The Charlotte News

Sunday, October 9, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "Made in Germany", "Made in Japan", weren't always hallmarks of quality as they have become since the War. As we learn in "We Lose a Customer", once it was "Made in Czechoslovakia" which possessed merit of high craftsmanship--before the War and the Soviet occupation of Czech society for four decades after it. Who would want a wedding gift, however, with, below "Product of Bohemia", a bright red and black swastika emblazoned on the back? That became their lives, starting in October, 1938.

The high wages for 1938 Charlotte labor remarked upon in "Prosperity Note" remind us of who built some of those Depression era buildings we still see around about the country, still standing strong in their fine artisanship. Of course, when coffee breaks cost the worker a nickel a cup, a buck an hour probably wasn't so terribly awful at that. Newspaper associate editors received about $50 a week. Senators and congressmen, $10,000 a year. The times changed--here. Not so much in Czechoslovakia and Poland and other war-ravaged countries which fell into the post-war Eastern European sphere, however, and for many decades.

Prosperity Note*

There was much interesting information in the scale of building wages which the City Council found to prevail in Charlotte, and which will be paid on the Memorial Hospital job. The scale ran from 30 cents an hour for common labor to $1.25 for the more skilled trades such as hoisting engineers, iron workers, marble and tile setters, welders, plumbers, and the like. For the largest classes of artisans, bricklayers and carpenters, the scale is $1.10 and $.875.

Wages for a week of 40 hours would begin at $12 for common labor and go up to $50 for the specialist, with bricklayers drawing $44, carpenters $35. And these, by almost any comparable standards, are good wages, and it can be seen at once how much money the building of Memorial Hospital and other structures is going to turn loose in the community.

It can be argued conversely--the President himself has broached the subject--that the level of building wages defeats its own ends; that lower wages would bring about more building and on a yearly basis put more money in the artisan's pocket. And that may be so, but it's nice work when you can get it, and it can be got in Charlotte in the months ahead.

The Kick-Back*

The Federal Government has a law against Federal employees' soliciting other Federal employees for campaign funds. It is forbidden both to ask and to receive, and a very good law it is. Otherwise, the head of a department, like Jim Farley of the Post Office, say, could circularize postal workers for contributions to the Democratic Campaign Chest, and even if Jim didn't need to convey the threat of dismissal or disfavor to those who failed to fork up, that would be their worried assumption. It would amount, on the face of it, to duress.

North Carolina has no such law. Wherefore, State Democratic Chairman Gregg Cherry, who also happens to be Speaker of the House of Representatives, is guilty of no wrongdoing when he writes to the heads of State departments, boards, agencies, commissions, bureaus, educational, charitable and correctional institutions, pointedly stating their last annual appropriation for salaries, and specifically asking for campaign contributions from themselves and subordinates equal to one-half of one per cent of such appropriations.

Would their jobs be in jeopardy if they flatly refused? We don't think so, but that isn't the point. The point is that they, in all probability, do think so. They know that the Democratic Party in North Carolina has a lock on the State Government, and they will perceive that while the letters are signed by Major Cherry in his capacity as State chairman, his two public personalities are not inseparable, and that it might very well be the Speaker of the House who says, "Come across!"

State Department of Justice*

Times without number in North Carolina courts, the judge on the bench asks the prisoner before him, "Ever been in court before?" No, sir! "Didn't I try you back in 1935 for breaking and entering?" No, sir! "Get the record, Mr. Bailiff. Ah, I thought so. John Doe, convicted of breaking and entering August, 1936. Two years."

Judges have long memories, but memory is fallible at best. And criminals may be tried by different judges and in different counties, frequently changing names between appearances so that their records, unless they are notorious, are often unknown to the court. A State bureau of investigation and identification, which is included in the recommendations of a special commission to Governor Hoey and the Legislature, would eliminate this defect in the administration of justice.

Again, most law-enforcement agencies throughout the state have neither the personnel nor the training nor the equipment, nor in some cases the disposition, to undertake the scientific detection of crime. In the run of cases, science would be superfluous. That is, a Negro will shoot another in a crap game, or a white man will be caught red-handed in a store. Both are plainly guilty, and to convict them is merely a matter of taking testimony and handing out a sentence. But occasionally there is a crime wherein the vital question of guilt or innocence is hard to determine and harder still to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. A State division of criminal law investigation, another recommendation made by the special commission, would be exceedingly useful in such instances.

