Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 17, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THE LETHBRIDQE HERALD Friday, January 17, 1975 Leave him alone It has been disclosed that a prisoner on special Christmas leave from a Quebec jail has failed to return, and has written the warden stating he feels he is rehabilitated, he has a job, and he is not coming back. The police are looking for him, to make him finish his seven year sentence for armed robbery and probably additional time for violating the terms of his Christmas leave. This raises an interesting question in social ethics and in public finance. What is the purpose of imprisoning convicted criminals? Revenge the old eye for an eye attitude is no longer considered a reasonable motive for im- prisonment. The protection of society from further victimization by an in- curable criminal is a good reason, but there are probably not many incurable criminals. Providing a deterrent for other potential criminals is also a reasonable motive, but 'there is argu- ment as to how effective it is. The main remaining purpose of imprisonment is the rehabilitation of the criminal, restor- ing him to a useful and peaceful and constructive role in society. When prison convicts are rehabilitated is hard to determine. Certainly that mo- ment seldom coincides with the end of their sentence. Some serve their terms with no improvement in their attitude. Some, beyond a certain point in their im- prisonment, become more criminally minded, not less. So the parole system has been improved to try to find the right moment for the release of the individual. For the criminal in question that mo- ment may well have come, and yet not have been recognized by the parole authorities. So is it really necessary to try to find him and put him back in the cells? The search will cost money. His further im- prisonment will cost money. He could well be a public asset, starting im- mediately, so should society try to restore him as a public liability? It would not conform with the traditional public attitudes to criminals, but the prudent course would seem to be to leave the fellow alone. If in the unlike- ly event that he should run afoul of the law again, then would be the time to set- tle old scores. Enough is enough Lethbridge is noted for the variety of its weather. Lately, however, it has been limited to two kinds twenty and forty miles an hour. Much can be said about wind. It can be a refreshing companion. It is an immor- tal sculptor. It removes snow and other things. It provides a renewable source of energy. It is the liveliest bit of invisibility commonly encountered. It is also a physical and a psy- chological force, depending on whether one is outdoors or indoors. Either way, it can be an insistent nuisance. Several years ago, several hundred miles south of here, an outdoor scene was being shot one afternoon for the movie, Will Penny. Wind blew hard across a sagebrush flat as Donald Pleasance, the scruffy villain, confronted Charlton Heston, the wounded, middle aged cowboy hero. Take after take was shot of a two se- cond scene, as props blew down and edgy crewmen missed their cues. Throughout the comedy of errors, Heston repeated the same brief perfor- mance time after time with admirable professionalism. Finally, however, he leaned back against a large granite boulder and asked, with the regal patience of a man who had played Moses and assorted other notables, "Gentlemen, what can I do for In the silence that followed, a clear voice from the outer perimeter suggested, "Turn off the wind machine." That suggestion echoes across the years and across the distance. Amen. Turn off the wind machine. The old tyrant By Bruce Hutchison, Herald special commentator "Just what makes you think we haven't got everything under control? Ford's 6new direction' By William Saf ire, New York Times commentator Reducing the cost of welfare President Ford has recently signed a bill giving the U.S. government authority to find deserting fathers and make them support their families. The act, which would both reduce the number of people requiring welfare and provide money for non welfare mothers to find their husbands, met strong objec- tions from the health, education, and welfare department. Among others, provisions have been made to use con- fidential federal data to find the deserting parent, which HEW feels could cause invasion of privacy problems. President Ford already plans altered legislation, saying that parts of the bill go too far by injecting the government into domestic relations. The Senate finance committee es- timates that up to billion a year can be saved on welfare costs, using the ex- amples of California and Washington D.C. which reap four to five times what they spend in collection efforts. It is obvious from the controversy sur- rounding such a proposal that the U.S. government has touched a very emotional issue. Considering the fact that most one parent families are head- ed by a woman, who for varying reasons does not have the earning power of a man if she even finds it profitable to try) this would appear to be a victory for women. However, due to the nature and the high incidence of the problem, it is not only a victory for women but for all of society. When the burden of caring for individual families, often at a sub- sistence level, is removed or reduced, the whole society benefits both