Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 11, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Monday, November 11, 1974 Realistic assessment of the state of man Development policy lacking The statement submitted to city coun- cil recently on the necessity for con- tinued controlled industrial growth is by no means the development policy which Aid. Vera Ferguson has rightfully demanded, nor does it provide the basis from which such a policy can evolve. It falls far short of raising all the questions and offering all the answers or alter- natives upon which a development policy should be based. In presenting the necessity for broadening the tax base in order to enhance quality of life factors, which are generalized as "programs, amenities and the statement gives no in- dication of concern for distinguishing between industries which would genuine- ly add to the tax base and those whose drain on municipal money would out- weigh any gain in taxes. Pitfalls exist on every hand in the "growth is good" theory. As an example, the argument is put forth that the city has millions of dollars invested in West Lethbridge and now must provide jobs for people so they can purchase land and homes there. But the original argument made for developing West Lethbridge was that it was needed to meet the de- mand for homes. If this self-perpetuating reasoning isn't an insane merry-go- round it is at least unsound thinking. A statistical comparison is made as an argument for more industry. However, if it is true that urban authorities accept as an ideal tax base one which is 50 per cent residential, 25 per cent commercial and 25 per cent industrial, and Lethbridge's base is 64.4 per cent residential, 24.5 per cent commercial and 11.1 per cent in- dustrial, might not these figures also be interpreted to mean simply that industry has not been taxed enough in Lethbridge and that residents have been carrying some of industry's rightful share of the tax burden, as some of its citizens have claimed? If industrial development has not been analysed in enough depth for sound policy making, neither has the "quality of life" aspect been explored fully enough, although it is usually given as the prime reason for development. Brief mention was made, in the statements about cultural entertainment, golf courses, art galleries, libraries, curling rinks, river valley recreational areas and other "requirements" but nothing was said about traffic congestion, general pollution and the social problems which multiply with growth and which detract from rather than enhance the quality of life. This is another of the pitfalls in development reasoning, another way to board the merry-go-round. Neighborliness, a sense of community, the relative safety of sidewalks and streets, a leisurely pace to existence are all attributes of life in a small city. They suffer, however, from being intangible and harder to calculate. They do not seem as dramatically compelling as sportsplexes and symphony orchestras and yet they are a large part of the quali- ty of life. And they can disappear without any rational decision that they should do so if they are not recognized. The basic question on which a rational development policy should be based is: How big does Lethbridge want to be? What balance does it want between physical amenities, which multiply with increased size, and social amenities which decrease with growth? Might it not be preferable to many people to live in a town of for instance, and drive to a town of whenever they want to see the ballet or watch a major league football game? If Lethbridge wants to double its size, might not its present momentum get it there without the need for any more incentives? And what about the still smaller communities in Southern Alberta and their needs? These questions do not exhaust the list of those which need to be asked. They are a suggested starting point in a search for a sane development policy. Spanish conservation measures Spain is the latest country to introduce strict energy conservation measures. Room temperatures must be kept at 68 degrees in public buildings, street and public lighting will be drastically reduced, television will stop at p.m., public entertainment must stop at midnight unless it is a holiday and air- lines will have to cancel all flights with low occupancy. These are not apt to be popular measures but that is not a difficult problem in an authoritarian state like Spain. Gasoline rationing was not put into effect because the increased price had already cut down on consumption. This de facto rationing is usually hardest on the poor but the poor in Spain don't have cars anyway. Unemployment in Spain is about two per cent, economic growth is about 4.5 per cent and this year's inflation rate is estimated at 16 per cent. The main economic problem facing the country is, of course, the cost of oil. Meanwhile, Canadians pedal along merrily consuming as much energy as they want and public confusion exists as to the state of Canada's reserves and the nature of its responsibilities. It is a dis- tressingly leaderless scene. RUSSELL BAKER Sweet and sad WASHINGTON Life is sweet these days in the sugar business. Prices have gone up 300 per cent in the past year and profits are rising apace. Net income for Amstar, formerly the American Sugar Co.. is up 250 per cent. Great Western United, the biggest beet sugar refiner, is up 1.120 per cent in net income, and another