The Charlotte News

Sunday, June 26, 1938


Site Ed. Note: As to "Drat It All", of course, the casting department at MGM would change from Norma Shearer to Vivien Leigh in the role of Miss Scarlett before shooting would begin the following year, the film to be released in December, 1939. This casting did not please Cash any the better, however, as he stated six months later in "The Way We Talk", January 27, 1939. Cash did not find the book quite as appealing as the piece suggests either, assuming of course this one was by him. (See "Million Dollar Baby", May 16, 1937.)

We include this editorial by Hugh Johnson from the page as well.

How Soon the Rains?

By Hugh S. Johnson

Bethany Beach, Del.-- The foremost American question is, "When will this depression cease?" The President says that a few raindrops of improvement may mean a much-needed shower--which is decidedly more conservative than prosperity Hoovering around the corner. But it is a lot better than such official pessimism as Mr. Wallace's occasional outgivings on the farm prospect--which have been the equivalent of crying, "Rotten fish for sale."

Joe Kennedy, from the vantage point of months of absence from the scene, thinks we have about cried ourselves out.

The administration is well known to be hoping highly that its great outpouring of the public's money will bring a distinct revival just in time for the November election. They "planned it that way." But will it?

It will be if the very spending itself and other governmental acts and attitude don't frighten timid, hiding, private money back into its hole. That is an "if" so uncertain that nobody can call the turn with anything more than a guess. It depends on the flux of mass opinion--crowd psychology. Nobody can either time or measure that.

The President quotes that great seer, Danny Roper, that national income this year will be sixty billions as against seventy billions last year. Mebbeso. It is a lag of thirty billions below what we need for bare normality of business without increased population.


Three billions of public spending is the most that can be dished out this year. That can't make up for a lag of thirty [indiscernible words] billions between this and last year. Nothing under the sun can make up that lag except a return of private spending, that doesn't mean just the investment money. It means an end of too much caution in saving against fear of disaster by everyone of the 130,000,000 Americans who have two nickels to rub against each other.

Those millions of cautions are part of what Joe Kennedy calls our "crying ourselves out." But the reason for the "crying" so far as big money is concerned, is fear of government. That creates a general fog of fear that seeps down to the very grass roots. It is not, as the administration contends, a "sit down strike" of capital. It is a cowering of capital under bludgeoning of politics. Unless all signs fail, that bastinado is going to continue through the Summer at an increased pace.


So much for the minus signs in this guessing contest. There are a few plus signs--the President's "few drops of rain." One of them is a great and nearly general European drought and a tendency in war-threatened countries to lay up surplus stocks of commodities--including farm products. That should eventually offset the price-depressing effects of our probable bumper crops.

There are some faint glimmerings of hope in very recent seasonal sales figures, and even the vital automobile pattern isn't as gloomy as it was a month ago.

More important than all of this is the fundamental fact that this country is just too big and wealthy and has too much essential umph for even the most idiotic government gyrations to keep it down for long.

Stocks become exhausted. Necessaries are consumed. Human needs and appetites continue. After a sufficient period of deprivation, action simply has to begin. Rising activity begets rising activity and even the Third New Deal can't stop it. The difficulty is in timing it. This column joins the President in declining to try that. But here is a rabbit's-foot hunch. The Third New Deal must have improvement for the November elections. Mr. Roosevelt is so lucky that, if he fell into a well, he would land on a buried treasure.

Prescribed Reading*

Frank Graham, begging his pardon, made a remark last week that sounded for all the world like Bob Reynolds. It was at the Southern Conference on Public Education, and, what Frank said was:

"There is no reason for not giving Federal aid to public education because we have given it to everything else."

Bob's classic, delivered in connection with payment of the Bonus, was,

"When people ask me, 'Where will we find the money?' I reply, 'Where did we find the seven billions we spent during the last (1934) Congress?'"

We have always wondered if Robert's question was rhetorical or if he honestly didn't know. In any case, to both Robert and Frank we commend regular perusal of the Treasury's daily report. It may put them in touch with the realities.

Bandit Lawyers

If the legitimate government of China should choose to abolish extra-territorial rights, the nations would have no sound ground on which to make a protest. For these rights indubitably constitute a violation of Chinese sovereignty, and there is no more logical reason that the Western countries should have them than that the Nazis, say, should have such rights in the United States.

But it is sheer insolence when a Japanese spokesman takes it on himself to abolish them, and justifies the slapping of an American by saying:

Some third party nationals now residing in Japanese-occupied territory in China appear to labor under the misconception that they are above Japanese law because they enjoy extra-territorial status so far as China is concerned. That is wrong. In the same way that aliens do not enjoy special privileges in Japan, they are not entitled to special treatment in Japanese-occupied territory in China.

