Thursday, July 11, 1946

The Charlotte News

Thursday, July 11, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Senator Alexander Wiley was seeking to bring up the President's reorganization bill, designed to delay a final vote on OPA, but relented until the following day. The Senate voted down an attempt to provide rent increases of 5 percent with graduated further increases. It was still hoped that a vote on OPA might occur this date. But Senator Pappy Lee O'Daniel of Texas was threatening a filibuster.

The CIO in Philadelphia urged its members to purchase only necessities until OPA was revived, a semi-strike stance.

V. M. Molotov told the four-power foreign ministers conference in Paris that Russia favored a unified Germany with a central government with which the four powers could conclude a peace treaty. The plan appeared to fly in the face of the French proposal for dismemberment. But the Russian proposal also included provision for regional plebiscites within Germany to determine whether the Germans wanted unification. Russia also favored four-power administration of the Ruhr and all of German industry.

Observers believed that the stance was a ploy to gain favor with German Communists.

It was reported from the U.N. by an unnamed source that Russia had rejected the Australian proposal of having atomic energy administered by an autonomous committee and instead favored it being controlled by the Security Council, with its unilateral veto power reserved to the permanent members.

Pravda attacked New York Times correspondent Brooks Atkinson for stating that he had found an "iron curtain" existing in Russia after living there for ten months. He had also characterized Russian life as outmoded without creative ideas evident in the culture. The Pravda article labeled him a "gangster of the pen" and an "untalented slanderer".

Brig. General Roswell Hardy, wartime chief of the ordnance ammunition division, testified to the Senate War Investigating Committee that Representative Andrew May had asked him by telephone not to cut back production of artillery shells by Batavia Metal Products Company, but did not intervene to place pressure on him to provide the contract in the first instance. He stated that the cutback was based on the high cost of Batavia's production compared to other manufacturers of the shells and that it received no better or worse treatment than others.

The War Department stated that it was in the process of creating a post-war National Guard twice the size of that during pre-war, or 682,000 strong, to act as "a highly trained, mobile M-Day force".

A plane crash of a Transcontinental & Western Airlines training Constellation killed five crewmen and injured a sixth in Reading, Pa.

In Dallas, Texas, a retired attorney was found dead in his ransacked home, the body having decomposed for over a month since the time of death, making it not possible yet to determine whether violence was involved.

In New York, CIO UPS delivery men for Macy's struck, resulting in Macy's operating on a skeletal work force serving half its normal customers. Other department stores also were threatened with being affected by similar strikes.

The price of newsprint was reported to be 20 percent, or $6.80 per ton, higher than the previous day and rising, with another price rise of ten percent expected. Although most newsprint came from Montreal, American buyers had been prohibited under OPA from paying above $67 per ton during the war. Three-quarters of the Canadian production was sold to New York and constituted three-quarters of the American supply.

On the editorial page, "Has Old Rocking Chair Got Us?" comments on the rise concomitantly of the number of laborers drawing unemployment and the demand for workers. A new series was appearing in the newspaper devoted to the issue, written by reporter Reed Sarratt.

Critics of the Unemployment Compensation Commission contended that the unemployed were being paid a portion of their prior income for doing nothing, encouraging laziness. The proponents argued that it prevented submarginal employment until a worker could find a job.

Mr. Sarratt's figures showed the number of black men on unemployment to be decreasing, contrary to the generally held belief that they were the primary beneficiaries of unemployment compensation. Many women were receiving the compensation based on wartime work, though it was believed that few were actually seeking new employment in industry.

Much of the UCC activity was concerning veterans who received $20 per week for up to a year in Federal compensation.

The piece recommends the series as identifying the problem, if not attempting to provide any solution.

"A Choice of Economic Forecasts" tells of the varying predictions on the economy after the release of OPA controls. The Republicans predicted that food prices would remain stable with food much more plentiful. The Department of Agriculture stated that food production would increase but not until fall, and that food prices would rise between 15 and 20 percent. It had also predicted that meat would be diverted from the small packers to the larger packers and from low income to higher income families. The piece questions whether this latter result could be seen by anyone as salutary.

Some would argue that the Department of Agriculture was missing the mark and that the rosy picture painted by the Republicans was the more accurate. But if the cost of living were to rise, then relative incomes would decline commensurately. It suggests that Congress ought proceed cautiously in abandoning price controls.

"Sidney Hillman: Hero or Villain?" discusses the passing of the controversial CIO PAC leader who had died the previous day. He had founded the Amalgamated Garment Workers Union and had led it to eliminate the sweatshop conditions which had previously pervaded the industry. Employers who dealt with him generally gave him praise, and strikes under his leadership were rare as he obtained his demands through artful negotiation.

