Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 9, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THI IfTHBRIDOi HBRAID Wednesday, May 9, 1973- The public comes first Need for less emotion and more logic A report from Calgary alleges a substantial over-collection of taxes by the public school board of that city. Although some members of the board deny it, at least one trustee and the mayor of the city insist that the board, in putting together its 1972 bud- get, deliberately made provision for three million dollars more than was needed, evidently believing the extra dollars could be raised, and that al-, though there was no immediate need, it was fiscally prudent to collect "a little something for a rainy as columnist Fred Kennedy put it. Now, according tb the same trustee the administration is asking the board for a further million more than it needs. Those who recall the political braw- ling that went on a year ago over Calgary's mill-rate, Which finally wound up in an unprecedented ar- rangement for two separate tax col- lections last year, will sympathize with those who express outrage at this type of financing, involving as it does a tacit misleading of the tax- payers in order to pry out of them more dollars than necessary. Few this far south will be greatly upset about school financing in Cal- gary, but there is a point worth not- ing, nevertheless. It is that under ex- isting municipal arrangements this sort of thing can happen anywhere, and there is nothing more to prevent it than whatever collective sense of responsibility a local school board happens to possess. In point of fact, from the top level of civic administration down to the lowliest taxpayer, the entire citizen- ry is totally in the hands of the school board members in matters of school finances. Certainly another agency, usually the city or town council, has the right to review the budget the school board submits, and always exercises this right. But how meaningful is that review? Who, outside the mem- bers of the school board, really knows what the budget means, or can exer- cise an effective judgment as to what expenses are necessary, which items are really needed, which are frills? (For that matter, how many school board members are all that much better Probably the only really effective aspect of council's review is likely to be the bringing of the budget into line with political realities, ensuring that the gross amount to be collected from the taxpayer is fa) actually col- lectable, and (b) politically sensible. In other words, council might cut the budget, but when it does so it isn't saying "Your program won't be hurt by reducing that rath- er, it's saying "In the present circum- stances, it isn't politically sensible to ask for that much." That is council's business, of course. Aldermen are elected to per- form just that function. But the situation in Calgary, with a multi-million dollar nest-egg in the school board budget, the provincial situation with nearly million hav- ing been acquired in excess of needs, or even for that matter the strange emergence of a million dollars sur- plus right here in River city, all should serve as reminders that fiscal responsibility means a lot of home- work on the part of couiicilmen. It is axiomatic that the administra- tion whether school, city or muni- cipal will always seek the maxi- mum amount it thinks the traffic will stand. It is up to the men and women who are elected by the tax- payers to ensure that when budgets and mill rates are being considered, it is the public's wishes, not those of the administration, that come first. Pollution costs, too Anti-pollutionists have had some of their ardor cooled by the talk of the economic disruption their proposals might produce. Dire predictions of in- dustries being forced out of business with resulting unemployment and hardship has had an intimidating ef- fect. But anli-pollutionists can take heart from at least one instance where the threat of closure proved empty. Oregon's Governor Tom McCall risked the anger of the state's lum- ber industry by ordering one of the biggest pulp and paper mills to stop polluting the Willamette River, or close down- The firm's response was to close down and throw hundreds of people out of work. Despite the fact that the unemployed workers marched on the. state capitol, the gov- ernor stood firm. Then the mill own- ers decided the anti-pollution stand- ards could be met after all and did so in less than two weeks. The Willamette River which had been one of the most polluted waterways on the Pacific coast, is now sparkling clean. Both fish and swimmers have returned to the riv- er. Cleanliness is costing the 600 pap- er mills, factories, plants and canner- ies that line the river's banks some money but is not bankrupting them as they claimed it would. Pollution in the end will extract a cost that is intolerable the possible end of life on the planet. It is encouraging to know that in the case of the paper mill at least, the fears of economic disaster were unreal. But even if there are some serious economic consequences there does not seem to be any real choice about imposing strict anti-pollution standards unless living for the present is to be the only criterion. E i How to destroy inflation Not since the quest of The Golden Fleeca have heroes had to contend with a monster so formidable as Inflation. Here is a gigantic serpent that gobbles up pensioners and others on fixed incomes, as a snack, then coils its celebrated spiral around an entire nation paralysed by the exhalation of greed. But Jason still lives. The valiant eager