Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 10, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Friday, January 10, 1975 The Galbraith touch Whether Canadians have a sense of humor is a question sometimes argued in intellectual circles. Ontario born economist John Kenneth Galbraith is a good example for the affirmative. A sense of humor is a particular boon to an economist. It keeps his readers awake from paragraph to paragraph. Galbraith, now an American citizen and a Harvard professor, was in good form in a short article in a recent issue of a U.S. magazine in which he suggested that cor- porations need structural change. His starting premise was that although change is assumed in technology and science and everything that serves man, the large, modern corporation is looked on as "the final work of God and man." From that point, with frequent wry and satirical turns of phrase, he delineated flaws in the present system and suggested remedies. It is almost possible to read Galbraith for intellectual entertainment alone. For example, in asserting that the. corpora- tion at present functions as an instru- ment for the exercise of power in which there is responsibility only to itself, he spoke of the "euthanasia of stockholder power" and of those "with a vested interest in error." He explained, in discussing top-level management, that until recently all directors of Exxon, second largest U.S. industrial corporation by assets, were members of management itself. They elected themselves to the board that had appointed them to their jobs. "Such elec- tions are hard to lose." he commented, adding that board members were usually of mature years, their authority partly deriving from "the respect that civilized men rightly accord to age or incipient senility." According to the economist, as an ex- ecutive ascends through the corporate hierarchy, his power increases, including the power to set his own salary. In 1973, the chairman and the president of General Motors received pay increases which gave them each salaries of more than three quarters of a million dollars annually. Yet this was the year in which both men failed to foresee the fuel shortage or the shift to small cars. In the first quarter of 1974, under their leadership, GM profits were down 85 per cent. Harold Geneen, head of ITT and one of the most highly paid executives in the also received a salary increase. On the basis of performance, Galbraith wrote, "he should be paying the com- pany." The economist concluded: "The salary of the chief executive of the large corporation is not a market reward for achievement. It is much more in the nature of a thoughtful personal gesture by the individual to himself." Attitudes toward corporations were also assailed satirically by the Harvard professor. While profits are made, the virtues of private enterprise are celebrated, along with its immunities from government interference, he stated. But when a corporation makes a loss, "then it becomes too large and too important to be allowed to fail." "So long as they were making profits, the railroads, Lockheed, Pan Am, Franklin National were flagships of the private enterprise system. Once the profits turned into losses they became the highly deserving wards of the state." Galbraith, of course, has a serious point to make. As he sees it, the problem of the modern large corporation is that its purposes diverge from those of the public. "The case for private ownership through equity capital disappears." he wrote, "whenever the stockholder ceases to have power." His solution, given in very general terms, is for public ownership to replace stockholders in large corporations where the power of management is complete and that of the stockholder nil and for a board of auditors to replace the self appointed board of directors. The article is obviously provocative. "My hope is not for early wrote Galbraith, with an almost audible chuckle. His intent was simply to originate discussions, on how to rescue the corporation, as a structure, from its bureaucratic, self serving tendencies and to make it a viable asset for an economic system. Although he will not convince everyone, Galbraith is very persuasive. This'is partly due to his ability to hold on to the reader's attention throughout his analysis. Whether it is Canadian born or American inspired, his sense of humor is a professional asset and one to be en- vied by all those who attempt persuasive writing. And many a Canadian corporate executive may be relieved to have that wit focussed on affairs south of the border and all the examples American. THE CASSEROLE About a million people around the world speak Esperanto, an artificial language developed for the purpose of permitting com- munication between those who normally speak different languages. They would like all school children to be taught Esperanto in addition to their own language so that in time, anyone in the world would be able to speak to anyone else, at least on an elemen- tary level. In .North Rhine-Westphalia the Ministry of Education has arranged for Esperanto to be taught in three schools, a high school, a secondary and an elementary school. Assuming no problems, other German schools will undertake similar programs. treatment may produce a form of cancer. Medical studies have shown that persons treated with X-rays have a greater chance of having malignant or benign tumors of the thyroid glands. At least persons in Chicago may have undergone the treatment, and are warned to have a medical check up so that discovered tumors can be surgically cured at an early stage. A Chicago hospital is seeking about former patients who were given X-ray treat- ment as children more than 20 years ago. The A Tokyo