Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 21, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
Tuotday, January 21, 1975 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 5 Present economic solutions disappointing By Dian Cohen, syndicated commentator Most professional economic forecasts for 1975 have been published already. The. rest will be forthcoming within the next few weeks. Oyer the past decade, the have become remarkably patterned and predictable. Yes, they will acknowledge this year as before, there are problems. No, let us not minimize them. Yes, inflation is up and growth is down. Yes, we can expect more un- employment. Yes, we are ex- periencing a temporary recession. But ah, thank God for but all in all we are a very for- tunate people. If we are patient and co-operative, we will be back on the growth path by the end of 1975. Whatever the problems, our economy will turn in a better performance than that of any other industrialized nation. Why are economists so reluctant to admit publicly what so many are ready to ad- mit privately? that the world is now confronting problems which may very well prove insoluble? Are they afraid that such a public ad- mission will immediately cause the Four Horsemen to materialize and. start gallop- ing roughshod over the land? 1 make no brief for pessimism as such, but we may just possibly have reach- ed a point of achieving a genuine understanding of the situation we are in. I don't think I'm unique in feeling that all my aspirations to some modest degree of per- sonal security have within the past few. years been revealed as an illusion and a sham. Some of the events which have contributed to this sense of helplessness are the im- mediate and obvious ones. I am earning more and able to afford less. My savings and investments are becoming a sick joke on the virtues of prudence. Less obvious and less im- mediate', but no less threaten- ing to our dwindling sense of complacency, are all the dark powerful forces, economic and political, that are on the boil across the world today.. Wherever one casts a global eye, limitless disaster beckons with a gaunt and for- bidding finger. At this very moment while we are giving ourselves a modest little Canadian pat on the back for our good luck and good management in having such a nice sound little economy, famine'is reaping a rich human harvest in Asia and Africa. Atomic capability is proliferating among the have-not nations. The energy situation is bleeding the Euro- pean economies into a state of invalidism. The prospects for a new world war igniting in the Middle East have never been better. This is not to mention world-wide inflation, the deterioration of the en- vironment, the depletion of natural resources, and the shrinking world food supply. Are we really going to be allowed to sit out the anguish of the decades to come, splen- didly insulated from the inter- national problems, conducting business as usual? Not likely. It is only natural in times like these that we should turn to our political and intellec- tual leaders for guidance and solutions. Unfortunately, it is becoming clearer all the time that our leaders no more have the answers than we do. However, being leaders, they don't feel that they can afford to admit they don't have the answers. So if they don't have the answers to today's problems, they do have on file some tried and true answers to yester- day's problems. While yester- day's answers get our leaders off the hook for a while, in the long run they are worse than no answers at all, because they just contribute to the growing public disenchant- Berry's World 1975 by NEA, Inc.l- "He must know what he's doing he's one of the top economic advisors in ment and uneasiness with its leadership. It's a terrible and unsettling thing to find put that your leaders aren't any smarter than you are. It's perhaps even more terrible for the leaders themselves to find this out. One of the big factors contributing to this state of af- fairs is tliat most of us have grown up with a belief in the managerial approach to social change. Every social problem was supposed to be amenable to solution. One had only to apply enough rationality. Economic students- were assured by their professors, and then went on to assure others, that there could never be another Great Depression. We even seriously discussed the "fine tuning" of the economy as though we were talking about a mechanism as amenable to tinkering as a Model T engine. What to do about the starv- ing millions of the world? No problem just apply a little rationality and they would grow as fat and sleek as the rest of us. All that was needed was to throw in a few billion dollars in foreign aid and provide some good North American know-how. The natural process of economic growth Would mop up all recalcitrant social problems. Now we find that we've done a lot of the good, generous, helpful, rational things we were supposed to do, but the problems just haven't gone away. Now, economists, when they aren't clinging to the security blankets of their models, find themselves feel- ing increasingly uneasy. Is it, they ask themselves in their darker moments, that the economic theory no longer works, and salvation must wait upon the coming of another Keynes? Or is it, alternately, that the theory does still work, but that politicians too often have goals that oppose and work against rational economic decisions? Indeed it is true that today's society, unlike that in which classical economists for- mulated their theories, is dis- tinguished by the presence of powerful politics and political structures. Unfortunately, conventional economic