Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 18, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 - THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD - Friday, January 18,1974 editorials; Spare the electorate South Vietnamese economy deteriorates Rumor has it that a provincial election is imminent, Premier Lougheed wanting an unmistakable and specific mandate in his confrontation with the federal government over oil policy. And it is also rumored that a federal election may be called by Prime Minister Trudeau, to determine what support he has in his confrontation with the Alberta government over oil policy. Regarding an early provincial election, oil policy alone cannot be the issue. For one thing, the Social Credit party, the only possible alternative, generally supports the government policy. For another, not oil policy but the names of candidates and parties will be on the ballot, and for any one of a dozen reasons people will vote this way or that. Indeed, Social Credit is in such disarray and the government's general record so acceptable that the Conservatives could easily win every seat in the province. Such a victory would then be misinterpreted as authority for the government to go to any lengths in pursuit of its oil policy over federal objection. As for a federal election on the issue, the Liberal government is not likely to lose support in Ontario, Quebec or the Atlantic provinces. It could pick up a few seats, in fact, although a majority is unthinkable. Any increase in Liberal strength would be interpreted as a mandate to stand fast for the federal oil policy as opposed to Alberta's. So where would the country be? What would have been settled? The farther the dispute is taken, the more obvious it is that court action is inevitable. What are the respective rights and powers of the provincial and federal governments? Elections cannot decide that. Only the Supreme Court can do so. Provincial and federal elections on this issue superficially may make good politics but they make bad sense. They will only entrench each of the two sides in its obstinacy, embitter feelings, and make the essential inevitable settlement that much more difficult. Honest negotiations for an acceptable compromise ought to be pursued immediately, and if they fail, the respective legal positions should be referred to the courts. But let's be spared the orgy of elections over oil. Leadership at both levels of government should be more mature than that. Canada^s first Canada's first think tank, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, is coming off the assembly line in 1974. This is good news to a country which, until now, has had no such group to watch over and advise on governmental policy. It should bring some stability and vision to a nation whose leaders are frequently criticized for frenetic approaches to problems and theoretically it should be above politics. It is particularly good news to westerners because prairie-born A. W. R. Carrothers, who on July 1 will wind up five years as president of the University of Calgary, will be its first president. The institute was proposed by the Trudeau government on taking office in the fall of 1968, its purpose to do long-range research and thinking in matters of public policy. A senior vice-president of Imperial Oil Ltd., Ronald Ritchie, was asked to look into the feasibility of such an institute and his report was the basis for the founding of the organization. Although corporate interests are heavily represented on the board, among the directors and trustees are such figures as Arthur Erikson, the Vancouver architect, Doris Anderson, editor of Chatelaine ipagazine, and John Deutsch, principal of Queen's University. Financing, it is hoped, will include $10 million from the 200 largest corporations in Canada, $10 million from the federal government and $10 million from the provinces. Think tanks, as they are popularly known, are distinctly different from the research functions of universities. A university pursues knowledge for its inherent value while a research institute pursues knowledge for its applied value. The topics the new institute expects to study include the needs of urban man, the administration of justice, the delivery of professional services, the development of resources and communications. It is too late, according to Carrothers, to do anything about the energy crisis via the research institute. The ultimate success of the organization will depend on its ability to select, to study objectively, and to deliver effectively those reports which it feels are vital to Canada's growth and national welfare. Heading the institute is a man who, when asked a year ago to state the major problem facing the University of Lethbridge at that time, said with refreshing bluntness, "Survival." The incident indicates a matter-of-factness which would seem to be a prerequisite for such a job - and might even be called a breath of fresh, western air. RUSSELL BAKER Scheduled crises behind time I have a theory about the oil unpleasantness which, like most good political theories these days, sounds childishly silly and will, therefore, almost certainly be proven correct in the