When he formed the PAC, he obtained political power in Democratic circles, so much so that Republicans deeply resented him and his PAC. He denied that he had forced the nomination of Harry Truman as the vice-presidential candidate in 1944, but there was little doubt that he had been a persuasive proponent of such a ticket.

But his role as political boss, unlike that as union boss, did not earn him kudos, instead obloquy and general derision for exercising a too heavy hand, to the point that opponents faced with PAC support of the other side charged PAC with being Communist, and thus Mr. Hillman, by association, with being Red—as would a future President seek by association to label his opponent in a presently ongoing California race for Congress.

It would have to be left to history, it concludes, to determine whether he was a dangerous radical, as his opponents charged, or a conservative labor leader, as his supporters contended.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "It's Only a Suggestion", reports that the proposed consolidation of North Carolina's solicitorial districts would, as an incidental result, eliminate the only Republican involved in the administration of justice. To convince the Republicans that fair play would be the rule of the day, it proposed that a few special judges be appointed who had never voted Democratic and who did not foresee doing so.

Drew Pearson begins by recalling that on September 13, 1940, in the wake of the airplane crash which had killed Senator Ernest Lundeen of Minnesota, he had written that the Senator had been under investigation by the Justice Deaprtment for having delivered speeches on the floor of the Senate prepared by a paid Nazi agent, George Sylvester Viereck. The claim was denied by then Attorney General Robert Jackson and denounced as a libel by some isolationist Senators and at least one newspaper. Mrs. Lundeen threatened suit.

Mr. Pearson points out that he continued to publish reports regarding Nazi propagandist influence on the Congress, as when he had told of Congressman Hamilton Fish having rented his New York home to the Nazi Consulate at a high price, and that he was being used by Nazi agents. Mr. Pearson presented other facts regarding the activities of Mr. Viereck, showing him to be a paid German agent.

In Germany the previous week, the first secretary of the German Embassy in Washington, pursuant to an Army and Justice Department investigation, confirmed the reports which Mr. Pearson had made public in 1940 regarding Mr. Viereck. He publishes a partial transcript of the interrogation which showed that Mr. Viereck was paid between $70,000 and $120,000 by Germany to publish and distribute books designed to spread anti-British sentiment and to keep the United States out of the war.

Mr. Pearson promises another column on the subject soon, to provide further documentation of the charges.

Marquis Childs finds the creation pursuant to the Full Employment bill of a joint Congressional committee with highly capable members to be a positive move despite the bill having emerged as a watered down version of that proposed by the President. The probable chair of the committee would be Senator Joseph O'Mahoney of Wyoming, who had chaired the National Economic Committee which studied what had transpired in the nation's economy during the half century prior to the committee's report in 1941, finding economic power to have been concentrated in the hands of a few corporations.

Senator O'Mahoney favored an economic constitution in the same way a political Constitution had been framed in 1787. He believed that both big business and big government were destructive of true democracy. But inevitably control of big business required bigger government. He had stated that the trend toward big government had not begun until business had outgrown state and local governments. He favored making corporations subject to license by the Federal Government to end the fiction that they were private persons, believing that such a move would lead to less government regulation as corporate responsibility would be clearly defined under Federal law.

Samuel Grafton, still in Los Angeles, discusses whether inflation had set in as a result of price increases in the wake of the death of OPA. Opponents of control pointed readily to steady prices in certain areas of the economy. But such prices meant little. The real question was whether a chain reaction was being set up whereby some rising prices would trigger others, and then in turn still others along the chain, until an inflationary spiral would result.

Price control and concomitant food subsidies during the war had broken this spiral before it could get started. Stable food prices kept labor from seeking higher wages.

Expressions by businessmen of good intentions to keep prices down meant little, as an inflationary spiral, once begun, would spread of its own volition.

Some supporters of the free market had pointed to a reduction in vegetable prices since July 1, forgetting that the first week of July was the time of the heaviest marketing of produce.

The whole trend toward release of controls on which the nation had embarked was a tragedy of both "cupidity" and "naivete", the latter being probably the more discreditable in such an advanced nation.

A letter from a local pharmacist responds favorably to the editorial of July 2, "Caution: Free Men at Work", re the death of OPA and what might be expected to come in an unregulated economy. It suggests that the newspaper assign Burke Davis to investigate the way the pharmaceuticals industry and the retail pharmacies had maintained prices during the war and since.

The editors respond that the industries which relied on a few manufacturers were able to control prices better than others, such as lumber, which relied on numerous suppliers. It suspects the drug industry to be in the former category. Its point in the editorial had been to give tribute to the majority of merchants and manufacturers who had held the line under OPA without the cheating which characterized only a small minority of chiselers. Without OPA, prices would soon have to rise to keep pace with advancing costs of living.

