The Charlotte News
Friday, December 10, 1937
Site Ed. Note: The House Ways & Means Chairman mentioned in the first piece is Fred Vinson, future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, nominated to that latter position by President Truman when Harlan Fiske Stone died in 1946. Vinson died suddenly in 1953, leaving the vacancy which enabled President Eisenhower's first appointment to the Court, Governor Earl Warren of California.
We shall spare too many generalities on either Chief, so as to pass the blah test set forth in the second piece, but Vinson was conservative (blah), upholding loyalty oaths against Communists, for instance, and Warren was liberal (blah), noted early on for his conciliatory manner and ability to form majorities through compromise on the language of opinions, emblematic of which was the unanimity he achieved among the members of the Court on Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Some of the attorneys who represented the NAACP in Brown subsequently have speculated that had Vinson lived, the decision might have been different, certainly would not have been unanimous, without the guiding personal diplomacy of Warren to enable its acceptance.
Our preference therefore is the latter blah to the former blah, though both men served blahably and with blah distinction in their respective tenures on the Court, Warren's ending with his retirement in 1969, having announced it in 1968 to permit President Johnson, nearly unprecedented in a presidential election year, to appoint his successor. Unfortunately, the nomination for elevation by Johnson of Justice Abe Fortas, Johnson's former legal advisor, ran into considerable blah-blah trouble through political maneuvering by a coalition of Republican and Southern segregationist Senators, causing Fortas to withdraw and eventually, the following year, to resign from the Court. That paved the way for Richard Nixon, whom Warren detested, instead to appoint his successor, Warren Earl Burger. Chief Justice Burger was very blahable indeed.
President Nixon was so blahing blahable that it makes our head ache just to think about all of the blahing that went on during his five blahing years in office, and so we shall blah no further right now about that lot of blahable rat-blahing blahs.
As to Brother Starkey's holy divination of the future through his vision, well, he actually did not do that badly. Matters did transpire in much the way he predicted in terms of overall prosperity in the country, except that it would take the war and its aftermath to bring the economy back to full fruition and production capacity, especially in the ailing steel industry. Cotton would benefit on the one hand by the war in terms of domestic demand, but would be, by greater measures, harmed by the dramatic reduction of overseas markets, as well as the dramatically increased competition in the Pacific rim brought on by increasing Japanese and Chinese production and milling, leading to even greater surpluses in the South and the consequent warehousing of the surplus by the government as consigned security for loans to the farmers, effectively a program of government purchasing of the surplus.
Regardless, with perfect hindsight, we offer that the Divinail simply misinterpreted the symbolic content of his vision. More accurately, the $10 represents a Dix, that is a ten-buck bill in Confederate currency; and therefore, obviously, by virtue of the cotton imagery and the farmer clinging to the bale in the water, the incubus represented instead the South desperately in struggle to maintain its old ways, down to the last vestiges of King Cotton and all its incidents, declining toward a rotogravure carbon of the Babelard, replete with all the concomitant sentimentalized Dorian pretensions of the blasted past made manifest in the previous year's best-seller in fiction. The "cover canvest" thus becomes quite self-evident in its mystery revealed, at long last, also, as does equally the reason why neither party seeking the Dix would fully grab hold (holt?) of the canvest. At the point at which the divinatrice, apparissaunt Brother Starkey appears to despair over the thusly striving men not becoming parrished, however, when he himself apparently was a man of the cloth, or something like that, we, quite frankly, stumble at the host's revelatory intent and, simply put, find ourselves stymied at the knocked-upon-door of the otherwise graciously receptive spirit and reason to provide a further interpretation of his Rolliness's divinatory inspiration--except that, perhaps, he might well have afforded the readers of The News a 23-year advance premonition of a Troy Donahue movie. Anyway, that's just our blah-blah view of Brother Starkey's heigh-ho holy vision.
But then, to put a spinning sinkhole boll into all of that, along came the Beatles...
It Works This Way*
It's a curious thing, but every time a move is made in Congress to repeal or revise a tax that everybody concedes ought to be repealed or revised, the revenue that would be lost is estimated in hundreds of millions. On the contrary, every time a move is made to tax great classes of people who are going scot-free, the revenue that would be gained is paltry.
For example, a bill has been introduced to repeal the undistributed profits tax, retroactively to the year 1937, and substitute a flat tax up to 16% on corporate earnings. By common consent, this ought to be done; but Ways & Meansman Vinson says it would cost the Treasury "several hundred millions." Another bill has been introduced to tax salaries of the multitudinous state and local government jobholders. By common consent, this too ought to be done; but Mr. Vinson estimates that would bring in a mere $15,000,000 annually. And so it goes. What ought to be done is comparatively unremunerative, and what oughtn't to be done brings in the shekels by the cart-load.
This Is Going to Be Fun
We are taking a course in propaganda analysis from the Institute in Propaganda Analysis, New York City. One of the seven basic propaganda devices is the Glittering Generalities, which catches the propagandist in the act of appealing to our brotherhood by use of virtue words--words which say a lot but don't mean anything. These virtue words may be invoked, in either a positive or a negative sense.
