Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 5, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Tuttday, 5, 1974 Thought for food The problems facing the World Food Conference in Rome which opens today can be stated simply how to grow enough food to feed the world, how to pay for it, and how to move it to where it is needed. And there the simplicity ends. One of the main proposals to come before the conference will involve a food security system, wherein every country will agree to maintain a minimum level of food stocks. The U.S., which in the past has stored as much as 85 per cent of the world's grain reserves, has agreed in principle to an international stockpile of grain but the logistics of such a proposal have not been presented. The U.S. is thought to be pushing for Russian and Chinese participation in such a system and U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger is said to look on food as a crucial example of the new interdependence among nations. Whether he is right, it must at least be a comforting thought, since the U.S. has much more control over the world's food situation than it does over oil. The long-term solution to food problems, as envisioned by the conference program, involves the grow- ing conviction that countries must learn to produce their own food. The World Food Bank has estimated that Bangladesh, one of the starving countries, could triple its acreage of high-yielding varieties of rice, and that India, where millions are also without adequate food, could triple its irrigated acreage. However, this takes money and it takes technology and these two countries, like many others, are already pressed beyond their resources to pay for oil. In addition, their internal systems suffer from corruption and poor ad- ministration, both of which have a drastic effect on their food supplies. In India, for example, part of the population is starving while some farmers are holding back their grain waiting for higher prices and refusing to sell it to the government for distribution to the poor. The success of the conference will de- pend on how each country views its own obligations and responsibilities, which in turn will reflect the kind of policies its people will support. Will the oil- producing countries recognize the effect of their actions? Will the developed countries be willing to triple their aid for agricultural development within the poor countries, in line with a proposal to come before the meeting? Will the developing countries face their own respon- sibilities? It is to be hoped that the conference will be more than a sounding board for propaganda and recriminations. It is also to be hoped that Canadian participation will be better planned than it was for the recent conference on population. Canadians have had considerable ex- perience with food problems how to grow it, how to pay for it and how to move it and no doubt they will be heard in Rome. It is not likely, after all, that Mr. Whelan would sit silently through any conference. Henry needs help War could break out again in the Mid- dle East any day. That is why U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is returning there for another round of diplomatic talks. The Arab summit meeting decision to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian with authority to set up an independent government on any areas of the West Bank or the Gaza Strip vacated by Israel, has introduced another com- plicating factor in the already stalled peace talks. All along it has been obvious that a settlement of the Middle East situation requires a resolution of the demands of the Palestinians for a homeland. The location of such a state can only be the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Agreement by the Arab leaders, including King Hussein of Jordan, on these points might seem to be a gain. But their backing of the PLO has created an impasse since Israel insists it will not talk with what is regarded as simply a terrorist organization not representative of the Palestinian people. In view of the fact that Israel warned that it would take an implacable stand on this matter it has to be assumed that the Arab leaders were deliberately provok- ing a situation intended to end in more war. Certainly it was not designed to get peace talks under way. Mr. Kissinger understands the Middle East problem as well as anyone and has already demonstrated a remarkable ability to negotiate successfully with the various factions. But it will require something special for him to be able to find a way around this latest problem in the peace talk picture. RUSSELL BAKER Outasight, outamind It is extraordinary how many things we don't talk about any more. There is Watergate, which everybody is tired of hear- ing about, and there is Vietnam, which everybody wants to pretend doesn't exist. And Patricia Hearst. If anyone ever men- tions Patricia Hearst these days it is only to ask. as one might ask about the good old days, "Whatever happened to Patricia Whatever happened to the Symbionese Liberation Army? For that matter, whatever happened to Black Power, the new left and "The What was "The Movement" anyhow? Nobody ever talks about "the revolution" anymore, nor campus unrest, nor the Beatles. When is the last time anybody talked about about "fun Nobody says "uptight" anymore, "or or "silent majority." Nobody talks about "the free "the struggle for men's minds." "the new or Spiro Agnew. It is as though Agnew had never existed, yet within the memory of recently born babes he was the rising glory of Republicanism. Now. in less than a year he has become an unper- son So has John Connally. Anybody remember "Big John''" Ke was the post-Agnew rising glory of Republicanism, and now he has been consumed and forgotten after three minutes of fame. Three minutes of fame may be all any man. any idea, or any event can expect nowadays. There was a war in Cyprus a few weeks ago and afterwards a sort of revolution in Greece. and who remembers it anymore'' Anything