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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 19, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta Po iticians baffled by unemployment -Thundoy, 19, 1972 THE ISTHBRIDGF HIRA1D 5 By Anlnony WcsleJI, Toronto Star When unemploy- incut rose to a rate o( 7.1 per cent, seasonally adjusted, just a year ago, the cabinet re- acted with something approach- Ing panic. Within a day or so, a ?1 billion package of emer- gency measures was assembled and announced. There were winter works lo provide direct employment and tax cuts lo stimulate the economy. In May, Finance Minister John Turner followed up with yet more tax measures design- ed to encourage capital invest- ment. These policies produced re- sults. The Local Initiatives Pro- pram created Jobs when the need was greatest during the winter, and il was contin- ued on a reduced scale dur- ing the summer, side by side with (be Opportunities [or Youth scheme. Tax cuts helped the economy to gather momen- tum attcr the 1070 slowdown and most of Ine indicators of growth turned sharply upwards. According lo recent figures, the gross national product is grow- ing at the rapid rate of 3.7 per cent a year. Vet here we arc exactly 12 months after the panic and the unemployment rate is again up lo 7.1 per cent. We are not even back where we started, but slightly worse off; there were more people unem- ployed last month than in Sep- tember, 1970. What has gone wrong? Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau ad- mits thai he is puzzled. So also, I suspect, in their private minds, are Conservative Lead- er Robert Slanfield and New Democratic Party Leader Dav- id Lewis. It is easy to criticize rising unemployment in the hope of winning votes, but far harder lo discover what is real- ly happening in the economy and to suggest solutions. One-month figures of course must always be viewed with caution. Although the rate was snounced as 7.1 per cent a year ago, it was laler revised down lo 6.9 per cent, and that may happen again this year. There must also be some sus- picion about this monlh's fig- ures because they include a re- porled decline of In em- ployment in service industries. Nobody has yet been able to track down these missing jobs and the decline seems lo be so out of line with recent Ircntls lhat it may be the result of a temporary factor or even a statistical aberration. It tho jobs reappear, the rale will drop quite dramatically: in- stead of helng worse off than, last year, we should be substan- tially better off. Assuming, however, that Ihe 7.1 per cent report is a (run reflection of trends in ttie econo- my, it underlines profound questions about where we go from here in trying to reduce unemployment The customary remedies of stimulating econo- mic expansion and promoting winter works have been tried on a substantial scale, but have offered only temporary relief. The underlying ailment remains. Stanfield and Lewis are both urging deep cuts in personal income tax with the idea of en- couraging consumers to buy more goods and thus to in- crease demand back at Lhc fac- tory. But Canadians already have money iu their pockels more money, It seems, than they are willing lo spend on con- sumer goods. More than 10 per cent of personal disposable in- come is not being spent, but saved an extremely high proporlion. It may he that mid- dle income Canadians have lost some o( their taste for con- spicuous consumption and that they are no longer eager to rush out and buy a third TV set or an extra car. There arc, of course, plenty of poor people who would eager- ly spend extra money. But they pay little or no income lax, anyway. The way lo get money into their hands is by spending more heavily on such schemes as welfare and unemployment insurance exactly Ihe poli- cies which are being most se- verely criticized in tliis elec- tion campaign. Lewis goes on to advocate Ibat most conventional of all answers lo rising unemploy- ment, a municipal winter works program. It would cost up lo S500 million and he suggests it would be aimed at Ibe young unemployed in the cities. Lewis says he has not worked out the details o[ his plan which is an interesting admission Ironi a poUllcal leader who lias been talking for several years as i[ unemployment were a crisis bul he believes very litllo Ima- gination would be needed lo think of useful things to build. His own Imagination, when pressed" by reporters, runs to transporlatlon systems and waste-treatment plants In ma- jor municipalities. Even (he most cursory exam- ination reveals such lalk lo mostly nonsense. Even if ma- jor public works could be plan- ned and started In time lor win- ter, they would be built by ma- chines operated by skilled workers and not by casual labor off the street. In any event, the conslruclion industry is not one of those under-em- ployed. The hard core of un- employment is in the less de- veloped regions of Canada rather than in the big cities. And how much of million would be left lo pay wages alter land and materials and equipment had been provided? There is of course Ihe addi- tional awkward fact that a great many of the