Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 27, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
Tuesday, February 27, 1973 - THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD - 5 The great need for thrifty Canadians By Bruce Whitestone, syndicated commentator Governments have asked us to save our money. So have the banks. The former suggest purchases of savings bonds; the banks attempt to lure savings for eventual purchases of all sorts, appliances, summer cat-tages and the like. But there is a certain irony about it all, It would be difficult to lay hands on a specific text, but all can distinctly recall that Keynes and his followers spoke with scorn of the lessons of thrift which had been inculcated in an earlier era. In the United States there were many lamentable pronouncements of those in authority who suggested that the economy's troubles were caused by insufficient spending. Here too, the care-free spending by governments has become a counsel of despair to the saving segment of society. And, in the same context of perverted economics, many now talk about penalizing savings and threaten all kinds of inelegant retaliation. For example, the current inflationary policies place a premium on spending by diminishing the rewards for saving and investment. By definition, savings, and investment for that matter, can only be obtained from what remains after consumption. One just has to consume less than he earns. Capital investment, the main determinant of growth, can only be financed by saving. It has taken a few years for tax-happy politicians to realize - when it is almost too late to do anything about it- that their best ally against inflation is the saver and thrifty. The savage greed of the predatory sections of our community has almost convinced the better elements of the population that the only way to have your pint of milk is to.drink it. Keep it, and somebody will be sure to pour it down the sink. That situation is the result of nothing else than the bottomless demands of those able to exert pressure on the community for more and more and more. Inexorable economic laws immediately adjust the value of the money earned to the work given to earn it. Incessant uneconomic wage claims do not help the claimants; they are no better off and seem unable to learn the lesson. Those who tried to save and put a little aside are left to weep. However, most of the community is past weeping, though it is sick and tired of standing at the end of the chain, and absorbing the ultimate shock as the increases wrung from society by shouting, threats and militancy are passed on and on to us. It has always been difficult to save. The pathetic saver seems to be the type that attracts envious grasping hands merely by his example of self - denial. Throughout history those who have tried to set a good example have been vilified. In case any have been able to save, modern economics ensure that inflation will gradually erode the value of the money put aside. The paradox of it all is that governments, in their attempts to make up for the decline in savings, institute programs to provide the equivalent security. Old age pensions, medicare and unemployment insurance are really government grants which take the place of saving. Most 0-* these programs are so inefficiently run that they waste untold billions of dollars and further add to the inflation psychology. All of this tightens the savings tap and interferes with the flow of funds which would be used eventually for long-term investment and growth. At some point it must be realized that, like a dog chasing his tail, the more we attempt to make up for the loss of savings incentives, the greater will be the need for government spending, which in turn, destroys the willingness of most people to save. Some timid steps must be taken to counter the _anti-sav-ings bias of governments. In times of relatively full employment, there should be incentives provided to grant wage increases, if the increase were set aside or "saved" and not to be forthwith squandered. Too, capital spending should be restrained during boom periods by tax free contributions to a reserve fund. Withdrawal would be possible without incur, ring any taxes in slack periods. Sweden has utilized this latter method with some degree of success. Those who save an above-average percentage of their income should a'so be granted special tax benefits, with a ceiling on the assistance so that the wealthy do not gain a disproportionate advantage. All of these types of changes could be financed by emphasizing consumption taxes. Basic necessities of life such as food and non-luxury clothing should be exempt, but there should be some progression in rates of luxury items, depending on their degree of necessity. Long ago, someone should have done something about pro- Wool\voi*tl\ MONTH END ClfARANH SHOP EARLY FOR BEST SELECTION Women's & Teen Wear QUANTITIES AND SIZES ARE LIMITED Men's & Boys' Wear Men's Short Sleeved Shirts 1.97 Men's Polyester Slacks 8.88 Nylon Hose 4 ,,. 