that is four minutes old is as an- cient as Egypt And speaking of Egypt, whatever happened to Libya7 We consume our history so fast to get on to the next tidbit that there is no time to digest it, and so become a people without memory Whatever happened to George McGovern'' Who was Elliot Richardson'' Where is little Tania's Leningrad diary'' To ask these questions is to be tiresome, to betray oneself as a lingerer in the past at a lime whf-n events are rushing ahead at breakneck speert Me that rushing at breakneck speed it gives us the sense of living dynamically, which is a delu- sion because events are not rushing anywhere. We are merely consuming them at indigestible speed, perhaps so they will not get lodged in our memory and start to mean something to us. Who was General Thieu? What was Mylai? Does anybody remember light at the end of the tunnel? Nobody wants to hear about such things anymore. We are blanking experience out of memory. There are weighty events bearing down upon us which must be dealt with at once. President Ford's swimming pool. Pollution-emission controls. The cold-water laundry crisis. Who has heard lately of Elizabeth Taylor? What became of Rowan and Martin? Stokely Carmichael? Abby Hoffman and Jerry Rubin? And who has talked lately about the most important book of the decade? None of us probably, for none of us can remember its title, any more than we can remember who played in the game of the century not long ago It is not surprising that trivia is one of the few pastimes that has survived an entire decade, for it demands ability to remember facts without context, and facts without context are almost all that remain when you consume history with your brain off. Nowadays context is harder to find than 90- cent hamburger It is very much like flying across the country by jet The country does not rush by underneath so rapidly that we cannot see it, sense it. digest it and emerge with the slightest sense of what an extraordinary and fascinating place it is, it is we who rush by overhead so fast that the journey becomes meaningless "We are coming up over the Grand Canyon on the left side of the plane now and will shortly be crossing the Mississippi River. folKs What was Pompidou'' Which was Anthonv Ulasewicz'' Why was Charles Man- son Who was the second man on the moon'' It is a fast trip up here at light years context but despite the speed you sometimes wonder if you are really going any place at all "The way I figure it, hell, they gotta be good fer sumpthin Food conference of major importance By Carl T. Rowan, syndicated commentator WASHINGTON The United Nations World Food Conference will convene in Rome today. This reminder probably provokes a gaping yawn from readers who have seen other world conferences evaporate in the hot air of self-serving rhetoric. But this meeting in Rome is of major importance for reasons you may clearly un- derstand: what happens there will determine whether millions of people die of star- vation in Ethiopia, are wiped out by famine in India and Bangladesh, perish in dis- asters like the hurricane in Honduras. Then there is the reason you may not understand: developments at Rome may have a lot to do with how easy it is for you to fill the tank of your automobile, or fire up your furnaces and water heaters in the future. At the United Nations recently, President Ford made this notable obser- vation: "Many developing nations need the food surplus of a few developed nations. And many industrialized nations need the oil production of a few developing nations." Now you can read that as a promise or a threat. You can find Mr. Ford saying, "Our food is as important to mankind as the oil of Iran, Venezuela, the Arabs com- bined. If they want to play politics with oil, we can play games with our food." Or you can assume that the president was simply stating an international and moral imperative. "We all have something someone else needs, and none of us is so self-sufficient that we don't need raw materials and other resources from other nations. So let's cut out the stupid em- bargoes and phony restric- tions and recognize our interdependence.'' From a strictly selfish standpoint, we Americans must hope that the president's intention was to say the latter. We must hope the U.S. delega- tion to Rome is going to make a pledge to a world grain stockpile which will be generous enough to set a stan- dard of decency the Russians, the Arabs, the Iranians, the South Africans cannot ignore when it comes to raw materials they possess in abundance. There may be some naivete in assuming that in showing generosity and compassion where her food supplies are concerned, the U.S. can shame the oil exporting countries into lowering prices so they don't push developing nations into bankruptcy or the whole world into a depression. It may also be naive to assume that a U.S. delegation headed by Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz is likely to set any high moral ex- amples, considering Butz's public view that the U.S. ought not to overcommit itself at Rome. And considering Butz's view that much of the talk about a "food crisis" and impending famines is "apocalyptic nonsense Yet there is no debating the presence of devastating hunger in the Sahel region of Africa, in Ethiopia, in India and Bangladesh even if one is unwilling to accept predic- tions that the world has entered a period in which this planet will be enveloped in a continuous famine. Then, too, there is no escap- ing the fact that the world's population still grows at a perilous rate. The En- vironmental Fund recently issued its new 1974 world pop- ulation estimates. It says we've already passed the four billion mark and that world population increases by 90 million people a year rather than the 75 million previously estimated. If we double the world's population to eight billion peo- ple in 35 years or less, we probably cannot double the world's food supply. Ob- viously, then, mankind faces an urgent need to find new keys to population