Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 28, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 - THE UETHBRIDGS HERALD - Wednesday, February 28, 1973 A new negotiating tactic Commenting on the recent settlement of a six-months contract dispute involving his faculty, the president of Mount Royal College in Calgary suggested there might be a ease for holding future negotiations in public- It's a suggestion worth examining. With contract negotiations in the public sector approaching strike or strike - threat level year after year, it is unwise to dismiss any new idea out of hand, no matter how odd it may look at first glance. The negotiations Dr. Penz referred to were between the board of governors and the faculty ol the college, and the point at issue was salary. Money to meet the new salary scale finally agreed upon is public funds, provided by the taxpayer via the provincial government. It is the involvement of public funds that makes this case different from - say - the strike of Wardair flight attendants or that of the elevator constructors, to mention only two of several current wage disputes. The difference is very significant. When a private company wrangles with its employees over wages, negotiators for the company have a compelling interest in keeping the final settlement as low as possible; the dollars they save are their own. This is not the case when the bill is paid by public funds. Then, the salaries of those negotiating as employers are seldom involved, and when they are it is by being tied to the scales of those with whom they are bargaining, so that often a generous increase for one side is followed by a comparable raise for the other. In the case of private industry, any settlement must recognize the company has to stay in business; even if employees are silly enough to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, so to speak, the owners or whoever is representing them know they must stop short of bankruptcy. It is different when the public treasury is involved; while those who fulfil the employer role usually try to guard the public purse as best they can, the limits they observe are distinctly less imperative. For a long time, most public ser? vants were treated quite differently from industrial workers, in that they were denied the right to strike. This was largely because some of them- policemen, firemen, hospital workers come to mind - perform ser-r vices deemed to be essential, and also because of a fuzzy sort of no- tion that whatever a government does or pays for is in the public in-terst and shouldn't be interrupted. Recently, however, strikes for higher pay by policemen, hospital workers, teachers and even doctors (professionals usually prefer to "withdraw their services") have pretty well disposed of the traditional reasons for treating public servants differently. The fact remains, nevertheless, that they are in an entirely different bargaining position from other workers, when funds are to all intents and purposes unlimited, and they are bargaining with people who have no real personal stake in "winning". Somehow, that difference should be recognized, and perhaps Dr. Penz has hit upon the way to "do it. And in the process, if his idea were to be adopted, the ultimate employer - the taxpayer - would be kept informed as to what "his" employees were demanding, and how "his" representatives were responding. Certainly that is not being done at present. In every current or recent contract dispute involving public money, there has been a conspicuous lack of openness. Negotiations invariably are behind closed doors, inaccessible to either public or press, so that the taxpayer is restricted to the meagre information one side or the other thinks it judicious - or advantageous - to release. And whatever that may be, it is almost automatic for the other side to promptly and heatedly deny it, so the public either takes the word of one side or the other, or resignedly settles for not knowing what's going on. (If you don't think that's the case, ask yourself how much you know about either the dispute or the settlement in the recent postal workers affair, one that received remarkably full publicity, by labor problem standards.) In any protracted labor dispute, the weight of public opinion is bound to have a significant affect on the outcome. This makes some sense, as nearly always the public interest is involved. The public interest was never more clearly involved than in the case of public servants seeking higher payments from the public purse. If the public is to judge these things, one would think that the better informed it is, the better judgments it will make. ANDY RUSSELL There is no quarrel WATERTON LAKES PARK - Recently I had the opportunity to address a local industrial group as a dinner speaker. Because of my interest in conservation and good environmental management, the invitation was something of a surprise as well as being a new experience. I accepted the invitation with a feeling of perhaps being invited to my own hanging, but found to my gratification that there is an awakening and genuine interest among people of industry for conservation and the need for long-range planning of land use. To be sure there was some feeling of hostility exhibited by my hosts in a question and answer period, for people of industry feel that conservationists and environmentalists are something of a threat to their jobs and way of life. Being an individual who has on more than one occasion been opposed to industrial methods and very outspoken about it, I have perhaps done little to alter this situation. But sometimes it is necessary to be tough and uncompromising when the whole future of the country is involved. By future I do not mean following the fast buck road, for we have certainly seen plenty of illustration of this way of going in North America and other parts of the world. To be sure we have developed the highest standard of living in the world, a degree of affluence surpassed only by our abuse of resources. The price we are paying is not very encouraging. Like many concerned people, I do not think it unrealistic to insist on maintaining Uie highest possible level of enjoyable living surroundings with clean air, pure water