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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 23, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta Friday, Novtmbir 24, 1975 THI LETHMIDGE HMALD Canadian spending out of control Parents' crutch exposed By Chris Stewart By Bruce Whileslone, syndicated Canadian commentator Is It possible that govern- ments today cannot manage their spending policies? If any- one raised this kind ol ques- tion a few years ago he would have been considered hopelessly out-of-date. After all, it was al- most conventional wisdom to have an unbalanced budget dur- ing periods of business reces- sion and a surplus when busi- ness conditions warrant. What has gone wrong? A look over the world econ- omy during recent years shows that the political process did not, and presumably could not, provide spending and taxation policies tfct were appropriate for the prevailing economic conditions. Last year in Western any, prices were rising more than six per cent annually, a rate that inflation conscious Germans find particularly unac- ceptable. The financial prescrip- tion for this set of circum- stances obviously was to limit government spending by run- ning a sizable budget surplus. However, the budget that em- erged provided for expenditures and deficits that rose 12 ptr cent. Governments always find the lure of spending far more irresistible than the self-denial of debt reduction, and this proved to be the case in Ger- many where the governing party had a very thin parlia- mentary majority. Because of the deficit the German govern- ment had to cut back on money supply and credit; the resulting period of tight money drove in- terest rates sky-high, attracted a temporary inflow of money, and aggravated the internation- al monetary problems of that One could assume that mod- em focal policy could work in an expansionist direc- tion. In Japan, the relatively sluggish economy last year call- ed for an increase in govern- ment spending awl budget def- icits. Too, Japan needs to spend a lot more money on social fa- cilities, schools, roads, and the like. Yet the required expendi- tures never did take place. Further, in North America, the delays in implementing an expansionary financial policy usually means that spending accelerates long after it is need- ed, and, therefore, tends to ag- gravate inflationary pressures at a particularly inappropriate, time in the business cycle. The 13 months that elapsed between President Kennedy's proposals to cut taxes and the actual lax reduction, show graphically the problems that the United States has experienced in trying to de- velop the right budgetary and spending policies to take effect at a suitable time. The real problems for fiscal policy are deep-seated, how- Book Reviews ever. First, there is the ability of governments, particularly re- cent Canadian ones, to identify where the nation's economy is at a particular moment. Such questions as, "Is a recovery or "Does the ec- onomy need further stimula- have underscored recent budgetary problems in Canada, and perhaps explain the fact that we have had four tax changes within the twelve months from June, 1971, to May 1972. Even with the best of In- tensions a skiful minister of fi- nance has difficulty in resolv- ing these questions, and, of course, the competence of some of otc recent ministers of fi- nance could be called into ques- tion. The other over-riding problem In operating an appropriate fi- nancial policy is the relentless rise in public outlays. The di- mensions of the increase in Canada are staggering, partic- The Canadian prisoner speaks "Words from the Inside" The "Inside" is a Canadian penal institution, the words are written by some of the inmates. This small booklet is a collec- tion of short poems, satires and literary contributions. It is sub- mitted by prisoners, to the St. Leonard's Society of Canada, a non-profit organization operat- ing seven half-way houses in Canada. The society sponsors an annual competition to rec- ognize and encourage creativ- ity and talent among the pris- oners. Benson and Hedges (Csn- ada) Ltd. offers scholarships to prisoners who pursue courses of study either in the institu- tions or after release. The result of the 1971 compe- tition in "Prison Arts" in the writing field, is brief, but quite extraordinary. It takes only half an hour to read, but some of the selections will linger long with the thoughtful individual. They exhibit a sensitivity and literary ability and often a ten- derness revealing much latent talent. One short story narrates a simple episode in childhood, an- other is an Indian legend re- told: third contribution consists of letter fragments, a fourth is a "tone Sean Gleeson has written an imagination piece called Solip- sist. It tells the tale of Harvev R. Picklehead who tries to will the universe out of existence and finds himself forced to re- place the creator. Finally, find- ing himself alone in the void, he created the heaven and earth. It took him six days and on the seventh day he sat down and The book is intriguing; but the footnote supplied by the St. Leonard's Societ; is a cruel