The Charlotte News

Wednesday, January 5, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Since, by this Twelfth Night, we have blahed quite enough during the year past on this and that, and, in turn, have heard from others quite a lot of blahing also, we shall take heed of the last sentences of the first piece and simply wish for you those Twelve Drummers Drumming, as long, of course, as they aren't drummers trying to drum to you something you don't need, such as less freedom of speech on school grounds, in the park or other places public, more war, more guns, more big trucks with bigger engines...well, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch piece cautions, that begins to sound as an unpatriotic and even heretical dyspeptic, and at a time such as the present, when we are in interminable War, not to be tolerated. Shut our mouths.

So, to hell with Adenauer, they got the wrong Eichmann, monocles are back, and on the Twelfth Day, he is still...well, there we go blahing again.

May 2008 bring something by its end to create fresh starts.

Three Cheers, Muted

Senatorial Candidate Frank Hancock has dropped his campaign in the middle and gone back to Washington to take up his duties as Representative. For, he says, the present Congress is likely to have the making of the choice as to whether the nation will go the way of state socialism or stick to democracy. And--

"My own position is well-known. I am for democracy. I am for equal liberties to all rich, poor, and average, with special privileges to none. When these qualities are at stake, I hold it to be a very sacred duty to be present and fight for them."

Well, we like that. We agree perfectly that the place for a Representative now is in Washington. And we do not fail to observe that Mr. Hancock's action is in signal and commendable contrast with what has often been the action of his opponent, our unfavorite Senator, Robert Rice Reynolds. But if Mr. Hancock had been a little more explicit about the conflict he sees in Congress, we'd have liked it better. What do "democracy" and "state capitalism" and "equal liberties" and "special privileges" mean? Nothing. Anything. In our time these words have become mere counters which all sides use, and which they make mean whatever they wish them to mean. We are not censuring Mr. Hancock, understand. All of us are guilty. But the quicker we get around to talking in specific terms in place of glittering generalities, the better we'll understand each other.

Business as Usual

...It was disclosed today that the liner Conte Verde last week brought 1400 tons of aerial bombs from Italy which were transported by rail to Canton.

That's one passage in a dispatch announcing that Chiang Kai-Shek is now receiving large consignments of supplies through the British port of Hong Kong.

Italy, you see, is an ally of Japan in the Anti-Communism Pact. And Japan has often told us that one of the main reasons she is in China is to head off Kai-Shek's scheme to hand the country over to the Communists. And so--Italy sells Kai-Shek bombs to fight the Japanese, to kill Japanese soldier (1400 tons of bombs should account for some thousands of them, we should guess), and, so presumably, to aid the Comintern to get control in China. It all adds up to the same kind of sense as those announcements some time ago that Italy, while pouring aid to General Franco in Spain, was also shipping foodstuffs to the Spanish Loyalists, Franco's deadly enemies. And that Italy, while industriously blowing up Russian tankers carrying oil to the Spanish Loyalists, was also taking oil from Russia and building two naval vessels for the Russian government in Italian shipyards!

Yet there is a kind of sense in it, too--that these countries desperately need business, and that this is excellent business, cash on the line.

Fewer Drunks

Arrests for drunkenness in Charlotte dropped appreciably in 1937, to 3,758 from the record total of 4,391 in 1936. Not only was there a decrease in arrests for simple drunkenness, but for drunken- and disorderliness and for driving drunk too. Nor is that all. Similar arrests by the Rural Police have been showing a decrease for some months, a circumstance which Acting Chief Mosely attributes to the padlocking of roadhouses beginning early last September.

It doesn't need saying, of course, that for a community which is legally dry and morally outraged at the bare thought of legalizing the sale of liquor, thousands of arrests for drunkenness in the city and other hundreds in the county offer a vociferous commentary on the difference between theory and practice. Nevertheless, an improvement is indisputably an improvement, and there has been an indisputable improvement this year over last year and over 1935 too. The boys who overrun the police courts on Monday morning must be either drinking less or drinking better liquor or staying out of sight of the cops.

Overlooking Nature*

Going back to the President's message at the opening of Congress, there is something we'd like to say about that part of his address which dealt with the farm problem. He listed, you'll remember, three possible remedies, the first of which--to cut the cost of our farm production below that of other nations--he immediately dismissed as an utter impossibility. That left two.

And the second was, to make the Government the guarantor of farm prices and the underwriter of excess farm production "without limit." He said this would bankrupt the strongest nation in the world in a decade. That left one.

And that one was--

"...To place the primary responsibility directly on the farmers themselves, under the principle of majority rule, so that they may decide, with full knowledge of the facts of surpluses, scarcities, world markets and domestic needs, what the planting of each crop should be in order to maintain a reasonably adequate supply...but not glut."

It sounds simple and sensible, but it is not so easy as all that. Suppose the cotton farmers for example, acting on the experience of the last ten years and estimating production of 179.3 pounds of cotton to the acre, had decided that a 12,000,000 bale crop would have been about right for 1937. And suppose that they had gone ahead and planted some 33,000,000 acres, calculated to have produced 12,000,000 bales, and suppose further that the Government had agreed either to reward them for planting no more or to penalize any of them who exceeded their production quotas. And then suppose that instead of the average of 179.3 pounds per acre, Nature had turned to with a disconcerting will and brought forth 264.6 pounds per acre, which is exactly what Nature did do in 1937. In spite of the best laid plans of the Department of Agriculture and the majority of cotton farmers, the 1937 crop would have been only a few hundred thousand bales less than it actually was. And there was still at that a glut, and the Government would have gone broke paying premiums on the bounty of Nature, else the farmers would have had some 6,000,000 bales of cotton on their hands which they could not sell except by paying a confiscatory tax.

Jim Shows Ability

Three years ago, when Jim Farley announced that his Post Office Department had ended twelve months with a $12,000,000 surplus, it moved one of The News readers to satire, and in rhyme, at that. He wrote in:

Genial Jim, a Juggler, the big Post Office boss,
Is certainly a genius at wiping out a loss.
Although expenses topped receipts some 40 million dollars,
"We have $12,000,000 surplus" is what our Big Jim hollers.

The country-wide ribbing Jim took because of his vaunted "surplus" that was really a whopping deficit taught him a lesson. Nowadays he always puts the deficit first, adding brightly that if it hadn't been for having to carry the mail of Federal departments and Congress for nothing, the deficit would have been a tidy cash surplus. Furthermore, Jim, approve of him or not, has done what appears to be a pretty good job with his portfolio. He has paid campaign expenses of politicians with it, of course, like all his predecessors, but this is expected of him and demanded of him by his fellow party members. As for the department itself, he has put in the 40-hour week and held expenditures within bounds, at the same time not impairing the service. And he has done all this while holding down two other jobs with the Democrats. No telling what he could have done if he had applied himself exclusively to post office business.

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