to slay Inflation are not found wanting. I know, because they send me postcards. Here's one. urging the means to shoot down the soaring price of meat; "Instead of increasing the price of a pound of meat, by law, fix the price but allow the vendor to reduce the amount of meat. The quantity will shrink till finally the buyer is able to buy nothing, at the original price of a pound." Damn good try, sir. We need to follow through, though, by freezing wages and salaries at the present level, while gradu- ally reducing the amount of work done, till at last the employee is doing zip, for his original salary of a year. This brings production and consumption into balance without raising prices of wag- es, a feat fully comparable to that of Her- cules in cleaning out the Augean stables. Another method of spiking the cost of living is suggested by a friend who recent- ly had occasion to visit a slaughterhouse. He hasn't eaten meat since. His idea is to have school tours of aba- toirs. He predicts that in a matter of months the supermarket will not be able to give a steak away, unless accompanied by documented proof thai the steer commit- ted suicide. As this solution seems unfair lo meat producers, the program should be accom- panied by further research into the evi- dence that vegetables too are sensitive beings, and that poddingpeas evokes tiny, unheard screams of agony. It may be that reaping a field of grain produces more bulk suffering than has been felt in the entire history of pro wrestling. On purely humanitarian grounds we may prefer to subsist on a bowl of rice that has died of old age. This is how to destroy inflation: starve it to death. Our teeth are its teeth. Our belly is the working model of Inflation's enormous paunch. The problem: how to deflate the bloated image of La Dolce Vita and replace it with the ideal of simplicity and asceticism. Tf the government were truly mili- tant against Ir.flation it would sponsor a series of TV commercials that sell people on riot buying anything. The Commercial would show this thin, emaciated guy with the greasy hair and wearing ring-around- the-collar rags walking along the road and drawing hungry glances from all the girls. But of course the government doesn't really want to kill inflation. It just wants to limit the foul brute to consuming the old and the helpless, the poor and the un- organized. In fact. Inflation has many of the char- acteristics of a protected species. Like the Minotaur, the half-bull, half-human mon- ster of ancient Crete, its master keeps it in a place of confinement, a labyrinth from which the sacrificial victims can find no exit, but stand still in terror of running into something worse. Good Hunting, Theseus, By Brace Whitestone, syndicated commentator The recently proposed regu- lation of foreign investment may be good politics at a time when the national mood in mat- ters such as company owner- ship, local production and con- trol over our natural resources is in ere a singly chauvinistic and parochial. It may be the kind of move which will help its sponsors in a close poll. But it is not all good economics. Canada's main concerns should not be with whether or not foreign investment is worthwhile, but with the way to increase the benefits and re- duce the disadvantages of for- eign investment. This means that foreign investment In Can- ada should not be deliberately discouraged, but rather that it should be brought under closer surveillance by Canadian au- thorities and that policies be adopted to maximize the benefits to be reaped from foreign investments. There are four traditional approaches associated with control of non resident in- vestment: "buying back" Can- ada, substituting foreign debt investment for foreign equity investment, using a develop- ment corporation and "Cana- dianization" of foreign owned companies. The idea of buying back Can- ada is so ridiculous that it has been dismissed long ago. A 23 per cent minority interest (and who wants would cost "The very idea importing cheap Canadian eggs into Board will examine tip of iceburg By Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator OTTAWA The sharp ad- vance in farm operating costs reported by Statistics Canada drew immediate comment from the Conservative member for Crowfoot, Jack Horner, who called attention to the absurd position in which this places the Food Prices Review Board. In one respect Mr. Homer's Letters to the editor Conspiratorial conference On April 25 in the Alberta Legislature, Gordon Taylor (SC MLA questioned Premier Peter Lougheed on the Bilderberg Conference and the status of that organization. The premier said that it was very fortunate Alberta has been given an op- portunity to express views on matters of world energy at this conference, referring to the Athabasca Tar Sands; and for that reason our premier will be attending the Bilderberg meet- ings. Mr. Taylor also asked Mr. Lougheed if this conference was one of an exchange of ideas or one where business deals will be made and com- pleted. Mr. Lougheed said it was a matter of exchange of ideas. Mr. Benoit (SC MLA High- asked the premier where he could obtain a list of the names of the members at- tending the Bilderberg Confer- ence, and the countries repre- sented. Premier Lougheed re- sponded by saying he's not sure, under the rules of this conference, whether he is al- lowed to give the names of the people. I think we, as Albertans, should ''really" know what this so-called Bilderberg Conference is all about especially when our Premier will be attending. These conferences are held yearly as an international mas- ter