Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 13, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4-THE LETHBRIOQE HERALD Friday, Stptembtr 13, 1974 Cost indexing utilities The provincial government's move tdward indexing utility rates and eliminating public hearings on rate increase requests should be looked at very carefully. In the.face of inflation, the desire of the companies to have such an arrangement is understandable, par- ticularly since COLA clauses are being written into many of today's labor contracts and some federal taxes and payments are indexed. But from the standpoint of the general public there are factors which militate against such a proposal. In the first place, there is already con- siderable concern that cost of living in- dices as now set up by Statistics Canada do not properly reflect all segments of Canadian society and that reliance on them as a means of offsetting the effects ot inflation imposes hardships on the poor and the old, who slip farther and farther behind in the race to keep up with prices. And since the poor and the old are customers of most utilities, possibly even paying a larger percentage of their incomes lor such services than do middle and upper income customers, as is the case with food, rate increases hit them hardest. Even it a specific cost increase factor tor utilities is used this is still cause for concern. The brief announcement by Roy Farran, the provincial telephones and utilities minister, to the effect that he favors an indexing arrangement, did not indicate how or by whom a formula would be established nor how or by whom it would be monitored. The general presumption is that it would be monitored by the provincial public utilities board. If this is the proposal, the question should be asked: Does the PUB as constituted at present have the staff and budget to do an adequate job of protecting the interests of the general public in this matter? The argument that an indexing system would prevent present delays in necessary rate increases caused by the need for public hearings is generally derogatory of the rights of the public and injects an unwanted note of panic into the inflation situation. The argument overlooks the historical fact that utilities are protected monopolies and that they operate in a totally different economic situation than do other businesses. In return for providing a public service, they are not only granted an area of ser- vice but also guaranteed a rate of profit. And their rate increases can be made retroactive if their operations have not produced the guaranteed profit. This is currently being demonstrated by the PUB's grant to Calgary Power of a tem- porary rate hike to make up for loss of revenue that occurred during a rate hearing. It is pertinent to this whole argument to point out that the danger of a monopoly, in any area of industry or commerce, is that the competition that leads to efficient production is totally lacking. Where monopolies have been deemed necessary, as is the case with utilities, regulatory commissions have been established to protect the interests. ot the public by seeing to it that the utilities run efficient operations. However, there have always existed valid doubts as to whether, in specific in- stances, regulating bodies have had ade- quate staffs and budgets not only to audit company records but to make indepen- dent and thorough checks of all phases of their operations. If a commission does not have an adequate staff for this kind of independent assessment of a utility's operations, it certainly will not have the staff to oversee a cost indexing system, and a utility which operates without such supervision cannot be assumed to be operating in the public interest. ERIC NICOL The lost barber Why the black armband? you ask. Well, 1 have lost my barber. In fact in the past two years I have lost two barbers. First Paul, then Al. Gone. Driven out of business by what has happened to men's haircutting. Oh. that I should have lived to see the ton- sorial parlor fall prey to the evil times that now beset it! Figaro, Figaro, wherefore art thou. Figgy's Hairdressing Salon? The old-time barber of my bosom, the balding guy who cut your hair for a couple of bucks and threw in a free analysis of your skin condition is vanishing from the scene. His is the twin nemesis of The Hairy Ones of the younger generation, who would sooner commit their butts to the electric chair than be pumped within range of the scissors, and the gents who give their trade to the hair stylist. It is not difficult to distinguish between the threatened species of barber and his expen- sive successor. The barber wears a white smock and is usually elderly. The smock of the hair stylist is black to match his soul and he gleams with the pomade of youth. An ambiguous sub-species of barber wears a blue smock and dark glasses so that you can't see what he's thinking. Now that I've lost Al on top of Paul. I must again cruise the neighborhood in search of the white-smocked barber whose copy of Playboy is decently concealed beneath The Christian Science Monitor, and whose price for hair- cutting is competitive with my consigning the overgrowth to a goat. He becomes ever more rare. Often he has to share premises with another barber, thereby compromising his individualism. (Hair stylists, having no