1.00 Boys' Jeans Boys' Ski Jackets Men's Ski Jackets Men's S.S. Pullovers Men's T-Neck Pullover Boys' T-Shirts Boys' Sport Shirts 1.99 6 29 7.90 4.50 5.99 1.00 .99 Household Needs Girls' T-Shirts Girls' Pullovers Girls' P.J.'s Shirt Styled Blouses leotards ling & Drapes Electric Hand Mixers Kitchen Plaques Kitchen Curtains Asstd. Sewing Notions Glass Tumblers 4 Lint Brushes 8x10" Framed Pictures Hand Towels Asstd. Plastic Ware Coffee Mugs Asstd. Lace & Trims 7.77 1.17 t 2 Price 2 Price for 88c 77c 88c 88c 77c Vl Price Wabasto Sheet! 39"x75" 4,79 Wabasso Sheets 54"x75" 4.79 Wa basso Pillow Cases 2 39 m _ ^ GLASS TUMBLERS Shop For These And Many More Outstanding Values Enjoy the things you want today., CHARGE IT. | Jewelery - Novelties Asstd. Earrings Necklaces and Bracelets 4,., 1.00 2 ,, 1.00 Lunch Counter Special FISH PLATTER Golden Fried Filet of Fish, French Fried Potatoes, Tcma- ^^tif^ft to Slices and le!tuce, ^EVtafl'' Tartar Sauce, Roll onit Butter.............. 'REGULAR SERVICE CHARGES WILL APPLY. viding a tax free concession on a portion of interest received. Interest rates vary directly with inflation rates, so a portion of the interest paid to lenders is, in fact, compensation for inflationary erosion of capital. If it were conceded that interest from all savings were to be free of all looting, then more people might have saved. One must say "might have saved" because at the present rate of inflation it would require a tax-free interest rate of something over 5.3 per cent to keep pace with the deterioration in the value of money. There have been a few tentative steps taken to encourage savings, such as the proposed abolition of estate taxes. These have been counterbalanced by capital gains taxes which, in many cases, muld reflect not a gain in real wealth, but mare-ly an adjustment to the defining value of the dollar. Personal tax rates refect a continuing bias to the lower income groups who tend to spend, not save. We have somehow broken the bondage of gold. Forty years later few would be willing to use William Jennng Bryan's phrase, to see Canada "crucified on a cross of gold." We must, nevertheless, develoo some powerful replacement to encourage faith in the dollar and ultimately, savings. Something came loose in the world of finance as it began to rot after the Great Denres^'on. From the middle of the Nineteenth Century until the 1930s government bonds seemed to stay steady with interest at 21a to 3 per cent. This generation to generation stibilitv provided a magic period of stupendous growth. The oresent era, on the other hand, is analogous to condiHons at the end of the Roman Empire as it was nlagued by the curse of hifh interest rates and inflation. Then fierce taxation for frontier defence and for the pockets of favored sections of the communitv went a'on" with the orocess of disintegration. Nobody knows exactly what started the course of dissolution. Was it emotional politicians who catered to the Roman FmDire's "here and now" enthusiasts? Historians mav denv it, but as a shrewd guess it seems as good as any. Books in brief "You Get Used to a Place" by Vera Randal (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 317 pages, distributed by Longman Canada Ltd.). Vera Randal's story takes place within a 24 hour period in a mental hospital. Written with a rare sensitivity by someone who must know her locale well, the story considers the emotions and reactions of a group of women who, having been brought together by the common bond of illness, now share the intimacy and routine of life in a hospital. When a rumor is circulated that some of the patients will be transferred to another hospital the security of "home" is shattered for many of the women. The story takes us into what may still be the atmosphere of too many mental hospitals - locked doors, the impersonal use of last names only, inadequately trained staff. There is considerable improvement over the "snake pit" conditions of earlier treatment centres but there is still indicated a need for more compassion, better trained personnel and more efficient financing. You Get Used to a Place is well worth reading. E. W. USE THESE CARDS IN W00LW0RTH STORES ACROSS CANADA: "Deer of the World" by G. Kenneth Whitehead. (Longman Canada Ltd., 194 pages, $17.50). The book deals with the world's 40 species (around 200 sub-species) of deer, covering every aspect one can possibly think of, from their teeth and glands to their antlers and hooves plus umpteen dozen other facets of the deer world. Population rise and decline; maps showing the concentration of various species; breakdown of habits and the economic use of reindeer (yes, Santa Claus is mentioned in this segment) and caribou are all covered. Deer, wliich include elk and moose, range from seven feet high at the' shoulder and 1,900 pounds (moose), to just 14-15 inches in height and 18-20 pounds (Pudu). It is a teclinical writing and does: not make enjoyable reading, but it is authoritative and highly factual. The price of $17.50 seems to be about seven dollars too much - I assume the extra cost (.