control. But in the immediate future there is a fertilizer shortage, and solving it is directly related to the availability of petroleum. And there is a food shortage whose solution may require modest sacrifices on the part of the American people. That Rome conference may fizzle. It may not help avert famine anywhere. But it sure- ly will tell us whether nations really have learned anything about interdependence, or whether the present worldwide economic mass is destined to degenerate into selfish chaos. Little revealed about First Ministers' meeting By Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator OTTAWA According to Mitchell Sharp, the get- together of First Ministers last Wednesday, was "one of the most successful conferences ever convened." There is some supporting evi- dence in reports that most of the Premiers left Ottawa in a generally agreeable mood. What is puzzling is the ap- parent conviction of the federal Government that the less said, in Parliament, about success, the better. Nothing has yet been added to the gratifying generalities volunteered by the Prime Minister at a press conference following the discussions. On Thursday, in the absence of Mr. was meeting with trade un- Sharp was asked for a statement. The Govern- ment House Leader indicated that his colleague. John Turner, would be happy to answer what questions he could about the proceedings. As it turned out, however, the Minister of Finance had not attended the lunch at which the Premiers had achieved their glittenng success. On Friday, the Prime Minis- ter was back but was content to table correspondence revealing the agreement of the Premiers to accept his hospitality. The Opposition by that time had lost interest, members having been mesmerized in the meantime, by the perils of Eugene Whelan. It may be that success, over time, will speak for itself. This is the hopeful view. There is also the possibility that the conference achieved a remarkable measure of amity because, by attempting little, it placed no particular strain on anybody. On the basis of what has been said, this seems very probable. "It's fair to remarked Mr. Trudeau. "that there was a general agreement on the federal approach to the economy, our concern with. I suppose you could describe it. as a moderate fiscal and monetary policy aimed to fight inflation without deflating the economy and and so, as you can see, ihe World Football League isn't the ONLY world with its without provoking a slowdown and the unemployment which could follow it." It is also fair to say that no Pemier would dare to oppose a policy objective so defined. Mr. Trudeau's formula is an echo of what Finance Ministers have been saying since the mid-60s. The trouble is that the fight so far has been singularly unsuccessful, given the impressive natural advantages of this country. The Prime Minister's tran- script suggests that there was a general recognition of the desirability of governmental restraint and of restraint in areas of overheating. It was also considered basic to con- fidence that the various governments appear to be acting in unison in fiscal and budgetary policies. It would be interesting to know what the various Pre- miers understand by restraint Nothing has been said of a collective finding that overall spending is too high. Some of them apparent- ly left for home agreeably reassured that Ottawa has no dark designs for cutting back on expenditures in their provinces. Certain other passages in Mr Trudeau's press conference text may be open to the interpretation that the Premiers tend to identify restraint with a redirection of government spending This might well contribute to har- mony at the dinner table because it is obvious that they are subject to similar pressures. Housing is an ob- vious example The extremely sharp drop in housing starts threatens not only to aggravate the accommodation crisis but also to increase winter unemployment. Whether from the federal or provincial standpoint, it has become virtuous to divert resources from glass palaces to home building. This, however, may not have much significance for the general level of government spending. Mr. Trudeau spoke of the various governments acting in unison. A brief report from Statistics Canada on the following day suggests that this is exactly how they have been moving. Estimated gross general provincial expen- ditures for 1974-75 are up by 21 1 per cent to million, figures which bear a remarkable resemblance to those of Mr. Turner's suspend- ed Budget. The breakdown is also of some interest. The largest identifiable percentage 30.7 per for social welfare outlays. For health the figure is 13.7 and for education 14.7 Expen- ditures on transportation and communications are nsmg at the steep rate of 21.5 per cent. There is a 35.3 per cent increase in "other ex- There has been concern for a long time over the for- midable annual increases in the costs of shared programs. Federal efforts to secure an agreement on controls, however, have gone nowhere. No solutions at the moment are anywhere in sight. Marc Lalonde, replying recently to Heward Grafftey, explained that he is to meet the health Ministers early next year but was not even sure that the matter would be on the agen- da. There is thus statistical evi- dence that our governments, when moving, are moving in unison In the absence of a re- vised federal Budget and sim- ilar statements from the provincial treasurers it would be premature to conclude that inflation has been seriously threatened by an agreeable lunch at Mr. Trudeau's resi- dence, useful as that reunion may have been in other respects, as yet inadequately disclosed The Lethhridge Herald Tin SI S LethbricJge. Alberta LETHBRIDGE HtRALO CO LTD Proprietors and I Second Cleea Mail Registration No 0012 CLEO MOWERS Edrtor and DON H PILLING Manapmg Edflor DONALD R OORAM BOr F MILES AOvernwng Manager DOUGLAS K WALKER Page Editor ROBERT M Circulation Manager KEWNETH BARNETT Business Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"