boost in sugar prices is due at your supermarket this week. It is a thrilling success story at a time when the general economy is not only stale, flat and unprofitable, but also in rotten shape and so. in response to the public outcry for less gloomy news and more roses. I sought to interview the man behind the miracle. He is. of course. The Big Sugar Daddy of the United States. "You may have an audience in a few moments along with this gentleman right here." his secretary said. "1 want a private audience." said the other pilgrim. "The Big Sugar Daddy is too busy to grant private audiences." the secretary explained. "You are lucky he can see you at all, con- sidering the huge backlog of price increases he has to complete." "Do you know who 1 am''" asked the gentleman. "Of course." the secretary said. "You are The Oil King of the Western World. Now behave yourself or we'll price the icing right off your cake." The Oil King himself" I marveled, Waiting on The Big Sugar Daddy' And you Ihc nnh- other man in America who is raking in exorbitant profits while all around you. people are losing theirs." "Button your lip." said The King, 'or I'll squ'Tzr you for ,-jnolher two rents a gaJion." Gentlemen. The Big Sugar Daddy of the I'nited Slates'" cried the secretary We stood up 'Be seated." he said, and wept. 'Those are crocodile whispered The Oil King. 'How do you "Because he's stolen my crocodile." Your "Of rourse. In big business you've got to have rric-orjile to supply you with crocodile leai.s 1o weep every time vou raise prices to ever more fantastic levels. Those tears mean he's going to raise sugar prices again." "I have only one announcement to make before going to wept The Big Sugar Daddy. "I regret that intolerable economic hardship compels me to increase the price of sugar by four cents effective as of this in- stant. I will now take a respectful question or two." "Mr. I cried. "Call me Your he sobbed. "Will you tell me. Your Sweetness, the secret which has enabled you to turn fantastic profits while almost everybody else is losing He was convulsed in tears. "Oh no." he managed at last. "Not fantastic profits, my lad. The figures may look startling to the un- informed, but when you consider the depress- ed profits base of previous years when your poor old Big Sugar Daddy was making nothing at all nothing at all." He was weeping so intensely he could not contijiue for a minute or two. and when he did it was only incoherent blubbering. "All those years driving a '51 Hudson." he wept. "Seeing the children fade and fail before my eyes while I scrimped and struggled to supply America with the sweetest soda pop this side of heaven." "I want my crocodile." yelled The Oil King His Sweetness dried his eyes and stared at "The King as one very, very rich man to another, that is. without tears of bogus piety. "1 need that crocodile." said The Oil King. "The way the price of sugar is going up. I'm going to have more of those wonderful increased costs which regrettably always compel me to raise the price of oil. and I'm going to need plenty of crocodile tears to give the public an eye wash when the fantastic new profits are reported." "Leave us not discuss business in public." >aid His Sweetness, urging me to leave. I declined, but reconsidered when he told me that he had ways of making me drink coffee without sugar. The Oil King was less subtle. "Give the crocodile a taste of him." he suggested. Oh no." His Sweetness was saying as I fled 'Why let the crocodile have what is rightfully ours7" By Anthony Lewis, New York Times commentator BOSTON In western Europe, which many would consider a densely populated area, there are now about 85 people per square kilometer. South Asia, on the most cautious estimates of popula- tion growth, will add 140 peo- ple per square kilometer over the next 25 years. There is virtually no unused farmland in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. The chance of their ob- taining the capita] for inten- sive development of agriculture on the scale need- ed to feed the indicated pop- ulation is near zero. To avoid starvation deaths in the tens of millions, South Asia will de- pend increasingly on outside food aid. By early in the next century, on the population projections, the aid needed would equal total U.S. agricultural production. Those two paragraphs are abstracted from a recent speech by Dr. Philip Handler, president of the National Academy of Sciences. Many of us have had the experience of reading something that dis- pelled comfortable assump- tions and forced us to open our minds. That happened to me in reading Dr. Handler's speech, On The State of Man. The fundamental problem addressed by Dr. Handler is the pressure of growing pop- ulation and production on the world's resources and on man's organizational capacity. There are now four billion people on earth. The number is doubling about every 35 years. The poor are growing very much faster than the rich, and a new study by the Environmental Fund shows that the rate of popula- tion growth has actually increased in some less developed countries despite "family planning" programs. The problem is most acute, by far, in South Asia. Resources there are scarce, the population huge and growing, the prospect of mul- tiplying food production dim. Dr. Handler raises the possibility that the developed world may simply decide to "forget" the countries of South Asia "to give them up as