analysis is in- capable of dealing with the problems of power which we call "political." One simply cannot build into functional equations the lightning shifts in mood one finds in the political world. So economists are left fiddling with their crumbling economic models which no longer provide them or us with a sense of assurance and control about the future. Now, increasingly, govern- ment advisers, business and labor leaders, the people themselves in all industrializ- ed countries, are wondering whether indeed applied rationality doesn't have much tighter limits than we .once supposed. They are beginning to question .too whether economic growth can actually bring about certain desired ends, or arrest undesired trends. If it can, then why is our current inflation ap- parently unstoppable? If it can, why has poverty not been eliminated, but instead in- stitutionalized through the welfare system? Even more distressing than the sudden awareness that economic growth might not inevitably lead us into paradise, is the discovery that economic growth may not even be possible. The natural world will not indefinitely sus- tain unlimited growth. Thus we seem to be facing two equally unpleasant possibilities: one the serious deterioration in the quality of life if growth comes to an end or even slows down, because of the inability of the natural world to support growth: or two a possibly disastrous decline in the material conditions of ex- istence if growth does not come to an end, or at least slow down. We cope day by day as best we can, with day to day. problems inflation, pover- ty, petrodollar recycling, Third World aspirations, international monetary stability. So far, with a great deal of adept, or perhaps even desperate juggling, we have managed to avoid cataclysm. But without some global framework, and a dedicated commitment to future generations, it is difficult to see how we will achieve longer term solutions to the profound problems from which we tend to shrink. Take the population" problem. Not ours, of course theirs in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa. None of these countries have the remotest prospect of achieving stable populations within the next two or three generations. China is the only large Third World country that may make it, undoubtedly because of the persuasive capability of a totalitarian educational and propaganda system. Even given the possibility that governments might arise in the other underdeveloped countries as efficient and dedicated as that in China, a total curb on population growth seems to be several generations away. This is because half the population in the fastest growing countries is below childbearing age. How then is the problem likely to be solved, if at all? Obviously larger and larger portions of the un- derdeveloped world may slide into steadily worsening social disorder. Such societies will likely be ruled by dictatorial governments serving the interests of a small economic and military upper class. This "solution" would effectively remove these areas from the concern pf the rest of the world. But there is another possi- ble solution. It is that governments will arise in these areas which will have the leadership, dedication and power to stop population growth. They will be revolutionary governments of necessity, partly because they will have to cope with the opposition of the few who benefit from the existing system, and partly because only a revolutionary government will have the will to force needed changes on an uncomprehending population. What are the implications for us of such governments predominating in the Third World? Robert Heilbroner, an American economic philosopher, has drawn the analogy between the world's present economic condition and a train in which a few passengers people like us ride in comfort unimaginable to the enormously greater numbers crammed into the cattle cars that make up the bulk of the train's carriages.. The governments just described are not likely to view the vast material gulf between us and themselves with the humble, forgiving eyes of their predecessors. They also have little to lose. China and more recently India have proved that poor countries without an in- dustrial base, and without a skilled labor force, can have nuclear weapons. There is no reason why others can't get them as a by-product of atomic power plants. Is it so unlikely that the time will come when the un- derdeveloped countries may use such weapons as instruments of blackmail to force the developed world to undertake a massive transfer of wealth to the poorer areas? What does it matter to them that if the developed world tried to give enough'to sub- stantially raise the living standards of billions of people, it would mean a decline in our own living standards? The key problem seems to be that industrial man is motivated primarily by the values of a high consumption society. Central to this society is the ethos of economic ad- vancement and competitive self concern. Once again, economic growth will solve the problems. In developed countries, the demands of the lower and middle classes for higher standards of living are satisfied by increasing the output of the economy. By providing increases in in- comes to all classes, the privileges of the upper groups are protected. Developing countries have never become modern nations without burgeoning industrial development. Indeed, the modern dilemma is that .they would be wrong to stop in- dustrial expansion. For the fact is that the acute poverty which is the' potential source of so much international dis- ruption can be remedied only to the extent that rapid im- provements