one of the girls to knowing looks from the rest of them.