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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 8, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBRIDGE June What Syria gained from disengagement By Joseph Fitchett, London Observer commentator The housing issue The housing situation in Canada deserves to be one of the issues in this federal election. For several years now housing has been in a worsening state at least as far as low and middle income people are concerned. So debate on proposals for improving the situation ought to be welcome. Liberal policy, announced recently by the prime minister, is designed to help low and middle income people to acquire houses and to be able to meet the mortgage payments without taxing their budgets too severely. These specific proposals are now under attack by the opposition parties. Probably the most significant criticism of the policy is that it does not take into account the condition of under supply. The houses that people are supposedly going to be able to acquire under the new conditions are not available and may not become available without some new stimulus to the house construction industry. There are a large number of people now living in apartments who would create an intolerable pressure on the market for single family dwellings should they elect to take advantage of the incentives to acquire their own house. And a switch of any significant proportion of these people away from apartments would create new problems, not the least of them being an encouragement to further urban sprawl. One of the advantages of announcing a policy piecemeal, as the prime minister has been doing is that a later instalment can be directed toward dealing with criticisms raised. Perhaps the next announcement will be concerned with providing assistance for apartment rentals that will make it attractive to stay put. At any rate, the issue of housing is now before the electorate forcing all parties to make clear what they would do about the matter if elected. And what they propose to do had better be specific and practical; the voters do not want more studies or promises. BEIRUT The signing of a disengagement agreement between Syria and Israel is a major victory for the Arab world's moderate camp leaders, like Syria's President Hafez Assad and Egypt's President Anwar Sadat, who believe in slowly negotiating a settlement with Israel. No public jubilation has greeted the accord. Officially, the Arab viewpoint is that separation of forces on the Golan Heights is only a military arrangement, just another step towards the political negotiations which will ultimately restore Arab rights. But the Syrian-Israeli pact's far-reaching political implications are openly discussed in conversations and editorials here. The most frequent comment is that the Syrian accord was a more difficult feat and more crucial result than the prototype disengagement agreement with Egypt. On the Egyptian front Israel has often showed interest, even before the October war, in working out an arrangement in which Egypt reopened the Suez Canal and Israel pulled back some way into Sinai. Some Israeli leaders notably Premier- designate Yitzhak Rabin, a major architect of Israeli victory in the Six-Day war argued unsuccessfully in 1967 that Israel should avoid trying to sit on the Suez Canal and should instead accept a line near the present buffer line. On the Syrian front, attitudes were dramatically different. The proximity of Golan to the capitals and population heartlands of Syria and Israel made for psychological animosities of rare bitterness; the smallness of the Golan front left less room for geographical rearrangements, and complicated the security problem. Precisely because of these obstacles to an agreement Syria's success in achieving one will have a powerful impact on the Arab mood. For Syria, Assad can claim convincingly that disengagement has brought substantial advantages. The military ceasefire after eight months of war on Golan is probably the least important benefit. Syria appeared ready and able to pursue an open- ended war of attrition. A major Syrian political gain is the immediate return of occupied territory everything overrun in 1973. and a vital slice of land occupied by Israel since 1967. Proportionally, Syria will regain more of its occupied land than Egypt recovered in Sinai. But a much more important result is that most of the Syrian refugees will be able to return to their homes under Syrian civil government all the uprooted in 1973, and a majority of the who have been homeless since 1967. Like the Suez Canal zone in Sinai, Kuneitra township and the other buffer zone villages represent the return of normality on Golan. The remainder of the plateau was already virtually uninhabitable for Syrians before 1967 because it was a military area where Syrian gunners were involved in exchanges of fire with Israel. Disengagement also clears the way for Syria to embark on intensive economic development along the trail Egypt has blazed in recent months. This policy will produce immediate benefits for Syria's middle classes, which are predominantly Sunni Muslim and, as a group, have chafed under Assad's regime, both because it is socialist and because it has benefited the Alawaite minority to which Assad himself belongs. The armed forces which hold power in Syria can credibly claim that their performance, in fighting on alone after Egypt signed a ceasefire, "safeguarded the gams of the October