planning conclave. They are and attendance is restricted to invited guests; these turn out to be about 100 men from the top inner circle representing their four major dimensions of power. The chairman of these con- ferences is Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who has mas- sive fortunes in the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corporation. Close at hand is David Rocke- feller. These men and others are trying to enforce a so- cialized "world government" upon humanity. Prince Bernhard convened the first of these conferences in 1954 in the Netherlands. Oth- er meetings have been held all over the world, including Can- ada. The meetings are closed; secretary takes notes of the speeches; no reporters sit in on the debates. The conferees de- part to the four corners of the earth to carry out their adopt- ed goals but the world is never given the slightest hint as to what has been decided. The great fear of the Bilder- berg group has been the pos- sibility of infiltration and ex- posure. They some times make a pretense of publicizing their meetings and even acknowl- edge who has been invited so that the presence of so many world renowned personalities will not look quite so conspira- torial or mysterious NICK NICKYFORUK Calgary. Investigate further Recently, The Herald fea- tured an article concerning a landowner in the Pincher Creek area who had offered to sell the provincial government a parcel of wilderness area land, still in its natural state, for use as a recreation area. The govern- ment turned down his offer, stating that the price per acre was too high. However, as pointed out in the article, for- eign owners and large amal- gamations of ranches are rapidly escalating the cost of land in that. area. Recreation land is rapidly approaching optimum use in this and other areas. During summer weekends, the camp- ing facilities in Waterton Park, the Castle River Valley, and the Kananaskis are used al- most to capacity. With this in mind. I was wonderinc if The Herald could further investi- gate and publicize this land sale offer. If the land is really suit- able for recreation use, and if the price approximates the go- ing rate, then pressure should be put on the provincial gov- ernment to have the foresight f-o purchase this land. I feel that The Herald did a great service in bringing to public knowledge the strip min- ing being carried out in the Oldman River Watershed. I have also always been very im- pressed with the high level at- tained by The Herald in its news and editorial content. I hope it will be felt that more should be said about the re- fusal of the government to pur- chase land for the purpose of setting it; aside as a wilderness area. MRS. BECKY COUSINS 1 eihbrifitre. criticism seems unduly mild. By the official measure, farm costs rose 10.2 per cent in a year and 6.1 per cent in the last three months alone. This reve- lation, observed the Alberta member, "clearly means that the Food Prices Review Board will be powerless to control fur- ther increases in food prices to the consumer." The fact is, of course, that the merely an in- vestigative no pow- ers of control in any case. It is a high-priced automobile with- out a motor and, as such, it cannot be expected to run what- ever revelations may or may not be offered by spectator-sta- tisticians. The board will enjoy the power of suggestion. Mr. Hor- ner's point is that "it will not dare suggest roll-backs in prices when nothing is going to be done to hold down farm costs." If nothing is done, this is probably correct. It is quite possible, however, that the board will recommend sub- sidies which tend to be re- garded with awe in Ottawa as the universal panacea. Any argument for an uncom- pensated rollback while costs are advancing would be an as- sertion that farm income is too high and should be reduced. A recommendation to this effect would be an exercise in futility; no government would accept it and the only result would be a general clamor from the politi- cal parties for the heads of members of the board. There is, however, a more general Objection to the present approach, which gains added force from the findings of Sta- tistics Canada. This is that pri- orities have been scrambled. Whatever its other weaknesses may be, the board has been given the wrong task. In isolating food prices for special attention, the govern- by a parlia- mentary ably responded to the most vocal demands from the coun- try. Food is the universal need. It is not the only one but con- cern over clothing and shelter costs was less evident last win- 'Crazy Capers1 ter. partly because food was outpacing most other items in the cost-of-living index. This might have been the ideal approach in times when families subsisted on roots and berries, which they collected for themselves. Although progress has assumed some strange forms in our day, we are not yet back to that state of nature. Food has become very much an end product and its price (re- gardless of anything added in various stages of the dis- tribution system) is the com- plex aggregate of all the many and varied costs which enter into its production. Obviously, it is also determined in part by the influences of the world mar- ket. In our situation all these costs which bear on the farm house- hold and farm operation are un- controlled. No board reviews the costs of farm trucks or ma- chinery or the costs of the labor and materials entering into them. No board investigates the costs of fertilizer or sets the price of oil and gasoline. No board regulates the prices of hardware items or building ma- terials or