moral fibre whatever, consort in groups of as many as four and six to a Today, finding a new barber is a dicey business, for the older man. It is more parlous than replacing his doctor or dentist. An unfamiliar surgeon may leave a sponge in your abdomen, but a strange barber can ruin your appearance. I have heard hair-raising (while it lasts) tales of men my age who blundered into the web of one of the new breed of men's hairdresser. From the simple objective of having their ears lowered they have been per- suaded to change their image. For some this means that their hair is combed forward over their face. They emerge looking like Julius Caesar readied for his date with the state of Pompeii. Others are talked into the full treatment: tinting, curling, back-combing and more teas- ing than a barrel of Minsky's. By one account this is what happened to The Man from Glad he was bagged by a hair stylist, who got him hooked on garbage. After I lost Paul, and before I found Al. I too very nearly walked into a bill for eleven dollars, in exchange for a brainwash to hate that grey and rinse it away. Luckily I was wearing my older mac at the time, the one that appears to be inhabited by the ghost of Leslie Howard. The black-frocked priests of male coiffure all stopped their combing to gaze at me. with a clear signal that panhandl- ing was not tolerated. But. please, don't waste your pity on me. Think of all those quartets wandering around in search of an old-fashioned barbershop. Poor devils. Do you have something that marketing boards and ministers of agriculture are not protecting the consumer Those eggs again By Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator OTTAWA The egg situa- tion gets curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might have remarked. In his recent impassioned defence of national egg marketing. Eugene Whelan assured us that taxpayers would not have to bail out the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency. It is regrettably true, as he explained, that CEMA has been losing money (quite apart from rotten egg write- We must realize, however, that: "CEMA is run- ning its own business and the farmers are going to be the ones who will pay the bills run up by CEMA." While this may be strictly correct, up to a point, it will be of minor consolation to most people. For the federalized egg has not ceased to be newsworthy. Every day seems to bring a new revelation; one of the more interesting being a warning from James Johnstone, chairman of the Ontario Egg Producers Marketing Board that prices will increase four to five cents in the next two weeks. Mr. Johnstone did not refer directly to CEMA's ex- perience, although he has since described the situation as "criminal in a moral sense. Instead he cited a July increase in feed costs cal- culated at six cents a dozen eggs. But the figures he did of- fer were very interesting. According to the Ontario chairman, the costs incurred by an efficient producer for Grade A Large are 53 cents and the return is 58 cents. But this apparent margin is being wiped out because the farmer is required to pay 4Vz cents to the national agency and 2 cents to the provincial board. He faces a 2V2 cent penalty to cover CEMA's costs of sur- plus disposal. The calculation of produc- tion costs is difficult and may vary- from producer to producer. But the marketing levies are certain and clear- cut. What is interesting is the obvious fact that they exceed the additional feed costs reported by Mr. Johnstone. Obviously they must be pass- ed on or. by these calcu- lations, the producer will have to go out of business. We will be back to the chaos from which Mr. Whelan is supposed to have saved us. In these unhappy circum- stances, the Minister's argu- ment may not have very much public impact. If the citizen is spared in his capacity as tax- payer, he will pay in any event in his role as consumer. For most people this is a distinc- tion without a difference of any significance. For those in the very low income brackets, taxation might well be preferable; after all the price of eggs is the same for the poor as it is for the affluent. It is far from clear, however, that the system so stoutly defended by Mr. Whelan has been an unmixed blessing for producers. What would have happened in its absence cannot be proved. Faced with levies on the pre- sent scale, however, farmers may well wonder if they would not have fared at least as well without the assistance of two tiers of experts in supply man- agement and marketing. But penalties are only part of the story. The angry public outcry casts doubt on the viability of the system. It may have appeared in the beginn- ing a welcome improvement over the chicken and egg war. From current indications, however, hostilities have merely shifted. We now have board versus agency, Minister versus Minister; Quebec pointing an accusing finger at Ontario: Ontario at Ottawa the National Marketing Coun- cil hunting for warehouse swindlers. Some of the suspicions and accusations may be well founded. Every new charge, however, adds fuel-to a con- troversy which cannot be to the benefit of producers. With further price increases in prospect, the end is not in sight (although Mr. Whelan, with admirable self- discipline, did succeed this week in delivering an entire speech without mention of The