The Charlotte News
Tuesday, July 25, 1939
Site Ed. Note: For a follow-up to the below editorial on WPA relief termination, see "Salute to Toilers", September 14, 1939.
950 Off WPA
Hard Times For Some, But Wise As A Check On Relief
Some 950 men and women on WPA in this county will, by the end of the week, have been issued pink slips. They have received eighteen months (at least) in continuous relief employment and therefore, in accordance with Congressional orders, must be dropped to make room for others. They are ineligible for re-employment until 30 days have elapsed and then only upon being certified as needy.
This is pretty certain to result in individual cases of distress and actual suffering, and it would be a bad sign if through long familiarity with unemployment and a low opinion of relief and reliefers, the community should be indifferent to their plight.
But there is another, and personal side to aid, which has to do with the manner of dispensing relief and the misuse to which it may be put. It is a good sign, we believe, that recipients of WPA checks are to be re-examined as to their circumstances. It is also only fair that the advantages of WPA should be rotated among those for whom it was designed.
Most important of all, it is essential that the country be reminded once again, and as forcibly as possible, that the supply of labor far exceeds the ordinary demand for labor, and that after six years and more of endeavoring to restore employment, the Roosevelt Administration has achieved only negligible gains--and that at a terrific cost in money.
Not All The Abuses Of Power Come From FDR
A coalition of Republicans and Anti-New Deal Democrats, in the House Rules Committee has blocked the Administration's bill to appropriate $800,000,000 more for the Housing authority. That is to say, the committee has taken it upon itself to refuse to report this bill to the floor of the House and allow the members to vote on it.
The merit of the bill has nothing to do with the case. What is involved here is a gross usurpation of authority. Committees have no status whatever under the Constitution. They were originally set up by Congress as a means of (1) eliminating legislation which plainly had no chance to pass, and (2) shaping other legislation into form for consideration by the whole membership. And for those purposes they are useful and necessary. But when they assume to block legislation which commands a strong support in the rank-and-file of Congress, they are asserting the right of a minority to defy and overrule the will of the majority.
It is true that the membership can, if it desires, force consideration of a bill, provided they can muster a majority. But that involves angry quarrels and the upsetting of the usual procedure--both of them anathema to Congressmen, who almost to a man, are timid souls. They almost never use the power, with the result that such usurpations as this are becoming commoner and commoner. It was by the same device that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blocked consideration of the neutrality bill. And such conduct on the part of Republicans and Anti-New Dealers, both of whom are eternally crying out against usurpations of power by the President, comes with particularly bad grace.
Japs Are Probably Just Testing American Reaction
Despite Mr. Chamberlain's efforts to minimize the concessions made, it appears pretty clear that Japan has won sweeping diplomatic victory in China. De facto recognition of her conquest and her puppet governments at Peiping and Nanking may not have been legally given, but she is to enjoy all the advantages to which she would be entitled if it had--and to the layman's eye that comes to the same thing.
On the other hand, there is some comfort to be drawn from the case by those who fear that Mr. Chamberlain is heading for another Munich with Germany. What this seems to mean is that he intends to keep all the British power free to deal with Mr. Hitler at need.
Moreover, it seems evident that, having brought the British to terms, the Japanese military men are apt to see if they can do the same thing with the United States. That, almost unquestionably, is the meaning of the sudden new crop of outrages.
But it does not require the statement of Secretary Hull to know that they are barking up the wrong tree.
Americans take bulldozing as impatiently as any people in the world, and, unlike the British, we have our hands free to deal with Japan. Any attempt to go through with such a program as they have followed with the British would probably end in nothing but a visit from the American Navy, which is already taking station at Pearl Harbor, to be ready for the leap. Maybe the Japanese could destroy it in a showdown. But, in view of the record, it does not seem likely.
And the chances are that the tinhats have no notion of risking it--that they are merely sending up trial balloons, and will abandon their schemes as soon as it is apparent that Washington means business.
One More Long
Earl, Instead Of Huey, Who Seems A Scale Model
"Some papers (in Louisiana) are trying to scandalize Huey," cried Governor Earl Long in a Sunday speech at a National Guard encampment. But--"They can't cry down the name of Huey Long."
Well, in Huey's time, those Louisiana newspapers which weren't afraid or indifferent or hooked up with the Long machine, did considerable crying down on Huey, and the result was the crystallization of a considerable anti-Long sentiment.
And it may be that the same journals will soon be crying down Brother Earl with equal fervor. More power to 'em! For it appears, as might have been expected, that Brother Earl has himself become a well-to-do man on the salary and perquisites of a Louisiana petty job-holder, is something on the order of the late great rascal Huey, lacking the boldness of Huey's vices and virtues, perhaps, but possessed of that same general "philosophy"--that political power is an instrument to be used to the greatest gain of the user.
He has even taken as Executive Secretary Huey's old retainer, Earl Christenberry. And Earl Christenberry is a secretary too of the Win or Lose Oil Co., one of the sweetest grafts ever to be legalized for the open, unashamed enrichment of the coterie of crooked politicians.
The Trouble Is That They Don't Read The Papers
We are bound to assume that Congressmen don't read the papers. If they did, and should turn to the financial page, they would find that the Treasury's daily report showing that already this fiscal year, which began no longer ago than July 1, the Government has spent nearly $400,000,000 more than it has collected.
Having taken in that simple statistic, they could not, being on the whole rational men and women, and knowing from the experience of this Administration that the first cost of any fiscal year is by no means its final cost--they could not, even to get themselves re-elected in 1940, vote to appropriate a penny more.
But, not reading the papers and not knowing how the Treasury stands, they are about to vote to appropriate billions more. The Senate Banking Committee has approved a $2,490,000,000 spending-lending bill, and inside word from Washington is that the boys in both houses are all set to put through a few hundred millions more for PWA projects, including Congressional fences.
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