comment on a social system which has found itself unable to preserve, foster and encour- age the talent of its author. He was released, we are told, in the summer of 1971. He was in touch with the St. Leonard's So- ciety and the Clarke Institute but disappeared several times. Shortly after Christmas he was found dead of starvation and exposure in a shack on the out- skirts of Toronto. The booklet was printed by the inmates of the Millhaven insti- tution. Its format is a credit to their technological and ar- tistic ability. JANE HUCKVALE Ethiopian game farm "From the Roof of Africa" by C. W. Nicol (Random House of Canada Ltd., 3G2 pages, It takes 130 pages ot agon- izingly dull reading to get into the meat of this book, but once there it's tire effort. The slow start, about as exciting and revealing as watching the test pattern on TV, is eventu- ally overcome by Nicol as he finally succeeds in involving the reader in his frustrations, as well as in the beauty of Ethiopia. Two years of Nicol's life we'e spent in the Simien Moun- tains of Ethiopia trying to es- tablish a park and game refu- ge. It is these two frustrating years that he records here. The bsaTiliful pictures painted by Nicol leave one en- vious of him for living in such majestic surroundings. But then one only has to recall his en- counters v.'ith lice, rats or cock- roaches, and the envy disap- pears. The people would drive Al- beit Schweitzer around the bend. They are, for the most part, illiterate, uncaring liars, constantly at odds with the park and Nicol. Their strange beliefs and customs are unreal at times. Simple reasoning is lost on them. No matter how logical an argument is they still cling to their own ways "With my own knife I showed them how to make a sloping cut in the bark of the tree the villagers marvelled at my wis- dom I asked if they would do it that way now 'No, lord, it is not on: custom to do it that way' one more frus- trating experience for the au- thor. Nicol really loved these peo- ple, despite their faults. After a run-in with the natives he of- ten found contentment by sit- ting on the cliffs, allowing his thoughts and problems to be overwhelmed by the grandeur of the scenery. Thwarted at every turn by corrupt government men and police. Nicol plodded on, trying to make the people feel what te felt for their country. Tire book is a replay of that tedious up- hill battle. GARRY ALLISON Melchers has an for beauty and a reputation for quality Melchers Melchers RUUM WHITE LA BEfc Jltl.1 Melchers Melchers Diitilltries Limited, Montreal, Quebec ularly in recent years. Prior to 1965, government spending in Canada rose less than the increase in the gross national product; in the ensuing six years GNP in Canada grew at a nine per cent rate com- pared to a yearly rise in gov- ernment spending of 14 per cent. As a result, the govern- ment's sha-e of the GNP rose from 31 per cent in 1965 to 37 pei cent last year. With roughly half the increase in national in- come absorbed by rising gov- ernment outlays, it is obvious that our expenditures are de- termined by a decision making process that is composed more of momentum than moderation. Part of the problem is that to a growing extent federal out- lays reflect permanent prog- grams with built-in yearly in- creases. This is particularly the case with shared cost programs where federal outlays are de- termined by provincial spend- ing. If, for example, the federal government agrees to pay half the cost of a highway system, the timing and extent of such outlays usually rest with pro- vincial governments. Other ex- penditures are literally unpon- under present legisla- tion; expenses such as benefits are often determined by legislation enacted at an earlier period. Another part of the problem is the gradual disappearance of budget discipline. The time never seems to come when bus- iness prosperity reaches a point sufficient to generate surplus revenues. Having been told that there were times when the budget ought to be unbalanced, the political process finds it templing to assume that "now" Is one of those times. The old idea of an always balanced budget has been replaced by the never-balanced budget. In the U.S. as the Vietnam- ese war was declining in im- portance, there were wide- hopes for a surplus of government revenues. How- ever, the fiscal dividend of the 1960s became the fiscal mort- gage of the IBTOs, The concept of fiscal discipline must regain some acceptance in budget pol- icy. The key lies with the re- establishment of an old prin- ciple: government must couple the delights of spending with the distasteful task of raising taxes to pay for these new pro- grams. There is a need too, for five- year budgets in which the costs of new programs must be set rut several years in advance. If the projected totals were speHed out, in constant dollars, that is excluding the inflation- ary impact on spending, the public would be able to decide if it wished to make a commit- ment of this magnitude. In that sense, the federal government's budget problem would be sim- ilar to that of a business or family. Not only would each Item be scrutinized to deter- mine