�" this British book is taken up by the fancy cusluon-type cover which Ls nice, but not that nice. G. A. On rents and damage deposits By Eva Brewster, free-lance writer COUTTS - A young lawbreaker, asked for his idea on how adults could improve his world, said this: "Light a candle. Show us the way ... We need to believe in scinething bigger and stronger than ourselves." "Very true," said my kids, "but where in this society do you find people to light a candle? Nobody trusts anyone any more and even if you have committed no crime other than being young, just try looking for that elusive light in a place where you are not known." Their words came vividly to my mind when I went house-hunting with them recently. If you have never been made to feel like a suspect criminal, try and find a roof over the heads of your teenagers in this fair city. Because my 20-year-old daughter was offered a job on Friday to begin work at 8 a.m. Monday morning, and because her brother had to start college at the same time, they had only Saturday to find a place they could share. "If you are not there to vouch for us, we'll not get anything," they said. If only to disprove their depressing pessimism and lack of trust in human nature, I went along. Saturday is perhaps not the best day for such a venture but if you happen to live 65 miles away from the city and don't want your children to drive that distance at 6 a.m. on icy roads, you have no option. So armed with Friday's newspaper we answered every advertisement offering accommodation. The first door we knocked on opened a few inches: "Adults only," said a gruff voice whose owner I never even saw. While my daughter stammered: "I am an adult," the door banged shut in our faces. The next prospective landlord did let us in but ignored the young people r 1 asked me as though they were inanimaL. objects: "A working girl? Is she quiet? . . . Yqs, that's all right but we don't take boys. Her brother has to go elsewhere." Then followed a number of furnished two-bedroom-suites. $190 a month and $190 damage deposit," we were told and the house rules in each range from "No visitors" to "No smoking" and "No record-players" or, at best, "No noise after 10 p.m." Obviously house rules are necessary but when they have just been asked to pay $380, you can't expect them to face rules few prisons impose on inmates. Anyway, that problem did not arise because my two could not afford that kind of rent. They settled for an unfurnished two-room fourplex. Nothing there under $170 a month but that, my daughter worked out, she could just afford to pay on the wages promised her. What she had not counted on was the damage deposit. Hoping to be independent, she asked the landlord if he would not accept her first month's rent and permit her to pay the damage deposit when she received her first wages. That request was turned down. Knowing they would not tear the place apart, I was prepared to advance that amount. We would, hopefully, get it back one day. However, I didn't carry $340 cash in my purse, and banks are not open on Saturdays. I offered names of people in the city who would vouch for us but only one home-owner finally accepted my personalized cheque. Before he did, however, he went round the car outside his office to look at my licence number. Had I been looking for a house for myself, I would have walked away and hoped all those vacant apartments would remain empty. But young people have to make their own experiments in living and I did not interfere. Hopefully, t?-ey will encounter people in the city shortly who have a heart instead of a built-in cash register. In the meantime, with their campbeds, a couple of fo'ding chairs, a small table, cooking utensils and clothes, they have now moved into the otherwise empty house that will swallow all the minimum wages they can earn. Like hundreds of other students and young workers in the city, they are roughing it in the midst of prosperity and are being punished for their youth. While I sympathize with landlords who have had, or are afraid of having, their property destroyed by vandals, this demand for hundreds of dollars in damage deposits is of doubtful legality. As one landlord pointed out: "If they ruin the wall-to-wall carpet in the living room, the deposit wouldn't even cover the cost." But, the damage deposit seems an accepted evil, and without it youngsters can find no home away from home. Having a rough idea of simple economics and the cost of building a house. I can't help wondering if it is really necessary to charge a monthly rent of $170 for each suite of a fourplex to make a decent living. From a lifetime of experience 'with young people, I know that in the majority cases trust, willingly given, is returned a hundredfold. The young of today will be the parents of tomorrow. Instead of