The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 31, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the turbulent 1940's was ending and a new decade beginning at midnight.

Happy New Year.

We hope that we make it through 1959. But there are doubts abounding, grave and serious doubts. With the Rooskies now with the atom bomb since August, we will be lucky to make it beyond January 1, 1953, formerly deemed by the military as A-Day. Now, A-Day is afoot, three years early.

We may not even make it to the Epiphany of 1950.

Sweet dreams...

General MacArthur, in his annual New Year's message to the Japanese people, said that they still had "the inalienable right of self-defense" against unprovoked attack, despite their no-war constitution.

Crewmen of a merchant ship of the Isbrandtsen line refused to take their ship into mined waters blockaded off Shanghai by the Chinese Nationalists.

The Shah of Iran arrived in Rome on his way back home from the U.S.

Tuskegee Institute reported that there were three lynchings in 1949, two in Georgia and one in Mississippi, with sixteen attempted lynchings across the nation, North and South, having been prevented. A seventeenth victim escaped a lynch mob by jumping in a river as the would-be lynchers argued over who would kill him.

The total attempted lynchings included Howard Unruh, who went berserk in September and shot and killed thirteen people in a twenty-minute period in Trenton, N.J., after which a mob formed and threatened his life. New York led the nation in attempted lynchings, with five, four of which involved white men as victims. The Tuskegee figures included only actions by a group of three or more persons. The Institute had recorded 4,722 lynchings in 67 years, involving 3,429 black victims and 1,293 white victims. The report is further explored in an editorial below.

Columnist Bruce Barton tells of the U.S. getting ready to devalue its own currency, albeit not formally as in Europe. It would be done instead through deficit spending leading to inflation and more taxes, hence reducing purchasing power of the dollar.

FDR had castigated President Hoover in 1932 for running up the nation's debt and promised economy and a 25 percent reduction in Federal operations. Instead, he ran up the budget each year and promised to do better the next, until he eventually stopped making the promise and translated debt into a good thing, representing national income and welfare for a "more abundant life".

At present, both political parties were committed to more expenditures and more debt in consequence. He ends by quoting from Alexander Pope re vice, and concludes that the nation was now in the "embrace" of the vice of national debt.

An unnamed Administration source said that the President, in his State of the Union message, would seek from Congress a rollback of some of the wartime excise taxes and also a tax increase on corporations and the wealthy to eradicate the deficit.

Howard Blakeslee of the Associated Press tells of the quest for the elixir for longer life being revived at the last sessions of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with the report on the new drug cortisone as a remedy for rheumatoid arthritis and a half dozen other diseases.

In Richmond, Va., the wife of CIO president Philip Murray was charged with speeding at 70 mph in a 50 mph zone on her way to Florida, was required to post a bond of $40.25. Why this was news, we haven't the foggiest notion. It was a slow day.

The News named Henry Dockery, head of the Community Chest, as the Man of the Year in Charlotte, as further explored in an editorial below.

The New Year would bring several changes to the lives of Charlotte residents, with a new statewide penny gasoline tax to take effect January 1; a newly increased national Social Security tax, with employers and employees contributing 1.5 percent of income rather than the existing one percent; increased fares for local taxis; and a new, tighter smoke abatement ordinance in the city.

The nation could expect cloudy weather and rain, with some areas receiving snow on New Year's Day. Get out your galoshes and chains. Get 'em up, Scout.

On the editorial page, "1949 Lynching Record" tells of Tuskegee Institute's annual report on lynching, showing that there were three lynchings in the country in 1949, compared to one in 1947 and two in 1948.

The three 1949 cases, all involving black men, were: Caleb Hill, Jr., 28, charged with creating a disturbance and resisting arrest in Irwinton, Ga., beaten and shot to death by a mob who took him from the jail; Malcolm Wright, 45, a tenant farmer of Houston, Miss., who, after supposedly being slow to move his wagon to the side of the road to permit a group of white men to pass in a car, was beaten to death; and Hollis Riles, 53, a farmer of Bainbridge, Ga., shot to death after an argument with a group of white men who were fishing in a pond without permission.

It suggests that while these lynchings were three too many, at least they were confined to two states. Meanwhile, fourteen lynchings, according to Tuskegee, had been prevented, four in the North and ten in the South. (It omits three of the cases for unknown reasons.)

The proposed Federal anti-lynching law was in response to the failure, in many cases, of local authorities to arrest the perpetrators and the reluctance of juries to convict. Only one of the three cases of lynching resulted in an arrest, as two men were charged in the death of Caleb Hill. But they were later freed on the ground of insufficient evidence to warrant trial. Thus, it warns, as long as that state of justice prevailed, the South would need to become accustomed to the idea of threatened Federal intervention.

"Rent Control Problems" tells of Housing Expediter Tighe Woods rejecting the petitions of Charlotte, Bloomington, Ind., and Savannah, Ga., to end rent control at some date in the future. But the cities could seek to end control presently through renewed petitions.

In Charlotte, the City Council had found the need for continued control but then arbitrarily set May 1 as a date for ending it. They should have waited, it offers, until April and reassessed the situation.

The poor felt the shortage of housing most acutely and the poor would be hurt the most when controls were lifted.

It suggests therefore that if the Council went ahead in the spring with decontrol, then it should take up anew the plea of the Housing Authority and Mayor Victor Shaw for 1,000 new public housing units.

"Man of the Year" finds Henry Dockery to be well deserving his honor of News Man of the Year in Charlotte for his civic contributions in directing the Community Chest and being a principal force behind the "Shout Freedom" outdoor drama regarding Mecklenburg County's history.

