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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 19, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 4 1HE LETH3RIDGE HERALD Monday, March 19, 197J Fraud is fraud Ail Insurance contract is, quite simply, a guarantee that if a certain financial problem arises, there will be money to meet it. The most fam- iliar example is the fire insurance policy, which provides that an in- sured house bums down, the insurer will produce the money to rebuild it. No stigma attaches to being a party to a fire insurance contract, and there is no reason why there should; to buy, sell, claim against or collect on a fire insurance policy is an ordinary business matter. Ail insurance policy sets out the obligations of both (or all) parties, and the terms and conditions under which payments will be made. Claim- ing or collecting benefits on false in- formation or misrepresentation o circumstances is fraud. It is punish- Fble under the criminal code, by a fine or imprisonment or both. And so it should be. Though no individual policies are issued, the idea of unemployment insurance is the same. The insurer is the Unemploy m e n t Insurance Commission (the the insured is the employee, and the risk is unemployment. Premiums are collected as payroll deductions, and the contract is set out in vari- ous laws and regulations, and in booklets, pamphlets and forms given to an applicant for benefits. Just as in the case of fire insur- ance, a fraudulent claim is a crim- inal offence, punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. Once again so it should be. Government handouts of one sort or another are common these days, and often so easy to obtain that it is hardly surprising that some peo- ple have the notion it's always open season on government money. They seem to feel it's all in the same pot, all "our" money, so to speak, and that as long as everyone is entitled to a living, whether via wages wel- fare social assistance, student loans or in this instance unemploy- ment insurance cheques, that there's really not much reason to be fussy or precious about what you say or sign to get it. For some people, and for some easy money schemes, that may be so. But for those who claim unem- ployment insurance, it must be dif- ferent. Much different. As was pointed out three months back, when the first hue and cry over UIC abuses was raised, recog- nition that unemployment is a nor- mal financial hazard, for which in- surance is an emminently proper and dignified answer, is one of this country's most enlightened social discoveries. It has a great deal to do with that human dignity that is so highly prized by civilized man. Abuses unemployment insur- ance, then, are more than simple fraud; they are also callous and con- temptible attacks on an important social device. If fraudulent claims are involved in the Banff story about the "UIC Ski or elsewhere in com- parable circumstances, there should be prompt and serious prosecutions. Pampering pets Slick advertising is now being foc- used on dogs. The latest an electronic whistling device inaud- ible to the human ear sends Fido into yappy ecstasy at the commence- ment a televised dog food adver- tisement. His master, observing his taste preference, hurries out to buy him the dog food of his choice. British pet lovers, considered the world's dottiest, are being seriously challenged today by Americans, mil- lions of whom spend annually on pet food t alone in today's boom- ing million pet industry. Pampering pets has reached the ludicrous stage. Dog toiletries now include tooth-paste, mascara, nail po- lish (in shades ranging from tanger- ine to violet) and even perfumes with such names as Le Chien and Kennel No. 5. Doggie TV chairs, com- plete with feeding trays and even doggie Santa outfits with flowing white beards are all available. The pet-cemetery business (there are now more than 400 in the U.S. with a new one opening every three months) is one of the fastest grow- ing industries in the U.S. Funeral costs vary. One Arizona couple paid for their pet hound's coffin and plot; a n Illinois woman laid her alley cat to rest in a coffin and vault while a Mount Venwn woman paid for a mausoleum for her two poodles. With 11 million dogs and cats in the U.S. kittens and dogs are born every hour compared to 415 humans) more than million a year is spent on dog and cat veterin- ary problems alone. In the highly mobile American so- ciety, where the average young cou- ple moves every few years and where lasting friendships are grow- ing rarer and loneliness increasing, the pet is a substitute dogs especially, with their built-in allegiance. Slick advertisers view this strong attachment as a gold mine. "Pets are becoming ac- cording to a psychologist employed by a leading advertising firm. "The whole trend of the industry is to get the consumer to treat his pet like a family member, bring out the hum- anoid element." That way, of course, the pet-lover spends more. Better touch wood An armored van drew up in front of my neighbor's house. Two guards got out, alert, and one opened the rear door. Together they extracted a length of 2 x 4 not more than eight feet long, by my esti- mate and took it into the house. During this delivery what impressed me most was that the 2 x 4 was not a clear. It had several knotholes, clearly visible through the glasses, and a wow in it. I had read about the rocketing price of lumber, but this was ths first time I'd witnessed the trajectory, I walked to my neighbor's house and found him covering the 2 x 4 with gold paint. "To discourage he explained. "I'm disguising it as nothing but an extra- long ingot." "What do you plan to build with the 2 x I asked. "Build? Who's building? I bought it as an Investment." He patted the length of lum- ber confidently. "You mean, you're buying 2 x 4s in- stead of stocks or bonds." "Lumber prices went up 10 per cent in the last said my neighbor. "Show me a slock that matches that perform- ance." "Do you plan to put all your investment dollars inlo 2 x I asked, "Don't he silly. You have to diversify. I'm into shiplap and plywood wall-sheath- ing, and I've made a down payment on a joist. I also have shingles." I asked if I could have a look at his portfolio. He gave me an identification tag, to get me past his older son acting as se- curity policeman, and after I'd been check- ed for termites he escorted me into the playroom that he had converted into a lum- ber pile. "Beautiful, isn't he said. I said, running my finger along a 1 x 8 and getting a sliver. I said. "That's okay, keep said my neighbor expansively. "Smell that lumber." You don't get an aroma like that with cut dia- monds." 