The Charlotte News

Friday, February 20, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via Forrest Edwards, that outnumbered allied soldiers, fighting in the haze of Communist smoke shells, had repulsed two enemy attacks on a western front outpost in a bloody clash early this date, the enemy having attacked behind a curtain of more than 1,000 rounds of mortar and artillery fire, including smoke shells which hampered allied observation and cast a thick haze over the area for hours.

In the air war, B-29s dropped 110 tons of bombs on an enemy communications and supply center within five miles of Manchuria, and allied fighter-bombers subsequently bombed enemy rail lines and supply centers throughout North Korea, while Sabre jets screening the operations damaged two enemy MIG-15s. Anti-aircraft fire and night-fighter attacks had been directed at the B-29s, but the Air Force did not say if either side had suffered damage or loss.

The U.S. Eighth Army confirmed that warplanes, "presumed to be" allied, had killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded five of a battalion of the U.S. Seventh Division, on February 2, in a mistaken bombing behind U.N. lines in western Korea.

In Paris, the NATO Council, in a surprise move, promised General Matthew Ridgway, NATO supreme commander, 224 million dollars additional funding for the 1953 European military construction, money which it had denied the General the previous December. The Council still had to figure out which countries would pay specific amounts. General Ridgway had stated in December that 428 million dollars was the minimum needed for 1953 construction of airbases, jet fuel pipelines, communications and headquarters installations in Western Europe, but the Council initially had allocated only half that amount. A spokesman at General Ridgway's headquarters, however, commented the previous night that the increase had come two months too late.

Senator Taft said this date that the Administration had been saddled with a "terrific burden" of proposed long-range military spending in its efforts to balance the budget. He and Senator Eugene Millikin of Colorado, chairman of the conference of Republican Senators, predicted that spending would be cut and an increase avoided in the 275 billion dollar legal debt limit. Senator Millikin indicated that if the Congress followed the Truman budget, they would have to increase the debt limit, but they would not do so. Senator Taft said that the people had a right to know the burden left behind by the Truman Administration in its spending plans, not only for the coming fiscal year, but for five years in advance regarding military outlays. Senator Styles Bridges, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, stated that there was a possibility that President Truman had underestimated spending for the ensuing fiscal year by 2.5 billion dollars, resulting in a deficit of 12.5 billion. Senator Taft said that Budget director Joseph Dodge, during a White House briefing the previous day for Congressional leaders, had outlined the long-range military spending plans of the Truman Administration and estimated that if they were followed, the national debt would rise to 300 billion by 1958. He said that military spending would not reach its peak until the following year and then would taper off to a balanced budget at 63 billion dollars in 1958.

A New York employee of the Voice of America this date testified before the Senate Investigation subcommittee chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy, charging that three of his fellow employees had watered-down anti-Communist references in scripts prepared for overseas broadcasts. He had encountered several such instances and believed there were "sinister influences" behind the changes. At the request of Senator McCarthy, he named three people who were responsible for the scripts. He said that he was the chief of the Latin American news service of the Voice. He provided documents to the subcommittee regarding a specific instance of the watering down on January 21, relating to pro-American demonstrations by anti-Communist elements in Guatemala, in which the description "anti-Communist" was penciled out of the copy. He said that during the previous 18 months, he had encountered several such instances. Senator Karl Mundt of the subcommittee told reporters that on the basis of what had been disclosed, he was convinced that the Voice needed new directors. Senator John McClellan said that he believed a major shake-up was in order.

The House Ways & Means Committee this date virtually killed chances of Congressional action during the year on proposals to expand the Social Security program, as sought by the President to be extended to include doctors, lawyers, farmers and others. The Committee appointed a subcommittee to make a study of the whole Social Security picture, which would likely preclude legislative action on any proposals during the year.

A late bulletin indicates that a Federal District Court Judge had held that a one dollar per hour minimum wage for textile mills holding Government contracts, as ordered by former Secretary of Labor Maurice Tobin, was "probably unlawful" and thus issued a temporary injunction blocking its implementation.

In Sterling, Colo., the police station received a radio report that nine schoolchildren who had been missing since the previous day in the snowed-in northern Colorado mountains, had been found safe at a farmhouse. The children and their bus driver had been found eating bacon and eggs at the farm when discovered after spending the night there. The bus had stalled some distance from the farm the prior afternoon and there were few telephones in the area.

