The Charlotte News

Friday, December 9, 1938


Site Ed. Note: For more on the coming June visit by the King and Queen of England, as discussed a bit cheekily, tongue also placed firmly, in "Charlotte Is Out", (playing off the possibly apocrypal ascription of the first declaration of independence from the crown to the Mecklenburg Resolves, disputedly of May 20 or May 31, 1775, concretely suspending the local royal officials of their offices but, being without provenance, likely embellished later as to its preserved more dramatic language re independence from the Crown), see "Bumble's Stage-Management", October 17, 1938.

And, as the old Jean Ritchie song goes, not dissimilar to "Too Many Empties", "...the L & N don't stop here anymore."

Faux Pas From the Right

Senator Bailey made a speech to the Wake County Schoolmasters Club this week in which he said that everything was all set and ready to go in the matter of Federal support for public schools except the one little detail of where the money was coming from.

This attitude completes the characterization of Senator Bailey as a reactionary. Liberals, died-in-the-wool liberals of the 1933-19- -model, consider it extremely bad taste to talk about the cost of anything, and sheer obstructionism to raise the question of where the money is coming from.

Sudden Popularity

Someday somebody who isn't first of all a propagandist and who isn't trying to prove either that America (a) should take Europe's unhappy population to its bosom or (b) keep the dratted aliens out, is going to make a comprehensive report on immigration. This report is likely to contain a number of astounding facts on both sides. It may show, for example, that we are overrun with aliens illegally in this country, but that they came here some years ago and that since the Depression the tide of migration has turned away from these shores.

Until that report is made, here is one isolated statistic which may be surprising. Though the German Inquisition of Jews has been going on for some time, gathering terror as it progressed, and though our State Department is flooded with German applications to enter the U. S. (300,000), this will be the first year since 1929 that the German quota of 27,370 has been filled.

Too Many Empties

The Eastern railroads, which last year succeeded in persuading the Interstate Commerce Commission to allow them to jack up their basic passenger rates from two cents to two and a half, have cut their rates back to two cents for the holiday season and plan to do the same thing for the duration of the New York World's Fair in 1939. And now reports are current in Wall Street that, if it works as well as the railroads hope, they'll probably abandon the two-and-a-half-cent fare for good.

The railroads, that is to say, seem to be getting tired of hauling empty coaches. There was a time when they could charge about anything they liked without seriously hurting their business, for in those days you had no choice: either you went by railroad or you stayed home. Even as late as the early 1920's, when the highest rates ever charged were put into effect, it was still mainly so. But since then the bus has developed and become a common mode of transportation, in direct competition with the railroads. The automobile, too, has been perfected, and good roads are now everywhere. And there are air transport lines.

So the railroads may as well put it down in the book: when they attempt to charge rates higher than the public is willing to pay, they simply drive the traffic to other means of transportation, and condemn themselves to hauling the empties.

Charlotte Is Out

They are talking now of taking King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to other places in these States besides Washington. First, it was New York, where, according to Mr. Whalen, they really must go to see the World's Biggest Show. And now other places are bobbing up--Williamsburg, Va., for instance. It's all against the British notion of dignity, of course, to have these royal personages exhibiting themselves about the country after our national custom. But, after all, they are undoubtedly coming here primarily to drum up sentiment for Bumble's policies, and so we may yet see the improbable.

But in any case, and however extensive the junket may turn out to be, Charlotte may as well make up its mind that, along with Boston and Philadelphia, it can't have 'em. Richmond, now--yes, Richmond can tout up the fact that it was once the capital of the Confederacy and discreetly leave that man Washington and John Paul Jones out of it; for, after all, they didn't live in Richmond, anyhow. But say Boston, and to save you, you can't avoid the Tea Party and Bunker Hill, just as when you say Philadelphia, you have to go on to the Continental Congress and the Liberty Bell (they are going to have to detour that town in getting the royal ones down from Canada). And as for Charlotte, just imagine the King innocently inquiring: "And what, Mr. Douglas, does your town most pride itself upon?" And having the answer inevitably to be, "Why, Sire, 'twas here that John McKnitt Alexander and the embattled Mecklenburgers, first of all men in America, dubbed George III a tyrant and declared they'd have no more of him!"

One Faucet of Relief

There was much to think about in Tim Pridgen's thoroughgoing story in Thursday's News on the clientele of Mecklenburg County's Welfare Department. It can be condensed in tabular form, like this:

Form of Aid

November Beneficiaries

Total Cost

Old Age...................................
Av.-- $13.55



Dependent Children........



Av.-- $17.16



Av.--$7 a family

2,500 (approx.)





The first thing that strikes the eye is the great (and growing) cost of taking care of unfortunates. At November's rate, the annual expenditure would be $320,000, contributed by the Federal, State and County Governments. One wonders how all these people managed to exist before Social Security and governmental charity came along.

The next thing to be noticed is what miserable average sums, in spite of the great cost of the undertaking as a whole, these people receive. A dollar today is the maximum, and there aren't many who receive nearly so much. A few cents a day is the rule.

Consider, too, that the 4,438 persons supported entirely or in part by the County in this month were in addition to the number of able-bodied on Federal work relief, the number receiving assistance from the private charitable agencies and the number supported by their own kin. Consider that the $300,000-plus annual cost of relief administered by the County is but a fraction of the whole relief bill as represented in the cost of WPA and PWA in Mecklenburg County, the cost of private welfare organizations, charities and individual beneficence. Consider all these things and the day looks grayer than ever.

Is It Hocus-pocus?

What the real truth is about the Franco-Italian embroglio, it is impossible to guess at this stage. For, since Munich, nobody cares any longer quite to trust the appearances. The persistent story about Munich is that the whole business was cut and dried in advance, to the end of frightening the British and French peoples into doing what Chamberlain and Daladier had already made up their minds to do--give Czechoslovakia to Hitler--and at the same time presenting themselves to these peoples as heroic saviors of the peace. It may not be so. So far as a definite plot goes, probably isn't so. But nobody can be sure that there was not a sort of tacit understanding and common purpose in the whole business.

Nor can anybody be sure that there isn't the same sort of understanding of purpose in the Italian roars, which in all likelihood have the backing of Hitler. Daladier is seriously in danger of falling, and is determined to hold on to power at any cost. Hitler, in his turn, certainly wants him to hold it--has indeed made bold to warn France not to dare to elevate another premier. Moreover he (Daladier) is obviously Mussolini's best bet for getting French recognition for Franco. And the Italian roars are probably the very best way of making sure that Daladier does hold power--for the French are very likely to feel that it is not wise to swap horses in the middle of a turbulent stream.

We do not argue that this analysis is true. But it is not improbable.


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