The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 23, 1939


Site Ed. Note: Said Bumble in Commons this date:

His Majesty's Government have already made clear that the recent actions of the German Government have raised the question whether that Government is not seeking by successive steps to dominate Europe, and perhaps even to go further than that. Were this interpretation of the intentions of the German Government to prove correct, His Majesty's Government feel bound to say that this would rouse the successful resistance of this and other countries who prize their freedom, as similar attempts have done in the past.

I am not yet in a position to make a statement on the consultations which have been held with other Governments as a result of recent developments. I wish to make it clear, however, that there is no desire on the part of His Majesty's Government to stand in the way of any reasonable efforts on the part of Germany to expand her export trade. On the contrary, we were on the point of discussing in the most friendly way the possibility of trade arrangements which would have benefited both countries when the events took place which, for the time being at any rate, put a stop to those discussions. Nor is this Government anxious to set up in Europe opposing blocks of countries with different ideas about the forms of their internal administration. We are solely concerned here with the proposition that we cannot submit to a procedure under which independent States are subjected to such pressure under threat of force as to be obliged to yield up their independence, and we are resolved by all means in our power to oppose attempts, if they should be made, to put such a procedure into operation.

A Wraith Is Saved

It is only a thin little ghost of a reorganization bill which was left yesterday when the Senate got through. Still, if Bounding Bert Wheeler's amendment, which passed by two votes the day before, had held up under reconsideration, there would have been no reorganization bill at all.

As it stands now the President can order the abolition or consolidation of Government agencies, and these orders will stand unless within 60 days both houses of Congress vote to countermand them. What Wheeler proposed was that both houses must vote to endorse such changes and consolidations before they went into effect. The difference is that the boys now have to take active and open steps if they are determined to protect their patronage and their pets in the bureaus, whereas under the Wheeler scheme they could have protected them by simply doing nothing at all.

As a matter of fact, little will come of the bill in any case. But under the Wheeler bill nothing at all could have come out of it. For it is axiomatic that the boys will give up no part of their pap save under penalty of having the public see plainly that the first god of their devotion is the trough.

A Novitiate Takes Stock

Senator Joe Blythe, when he was home for the weekend and being pestered as usual by newspaper reporters, gave out a nice little story to the effect that his three months' service in the Legislature had convinced him--

1). That he did not know as much now about the State Government as he thought he had known at the beginning of the session; and

2). That North Carolina had just about taxed itself to the point where increases, by keeping out industry, would do more harm than good.

The two observations are not, it turns out, unrelated. Take, now, this pet notion of ours to put the State in the mail-order liquor business chiefly to deprive the big-shot bootleggers of their affluence and influence. As a business man, and even as a dry, Senator Blythe must concede that here is one source of revenue which would be both painless and productive, which would steer no industry away from North Carolina except the illicit industries which the State is on record as not wanting.

Why not then adopt it, pray? Ah; that's where observation No. 1 comes in. This tax source is ineluctably involved with politics, prejudices, administrations, the righteous United Drys and various other high-sounding cliques and claques that bar its consideration in the light of common sense. Anybody unfamiliar with the operations of his State Government might think that a tax on the liquor traffic in dry counties would be adopted almost by acclamation. Anybody who had seen what the processes of legislation were like would know that it couldn't happen here.

No Law Needed

Probably the most sensible suggestion that has been made about the neutrality law is that it simply be repealed. That the thing has not worked for our interest is plain enough. All it has done to date is to destroy Spain and strengthen the totalitarian powers--something we certainly didn't and don't want. Yet if we specifically declare that anybody who brings his own ships and pays cash on the nail can buy anything he wants here, we will, in the very nature of the case, be taking legal action which openly favors the countries that control the sea--that is England and France.

In candor, of course, we do want to favor them, for good and obvious reasons. But there is no sense in favoring them by a positive law when the lack of any law would serve them as well or better. The State Department can follow the system that it has already laid down--can make it perfectly plain that if any American bottom carries American war goods to anybody it will carry them at its own risk, and that anybody who wants to lend money will do exactly the same. And if they want to do it after that--what objection is there? And as for those people who want to sell war goods to the potential enemies, there again the State Department has already demonstrated its capacity to get results without any law.

We do not need to bind our hands now. We need them utterly free, so that whatever action is called for at any given time can be taken with a minimum of lost motion.

As He Was Saying...

Only on rare occasions does the President permit direct quotations at his press conferences. Which makes it all the more astonishing that in Tuesday's session with the correspondents he should have granted the privilege of quotation marks embracing a couple of glaring non sequiturs. See if it isn't so.

The question which opened up the discussion went like this:

Would tax revisions favorable to business, which would reduce the Government's revenue in the beginning but probably make up for that in the long run and put men back to work in addition--"would barred as a possibility in view of your statement that no reduction in corporate taxes is contemplated?"

The President harked back at once to that portion of his annual message where he taunted Congress with lacking the nerve to undertake the only economies which would amount to anything, such as farm relief, veterans pensions, CCC, Social Security, unemployment relief, and national defense. Now, plainly, this was non sequitur No. 1. The question put to him dealt not with economy but tax revisions calculated to get business going.

And then the President swung into his favorite dissertation all on the foolish "guess of many well-meaning people" that by taking relief employment away from several million workers, business would automatically pick up and employ that entire slack. This was non sequitur No. 2. Nobody even guesses anymore that if the Government were to shut up its relief shop, business would take over. There isn't enough activity to justify that expectation, and there won't be until the President looks the tax question in the face instead of holding forth on something entirely extraneous.

Bumble Plays Grenville

England stands today in much the same fix that she was in the years after the death of Pitt and Fox--when swift and decisive action against Napoleon was called for and could not be had because of the everlasting fumbling of Grenville and his sort. Plainly, old Mr. Bumble is bumbling still, and will go on. The man simply can't seem to make up his mind really to act. Significantly, his very assertions take the form of questions.

And meantime, Adolf Hitler sweeps rapidly ahead, taking a direction no one had expected, but which, when examined, turns out to be a very cunning one. Having dropped Rumania for the time being, he appears now to be engaged in swallowing Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia--a thing he should be able to manage in short order.

The advantages of that will be two: (1) he will have flanked Poland on the north as he has already flanked her on the south--will hold her tight in German jaws, with nothing left to do but obey him; and (2) he will have gone a long way toward knocking Russia out of any possible coalition against him. For the acquisition of these little countries will give him a long border along northern Russia, and bring him within 400 miles of Moscow. When he turns back to Rumania, he will be able to threaten Russia both from the north and the south, with the additional prospect that, if she moves, he will bomb Moscow out of existence. And if he turns west, the same essential conditions will hold.

But in London old Mr. Bumble talks and talks. And in Paris conditions aren't much better. For there Daladier seems to be obsessed with the pipe-dream of detaching Mussolini from his partner--an exceedingly dubious prospect.


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