veterinary services. One could go on and on. The board is based on the proposition that the costs of end items can be controlled, by the power of suggestion or of pub- licity or in some other mys- terious fashion, although every- thing else is uncontrolled. Ot- tawa has reconsidered the ice- berg and has now concluded that there is nothing to it ex- cept the tip which appears above the surface of the water. What can be expected of this latest illusion? At best it may give us the comforting feeling that a Board, by going through investigative and reporting mo- tions, is looking 'after things. It may also be helpful in diverting our minds from other matters. For example, we have been warned by industry that cloth- ing prices will rise this fall. They are determined in part by protective devices manage- able by government.. As it hap- pens, we already have a textile board but its purpose is not to admonish or roll back. Its clients are the manufacturers and so, board or no board, the the agri- cultural brace themselves for what autumn will bring. about billion. Obviously a greater percentage than that would require sums so large that they simply could not be raised. The substitution of foreign debt investment for foreign equity capital depends, ulti- mately, on the willingness of foreigners to purchase debt and with rampant inflation this seems unlikely. How else could Canada obtain foreign debt capital? The problems of the Canada Development Corporation have been stated so often that they need little repetition except to say that the CDC does not coa- form to normal investment me- chanisms. "Canadianization" of foreign- owned companies, the ap- proach now planned, obviously curtails the flexibility of the foreign parent company. If this loss discourages foreign invest- ment, Canada would lose. Mi- nority interest in foreign-own- ed companies does not appear to have affected the perform- ance of these companies to any extent. Canadianization places the onus for protecting nation- al interests on the backs of shareholders, something thai they are not equipped to do. Now, the federal government and the Ontario government as well are attempting to_ define strategic areas from which for- eign business should be ex- cluded. The problem in such definition is that once you start examining industries one by one you can come up with ar- guments that every single one is in some degree strategic or sensitive. In an inter-dependent economy, in which most indus- tries are serving public needs in one way or another, each is equally important. The basic question is wheth- er or not elaborate machinery is needed to investigate foreign takeovers and if this is econo- mically justified. Does the own- ership of companies operating in Canada really matter? It is fashionable in the cur- rent nationalistic mood to an- swer positively. If our foreign investment policy is to serve national aspirations, we need some definition of objections. Just precisely what is it that we are worried about? Exactly what national detriment is suf- fered ss a result of foreign in- vestment? Perhaps the princi- pal current objection to foreign business boils down to no more than feeling that foreign own- ership is some slight on the na- tional character, 3 suggestion of national inferiority. Despite all the emotion and feeling on the subject of non- resident control, it should be made clear that the "good citi- zen" concept is the course we should follow. Emotion must be channeled into specific require- ments of company law and ad- ministration. The freedom of action of. national policy must not be reduced by foreign in- vestment. Foreign-owned com- panies cannot act in a way con- trary to Canadian interests. Ca- nadian companies must be al- lowed to adapt towards great- er competitiveness, even if it adversely affects the business of the parent company. Re- search and innovation must take place here when it is ap- propriate. Pricing policies, pro- duction runs and the like must be Canadian oriented. Publication of all company results would reveal whether or n o t subsidiaries were con- forming to a much-needed, tougher disclosure law. Cana- dian subsiij'.aries should give business to Canadian compa- nies, whether subcontractors, insurance companies or con- sulting firms, whenever the Ca- nadian company can provide the sen'iec. Efficiency should be the sole criterion. In other words, there should be no objections imposed on nor.-resident investment as long as it assumed the role of a good citizen. If it failed to act in an appropriate manner, such actions should be subject to cease and desist orders by the government. In this way, Cana- dian interests would be served. We should change our laws so that free enterprise both do- mestic and foreign-owned can operate. So far the debate on foreign investment and non resident control has been very long on emotion and very short on log- ic. What is needed, however, is greater reliance on a genuine free market and on the un- doubted ability of Canadian business to compete. The Lethbridge Herald 7th St. S., Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBR1DGE HERALD <70. LTD., Proprietors and Published 1905 -1954, by Hon. W. A. BUCHANAN Second Class Mall Registration No. 0012 Mtmber of The Canadian Press and the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers' Attoclatlon and the Audit Bureau of Circulations CUEO W MOWERS, Editor and Publisher THOMAS H. ADAMS, General Manager DON PILLING WILLIAM HAY Managing Editor Associaie Editor ROY F. MILES DOUGLAi K. WALKEft MwtUIng Mancger Editorial Page Editor -WE MEJU4D MtVES THE SOUTH"