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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 9, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta 4-THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Saturday, March 9, 1974 Shocking figures Regular patrons of1 the south side branch of the Lethbridge public library i will be understandably distressed by the news that the library board deems it necessary to close their outlet. The board could have helped ithese patrons accept the closure by revealing the costs, described as so excessive as to be shocking. If the costs of providing the book service at the south side location are obviously excessive there would be no question about accepting the decision to close. By withholding the figures from the public a suspicion has been planted that there might be some other possible interpretation of them. The solicitation the librarian has shown for the public in trying to prevent shock is perhaps commendable but it could be misconstrued as patronizing. Undoubtedly there are some people who cannot understand figures but the people most apt to be concerned about the closing of a branch library might reasonably be expected to possess a fair degree of intelligence, encompassing the ability to cope with such things as the unit cost of circulation. A public that has regularly been buffeted by revelations of continuing wastage of funds by governments and government agencies, sometimes on a truly colossal scale, is likely to be able to take the disclosure of the Lethbridge public library costs for dispensing books from a branch with some equanimity. An admission that costs are excessive and can no longer be countenanced is the thing most apt to produce shock. Perhaps the most important consideration arising from the finding of a high unit cost of circulation is the question of whether everything possible has been done to stimulate use of the branch. If nothing more can be done then the decision might be considered acceptable. All considerations of cost aside, it might be a fairer and better service to the community to turn to the bookmobile concept. Taking books to the people rather than expecting them to go to a fixed location, of convenience only to those who live nearby, has merit. The view from Quebec A Quebec organization has been taking the kind of analytical look at food prices which had been expected (and expected in vain) from Mrs. Plumptre's Food Prices Review Board. It has come to the conclusion that middlemen in the industry are reaping the benefits of high prices and that the country's entire food distribution system needs reorganizing. These conclusions come from the Co- operative Family Economics Association, originally established by the Confederation of National Trade Unions under Jean Marchand and now funded by the federal and provincial governments, Quebec co-operatives, the province's largest farmers' organization, the United Appeal of Montreal and the Quebec labor movement. An economist for the organization said recently that the average Quebec family spent 25 per cent of its income on food last year and that that food rose in over- all price by 16 per cent. Among the reasons cited .were poor harvests and heavy speculation on international commodity exchanges. Farmers, the economist said, earned only 10.5 cents on every dollar of food sold in Canada: the rest went to middlemen, slaughter houses, processors, wholesalers and retailers. Much of the control of the food industry is being concentrated in integrated companies. As proof of this, the association says that seven companies control 90 per cent of the food wholesalers in Quebec. When their economist analysed the profits of six central Canadian food companies WEEKEND MEDITATION operating in Quebec he found they rose more than 60 per cent in the year 1972-73, compared with the period of 1968-71. The companies argue that their profits account for only two or three per cent of total food sales but the association says they fail to mention that another 25 per cent of their budget goes for unnecessary overhead, for expansion in order to concentrate control of the market. One food company owns 30 shopping centres in the Montreal area as well as two flour mills and a sugar refinery. By controlling shopping plazas, a good company can prevent a competitor from establishing himself in the centre. The co-operative's economist said flatly that a good part of recent inflationary tendencies can be explained by such actions. He added that in the long run inflation helps big companies because they have the resources to deal with it while their smaller competitors are driven out of business, giving the majors a greater control over the market and the economy. In calling for a reorganization of the country's food distribution system, the Co-operative Family Economics Association said that the present system penalizes both the urban poor and people living in regions which provide the food, which it listed as rural Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and the prairies. These criticisms sound very much like those directed recently at the oil industry. They are certainly more penetrating and more realistic than anything that has come from the Pood Prices Review Board. The heart's cry for God It is said that every man has his date with despair. Certainly every man has his date with failure. Perhaps this is a virtue: "A man's reach must exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven This cheerful optimism is nearly impossible when one reflects on the wasted