material- ly and spiritually. Canadians have to deal with the same set of problems. Family court orders for child support often cannot be enforced, resulting in the family having to accept welfare payments, or at the least, accepting a lower standard of living. The example set in the United States, of realistically tackling this problem is heartening. It is one more thing that should be taken into consideration by Alberta's Kirby Commission on Law Reform. ART BUCHWALD The Indian giver WASHINGTON I received a call from Kellerman the other day. I'd heard he lost his job and I expected him to be very unhappy. But he seemed elated. "Do you know any he asked me. "I don't think I said. "Well, the bank is going to foreclose on my house and I thought I'd give it to the In- dians." "You can't do I said. "Why not? Marlon Brando gave his land to the Indians and it had a mortgage on it. My property only has a. mortgage. They'd be getting a bargain." "But no Indians are going to take your property if there's a mortgage on it." "I won't tell them, dummy. I'll just turn over the deed to them and they'll find out later." "That's not fair to the Indians. After all they've gone through, you can't give them back their land with a mortgage on it." "I didn't think so either until I saw Marlon on television. I would say that, was one of his greatest performances. There he was, look- ing over the land with ail the TV cameras whirling away and the tom-toms beating, and the guy in the feather headdress thanking him for all the Indians of America, and all they were really getting was a due bill from the bank. You talk about a forked tongue." "I'm sure Marlon meant I said. "Maybe he didn't know there was a mortgage on the land." "Don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing him. I just figured it the bank's going to take my house, I'd rather give it to the Indians. That's why I'm calling you. If you could dig up some Indians for me, I could call NBC, CBS and ABC and we could have one helluva ceremony on the lawn. I can use the national exposure more than Brando can, and maybe I could even get a job out of it." I told Kellerman, "The networks have been burned pretty badly by Brando. It may be a long time before they cover another story about a paleface donating his land to the In- dians. Besides, Kellerman, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but you're not a movie star. Walter Cronkite isn't about to send out a TV crew to cover a guy in Bethesda who is going to give his house away." "But I can't just, give it to Riggs he shouted. "What the heck fun is "Don't get excited, Kellerman. Let's think this out. Maybe we could get Jane Fonda to give your house to the Indians. She hasn't been on television recently." "That's not he agreed. "I could stand next to her and she could say she was giving the land on behalf of both of us. Do you think Marlon would get "I don't see why he would. After all, it's your property, isn't "The Riggs Bank doesn't seem to think Kellerman said. "Well, that's just something the Indians will have to work out with the bank. If they can't handle a mortgage, they shouldn't be in the land-accepting business. Don't forget there is an old Indian saying, 'Abwah kuhwah meetah humbug.' "What does that "There is no such thing as a free Brando lunch." NEW YORK We have a slogan. On his television teaser Monday night, Presi- dent Ford spoke of his "new he repeated it twice in his State of the Union address Wednesday, in his transmittal messages for the budget and economic reports in coming weeks the "new direction" will flutter like a banner over the fine print. Cartoonists will at long last have a symbol: arrows and signposts will proliferate, weathervanes and directors' chairs will sprout on editorial pages, and the story of Wrong- Way Corrigan will be ex- humed. We have a new slogan, but do we have a new direction? By evoking the ghosts of F.D.R. and Harry Truman in his address, Ford has in- dicated whose beckoning he follows. On economic policy, Ford has evidently concluded that inflation is no longer a problem its reduction is not even listed among the five goals of the new direction and he has proposed to inun- date recession in a sea of red ink. The profession of economics is in a state of palsied disarray at the moment, as punchy and puzzl- ed as the polling industry after the 1948 election; privately, even administra- tion economists admit that nobody can confidently say whether the direction pointed out by the consensus is right or wrong. On energy policy, the presi- dent has urged steps both dramatic and conservative. He has taken the price route to discourage oil imports and to put a floor under the price of domestic supply: This should induce all consumers of oil, not just motorists, to conserve, and should stimulate internal production. Many of the ways he suggests pumping these tax receipts back into the economy makes sense. Overriding both the energy and economic proposals, however, is this question: How well has Gerald Ford done in this, his real debut week, as president and how well has Congress shown that two branches of our govern- ment can work together on energy and the economy? The answer: Not well at all. The president's State of the Union message is the single most important communica- tion between the executive and the legislative branch. It has come to be treated by presidents as a benchmark in their