unemployed, including women, young people with university degrees and white-collar workers, probably don't want lo spend the winter working on a construction site. Stanfield has promised to an- nounce his program lo end un- employment. As he has had a couple of years to prepare it, it should be worth waiting [or, bul it probably won't be. If Ihe Tory leader had any better in- sights and answers than Ihe rest of us, he would have de- scribed them in Ihe scores of speeches he has made In re- cent years about the problem. There are in fact no simple answers to unemployment which is obviously a complex phenomenon. There are various Ways in which Ihe problem can he approached, hut each one has its political drawbacks and is not likely lo be debated ser- iously on the election hustings or even In brief newspaper ar- ticles. Conventional consumer de- mand probably can be further stimulated Lo some extent, but it is not clear how much this would increase manufacturing employment. We may well have arrived at the point at which the modern economy can pro- duce all the goods we want lo consume without employing all the manpower available. Even if an Increase in consumption would be a temporary answer to unemployment, there is the question of how far we can and should go in that direction, lias everybody forgotten about Zero Growth restraint in the use of declining world re- sources; Ihe fact that produc- tion inevilabty involves pollu- tion; the evils of artificially in- duced greed? If everybody buys a third TV set this year, are we going to urge them to buy a fourth set next year? When does the process stop? If we wish lo increase the consumption where there really Is need, among the poor, we are talking abut a massive redis- tribution of income within so- ciety. Tlial means Increasing taxes on the middle and upper income groups and what poli- tician is talking about thai? As many of Ihe poor can'l work, or work well enough to earn a proper income, it would be nec- essary lo make up their in- comes through grants or sub- sidies of one sort or another. Nowadays, that is called un- dermining the work ethic. Then there is a real question about whether it would be de- sirable to senci everyone lo work in Ihe factory or the mine or the bureaucracy, even if tho jobs were available. An increas- ing number of those workers who do have jobs in mass pro- duction industries are said to be alienated by their work. bored by routine and without satisfaction In Ihelr labor. Is that what Is meant by full em- ployment? The most useful approach lo the problem, It seems to me, 13 to stop thinking of work and employment as strlclly an eco- nomic activity intended to pro- duce goods and wealth. For the vast majority of Canadians, of course, work will continue to be just (hat, but for a growing minority it can be a social ac- tivity directed toward improv- ing the quality of life, for the individual and the community, ralher than the quantity of goods. There is a vast amount of work wailing lo be done in com- munity improvement projects, social services, education and the arts. When Ottawa inviles applications under the Local Initiatives and Opportunities for Youlh programs, it is always swainned with far more crea- tive ideas than it is ready lo finance. Some no doubt are kooky and should not be per- mitted, but most are sensible and useful. So while we com- plain about unemployment, in fact we will not put lo work all those people who are ready and eager lo undertake projects at a very modest wage. We are hidebound in our thinking about work and unem- ployment, and so are the poli- ticians who are seeking our votes in this election. Trudeau. it is true, defends Hie LIP and OJ'Y conccpl, but mainlv be- cause he can't pet the econo- my to employ people in more conventional ways. Slanlield is pandering lo the most conserva- tive and unimaginative ele- ments in society. And Lewis seems to think that transporta- tion systems are still built with a pick and shovel. Ryan reluctantly backs Trudeau By Charles King, In The Ottawa Citizen MONTREAL -Quebec's besl- knovoi journalist concludes lhat Pierre Tnideau is going lo. sweep Ihe province on Oct. 30 as he did in 1968. It isn't the way lie would wish it, although he may do his share to make it come true. The man is Claude Ryan, the influential publisher and editor Melchers has an for beauty and a reputation for quality Mekhcrs Melctiers MJVCK I.A.DKL Melchers MelcheraDlsllllerles Quebec youth vole The Great Falls Tribune With less lhaji a month remaining be- fore the Nov. 7 presidential election, pol- itical parties arc stepping up their drives to win support of new voters. The youth vote is more imporlanl this year than ever Ijcfore because the 2Gth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grant- ed the voting franchise lo citizens in the 18 to 21 age bracket. The parties are competing lor the young voters because an estimated 25 million of them are eligible lo vote in November in Lheir first presidential eleclion. Of these 25 million new voters, H million are in the 21-25 age bracket who would have be- come eligible to vote even without Uic 26th Amendmenl. The other 11 milb'on new voters