opportunities and the wasted years of life, the work unfinished, plans unaccomplished, dreams unrealized, and the sorry failures strewn across the path of life. A prime minister of Canada remarked to a clergyman that his life bad been a complete failure, though most people would have regarded it as a success story. An observant young man said that the eyes of people he met carried the message, "Sold When the realization of failure and the bitterness of it comes home to you, how are you going to meet it? Such an experience may be overwhelming, devastating, destructive of all joy and peace. Most folk are engulfed by this awful wave of failure, drowned by it. Russell Baker, the famous journalist with the New York Times, tells of watching the faces in Times Square, which he describes as the faces of "life's desperate, hungry, faces. As he says, they confess the inner, spiritual condition. One feels sorry for the atheist at such a time. He lacks the support of a vital faith. His morale collapses and he is done. As an anonymous poet wrote. "There is no God the foolish saiUi, but none there is no sorrow. And nature oft the cry of faith in bitterest need will borrow. Eyes that the preacher could not school By wayside graves are raised. And lips cry 'God be pitiful.' That ne'er cried. "God be praised.' The theme of the Bible is the compassion of God. Adam in his sin and loneliness was found by God. not cast aside by God. and his life was given meaning and direction. Through the Bible runs God's care for individuals and his search for them. Even the rascally Jacob is found by God on the lonely hill where he had a stone for a pillow. In the sorrow over his unfaithful wife. Hosea found a parallel for God's love and forgiveness for the unfaithful nation of Israel. Jonah marvelled at God's compassion for the wicked, repentant city of Ninevah. The book of Isaiah vibrates with the compassion of God. Paul Gallico writes of "The in which he includes the vast masses of people, but they certainly are not unknown to, or unloved by. God. Jesus said of children. "It is not the will of your father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." A certain religion has the faith that God at creation took pieces of clay and tossed them into the air saying, "These to Heaven and I care not." and "These to Hell and I care not" But Jesus said that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the compassion of God. and man is of more value than many sparrows. One must leave all judgment of life to God. Undoubtedly everyone has been responsible for much evil. How much no man can estimate. Nor can he estimate the good. "Suffice it if my good and ill unreckoned. and both forgiven through Thine hounding grace." "Both Yes. because even in the good there is weakness and wrong. Just remember that "God is man's eternal lover." Only in eternal life can failure and defeat be turned to victory. This is your only hope in the dark hour, that Divine Love is at the "heart of the universe and He can be trusted to make all things right at last PRAYER: O God, ym see this poor, pitiful life of mine. In your pity Rive it power to rise from the dust, purpose for its striving, and your presence to illumine the darkness and loneliness. F.S.M. It's a disease By DOUR Walker A wretched linguistic quirk has developed in our midst. More and more people are peppering their talk with the expression "you know." It is perhaps some improvement on the use of cuss words but not much. Often I am tempted to interrupt the speaker with a flat disavowal of knowing, but I merely grumble inwardly and grouse about it to my unsympathetic family at home. Recently, to my horror, I have caught myself uttering the despised expression. It must be one of those communicable diseases that float around and possess the unwary. I may have to quit talking to expunge the virus from my vocal chords. "A gallery of sorts this is Art Nouveau." Election-type opening speeches not significant By W, A. Wilson, Montreal Star commentator OTTAWA If an election were imminent, some of the speeches made during the de- bate that has opened this new session of Parliament would be first-class pieces of elec- tioneering. The primie minister's speech on "leaders' day" has been widely hailed as the best level of oratory he has ever achieved in the House of Commons. The minister of finance was openly relishing the occasion as he prepared to join the debate. But an early election seems to be no more than an outside possibility which might occur if efforts to iron out the federal-provincial aspects of oil problems go seriously wrong. That danger is not to be excluded, of course, but there are signs that perhaps a little progress has been made, if not towards anything that could yet be called a meeting of minds, at least towards a little better understanding. It is very late in the day for talks such as those that took place this week to be called exploratory, but, if the dialogue of the deaf is starting to end, that is something. Mr. Turner seemed to be ex- periencing a sort of political joie de vivre before he spoke. His opponents on economic policy seemed to be about where any finance minister would like to see his critics, and Mr. Turner fairly clearly' decided upon a "give 'em hell while the going is good" approach. With the effect of higher prices eliminated, national output last year rose by 7.1 per cent and, fom September on, this occurred in a world of great international instability. Unemployment stayed high but, nonetheless, the Canadian economy created new jobs in