The Charlotte News

Friday, April 14, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We also include in .pdf format the rest of the editorial page this date, including a piece by Dorothy Thompson on the absurdity of the Nazi claim of sovereignty over all German populations, a favorite taunt of Cash as well. Note also the rather biased, and most likely apocryphal, rendition of the barbarity and lack of chivalry attributed to Sherman by a Mississippi newspaper on April 14, 1864, (exactly one year before Lincoln went to Ford's Theater).

When PWA Almost Quit*

Ah! An issue! Mr. Vogler, candidate for mayor, wants to know why the present City Administration didn't get some of that free Federal money for its water and sewer works. As Exhibit A in his case, Mr. Vogler introduces a map almost solid with freckles, each freckle representing a water works project built with Federal aid. The money was to be had, he says. Other cities got it. Why not Charlotte?

The charge of failing to take full advantage of Federal generosity may hold in this instance; but in general any city which goes so far as to have its fire hydrants repainted as a WPA project, as the City of Charlotte did, ought to be automatically immune to the allegation of failing to ride the gravy train. Furthermore, in considering the justice of the charge that the administration missed a bet, the President of the United States must be taken into consideration.

Mr. Roosevelt, from the Spring of 1936 through the Summer of 1937, was swinging away from the public works notion of recovery to the work relief notion. He was cold to PWA (Ickes), that is, and warm to WPA (Hopkins). In May, 1936, Mr. Ickes actually went so far towards dismantlement of his organization that he prepared to fire 2,500 of his employees. A year later PWA was still going, to be sure--its life having been extended by Congress for two more years. But the President had decided to wind it up as a lending agency. Actually, PWA got out of the spending game for a while, and still with a stack of chips.

Mayor Douglas and Mr. Marshall were ingenuous, perhaps, to take all this literally, reading it as a sign of the end of the easy money epoch. But nevertheless, the President so gave them and all of us to understand.

In Again, Out Again

It is interesting to see that Mr. Albert Marinelli is back in the news. Mr. Marinelli is the County Clerk in New York and remains a Tammany district leader. He has appeared in the news several times before this, but his most spectacular performance was in 1937. Mr. Dewey, the nemesis of Jimmy Hines, had made some very pointed remarks about Mr. Marinelli. Mr. Marinelli, he said, was in the habit of associating with thugs, crooks, gangsters, dope peddlers and other fancy characters. More, he even employed them in his office. More, Mr. Dewey very broadly hinted, Mr. Marinelli's office was run primarily for their benefit.

Mr. Marinelli said, in a hurt voice, that it was all very unjust and unfair. If there were any crooks in his office he, Albert, had no notion as to whom they might be or how they ever got there. Then Mr. Marinelli thought it over and resigned--and not, he mournfully informed the world, because he minded such gross fabrications himself, but because of his big devotion to the good people of his district who had trusted him; he just simply couldn't bear to see them humiliated with these unfair charges. Thereafter, Mr. Marinelli retired from the news--Mr. Dewey apparently being satisfied with having got him out of office.

Now Mr. Marinelli is back--again in connection with that County Clerk job. Witnesses in the Rubens case testified yesterday that Mr. Marinelli ran a fake passport mill in that office. And again Mr. Marinelli is hurt. Why, he says, he didn't even know his office had anything to do with passports! Which in a Tammany district leader sounds almost, if not quite, convincing. Anyhow, it looks as though Mr. Marinelli, having got into the news, will repeat and get right out once more. For his name doesn't appear among the defendants involved in the case, and despite the testimony no warrant has been issued for him.

The Road to Paris

That cry of "On To Paris!" which the Italians raised at Rome yesterday is interesting. It is of a piece with Mussolini's repetition of his oft-repeated assertion that "tomorrow, as yesterday, we will march straight ahead." Of a piece, too, with Herr Goebbels' ridicule of the British Navy as a gang of "old tubs," and the moving picture Signor Musso is showing his army and people--a picture based on the legendary Barletta, in which the French knights, including the redoubtable Bayard, sans peur et sans reproche, are ignominiously overwhelmed by the Italians and made to crawl humbly for their lives.

It is all, you see, a part of implanting the notion of destined invincibility in the men of the armies and navies. But A. Hitler in his earlier years himself entertained some doubts of the advisability of that kind of psychology. In the notorious book he published back in 1926, he chided the old German command for it and complimented the Allies and the United States for having made their soldiers thoroughly understand beforehand that they were up against tough fighting men. The German soldier, he said, having been taught to despise the fighting qualities of the Frenchman and Englishman, was surprised and dispirited when he found that they were really rough babies. And on the other hand, the soldiers of the Allies, finding just what they had expected, took it in their stride. It is curious that he has forgotten.

Who'll win the war if and when it comes, no one knows. But it can be said at once that if the German and Italian sailors expect to deal with the British Navy as so many old tubs, they are in for a dreadful shock. And that the Italian vision of a resistless and swift march to Paris is probably a sad delusion. Military authorities are agreed that the French Army is at least a little more formidable than the Ethiopians, the Albanians, and the half-armed Spaniards. Maybe the Italians will go to Paris--but not to make it plain to them before hand that if they go they must go over roads paved solidly with Italian corpses is certainly not to prepare them for the facts of life.

Another Busted Bubble

It Is Increasingly Plain That A Coal Act Won't Work And Only Blocks Sane Action

The Committee for the Amendment of the Coal Act is out with a pamphlet, which it has distributed to Congress, arguing that if minimum prices for coal are ever fixed they are bound to be unworkable. The organization represents a group of operators, of course, and so its pronouncements need to be examined critically.

As long ago as November, 1937, the Bituminous Coal Commission published a schedule of fixed prices, but it was so awful and raised such howls from both the operators and the consuming public that it was hastily withdrawn. Since then, the commission has been quite unable to make up its mind, and the schedule is still hanging fire. Moreover, it is now admitted that the figures on which they have been trying to arrive at a schedule are already outdated and no longer really applicable! A new set of figures would, of course, be subject to the same objections. And how the heck are you ever going to come to grips with anything that has a way of keeping ahead of you?

Further still, price-fixing inevitably strains the establishment of quotas, else some operator with too much coal on his hands is going to start bootlegging it and so break down the whole schedule. And quotas again mean that the Coal Commission will have to set up to rule, not only as between individuals but also as between states--how much coal may be mined in West Virginia and how much in Pennsylvania or Kentucky or Virginia or Tennessee. Soothing Kilkenny cats promises to be a mild sport in comparison with that.

The only rational proposal that has been made for the relief of this sick industry is that the states should set up a licensing system for mines on the quite sound ground that coal is after all a limited natural resource which is properly an object of conservation practices. And the whole Guffey Act is one of the most unfortunate of the many unfortunate experiments this Administration has sponsored. All it has done is to make confusion worse confounded, the sick coal industry sicker still. Cutthroat business methods between competing operators flourish as lustily as ever. And, remembering that it was going to end labor troubles, look at that strike. The only people the thing has actually benefited are the patronage-grabbing politicoes who make up the commission.

A hangover from the NRA, the quicker it is got rid of the better. It hasn't even accomplished what was intended, and that itself was highly debatable.


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