if it should be included in the new budget, but new pro- gram decisions would be under- taken only after weighing the long-ran costs, along with the expenditures required to meet them. Without the consideration of raising taxes to meet the costs of new programs, the whole pol- itical process has a bias to- ward larger spending than the public will want want only in the meaningful sense of what it is willing to forego in the way of private spending by paying more taxes for those public prc- g-ams. Whether or not modern fis- cal policies, or spendng and tax- at'on procedures, become a useful method for economic ad- justment or merely remain a theory that looks good on paper depends on the willingness and ability of government to impose greater fiscal discipline. The tacit assumption that there is a Keynesian formula of contra-cyclical spending by government has yet to be prov- en. In practice, it appears to he largely immobilized by a re- lentlessly rising trend in out- lays, nothing more than a one- way process of "more and Time is running short fo- the "new" fiscal policy to prove that it Is really some- thing new, and that it can ac- complish what it sets out to do that is help to stabilize a modeni economy. 'Crazy Capers' Parents have been advised to study their own drug habits before expressing alarm over those practiced by their off-spring. This timely advice was given by television personality Art Linkletter an anti-drug crusader since his 20-year-old daugh- ter Diane, fell to her death while under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug LSD. Parents, he feels, have been brain-wash- ed into believing that relief is only a swal- low away, when actually the remedy is perhaps more harmful than the malady. They take pills to alert them in the morn- ings and more pills to fold them in sleep. For some the favorite sport is to sprawl out before the TV with bottle in hand, puffing rings of smoke into a stuffy room. Finally they drag themselves to bed, after popping their nightly sleep-cap into their mouths and finding themselves bleary-eyed in tiie morning reach for their wake-up pills. And GO the round of drug-abuse con- tinues following an established pattern. For such parents to scream at their youngsters, "Do as I say, not as I is utterly ridiculous. The growing child learns values within his home for his good or his harm. Parental responsibility on such issues is not confined to the home but is directly felt in the community. Parents serving on youth committees band, sports and other groups where money is raised through raffles have a responsibility in de'ermining the raffle prize. Must it be a mickey, or is there an alternative? The child on his door-to-door raffle-selling can- vass announces the prize with prids or a feeling of apprehension. Is he to assuma that any raffle winner would be thrilled with a liquor prize? Parents attending a series of lectures on drug abuse held in Calgary recently asked the question, "Where did we go as they shared the agony of drug-riddled children, some of whom left home at the tender age of 14. One heroin addict could have come up with the right answer when he pointed out that "a person can be psychologically hook- ed after one fix, and 99 per cent of tha users who experiment heroin are hook- ed for life." Could It be true that as parents we are guilty of being psychologically hooked to so many 'accepted' drugs which cram our medicine cabinets and decorate our living room end tables that we function ES though incapacitated unless we have our crutch? Pasturized at 50? I am being asked to retire early to con- serve fossil fuel. I don't mean retire as in go to bed. I mean retire as in go to pasture. Some economists say that it will help to create more jobs if people like me, people over 50, have our noses detached from the grindstone and are led out to a quiet place where we will not stand in the way of the employment index. The premise seems to be that, after 20 or 30 years of working our nut off, we'll be grateful to surrender the job to a younger person and devote the rest of our lives to stimulative geriatric group activities like macrame, or comparative study of the liva spots on our hands. Well, I have another suggestion. I suggest that it is only fair that the re- tirement age be lowered to match the vot- ing age, the marrying age, the age of con- sent (if Namely, 19. It is my observation that many young persons would welcome retirement at 19. Indeed, they have already retired, unoffi- cially. They wear granny glasses as part of their dedication to being superannuated from the work ethic. Sociologists tell us that the main prob- lem with retirement is that of adjusting to not working. The work addict has a ter- rible time kicking the habit. He suffers withdrawal pains, around the bank teller, cold sweat beading the hand that picks up his pass-book. He haunts personnel departments, hop- ing to make a connection with someobdy pushing work. He slips into the washroom so the boss can give him the needle. It is doubtful that the job junkie can ever be rehabilitated to a life of creative in- dolence. The time to instill