end. It goes like this: The energy crisis wasn't supposed to be held this winter, or even this year. It had been scheduled for the early 1980s. A lot of other crises had been booked for the 1973-74 season. Here I am a little vague because I am not sure what these crises were or what prevented them from being ready on time. Certainly there was supposed to be a first-class crisis in the Caribbean around September and something fairly formidable in lower Africa around Christmas. Neither of these is anywhere near ready even now, and my hunch is that the people working on them got so fascinated watching the Watergate crisis that they are months behind schedule. Also there was to be one of those wonderful geological end-of-the-world-type crises. Probably based on scientific discovery that Newfoundland is evaporating or the ice cap is melting so fast that Philadelphia will be under water by 1967 unless we make sacrifices like, say, throwing all our ice cubes into the ocean twice a day and learning to drink warm whisky. I don't know. I am just noodling on specifics, and I don't know why this particular crisis didn't come off. Maybe the scientists who were to make the ominous discovery had to go to the hospital with high blood pressure (a high-blood-pressure crisis is definitely with us) and got such big hospital bills because of the fantastic-hospital-cost crisis that they didn't have air fare left over to get to Uie ice cap and measure the melting rate. Whatever happened, not a single big crisis was ready to be brought in on schedule, which was intolerable because the Watergate crisis had already run five months longer than it was supposed to. In fact, it had run so long that it was turning into another kind 6f crisis, a crisis that wouldn't stop. Always in the past our crises ran for a few lively months and then closed when people started to be bored with them. Not Watergate. It had no end. Even when you got bored it went right on. People hated it because crises were supposed to go away when they quit being fun. With Watergate, the crisis didn't go away, but the government did. So here was a big opportunity for the energy-crisis people. The world needed a great new crisis, and it had to be bigger than high blood pressure. If my theory is right, the By Mark Frankland, London Observer commentator SAIGON - A few years ago the theory was that South Vietnam's best weapon against the Communists was economic progress. Today you are more likely to hear Vietnamese say: "The Communists don't need to attack. They only have to wait till the economy goes to pieces." The old theory was based on two perfectly sound assumptions: that South Vietnam is quite rich in natural resources, and that its people able and enterprising. Ail that was needed, the argument went, was security and foreign aid to start off rapid development. It is at this point that the old hopes were disillusioned. As even the most casual new- oil people all met in the crisis room when the latest Arab-Israeli war began. "This is our opportunity to do something for the country," somebody important said. "This is the time to hold the energy crisis." There couldn't have been much argument. Oil people are can-do guys, accorduig to their literature. Some of the technicians may have objected. "We're not scheduled until the 1980s," they would have said. "We still don't know all the things that go into making a crisis." These whiners were demolished by one of those dynamic, thick-waisted, board-room males, a fellow who lives in his personal jet and owns three and a half states west of the Mississippi. "You need only two ingredients in a crisis." (I can hear him now.) "Total failure of public credibility and widespread, demoralizing paranoia. I want ideas for creating total credibility break-down." How the ideas must have erupted! "I've got it, chief! First we will announce the Arabs are holding back the oil because too many people like Israel. Then we will announce that the real villain is the Shah of Iran, who likes Israel very much but wants to make everybody pay four times as much for oil." (Cries of "terrific!" and "hear, hear!") "We won't stop there," cried a man who had two married daughters and a worried look. "I will go on television and say that everybody has to make sacrifices because there is an energy crisis on. Then everybody wiir raise the price of everything so that nobody important will lose the wonderful opportunity to get richer because of the energy crisis." "Bravo!" and "encore!" echoed off the walls. "Then," said a great tycoon, "then we will close the gas stations and say it's because there is no more oil. And when the stations are closed, we'll hav� a lot of loaded oil tankers idling off the coast and tell people they can't unload because all the onshore storage tanks are filled to capacity." "Tremendous!" "beautiful!" (I have no doubt that these very words were heard in the crisis room). "Credibility will collapse and paranoia will take over, leading to sore truckers and fist-fights at the gas pumps. It will be the crisis America has needed for months." The beauty part, of course, is that everybody gets even richer, except people who weren't rich to begin with, so nobody