The Charlotte News

Wednesday, January 7, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President's State of the Union message to Congress sought an individual "cost of living" tax credit of $40 for both the taxpayer and each dependent, and urged raising taxes on corporations by 8.2 billion dollars to offset the lost revenue.

He also wanted his previously urged ten-point anti-inflation program enacted, including price controls and rationing on certain scarce commodities. He urged the passage of the Marshall Plan with its initial outlay of 6.8 billion dollars in the first year. As had been indicated by Administration officials, he made no further mention of the originally urged 17 billion dollars over a four-year period, seen by many Republicans as a stumbling block to approval of the Plan.

The President again advocated universal military training, as he had each of the previous two years, an increase in the minimum wage from 40 to 75 cents, as he had previously, extension of rent controls beyond the current expiration date of February 29, broadening of Social Security benefits and increasing payments, civil rights legislation, and a national health program.

The message was carried nationally and abroad by radio. (Later versions of Internet Explorer may not play the Truman Library audio files, presented in FlowPlayer. To remedy this problem, after hitting the link to the audio file, hit the F12 key on your keyboard, which will cause a pane to open at the bottom of the screen. Then, under the "Emulation" tab, go to the box marked "User agent string" (having nothing to do with the new CIA or the string in your leg), drop down to "Internet Explorer 6", and the file will begin to play.)

A report released by the Administration to Congress anent the Marshall Plan cautioned that it could not be the basis for rekindling the old pre-war steel cartel in Europe and that Eastern European shipbuilding plans should be curtailed considerably so that more steel could be utilized in reconstruction. Dismantled German industrial plants would need supply some of the machinery to the 16 recipient nations under the Plan. It also recommended that the U.S. should decline to ship the vast amounts of steel and scrap iron requested. And even if the Plan were successful, it warned, Europeans would still have less to eat than before the war.

In Jerusalem, Jews disguised as Palestine police rolled a bomb into the Jaffa gate from a stolen police armored car, killing eight to ten Arabs and injuring 42 others. Two Jews in the car were killed after the car was wrecked by the explosion and two more were apprehended. A gun battle between Arabs and Jews ensued the bombing.

The day marked the Christmas observance of 100,000 Christian Arabs of the Eastern churches, utilizing the Julian calendar.

Governor Thomas Dewey blamed President Truman and President Roosevelt for inflation and submitted his own program to the New York Legislature to curb it, pledging no new taxes. He believed that President Truman's executive order of October 30, 1945, relaxing wage controls, had started the ball rolling on inflation, destroying the effectiveness of price controls by the following summer.

Democrats reported $315,000 in their campaign war chest at the end of 1947. Republicans reported that they took in a net of $28,000 during the year, but did not report on cash on hand at the start, as had the Democrats. The two parties had comparable contributions during the year, in the range of $700,000.

The New York state executive committee of the American Labor Party endorsed Henry Wallace's third-party candidacy, causing a rift in the party, as representatives of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and the UAW stormed out of the meeting in protest of support of any third party movement, thought inimical to labor interests. ACW provided most of the financial support for the ALP, which functioned only in New York.

In Washington, Maj. General Bennett Meyers pleaded not guilty to three charges of perjury and three charges of suborning perjury, allegedly having occurred during the Senate War Investigating Committee hearings on the Howard Hughes war contracts. General Meyers had allegedly sought to induce the president of the aviation company he set up to profit from war contracts to testify falsely regarding the nature of the business, his own role, and the role of General Meyers in it. General Meyers had been the deputy purchasing officer for the Air Force during the war, when he set up the company. The business associate was also charged with perjury, but pleaded guilty to all three counts.

In Savannah, Ga., 15 persons were killed and nine injured in a Coastal Airlines crash of a DC-3 on the Savannah River, while flying from Philadelphia to Miami. All of the passengers were Puerto Ricans, heading home. The plane sought to effect an emergency landing for unknown reasons in marshland and then broke apart.