are introduced. But the evidence keeps mounting that some day in the future the industrial growth process will have to slow down either because we cannot sustain it, or because we cannot tolerate it. Despite the evidence, societal values have not changed. People not only ex- pect more tomorrow than they have today, they demand it. Within such a social en- vironment it is virtually im- possible to form any bonds of identity not only with contem- porary peoples beyond national borders, but even with one's own posterity. We may go to the ends of the earth for our children, but how far are we willing to go or give up for our grandchildren, or their grandchildren? It is the absence of any real bond with future generations that casts the gravest doubt on our abili- ty to take measures today that will mitigate tomorrow's problems. International Women's Year By Eva Brewster, freelance writer COUTTS Our politicians and media have been vying with each other to find cause for optimism and make appropriate predictions for 1975. In the final analysis, their forecasts amount to no more than those of fortune tellers at the annual fair who may tell you the short life-line on the palm of your hand has no significance or, over looking your wedding ring, that you'll get married soon. Volunteered information that you have been married for 28 years and didn't really intend to go in for.bigamy, merely elicits a shrug of shoulders and the retort that "the crystal ball doesn't differentiate between a new marriage and a romance. You are going to have a marvellous year ahead of you anyway." Any woman could have told them that in 1974 because, whatever else is or is not going to happen, 1975 is International Women's Year (from now on simply referred to as There is no doubt, women are going to make the most of it and will have a marvellous time shooting down (without use of lethal weapons other than their fertile brains) short sighted male arrogance and chauvinism. We may have to start educating our own or the men next door before we can hope to prevent war, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and all other man-made threats to humanity. (And I refer to "man-made" in its sexual connotation.) After all, what nations are doing to each other is not so different from your neighbor shovelling snow, to clear his driveway, into your only exit. All that tiny brain can think of is to get his own car out. He doesn't give a damn for your difficulties. Let a woman point out that he could pile up his snow on an unused area of his own yard and that gallant male will probably tell her to shut up. If it is the last thing women are going to do in 1975, it is to try to put a spoke into the wheels of men or nations who think of nobody but themselves while proclaiming their belief in the brotherhood of men. On a lesser, more personal level, I intend giving the Terry C. Smiths of our society something to think about. What, you have never heard of Terry C. Smith? Take heart, that makes two of us. That is, I didn't know he existed until the University of Alberta sent me his book on "how to write better and Maybe, the librarian thought I need- ed it or had run out of titles to feed my voracious reading appetite. Whatever the reason, give the author his due, he succeeded in making me write faster, if not better, with his very opening remarks: "This book is for everyone who writes businessmen, govern- ment employees, engineers, secretaries and even housewives who find themselves turning out church bulletins or articles for their local papers. It will help you to learn to express yourself clearly and correctly." Not only are these sentences ambiguous and condescen- ding, if not contemptuous, their grammatical correctness leaves much to be desired. In case that gentleman hadn't noticed, housewives" came out of the caves of illiteracy some considerable time ago. Housewives have not only taught many a male, like Terry C. Smith, to talk and express himself in the first place (although they ob- viously failed to make him do so clearly and they have probably sacrificed their own ambitions for his creature com- forts so that he may learn to spell and write a book to impart his acquired wisdom to others. And he then turns round and despises, belittles and bites the hand that led and fed him. If IWY can persuade men to acknowledge that "even housewives" deserve better, it would be a step in the right direction. IWY may not succeed in persuading Arab women to come out of their sheiks' harems and take over OPEC to instil love instead of greed into the oil business and so save the world from disaster, but it may cause men to admit they don't have all the answers, that they have made a mess of global affairs and that women may be their last hope to bring back some common sense. If IWY achieved nothing else but to gain some respect for womanhood before young men are sent as "missionaries" to teach less privileged peo- ple bad manners and, more dangerous, technology, it might yet guarantee the con- tinuation of life on earth. IWY will at least give women the opportunity to ask, and get an answer to, this long overdue question: "Where would you be without us, you 'Most admired' list a bad joke By Carl Rowan, syndicated commentator WASHINGTON I usually don't sneer at the major polling organizations not even when, years before a presidential election, they give us those absurdly hypothetical results of a race between, say, George Wallace and Ronald Reagan. On the whole, Gallup, Harris and a few other pollsters tell us a lot about the mood, the passions, the pre- judices of 213 million Americans. But I can't help but recoil in disgust