really suffers. spaper reader must know, security has not come to South Vietnam. While Uie fighting may be at a lower level than in 1972 much of the countryside is dangerous to travel in, and there is always the chance that full-scale war will start again. Not surprisingly very few foreign firms are ready to risk investing their money under such conditions, and their money and skill are necessary if South Vietnam is to sell the products of its fields and forests abroad. So the main burden of providing South Vietnam with money is still carried by the United States. But American aid is only allowing the Saigon government to continue fighting a sort of war with an army of a million men. It allows the country to import $150 million worth of goods a year while it exports only about $50 million at most. American officials do not want the money they administer to be little more than a salary paid to South Vietnamese for fighting a war, but that is what it is. It is not enough to be anything else. The amount of dollars in Saigon's hands has decreased since the American troops left. Though the Pentagon now tries to procure many of the supplies it buys for the South Vietnamese army in Vietnam itself, the government is $200 million or more poorer each year than it used to be. Aid proper has stayed about the same but in dollar terms only. As world prices go up it is buying less and less in real terms until now, with the new world oil prices, a crisis seems inevitable. South Vietnam would have to spend $200 million a year to keep up its present oil consumption. It spent $80 million on oil this year. An American official with many years experience in Vietnam said: "The only thing is to go back a stage. In the countryside farmers must use buffaloes instead of tractors. In the towns people will have to go to work on bicycles, not motorbikes. The cooking will have to be on charcoal, not kerosene." A few years ago in the same building optimistic Americans Inflation rise forecast for 1974 By Dian Cohen, syndicated columnist MONTREAL - Thanks to inflation, the real income of most Canadians is going down each year. Last week, Statistics Canada confirmed the bad news of last year - the worst inflation of a generation, 9.1 per cent. The chairman of the country's largest bank predicts a 10 per cent inflation rate this year and the chances are that he is right. Last year's rate of nine per cent was caused mainly by food shortages and the energy situation. Historically, food prices in Canada and the U.S. rise by three to five per cent a year. Last year's figures were 17 per cent in Canada and 20 per cent in the U.S. Crop failures in many countries were partly to blame, but much of the problem was created by Washington and Ottawa agricultural policies which inhibited rather than encouraged production. That is not likely to happen again - at least not this year. Every country in the world is conunitted to as much crop production as possible but most of these crops will not get to market before next summer. Food prices will continue to go up until then, and will probably hit seven or eight per cent for the year - better than last year, but significantly higher than we're used to. The longer term outlook is for rising prices until world stocks of food which were depleted last year, are rebuilt. Energy prices went up even faster -19 per cent in a year. But politics, not economics, was the prime factor and many economists now feel the present prices can't be maintained. At the very least the outlook is that fuel costs will level out in the next few months. If neither fuel nor food will feed 1974's inflation, what will? Part of the answer is in shortages of other basic materials - lumber, paper, aluminum, steel, copper, cotton, cocoa etc. These prices are going up simply because they can't be produced fast enough for world demand. While all of these prices have been rising, wage settlements in industry have been well below the inflation rate. Many union contracts signed two and three years ago are due for negotiation again. Most of these contracts are "front-end loaded" with Uie big increase the first year. Canadians who signed three years ago for 10 per cent the first year, six per cent the second year and four per cent in the third, have now been falling behind for two years. For the first time since the war the real per-person in- come of wage and salary earners has dropped. It is now back to the level achieved in 1971. These people will want to catch up in 1974 and many of them probably will. Industries working at capacity because of world wide shortages can ill afford strikes and the possible loss of their labor pool. A few high settlements in those industries will blaze the trail for others; price rises will follow to keep profit levels up and 1974's inflation rate wUl be assured. were saying quite different things. They were boasting of the motorbike revolution. Skeptical journalists were told stories of how farmers came to Saigon with their pockets stuffed with money to buy tractors. A good deal of what they said was true. But the tractors, motorbikes^ television sets and other things the South Vietnamese once bought - and which, in parts of the countryside, did