The Charlotte News
Saturday, January 8, 1938
Site Ed. Note: So, "Business Is Business" informs us, Ford helped to fuel the Japanese war on China by purchasing bonds to afford comity between nations with regard to the acceptance by the United States of the apology of Japan for the shelling of the Panay and two Standard Oil vessels, innocently and legally plying the Yangtze. ...As we have suggested, the war which came and became known to us as World War II was, when reduced to its essence, about underwear, silk stockings, and cars. Cotton, rubber, oil, tin, lebensraum. Empire. Simple as that. And for that, over 50 million people lost their lives in a six-year span of time.
"Kennedy to Libya" suggests in hindsight the poser: if Joseph P. Kennedy had not become Ambassador to Great Britain, had instead declined the appointment and charted a safe course, free from the controversy such a post inevitably invited with war drums steadily beating as each keel was being laid in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain and the United States, as indicated in "They're Off", had stayed on as head of the Maritime Commission, run for the Democratic nomination in 1940, free of the political baggage and responsibility which the Ambassadorship brought him, the label, unfair though it was, of being one of the architects of Munich and appeasement, would history have been any different? Who knows?
What happened in Europe and the Pacific was going to happen, it is plain from history, no matter what the allied powers did to try to avert it; it was only a question of when and whether the allies were sufficiently prepared for it when war came, balanced against the time allowed for the Axis to prepare itself in armaments and supplies, or to expend itself in battle before taking a fateful step which would engage the allies in the war. The quest for empire of the Axis powers was unlimited and was not subject to rational conclusion short of war or allowing them to rule the world on a totalitarian military model. But that is easy enough to see in hindsight; confronted with the prospect of another lengthy and bloody war abroad, it is never easy to obtain the will to fight, short of direct attack. It is always the rule to believe in the inherent humanity and civility of the warring state's leaders and to try to effect a peaceful resolution through diplomacy. So, we won't engage in the fruitless venture of speculating on history which did not occur. It is difficult enough to determine what in fact did occur and how each actual event impacted the other.
But again we ask how it was that the United States Ambassador to Great Britain could have enabled a different result from the one which came at Munich, with Neville Chamberlain pushing the premise of appeasement, especially when they were going to be British and French sons, not American, who would inevitably lay down their lives otherwise over a strip of land in Czechoslovakia, had war been threatened over the cession of the Sudetenland. And, precisely how was that to be done, independent of the will of the Administration? Obviously, had Joe Kennedy acted in defiance of the will of Roosevelt at Munich, he would have been called home immediately. Thus, to blame Munich on Kennedy, or on Roosevelt, for that matter, is silliness. It was the product of Hitler's intractable demands for hegemony among all German peoples, no matter their adopted sovereignty--about as silly, as Cash later suggested, as claiming Minnesota for the Reich. That, combined with the lack of will of the allies to fight another certain to be protracted war two decades after World War I. It was not lack of resolve at Munich which led to World War II. It was Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo, and the insanity of the cultures which produced their megalomaniacal brand of nationalism and religious fervor for crusading to extend their concepts of zenithal paradise to the other lands unembraced of their superior purity and will--the will to kill to achieve the dreams they had, of Aryan superiority, of Caesar's new age, of Greater Asian Co-Prosperity, soon to be begun in the case of Germany by the annexation through rigged plebiscite of Hitler's native Austria.
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...This Day Our Daily Cake...*
The professional and home-made experts on political economics have overlooked a big thing. They quickly went to work on Supply and Demand and its nullification; on the overturn of "He who eats must first work," and the inauguration of Something for Nothing. It's a new era and new principles are needed.
What the fellows overlooked was the abolition of, "You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It Too." And that is the big one. That is what keeps Roosevelt from balancing the budget. He wants the budget balanced; so does everybody, but the nation has become a cake addict. The Congressmen will not give up their cake. They formerly lived on pork, but their appetites have changed, greatly. The people themselves demand cake.
Marie Antoinette started something when she said to let them eat cake. The people of the 1930's have taken her at her word. They like it, good old government fruit cake, with thick icing, rich spicing, large slicing.
"Balance the budget!" is the cry. Everybody cries it. But when it is suggested that the highway fund or the CCC fund or some other fund be trimmed a little, the cry is, "You can't do that to us." The cake-eaters refuse half a slice.
Business Is Business
Recent Tokyo dispatches announced the purchase by the Ford Motor Company of Japan, Ltd., of "China incident" bonds in the amount of 1,000,000 yen; approximately $290,000. The deal was made through Benjamin Kopf, manager of the Japanese Ford unit, who stated that the purchase of foreign bonds was virtually impossible "under present exchange control regulations."
No one would question the business acumen of Mr. Kopf. It is highly probable that the deal was decidedly to the best interests of the Ford empire. In fact, we can even let our imagination gad about to the point that we can picture the benefits of the transaction outlined glowingly by a delegation of bowing, tooth-sucking, brown gentlemen. It probably isn't healthy just now for foreign business firms not to see eye-to-eye with the Nipponese in the "China incident."
