The Charlotte News

Saturday, June 25, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "It Spreads", as well as "The Circle Widens", to come on June 27, reminds us that such a notion still holds. Start quelling freedom of speech in one burg or ville, in one part of the country, and soon the whole land will be held in the fascist gripped fist of sticks.

The land, we fear, since September 11, 2001, is ever increasingly in that grasp, dangerously succumbing to its lure of "security" in strength of numbers. The last time this sort of thing happened, we recall, the last time somebody took a poll and found that the majority of the country favored limiting Constitutional freedom for "security" was, not coincidentally, in 1989. But fortunately, we do not vary or surrender our Constitutional freedoms by polls and political winds, especially those dictated by the stupid and short-sighted. Were it so, we would have been vanquished by the storm and subsumed within someone's empire again long ago--probably in 1812, certainly by 1941. We do not compromise freedom for "security". It is the road to certain fascism, the road ultimately to certain withering death as a society, to which all such societies, those formed around militaristic, authoritarian rule, quickly degenerate.

On the convenient premise of "security", we do not allow the President to tap us without process of a warrant issued by a court on probable cause, and so testable on that basis should evidence be collected pursuant to it and used against an accused.

Oh, yes, you say, bleeding heart technicalities. Let's be rid of all that and provide King George, in whom we Trust, all the powers befitting a King. Why not? For our collective security? But when they are your technicalities to test searches of your possessions or private documents, what have you, you will want them intact, regardless of how you might have provided answer to some cracked, silly, meaningless poll at a time when your head was cracked, silly, and meaningless.

When we lose the will to fight for those rights, when we cower to seek "security" and give up those freedoms, then go on and burn the flag, spit on its stars, tear out its stripes, both colors, all three, and use its shreds as gags for all our speech. For that flag then has ceased to have any more meaning for liberty than a swastika did in 1938.

Sh-sh! The Neighbors!*

Mighty white of the registrar and the two pollholders of Wilder Township, Johnston County, to offer to resign "in the interest of maintaining harmony in the Democratic Party." Two [indiscernible words] have been asked for by the State Board of Elections for the reason that their count of votes did not check with a re-count, but they say that if there was anything wrong it was because the ballots had been tampered with after they had handled them.

Even so, it is mighty white of them to offer to resign to preserve harmony. For the Democratic Party in North Carolina has long shown by its actions, though not by its utterances, that it puts harmony ahead of honest elections (provided always that the leading parts in the harmonizing are taken by the right crowd); and if these precinct officials were to stand on their rights and demand an investigation, it might show up fraud somewhere along the line, and that would be sure to cause dissension and hard feelings in the family.

And that would be painful, for the heads of the Democratic family in North Carolina work on the theory that, while it may be deplorable for the children to cheat each other and swipe each other's toys, the main thing is not to let the neighbors know about it. If this is not so, why does Democratic officialdom display such an obvious unwillingness to go to the bottom of alleged election frauds?

It Spreads

Trouble with treating Mayor Hague lightly and as a mere "local" phenomenon (cf. President Roosevelt) is that his success hardens others of the same mind as himself to undertake the same sort of thing. In short, the disease spreads. Apart from Newark, there have already been instances of his methods being taken up in New York and other states. And now comes Woonsocket, big textile town in Rhode Island, to join the parade.

Last Monday the police broke up a meeting there on the ground that it was Communist, and threw three of the promoters in jail. And Thursday the Police Department posted "Communists Keep Out" signs over the city, and announced that it proposed to break up all such meetings and halt all speeches which it regarded as Red.

Said Police Commissioner Rivets in answer to Leland M. Goodrich, professor at Brown University, who had protested the violation of civil rights:

"We definitely are not accepting any advice from a Brown professor about this civil liberties stuff."

It still doesn't amount to a great deal, granted. But the fact remains that it is spreading, and that if it goes on spreading--if this doctrine gets more and more accepted--we all shall presently wake up to find our right to speak our minds entirely at the mercies of coppers and ward-heeling politicoes.