apartment dweller killed his three next door neighbors when they wouldn't cut down the noise they were making. This has made most Tokyo residents admit that theirs is a very noisy city and it needn't be. They had been subconsciously try- ing to ignore the noise, but now, in a nationwide lively debate, it is out in the open. ERIC NICOL Laying the groundwork By Richard Gwyn, Toronto Star commentator The public hardly knows Joe Morris, by name or by sight. Aged 61, he's the president of the two-million member Canadian Labor Congress. He fits the part: Morris talks in a low growl and has the broad shoulders and broad belly of the British Columbia woodsman he once was. For the next two or three months, Morris will be one of the most important public fig- ures in the country. He could be the key to the success or failure of the government's attempt to talk, reason, ca- jole, frighten, inspire, labor and industry into' an anti- inflation "consensus" that would slow the upward rush of costs and prices. Consensus may end up in bland pieties, after which ev- eryone goes on doing what they were doing before. It may produce a genuine agree- ment on restraint. Or it may end up in happened in 1970-71 when government last attempted to bring labor and industry together. One legacy of that failure was Canada's 1974 record: 12 per cent inflation and eight million m'au-days lost in strikes, the highest in history. The other legacy is deep union mistrust of restraint. one key labor official told me, "is a polite word for, screw the unions." In his November budget, Fi- nance Minister John Turner promised to search for "a na- tional consensus....to ease pressures at the bargaining table." Not a single observer has given Turner's program the remotest chance of success: few, after the proposed 50 per cent pay increase for MPs, have taken the restraint policy seriously. Just possiblv they may be wrong. Just possible, no more than that a slight shift in long rigid positions that may prove an il- lusion. One reason is the growing realization that if consensus fails the only policy left, other than for everyone to go on grabbing whatever they can, is government-imposed, price and income of course Canadians rejected in last July's election. The other reason is Morris. He'fi prepared to talk. In fact he already has talked. A week before Christmas Morris and the CLC executive met pri- vately with business leaders at a one-day meeting in Ot- tawa. The session was organized 'by a non- government agency, the C.D. Howe Research Institute of Montreal. No decisions were taken; the only agreement was to meet again. Morris is ready also to talk to government. The first meeting with cabinet ministers, will be held behind closed doors, in Ottawa Jan. 22. Ministers later will meet separately with business and financial leaders. If the parallel talks go well, the two sides will be brought together in late February. The central figure in this talkathon, is Morris. He has riu authority to commit labor: individual unions make their own decisions quite indepen- dent of the CLC and some labor leaders oppose any talks at all. Morris though can exer- cise great influence. His opinions thus are crucial. "We are facing a threat to our entire social structure and we must accept the fact that it affects everyone. "Somewhere along the line we are going to have to come to some general agreements about the economy as a whole; then each sector will have to operate within those agreements." "We'll go into these dis- cussions with an open mind. The issue is shared manage- ment of the economy. In private we may reach a consensus but never be able to put it down in a high-sounding declaration. That's still a step forward. The people involved would come out and be able to pass on an idea of the kind of agreement all the parties would accept." More far-sighted than most union leaders. Morris also is as tough as any of them. "Don't delude lie said in mid-interview. "The goal in collective bargaining is still to bargain for everything you can get." When Morris talks of "shar- ing." he has in mind, not in- dustry but pensioners and un- organized workers. Before the talks are ended, fact, government and in- dustry may hear far more than they bargained for from organized labor. That's how true consensus gets made. The attempt is worth it. "It is better, "said Winston Churchill, "to jaw, jaw, jaw than to war, war, war." Letters Reclamation ooerations This is in response to an ar- ticle on coal exploration which appeared in The Herald, (Dec. Our concern is two fold [or the reputation of our com- panies. Granby Mining Com- pany Limited of Vancouver and CanPac Minerals Limited of Calgary, and lor the future of the coal mining industry in general. Unfortunately some of those interviewed for the article in question were quoted out of context, leaving the impression that CanPac Minerals had failed to meet reclamation requirements, leaving Granby to "clean up" after them. The facts are that when Granby took over the explora- tion project north of Coleman from CanPac, ongoing reclamation operations were carried out on a joint basis by the two companies and com- pletely in keeping with the standards set out for the work by the provincial government. The article implied that the forestry division of the department of lands and forests had "experienced problems with CanPac's reclamation of adits (tunnels) and The "problems" involved were technical ones which had been encountered and resolv- ed by CanPac to the complete satisfaction of the department of lands and forests, and were not the kind of problems im- plied in the article. We are concerned that the article left the impression that reclamation work had not been carried out in an