in the 16 to 21 category benefit from the new amendment. The question now Is whether new voters will take the interest to cast their ballots. It apjicars as though a high per- centage of them will, Judging from Ihe in- terest shown by students in recent weeks. In the four states that allowed 15-year- olds to vole in 1970 Georgia, Kentucky, Alaska and Hawaii only 26 per cent of Ihe under 21-year-olds voted while 5o per cent of those over 21 turned out at tna polls. Since the attitude of Ihe new voters Ls so Important lo the future of the democratic system in the nation, political candidates and parties have the responsibility to elim- inate much of the empty promises, cam- paign bunk and unfair political smears lhat have disgraced previous elections. On th e use or wor ds By Theodore Bernsleln Hail, tail. A recent column discussed the word laii and said that mysteriously the verb taken over by the aviation peo- ple to describe the movement of a plane OTI the ground. Prof. Harry Benford of Ilia University of Michigan offers a hypothe- sis lhat might clear up the mystery. He notes thai in earlier days the three-wheel landing gear caused the nose to be ele- vated when the piano was riding on the ground. The pilot could not see where he was going, so he zigzagged in order to look out of a side window. The professor hypothesizes lhat since the manoeuver re- sembled the lacking of a sailboat beating to windward, the pilots called the manocu- ver lacking, just as aviation borrowed olli- er nautical terms such as starboard and knots, And the neit thing anyone knew, lacking was slurred into taxiing. Not a bad guess. Kali for whom they strangled many hu- man beings. They supported themselves by robbing Iheir victims. The system of stran- gulation that they practiced was (liuggcc. Perhaps die best way to describe Inug is ugh- of Ix? Devoir, the small Mon- treal daily lhat is read by busi- ness and political leaders across the country who seek an insight into what is happening in French speaking Quebec. Ryan does not care for Pierre Trudeau. He opposed his bid for Ihe Liberal leadership in 19GS. lie was at loggerheads with tho prime minister over his hand- ling of the 1970 Quebec crisis, and even today considers him an inadequate exponent of French Canada's special griev- ances in Confederation. Yet he says Le Devior may endorse Trudeau and the Lib- eral party in this eleclion us Ihe "strongest team available" to run the country for (he next four years. He obviously would have pre- ferred to throw Ms support to the Conservatives or. even, conversely, the NDP. But ho (eels Robert Stanlicld's desig- nation of Claude Wagner as his Quebec lieutenant was a disastrous choice, and David Lewis is too far out of touch with French-Canadian realities to qualify for national leader- ship at this time. he says coolly, "docs not really understand French Canadians very well. He does not know the province outside of Montreal. In fact he knows very little about the east end of Montreal, where most of its French speaking citiFjens live. lie has no con- tacts in thai part of (he city.' Although he worked with trade unions and wrote for radical publications, Ryan insists the prime minister never was a radical. He is. and always has been, an economic conservative despite his Liberal label. Wagner, the former Liberal provincial justice minister, was equally a bad choice for the Conservatives because he doesn't understand the aspira- tions of rural Qnebccers, and doesn't know enough about fed- eral issues, Ryan declares. Wagner's standing wilh Quc- hecers vis hurt when he spent his period as a supposedly non- partisan judge shopping around for a position v-ith the opposi- tion parlies flirting first with Social Credit, finally settling douTi as a Conservative. On lop of thai, says Ryan, the Conservatives in this elec- tion have fielded an inferior team of candidates lo those who came forward againsl Tru- deau in 1068. (One of Ihe Conservnlivc crop, incidentally, was liyan's brother Yves, who ran second to a Literal in Mon- treal Bournssa. This year he was not even approached to run again.) Since the Conservatives are. going nowhere, (lie NDP is un. likely lo elect a single candi- date in Quebec. Social Credit appears lo be stalled, and even the separatists have lost their momentum, Ryan concludes lhat the Liberals, under his old opponent, Pierre Trudeau, are. lie most obvious choice in 1972, When lew means many. If you say that a few voles were cast against a bill, you mean there weren't many. But if you say thai qiiilc a few votes were cast against it, you mean a goodly number were. Sinco quite means completely or positively, tho phrase really shouldn't mean what it docs mean. Bul Ihal's idiom for you. Idioms- thai Is, accepted constructions that deviate from the normal pattern of a language- are frequently illogical, but almost every- one who knows the language understands them. Some dictionaries label a few colloquial, meaning il occurs in casual spo' ken language ralher than in more care- ful writlen language. Bul the phrase is widely this side of the ocean at there is co reason not to accept it as standard. H'ord oddities. The word