The Charlotte News

Sunday, May 21, 1939



Comic, But--

Old Man Moseley's Ideas Are Dangerous In These Times

Retired old generals like Van Horne Moseley might be amusing if they were not dangerous. There seems to be something in the makeup of old officers which makes them peculiarly subject to fantastic solutions. Ludendorff, for instance--who went in both for Anti--Semitism and for the absurd effort to revive the old Germanic gods.

And if the times were sane, this country might afford to sit back and cackle at the spectacle of old man Moseley dashing around the country quite as though he had a commission from heaven to perform heroic deeds in defense of the nation against the powers of darkness, and writing letters to the effect that "if the Jews bump me off, etc. etc." But, alas, the times are not sane. And the uniform and name of the general carry great weight. In periods of great change and stress, men are eagerly looking for pat explanations of their troubles and for a scapegoat upon which to discharge their frustrations and irritations--and in general the more fantastic the explanation, the more absurd the charge against the scapegoat, the better they like it. We have seen the same thing happen in Germany and it can happen here.

So maybe we had better not laugh too much at old Mr. Moseley. He himself is scarcely capable of more than the role of Pantaloon. But the thing he preaches might so spread as to turn his comedy into tragedy.

The Cotton Mills' Case

The Failure Of Their Prosperity Ultimately Means Trouble For The South's Whole Business Structure

It is gloomy news we find in one of the business reporting bulletins issuing from an agency which is generally reliable--that for the rest of the year, the cotton textile industry faces the prospect of even tougher going than it is already encountering. And that is pretty tough, according to the reports. The price of cotton textile goods is generally depressed, though the movement toward the use of cotton goods for women's dresses seems to help some in the higher grades. But in the case of some of the cheaper fabrics, prices are down to 1933 levels. On the other hand, prices of raw cotton are well above that level--spot quotations running above nine cents. And in fact, as we chronicled the other day, producers are so reluctant to sell even at that figure that many mills are having to pay a premium of 150 to 200 points to get what they need. Increased labor cost, due to the minimum wage laws, have already added to the difficulty, too; and these, of course, will mount again should the new standard of 321/2 cents an hour go into effect.

If the industry existed in vacuo this might not call for any concern. For the fact is, of course, that there are a great many charges that can be justly made against it. With notable exceptions, it has never been very efficiently run. It has indulged in cutthroat competition. It has often destroyed its own prosperity by piling up production wildly when prices went up. Its labor policy has, in many cases at least, been unenlightened. And its selling methods, for the most part, remain more or less medieval. Nevertheless, it is not without a case. More efficiency and more genuine cooperation might do a good deal for it, but there is finally a rigid limit to what its earnings may be in the fact that the processing of textiles adds a smaller proportion of value to the raw materials than most other forms of manufacturing.

And--the industry does not exist in vacuo. In the South, with which we are of course primarily concerned, it represents the backbone of the whole industrial establishment. It gives employment to some half a million people; and upon its continued operation directly depends the daily bread and meat of at least two or three times that many people altogether. Many thousands of investors, mainly small, have their savings frozen in the mills, too--depend on their prosperity for income. And of course this means that ultimately prosperity of the entire business structure of the South, and especially the Carolinas, is bound up with the fate of the mills.

Criticize the "barons" as much you please. Grant the truth of all the charges lodged against them. Grant the wages in the industry plainly ought to be raised above the levels that have prevailed. And still the fact is not to be lost sight of that if these mills failed to prosper, it has its direct repercussions on the prosperity of all of us.

The case of the mills cannot be accounted for entirely on the basis of Government regulation, high taxes, and the Government's impounding of cotton under the farm program--no. But their complaints on these scores undoubtedly have considerable basis, and these things undoubtedly play their part in making for a gloomy outlook. Hence every Congressman and Senator from the South should do his best to see that they get a better break here.

What's This?*

Butter 'n' Eggs Shows That It Is Not Immune To Fear Of The Law

No less than 10,000 people in Charlotte, at a conservative estimate, can give you the lowdown on the local butter ' n' eggs racket. Sure: they can tell you the name of the Big Shot, where he settles with his pick-up men, where you call to find out what today's winning number is. They can point out "writers" industriously servicing their routes, they know the rules, and they may even play a few cents themselves, from time to time. (Only, nobody ever plays "from time to time.")

The astonishing part about this open knowledge of a sub rosa and wholly illegal enterprise is that the police know it all and more. But between knowing the set-up and the operations of the butter 'n' eggs, and proving it in court, there is a whale of a difference. So that the lottery had come to be accepted, except for occasional arrests of petty agents and an overhead of fines and the cost of its elite legal department, as almost invulnerable.

But according to a story in Friday's News, the butter 'n' eggs had experienced at last a pang of uneasiness. A special squad of plain-clothesmen was believed to be on its trail. One subordinate--third down the line from the Big Shot--he said, had been arrested. Something unusual was up. So the writers stopped writing for a spell and the pick-up men had nothing to pick up.

It is highly encouraging. Once forces of the law get an unlawful force on the run, the retreat can easily become a rout. And that would be a tonic for the town's morality, for while there is nothing essentially wicked in placing a minuscule bet in the hope of winning real money, the concentration of power and affluence in the wrong hands is something that must, if we are to retain respect of our institutions, be broken up and destroyed.

Bolivian Threat

New Dictator Seems Bound Toward Outright Fascist Alliance

Dictator Busch of Bolivia denies it, but his brother-in-law in Tokyo says it is true. And there is other evidence that he does mean soon to adhere to the Nazi-Fascist Anti-Comintern Pact--which is to say, pass formally within the orbit of the Axis powers.

The so-called "air mission" from Italy spent a year in Bolivia prior to the coup which made Busch dictator. It flew not at all, but devoted itself entirely to propaganda. As a result, the Bolivian Army is described as being today solidly Fascist in sympathy.

The German Government has decorated Busch since his coup, but the news has been carefully played down in the Bolivian dispatches. Germany now has in the making--largely already made in fact--a giant barter deal, under which she will build great refineries to exploit the Bolivian oilfields expropriated from Standard Oil by the Bolivian Government, in return for the right to divert the great part of the yield to her own uses. And one of those uses is reported to be the gaining control of the Brazilian oil market and the crowding out of the United States.

All this is serious, and it will be much more serious if Busch does go wholly over to the Nazi-Fascist powers. For that will establish Germany and Italy in South America as no European power has been established since Spain was kicked out. Worse, if Bolivia goes, Chile, Peru, and perhaps Ecuador, are expected to go, too. For all the Nazis and Fascists have been very busy and Fascist settlement is already strong. And if you'll look at your map, you'll see that Peru and, much more, Ecuador lie within easy air distance of the Panama Canal.


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