The deaths of three persons had been blamed on the snowstorm, which packed winds reaching 65 mph. The Weather Bureau stated that there had been greater snow depths but not as much sustained wind with a snowstorm in the region since the big storm of 1949, which had taken 17 lives in five days. The storm had dropped 12 inches of new snow at Cheyenne, Wyoming, and 9 inches at Denver. Most of the snow ranged between two and six inches in depth.

In Raleigh, the State House approved legislation calling for the appointment of six new regular Superior Court judges. A bill regarding statewide school consolidation was introduced, which would require the State Board of Education to continue any high school having an enrollment of 60 or more unless a majority of voters in the school district favored consolidation, and if attendance fell below 60, then the Board would conduct a survey to determine future prospects for the school and if that study showed that there was a good chance of 60 or more students attending within two years, the school would be continued.

In Asheville, W. Randall Harris, 54, president of the North Carolina Press Association, was found dead in his bed at home this date from a heart attack sometime during the night. He was assistant general manager of the Asheville Citizen-Times, having begun his career as a carrier of the newspaper more than 40 years earlier. He was a graduate of N.C. State.

In Charlotte, the City's tax collector, James Armstrong, 61, died in his office at City Hall during the afternoon, a few minutes after suffering a heart attack. He had first become the tax collector in 1935, appointed by Mayor Ben Douglas, then became city manager in 1940, serving until 1941, at which point he left City government for the real estate business, returning as tax collector in 1949. He was a veteran of World War I and was a local leader in American Legion affairs.

A series of pictures shows the product of four years of construction by a former Marine, a worker at Burlington Mills, of a bomb shelter 30 feet beneath his home in Cramerton, N.C., in preparation for an atomic bomb.

Gut luck...

On the editorial page, "A State's Tax Structure Is Just One of the Factors That Attract Industry" indicates that a subcommittee of the General Assembly's Joint Finance Committee was considering whether the state's tax structure was less favorable to industry than that of other Southern states. There had been a lot of interest in that question during the term of Governor J. Melville Broughton, between 1941 and 1945. It had become apparent then, as it was presently, that state taxes were scaring off new industry. It reviews some findings by authoritative groups and individuals, which you may peruse at length on your own if you have a particular interest in the historical subject.

It concludes that the subcommittee should not exaggerate the alleged hindrance of tax structures and rates, nor underestimate them, that if the evidence showed the state could yield a bit in each direction to attract industry without jeopardizing revenue, then it should do so, but that any wholesale slashing of corporate taxes would not only impair state services, it would also shift an unfair burden to individuals who were already bearing their part through sales and personal income taxes.

"Robert Lassiter" laments the loss of the 76-year old businessman whose personal efforts had been largely responsible for obtaining a branch bank of the Federal Reserve in Charlotte, on which he had served as a member of its board of directors and then chairman for the previous ten years. He also had been chairman of the board of several other companies and a director of the Seaboard Air Line Railway. He made public affairs his personal business, living with politics daily, while not being lackadaisical regarding standards and ethics, condemning laxity and waywardness in public officials, in language which was volatile and often earthy. He had been a rugged individualist and a stanch conservative, never adjusting his policies to the Democratic Administrations of the prior 20 years, believing the results of the previous November election to have upheld his own convictions.

It concludes that the community's loss was tempered only by the realization that Mr. Lassiter's better qualities had been preserved in his four sons.

Drew Pearson indicates that House Ways & Means Committee chairman Daniel Reed was hiding some confidential statistics which undermined his theory of tax reduction while supporting the White House objections to it. A Treasury Department report had shown that the tax reduction bill would reduce Government income by 2.6 billion dollars annually, at a time when the Administration wanted to balance the budget. A statistical table prepared by an expert of the Joint Committee on Taxation also undermined the claim that tax reduction would help the "little fellow". That table had shown that a man with a wife and two children, making a net annual income of $5,000, would obtain a tax reduction of only $28.60 per year or 55 cents per week. Those were some of the reasons why several members of the Committee had argued against the bill, including Congressmen Hale Boggs of Louisiana, Jere Cooper of Tennessee, John Dingell of Michigan, Herman Eberharter of Pennsylvania, and Wilbur Mills of Arkansas, all Democrats who favored the Eisenhower approach during the closed-session debate, though in the end voting to report out the bill to the full House.

