The Charlotte News

Saturday, August 12, 1939


Site Ed. Note: Perhaps in 1939, the notion of initiative, referendum and recall seemed in the ideal to be a good one. In practice, it becomes a system hijacked typically by moneyed special interest groups. The passage of ad hoc statutes, which sound good on the surface, but which are unrealistic in practice, all too often result; the replacement of serious, qualified statesmen and jurists, who are so motivated to try to follow the laws and thus sometimes give the appearance of moving too slowly for the impetuous dupes, with flashy fops who appeal to the torpor within airheads and wind up getting little done which they came to office promising. All too often though, these Torpidoes who elected them, with attention deficit disorder fully in play, will have forgotten that little fact by the next election. And so the coxcombs get re-elected or reconfirmed, for they will always say the right thing by their well-crafted scripts to say nothing at all and thereby impress the airheads.

For a similar take by Cash to that in "Ersatz" in pertinence to the state of liberal, see "Now, What Is A Liberal?", November 6, 1938.

For a Biblical definition, here is that portion of Proverb 11:

23 The desire of the righteous is only good:
but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.

24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth;
and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

25 The liberal soul shall be made fat:
and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him:
but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.

27 He that diligently seeketh good procureth favor:
but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.

28 He that trusteth in his riches shall fall:
but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.

29 He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind:
and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

In fact, regardless of secular definition, it is clear that, last we looked, anyway, the Bible does not council one to be "conservative".

But then again, there may have been newer, fresher, updated, revised versions written since circa 1975 about which we know little, other than by physical manifestation within the temples of the moneychangers.

Direct Control

Initiation, Referendum And Recall Would All Be Useful

We are in entire accord with the Public Weal's position that the City Charter ought to contain, and ought to be amended to include, provisions for initiation, referendum and recall. Indeed, the Council itself should see at once the advisability of attack upon its actions (recall) and the uses of the initiative and referendum procedure in determining the will of the people in extraordinarily controversial or consequential matters.

But as for making revision of the Charter a prelude to a recall movement directed at the present City Council, which at first seemed to be in the minds of the Weal's spokesmen, we think it would be a gratuitous and pointless affront to the members of the Council. After all, they were elected only last May, and that handsomely. And they have committed no act of mis- or mal-feasance to anybody's knowledge.

The chief complaint against some of them seems to be that they are politicians, which is to say that they may put self above service. But unfortunately it takes politicians to be elected to office in this man's town or almost any other.

Apart from recall, initiation and referendum would be good fun, and like most fun, expensive. If used sparingly, however, and not as a means of evading the responsibility that is inherent in the office of Councilman, it would be a useful instrument of government directly by the people

Man In A Box

Doc Dillon, If Guilty, Faces A Long Stretch

By all the rules and precedents, Dr. Harvey Dillon, if guilty, had best prepare to go away for a long time. The Doc is a relatively small potato in the Huey Long gang who has got into trouble as superintendent of the Louisiana Training Institute. He has been indicted by the grand jury on charges of having swindled the school out of property, including cows, pigs, 32 bales of hay, a plow, a can of putty, and some buckshot, valued at $1,140.75.

That, of course, is very small change, when compared with the swag which Huey undoubtedly got away with and which his greater henchmen are charged with having got. There is the Hon. Richard Webster Leche, retired from the Governorship for reasons of health. R. W., according to a Federal Grand Jury, got $65,000 for a single little deal for the sale of hot oil. There is the Hon. Seymour Weiss, whose takings are alleged to have run into the hundreds of thousands. And there, of course, is Old Doc Smith of LSU, who has an indictment against him for stealing a cool hundred thousand, and who is in fact alleged to have made away with about $700,000.

But by the very token of the smallness of his stake, Doc Dillon, if guilty, is in for it. It is a well-established rule of American jurisprudence in general that if you steal a great deal of money you get off light or scot-free, but that if you are chincy in your thievery, you get the works.