It doesn't matter two whoops what Japanese law may be. So far as the United States and the other Western powers are concerned, Japanese law doesn't run for a single foot of Chinese territory. Japan occupies no other legal status in China than that of a burglar in another man's house. And, whatever they themselves may assume, it is not anywhere the prerogative of burglars to make and interpret the law.

Taps for the Circus

It is a sad thought, Masters, but that great American institution, the circus, seems to be on its way out. Perhaps it still has some following in Dixie, but in the North and the East its days are plainly almost run. Already three old-timers of long memory have folded up this year, and now the "greatest show on earth," bearing the names of old Phineas T. Barnam and the Brothers Ringling, is stranded in Scranton, Pa., with an order to get out of town on its neck.

The modern circus originated in England with Phillip Astley's toward the end of the 18th century. But its development on a large scale has been peculiarly American. Purdy and Welch, Amburgh, Jawn Robinson--all these and many others were traveling about the far-flung and lonely country in wagons long since the Civil War. And then came Ringling to turn it into the co-los-sal three-ring spectacle we know.

For the small boys of a solid hundred years, it has been a breathless wonder--its coming more glorious than even the coming of Santa Claus--the dream of performing in it the great dream of all dreams.

As for those quaint oldsters who want to explain carefully that they tag along only to give little Willie a hand, it was something almost as good. But the country has grown up, the simple tastes of the frontier are passing into the limbo of old, forgotten things, and the small boys of the time, fed on a daily diet of the movies and other excitements, are too blase to be much moved by a circus. In truth, as we were observing the last time Ringling was in town, you see very few small boys at circuses now. Most of the people there are grown-ups, and grown-ups getting on to middle age or older. Obviously a lot of old sentimentalists, remembering.

Counsel of Anger

It is easy to understand the sentiments of the Spanish Loyalist Government when it informs Britain and France that unless the Italian and German planes which carry Franco's colors halt their murdering of civilians in Loyalist cities, it proposes to retaliate in time not only against Insurgent cities but the cities of Italy itself.

But the threat is the counsel of desperate anger and not of good sense. It is human enough to feel that it would only be just to give Fascist Italy a dose of her own medicine. And if it were possible for a Spanish plane to blast the strutting megalomaniac at the head of the Italian state out of existence, and have the matter end there, most of us would be inclined to count it fair enough. But Mussolini would not be the victim of the bombs. The victims would almost certainly be more innocent civilians--men, women, and children--who have no voice at all in the steps taken by Caesar.

Moreover, it would certainly mean the launching of a war involving all Europe. It is true enough that the Spanish Government has been sold out by England, and that it has every right to feel desperate anger. But to play Samson and pull down the temple about its head is not going to save it. And it would mean the ruin, not only of Europe generally, but of Spain itself, which would be one of the chief battlegrounds of the struggle.

Drat It All!

We have irrevocably made up our mind that we will not go to see "Gone With The Wind," when David Selznick makes it into a movie. We gave up the better part of a vacation to the reading of the book, and before it was done we came to look upon its characters as acquaintances of ours. Hence, like some 500,000 other people, we have a proprietary interest in what the movies do to them.

And what has been done already in the selection of an actress to play Scarlett is enough to serve notice that the movie is going to let the book down. Scarlett was a wild rose who could cling wherever it suited her mood and her purpose, as it frequently didn't. Norma Shearer grows on a trellis. Scarlett, when she had to, pitched in and ran that farm and all the poor creatures on it with a ruthlessness and a quiet fury that raised her, for once, to heroic proportions. Miss Shearer couldn't run a tractor. Scarlett was a devil. Miss Shearer is utterly wholesome. The worst she could be is slightly naughty.

We always felt that, given a fair chance, we could have tamed Scarlett. Miss Shearer doesn't need taming. Bette Davis, now--there's a Scarlett for you, to the very carriage of her head. Miss Shearer's neck slopes, enticingly enough, but it is not like Scarlett's.

For Value Received

An ironic commentary on our pension system is afforded by the case of the Widow Monssen, relict of Lieut. Mons Monssen of the United States Navy, who in 1904 beat out with his bare hands a fire in the powder magazine of the battleship Missouri, and so saved it and its crew from being blown to kingdom come.

The widow draws her pension, but it is only $30 a month. And the HOLC, having exhausted all possible legal delays, finds itself now faced with the unpleasant duty of foreclosing on her "little home in Brooklyn."

Yet this woman would seem to be entitled to an adequate pension if any widow at all is. For Lieut. Monssen, quite apart from saving hundreds of lives, actually saved the United States millions in hard cash.

And the last Congress, like all its predecessors, was certainly not lax about granting pensions. It granted them to all Spanish War veterans, whether the said veterans ever smelled powder or not. It actually dallied seriously with the idea of granting them to the widows of all veterans. And--it voted a $5,000 annual pension to Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, a lady whom that President married after he left the White House, and who, moreover, was admittedly already well-heeled.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News--Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.