1 said. "And you won't need to pay a capital gains tax when you sell it." "Right. Not that I plan to cash it all in. After I've piled enough lumber for my retirement years, I expect to he able to leave the kids a few odd they can take a holiday trip to the Caribbean." "You aren't afraid of fire wiping out your "That was why I had the furnace taken nodded my neighbor. "You may no- tice that it Is a bit chilly in the house. For heating we depend entirely on my mother. She has high blood pressure." "Sounds as though you are a person who has inflation I said, green with envy and the reflection of the lum- ber. "My only problem is storage. I'm afraid our living room will have to go. The space is too valuable to be wasted on the kind df deadwood that my wife invites in for the evening." "Your wife doesn't share your enthusi- asm for investment in better believe said my neigh- bor. "She's saving up for a stud." We bolh touched wood, "Good heavens, there's a more humane method." Government abets citizen delinquency By Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator OTTAWA The New Demo- crats have reacted with charac- teristic, 03 per cent shock to the revelation by Robert Andras that a disturbingly high propor- tion of persons on the unem- ployment insurance rolls in To- ronto-Hamilton have been found ineligible for benefits. Mr. Lewis and his colleagues, alter much heart-searching, have now persuaded themselves that there is a certain incidence of sin in the Canadian labor force. Either through revelation or Uic selective study of statis- tics, they have come to the view that the cheaters and chisellers comprise exactly 2 per cent of the force; a pleasantly reas- suring figure wliich now sur- faces with monotonous regu- larity in NDP speeches. Any re- search which points to a higher percentage is to be deplored and ought not to be mentioned in ministerial statements. As noted by John Rodriquer, an NDP spokesman, it "will merely feed tile reactionary thinking of people across this country." The non-reactionary thought of the New Democrats is remi- niscent of Montaigne's early 17th century view of the noble savage; naturally good until corrupted by outside influences. While sin flourishes in various social groups, the labor force remains pure (or at least 98 per cent incorruptible) and that should be the end of the matter. While there is, no doubt, a good deal of political appeal to the theory, it is not the only ono deserving of consideration in present circumstances. An alternative view Is that our public morality, at the best of times, was of the common or garden variety. But the modern state, to which socialists have made a notable contribution; has a considerable and day-to- day impact on all sections of society. If public morality has deteriorated, continues to dete- riorate and probably will go on deteriorating, due credit should be accorded the example, as distinct from the preaching, of government. It may he of limited con- solation to our sensitive politi- cians that the same trend has been observed elsewhere. The manner in which govern- ment has contributed and goes on contributing to citizen delin- quency may be illustrated by a few well-known examples. First, there is government-in- duced inflation; a form of con- cealed taxation or confiscation. By debasing the currency, gov- ernment robs people of their savings. Any citizen who takes the government for his model is on a slippery moral slope. Inflation has another effect. It encourages social groups to conform to the laws of tho jungle in their efforts to sur- vive. In Britain the phenomenon was described in the famovts phrase, "I'm all right, Jack." Socialists were once opposed to the laws of the jungle but that was before the great unions dis- covered the virtues of inflation and the moral turpitude repre- sented by controls. Secondly, there is the tax sys- tem which has become a game of wits with all tho advantages on the government's side. Our money is seized before payment is due, with no allowance for in- terest. The system has become so complex that great numbers of anxious citizens feel forced to pay tribute to tax firms in or- der, as they hope, to protect themselves. They are, course, exhorted to seek toll- free aid from the department of national revenue but the respon- sible minister, on Wednesday, declined an invitation from Pe- ter Bawden to say that the de- partment would stand behind such advice. In a special, 1973 contribution to public morality, the govern- ment is currently defending the new tax forms, spending millions of the taxpayer's money, not to provide us with information which might be legitimate but to brainwash us into the belief that it is easier than we think. It is beyond doubt that many citizens regard this as an out- right, susidized lie. Thirdly, we have the politics of the public trough which vari- ous parties deplore but none with much conviction. Even those with only a casual inter- est in politics are uneasily aware that the government, through ever-more ingenious Letter Mindless conviction Judging from a number of recent letters to The Herald I