hopeless." Then, he says, "the adjustments required by the rest of the world as humanity seeks to come into "Can't you even go look for work to Stockpiling suggestion for lumber By Paul Hellyer, Toronto Sun commentator OTTAWA If we have land banks, money banks, food banks and pretty soon snow banks, why not lumber banks? That, in substance, was the question posed in the House of Commons last week by the erudite Bob Kaplan, MP for Toronto York Centre. "Mr. Speaker" he asked "in view of the current depression in lumber prices, will the minister give consideration to setting up lumber banks along the lines of land banks to provide a flow of low cost lumber for housing in the future and at the same time to provide relief and employ- ment in the depressed regions of the country." Hon. Barney Danson, the af- fable new minister of state for urban affairs, replied "Mr. Speaker, it is a very im- aginative suggestion which I should like to take under con- sideration. Obviously, it poses some knotty problems which we will have to work The minister's rather low pun brought from some honorable members the exclamation! "Oh, I phoned Kaplan to ask if he were serious in this suggestion, he replied, naturally, that he was. Not all of the details had been worked out in his mind or in discus- sion with the trade but he had thought about the idea at some length and felt it was worthy of serious consideration. Danson agreed. He took the suggestions seriously enough to at least mull it over. There were some problems he argued. The trade was not very enthusiastic. Dealers felt that if the government entered the business and built up a huge lumber bank that this inventory would overhang the market and keep prices depressed Jonger than otherwise would be the case. On the other hand, lack of inventory could result in a repetition of last year's crisis. If the mini recession in the United States ended and interest rates began to fall, house building could increase dramatically. Canada exports such a large proportion of its total to the U.S. and Japan that a resurgence there could cause domestic lumber prices to skyrocket out of sight again. Canadian home purchasers would suffer. In reply to a question as to who should undertake the pro- ject if it were agreed feasible, Danson suggested that the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce should do it. Presumably that department, with its broad responsibility in respect of commodities, would have just New agriculture policy needed By Dian Cohen, syndicated commentator MONTREAL The CBC National news recently aired two items. The first was a full color close up of the slaughter and destruction by Quebec farmers of hundreds of calves to protest the low prices they are fetching in the marketplace. The second item was also a full color presentation of the death and dying by starvation of not just hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of peo- ple in southeast Asia. The juxtaposition of two such revolting pieces of film brought outrage to the House of Commons next day, although CBC switchboards reported numerous viewers outraged by the cattle slaughter, but none by the human degradation. NDP MP Max Saltzrnan has written a private members bill to make the destruction of food a crime. Does he not know that the farmers were doing tastelessly only what bureaucrats do every day on clean white sheets of paper7 It's called Canadian agricultural policy and it is directed at holding down supply in order to keep prices up. Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan is going to do a whole new beef industry in- quiry, no doubt after he returns from the UN Food Conference in Rome, where he will listen politely to the Who's Who in the world of starvation, mental retar- dation, deprivation and death. The first item Whelan may want to look into on his return is the incontrovertible fact that price support policies, as practiced in Canada, are total- ly inappropriate for solving domestic or international agricultural problems. Price supports encourage production by increasing a farmer's income. Bui unless steps are taken to limit out- put, surpluses which can't be sold at prevailing market prices inevitably arise. If the surpluses are allowed to get to the domestic market, prices fall, and the farmers" income has to be subsidized some other way If the surpluses are withheld irom the market, slocks ac- cumulate and the government has to finance large reserves, such as those of grain in the If the surpluses are sold abroad, domestic pressures are relieved and the cost to the government is only the difference between what is paid to the farmer and what is received from the importer. Subsidized exports, or "dumped" goods, are not looked upon kindly, however, especially by those whose traditional markets are under- cut because some country is rich enough to pay to get rid of its surpluses. The whole point is that as long as prices are used as a means of dealing with low in- comes in agriculture, the system will inherently break down under the pressure of surpluses. What is needed is a recognition, both nationally and internationally, that prices and output must be related to market conditions. Other simultaneous, specific, but separate steps are needed to deal directly with problems of low income levels. We live in a world where millions are starving. Ob- viously, population control is a first class priority. But we also live in a country that