and productive soil, the prime requisites. I do not think it impractical to maintain the needs of generations to follow. Virtually, the people directly involved with industry have just as much at stake as anyone else, for they have families and a long-term equity in the country by way of living quality interest. So we really have, no quarrel, Because of my stand for the long-term preservation of our national parks and potential recreation areas outside the parks, I was taken to task by one or two people who felt that my position was one of selfishness. But what these people were fail? ing to see is the fact that national parks or any other recreational area can be destroyed by sheer weight of people. If we go past the limits of their carrying capacity, we will ultimately lose those things we wish to save. Certainly we do not have to travel to a park to enjoy a long unbroken, neon lighted strip of shops, night spots and hotels. If we allow too much development, we kiss goodbye to the wildlife and many other very desirable features of parks making up their greatest attraction. Roads, like any other development in a park or recreational area, must be treated in terms of least possible environmental impact, not in consideration of greatest possible capacity. Here too there is a limit to usage and if we go too far in der velopment, we cancel the beauty and environmental advantages of keeping such places as close to nature as possible. After all, who needs a tourist road to traverse a mining development? Who needs camp grounds and other facilities to enjoy a river so badly polluted that fish can't live in it? Nobody connected with any kind of Industry, agricultural or otherwise can countenance the cost.. When we undertake to maintain the kind of living quality we and our grandchildren can mutually enjoy, we are all in the same boat, no matter what we do for a living. When I pointed these things out, my industrial hosts were of a mind to agree. " What we need most is less competition and a bit more generosity, not just among ourselves but in concern with- other kinds of life. For if the day comes when other kinds of life are forced out by environmental wreckage, then we, as a species, are also finished. Letters How to reverse trend 'You were supposed to check your guns at the door!' Mixing power and innocence By Anthony Lewis, New York Times commentator LONDON - As the foreign ministers assembled in Paris for the international conference on Vietnam, Iran Van Lam of Saigon made a comment that for once could win general agreement. The unstated purpose of the meeting, he said, was "to de-Americanize the peace." Those words reflect the curious nature of this conference. For its fundamental decision has already been made by the United States, and that is to leave Vietnam to the Vietnamese. The particular form has been accepted after tortuous negotiations by the warring Vietnamese parties, and the function of this meeting is to endorse it. . A rich strain of irony runs through the whole affair. An agreement that Vietnam should be free of external, Western interference was supposedly reached at Geneva in 1954. But the United States refused to accept the agreement, joined in sabotaging it and then entered and repeatedly escalated the resulting military conflict. In the truce terms last month the U.S. at last formally accepted the Geneva agreement. Yet President Nixon and his supporters have treated those terms as if they justified the war and proved its critics wrong. The president, who could rightly take satisfaction from the fact of the settlement, has made the broader claim that it represents "peace with honor." Addressing the South Carolina legislature, he said American forces had been sent to Vietnam "for the most selfless purpose that any nation has ever fought a war," to prevent the imposition of a Ctoinmunist govern- ment on South Vietnam by force. Those of us who believed for years that the American war in Indochina was a terrible misuse of power do not now seek an argument about the peace. However ragged the truce, it is better than What went before. Those like myself who doubted that Nixon would ever end direct American military involvement should gladly admit now that we were probably wrong -and hope that the remaining uncertainty soon ends. But it is another matter to be told that the course of American policy over the last dozen years has represented nobility or honor. That would only perpetuate a corrupting myth. It is a myth of innocence. The Vietnam war showed how strong a hold it still has on the American imagination. The notion that we are a uniquely idealistic people survived all the years of bombing, all the My Lai revelations, all the lies and illusions. It allowed us to brutalize and destroy on an enormous scale in Indochina while leaving many of us convinced that we were kind and helpful. The phenomenon was perceptively explored last fall, in Saturday Review: The Society, by Francine Du Plessix. The myth of America as Eden, she said, helped us to avoid feeling a responsibility for our grossest actions in Vietnam. The war indeed made most Americans increasingly resentful of criticism: "Don't speak to us of our sins," they said. It is entirely natural for any country to try to escape the truth about its wars. But to per- petuate illusion is dangerous, and especially so in this case. The U.S. is the most powerful nation on earth; for our own safety and the world's we have to learn that, like others, we are a flawed people who can use our power recklessly. The American Christ mas bombing is a notable example. Apologists for the Nixon policy say it was right because it "worked" - the North Vietnamese agreed to terms. Exactly what happened in the peace talks is not clear to outsiders. But even assuming that Hanoi gave ground because of the bombing, what is the actual difference between the October draft and the final agreement? Some verbal implications of South' Vietnamese sovereignty, larger foreign truce teams, details - distinctions that hardly anyone today would consider worth a day of war, much less that bombing. But the factual issue is of course not decisive. The real point of difference between the American government's apologists and its critics is