The Charlotte News

Saturday, July 22, 1939



Which Prevents Elimination Of Nuisances From The Law

Prospects are growing slimmer for any revision of the Wage and Hour Act, even as to amendments which Congress favors unanimously. The trouble is that one faction, headed by Chairman the Hon. Mrs. Norton of the House Labor Committee, wants only so much done to the law, whereas another faction, for which the Hon. Happy Barden of New Bern, N.C., wants it altered considerably--to exempt, that is, ginning plants, tobacco drying and stemming plants, small sawmills, canning plants and virtually every kind of industry, except cotton mills, native to this section which Mr. Barden represents.

The old, basic argument is involved here, one that we've never been able to settle to our own satisfaction--whether or not mandatory wages (higher than employers claim they can safely pay) will defeat the purpose of spreading employment and buying power. In any case, however, it seems too bad that Mrs. Norton and Mr. Barden can't lay aside their irreconcilable differences long enough to eliminate some of the nuisances from the law.

Such as the nuisance of having to keep tab and make written reports of the time worked by minor executives, who are entirely above and beyond the purview of a wage and hour law. Such as the penalty of overtime for hours in excess of the maximum worked in any seven days by an employee who may much prefer to take a double trick this week in order to have double time off the next--and go fishing.

Such, indeed, as all the tedious and largely unnecessary bookkeeping which the act has made inescapable and which has given rise to the conviction that it is more of a burden to honest employers than a boon to workers.


It Makes A Difference Whose Treaty It Is

This is a little belated, seeing that the Key Pittman proposal to ban the shipment of war supplies to Japan has been scuttled. But before the question is utterly abandoned, we want to pay our respects to the Hon. Gillette, Senator from Iowa, who came right out in favor of that proposal. That was interesting and a little startling. Interesting because it was the Hon. Gillette's vote which blocked the reporting out of the Hull-Bloom neutrality bill. And a little startling, in view of the fact that the Pittman proposal exactly reversed the position of the isolationists, of whom Gillette claimed to be one when he voted against the neutrality bill.

But said he, in explanation,

"In considering the proposed revisions of the neutrality act, we would be dealing with nations which have friendly relations with us (he means Germany and Italy), but in the Pittman resolution... we would be dealing with a flagrant violator of treaties (Japan)"

The great man referred to the Nine Power Pact--which Japan is unquestionably flouting in China. But apparently he had never heard of the Pact of Paris, engineered by the late Nervous Nellie Kellogg in 1927--a treaty to which the United States was a party, and which bound Germany and Italy, among others, to resort to arbitration in the very case of dispute and in no case to use force without consulting the other signatories. Can it be that the Hon. Gillette had never heard, not only of this Pact but also the murder fests in Ethiopia and Spain? Or does he make a difference between a violation of a treaty by a nation he likes and one he dislikes? Or was it that the President, who tried to purge him last Fall, appeared as the sponsor of the Bloom bill, but does not appear as a sponsor of the Pittman measure?

Death For Murder*

Sentencing Of Negro Is Step In Right Direction

The sentence to death meted out in Superior Court yesterday to the Negro Haywood Mitchell, for the killing of another Negro, George Green, put another large hole in an established but dangerous tradition. The case was remarkable, for that matter, for the dispatch with which the verdict was arrived at. The crime was committed only last Sunday. And that is anything else but the ordinary course of justice in Mecklenburg. But what was more important still--this was the second instance in the whole history of the county in which the court has condemned a Negro to execution for such a crime. Indeed, the thing is very nearly unprecedented in the whole state and the South at large. Back in 1937, when a Negro actually was executed at Raleigh after conviction on a like charge, it was generally said that was the first case of the kind since the opening of the century.

 It is necessary to keep perspective, certainly. Of the general guilt of Mitchell, there is no doubt. He chased his victim down and killed him with an axe. But there may be some question as to whether the crime ought to be classed as a passion killing or one of premeditation, for the act apparently happened as the climax to a fight between the two. But whatever the facts in this particular instance, juries should in general be very careful. The remedy for past apathy is not to swing to the opposite extreme and begin shoving Negro killers into the gas chamber indiscriminately. What is wanted is strict justice for such killers.

But, without reservation, it is heartening to see the Superior Court begin to treat the murder of Negroes by other Negroes as more than a mere misdemeanor. In time past, we have actually seen heavier penalties meted out to chicken thieves than to such murderers. And human life, white and black, can never be saved in Mecklenburg, in North Carolina, and the South, until the killing of the Negro is regarded as being exactly as serious a crime as the killing of a white man--an influential white man at that.


Nobody Trusts In Old Mr. Bumble's Intent

Yesterday's Associated Press dispatches quoted Vernon Bartlett, independent member of Parliament and a writer on foreign affairs as saying:

"The belief is expressed in fine diplomatic circles that the negotiations (with Russia) would drag on until after Parliament has adjourned and will then lapse because the British Government (Chamberlain & Co.) would prefer a new and very sensational attempt to come to a settlement with Germany."

That is only opinion, of course, and is not to be taken for fact. But Chamberlain's stubborn refusal to come to terms with Russia or to take into his Cabinet men who are associated in both Russian and German minds with the idea of resistance to Hitler's policy of conquest, gives it considerable plausibility. And both the fact that Chamberlain is obviously eager for Parliament to adjourn and recurrent rumors that he is a party to a scheme promoted by the Pope, under which Hitler would be given the earth in return for his entirely worthless promises to be good from now on, add up to the same effect. On the other hand, it seems incredible that the man can actually be willing cynically to betray his promise to Poland and enter into a deal that certainly means the beginning of the end for the British Empire.

But in any case, the mere fact that such stories can gain currency is evidence that England is flirting with disaster in retaining Chamberlain at the head of the Government. Nobody on earth, including the English people themselves, really trust in what he has to say. And least of all Adolf Hitler--in whose hands the question of war or no war rests.


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