"Sharing Our Joy" tells of the Empty Stocking Fund sponsored by The News having raised in 1949 enough money to provide Christmas for 429 needy families in the community, including 678 adults and 1,212 children. Additionally, the Salvation Army provided gifts for 1,016 persons, the Lions Club, 36, the Elks Club, 76, and other church organizations and individuals, 4. Thus, 3,137 persons had been treated to Christmas by the generosity of the community.

It concludes that Christmas was the time when Charlotte showed its best side and it thanks the community for the effort.

Meanwhile, however, the City Council, by a 4 to 3 vote, refused to seek from the Federal Government public housing funds for any more than 600 units when at least a 1,000 were necessary. Bah, humbug. Tiny Tim in the slum could starve the rest of the year so as not to have the Fed'ral Gov'ment down heyeh interfering with things.

A piece from the McDowell (County, N.C.) News, titled "Steeped in January", discusses the monotony of weather. Notwithstanding the fact, families became closer in the cold of winter and got to know one another better. So there was still a saving grace in January weather, while longing for the first breaths of spring.

Drew Pearson describes in detail the process by which John L. Lewis had closed down two mines because they would not agree to his unilaterally dictated terms, not allowing them even to operate on a three-day work week as the other mines.

The water shortage in certain areas had provided focus on the problem generally across the country of inadequate clean water. Despite pork-barrel politics resulting in many flood control bills and river and harbor development, precious little funding had been allotted to cleaning the severely polluted water in those rivers. The pollution of the waterways was equal to the sewage of 200 million people, a third more than the population of 150 million. The pollution had doubled in the postwar years.

The House Armed Services Committee was considering a probe of Army and Navy officers' clubs for selling whiskey in violation of a law passed in 1901. General Eisenhower had reaffirmed the applicability of the law in an order issued in 1947 when he was Army chief of staff.

Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snyder had told the President that Britain would need a two billion dollar loan from the U.S. to stay afloat economically, that devaluation of the pound had not worked to stimulate exports as hoped. British businessmen had found the American market too tough to enter and were concentrating their exports in the British dominions, the Middle East and Africa, supplying no new desperately needed dollars. The British Government was trying to enter the American market, but the businessmen of Britain were not.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop tell of the President's advisers not being in favor of a tax increase on corporations. But, nevertheless, the President appeared poised to seek it from the Congress in his State of the Union message so that he could balance the budget. He had as much dread of deficit spending as conservatives such as Senator Harry Byrd, but he blamed the conservatives for the tax cut of the previous Congress, which had led to the present deficit.

Business enjoyed record profits and had since the war. Thus, the President eschewed their complaints of being strangled by too much tax.

But Congress was not going to pass the tax increase in an election year. By asking for it, however, the President would put the Republicans on the spot to choose between cutting foreign aid or increasing taxes. They would choose the former unless the President was able to convince them that a cold war could not be fought painlessly, any more than could a hot war. The Alsops find it unlikely that he would take such a stand.

Meanwhile, the balance of power, with a cut in foreign aid, would inexorably shift to the Russians. They stress that it was something that citizens should bear in mind if they wished to know the real state of the union.

Marquis Childs tells of the basic debate underlying every political argument in 1950 to be "security versus freedom". One of the healthy signs for society was the protest regarding centralized piping of music and advertising into Grand Central Station in New York via loudspeakers and providing it also on the buses and trains in Washington. It suggested a type of society which typified that fictionalized in George Orwell's 1984, with Big Brother always watching, remindful of the dictatorships of Europe. Mr. Childs regards the comparison to be not so far-fetched, even if applied to something as seemingly innocuous as canned music.

As deceased Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis had opined in 1928, the individual has the implicit right under the Constitution "to be let alone".

Advertisers saw bus and train riders as a "captive audience". But, he reminds, Hitler and Stalin also had captive audiences, even if in those societies to refuse to listen meant death.

Bertrand Russell, in Authority and the Individual, had placed the issue in sharp focus. It was one which loomed large at the midpoint of the Twentieth Century. To ignore it, he suggests, would not provide a solution. That would only come through soul-searching regarding the issue of achieving a proper balance between security and freedom.

And in 19 days, when the Idiot comes into office, that issue will be front and center again, more than ever. This fool wishes to lock down society and to make the country a virtual prison to afford security to fools who are afraid of their own shadows. He wishes to build a wall to keep out those who are perceived as threatening security. Oh, poor little things. The mean Mexicans are coming to get you and your family and steal your job and everything that's decent. It's awful what these tourists do.

But it's too disgusting to discuss at length on the last day of the year. Suffice it to say that the "President-elect" is dangerously nuts and must be removed from office for that reason, if not for his many high crimes and treasonous acts which have preceded the beginning of his term.

Tom Schlesinger of The News, in his weekly "Capital Roundup", tells of the events which 1950 had in store. In a word, it was filibuster, on everything from the bill to eliminate the discriminatory tax on margarine to civil rights measures, especially the FEPC bill. Moreover, the 1950 session would probably be limited to six months because of the mid-term elections. So, it was a fair guess that not much legislative action would take place.

He proceeds to discuss the proposed legislation in greater detail and the likelihood or absence thereof, that the various measures would pass, the least likely being the FEPC bill. Taft-Hartley would likely not be repealed or amended. Tax increases on upper-income brackets would not be enacted. Public power projects would be approved in piecemeal fashion. Farmers would receive price supports at about the same level as in 1949. And public housing would receive more funding.

Seventh Day of Christmas: Seven swine a-swimming in the raked-up muck of Trumperlanderkind.

Eighth Day of Christmas: Eight mailmen delivering mixed messages in Trumperlanderkind.

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