stewardship; in this cen- tury, it has often been presented in person by the president to his co-equal branch, and has been received if not always in admiration at least always in respect and dignity by the House and Senate in joint session. Consider what has happened this week. The Democratic leadership of the Congress, in a lust to grab the credit for recommending a popular tax cut, upstaged the president on Monday with a program all its own. Substantively, it was an insult to the voter's intelligence, with its dire finger wagging at high interest rates while it propos- ed enormous deficits that en- sure high interest rates; in- stitutionally, it was an insult to the executive branch, which this week it owes the courtesy of an interested reception of proposals. And how did the new presi- dent react? Tipped off to the planned upstaging, and eager to dominate the headlines as the saviour who proposed a tax cut, Ford followed the panicky advice of his closest aides to present a prime time television pitch Monday night, calling upon all Americans to make the sacrifice of accepting a tax rebate. The next day, Tuesday, with his program presented lop- sidedly, the president's press secretary put out a great many of the answers to questions raised in the president's teaser. The media, as it is geared to do, followed the president's lead, concentrating on his program for a second day, downplaying the Congressional reaction to the teaser speech, crossplugg- ing the next day's show. That anti-climatic show was Wednesday's afternoon presentation of the details of the program previously hinted at, designed to provide filmed highlights for Wednesday night TV network news. That third bite at the apple, effec- tively overwhelming the Congressional ploy at gaining voter credit for the tax cut, was what we used to call "the president's annual State of the Union address." Certainly the strategy succeeded in feeding the story out over a full week. But what did it tell us about the state of the relations between the Congress and the president. And about the way Ford views his office? Congress, we now see, stands ready to one-up the president at any opportunity, tradition and good taste be damned. Piously proclaiming no "politics as usual" at a time of national difficulty, the Congress has shown it intends to play politics with unusual intensity, to the extent of dis- guising agreement in the cloak of controversy. The president, we have seen this week, is a Truman style' scrapper: Like his hero. He is a man of the Congress thrust into the presidency unex- pectedly, who knows the ploys that Congressmen play. When "the boys" tried to finesse Ford, he gave them the old media one two three. But a president is the president. He ought to act with deliberation and dignity. He need not be personally stiff nor programmatically rigid. But he ought to have some sense of decorum and concern for history. When he finally came around to delivering his heavily leaked address, Ford did well to confess that the state of the union was "not one way to help it get better is for the president to conduct himself with the high seriousness expected of a man charting a "new direction." The hopeful patrons who lately attended Ottawa's theatre of the absurd (an average season ticket costing about must be asking who wrote the latest comedy. Like Shakespeare, he is an il- lusive personality but the serious investigator may find some clues in an obscure book oddly entitled Federalism and the French Canadians. Therein an author, little known at the time of publication, began as follows: "The only constant factor to be found in my thinking over the years has been opposition to accepted opinions Public opinion seeks to im- pose domination over everything. It aims to reduce all action, all thought and all feelings to a common denominator. It forbids in- dependence and kills inven- tiveness, condemns those who ignore it and banishes those who oppose it." This from a young man named Pierre Trudeau in February, 1968. Now, almost seven years afterwards, a bewildered nation wonders what has happened to him, and it. For the nation the record is spotty. In the seven years Canada has gained certain social reforms, raised its liv- ing standard, lost nearly half the value of its savings and become more divided than it was at the birth of the Trudeau government. Only a mean and stupid sort of citizen would fix the entire blame for the losses on the government but, by the same fair reckoning, neither can the government claim all the credit for the gains. A rough justice distributes the punishments and rewards of politics in the long run. The immediate question remains unanswered in the theatre of the absurd how could a man as brilliant as Mr. Trudeau manage to get himself into the most absurd jam since Mackenzie King's five cent speech when a nickel was still worth something? That gasping, squirming figure in the wings is an unfor- tunate finance minister who just swallowed his budget of restraint. A partial explanation of Mr. Trudeau's fiasco can be found in his book. Having taken of- fice, he was faithful to the credo of his youth. He defied the tyranny of public opinion and undertook to raise parliamentary wages by 50 per cent after urging the na- tion to curb its excessive demands on the economy. That was carrying the comedy a mite too far. Mr. Trudeau found that the tyrant was stronger than he supposed