The Charlotte News

Friday, January 14, 1938


Site Ed. Note: We doubt that "The Price of Probation" is by Cash, primarily because it supplants the word "decedents" for, presumably, "descendants", though even this latter would not be exactly right; better "heirs" or "devisees", depending on whether there was a will; if so, ipso facto, (if not diplodocus or hocus-pocus or even smoky focus), then "devisees", the class of persons to whom property is devised by will, "heirs" referring generally either to related persons to whom property passes by will or by law in spite of a will, or next of kin to whom property passes upon the intestacy of the decedent, that is a decedent who dies without a will. The meaning of "decedent" is something surely Cash would have realized instanter from his single year in law school, notwithstanding even a lot of hurry or absent-mindedness interfering with a clear thought process.

Substantively, the piece details a very disturbing practice in the courts of 1938. For court "costs" to range to $2,800 in 1938, even for so serious a crime as manslaughter, appears outrageous, and probably suggests graft somewhere along the line, of which the editorial perhaps suspects, sub silentio. But then the state and local governments were desperate for revenue at that time.

For more on the supposed differential between Greensboro and Charlotte thermometer readings, and its purported causes, see "Poor Things", November 24, 1937.

The Nazi-American Bundists, as examined lightly in "Just Another Lodge", and not quite so lightly, but yet still rather dismissively in "A Political Prisoner", July 13, 1938, deferring to the preservation of their civil liberties, as set forth in "Thunder in the Center", May 12, 1938, "Drawing a Distinction", May 31, 1938, or "Fiorello Understands", February 20, 1939, would begin to be seen by the editorial column, in the wake of a substantial New York City rally in late February, 1939 and the establishment of a training camp near Andover, New Jersey, as being not so harmlessly ridiculous, indeed as establishing an increasing menace and threat to democracy, as suggested by "Not Germany But America Cradled the Nazi Idea", March 6, 1939, (a piece by Gerald W. Johnson), and "Sound and Fury", June 5, 1939, and even more so after the war in Europe began, as set forth in such pieces as "Case for Inquiry", February 7, 1940, and "Pot and Kettle", August 1, 1940.

The rest of the page, you guessed it, is soon to be, before same prox., anyhow, yet still not by the 14th inst., here.

Up North in Greensboro

Again we are bound to advert to the favorable and remarkable difference in climate between this city and Greensboro. Now, Greensboro is a town less than a hundred miles from Charlotte, which is to say virtually within our trading territory, yet on frequent occasions when the North wind hath blown alike on these two lambs, it hath set the thermometer in Greensboro tumbling a half-dozen degrees or more lower than that upon the Federal Building on West Trade Street. Why, one time--but never mind that.

And now, in reading an account of a court trial as reported in a Greensboro paper Wednesday morning, we find that--

The opening of yesterday's session of court was delayed about 30 minutes due to an automobile accident in which a juror suffered minor injuries. He said his car overturned upon striking a snow bank.

Snow bank? We haven't had any snow this Winter, not down South here, anyhow. [Don't fail us now, Weatherman Howe!] How come there are snow banks along the streets of Greensboro? Could it be that the unique Jefferson Standard Building acts as a sort of lightning rod for snow, a conductor of crystals, do you suppose?

Just Another Lodge

The F. B. I.'s thousand-page report on the activities of the Amerika-Deutscher Volkesbund discloses no violation of Federal laws by this organization of hyphenated Americans. Its claimed 8,299 members go through all the motions of Nazism, heiling their own local Führer as though he were the seventh son of bachelor Adolf himself, and flying the Stars and Stripes and the Swastika as equals. But as for evidence of conspiring to overthrow the government of this country or raising armed forces or shipping unregistered firearms across state lines, the F. B. I. found none.

Indeed, what Volkesbund members do chiefly, according to the report, is-- parade in gray and black uniforms, to display the Swastika and to use the Nazi salute.

Shucks! This exotic movement, which has caused The Chicago Tribune to shiver to its foundations and brought on a Congressional order for its investigation, is just another lodge whose members are gratifying an impulse to dress up and play soldier.

The Price of Probation*

Judge Henry Grady has certainly got himself out on a limb in first putting Mrs. Sina Pope Godwin, convicted manslayer, on probation, and then turning around and admitting under fire that he had made a mistake. The secondary question of the legality of his actions in suspending sentence after the term of court had come to a close, and the primary question of justice, appear neither to concern the Judge nor to come in for any defense in his statement explaining why he did as he did. No, the main reason he put the husband-killer on probation was to collect from her the cost of the trial, which was made a condition of his mercy. And had the Clerk of Harnett County Court not underestimated those costs, reporting them at $703 whereas they were really about four times as much, the inference is that Judge Grady would have been satisfied that he had acted with propriety; and praiseworthy discretion. He says as much.