In Raleigh, News & Observer editor and publisher Josephus Daniels, former Ambassador to Mexico under FDR and former Secretary of the Navy under President Wilson, was critically ill. He would pass away the following week.

In New York, a 14-year old Italian girl was permitted by the Children's Court to wed a 24-year old Army lieutenant. They were married in "The Little Church Around the Corner". They had met at an officers' dance in Italy in 1946.

In Newark, an Alcoholic Beverage Control commissioner vetoed plans of tavern owners to resurrect the nickel beer. The commissioner objected to the proposed weekly fee of $1.50 to be required to purchase the beer for a nickel, saying that patrons would have to buy 30 glasses to break even.

So, what was the regular price of 99 bottles of beer?

On the editorial page, "Wallace Calls 'Lunatic Fringe'" tells of a letter writer to The News who had welcomed the Wallace third-party challenge for it bringing together the "lunatic fringe" of the country, that it could be ascertained how large it was.

The piece thinks the lunatic part of society was spread across its social fabric and not really a fringe at all, would turn out to be uncomfortably large. The most significant characteristic of this group was its belief in miracles. And that number included many conservatives. Mr. Wallace, promising "peace and prosperity", was appealing to those who believed in miracles.

The correspondent thought that Mr. Wallace was "an idealist gone haywire". In a great period of transition in the world, the right course could be determined only by choosing the "lesser evils", as condemned by Mr. Wallace, through trial and error.

The Communists in the Wallace camp were not properly labeled the "lunatic fringe" but were rather realists who were manipulating the dreams of people for their own political purposes, to bring more power to the Soviet Union.

"General Electric's Statesmanship" tells of the voluntary price reduction by GE on its appliances, predicted to result in a 50 million dollar savings to consumers in 1948. Ford had also taken a voluntary price cut several months earlier. It was hoped that others would follow their lead. It praises GE and its chairman, Charles E. Wilson, for the move.

"Frank Graham Goes Right Along" comments on a story from "reliable sources", found by the Washington correspondent of the Durham Morning Herald, that UNC president Frank Porter Graham might be on the way out for his having endorsed the majority report of the Truman Civil Rights Committee, of which he had been a member, recommending immediate desegregation of society.

The Herald had on Sunday printed an editorial, however, finding the report unreliable, that Dr. Graham would continue as president of the Greater University as long as he wished.

The piece agrees, finds the Herald correspondent to have taken the sucker bait from the usual enemies of Dr. Graham who had for some time sought to grasp at any straw to promote his ouster.

As indicated, Dr. Graham would be appointed by Governor Kerr Scott the following year to the Senate seat of newly elected former Governor Melville Broughton, who would die two months into his term in 1949. Dr. Graham would be defeated in the 1950 special election by Raleigh attorney Willis Smith in a race-baiting campaign managed by Jesse Helms.

You could no more change the latter's political coloration, even through time, than you could the Leopard's Spots.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "A Thinker Who Could Write", comments on the death on December 30 of Alfred North Whitehead, Harvard professor emeritus in philosophy, praising him for his clarity, beauty and wit in writing philosophy, a rare gift. Bertrand Russell, pupil of Professor Whitehead, and George Santayana, his colleague at Harvard, shared that gift.

As example, it quotes from Adventures of Ideas, commenting on the absence of a coordinating philosophy being signal of a decline of a culture into decadence and ennui, with satire heaving the last gasp of originality in such a passing epoch.

It finds the writer in philosophy usually to be a "boor speaking an uncouth jargon." But Professor Whitehead had taught the philosopher, for a time, how to communicate.

Je pense, donc que je suis.

Drew Pearson, in Bologna, Italy, continues to tell of the Friendship Train food being distributed across France and now Italy. Getting the French to recognize that the source of the food was average Americans had gone well. But in Italy, the head of the YWCA in Paris wanted to drop the various celebrations in each city and just get the food to the people on time. With one exception, the various relief organizations agreed. But then the American Embassy intervened and the ceremonies were restored to the schedule.