summarily condemning them all for non-conformity and dropping out of society, how about giving them a decent start? How can they love and respect our generation if there is nobody to light a candle and show them the way. Report to readers -by Doug Walker Choosing the commentary A man who has lived in other cities of comparable size to Lethbridge told me that he was amazed at the number of commentators carried in The Herald. The papers in the other communities do not give their readers nearly so wide a selection. One of the papers in the clinic to which I was assigned at the American Press Institute last September carried Jack Anderson's Washington gossip column every day. This severely narrowed the reader exposure to other opinion. Readers of The Herald can attribute their good fortune to two factors: The Herald's inclusion in a family or chain of news-* papers (FP Publications) and a concern on the part of the editor and publisher (C. W. Mowers) to provide a first-rate service. Membership in the chain means The Herald gets the benefit of a stable of writers it could never afford to maintain on its own and also gets in on group rates for other editorial page material. From a strictly economic viewpoint the throwing out of five or six times as much material as is used - some of it expensive syndicated columns - can be justified on'y on the grounds of making The Herald a better paper. Not all readers of The Herald agree that they get a good variety of material, however. A member of the New Democratic Party in The Herald's back shop called me aside one day and told me that he had been in an inventor's group in the city where the concensus seemed to be that the editorial page reflected a neo-Communist outlook. The NDPer thought that was hilarious because from his point of view the editorial page content is rather right wing. It was interesting to me, in this connection, to run across a comment on columnists in a book I was reading for review last year. The author was Jack Newfie'ld, a New leftist in the United States. He was commenting on the overwhelming endorsation by U.S. newspapers of Richard Nixon in the 1968 election, and said: "According to a survey compiled by the perceptive press gadily Ben Bagdikian, 85 per cent of the syndicated columns published in the U.S. can generally be classified as conservative ... of the dozens of nationally syndicated daily columnists, with the possible exception of Tom Wicker, not one represents a radical point of view." No such survey has been made of Canadian commentators. I frankly can't tell from Maurice Western's columns, for instance, what politics he espouses. But just in case all our Canadian writers carry a real or imagined Liberal tarnish we are happy to announce that Bruce Whitestone claims good conservative credentials. Maybe we should add an NDP commentator, too. Any suggestions? Bias is operative in everyone. A person's interests and experience inevitably have an effect on what he writes or how he handles what others write. Undoubtedly there is some bias to be found in the materia] chosen for the editorial page, but it is rather innocent and far from blatant bias, as can be seen from the basis on which I make my selections. A major concern I have is to try to have commentary that deals with recent issues in the news. I explained in a previous piece that the time lag, between the writing of an article and its arrival at The Herald and then between the arrival and its ar>-pearance in print, usually involves several days. One Monday in mid-January the front page news was that Kissinger had returned from Paris and prospects for peace were bright, but the editorial page carried an article saying peace prospects were bleak. Avoiding that kind of thing is a major concern. It means that increasingly I choose what comes over the wire: pieces by the New York Times writers and by Western and Desbarats from Ottawa. Wire copy is a day or two closer to the events commented upon. While the internal politics of our own country are naturally of interest I general y do not consider these of other countries to warrant space on our pages - except for major elections such as those in the United States and West Germany last fall. By looking for those developments which are of international importance a lot of copy from the U.S. and abroad can be set aside, and the choices narrowed. Pieces that are concisely written, no matter how uncongenial the position taken may be, get favorable consideration. Al-m o s t anything written on agriculture from anywhere in the world takes my eyo simply because of the paramount importance of that industry in this area. Local writers with something to say on national and international affairs are apt to take precidence over all others. This hardly adds up to anything like the pushing of a line. It may even be disillusioning to those who have bought the picture of people in editorial conferences consp'r-ing to let only certain tilings get out to the public.