Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 23, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
Friday, Ntvtmbir 24, 1975 THI LETHMIDGE HUALD g Canadian spending out of control Parents7 crutch exposed By Chris Stewart By Bnicc Wlilleslont, syndicated Canadian commentator Is It possible that govern- ments today cannot manage their spending policies? II any- one raised this kind or ques- tion a few years ago he would have been considered hopelessly out-of-date.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 tte; were appropri.i'.e for the prevailing economic conditions. Last year in Western Germ- 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 pa- 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 pe-iod. One could assume that mod- cm fiscal policy could work in an expansionist direc- tion. In Japan, the relatively sluggish economy last year call- ed for an increase in govern- ment standing 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 15 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 pelicy are deep-sealed, how- Book Reviews ever. First, there is the ability of governments, particularly re- cent Canadian ones, to identify where the nation's economy is al a particular moment. Such questions as, "Is a recovery or "Does Hie ec- onomy need further stimula- have underscored recent budgetary problems in Canada, and perhaps explain the fact that we have had four lax changes wilhin the twelve months from June, 1971, to May 1972. Even with the best of In- tensions a skitul minister of fi- nance has difficulty in resolv- ing these questions, and, of course, the competence of some of our recent ministers of fi- nance could be called into ques- tion. The oLher 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, parlic- 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- milled 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 (Can- 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 literally ability and often a ten- derness revealing much lalent 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 piscc called Solip- slst. It tells the tale of Harvey R. Plcklehead' 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 snd earth. It took him six days and on the seventh day lie sat down and crie6. The book Is intriguing; hut 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 lold, in the summer of 1971. He was in touch with the St. Leonard's So- ciety and the Clarke Institute but disappeared several limes. 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 (lie Roof of Africa" by C. W. Nicol (Random House of Canada Ltd., 3G2 pages, It takes 130 pages of agon- izingly dull reading to get into the meat of this book, but once there it's worth lire 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 wMI as in the beauty of Ethiopia. Two years of Nicol's life we e spcnL in Ihs Simion Moun- tstns of Ethiopia trying to es- tablish a park and game refu- ge. It is these two frustrating years lhat lie records here. usau'.ifiil piclures 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 lice, rats or cock- roaches, and the envy disap- pears. The people would drive Al- bert 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 ai 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 rio it that way now lord, it is not our custom to do it thai 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 (he 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 h; felt for their country. The book is a replay of that tedious up- hill battle. GARRY ALLISON Melchers has an for beauty and a reputation for quality Melchers VEfiMIlD iMelchers Melchers Melchers Distilleries Limited, Montreal, Quebec ularly in recent years. Prior to government spending in Canada rose less than the increase in the gross national product; i.T the ensuing six years GNP in Canada grew at a nine per cent rate com- pared to a yearly rise in gov- ernment spending ol 14 per cent. As a result, the govern- ment's sha-e of the GNP rose from 31 per cent in 19G5 to 37 pei cent last year. With roughly half the increase in national in- come absorbed by rising gov- e-nmenl outlays, it is obvious lhat our expenditures are de- termined by a decision making process lhat 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 uncon- t-o'Jable 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 lhat there were times when the budget ought to be unbalanced, Ihe political process finds it Jcmpting to assume lhat "row" Is one of those times. The old idea of an always balanced budget has replaced by the never-balanced budget. In the U.S. as the Vietnam- ese war was declining in im- portance, there were wide- srr-esd hopes for a surplus of government revenues. How- ever, the fiscal dividend of the 1960s bscame the fiscal mort- gage of the 1970s. The concept of fiscal discipline must regain some acceptance in budget pol- icy. The key lies with the re- of an old prin- ciple: cm-eminent 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 spewed 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 the federal government's budget problem would be sim- ilar to that o[ 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-inn 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 pro- g-ams. Whether or not modem fis- cal policies, or spendng and tax- fll'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 governmenl has yet to be prov- en. In practice, it appears lo he largely immobilized by a re- lentlessly rising trend in out- lays, nothing more than a one- way process of "more and more''. Time is running short the "new" fiscal policy to prove that il Is really some- thing new, and that it can ac- complish what it sets out to do thnt is hplp lo stabilize a modem economy. 'Crazy Capers' Parents have been advised to study their own drug habits before expressing alarm over (hose 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, Ml 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 lo alert them in the morn- ings and more pills lo fold Ihem in sleep. For some the favorile 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 tlie morning reach for their wake-up pills. And so 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 assume 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 righl answer when he pointed out that "a person can be psychologically hook- ed after one fix, and 99 per cent of the who experiment irilh 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 as 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, alter 20 or 30 years of working our nut off, we'll be grateful to surrender the job to a younger person and devote tlie rest of our lives to stimulative geriatric group activities like macrame, or comparative study of the live spols 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 Nsmely, 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 lime kicking the habit. He suffers withdrawal pains, around Uie 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 lhat 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 Hill buy retirement, of course. There Is bound to be a hard core of youths who for one reason or an- ntlier 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 il some 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 Uieir teeth? Chaos, 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 (till 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 i sporting try. But the economists don't go into the mat- ter of early retirement income. Thai's (fie trouble with this country: too many gosh- darn 19-year-old economists. Tidy yourself up. Mother, some of .the staff, are beqinninfi to Ulk. 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 oul 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 Ihe miter and two or three acquaintances got them. It was just too easy to jump to an erroneous conclusion. Our apologies (o the motor vehicles branch for temporarily losing faith in its continued exercise of common sense. An item in this calch all recently wrongly identified Purity Dauy as having moved to a nsw "planet." It was Purity Bottling that made the move. Lately, there's been a lot of concern over patronage. And righlly so; handing out fi- nancial favors lo political friends is a nasty business, even if it is as old as politics. The fact remains thai governments are the largest buyers of goods and services, and have lo do business someone. Ob- viously il musl lie wilh whoever is in busi- ness. (Think of the howls there'd be if a Inl of new businesses sprang up after cacli election, and got nil the govcrnmcnl or- ders Docs anyone really think it would be pos- sible or sensible lo legislate thai Ihe Alberta govcrnmcnl could not do any busi- ness with Conservatives? Thai the federal government be forhidlcn to with crals? Or Ihnl only those lacking all politi- cal belief be allowed In engage in bus- iness? What is needed right now Is n brisk Chinook to whisk away (he growing debris in the rily. Tlie debris settled on Ihe lawns of both Cnlhollc Central nnd LCI recently l.i unsightly. Wrappers, papers, boxes and Junk litter the front lawns of both premises and have found their way to the church lawns across tire street. Debris also lines the curb on Fifth Street between First and Second Avenues. City garbage trucks carry the slogan, "Let's help keep Lelhbridge clean." Every- one could help by making a responsible ef- fort to put trash where it belongs, and not depend on tlie clunooks to do it all. One thing which Harry Hargrave, Alber- ta's marketing commissioner, noticed dur- ing his recent visit lo 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. Cals and dogs are considered a "bourgeois luxury" which a Communist nation with 800 million mouths to feed cannot afford. In fact, the only exception lo 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 Ihe time they the men, nt least should have been thanking Ihem. Down through Ihe years, it has been the man lhal went bald. Now and tlien a wom- an would experience tills misfortune, but generally baldness has been n male afflic- tion. And as any careful observer will have noted. Ihe main difference in how men and women manage their hair Is that men have cul theirs, while women have worn their'j long. Obviously, then, Iho tiling lo do was for men lo lot their linir grow, as n means of r.limlnating baldness. If it works, Ihe chrome dome ROCS the way of the wet- he.id, we'll have our shnggy young friendi In thank (or il.