orderly and proper fashion. First there is the effect on the reputation of companies and individuals involved. However, there is an even more serious potential conse- quence. Misleading informa- tion can influence'the public in such a way that essential development of natural resources is seriously delayed, or even completely halted. This country, and for that matter the world needs coal. The western Canadian mining industry is suffering a severe decline in exploration and development. Its future growth, to say the least, is in jeopardy and at a time when an obvious and real shortage of raw materials and energy sources is developing in the western world: If we don't all act more responsibly, we could well get to the point where our way of life is challenged, and even disrupted. The eastern slopes are environmentally sen- sational, we agree. However, there should be, and indeed there is room on the eastern slopes for us all to coexist. We extend an invitation to all concerned to visit our Granridge operation and dis- cuss oar plans with us. If we don't learn to coexist, and if we continue this adver- sary attitude much longer, we will grind this great country of ours to its knees. NO coal, no oil, no steel, no jobs, no paycheques. Is this the quality of life that Alberta aspires to? We think not. Together, we can see that our province's resources are utilized to the maximum benefit of all concerned, but only if we are able to work together in harmony. J. JEWITT President, Granby Vancouver. B.C. M. N. ANDERSON President, CanPac Calgary 'Thought-provoking' I wish to thank editors of The Herald for publishing thought-provoking material. It was about two years ago that I read in The Herald an account of Uruguay's plight: following a period of socialistic giveaway programs, inflation was beginning to show its ugly' head. The price of a German Volkswagen was and it cost one-fifth of a month's salary to fill the fuel tank once. It appears that many nations, including Canada, are following a very similar path. Alternatives offered by the former U.S. minister of agriculture, Ezra Benson, and Ken Hurlburt in their speeches, if f interpret history correctly, have through the ages helped to build great nations where the citizens, by honest effort, enjoyed many freedoms unknown under socialistic schemes. The Herald presents a variety of views from which readers, hopefully, will accept the solid and wholesome while discarding the opposite. W. M. H. Cardston Western hospitality Our family was one of the many stranded by the sudden pre Christmas blizzard. We were very grateful to be welcomed into a small town hotel for food and shelter. Although the hotel accom- modations was sorely taxed, the owners made us warm and reasonably comfortable, to the best of The next morning, still storm bound, we were delug- ed with offers of food by the residents, who had learned of our plight via radio. As an ex Calgarian I felt so proud to see and experience Western hospitality. Our sincere thanks to the kindly people and a Happy New Year to everyone in Southern Alber- ta. MR. AND MRS. E. A. WADE AND FAMILY Burnaby. B.C. You're only as old as you feel! Questioning those 'normal business practices' When I pick up the newspaper I am braced for the bad news. I am prepared to learn that I too am owned by Nelson Rockefeller as a tax write-off. The latest medical evidence that people who take ascorbic acid over an extended period shrivel up and get eaten by the cat I'm ready for that too. But I'm shaken to read in today's tidings that opposition parties in the Commons have teamed up for a motion seeking old age pen- sions at 60. You're only as old as you feel till somebody suddenly moves you five years closer to the glue factory. So moved, and though I can usually read the paper without my glasses, by the time I finished this Ottawa despatch 1 was peering through the cheaters and plucking spastically at my chair arm. What the hell are they trying to do to us 40- year-olds? Alright, 50-year-olds. I'll tell you what they're trying to do. It's right here in the story: "Gerard Laprise (SC who proposed the motion, said Ot- tawa can provide retirement at age 60 without disturbing the economy. There was an army of young people waiting for the jobs that would be vacated if the pension age was lowered." Ha! There we have it. Early promotion to the geriatric set in order to make room for some young twit whose parents blundered the pill. We are to be shuffled off to an old-age pen- sion income while we still have enough teeth to sustain a working relationship with meat. At the age when Casanova was getting in some of his best licks as a lover, we are tagg- ed as three-score and score no more. Today lots of people live to be 90. If they are compulsorily retired at 60, they spend one third of their lives put to pasture: That is a damn long time to be eating grass without giving milk. By the same index, Pierre Trudeau at 56 is only four years away from being handed the testimonial gold watch and an electric can opener to facilitate a diet of pet food. Possibly in proposing the motion M. Laprise intended politicians to be exempt from retire- ment at 60. If so, he errs. The army of young people would like nothing better than to take over the kind of salaries MPs are getting for making fat-headed motions like M. Laprise's. Indeed, the fact that his proposal has won support from both PCs and NDP indicates that precocious senility is endemic on Parlia- ment Hill. Even a cursory reading of Hansard shows that a good many persons reach retire- ment age at 38. Mentally, our legislators include a full complement of slippered pan- taloons. Is it not curious, fellow greybeards, that society respects the fact that young