very impressive figure with great long-term importance.' This was the greatest one-year increase in employment Canada has ever 5.2 per cent increase compared to the previous record of 4.2, reached in 1966. The rate at which people en- tered the labor market was also record-breaking in 4.4 per cent increase in the labor force. The most rapid previous rate of growth, reached in 1957 and again in 1966. was 3.9 per cent. The other figures all are im- pressive in- vestment up 11.7 per cent in real terms; housing starts reaching the third year in a row they have been at record levels. Consumer spending was up 8.6 per cent in real to get rid of the increased price factor. That is the real reason, of course, why Mr. Stanfield cannot get the public really aroused over inflation: because, despite higher prices on all sides, they can still buy more. Inflation is another area where changes have outrun conventional attitudes. When unemployment figures began to rise after 1969's tight- money policies, it fairly soon became evident that a large number of jobless was not the same sort of problem it always had been in the past. The political impact was less and, from this, it could be concluded that the social im- pact had also diminished. There was enough cushioning available that a period of high unemployment was a lesser disaster than it had always been previously. In a different way. there has been a change involving inflation, reducing public consciousness of it as a great problem. Until now, it has always been regarded as acceptable to curb inflation by deflating the economy, deliberately taking the actions that would slow down economic growth and create unemployment. The real reason why this was found acceptable, of course, was because of the way in which inflation erodes sav- ings and the fact that these tended to be in the hands of the people with political and economic power. The classic attack on inflation has been a barely concealed case of the strong protecting their interests at the expense of the weak, although, of course, the strong always claimed to be thinking exclusively of helpless widows and orphans. We live, however, in a society much less conscious of savings and the need for them than in the past. Beyond a certain level, savings quickly encounter taxation policies which discourage the private accumulation of capital. Moreover, for many people, the largest single element of savings is a dwelling-house, and this acquires additional value at a spectacular rate during periods of inflation. As with unemployment a few years ago, inflation obviously does not now have, and cannot be given, the public impact it once possessed. There are enough unfavorable economic factors just outside our borders to remind us that we do not live in a world from which trouble has disappeared. But current attitudes towards inflation are a reminder that change continues to take new forms. U.S. Citizen's Inquiry attacks parole system By Tom Wicker, New York Times commentator NEW YORK The idea of parole is that if an offender's degree of rehabilitation can be judged and .found sufficient, he or she can safely be released from prison; and with that promising start, a program of close supervision can help the offender find a .useful place in society. Most of the time, unfortunately, this idea proves to be an illusion primarily because nobody knows how to bring about "rehabilitation" or whether it has occurred. The unfortunate results in New York State have just been pointed out by a citizens' inquiry on parole and criminal justice. Headed by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Prof. Herman Schwartz of the State University at Buffalo, the inquiry learned that offenders released on parole return to prison in the same year at only a slightly better rate than those who serve out their terms. Over a typical five- year period. 50 per cent of those paroled are found delinquent, either for committing a crime or for violating parole rules, and of those about 80 per cent are returned to prison. Parolees, that is, do little' better in the community than those who are not paroled, which suggests that "discretionary release" is really pot-luck, and those who decide who gets paroled have only the sketchiest idea of who has been "rehabilitated." And even if they could decide that eiusive question, the facts of life for parolees work strongly against them. Here is the way the New York Citizens' Inquiry described those facts: parolee) is given only a suit. the name and address of a community parole officer to whom he must report within 24 hours, and a list of rules that he must follow, on pain of losing his freedom. He is generally qualified only for unskilled or semi-skilled work, and he faces other major problems in getting and keeping a job. Although the parole service recognizes employement as a major goal of each parolee, the parole officers provide little assistance in finding jobs. In 1970. New York parole officers helped obtain only 506 jobs, although over people were on parole at some time during the year, 5.680 of them employed full-time. "Similarly, the department of correctional services does next to nothing to help the penniless parolee with financial problems. "Gate money' of is inadequate, the parole service has no loan fund, and New York parolees are not eligible for unemployment benefits." How arbitrary and harassing such a system can be is suggeted by the facts that for example, a parolee can be searched or visited at home or at work at any time, and without notice, by his or her parole officer