am not the only one who is bothered an awful lot by the writing of Peter Hunt. His re- ply to Pamela Goddard (March 8) has finally set me off. I'm tired of having Peter Hunt parade his own vaunted superior education in front of us, laced insults explicit and implied about our poor writing, inability to think, lack of lack of "excel- on and on. The aura of intolerent aristocratic elitism exhibited is one of the things that drove the people of this continent away from the Old World and we are not happy when we re-encounter that at- litude here. The idea of the people who set upon the New World was to try to organize themselves so as to avoid the humiliation they had known in their homelands; hence the empha- sis upon equality, freedom and support of the underdog It was decided that everyone would get the chance to go to school and that the policy would be to allow every stu- dent to try to attain the same level. If an individual student should fail at some point he or she was to be given another chance, and another, and an- other. "Excellence" was know- ingly sacrificed (even discour- aged) because it was believed that concentration upon that goal would mesh the exclusion of the majority from, schooling, resulting in an entrenchment of a new power elile, a pros- pect that was greatly feared. That idea lies behind this con- tinent's ami intellectual i s m and distrust of anyone who chooses to set himself above and apart. (It's to prevent peo- ple from "getting Perhaps Peter Hunt's p u r- pose at this time is not to teach but to upset. By upsetting us we will start fo argue and to think which is one of the few ways that minds can be chang- ed. If that is the purpose I agree with it but I believe his writing reveals more in the way of DCTsonal frustration than it does design. Actually T agree with a great part of what he says when he analyses our so- cial ills, I agree, until he gets to religion, at which point I start to itch all over. Peter Hunt criticizes a n y- thing and everything except Christianity. How can it be, when we know that religion is an interlocking part of any cul- ture and we know that Chris- tianity has been a major force in western culture that this force is not analysed for ils contribution to our problems? How can he see many aspects of our culture so clearly yet when he gets to his religion ha appears to see not at all? We have a name for tha problem blind faith. I want Peter Hunt In our schools because ho has many important things to tell us and he is surely a very stimulating teacher, but I also want him for another reason and that is as a perfect living example of the product of one type of re- ligious training, an example of a mind stuck in a rut. A mind- less conviction about what it U that is good and what it is that is true leads to many prob- lems, one of which is a confu- sion about tho relationships be- tween Christianity, capitalism and communism. His unwaver- ing support of one of the main bulwarks of tho society he so rightly criticizes helps to sup- port the very things he hates. (Russia is after all a society Orthodox Christians and if pol- iticians should happen t o change the name of the reli- gion it does not mean that tho minds of the peoplo have been changed) Christianity will "evolve" (heaven or be absorb- ed as has happened to other religions in the past. Elements will be added and elements subtracted until wo have a new construct which western man will one day sud- denly' recognize as bearing truth and grasp it to his bosom. On (hat day one more conver- sion will have completed. JOHN MACKENZIE IxHibridge, programs, makes available countless millions to the more- or-less deserving at the expense of tlie many; sometimes for outlandish, often for marginally useful projects. What does this do for public attitudes? Are you missing out on goodies? Write a clever application. Come and get it. Fourthly, tlie government, which initiates the law-making process, observes Uie law in se- lective fashion. In the exercise of this sort of'discretion, it-re- ceives invaluable advice from corner cutting mandarins and the weathervane lawyers to whom it turns for advice. Ad- mittedly, it stumbles on occa- sion. Thus certain farmers, not so long ago, took the govern- ment to court and forced it to make lawful payments under the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act. But the government, quite often, has its way with the law. Although the field is rich, these few examples will suffice for the moment. Why then do NDP members recoil in incred- ulous horror at indications that we have fallen by more than a permissible per cent below our former slate of noble savag- ery? The government, in Ks wis- dom, required us all to contrib- ute to a system of unprece- dented Indeed, to be the finest yet devised by the mind of man, and manifestly open to widescala abuse. On the evidence of the latest data, many persons ap- parently regarded their contri- butions as money in the bank or perhaps as tax overpayments on which refunds were to be ex- pected. They seem to have en. gaged with some zest in the game of wits with officials. It has .become tragically neces- sary to cut off young men from maternity benefits and to dis- qualify others who had ar- ranged for payments to be mailed to them, at the Banff Springs Hotel. Mr. Roclriquez feels that K was wrong of the minister to mention the Banff Springs case; it might feed reactionary fires, thp i. is to say annoy people who v.ork for a living. It is wrong at any time to suggest that more than 2 per cent of us are cor- ruptible. With a bit of effort an ATP can work up a head of in- dignation about almost any- thing. It may, nevertheless, ap- pear to many people that the NDP members on tlus occasion have clearly excelled them- selves, Truth is wonderful, ex- cept when it clashes with the NDP's authorized version. In that case, away with it. "Mr, Church, }asl wnol