The Administration had not been anxious to have tidelands oil hearings quite so fast. Senator Hugh Butler of Nebraska, the new chairman of the Senate Interior Committee, had talked privately with Secretary of the Interior Douglas McKay in advance of the hearings, and found him not anxious to testify. As a result, the Senators who had been pushing for tidelands oil rights for Louisiana, Texas and California were not happy. The people of Texas and Louisiana were waking up to the fact that the proposed tidelands oil bill would be a boon to California but not to the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, because the bill gave the states title to oil three miles offshore, except for Texas, which had become a state under a special treaty providing rights to 10.5 miles. But there was not much oil inside three miles or even 10.5 miles, except in the case of California. In Long Beach, for instance, the oil was in some cases within wading distance. A little further out, the ocean dropped off on a sheer cliff about five miles deep. It was thus impossible to drill for oil more than three miles off the California shore and so the proposed bill suited California perfectly. But off Texas and Louisiana, the ocean bottom in the Gulf sloped gradually and was never too deep for drilling, such that oil could be drilled many miles offshore, in an area where no important oil wells had been drilled closer than 10 or 11 miles. The oil fire which had occurred in the Gulf recently had been 14 miles from the shore. Texas had collected only about $250,000 of royalties from wells within the 10.5 mile limit in recent years. Thus the schools in Texas, which had been expecting big money from the tidelands oil bill, would receive only a small amount. Senator Price Daniels, who had been elected the prior year largely on his campaign for tidelands oil, would thus need to get the 10.5 mile limit extended for Texas to avoid huge disappointment for his constituents.

Mr. Pearson notes that increasing numbers of states were mobilizing against the bill and more Eisenhower leaders wished they did not have to pass it. The Arizona Legislature, which was predominantly Republican, had recently passed a resolution opposing giving the states tidelands oil.

The President had spoken in his recent luncheon with members of Congress about the relationship of prayer to freedom, explaining that the inclusion of a prayer in his inaugural address had occurred to him while listening to a prayer by the Reverend Edward Elson at pre-inauguration services at the National Presbyterian Church. He said that it occurred to him that a lot of people were praying for him and that he ought to do some praying for himself, saying that the only reason the country was free was because "the Almighty Creator, to whom all mankind is responsible, is keeping us free and our prayers will help us to hold on to that freedom."

Marquis Childs tells of the President's first press conference the prior Tuesday having dealt primarily with the domestic economy, surprising when juxtaposed against the rhetoric of the campaign the prior fall. He had primarily stressed falling farm prices, within the context of support for Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson's approach of removing rigid and arbitrary controls to allow natural economic law to take over, to keep prices in their proper relationship to one another. The same theme emerged from his discussion of taxation when he spoke of the objective of restoring private incentives by scaling down taxation after the budget had been brought into balance.

Mr. Childs suggests that what the Administration was undertaking would require "the stubbornness of an Army mule and the fighting spirit of a mountain lion." There had already emerged a great deal of anger against Secretary Benson regarding his remarks in opposition to farm price supports, despite a declining economy with lower farm prices.

The massive spending by the Government which had begun in 1941 had put an end to mass unemployment which had started in 1930, something which the New Deal had only been able temporarily to remedy. But in the previous 12 years, vast sums had been pumped into the economy for war or rearmament, and when defense spending had been drastically cut in 1949, the great boom began to recede and unemployment, to rise. Then, the Korean War in June, 1950 put an abrupt end to that downward trend. That background would make the new Administration's experiment extremely difficult. While defense spending continued at 50 to 60 billion per year, production in the country had been so expanded during the previous decade that it turned out war matériel and an oversupply of automobiles, refrigerators and television sets.

The economy could not be freed in a rush. The Department of Agriculture, operating under a program put into place by the 82nd Congress, was buying butter at the rate of a million or more pounds per day, with a standing offer by the Government of 67.75 cents per pound for Grade A butter, amounting to a total of between $650,000 and $800,000 per day for a product which could only be held in storage for a certain time before it would become rancid. The law required that butter prices be supported at 75 to 90 percent of parity, and former Secretary of Agriculture Charles Brannan had fixed the present buying program at 90 percent.