war." China, Russia and NATO For years China has warned the world about the build up of Russian troops along its borders and a possible invasion, leading to a dangerous shift in the existing global balance of power. It has suggested to the U.S. and other NATO countries that they should not let detente with Moscow blind them to this possibility. Now. the Chinese are indulging in an interesting switch and suggesting to NATO that Russia's pressure on Chinese borders is the camouflage and its more serious aggressive intentions are against the west. This is an interesting shift in strategy and it has" led one seasoned political commentator to remark that, ''China is more ardently pro NATO nowadays than some of the alliance's own partners." The new Chinese attitude may only be self serving, but its validity is reflected in the' current attitudes of many western diplomats who seem less worried, than formerly, about a possible Soviet attack on China and more concerned about a developing hard line in Russia toward the west. Concomitant with this is a fear that President Nixon is the weak link in the NATO chain. He needs foreign successes to bolster his image at home and seems unwilling to separate the future of his country from his own political future. He may join Brezhnev in calling for a summit meeting at Helsinki and for the signing of an agreement in which the Soviet Union will have made no real concessions. The European conference on security and co operation in Geneva, in which Americans and Canadians have been participating for a year and a half along with 33 European governments, and its parallel conference in Vienna for reduction of forces in Europe have produced nothing worth signing. The Russians have been long on talk and short on any practical solutions. Any summit statements signed at this time as a purported outcome of these conferences would be for the purposes of propaganda and nothing else and it is to be hoped that the American president would not buy his future with such worthless currency. Another mystery Now that the Great Corn Syrup Mystery has been solved (see editorial of February 6 and letter on June 4) it is time to tackle the Great Split Pea Mystery. This deliberately bypasses the Great Clipping Service Mystery, which has to do with the somewhat embarrassing question of why a clipping service reads the Claresholm paper but not The Lethbridge Herald. The main plot of the Great Split Pea Mystery does not involve the whereabouts of the product. It is right there on the grocery shelves in plain sight. The question is: Why has a pound of green split peas risen in price from 17 cents to 71 cents in less than a year's time? That's an increase of more than 300 per cent. WEEKEND MEDITATION As an interesting side plot, there is the additional puzzle of why yellow split peas, which had been sold at more or less the same price as the green ones, now retail at only 53 cents a pound. For anyone who hasn't found his slide rule yet. that's an increase of slightly more than 200 per cent. Has segregation set in, unnoticed by social militants? Solving this mystery carries with it an inherent danger. If a grateful industry makes the newspaper a gift of a carload of split peas, of whatever color. Lethbridge, which thinks of itself as the irrigation capital of Canada, might, with a single leak in the ditch, qualify- inadvertently for the title of Soup Bowl of the Hemisphere. The golden rule "All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you. do you even so to them." This golden rule has been called "the capstone of the Sermon on the Mount." The Scottish theologian, William Barclay, calls it the Everest of Ethics. To observe it would revolutionize society, transform relations of one with another. Jesus was the first to teach the golden rule m a positive form. Hillel. Lao tse. Confucius, and Plato with many others taught it in negative form. Thus in the Book of Tobit. Tobias admonishes his son. "What thou hatest thyself, to no man do." A Buddhist Hymn of the Faith states. "Doing as one would be done by. kill not nor cause to kill." The Stoics taught. "What you do not wish to be done to you. do not to anyone else." It is said that the Emperor Alexander Severus had that sentence engraved upon the walls of his palace. Immanuel Kant, the greatest of German philosophers, put the golden rule in a more pretentious way, "Act according to that maxim which you would will to be a universal law." To show the universality and naturalness of the golden rule, one might refer to Vilhjalmur Mefansson. who studied the Eskimo civilization and reported, "On the basis of my years with stone Age Eskimos I feel that the chief factor in their happiness was that they were living according to the golden rule." To live by the golden rule is risky. A man who tried to rescue a dog from a block of floating ice in a nver was badly bitten So in trying to do a kindness to another human you lake the chance of being badly bitten. Yet undoubtedly it is the only way to a sane and humane society. Henry Ford had a motto. "If you do what is best for everyone else, they'll do what is best for you." but that is not true If you live by the golden rule there is no guarantee that the other chap live by it. Yet someone has to begin and these pioneers make possible a good world. To live by the golden rule you have to put yourself in the other man's place, see with his eyes, feel with his heart, think with his mind. It requires a rare quality of empathy. Consequently