in people the virtues of retirement is when they are young and receptive. Not all 19-year-olds will buy retirement, of course. There is bound to be a hard core of youths who for one reason or an- other become involved with working for a living and refuse to seek treatment. But enough young people will, I believe, accept retirement at 19 to offset those of us over 50 who cannot be taken off work without the risk of our running down the street with no clothes on. Freaking out after 50 adds to eye pollution as well as rheumatism. The plan I propose Is natural to com- munal animals that depend on a highly organized social structure. Bees, for ex- ample. Where would the hive be if Boma bee got a human in his bonnet, so to speak, and made it mandatory for the worker bees to turn in their tools just when they were putting by some real honey, in order to make jobs for the young drones hanging about the portal picking their teeth? Chaoe. Apian blight, in no time. The only factor that might influence us older workers to accept early retirement gracefully would be that we got our cut of the comb as though we were em- ployed as gainfully as the young stingers. For a guaranteed a year, adjusted annually to the rise in the cost of living, I think I might just possibly conquer tha dirty habit of working. I'd certainly give it a sporting try. But the economists don't go into the mat- ter of early retirement income. That's the. trouble with this country: too many gosh- darn 19-year-old economists. Tidy yourself tip, Mother, some of the staff, are to talk. A recent editorial entitled Pictorial driv- ers' licences was in error when it indicated the motor vehicles branch is going back to annual renewal of drivers' licences. That is not the case. What misled the writer was not being aware of the branch's scheme for smoothing out the surge of renewals that would come up every fifth year. This requires that a number of one-year renew- als be issued this year, and the writer and two or three acquaintances got them. It was just too easy to jump to an erroneous conclusion. Our apologies to the motor vehicles branch for temporarily losing faith in its continued exercise of common sense. An item in this catch all recently wrongly identified Purity Dairy as having moved to a new "planet." It was Purity Bottling that made the move. Lately, there's been a lot of concern over patronage. And rightly so: handing out fi- nancial favors to political friends is a nasty business, even if it is as old as politics. The fact remains that governments are the largest buyers of goods and services, and have to do business with someone. Ob- viously it must lie with whoever is in busi- ness. (Think of the howls there'd be if a let of new businesses sprang up after each election, and got all the government or- ders 1 Does anyone really think it would be pos- sible or sensible lo legislate that the Alberta governnicnl could not do any busi- ness with Conservatives? That the federal government be forhidlcn to de.'il with Lib- erals? Or thai only those lacking all politi- cal belief be allowed lo engage in bus- iness? What is needed right now Is a brisk Chinook lo whisk away the growing debris in the oily. The debris whicn setllpd on the lawns of both Catholic Central nnd LCI recently Is unsightly. Wrappers, papers, boxes and junk litter the front lawns of both premises and have found their way to the church lawns across the street. Debris also lines the curb on Fifth Street between First and Second Avenues. City garbage trucks carry the slogan, "Let's help keep Lethbridge clean." Every- one could help by making a responsible ef- fort to put trash where it belongs, and not depend on the chinooks to do it all. One thing which Harry Hargrave, Alber- ta's marketing commissioner, noticed dur- ing his recent visit to China was that throughout his stay he saw only one dog and no cats. Upon inquiry, he was told that these ani- mals did not fulfil any useful function and were a drain on the human food supply. Cats and dogs are considered a "bourgeois luxury" which a Communist nation with 800 million mouths to feed cannot afford. In fact, the only exception to the "Puri- tan" way of life in China is widespread smoking. One China expert attributes the lack cf official policy discouraging smok- ing to Chairman Mao's chain-smoking. A noble experiment has been going on without our knowing it. For years the squares have criticized young men for wearing their hair long, calling them scruf- fy, unkempt, even self indulgent. And all the lime they the men, at least should have been thanking them. Down through the years, it has been the man thai went bald. Now and then a wom- an would experience this misfortune, but generally baldness has been a male afflic- tion. And as any careful observer will have noted, the main difference in how men and women manage their hair is that men have cut theirs, while women have worn their's long. Obviously, then, Iho tiling lo do was for men to lot their hair grow, as a means of eliminating baldness. If it works, and chrome dome goes the way of UK wet- head, we'll have our shaggy young friendi In thank for it. ;