The Charlotte News
Saturday, April 23, 1938
Site Ed. Note: Sail on, you ship of state...
Words which always sound swell, whether uttered by Winston C. or Leonard C., and which should therefore, in our estimation, never be eliminated to accord someone's idea of streamlining, then or now. For what is ever to be substituted in its place, that democratic Union of which the poem speaks, but despotism?
No Wagons, No Stars
Announcing a decision to streamline high school commencements, the Gastonia School board will eliminate the baccalaureate address, and the valedictory, the salutatory and other antique parts of the program. Well, modern days, modern ways. Off with the old, on with the new, and all that sort of thing.
The Board may have some difficulty convincing the fond parents of the graduates that they (the parents) are getting their money's worth, but doubtless that will come in time. Dad and Mother will miss not having any baccalaureate addresser urging Sammy to go out and conquer the world, winning fame and fortune, especially the latter, in about three years. "Labor Omnia Vincit" and "Hitch Your Wagon to a Star" and "Sail on, Sail on, Sail on." They are dying, those old copybook maxims, anyway. Who now believes that labor conquers all? Or waste not, want not? Only saps.
It is nice of the Board, though, to give the boys and girls the traditional diplomas. After all, the graduate must have some weapon when he goes forth to conquer, and a diploma is better than nothing. Yet, to be consistent and thoroughly streamlined, wouldn't a WPA shovel be a little more fitting?
Damming A Trickle
Rarely has that eminent statesman, Robert Rice Reynolds, Senator in Congress from North Carolina, better illuminated the quality of his greatness than in his latest pronouncement. Indian cotton, he hears, has been landed on these shores. And so, says the honorable gentleman:
"The time has come when we must begin to think of protecting the American farmer... It will be necessary to impose a duty to protect the American grower..."
It is a little startling, to be sure, that India is exporting cotton to us. But it is interesting to observe that tariffs had a lot to do with bringing that about. India is an important cotton growing country today precisely because the high tariffs of the 1920's made it more and more impossible for our best cotton customer, England, to lay hand on American credits with which to buy quantities of American cotton adequate to her needs, and hence forced her to turn actively to encouraging its production within the Empire.
We suspect that the Indian cotton in question is of a special grade which was not available here. But in any case, it came to just 12,000 bales, to about half of what Mecklenburg County raised last year. And we gotta have protection!
Confession of Venality
We suppose we're lacking in the simple humanities, with a commercialized conscience to boot, but Senator Nye's pregnant allegation that the Navy Department has helped American manufacturers of munitions to make sales to foreign governments doesn't strike us as the last word in venality. Indeed, we ask ourselves why not, and the only answer we have got so far has been--well, why not?
We sell all the cotton we can to foreign nations, and cotton is an essential war material, both for clothes and explosives. We sell scrap steel without a single twinge, and scrap steel is the sinews of war. We ship out airplane motors and tractors and chemicals; and it is of these that the compounds of war are distilled.
Nor is that all we send. Never was the war fought that societies didn't form in America to collect, for the side of their choice, that primary ingredient of war--money. Is there any moral difference in sending money with which the combatants may buy war equipment from other countries and in sending the actual American-made equipment, at a profit to home industry? There may be, but at the moment it seems so strained as to elude us. Is death any more painful by an American-made bullet than by a bullet made in Czechoslovakia?
When Thieves Fall Out
There is pretty good ground for assuming that if Joe Guffey, Pennsylvania's Senator of Alien Property Custodian of ill fame, is actually coercing WPA workers, he has been coercing them all along. The only reason it comes out now is that the Democrats in Pennsylvania have split into two factions; and whereas the pressure Joe was putting on before was in the interest of the party as a whole, now it is against the interest of the Earle wing.
And that it is against the interest of the President himself, and that this constitutes treason, is the allegation made:
"John L. Lewis is constantly attacking you and your administration. Guffey is no longer a Roosevelt man. He is owned body and soul by John L. Lewis and should be run out of the Democratic Party... [We] protest Guffey's resignation as Federal patronage dispenser for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania."
In fine, what brings on this moral dudgeon is not that WPA funds are being wrongfully used, but that they are being used by the wrong crowd. "Take it away from them, your enemies, Mr. President, and give it to us, your friends. We'll play square with you."
Examining A Formula
There is a sort of standard formula going the rounds. Hugh Johnson uses it. Dorothy Thompson uses it. Most of the columnists, in fact, use it. Merle Thorpe, editor of The Nation's Business, and Dr. Jesse Randolph Kellems, a Los Angeles Parson, used it yesterday before the D. A. R's in conference assembled at Washington.
It runs like this. What ails our country is fear--fear on the part of business and capital--fear of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, of regimentation, of confiscation. And so, in the words of Parson Kellems:
"Let's return now to the methods which has produced an economy which is the envy of the entire world. Take off the fetters of regimentation and you will remove the fear which has brought creeping paralysis to the American spirit."
How much truth is there in it? Considerable truth, probably. There have been ill-advised taxes. There has been and is a steadily mounting debt which inevitably means heavier and heavier taxes of all kinds. There have been appalling mistakes like the Federal Reserve deflationary policy adopted in the Spring of 1937. There has been and is too little definition of attitudes in regard to the utilities.
Yet that mere fear of the New Deal wholly explains our woes seems as somehow dubious. From October 1929 to March 1933, there was no New Deal and no "regimentation." Herbert Hoover was President of the United States. Business could have anything from the Government it asked. The way stood wide open to "the methods which have produced an economy which is the envy of the entire world." But did they work? Could they be got to working? Everyone knows the answer.
We might, and probably would, have been a great deal better off than we are if the New Deal had been more cautious and more rational. But it did not invent the depression, which our current "recession" is ultimately perhaps only another phase. And it probably does not even entirely explain the excessive caution of capital among us. Rather, isn't part of that caution the direct result of the depression itself?
A feat of the first order was Charleston's in getting John Nance Garner and 200 assorted Congressmen and Government officials, with their helpmeets, to this year's Azalea Festival. A special train brought them down, and Mayor Maybank and aides showered hospitality upon them.
They were shown the town, in due course, and Charleston has a lot to show. There are the gardens, although it is a little late to find them at their height. There is the historic Batt'ry, with Sumter lying out in the harbor's mouth. And there are the picturesque old homes, the iron grillwork, the courtyards, St. Michael's, the ancient graveyards. And by all means there is the navy yard.
Ah, yes; there is the navy yard; and you may be sure that the Charlestonians took care that their influential visitors saw the navy yard. For a tremendous ship-building program is getting underway, and it is highly important that Charleston get its share of this construction. It means pay rolls, and pay rolls mean trade.
And we hope the town put it over. It certainly has gone about it with charming astuteness.
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