it is the key both to social grace and business success. The business man who can put himself in the place of the public, his customers, will succeed. The prophet Ezekiel expressed it. "I sat where they sat." So did an Indian chief, "God help me never to judge another man until I have walked two weeks in his moccasins." But few take the trouble to do that. One of the criticisms of missionaries is that they live in a different way, with different resources from the natives. How can they understand? Consequently to follow the golden rule also requires complete unselfishness. To obey it in its negative aspect would not be hard; but to go out of one's way. to find the kind thing to do and say. is not easy. The woods are full of men and women who do not hurt people; they are not full of men and women who help people. The life of Jesus is full of the search for the needy the lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost son. "The son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost "To seek" here is a new dimension in ethics. Kipling has a poem about a man called Tomlinson who never hurt anyone, but he never did anything to help anyone. So the devil wouldn't let him into hell and St. Peter wouldn't let him into heaven! This is the ethical vacuum in which most try to live. Tedynscung. chief of the Delaware Indians, said of the golden rule, "It is impossible It cannot be done If the Great Spirit that made man would give him a new heart, he could do as you say. but not else "A new that is the hope of the world1 PRAYER: 0 God, give me the moral daring, the willingness of spirit, to live by this supreme vision of the brotherhood of man. F.S.M. "Steel helmets, side-arms, four leaf clovers, horseshoes..." New NHA regulations may change little By Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator OTTAWA The Prime Minister has announced changes in NHA regulations intended to restrict low down payment mortgages to "moderately priced" homes. Above certain ceilings, varying fioin one locality to another, lending institutions will also be under pressure to limit to 75 per cent mortgages on higher priced homes. How significant this latest change will be remains to be seen and something may de- pend on announcements still to come. It may be that the de- mand for high priced homes comes largely from those who possess equities in existing homes: persons, for example, moving from one location to another or upwards in the housing scale. In such cases it is unlikely that the deterrent will choke off effective demand. But to the extent that the policy works it tmgM to be marginally helpful. There have been a good many such marginal measures and more are being offered, not only by the Liberals but by their political opponents in this election. The basic and barely touched problem is. of course, surging inflation which mocks at political oratory about housing as a "social right" or the Canadian dream that speech by speech, is allegedly- approaching realization. For those in the non-subsi- dized groups, the dream is and is likely to remain a nightmare, at least until inflation is checked. By comparatively recent standards the "moderately priced" home, as now carries an outrageous tag. It has not been uncommon for families, having barely settled into the new house, to be offered a handsome by the builder oblige by moving out. Speculation in housing is obviously one of the symptoms of the inflationary psychology. How long will the moderately priced remain in the moderate On the evidence of the latest wholesale pnce readings by Statistics Canada, not very- long What has been happening'' In April the industry selling price index rose, according to preliminary figures, by 1.7 per cent The percentage change over the past year is 19.4 per cent. Some components have advanced even more rapidly; primary metal industries 26.9 per cent: textile industries 29.4 per cent: paper and allied industries 31.4 per cent: chemical and chemical products industries 23.4 per cent: petroleum and coal products industries 27.2 per cent. The general wholesale price index also rose by 1.7 per cent in April and is now 27 per cent above its level in April 1973. A number of the individual in- creases are ominous for con- struction. Thus in the latest single month of record the wood products group index went up by 3.2 per cent; the iron products index 2.2 per cent, non-ferrous metals 1.8 per cent and copper producers on Thursday provided an additional nudge with 6 per cent price increases. These, it is important to ob- serve, are prices at wholesale JcvcJ. The impact at the retail level will be considerably THE CASSEROLE greater. A very large number of materials is required for construction even of the moderately priced home which now means, in some places, a condominium apartment. Indeed, at the present rate of price ac- celeration what is moderate when listed as a housing start may very well be in the 25 per cent down payment brackets by the time the builder has completed his work. This is not to cast doubt on the good intentions of govern- ment. All the intentions were through last year when many changes in housing policy were implemented. But the fact is that they did not mend matters, which instead grew worse, as Mr. Trudeau plainly concedes when he says that the dream of home ownership has faded in recent months. It is not likely to be restored by this or that regulative change. Not while inflation continues to cancel out the advantages conferred