In one small Italian town, as reported by William Attwood of the New York Herald Tribune, the Communist Mayor told the residents that the food came from Stalin. The people thought that it came from church groups.

Since the previous July, Italy had received 200 shiploads of American food. And despite the efforts of Ambassador James Dunn to assure American credit, the Italian people were largely still in the dark on the source. Part of the problem was that the wheat was turned over to the Government for distribution.

To thwart such misimpressions, the trucks delivering the Friendship Train food bore posters explaining in pictures the origin of the aid. When the food reached the town of Campidoglio, the Mayor of Rome, accompanied by Premier Alcide de Gaperi and the the Foreign Minister, praised the American contribution. Premier de Gasperi later entertained those connected with the train at his official home and thanked everyone for the effort.

Samuel Grafton finds the financial reviews in the New York press to be paying little attention to the new Republican voluntary anti-inflation measure passed into law during the special session of Congress the previous month. The talk instead was of continued rising prices in 1948, a slap in the face to the inflation measure.

The retailers and wholesalers also could not agree on the future, the retailers expecting more sales revenue but on fewer sales during the coming year, meaning somewhere down the line unemployment. Many store owners regarded the increased revenue as useless if ultimately it meant reduced production and recession.

But the industrial representatives were predicting increased output in 1948. They hedged, however, on the notion of having to raise prices, cautioning that they might have to do so.

There were thus clear warnings of trouble ahead, but no one wanted to face the music and seek to prevent it. He suggests that the voluntary price reduction program ought be initiated with a five percent across-the-board reduction demanded by consumers. Such a comparatively small reduction would be ameliorative with so much pent-up demand waiting to be released into the marketplace.

Marquis Childs, returning from a month-long vacation, tells of the prophets predicting that 1948 would be the year of decision, with potential doom around the corner should the wrong choices be made. It was clear that the longer the decision was delayed, the sharper the choice would become in Western Europe between extremes of left and right, Communism or Fascism.

Greece supplied the example of too little American aid coming too late, making it difficult to restore moderation when political and economic breakdown had progressed so far.

Clinton Golden, the labor adviser to the American aid mission in Greece, had made progress in pulling unions, management, and the Government together, obtaining an agreement in mid-November that Government would consult with union leaders on labor legislation. But then reactionaries passed the punitive anti-strike measure which subjected strikers to long prison terms and leaders of the strike to the death penalty. Mr. Golden thought the measure to be overly punitive and would wreck his efforts to effect coalition. He wanted to come home, causing the State Department to suggest to the Greek Government that the measure be given public interpretation suggesting its application only in extreme cases of sabotage.

State Department officials believed that martial law and suspension of civil liberties might have to take place in Greece to restore order.

And the same situation might ensue in France.

The average American would recoil at a contest between Fascists and Communists. Delay made that possibility greater by the day. If too much delay occurred, the choice would prove an empty one.

A letter writer thinks that Abraham Lincoln's greatness stemmed from his lack of a college education, as such an education was usually devoted to fixed doctrines. All of it was propaganda for the oligarchy, to promote the idea that it was right. And the education given North Carolina students, he thinks, bred the notion of the Solid South, with the result that no Southerner had been in the White House since Andrew Johnson—not exactly true as Woodrow Wilson was a Southerner by birth and through his early years, partly educated in the South, including a year at Davidson College near Charlotte.

Anyway, he goes on a bit about very little of nothing of consequence. Abraham Lincoln, born in 1809, was of college age in 1827, when few on the prairie in Kentucky or Illinois knew how to read or write. The correspondent's silly notions comparing 19th and 20th century social reality are in sore need of more thoughtful placement in respective temporal context. He apparently does not realize how presumptuously arrogant he is in seeking to promote a form of populist ignorance as a means to understanding and "democracy"—the same line of nonsense preached by Hitler.

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