a moral one. The government's concern last fall, as it had been for years of the war, was primarily with its own face. The crucial need was for terms that could be sold politically; anything that worked in that sense was good, whatever further misery it meant to the Indochinese. But some Americans, millions of us, rejected the idea of a policy without moral content, without concern for the means used. And while it is right that the divisions in American society should be healed, that lesson -the lesson of power and false innocence - cannot be forgotten. Turner walks the tightrope By Peter Desbarats, Toronto Star commentator Credibility is a favorite John Turner word. Few politicians in Ottawa are more aware that credibility is a public figure's most valuable stock-in-trade. Turner also realized, when he accepted the riskiest of all cabinet posts for a potential leader, that credibility is a finance minister's most volatile asset. As he said a few months ago during a conversation in his office, the credibility of a finance minister is in a state of constant erosion from the moment he takes on the job. In his budget speech last week, Turner drew on his stock of credibility more heavily than at any time in his career. It was a calculated investment. If the budget gains the support of Parliament, and if it soon starts to produce the economic results that Turner has forecast, today's finance minister could well be tomorrow's prime minister. It was also a gamble. When he was asked in Toronto last November what he had learned in the cabinet's toughest portfolio, Turner replied, "Oh, that I like to live even more dangerously than I thought I did about ten months ago." There was an echo of this last week when, at the end of his speech, departing from the uto. pian view of the future that is orthodox on these occasions, Turner admitted, "We recognize that we are running a risk, and that the risk is on the side of over-shooting." In other words, Turneer's expansionary budget runs a risk of meriting in future the de. scription that he applied last October to the Conservatives' economic platform. "To sharply reduce taxes while at the same time substantially increasing federal spending," the finance minister told a Vancouver election meeting, "is not only evidence of political bankruptcy, but is a prescription for putting Cauada in bankruptcy as well." There were two aspects to the erosion of Turner's credibility last week- The less serious was the budget's appearance of not only catering to the demands of the NDP for tax cuts and pension increases but also lifting a central proposaWto limit inflationary effects on income taxes-Jrom the Conservative program. More serious questions, about the budget and Turner's own future, were raised by assessing the popular budget measures against the long-term require, ments of Canadian society. There is growing evidence that the kind of conventional tax-cutting proposed in this budget does nothing to reduce the income gap between wealthy and poor Canadians. It has been tried before. The most recent studies show that in the past decade the rich have grown richer in Canada while the share of income accounted for by the lowest 40 per cent of families has remained basically unchanged. Turner's tax cuts and pension increases should be considered in the light of a statement made earlier this month by Dr. Andre Reynauld, chairman of the Economic Council. "Valliant attempts have been made to even out income distribution by means of taxes and government expenditures," he said. "We must now admit that such fiscal adjustments have negligible results. Sometimes, they even increase inequality." There is also the depressing record of the failure of successive governments to reduce regional economic disparity. The budget shows that Turner is quite aware that some of his measures will do the most good where it is least required. There is a candid admission that "the largest part of the increase in provincial tax revenues flowing from the stimulating effects of the federal tax cuts will benefit those provinces where tax capacity is above the national average." To compensate for this, there is an amended equalization formula that would pump an extra $190 million annually into the seven have-not provinces. The most serious confession of weakness in the budget is its constant preaching of self-restraint as an effective means of controlling the inflation that the budget itself risks creating. In the circumstances of this government, none of these weaknesses in the budget will count against Turner if it fulfils the short term expectations of Parliament and the Canadian voter. But it is, unavoidably a gambler's budget. If John Turner really enjoys living dangerously, he is about to have the time of his life. Once upon a time, long ago the income of almost everyone was very very low. Wages of the laboring man was from 35 cents to 45 cents per hour, with almost no fringe benefits. Merchants were glad to trade their goods for farmer's butter and eggs, and even professional people traded their services for work of people who had no money to pay. Fanners shipped hogs and cattle, and were billed back for freight charges because the price tor the animals was not sufficient to pay the freight bills. School teachers were happy to get a position at $50 per month when the school trustees could collect sufficient tax money. They had no fringe benefits, and considered themselves lucky if they got good room and board as part of the teaching consideration. As time went on, conditions improved for most1 people, but not for all. People with fixed incomes still had to eke out an existence, and wage increases were slow to come. Farm prices stood almost stationary while farm costs mounted. Wheat price rose from less than a dollar to about $1.30 per bushel while the price for machinery doubled and doubled, and doubled again. Unions have brought high incomes and fringe benfits to all who are able to organize, but the consumer, the taxpayer, the farmer, and those on fixed income have remained the victims of the vicious circle of wage-price climb. Somehow those who benefited the most seemed to clamor for more and more, even though it was not hard for them to see that others simply