The Charlotte News

Thursday, May 11, 1939


Lost And Found

F.R.'s Latest Message Clears Up Case Of A Missing Flop

We had been wondering what had become of that National Bituminous Coal Commission before we looked into the President's reorganization message of Tuesday. There was, we had heard, a considerable strike on in the coal business, but not a cheep had been emitted by the Coal Commission, which, as we understood it, was charged with some duties designed to head off strikes and to settle 'em when they happened anyhow. The Department of Labor had a busy representative on the scene, yes. But if the Coal Commission did, the reporters had ganged up and suppressed the news.

But now we know what has become of the Coal Commission--it is at the undertaker's. Said the President in that message:

"I find it necessary and desirable... to abolish the National Bituminous Coal Commission and to transfer its functions to the Secretary of the Interior... experience has shown that direct administration will be cheaper, better and more effective than through the cumbersome medium of an unnecessary commission."

That last sentence is to put it very mildly. The commission was charged, in addition to its labor functions, with fixing prices and mine quotas--at the latest by November, 1937. Its record for the two years it has existed is as follows:

1--The commissioners have argued at length over which of them (there were seven) should have the most patronage and over what Senators Guffey, Neeley, and Barkley, patrons of three of them, were going to do if their pets didn't win.

2--They have established for themselves offices larger than those occupied by any Cabinet member.

3--They have furnished those offices with $200 crimson leather chairs, velvet drapes, 300 bronze indirect lighting fixtures, 200 bronze desk lamps, aluminum water jugs, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

4--They have never done anything at all about labor. Indeed, the ruling group of four commissioners have refused to even let the other three, representing labor, know what people had been hired.

5--They have utterly failed to fix prices or mine quotas.

6--They have drawn their salaries, nice fat ones, for two years.

"Cumbersome" and "unnecessary?" Well, slightly. "Direct administration will be cheaper, better, and more effective"? We should hope so.

Back Again

George Berry Returns To The Prints Once More

George L. Berry, of Tennessee, is back in the prints. Mr. Berry, if you have forgotten, was until the last election a Senator from Tennessee. But his greatest play in the prints did not come from that simple fact, but from the charge that he had used his prior knowledge of TVA plans to buy a comparatively unvaluable marble lands along the Tennessee River--lands which would be flooded by the TVA development--and make them the basis of claims for millions against the Federal Government. Senator Berry denied vigorously, indeed, that that was so, but he tried hard to cash in.

And now he's back from the oblivion to which he had apparently been consigned for good last November. This time, the charges are brought by an investigator for the House committee which is checking up on the WPA, on the basis of statements made by Eugene R. Kuhne, fish technician of the Tennessee Game and Fish Commission. And those statements? That WPA funds had been spent in Tennessee to build many and costly fish lakes--one of them, uncompleted, is reported already to have cost $250,000--not for the benefit of the public but to increase the valuable land surrounding them, and owned by, yes, former Senator Berry, and a lot of other people associated with him, including Governor Prentice Cooper.

Maybe it is all a basic canard. Maybe politics is behind it. Maybe another gang is out to smear George Berry, Prentice Cooper, et al. We don't know. But what we do know is that it is high time somebody looked into the matter of why Berry is everlastingly turning up in the prints on such charges. And that the present case offers a direct challenge to Congress to go to the bottom of his record--since it involves charges of gross and scandalous diversion of Federal funds intended for the relief of the hungry.

His Audience

Hitler's Atrocity Tales Are Not Addressed To The Intelligent

That there should be anybody with any intelligence left in Germany who is capable of taking stock in the Nazi press campaign about the "oppression" of Germans in Poland, seems simply incredible. Even in a country where the propaganda ministry has absolute control of all agencies and public information, facts do finally get about by the grapevine route, and every German of the slightest acuity and information must be well aware now that the same sort of campaign waged against Czechoslovakia last Fall was simply a frame-up--should be able to deduce that such is also the case with Poland.

Indeed, anybody who is capable of the most elementary logic should be able to arrive at the fact without any definite information at all. For these charges all say that small nations have deliberately set out to attack and offend the mighty German nation. That is, the goldfish has suddenly jumped out of his bowl and set about to eat up the cat. Maybe it was possible last Fall to believe that Czechoslovakia was behaving like that because she thought Mr. Hitler was a gentle soul who'd never, never strike back. But to suppose that Poland is acting up, with the example of Czechoslovakia plain before her--of course, the thing is impossible for anybody with a grain of sense.

However, the probability is that Mr. Hitler doesn't expect the intelligent and informed to believe it--and doesn't at all care if they don't. What he is after is mass support, and his arguments are addressed exactly to the same sort of people who, in this country, fall for the Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds' nonsense about aliens--people who are neither bright nor informed but only infinitely credulous--the great mass everywhere. And so long as he gets the backing of these, he can afford to ignore the more rational sort, who are simply his intellectual prisoners anyhow.


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