change the way of life - now look like Cinderella's clothes that change back to rags at midnight. All this has happened at the worst possible time for South Vietnamese farming, which must be the base of any future prosperity. The government (the military on one side, the civilians on the other) has been rocked since autumn by a ferocious battie over how the country's rice business should be conducted. The army has tried to take control of the rice trade away from the Chinese merchants who have run it for decades. The soldiers argued that Only they could stop the Vietcong getting control of the new harvest which is now coming in. The civilians, backed by American economic advisers, say that the old free enterprise system is the best. A sort of compromise seems to have been reached but not before many peasants complained of not getting properly paid by rice-collecting soldiers. The Vietcong added to the confusion by offering to buy rice at a far higher price than the government. No one knows what the effect of all this will be when the peasant comes to planting next year's crop, which would anyway have suffered from less fuel for tractors and irrigation pumps, higher fertilizer prices, and so on. The odds are that South Vietnam will again not reach that self-sufficiency in rice which has long been the planners' aim and without which no solid economic progress is possible. The Americans are already: planning to provide South Vietnam with aid in the com-; ing year. Many foreigners with a knowledge of Vietnam have been saying for a long time that the country was living far above its means, but it is only now that senior Vietnamese officials are beginning to say the same thing. After drawing up grandiose development plans to follow the cease-fire period which took little account of the complicated military and political situation, the government is now doing more sensible sums. The next step is for someone to explain what all this means to the South Vietnamese people. It will not be easy because, as one minister sadly remarked, "when the Americans were here we got used to fighting a war and still living better each year." Now the war continues and life, for the calculable future, is going to get worse. Letters A solution for ihe elk problem I have just finished reading, (The Herald, Jan. 11) the story of the elk problem in the Pincher Creek-Twin Butte area. The article states that it is relatively easy to get on privately-owned land which comes under the Foothills Protective Association. This I am sorry to say is a falsehood. If you are not known to the ranchers they simply say no. Did these ranchers ever think Uiat if they would not over-graze the forest reserve so badly wiUi their cattle till so late in the year, that the elk would have some feed left for winter pasture and not come down? You can ask any fair-weather trail blazer or hiker and he will confirm that no matter how high you may go there are always signs of cattle nearby. I thought Mr. Russell was a conserver of wildlife. But if he would like the elk problem solved this is exacUy what to do: open zone 302 along with F300 on both male and female, and in two weeks the problem will be over. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel; then next year there would be no problem because there would be no elk left. We had an example of this a couple of years ago. Wildlife biologists took a pheasant survey and decided they were over-populated so the hen season was opened up for one out of three. Well, after the 1973 season the checkpoints proved they had finished the pheasant population for some time. Due to this there are many residents from B.C. and the U.S. who will not be tourists in Alberta next season. So open the season on both sexes of elk and then the problem of the ranchers and farmers will be solved. ONCE WAS A HUNTER Pincher Creek Improved carburation We read and hear a great deal about the energy crisis and the steps being taken to cope with the shortage. Reducing building temperatures, reducing highway speed, shorter hours at gas stations and possible rationing seem to spell retrogression. Recently we read about an improved burner for furnaces. What about improved carburation for automobiles! Is anything being done in this field? I recall during the past thirty-five years there have been at least two or three news reports of individuals inventing carburetors that would double the mileage. In each instance an oil company purchased the patent. No doubt there are Herald readers who know more about this and it would be interesting to hear their comments. I firmly believe that it is possible to build a carburetor that would use fuel to better advantage and give better mileage. Not only would fuel consumption be reduced but it might even cut pollution. While we do not have a shortage at present our government would do well to look into the future and make funds available for research. J. M. REGEKR Coutts "Everyone has gone to a ceasefire over in the Mideast somewhere." The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th St. S. Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBHIOQE HERALD CO. LTD. 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