The Charlotte News

Sunday, May 7, 1939



Easy Out


Police Officers Not Exempt From The Law

The belated disclosures about former Detective Baker of the Charlotte Police Department, resigned, and the sordid circumstances which compelled him to quit are important largely as they may show an indisposition on the part of those in charge of this arm of the law to enforce the law against their associates. We may be sure for example, that had some unknown person come to the notice of the police under similar circumstances, he would have had to face the humiliation of a trial in court and its attendant publicity.

Apparently, however, a police officer wipes clean the slate against him simply by quitting his job. That may expunge his offense so far as the personnel and character of the department are concerned, but your ordinary citizen can count on no such easy compromise with the law. And it is a poor rule that doesn't work both ways.


Case For Caution

Britain Is Canny In Her Barter Deal Attitude

Britain is proceeding very cautiously in arrangements for the barter deal under which the United States will swap cotton for rubber and tin. She won't agree to dive in at once to the extent of a hundred-million-dollar deal originally proposed here. And she is insisting on explicit guarantees that the new American supplies of rubber and tin will not be dumped on the market at some future date except under an orderly and controlled program.

The last is canny, and we trust our own horsetraders are taking good care to extract similar guarantees for cotton. The whole barter proposal seems a little dubious, for once it is begun the temptation to extend it is going to be great. But perhaps it will work if both nations make and stand by agreements not to use it as a weapon to lower prices. For us the temptation is going to be great enough, in all truth. Britain and the Dutch enjoy a near monopoly in rubber, and maintain the price at artificially high levels--and it would be very easy to break those prices by accumulating large supplies and suddenly dumping them. But for Britain the temptation is going to be even greater, for after ourselves she is the greatest consumer of cotton on earth--and the prosperity of her whole commerce depends largely on her ability to make and sell cotton goods cheaply.

The chance that such dumping would be resorted to is perhaps not very great, since the two sets of considerations tend to balance out each other. But too much care can't be taken to ensure that it won't be. If that sort of thing ever got started, the case of the cotton farmer, as of world trade, would be infinitely worse than it already is.

A Real Crime

Great Railroad Is Accused Of Falsifying Records

First crack-downs by the Wage & Hour Administration were at the expense of some unimportant and totally indefensible sweatshop proprietors who were paying starvation wages for long hours of work. But now it looks as though Administrator Andrews had engaged an adversary worthy of his steel in the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.

The wages of 4,400 maintenance employees--mostly track crews, probably--are involved. The deficiency between what the railroad is said to have paid and the minimum it had to pay under the law is put at $300,000. But the worst of the Government's case against the ACL is the nature of the violation it charges. According to the bill of particulars, the railroad raised the pay of these employees 25 cents an hour, in order to conform to the law, then took deductions from their pay envelopes for the rent of houses that they didn't occupy and for houses, the Government says, that didn't even exist.

This is almost incredible, and, if true, constitutes a far more basic crime than violation of a recent labor law. For fraud and deception, since time was, have been cardinal sins, and it is precisely the charge of fraud and deception that the government has made against the great corporation.


Fair Enough

Provided Mr. Hitler Will Grant Others The Right He Claims

Mr. Hitler has come back to self-determination. Now, he wants a plebiscite in Danzig as to whether or not it shall remain free or join the Reich. This result, of course, would be a foregone conclusion. But a great many people at once pronounce it an eminently fair idea.

All right, it is a fair idea--with provisos. If Mr. Hitler believes so profoundly in the merits of self-determination and plebiscites, in return for plebiscite in Danzig, he should in logic be willing: (1) to leave the question of the Polish corridor up to a plebiscite among the Poles who make up as great a proportion of its population as Germans in Danzig; and (2) to withdraw his troops from Czecho-Slovakia and give the people of those lands a free and fair plebiscite as to whether or not they care to belong to Germany.

Another Raid

Veterans Demonstrating The High Cost Of War

There would be one consequence of another war which this country simply wouldn't be able to stand. Treasury-raiding by the soldiers of such a war, that is. Twenty-one years have elapsed since the last war, yet the number pensioners and the cost of pensions show no signs of decreasing. Indeed, with the general pension on theGAR model almost inevitable, the worst is yet to come.

Nobody, we take it, would ever consent to stinting the actual sufferers from war service. They have a claim which the country is bound to honor. But to load the Treasury was spurious claims and to disgust the people with laws awarding pensions for disabilities that have no connection with war service, or at best a fictitious connection, is to jeopardize the real war casualties.

Last week the House passed a bill granting pensions for reasons which had not even an ostensible connection with war service. Survivors of veterans rated as much as 10 per cent war-disabled but who died from any cause--such as an automobile accident, say--are made eligible for monthly compensation, $30 for widows, $45 for two dependent parents. The clause relating to 10 per cent of service-connected disability at time of death was obviously an inspiration to prevent the country from discovering that what the bill really contemplates is pensions for survivors of a limited class of peace-time casualties. The rest will come later.


Old Belcherbub

He Is The Black Mote In Clarence Kuester's Eye

From up here high in the chromium-plated tower where the sanctum is we look down on the rooftops of the city's 30-story and lesser buildings. On Wintry days when this smog (that is, the Messrs. G. and C. Merriam's telescoped form of smoke and fog) all but obscures the view, it is an eerie and sometimes a rather Jovian atmosphere we work in. The thought of the little brown ants scurrying down below that grayish blanket, you know, and all that sort of thing, which may go toward explaining the lofty tone of some of our editorials.

Were it not for Old Belcherbub, we up here in the tower would have on those ghostly days almost no sense of being bound to the earth, of being anchored to reality. But whenever we are in danger of floating off into a dream world of our own composition, it is Old Belcherbub who comes rudely interrupting. Erupting, one might even say, for Old Belcherbub is the chimney of the Chamber of Commerce, and at intervals he opens his jaws and emits the biggest black clouds of smoke you have ever seen, and they almost blot out the daylight up here in the tower room.

And oh yes! We almost forgot. What brought Old Belcherbub to mind in this off-heating season was the piece in the last Chamber of Commerce Bulletin about the "smoke nuisance." Something, the piece said, has got to be done about the "smoke nuisance."


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