Many types of monetary and credit controls were available to the Government which had not existed in 1929 at the time of the Crash, putting an end to the booming Twenties. There were also cushions to prevent a too precipitous drop.

Mr. Childs concludes that the trick in the new Administration's experiment appeared to have a little deflation, enough to check the inflationary spiral and get the economy onto a stable plateau. But to have a only a little deflation, he observes, might be as much of a trick as to have a little inflation.

Frederick C. Othman tells of members of Congress having drooled over the exhibit of a frozen T-bone steak imported from New Zealand, selling in Dayton, O., for 39 cents per pound. But then they averted their eyes from the meat and vowed to keep such merchandise out of the country in the future, that meat at such bargain prices, no matter how good the quality, was bad for the country's economy, disrupting markets, bankrupting farmers, and in the end making meat more costly than ever.

Two intelligent-talking farmers from Ohio had appeared before the Agriculture Committee to protest the importation of 60 million pounds of such high-grade, low-cost meat via Canada. One of them said that he had stood in line to purchase the meat at a market, and that the merchant had said he paid 17 cents per pound for the meat, which he sold at 39 cents for the steaks and 29 cents for the roasts. The farmer then produced one of the steaks from his briefcase to demonstrate to a member of the subcommittee that the meat was of good quality, whereupon the members passed the steak among themselves, sniffing it as they went. Congressman Clarence Brown of Ohio, who was not a member of the subcommittee but had dropped in to encourage his constituents, finally left the hearing, muttering that he was hungry.

The farmer had presented the meat with a sprig of parsley on a plate, which he explained he had obtained from the Congressional cafeteria, the chef of which had insisted on supplying the parsley.

The farmer said that a few more shipments of such beef would cause him to have troubles keeping his five daughters in college. He said that about 20 million pounds of it had already been sold and another 40 million pounds was in storage. While it was not much for the entire nation, as the farmer had observed, "It doesn't take much of a tail to wag quite a big dog."

A letter from the state's CIO director takes issue with an editorial of February 17 in which the point had been made that taxpayers had a right to know what was being done with their money, in support of the proposal to make welfare rolls in the state public. He indicates that it was the right of the taxpayers to have their money spent wisely and efficiently, and that the proposed measure would increase Welfare Department costs by an estimated $250,000 per year, all to discover perhaps five cases in which welfare recipients were improperly receiving benefits, which under North Carolina's schedule of benefits would amount to a mere $960. Such had been the case in Indiana during the first year of operation of such a law. He thus concludes it would be no bargain.

A letter from the president of the Charlotte Mental Hygiene Society expresses appreciation to the newspaper for making the first public Institute on Alcoholism in the city a success. She indicates that the organization had contacted between 4,000 and 5,000 people.

A letter from a minister who had written several times earlier regarding matters related to integration, having been especially controversial with other readers when he had written favoring interracial marriage, finds that the newspaper's approval of the death penalty for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg illustrated an honest difference of opinion. He opposes execution of the Rosenbergs because it was a punishment much too severe, it would make martyrs of the couple, and because "misguided intellectuals" of their type were the "creatures of our collective infirmity". Other defendants who had been convicted of the crime of treason had received terms of 30 years in prison, and imprisonment for life would be adequate for the ends of justice in the case of the Rosenbergs. Their deaths would not eliminate the causes which prompted them to become spies. They were merely pawns in a sequence of power maneuvers between two conflicting forms of government. He hopes that charity would spare their lives and that a vigorous campaign to destroy the conditions which produced them would also take place.

A letter from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., supposes the newspaper would receive a large number of letters on its February 5 publication of Dr. Carl McIntyre's remarks about the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. He suggests that resistance to change generally had caused the attitude that the King James Version had been sent from heaven, as with the tablets of Mosaic law on Mount Sinai, but the truth was that even the original Scriptures had been the human records of what men believed that God had done. They had set down their inspiration from the Spirit of God, but were still men, and only Jesus Christ had the "fullness of the Spirit", but had not written down anything. He finds Dr. McIntyre's reference to the "leftist-inspired" translators to be not very convincing, "even though Senator McCarthy has given such good precedent," that now anyone who disagreed on any matter was a "Red", reminding of the Roman Empire in around 300 A.D., when the simplest way to be rid of a business competitor or political rival was to accuse the person of being a Christian.

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