The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 27, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "A Happy Birthday", on the sesquicentennial American salute of its Navy to the Antipodes, is, on its surface, nothing more than a fluffy piece; but look a little deeper down under, reading the last sentence, latitudinally and longitudinally, and it becomes fairly ominous, 46 months before the fact.

And, somewhere between the Ripley's, Hugh Johnson's reminiscences on the old Indian Territory he called home as a boy, that is, Oklahoma, and Dorothy Thompson's praise of the banned March of Time film on Nazi Germany, banned by Jack Warner and the Hays (not Gabby) Office, as potentially injurious laud to a totalitarian state, we suppose we shall simply reiterate: We are the oil men.

For more on Rhode Island Red chicks a-hatching, incidentally, go here, Alice.

Otherwise, we're just practicing the ancient art of loafing today, down by the gently flowing stream, down where the oil is so cornucopious, it just arises right up from the shallows where you may capture it right sharply by the bottleful here in the right-side-up Land o' Golden Honey, the rushing River of yesterday having waterlogged us aplenty in its undertow. And while down yonder, we found us a knife that cuts that butter for the corn pretty well. Some day, we'll show it to you. Anyway, you can do the work now, as we've done ours for the weekend.

Yepper, our work's done for today, that it is. Good 'ay, mate.

Ickes Passes a Law

General Old Ironpants Johnson in his column yesterday was adverting to the recent decision of a Federal court against oil companies charged with violation of the anti-trust acts. But never mind the court, the oil companies, General Johnson or the anti-trust acts. Our subject is another contemporary institution.

In telling of the codification of the oil industry under NRA back there in 1933, the General went on to say:

"NRA held that production control was sufficient without flat price-fixing, but when Mr. Ickes got the code to administer, he put in price-fixing."

He put in price-fixing--he, Harold S. Ickes, who had been named administrator of the oil code, he put in price-fixing. Boy, that's bureaucracy for you! It's the perfect definition. Bureaucracy is when chaps in elegant offices put in things that have the full force and effect of law.

No More Carpetbags

Reconstruction, ladies and gentlemen, seems to be at an end. Or at least, Reconstruction, as we have known it historically, seems to be at an end. For, as everyone knows, Reconstruction has always been a child of that party which calls itself Republican and which our fathers succinctly called Damned Radical. Yet, yesterday, when administration leaders in the Senate moved to invoke the rule of cloture in order to break up the Southern filibuster against the anti-lynching bill, it came about that--

Senator McNary, Republican, of Oregon, the minority floor leader, announced briefly that he would oppose the cloture motion.

And if the spectacle of the captain-general of the Damned Radicals in the Senate galloping to the rescue of embattled Dixie isn't a token that Reconstruction's hash is settled, what is it?

A Happy Birthday

A hundred and fifty years ago old Captain James Cook crept into Botany Bay under cautiously shortened sail, as you may read in his "Voyages," and a new "continent" began to figure on the maps.

"Down under"--Australia, of course--is beginning to be a little old now. And very far she has come since Cap Cook went poking in. And very far, too, since those days when the land was only a place where England sent her criminals when she felt queasy about hanging them. Even the aborigines, among the most primitive known outside of the nearby and now extinct Tasmanians, are beginning to wear pants.

So, very fitting it is that four American cruisers should be lying in the waters off Sydney and thundering their salute to the Antipodeans. At that, though, and without for a second meaning to impugn Dr. Cordell Hull's motives, it occurs to us that it is very accommodating of Australia to have a birthday just now. From Sydney to Shanghai is about as far as it is from Pearl Harbor to Shanghai. But Pearl Harbor has not had any birthdays and if we began to congregate cruisers there, Japan might, of course, have cause to take it amiss.

Not Very Helpful*

To the South Carolina House of Representatives yesterday, Representative Foster of Greenville read off figures showing a wide difference in rates charged by the Duke Power Co. and TVA. Hon. Foster's point was that since Duke rates were expensive by the yardstick of TVA, the Duke ought divert some of the difference to them.

But, we aren't going to defend Duke's rates. Reductions ordered in the past showed that they had been too high, and reductions probably to be ordered in the future will show that they are too high now. At the same time, we believe that facts are indispensable to law making; and if our South Carolina lawmaker had cared to look facts in the face, he would have found a considerable part of the difference between Duke and TVA rates was due to the very type of legislation he was championing--taxes. And it ought to be obvious to anyone that additional taxes, far from enabling private power companies to reduce the spread between their rates and tax-free TVA's rates, will only further justify the spread and make it more difficult to bring rates down.

A Motion Carried

With no fuss and no feathers, speedily and as a matter of routine with only routine opposition, in the short space of five minutes and with nobody much as witness to the momentous change except a couple of newspaper reporters, the City Council at its regular mid-weekly meeting yesterday modernized the Blue Laws. Out came that section which made it a misdemeanor to pay to play or to watch outdoor games on Sunday.

In strict fact, the ordinance legalized only sports, but it seems agreed that the same logic will inevitably be extended to the case of the moving picture shows. Quietly and unobtrusively, it will come about that we shall presently be able to relieve the long tedium of Sunday afternoons and evenings by seating ourselves in a darkened house and watching the flickers.

There'll continue to be some muttering to the effect that it is all wicked and immoral, of course. But it is just as immoral as, and no more immoral than, the decision that we prefer our modern BVD's to the red flannel underwear of yesterday. After a while even the mutters will die out, and Charlotte, going to baseball games and moving pictures on Sunday, will judge, quite correctly, that it is just as moral as ever it was.

Murder Is Murder

It is easy enough to understand the motives which, the day before yesterday, inspired the Spanish Government to loose its bombing planes over the Insurgent capital of Salamanca and kill some 225 people and wound some 400 more--most of them civilians. That kind of warfare is routine with Franco's forces and has been since the war started. Only the day before, Insurgent planes had killed 273 civilians at Barcelona. And the desire to retaliate in-kind is a natural human impulse.

Nevertheless, when the Spanish Government takes to this kind of fighting, it forfeits some of the respect and sympathy which it gained in the democratic countries when, after a brief following of the tactics of "an eye for an eye" in the early days of the war, it adopted the policy of confining its attacks purely to military objectives and sedulously sparing civilians. The bombing of civilians is murder, as certainly when it is done in the name of democracy as when it is done in the name of fascism. And one murder does not justify another.

Moreover, the Spanish Government has all along maintained that the Spanish people generally, even in territory held by Franco, were secretly its partisans, and reports of neutral observers have pretty well borne out that contention. But how long are civilians who see their relatives and neighbors bombed out of existence by Government planes going to keep on feeling that way?

Where There's a Will*

Stories from Gastonia telling of the condemnation of four tenement houses there continually refer to Section 2773, N. C. Consolidated Statutes. We are interested in this Sect. 2773, N.C.C.S, and are having it looked up to see exactly what it says. Meanwhile, it stands to reason that being a State statute, it applies as well to Charlotte as to Gastonia; and if Gastonia can invoke it in order to raze four frame houses which are fire-traps of the worst kind, why, so could Charlotte.

All it lacks is the will and the evidence, and the latter can be supplied in such abundance that it would be difficult to decide where to make a beginning. The will is a horse of another color, and we concede that it is not to be ridden too impulsively, since it involves the destruction of property. But so, egad, does a fire hazard involve destruction of property--other people's property, and other people's lives. And when the public good and private good conflict, private good must give way. That is law and common sense; and in this case it is simple humaneness, as well.

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