people mature at varying pace, yet assumes that older people are all smote by dotage at the same age? At 15 years old it is understood that you may be running your own business and cohabiting with someone's spouse, or you may be still learning to wave bye-bye. C'est normal. Every child is the exceptional child. But who ever speaks for the exceptional gaffer? At 65 60 if M. Laprise lias his addl- ed way all mental and physical activity ceases, giving way to full-time doddering. One day you are middle-aged and have it made, the next day you are transformed into a senior citizen, clutching at free bus passes and babbling o' green fields. In my glaucomatie view, a person should have the option of retiring at any age, if he is that fed up with the way he earns a living. What is welfare, if not an ageless pension? But for the rest of us, by Harry, save the 60 as aught hut speed limit for our wheelchairs. By Rob Bull, Herald Quebec commentator in on the Cliche the long-time labor reporter told a class of university students. "It's the best free show in town." Certainly the Quebec Royal Commission on the construc- tion industry is, at the least, entertaining. But it is much more. What started as a fascinating mirror held up to a part of society everybody knows about but does not dis- cuss has turned into the forceful questioning of ideas taken increasingly for granted. Testimony presented publicly at the enquiry hearings has shown dramatically how a great many ordinary people, among them union members, big company executives, small contractors, public servants and others, mouthing phrases like "normal business prac- tises." and "the end justifies the means." and even "we have to face facts as they arc." have created a slate of terror, anarchy and waste. Canadians have tended to look rather sanctimoniously at United States problems with organized crime. Then an Ontario royal commission showed the profound malaise in that province's construc- tion industry. Given the circumstances it took a certain amount of cour- age on the part of the Liberal government of Premier Robert Bourassa to set up the inquiry in the first place. The Quebec construction in- dustry has been getting into increasingly deeper trouble in recent years. Brawls on construction sites have resulted in destruction and in- juries. Workmen have died or been maimed because of inadequate safety pre- cautions. Costs to government and business soared and were passed on to the tax payer and the consumer. Then, last spring, a small gang of goons wrecked a site on the mammoth James Bay project, causing a million dollars in immediate damages and million in long-term costs. That was when the govern- ment formed the inquiry. Besides Judge Cliche, the other commissioners are Brian Mulroney. a prominent Montreal conservative lawyer and Guy Chevrette, vice- president of the Quebec Teachers Guild and a. sup- porter of the Parti Que- becois. Red tape delayed the birth of the commission. As a result in delays in paper work pass- ing between three government 'departments. Judge Cliche and three of the lawyers had to advance funds for the com- mission's work from their own pockets. The problems were sorted out and the bureaucrats even- tually reimbursed everybody but the incident started the commission off in the spirit of independent team-work, com- passion, dedication and patience it has shown ever since. In the 1960's there was chaos in the Quebec construc- tion industry. Two groups of unions, international ones with headquarters in the United States and affiliated to the Canadian Labor Congress and the Quebec Federation of Labor (the latter a political pressure body more than anything else) shared the jobs with Quebec ones affiliated to the Canadian-only, Con- federation of National Trade Unions. The two groups' fought and brawled across the province for' the right to represent workers on construction sites whose additional dues could give them more money and thus more power to represent the working man as each organization saw fit. On the management side there were a host of employers large and small. The industry suffered from endless work stoppages and strikes. So the government passed a law determining that contracts would be negotiated on an industry-wide basis between the two labor bodies, and five employer organizations. Freedom of choice of union affiliation was established by a brief annual recruiting or raiding period. A construction industry commission with representation from labor and management w'as established under the labor minister to regulate the industry. One effect of the law of the QFL was to give it a power base which it had never held before as the direct negotiator for 75.000 workers. The QFL decided to go for control of the whole industry, a move which the CNTU naturally fought. In the face of continuing problems, the Bourassa government then passed a law which would establish industry-wide contracts if a majority of labor represen- tatives on one side and management of the other agreed. The effect of this was to re- duce the role of the minority CNTU even further. When troubles continued. Quebec passed late last year a law empowering the government to impose a settlement if necessary. First of series of three. The lethbridtje Herald 504 St. S. Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBRIOGE HERALD CO, LTD, Proprietors and Publishers Second Class Mail Registration No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS. Editor and Publisher DON, H PILLING Managing Editor DONALD R, DORAM General Manager ROY F, MILES Advertising Manager DOUGLAS K. WALKER Editorial Page Editor ROBERT M, FENTON Circulation Manager KENNETH E 8ARNETT Business Manager "THE HERALQ SERVES THE SOUTH"