A letter writer, "a former Chicago citizen at present unavoidably a citizen of your city", takes issue with the editorial published January 14 in the wake of the murder in Chicago of six-year old Suzanne Degnan, saying that the August issue of American Magazine had found the worst violence to be in the South and that the rate of crime in North Carolina was 1.5 times that of Illinois. It also found that the top ten states for murders by whites were all in the South.

"Naturally," he concludes, "one would expect such articles from a newspaper of your low calibre." The "stupid people" who read the newspaper would likely be convinced of anything negative printed about the North.

The editors respond that they had never referred to Chicago's crime rate except to say precisely what the letter writer had said, that the rates in North Carolina and the South were much higher. Furthermore, the point that blacks were not responsible for the high murder rate had been made many times. The newspaper's "stupid readers" had never failed to understand the point.

"We regret that an unwilling visitor, conditioned by reading a newspaper of the high calibre of The Chicago Tribune, has so misunderstood us."

Today, incidentally, Charlotte's murder rate of 7.5 per 100,000 for 2009 is about half that of Chicago, at 16.1. New Orleans, at 51.7, leads the list, followed by St. Louis, 40.3, Detroit, 40, Baltimore, 37.3, Newark, 28.7, Oakland, 25.7, Washington, 24, Buffalo, 22.3, Kansas City, 20.6, Memphis, 19.8, Philadelphia, 19.5, Cleveland, 19.3, Tulsa, 17.7, Cincinnati, 16.5, then Chicago, ranking 15th. Of the nation's 35 most populous cities, Honolulu, with a murder rate of only 1.5, wins the prize, with El Paso, second, at 1.9, followed by San Jose, 2.9, Austin, 2.9, San Diego 3.1, Portland, 3.4, and Seattle, 3.7.

Other populous cities with murder rates at or below 5.0 are: Plano, Tex., 1.5, Henderson, Nev., 1.5, Chandler, Ariz., 2.0, Lincoln, Neb., 2.0, Anaheim, 2.7, Mesa, Ariz., 3.0, Arlington, Tex., 3.2, Raleigh, 3.4, Colorado Springs, 3.7, Corpus Christi, Tex., 4.2, Virginia Beach, 4.4, Lexington, Ky., 4.4, St. Paul, 4.6, Minneapolis, 4.7, Anchorage, 4.9, and Riverside, CA., 5.0.

By comparison to nine years earlier, in 2000, the murder rate leaders were: New Orleans, 42.1, Washington, 41.8, Detroit, 41.6, Baltimore, 40.1, St. Louis, 35.6, Birmingham, 32.5, Atlanta, 32.2, Kansas City, 25.6, Memphis 22.6, Chicago, 21.8, Newark, 21.2, Philadelphia, 21, Milwaukee, 20.4, Oakland, 20, Dallas, 19.4, and Miami, 18.2. While murders in New Orleans, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tulsa, Newark, Oakland, Kansas City, Cleveland, and St. Louis increased substantially, Detroit, Baltimore, Memphis, and Philadelphia remained about the same, while Washington and Chicago had a substantial decrease, along with decreases in other of the nation's 15 largest cities, New York, 8.4 in 2000 to 5.6 in 2009, Los Angeles, 14.9 to 8.1, Dallas, 19.4 to 12.9, and Phoenix 11.5 to 7.6. The rate for Charlotte fell in the interim from 12 to 7.5, Atlanta, from 32.2 to 14.5.

These are of course snapshots in time and to obtain a better sense of the crime situation in a given locale requires analysis over periods of time. To find any discernible pattern, for instance, with respect to the impact of gun control laws, one must factor the statistical impact over a period of time in a given locale before and after implementation of the gun control law in question. It is meaningless to try to compare one city to another via relative strictness of gun control laws as such a raw comparison fails to isolate differences in the demographic make-up of a community versus another, density per square mile of population, socio-economic data, relative education, racial, ethnic, and religious heterogeneity versus relative homogeneity, changing composition of the cities in question over time, and, most importantly, how strictly the gun control laws on the books are actually enforced as gauged, among other data, by the number of arrests over time for illegal guns. To isolate better the impact of a gun control law, one should also look at the changing socio-economic character, if any, over time in a given community. It also helps to be reasonably objective in interpreting that data, and not doing so on behalf of the National Rifle Association or kindred group.

One would find that gun control laws do generally work when strictly enforced. But to try to compare statistics on crime involving guns between an "open carry" jurisdiction, for instance, which tend to be in the less densely populated Western states, to inner city areas of the country with strict laws, is, of course, a fool's folly. One need only look as far as the lax gun control laws of Louisiana to understand the issue. An unchecked culture of violence tends to spawn further violence in any community.

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