has the resources to provide an abundance of food to everyone in the country and still send lots abroad as great an interest or greater than Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation with its more direct housing role. Industry, trade and com- merce officials were interested and concerned. Production of lumber is off about from this time last year and employment in the industry is down "We are looking at all the ideas anyone can one senior official told me, "but we haven't got anything magical yet." That the situation is too serious to be ignored was im- plicit in the question raised by Lloyd Crouse, MP and veteran champion of the economic welfare of his South Shore (Nova Scotia) constituents. The preamble read as follows: "Concerning the decline in housing starts which is bring- ing about a disastrous situa- tion in our production of lumber, especially in Nova Scotia where Bowaters Mersey has announced the closing of its Bridgewater mill in December because they have absolutely no sales whatever for 1975." The crisis is not confined to Nova Scotia. It is general in lumber producing areas from coast to coast. Whether stockpiling is the answer or not. requires detail- ed immediate study. The dif- ficulty in getting past the chit chat (interesting idea, will have to give it some thought stage) underlines once again the seeming inability of the political process to react quickly before a situation gets oul of hand. We saw it in the egg industry and now in beef, lumber, it seems, will be no exception. equilibrium with our host planet will still be severe but can be feasible, and one can look to the prospect of a de- cent standard of living for the rest of mankind assuming, of course, that the developing nations of Latin America and Africa will soon adopt effec- tive population policies." He evidentally would like to see a massive program of aid and development for the countries of South Asia. But if we do not do that, he says as a scientist that it would be better to do nothing because a lesser effort would be "counter productive." It would encourage continued population growth and more deaths later. "Cruel as it may Dr. Handler says, "if the developed nations do not in- tend the colossal all out ef- fort commensurate with this task, then it may be wiser to let nature take its course as Aristotle described it: 'From time to time it is necessary that pestilance, famine and war prune the luxuriant growth of the human race.' Even without counting South Asia, Dr. Handler says, the rich countries will have to divert immense amounts of capital to the less developed world if they want to avert economic disaster, dangerous resentments and growing terrorism. That means cutting back their own development perhaps even an absolute decline in per capita income in the developed countries. It is difficult to suggest the scope of Dr. Handler's vision in a newspaper column. His discussion of the food problem is only one part of a large can- vas. He sees famine, climatic changes, inflation and en- vironmental damage as warn- ing signals of basic dislocation in man's relationship to earth. Essentially he is pleading with those who have money and power, especially Americans, to abandon the illusion that they can go on as they have, multiplying numbers and appetites. The dream of perpetual growth and prosperity for a lucky few on earth is excep- tionally difficult to dispel. When studies suggested that there were problems in the no- tion of an endless upward curve that man was already encountering physical and psychological limits there was a rush to dismiss it all as the work of computer mechanics. Many maintain their desperate cheerfulness even now, amid all the signs of economic and political strain in the world. My favorite recent example of desperate optimism was an article in the Economist of London last summer mocking the concern about resources and the environment. Why if all countries grew food as ef- ficiently as The Netherlands does today, the article said, the world would have enough to feed 60 billion people; it would be buried under rice three feet deep. There was only one little problem that the Economist forgot in its vision of a boundless future: energy. If every country poured oil and fertilizer into its agricultural production as The Netherlands does, almost all the world's available energy supply would have to be used for farming alone. The prospect is about as realistic as raising everyone to an American standard of living which Dr. Handler notes would require us to multiply our use of critical minerals, many already in short supply, by seventeen. It will be difficult to dismiss Philip Handler as a cranky crier of doom. He is a respected biochemist, an emi- nent adviser to governments, a man of wide experience and common sense. His voice is not so much gloomy as un- compromisingly realistic. How good it would be if some political leaders heard his voice and understood, instead of pinning buttons on themselves and insisting that all will sewn again be for the best in this best of aH possible worlds. The lethbridge Herald 7th St S Letnbridge. Alberta LETHBRIDGE HERALD CO LTD Proprietors and Pubttlhers Second ClMS Mail Regist'trtion No 001? CLEO MOWERS. Editor and DON M. PULING Editor DONALD fl. DORAM l Manager HOY F MILES Advening Manager DOUGLAS K WALKER Editorial ROBERT M FENTON KENNETH E BAHNETT Business Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"