The Charlotte News

Saturday, July 28, 1940



Lucky Again

But Law of Chance Will Turn About Some Day

It happened near Forest City this time, and once again luck favored everybody, more or less anyhow. A huge oil truck, loaded with 4,000 gallons of gasoline, which was speeding along the highway, left the road, ran along a ditch and plunged into a telephone pole, turned over.

The cargo poured down the ditches and over the road. But it did not take fire. Even gasoline must have a spark, a very tiny spark, to ignite. And despite all the impact of metal on wood, of metal on concrete and stone (in a flint country), there was by a marvel no spark. And so the driver did not burn to death, escaped with a broken arm and severe head wounds. And so the house in front of which the accident happened was not endangered by fire. And so the road was quite safe for anybody who happened to be driving that way, unless, of course, he had tossed out a cigarette butt.

But the gasoline could just as well have caught fire. The accident could just as well have happened in Forest City itself, with people in the streets, with inflammable property all about. It could just as well have happened in Charlotte, with many more people and much more inflammable property.

It has happened in Charlotte, for that matter. Merely, luck was with Charlotte and the gasoline did not take fire. But it has taken fire in other North Carolina towns when these huge rolling bombs ran away and turned over. And chances are that, under the law of averages, it will take fire in Charlotte soon or late. And when and if it does, when and if people are burned to death and great property damage is done, what excuse will the City Council have to offer for failing to follow the dictates of plain common sense and enacting an ordinance really to control this menace?


Big Business

Boss of Common Laborers Has An Uncommon Income

Despite the new influence of organized labor, some of its big shots are catching the devil. Such as Michael J. Carrozzo, boss of the Chicago Common Laborers Union and numerous affiliates.

Mike's trouble is twins. He is under indictment for violation of the anti-trust laws--a little matter of refusing to let Chicago builders use ready-mixed concrete. From the nature of that case, and readily assuming the charge to be true, Mike probably ought to be under indictment for racketeering, in as much as about the only way you can keep people from using a perfectly legal commodity is too strong-arm or terrify them into seeing it your way.

But that's only half of Mike's trouble. The Government has a tax claim against him, and Al Capone could tell him that tax claims are different.

In recent years, Mike has paid the Treasury nearly $500,000 to settle income tax claims against him. For 1937 and 1938 the damage came to $241,088 more, including unpaid tax, interest and penalties.

The astonishing part of it all is not that Mike neglected to pay what Uncle Sam thought he owed, but the enormous income on which taxes were due. Verily, common labor may be not so lucrative a calling, but being boss of a whole lot of common laborers, and a crook in the bargain, makes for rich pickings.

The New Deal has set up a commission to protect the simple investor from the wiles of stockbrokers and promoters. A companion agency might well be a Department of Labor which would keep close watch on such boys as Mike.


Two Threats

Japan Joins Germany in Promising Us Trouble

The nations which don't like us are waxing bolder with their threats these days. Walther Funk, Hitler's Minister of Economics, warns us that we'll have to trade with Nazi Germany on Nazi Germany's own terms after this war or else.

What that means for immediate purposes is that we'll have to give Nazi Germany a good part of our gold or be subjected to a relentless trade war, with gold barred from Europe as a currency.

What it means ultimately is that we had better submit quietly to being Nazified on our own account. The Nazi political system invariably follows trade with the Nazis, for the Nazi economic system is devised to cut off all advantages from firms which show a lack of sympathy with Nazism, to organize pressure against them.

But it is not merely Nazi Germany. Japan threatens a "very great reaction" if Washington cuts all scrap iron and oil exports to it. And proceeds to envisage South America as lining up with the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, and adds "would this not be delightful to the Japanese?"

None the less, the fact is that Washington has already clamped a virtual embargo on oil which has been going to Nazi Germany by way of Spain. And if that is good sense--as it certainly is--then it logically follows that an embargo on scrap iron and oil ought also to be declared for Japan. The latter country depends entirely on us for supply of iron and oil, and it is with these that she proposes to do all the things against our interest she now openly plans. It is scarcely sensible to aid her in it.


An Argument

Over the Right of Coroners To Call Killings Justifiable

For Colonel Kirkpatrick's letter on this page today, let us express appreciation. It discusses a matter which we believe needs discussion: that of the authority of the office of coroner.

At no time has The News cast any aspersions on the character of the Mecklenburg Coroner. To the contrary, it is stated and backed up by the record simply that--

Of 29 persons arrested for homicide in the period under examination, ten of them were turned loose by coroner's juries, and that these juries were usually composed of regulars.

Colonel Kirkpatrick, to be sure, does not essay to contradict those facts. His chief point is that the office of coroner has, under the statutes, the right and responsibility to acquit persons charged with homicide when there is no probable guilt found.

The Colonel is a lawyer, and his interpretation of law must carry greater weight than our own. Nevertheless, even lawyers disagree as to the meaning of the law, and we suspect that lawyers could be found who would stand the Colonel down and show that the statutes and the Constitution never intended coroner's hearings to become trials.

That argument can be illustrated. Suppose a man is found dead in some dark alley. The coroner is called and makes an investigation. If he is satisfied that the poor fellow died from natural causes, he writes up his report and that is all there is to it.

But if he finds a suspicion of foul play, no matter how "probable," he shall summons a jury to his assistance, and this jury shall consider the evidence and say, if it can, who did the deed. The case then goes to court.

But the jury and the coroner are not, we contend, authorized by law to say that John Jones did it, but that John Jones did it in self-defense and may go free without further trial. Self-defense is not only probable cause it is certain cause for a man to be bound over to court.

The coroner, in short, has jurisdiction only over dead men. Live men, be their deeds excusable or not, must tell it to the judge.


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