Take Your Choice

Here is a piece with alternative conclusions from which the little reader may take his choice. Ourselves, we aren't sure that we have any choice, and if we did, we are not positive enough about it to reject the other entirely.

The topic: On June 30, any alien employee of the Post Office, Filipinos excepted, who has not filed his first naturalization papers, will be fired arbitrarily. Congress so directed by reassuring a provision to that effect in the annual appropriation for Jim Farley's department. Is this wise or foolish?

Conclusion 1: Well, what do these dratted foreigners expect, coming over here to America, getting all the benefits this free land has to offer, actually making a connection with the Government pay roll, and still not bothering to become citizens of the country, sworn to defend it in time of war?

Conclusion 2: If there is no rule, and there isn't any, against aliens remaining here without applying for citizenship, by what reasoning does Congress justify exceptional and unkind treatment of them? Is this meant as an example to private employers, so that they too will fire their aliens and there will be no jobs for them except relief jobs, thus giving Bob Reynolds more ammunition for his favorite discourse about aliens on relief? Besides, oughtn't the primary qualification of a jobholder to be his ability to do the job, and not his citizenship?

No Substitute for Work*

The part of the President's speech last night which is certain to raise the charge of rabble-rousing was this comment on the wage-and-hour law:

"Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day [Federal income taxes: $584 a day] who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company's undistributed reserves, tell you... that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry."

Well, now, that's a little hard on employers of labor, and the President was careful to soften the impeachment by adding that this type of executive was a rarity. It's true, however, that administrative salaries go on when plants are closed down and wages cut off completely, and there is something unfair about that. But there never has crystallized in this country a belief that workmen who are paid at so much an hour for so many hours of work a week should continue to receive their pay, or a part of it, when they aren't working. Maybe we shall come to it, but we haven't yet, and we doubt that even the workmen themselves count it their rightful due.

The nearest we've come to it is to charge employers 3% a week on their pay rolls in order to build up a fund to support their workmen when they are not working. This 3% tax is a heavy load on industry, especially when old age taxes on pay rolls are taken into account, and yet a whole year's tax on a single workman's pay will build up a fund of less than two weeks' pay to tide him over layoffs which may run into months. That's a lot of tax for a brief benefit.

The kernel of the nut, we suspect, and the reconciliation of the President's attitude and business's attitude, lies somewhere near this aphorism: the economic structure can support but so many unemployed people but for so long. In fine, if we want to keep eating, we've got to keep working. All the best intentions in the world won't, we believe, alter that statement of the case a bit. Prosperity? It's no longer a luxury; it's a necessity.

Down to Cases*

In his chat last night, the President expertly satirized those people who have been crying, "Confidence! Confidence! We want confidence!" What they really wanted, the President insinuated, was for him to lay off and let them have their own way again, as they had been used to having it in the past. They pleaded for the restoration of confidence when the administration was pulling rabbits out of hats, and they were still pleading for the restoration of confidence when, for a period, the administration had plainly given out of rabbits.

These people wouldn't have liked anything the New Deal did even if it had been good. At the same time, there are certain features of the New Deal which most certainly discourage confidence. Its intentions toward the utilities, for instance. With one TVA rapidly freezing out competition in its area and with talk in the capital of seven more TVA's, can anyone blame the utilities for lacking the confidence to go ahead with expansion and improvement programs?

And the capitalists and investors--with the rules of the game being changed every single session of Congress and the penalties for winning made progressively more severe, can anyone blame capitalists and investors for their uncertainty and their cravings for confidence, even of the worst? And the country's business men in general, are they to be blamed for nervousness when the administration has shown a blithe disregard of the dangers inherent in eight successive governmental deficits, each of them whopping? After all, the inability of governments to stop spending has led to inflation, and inflation destroys values.

Things probably have never been so bad as they were made out by the people who have kept calling for confidence, but in extenuation it must be admitted that they have had some excuse.

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