Peaceful Man

Signor Mussolini Plainly Doesn't Care For War

All the evidence seems to add up to the conclusion that Benito Mussolini doesn't want any part of any war. And it may be that he will actually head it off. That would be ironic, since Benito has sung the praises of war ever since he came into power, in fact invented the whole system of turning a nation into an armed camp which Hitler has developed to its highest pitch. But history is full of ironies. St. George, according to Gibbon, was a corrupt Greek contractor of the early Christian centuries who got torn to pieces by an Alexandrian mob as a result of his crimes rather than his position in the Arian-Athanasian squabble. But there he is on England's shield and in her ancient battle cry. And so if Benito should end up as Benito the Peacemaker, it would be quaint but quite credible.

For Mussolini is only a canny man when he dreads the thought of war. If he goes into it, his country stands to feel the brunt of it. The French campaign plans call for a swift sweep through Northern Italy and down to Rome, and a turning back to the Brenner Pass to thunder on Germany's back door. And the British Navy will certainly back it up by concentrating methodically upon (1) wiping the Italian flag off the Mediterranean and (2) smashing the cities of Italy--most of which lie within shelling distance of the sea. Naturally Musso doesn't relish that prospect.


Some Doubts About The Liberalism Of P. McNutt

The word, liberal, has had a lot of sad mishandling in the last few years. In some respects the word has always been vague. Nevertheless, once upon a time it properly belonged to a type of man who was himself pretty clear.

He believed rigidly in the necessity of respecting the civil liberties of all men. He did not believe that the status quo represented the best of all possible worlds and that noses were plainly made for the bearing of spectacles. He held that orderly change was absolutely necessary if any society was long to survive. Sympathized with the underdog, and wanted to see him get a better break. Thought it was the responsibility of society to see that he got it; and maintained that integrity in government and politics was the sine qua non of a decent society.

Sometimes he may have been sentimental and less realistic than he ought to have been. But there was at least no question that he was genuine.

But since the advent of the Roosevelt Administration the word has been taken over by every phoney in sight--all too often made a mere cloak for the greed for power.

Take the "great liberal" speech of Paul McNutt before the Young Democrats at Pittsburgh last night. We have no desire to be unfair to McNutt. The fact is that he initiated certain reforms, such as unemployment insurance and old age pensions, in Indiana before the New Deal initiated them nationally. Hence he has in that respect some real claim to the title of liberal. But his profession of burning concern for civil liberties is less than convincing, for he showed himself careless of them in Indiana. And what is much more, his two-per cent clubs, under which every employee of the State of Indiana was required to kick in two per cent of his salary for the McNutt campaign chest, is one of the most flagrant examples of political skullduggery the country has turned up.

Altogether, he looks more like an opportunist than anything else--one whose liberalism is essentially synthetic. And as against that kind of liberalism, we'd rather risk even the most hidebound Tory, provided only that he was sincere. Weathervanes are no refuge in time of storm.

Wasted Time

Parade of Opinion Won't Help To Find Any Answers

As a diversion between sessions of Congress, Senator O'Mahoney's special committee looking into monopoly is going to invite "economics of every point of view" to appear before it and expound their doctrines. And Secretary of Commerce Hopkins (you remember Harry), not to be caught idle, has a similar undertaking in mind. His idea is to gather and assay opinion on foreign trade, Government fiscal policies and the problems of small business.

Probably no good, unspoiled time was ever so grossly wasted. There will be as many opinions as persons and as much diversity, and in the end the confused thought that prevails in Washington will have been compounded. Besides, the Monopoly Committee and the Department of Commerce both know already what they think, and that is what they are told to think by the Great White Father, their boss.

If the Administration really wanted to call expert, dispassionate opinion to its rescue, the way to do it would be to adopt the Fortune round-table procedure. That is, to select a group of economists numerous enough to represent all schools and not too numerous to transact business in hand. Lock 'em in a room under orders--not to see how violently they could disagree but how much they could fully agree.

Fortune's round-tables have produced astonishing results. Men seeking truth have shed prejudice and felt better for the experience. And something on the same order under Administration auspices would be good for the country, not to mention the Administration.


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