The criminal courts of the State frequently have let themselves be used as an instrumentality for collecting civil claims. Any number of cases arising from automobile accidents have been nol-prossed upon a condition that a financial settlement satisfactory to the injured parties be arranged. There was one case in this County which was continued time after time in order that a financial settlement might be made with the decedents [sic] of a man killed by an automobile, whether or not with criminal negligence never having been established.

But this is the first case, or one of the first cases, on record where manslaughter was involved that the price of the suspended sentence has been fixed at payment of the court costs. Logically, the thing for Judge Grady to have done was to put the self-widowed woman on probation without a trial, thus saving Harnett County both from the expense and the trouble of holding court

Where the Money Goes

If it is a fact that 76 per cent of the total income of the nation goes to people whose salaries are less than $5,000 a year, and only one per cent to people with incomes of $100,000 or more, then Senator Bailey has done the country an exceedingly useful turn in bringing it out. A downright lie, he calls the hoary aphorism that two per cent of the people control 90 per cent of the wealth. He heard it in college 45 years ago and has been hearing it ever since.

An analysis of income tax returns for the year 1933, latest available, shows that the Senator may be at least on the right track. Net incomes of individuals of the $100,000-and-up class in that year aggregated less than half a billion, returned by 82,051 persons. Individual net incomes below $100,000 came to ten and a half billions, returned by 3,731,507 persons, most of them in the $1,000-$2,000 class. But by far the great majority of citizens do not have to file income tax returns, so that to the ten and a half billions of incomes under $100,000 reported must be added other billions of earnings in small lots by other millions of people. [This is dull, we know, but maybe it is important.]

Against that must be set the fact that under the internal revenue laws prevailing in 1933, many uncomfortably rich men did not have to pay taxes on their shares of the earnings of corporations in which they were interested. There was no penalty on corporations for not distributing earnings. All that has changed now, but whereas it has the effect of making large incomes still larger, it also runs up the rate into the higher surtax brackets. And surtaxes take a slice of $100,000-plus incomes, we can tell you, though not from personal experience.

A Costly Business

The J. E. F., which being translated means the Japanese Expeditionary Forces, is spread out all over the great face of China. Debarking at Shanghai and debouching down from Manchukuo, the doughty little invaders have swept all opposition before them, since the siege at Shanghai, at any rate; and they hold a seventh of China's immense area. In addition, strong military garrisons occupy Shanghai, Nanking, Peiping, Hsinking, Tsingtao and capitals of other Chinese provinces.

It took money to train and equip the soldiers of this J. E. F. It takes money to maintain these armies in hostile fields and the long lines of communications and supplies between them. It takes money to keep other hundreds of thousands of soldiers along the Manchukuan border facing Russia. In fact, Japan's expenditures for military purposes must be such that if they are continued unabated, the nation will bankrupt itself.

Nothing of that nature appears to be imminent in the prices at which Japan's bonds are quoted in New York. Its 51/2s are selling for about 55, to which point they have fallen since 1937's high of 89. But what this does mean is that Japan's credit rating is none too good, that to negotiate new loans it would have to pay something like 10 per cent interest for them. Few nations can stand any such charge, Japan, with her swollen budgets and her fiscal difficulties, least of all.

Site Ed. Note: The piece refers to the efforts to convert and beautify the roadbed strips left by the abandoned trolley tracks, as the electric streetcars in Charlotte were replaced by buses for the first time in mid-November, 1937, replacing what residents complained of as an unsightly tangle of overhead wires.

For a Plaza Plan*

We can hardly wait until grass and iris time to see what a transformation residents of the Plaza make in that unsightly roadbed of the erstwhile Toonerville Trolley (that met all the trains). When it was ruled that the City couldn't legally spend any money to beautify this center strip, residents of the Plaza got together and formed their own beautification society. They started a Fund, which is the sine qua non of beautification, even though the best things in life are commonly reputed to be free.

More power to them. Their immediate action ought to be an example to residents along East Morehead from Dilworth Road to Queens Road and to residents of Queens Roads East and West from the beginning of Myers Park completely around the circuit. At the same time, Plaza residents might well profit from the horrible example of Queens Road East.

Like the Plaza, Queens Road is a divided street, both sides of which are narrow. There is little room for one vehicle to pass another, especially a bus, going in the same direction. As a result, there is a constantly greater encroachment by traffic on the dirt strip in the center, and Queens Road, which ought to be one of our show streets, actually presents a run-down appearance.

The Plaza as it stands is likewise too narrow. The curb which borders the trolley roadbed needs to be relocated, and since this is indubitably a City responsibility, residents of the Plaza should insist that the City do it before planting is begun. Then they will have a combination of greater utility and beauty too, which can't be beaten.

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