and' he had to revise his scripts in a hurry. The poor fellow impaled on a point of order is Mitchell Sharp who gallantly volunteered to lead the charge of the Light Brigade when somebody blundered. But there was more to this curious affair than the colli- sion between prime minister and public. The real ex- planation, one suspects, is that until a few months ago Mr. Trudeau made the mis- take of reversing his credo and accepting the opinions of his private experts who had totally misconstrued everything. They persuaded him that in- flation, cunningly would do us little harm and, in any case, was guaranteed to cure unemployment and provide perpetual economic growth. No one except a professional economist could believe such a notion since all history had proved the op- posite and is proving it again today. Nevertheless, Mr. Trudeau, an amateur economist, believed the professionals. Pay no attention to that piercing scream, offstage. It's merely a housewife wrestling inflation into the ground. It would be quite unfair, however, to criticize Mr. Trudeau for changing his economic policy three times in seven years the harsh deflationary measures of 1970, the reflation a year later and the renewed restraint of late 1974, as quaintly burlesqued in the autumn budget. For in this period every intelligent man changed his mind just as often. It would be unfair also to take Mr. Trudeau's summer election speeches too seriously. A political cam- paign, by the rules. of the game, is the open season for genial persiflage in all parties and their combined speeches, if you can bear to re-read them, sound like a tale told by a peculiarly violent idiot. Disregard that clamor behind the scenes. It's merely a caucus of old-age pensioners quarrelling over their monthly ration of canned dog food. Yet Mr. Trudeau's books, his speeches and his policies do not answer the final ques- tion what, in fact, is he try- ing to do about Canada's future? Leaving aside the youthful, imaginary socialism outlined in the book and then abandoned, how does he hope to build his Just Society in the politics of the actual and fast changing world? That, too, is perhaps an un- fair question when no man knows where Canada or any other nation is going but a tyrannical public opinion still keeps asking, with less hope than anger. Now that the theatre is briefly closed for winter holidays we can expect no early answer. Meanwhile those opposition members who agreed to the original salary deal in ad- vance and are now seen leap- ing out the windows are only some suicidal Conservatives with no more answer than the government. Berry's World LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Games committee 'doing great9 I am not about to enter into any argument as to whether the price of .tickets for the Jeux Canada Games is too high or too low (letter, The Herald, Jan. however, it would be interesting to analyse just briefly the "bonanza of the century" that Lethbridge businessmen are going to enjoy during February 1975. My views are those of a local businessman making reasonable plans to accommodate the "flurry1' that will accompany the games. This "flurry" of business that must accompany the games and their preparation and clean up could perhaps be stretched to a period of one month. No businessman can justify, for a period of one month, any major change in the property or personnel capacity of his business to make this into a "bonanza of the century." Most of those "excess profits" realized dur- ing this short period of time will have been swallowed up by overtime paid to regular staff. Most businesses are geared to operate at an average 80 per cent capacity. If they could operate at 100 per cent capacity for the dura- tion of the games, this would mean an increase of 25 per cent gross sales for approx- imately 10 per cent of the year or 2.5 per cent in gross sales for the entire year. If a business turning over half a million dollars per year yields a net profit of five per cent (well above average) for the owner, the net additional profit for this "bonanza of the century" amounts to a staggering before tax- es. Recently in the winter games office I was amazed at the number of local businesses represented by placards presumably these businesses have contributed to the games in some form or other. I cannot believe that such contributions could be triggered by the greedy hope that, one month's inflated sales would turn them into monetary profits. Many of us may not be in a position to volunteer "our time as timekeepers, recorders, or what have you, but I believe most businessmen have enough community pride to contribute in other ways without ulterior motives. As to "Minor all I can say is that I find it sad that his or her contribu- tion is given so grudgingly. From where I sit, the games committee is doing great! JOHN C. VAN'T LAND "What was it we said 'Heads we cut taxes tails we raise or was it the other way The Lethbridge Herald 504 7tl> SI. S. Lethbridge. Alberta LETHBRIDGE HERALD CO. LTD. Proprietors and Publishers Second Class Mail Registration No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS. Editor and Publisher DON. H. PILLING Managing Edilor DONALD P.. DORAM General Manager ROY f. MILES Advertising Manager DOUGLAS K. WALKER Editorial Page Edilor ROBERT M. FENTON Circulation Manager KENNETH E. BARNETT Business Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"