On the other hand, it is hard to imagine anything more incongruous than Ford dollars being utilized to fling leaden missiles in any war. Does our memory deceive us, or was it not Henry of a couple of decades ago who was going to have the boys out of the trenches by Christmas, and dispatched his famous "Peace Ship" to bring that about?
If we may be pardoned a particularly atrocious pun, it would seem, in the opinion of Mr. Ford's Japanese manager, that a yen for peace should not stand in the way of one million yen for war.
You Say It
Ralph Johnson, Angier policeman who riddled the back of an automobile with revolver bullets Christmas night after a firecracker had been tossed from the machine, still does not know just what his fate is going to be.
The officer was tried this week in recorder's court in Lillington, county seat of Harnett, and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. But so moving was the plea of his lawyer, Henry C. Strickland, who also happens to be county attorney, that Judge F. H. Taylor set aside his verdict of guilty to await further similar legal opinions.
According to the officer's own testimony on the witness stand, he emptied his revolver into the back of an automobile from which a firecracker had been thrown. The policeman also said that the car was being driven in a reckless manner and he "thought" the driver was trying to run over him. The officer admitted under cross-examination, however, that he recognized the youthful occupants of the automobile and so far as he knew they were wanted for no serious offense.
Then the county attorney came to the defense of his client. The shooting, he told the court, was justifiable, and the officer should be commended rather than censored for his deed. Said the county attorney:
This absolutely flabbergasts us, and rather than splutter over it, we're just going to let it pass. But there's no law against saying something to yourself.
Kennedy to Libya
Between the case of Signor Italo Balbo and the case of Joseph P. Kennedy we think we discover, at least in wholesome fun, a possible parallel. Signor Balbo, you will remember, led the mass flight of ten Italian airplanes to Brazil in 1931, and the mass flight of twenty-four Italian planes to the United States in 1933. And when Signor Balbo went home, he went home to enormous enthusiasm from the Italian people. After Musso he was the reigning hero--and there were suggestions that he was the man who ought to succeed Musso if anything, God defending, should happen to the Big Boss. Wherefore, Signor Balbo almost immediately found himself kicked upstairs into the grand honor of playing Governor to the 400,000 square miles of barren desert which is Libya.
Well, and Mr. Kennedy? Mr. Kennedy did two tough jobs in straightening out the SEC and in launching the Maritime Commission with such eclat that a few months ago he began to find himself a popular favorite. Business liked him and so did the masses. More than that, Mr. Kennedy began to be mentioned as a possible candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, to succeed the Big Boss. Wherefore--perhaps not wherefore either, but anyhow, almost immediately, Mr. Kennedy found himself kicked upstairs into the 400,000 square miles of empty pomp and barren drivel which constitutes the ambassadorship to the Court of Sinjims.
Principally for the reason that Japan denounced the London Naval Agreement and set about building up her navy, the United States felt obliged to do likewise. President Roosevelt has requested of Congress appropriations for two new battleships and others. And for the reason, ostensibly, at any rate, that "fascist powers cannot tolerate the dangerous and unjust supremacy" of the democracies, Italy has begun to build two new battleships and others.
This strikes fear into the heart of France, where two battleships even now are a-building as a result of two the Italians launched last Summer. France, it is declared, will build two more battleships. And, of course, Britain is saying nothing and putting steel together.
And so it goes, a sort of ring-around-the-roses business, a keeping up with the international Joneses. And after these invidious powers are equipped with their pretty new ships of the line, there will be a powerful temptation to use them, to try them out against a real enemy fleet. It isn't the first cost of battleships that is so staggering, although that is bad enough: it is the upkeep.
Too Close to the Ticker
Warnings against losing perspective frequently were heard among the business men a year or two ago. They realized there is danger in "getting too close to the ticker." Then came the upset for business and the stock market break. The dangers inherent in failure to maintain perspective are just as real today when a long decline may be near its bottom, as when the Roosevelt bull market was being kicked downhill by the President's well-remembered complaint about copper prices being too high.
Statistics from Federal and other agencies, coming to light over a period of weeks, seem to show that foreigners and the American "lambs" have been buying quite liberally into American business since the abrupt recession began in September. The explanation is not simple--it may be reckless speculation, judgment or investment buying. In any event, the SEC day after day for weeks has reported in figures the extent to which odd-lot buying of equities exceeded odd-lot sales. That is giving the "little fellow" an interest that later may be significant in the nation's business, especially in these days of noisy minorities.
Furthermore, the Treasury reveals that more than $300,000,000 of foreign capital was sent to the United States for investment in the darkening days of the past summer. Evidently they bought what Americans sold.
This brings to mind a comment made a few days ago by President Dahlberg, president of the Celotex corporation, when protesting against opposition to expansion plans. "I cannot concur in your implied suggestion that, because the business outlook is disturbed by uncertainty, we, as business men, must put in cold storage plans for expansion in which we have every reason to have confidence."
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