great experiment cannot be in very good health when various members of Parliament including Liberal receiv- ing the general message that constituents, given a choice between the system and chaos, would be willing enough to take their chances with chaos. Further adventures in supp- ly management seem at the moment distinctly unlikely. Linking Vietnam-Watergate By William Safire, New York Times commentator "It proves not everything I did was wrong; I chose the right vice-president WASHINGTON After an 18-month "orgy of the White House floated a trial balloon for an orgy of forgiveness. It didn't stay up for long. Forgive and forget is rarely a popular policy which is why. after his decision to pardon Mr. Nixon, President Ford seemed to be asking for public debate on the question of pardoning others connected with Watergate. The pardon-the-Water- gaters balloon was sub- jected to withering fire, and the president backed away from "mass a more positive clement is needed, and will probably be produced, to give a new "case-by-case" trial balloon some uplift and balance. That brings us to the Vietgate Solution. The idea would be to find some bridge, or rationale, for a general amnesty linking the bearded Victniks and the crcwcuUed Nixniks who nupht have broken laws in what they saw as "higher causes." Certair.Jy Vietnam was fer- tilc soil for national aberrations Fear of leaks about the bombing of Cam- bodia led 1o illegal wiretap- ping. fury at 1he leak of Pen- tagon papers, detailing the origins of the Vietnam war. led to the heyday of the plumbers who then followed Iheir calling into the Democratic headquarters. The linkage between Vietnam and Watergate is not so far- fetched By considering Watergate rnmeN as a direct overreac- tion 1o Vietnam protest, the Violate solution gains some logic fulJ. free and absolute amnesty for those who ran for cover as well as those who covered up, for those who followed their conscience as well as those who followed their leader. No confessions necessary: unequal justice for all. But this, it will be argued, would smack of a "deal." It would infuriate those who want to see the Nixon men get their just desserts, frustrate servicemen and their families who hate to see draft dodgers return unpenitent. and disturb all who believe in the orderly rule of the process of law. Granted. But unfairness is rampant in the situation. To try the courtiers and not the king is unfair: to pardon the men about to be tried without pardoning the jailed accusers is unfair: to insist some men "earn their way back" while letting others have full pardon is unfair. The Vielgate solution, either as a general amnesty, or as the basis for case-by- case review, could offer the least bad way out. Our sudden !y hardnosed editorial Robespierres may fume that we might as well throw open all the jails and do away with the courts, but the fact is that presidents have averaged 367 pardons per year over the past 20 years, not including com- mutation of sentences, and as Sarn Krvin would say the heavens have not fallen. PolUicians who loo quickly equaled media fury and flash poll results with active voter reaction to the pardon of the president are soberly studying what happened to Rep. Iwsurence Hogan's bid for the Republican nomination for governor of Maryland. Hogan was the first Republican on the judiciary committee to an- nounce he would vote to im- pMch. he exploited his deci- sion at a dramatic press conference, milking his anti- Nixon stand for all it was Letters Nomination day close Nomination day for civic elections is almost here. On September 18 Lethbridge citizens have two hours in which to volunteer their ser- vices for local council, school boards, and the hospital board. The local power group has chosen its people to rule our city but where are the independent candidates not subject to the party whip? Council and school boards badly need a transfusion of dedicated people who will be prepared to take a real interest in what is happening instead of being passive puppets and rubber stamps. We face many problems in the future. City council will have to make crucial decisions about industrial ex- pansion and demands on city revenues. The public school board churns out schemes at a commendable rate but the real needs of students seem to get lost in the paper blizzard. There are also some strange maneouvrings by the hierarchical elite that need to be explained. There must be many men and women, of all ages, who have the time and talent to serve the citizens and students of Lethbridge. May their voices be heard but, don't forget, September 18 is the final date for them to stand up and be counted. TERRY MORRIS Lethbridge Fluoridation a mystery I am surprised to find that those persons who should know better would once more try to introduce the obsolete and ineffective method of compulsory fluofidation of the public. Surely those proponents of compulsory fluoridation know that for several years there has been in use a form of plastic film applied to teeth that gives REAL and long lasting, prac- tically total protection against decay of teeth. Perhaps our neighbors in Europe are more medically advanced than we are for many countries in Europe either do not have, or will not allow, the addition of fluorides to any public water supply. The countries that I refer to are Austria. Denmark. France. Greece, Italy, Norway. Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. West Germany. Yugoslavia and Holland, but there are small experimental stations in Belgium, Finland and Portugal. I have checked all of these Book reviews worth. He was decisively up- set in the primary by Mrs. Louise Gore, who had criticiz- ed the hearings as a "televi- sion circus." The quality of mercy, which has been under a bit of a strain the past few days, droppeth as the gentle rain, and seems to be inundated by the hard- splattering downpour of vitriol from so many of our opinion leaders. But Congressman Hogan's sur- prising rejection by Republican voters is an ex- perience that may soften some hard incumbent hearts and bring them round to the thought that mercy is "mightiest in the mightiest." Whether or not Ford pur- sues the Vietgate solution, ex- ercising his pardon power on a frequent individual basis, he has shown us that he is prepared to take the long view and steer by conscience and conviction rather than polls and Pols. The honeymooners have yhown us that their talk of un- ity and civility applied only when the president was doing things their way. When he acted to remove what surely would have been "the pardon issue" from the 1976 primaries, they reacted as if his pardon were forever un- pardonable. Perhaps there is a good clue 9o the future in Ford's choice of new paintings to put in the Cabinet Room: the unlikely combination of Abraham Lin- coln and Harry Truman. 'With malice toward none. wiJli charity for all." they seem to say in unison, "the buck ends here to bind up the nation's wounds. carefully and the above list is accurate. I have tried to find out what the situation is in Russia regarding fluorides but in one case I was told that they have a small experimen- tal station in Siberia and in other cases the answers were evasive. It still remains a mystery to me why anyone could wish to force those, who are so un- willing, to consume the poisonous fluoride compound when the fluorides are available (on prescription only as are all poisonous drugs) for those who wish to use them in carefully measured doses and not in the haphazard, totally unscien- tific method of introducing the drug into the water supply. Surely any person who tries to follow the golden rule or who has any respect for his neighbors" rights will vote against compulsory fluoridization of his neighbor. RAY KEITGES Lethbridge A dream come true "The Life Swap" by Nancy Weber (The Dial Press, 262 pages, distributed by Fitzhenry and Whiteside A dream of becoming someone else, a step and then you are. Total transfiguration from clothes to mannerisms to idiosyncrasies to an ex- change of lovers and husband and friends. The Life Swap, a game in the true sense of scientific and human experiment, is played by the woman who thought of it Nancy Weber, writer and the woman who responded to her swapping plea. Micki Wrangler, psychiatrist. A true life story which brings the reader into in- timate contact with the author's mind and body, part- ly transforms you into her be- ing and the being of the swapee. Micki. The experience makes you realize the value of personal friendships and adds a tack to hold up the fine veneer, with which most of us cover our lives, to make them livable. The Life Swap is worth the time it takes to read if only to broaden your senses or to show how truly anti-climatic true true-life stories can be. JUDE CAMPBELL Stimulating students "Will It Grow in a by Beatrice Ronald Gross (Fitzhenry Whiteside Limited, What can parents and teachers do to help students discover the joy of learning? Here is a collection of writings by teachers on what has been done to stimulate and help students with their studies. One teacher acted the part of a madman in his classroom and two ex-teachers withdrew their children from school to teach them at home: both experiments seemed to have been successful. There are descriptions of innovations in the teaching of social studies, mathematics, language and reading, plus some very frank comments on what teachers should be doing to improve their professional training. The introduction is a beautiful summary of the most pressing problems in education today. If school trustees would take the time to study these few pages there could be a dramatic improvement in teacher morale and student performance. The strongest part of this book is that all the are practicing teachers. Some are well known e.g. John Holt. Kenneth Koch. George Dennison. but known or unknown, all are actively involved with students in the classroom. We are spared the theoretical blarney of those pseudo-educators who dwell in ivory towers and avoid the classroom like the plague. Will ft Grow in a Classroom, complete with bibliography, is a stimulating and provocative book. Essential reading for all teachers it couSd also benefit parents and those interested in what happens to students in our schools. TERRY MORRIS The Lcthbridge Herald S047jnsi S LeThbridge. Alberta LETHSR1DGE HERALD CO S.TD Propnelors and Second Class Man Registration No 0012 CLEO MOWERS. Editor and Publisher OOVi H PILLING Managing Editor DONALD R DORAM l Manager ROYf MILES Manager DOUGLAS K WALKER Editorial Page Edrtor ROBERT M fEMTON Manager KENNETH E 6AWNETT Business Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"