The Charlotte News
Wednesday, April 27, 1938
Site Ed. Note: "Political Prisoner" provides the model by which the city bosses, such as Hague and Pendergast, built up patronage systems through those willing to follow the party line, broke down those who weren't, and dared to speak out against the system of spoils and corruption, with false arrests and denial of liberties.
Of course, Jersey City simply stood as only a prime and visible example of Protagorean notions at work in local government; the same starkly omnipresent creepy-thing which could be seen in little and large in hundreds of towns and cities throughout the land, the differences between places being only in the degree of visibility of the methods used and abused, directly proportional to the arrogation of power surrendered to the ruling royals.
But of course that was then, in the 1930's; no more does such nonsense exist anywhere in the United States.
Yessir, Chester. Nary a place.
On the theory that if there were any arguments against the President's proposal to tax future issues of all government bonds, the Wall Street Journal would present them, we went to that organ of financial opinion to find out. This is the way the Journal's editorial on the topic started out:
"President Roosevelt's message advocating taxability of income from public obligations... is based upon the just principle that taxation should rest equitably on all citizens."
The righteous words, "just" and "equitable," show that the Wall Street Journal is for the taxation proposal. And then, for a wonder, seems to provide an issue about which there is no slight disagreement. Here is something everybody is for and nobody against, though to be sure we haven't checked on the New York Herald Tribune yet.
Resolution for Moderation
Just what the Sixteen Business Men's offer of co-operation with the President's recovery program means cannot be told until it is brought down to cases. Nevertheless, it's a heartening sort of thing, the antithesis of the sort of thing that has typified relations between the administration and business during the last three or four years.
Beyond that, it seems to represent the burgeoning of sentiment for a smoothing out of the peaks and valleys of manufacturing, "for continuous activity and steady production." This is all very fine, and you'd have great difficulty just now finding a single manufacturer who wouldn't swap his two or three days of activity a week for an unexciting five days a week. But when the orders came pouring in again, when sales forces allied with one another in the field to book business that might otherwise go to competitors, when that primitive instinct to grab while the grabbing was good showed itself once more--ah, messires; then the craving for "continuous activity and steady production" would be put to the test.
Still, it may be worth trying, at any rate. Prolonged adversity may actually have inculcated in a nation much given to excesses of low and high spirits that "ancient wisdom and austere control" which sometimes comes with maturity.
Fire and Frying Pan
The curious and vicious economic run-around in which we are involved was never more vividly illustrated than in the South Carolina textile situation about which Seth Brewer, TWOC boss for the Carolinas, was wiring to Washington Monday.
Periodic over-production, everyone agrees, is one of the major ills of the textile mills. And the practice by Southern mills of running day and night when business is brisk is admittedly one of the chief sources of that over-production. It perhaps mainly explains the current shutdown in South Carolina, which according to Mr. Brewer, now has 42,000 operatives out of work.
Wherefore the South Carolina mill owners have taken steps to limit all mills in the state to two shifts, rather than three a day. It sounds like an excellent idea. It ought to get production on a more even keel and assure the operatives steadier employment. But--not to all the operatives. That's the catch in it. According to the figures of Mr. Brewer the abolition of the third shift means that 10,000 of the 42,000 at present unemployed have become permanently unemployed and must find something else to do or go on relief.
In short, we seem to have no choice save that between the devil and the foaming deep.
Boss Frank (I am the Works) Hague of Jersey City, has gone whole-hog Hitler and acquired himself a political prisoner. The other evening a magazine salesman named Jeff Burkitt, who has been very active in opposing the Boss's dictatorship in Hagueland, got up at an anti-Hague meeting and made a speech--without the permit which, in defiance of the Bill of Rights, Boss Hague says you must have in Jersey City. For that the cops arrested him. They say he cursed them,--as in sober fact, they deserved to be. He says he didn't. And the Boss's stooge judge, who answers to the fine old American name of Tony Botti, rules that the speaker is guilty of disorderly conduct--and has sentenced him to six months in the Jersey City hoosegow.
Mr. Burkitt has appealed, but he may as well save himself the trouble. The New Jersey courts, like the Governorship, are mainly manned by Hague stooges, and the Federal courts will never get to him in time. Well, but at least, such cases as Mr. Burkitt's eloquently point the argument that we need a law implementing the Bill of Rights, empowering the Federal Justice Department to send the G-men into such districts as Hagueland, and providing 300 years or so in Alcatraz for those guilty of such tricks as those pulled by Hague and Botti? No doubt.
But even if such a law already existed, would it do Mr. Burkitt any good? Would the Federal power move in to his rescue and to the jailing of Boss Hague? We don't know certainly, but we remember that Boss Hague is Vice-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and... You answer the question, pal.
There isn't much to say about Governor Hoey's appointment of Attorney General A. A. F. Seawell to the State Supreme Court. A good man and true, he takes his place among other good men and true. Several of the Justices, it must be admitted, got their places primarily because of political services rendered; and every last one of them is, it so happens, a life-long Democrat.
But the uniform complexion of the court does not detract from the character of the court. Its dedication to an even-handed justice, its devotion to the state and its people, the dignity it maintains in spite of the imposition upon its members of having to get out every eight years, along with the candidates for coroner and constable, and ask for re-election--these qualities distinguish the court and set it apart from purely political institutions.
In the light of events that have transpired and that came near transpiring in connection with the United States Supreme Court, it somehow is exceedingly pleasant to reflect that the North Carolina Supreme Court, "their sober wishes never learned to stray, along the cool sequestered vale of life... keep the noiseless tenor of their way."
A Just Charge
Mr. Norris, the president of the Southern Railway, was of course speaking with the voice of the railroads when he addressed an augmented Traffic Club last night. And he said many things which the most friendly and sympathetic of outsiders will question, as for instance, that the railroads are not over-capitalized, and that the higher rates will cure their ills.
But he said one thing it seems beyond reasonable dispute: that the railroads are not getting a fair deal from government as against other forms of transportation. Thus, the highways of the country have been built and are maintained wholly by government, State and Federal; and the truck and bus companies may use them for the mere payment of a license fee and gasoline taxes, which bear no rational or adequate relation to the cost of the railroads in building and maintaining their own roadbeds, and which enables them to offer cheaper rates. Moreover, in the case of passenger transportation, the ICC is plainly much more rigid with the railroads than with the bus companies in its requirements as to what constitutes adequate facilities for the public.
And in the case of water transportation, the unfairness is, if anything, even more glaring. There has been a considerable expansion in this field lately, under the impetus of the Tennessee Valley experiment, the theory being that such transportation is inevitably cheaper than rail transportation. And, indeed, it actually is cheaper for the individual shipper. But for a very good reason: that the Federal Government not only undertakes to pay the whole cost of opening and maintaining these waterways but often even subsidizes the boat and barge lines which ply upon them. A recent study of the Ohio River waterways system shows that when Federal expenditures are taken into account, it actually costs nearly three times as much to move a given quantity of freight a given distance along it as it would cost to move it by rail!
There is no excuse for any of this in simple economics. For in the long run, the general public pays all transportation bills, no matter how they may be disguised. And--it is not for government to choke the railroads to death with one hand while ostensibly trying desperately to revive them with the other.
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