every time the Gallup Poll produces its lists of the "10 most admired" men and women. These half-baked, contradictory lists are so absurd that one could almost believe Gallup is deter- mined to discredit the polling business. First of all, those polled get no lists of names to help them. So they are inclined to think of persons who have received the most publicity or notoriety. It becomes almost automatic that the president makes the men's list and his wife makes the women's list. Almost everybody knows their names! But consider President Ford. Nothing matters more to most Americans these days than his handling of a grim economic crisis. The Harris Poll says that a stunning 86 per cent of Americans disapprove of the way Mr. Ford is handling the economy, while only 11 per cent approve. Yet, Gallup tells us that the American peo- ple admire Mr. Ford more than any man in the world except for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and evangelist Billy Graham. The contradiction is obvious and beyond dismissal. And look at whom Gallup lists as the seventh most admired man in the world! It's Richard Nixon, the man who went on nationwide TV to swear that he was not a crook, then resigned when his own tape recordings proved that he was. Gallup's own poll of last Aug. 11 showed that 73 per cent of Americans believed that Nixon either planned the bugging or, at least, knew about it and participated in the cover- up. Further, Gallup reported that a substan- tial majority, 64 per cent, favored Nixon's impeachment. What kind of absurdity is it, then, when Gallup tells us five months later that the American people admire Nixon more than all the men in the world except Kissinger, Graham, Ford, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Wallace and Nelson Rockefeller? A rational man is bound to conclude that there's something grievously wrong with either the poll or the American people. Gallup's lists of "most admired" people are in truth worthless as a gauge of anything. Someone might be naive enough to try to make something of the fact that in the top 10 are Graham, Ford, Wallace, Nixon, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, all of conser- vative persuasion, plus Rockefeller and Sen. Henry Jackson (D.-Wash.) who are not exact- ly radical liberals. You just might conclude that the U.S. has become a very conservative country. But, then, how does the liberal, Kennedy, manage to be listed as the fourth most ad- mired man in the land? And how does one square the Democratic landslide in November with this supposed public preference for conservatives? I haven't said a word yet about the women's list, which is just as ridiculous. You've got former Israeli premier Golda Meir as the most admired, followed by Mrs. Betty Ford and Mrs. Pat Nixon. Then come Rose Kennedy, Happy Rockefeller, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, Coretta King, Lady Bird Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Mamie Eisenhower. It's mostly a list of people married to a U.S. president or vice-president, with scant regard to any achievements by the women themselves, or it's an expression of sympathy for women who have endured hardship and tragedy. Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Rockefeller are both lovely ladies, but I rather suspect that even they laugh at the suddenness with which the Gallup Poll elevated them to "most ad- mired" pedestals. How silly can we Americans become? Or is the question how silly a poll can become? ON THE USE OF WORDS By Theodore M. Bernstein Books in brief "Are children neglecting their by Hadley V. Bax endale, (Doubleday, New roles for men, women, children, and the family dog essentially this is what this book talks about. But those who don't like satire would be advised not to read it. JOANNE GROVER So that. One would hesitate to set it down as an error, but there does seem to be a so miss- ing ahead of the second that in the following sentence: "Schools can be built in locations that are near enough to both black and white areas that the student populations are mix- ed." Here is another similar sentence: "It has been calculated that there is enough ice above present sea level that if it were to melt, the oceans would rise enough to drown every coastal city." The omission of so lends a faintly archaic flavor to both sentences. Of course, it might be better to duck the so that construction altogether; some authorities don't like it. The first sentence could be made to read, "to permit the student populations to be mixed." But gettihg around the so that in the second sentence would be a bit of a task. he devised the word ghoti. That, he said, spelled fish. How come? Well, the gh is pronounced as in rough, the o as in women and the ti as in nation. Put them all together and they spell fish. One of the same kind is offered here gratuitously: cieighk. That spells shape; the ci is pronounced as in, precious, the ei as in neighbor and the gh as in hie cough. Oh, you want to know about the k. That's pronounced as in knife. Word oddities. There are spelling peculiarities in abundance in English. Years ago a wag it may have been Bernard Shaw decided to demonstrate some of them and Redundancy. A reader in Buftalo, Neal C. Farewell, sends in a newspaper sentence that he thinks may set a record for most errors in fewest words. There are only two errors, but there are mighty few words. Here's how it goes: "Married in 1964, they have two twin girls, both 3'A." If they are twins you don't need the word two, and if they are twins you don't need the word both, because obviously they are of the same age. You might call those twin errors.