could not afford the steady escalation of prices and school teachers who now received from $8,000 per year to $20,000 can not seem to calculate that an average salary of $13,600 per year is $68 per day for 200 teaching days. They have forgotten that more than 70 per cent of the people have incomes of less than $5,000 per year, with no way of obtaining fair increase. Suppose one day when al of the teachers were gathered together to study how they could improve their lot, one wise one among them said, "I think we are going about this the wrong way. We cannot live with this wage escalation and inflation. Prices MUST go up if wages go up, and where will it all end? This vicious circle must be stopped. I have calculated that if we have a wage escalation of only six per cent per year, a salary of only $10,000 per year today will grow to $3,607,911 in 100 years. Price inflation must follow, and this looks to me like $250 for a sandwich, 2 million dollars for an automobile, or $25,000 for a suit of clothes. Someone must start a reversal trend. We teachers are way above the average as to income, so let us ask for a decrease of salary of two percent each. year. We will then call for all others who are above the average income to do the same. This can start a trend that will benefit the whole nation. In the long run we will oursleves gain more than we will lose." Then suppose a ballot was taken, and the teachers voted overwhelmingly to do this. As others caught the vision, a downward spiral would start in wages, and prices. The day would be saved for Canada, and a pattern set for other nations to follow. No law of compulsion, or price and wage controls, could solve this great economic problem more surely. If those in the teaching profession cannot make it come to pass, who will? Raymond A. E. HANCOCK Believe the Bible I'm certainly no scientist or theologian but as a born again Christian I believe I should express my view concerning evolution. Primarily, evolution was set forth as a theory to disclaim the Biblical account of creation ... The evolutionists assume mat at one time - millions of years ago - life, as we know it today, evolved or gradually changed from very simple forms to the complex forms we see today as a result of changes in the environment. That is to say as a result of chance, fate, or whatever, we can take a one-celled animal and through a period of millions of years we come out with a man. Even today man cannot create a single celled animal with all this scientific and technological ability. If we were to take an analagous situation, we should be able to take a clock with all its inner workings loose and shake it for a given amount of time and come up with a workable whole. Of course you say that is ridiculous, but man being created from a blot to the advanced species is really just as ridiculous and definitely would take a miracle to come about. Whether we believe in evolution or Bible creation we need more than scientific evidence to make us believe. That extra something is a commodity that neither scientists or athiests believe in and that is faith. Faith is called a gift of God and without this it is impossible to please God for we must .first believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. By the same token, without faith it is impossible to believe evolution because we first must believe that it is true and then try to prove it. So when we get down to the nitty gritty it's all in what we chose to believe. The Bible says, "In the beginning God created" and to me that is the most reasonable step of faith a man can take. Because no one really knows what happened. I choose the Lord's version. We do have that choice of what to believe ... Those who say we should forget all the myths in the Bible and just follow Jesus seem to forget or be ignorant of the Jesus in my Bible who believ ed all those myths, I.e. Noah, Sodom, Gomorah, Jonah, heaven, hell, and most of all, eternal life. So when we really begin to be honest with ourselves and God, evolution is just another means by which man can discredit the Bible. My Bible says that the natural (unbelieving) man can't receive the things of . God, they are foolishness to him, because they are spiritually discerned. So until we are willing to believe the whole Bible and on the Son of God, Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we are incapable of judging the truthfulness or falseness of the Bible or understanding it. CAROLYN DANGERFIELD Coutts. Is this fun?" With reference to the article in The Herald re toilet seats at LCC being removed, I don't know what degree of intelligence it would take by some college student to stoop to this type of thing but evidently it exists in the minds of some at the LCC. The other odd thing is that the $36 raised from the venture is to be turned over to the Dorothy Gooder School. If I had anything to do with the Dorothy Gooder School I think I would decline the contribution. It seems to me this is a plain case of theft and should be treated as such, as well as a case of vandalism. If it wasn't for the degree of permissiveness we have in our society today these things would not be permitted in our new buildings of supposed advanced education. I remember the egg throwing event that was permitted at the same location a short time ago. It is little wonder that there is so much petty theft and acts of vandalism taking place of late when equipment installed in our new buildings is being treated as a great joke by so many people today. If the students at LCC wish to contribute to some good cause why don't they dig down in their own pockets and pay? A TAXPAYER Cardston. The Lethbridge Herald 904 7th St. S., Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBRIDGE HERALD CO. LTD., Proprietors and Publisher! Published 1905 -1954, by Hon. W. A. BUCHANAN Second Class Mail Registration No. 00)2 Member of Th� Canadian Press and the Canadian Dally Newspaper Publisher*' Association and the Audit Bureau of Circulations CLEO W. MOWERS, Editor and Publisher THOMAS H. ADAMS, General Manager DON PILLING WILtlAV HAY Managing Editor Associate Editor ROY F. MILES DOUGLAS, K. WALKER Advertising. Manager Editorial Page Editor "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"