These are only two of the six divisions recommended by the commission, the whole to comprise a State Department of Justice with the Attorney General at its head. It is an ambitious proposal, surely, but the adoption of it would represent a tremendous stride forward in the administration of justice.

The Real Enemy

Lord Mussolini has destroyed the last vestige of parliamentary government in Italy with the abolition of the Chamber of Deputies, for the Roman Senate, following the model of that of the Caesars, has never been more than ornamental. And the same thing is probably to be expected shortly in Germany, where the Reichstag meets "only to hear orations."

It might seem ironic, in view of the fact that the new system is identical with that of Communist Russia, which Italy and Germany profess to hate and fear worse than any other force in the world. In Italy the new body of representatives from the various occupational units and divisions of the Fascist Party will be called the Chamber of Fasces and Guilds. In Russia it is called the Grand Council of the Soviets and the Communist Party. But the difference is only the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. And both, in addition to being made up on precisely the same lines, will have exactly the same function: to wit, the humble okaying of the bulls and ukases of Lord Mussolini or Lord Stalin, as the case may be.

But, of course, there is no real irony here. It simply proves what all along has been increasingly manifest, that what Italy and Germany really fear and hate most is not Communism but democracy. And with reason. Officially, Communism is devoted exclusively to the interest of the proletariat, whereas Fascism is devoted exclusively to the interest of the national "state." But in practice, it all works out to the same thing. Both deny that the individual has any worth and dignity or any rights as such. Both act on the barbaric principle that the "tribe" is all. And that is the exact antithesis of the code of democracy.

We Lose a Customer

Now that Mr. Bumble of Birmingham, who was for years a successful manufacturer of small arms, implements, and Damliers, has demonstrated how he, the archetype of Trade in the tight little isle of shopkeepers, deals with the fog-shape of the Nietzsche superman, why, perhaps we can get down to the realities of what the eradication of Czechoslovakia means to us.

We mean without bothering any more than Bumble bothered about honor and betrayal. We mean in dollars and cents and goods.

In the first place, the immediate tangible fact of Czechoslovakia's ruin is a chorus of disconcerting chirps from America's younger married couples. They've been deciding on patterns in Czech dinnerware you see, and here comes Hitler, like a bull in a china shop. Merchants who offered the dinnerware promised to keep it in stock, but most of that stuff comes from the Sudeten. It may appear now with a German trademark, which would be awful in a matched dinner set. Or there may be a boycott. The merchants are frantic enough wondering what will happen, but their dismay is as nothing to that of the brides, who may have to abandon their patterns.

There's been a fad for Czech linens, too, and that's a problem. If Hitler puts his Swastika on the Sudeten exports, Jewish dealers will surely boycott them, and that will mean more grief.

But speaking seriously--which we were not entirely in the notes on Czech dinnerware--the loss of United States trade with Czechoslovakia is something to bemoan. Last year, for instance, we sold them $38,000,000 worth of goods, and they sold us $33,500,000 worth. In 1936, we supplied more than ten per cent of all the stuff imported into Czechoslovakia.

During the past seven months, we bought 7,340,000 pairs of Czech shoes; 109,904,000 korun worth of cellulose; and in June, 216,749 pairs of cotton gloves, 110,828 pairs of leather gloves, 5,022 hat shapes of fur felt, and 12,000 untrimmed women's hats. In addition, a great deal of glassware, jute tissue, malt, hops, and knit goods and wood pulp.

All this loss will complicate and, very likely, may destroy, this neat and profitable trade balance between two friendly countries. Czech factories are already liquidating. The "Styl" hat factory in Prague has failed. Svarda, Ltd. chain stores, has gone under. Czech rayon production has dropped. The Czechs, in fact, are bitterly plagued, even in the United States, where they are trying to erect a large pavilion for the New York World's Fair. The pavilion is to be made entirely of Czech glass, ceramics, and other native materials, but it has to be kept secret because the Japanese will copy any information they can get about Czech industries.

Both Germany and Japan, it has been discovered, steal Czech trademarks and trade upon the Czech good name.


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