And one of the ways to hand the propagandist in Glittering Generalities a classical debunking is to substitute a disrespectful blah for every virtue word. Thus, should this treatment be applied to a speech of Steelman Ernest T. Weir at the annual convention of the National Association of Manufacturers yesterday, this paragraph--
"America cries for men who give their allegiance to the people as a whole, and who, when serving one group, refrain from a partisanship which is harmful to other groups"--
would come out something like this:
Blah blah for men who give their blah to the blah blah blah blah, and who, when blah one blah, blah from a blah which is blah to other blah.
Propaganda analysis, as you can very readily see, is going to be a lot of fun. There are, besides the Glittering Generalities, six other basic forms; and in that spirit of service which characterizes the editorial staff of The News, it shall be our pleasure to spot such expressions and from time to time to put them through the blah test. We warn the local propagandists that they are not to be considered exempt.
A Kettle of Fish
Senator George L. Berry and 29 of his fellow Tennesseeans are demanding that the Tennessee Valley Authority pay them three billion dollars--what they allege to be the market value of marble in their quarries flooded by Norris Lake.
More than that, it looks as though they might substantiate their claim. For Geologists W. C. Eyl of Lexington, Ky., and Charles L. Oder of the Tennessee State Division of Geology, told the Federal Court sitting in the claim that the marble was actually worth what the claimants maintain it is worth.
And if that is true--heigh, ho! did anybody ever hear of a prettier kettle of fish? The total cost of TVA is estimated at $320,000,000, of which $--0,000,000 is to be charged off to navigation and flood control. And on top of that $3,000,000,000 worth of good marble destroyed.
But the benefits will balance it out? Lookit! Navigation may be dismissed, for the river has never been much navigated and never will be. And for the rest, the benefits are these: (1) the production of a lot of surplus power in a region which was already pretty adequately supplied with power, and (2) elimination of an annual flood loss totaling less than a million dollars--or roughly about one three-thousandth part of the marble loss.
A tougher poser than that which faces the National Labor Relations Board in the case of the three men discharged by the Highland Park mill we'd hate to face. The Textile Workers Organizing Committee says the men were discharged for union activity. The management of the mill says they were actually discharged for drinking, staying away from work and incompetence, and that union activity had nothing to do with it.
And to decide that? Assuming that the management actually meant to fire them for union activity, do you suppose that it would be so foolish as to tell them so? and in the presence of witnesses? Of course, it wouldn't. How to prove, then, that they were fired for union activity? Did the man charged with drinking really drink? Did the fellow charged with staying away stay away? They probably did, else it would have been less than sensible to allege it against them. Was the man charged with incompetence really incompetent? What is incompetence: how is it determined, and by whom? And on the other hand, aren't drunkenness, staying away from work, and "incompetence" sound grounds for discharging men? Aren't they discharged for it every day in perfectly good faith? And isn't it just as reasonable as not, and supposing that the management doesn't like unions, that it actually fired them for these things in bona fides?
If the management insists that it didn't fire for union activity, how in Sam Hill is the Board going to decide that it did, without in fact setting up the rule that, to fire at all, the consent of the labor unions and the NLRB is necessary?
We hope that what Mr. Hugh Boyer, sales manager of the Caskle Paper Company, told the Rotary Club this week is borne out by the event--and that the paper industry, which has already spent $100,000,000 in the section is going bodily to migrate South.
But Mr. Boyer said one thing that gives us pause:
"Numerous surveys of the eleven Southern States... show that their forest area is upward of 200,000,000 acres..."
The implication in that is that Southern timber supplies are practically inexhaustible. But as a matter of fact, they aren't. In 1920 the Southern forests contained nearly 500,000,000,000 board feet of sawed timber. In 1930 there were only 225,000,000,000 feet! These figures are significant, not to say ominous.
We do not mean to infer that the price of bringing in the paper industry will necessarily be too high. The 200,000,000 acres of forest land are in fact sufficient to take care of the maximum demands of both the paper and lumber industries--if properly handled. But, if we are going to have the paper mills, we shall also have to have a policy of systematic reproduction of the trees cut. Else before many years, we will find ourselves with mills in the section that lack the raw materials--and they will move on.
Not By This Test
A considerable argument has been going on since President Vargas made himself Brazil's dictator as to whether the increasing number of dictatorships in Latin-America testify to the rise of European Fascism down there or whether they merely mean that Latin-America is behaving as Latin-America has traditionally behaved.
Well, it seems to us that some light was thrown on that question yesterday when Dictator Trujillo of the Dominican Republic "minimized as a purely local affair" the trouble between his state and Haiti, in which 8,000 Haitian immigrants across the Dominican border had been killed. Dictator Trujillo is probably the closest approximation to Mussolini there is to be found in Latin America. His rule is absolute, and has been established and maintained by ruthless proscription and murder. But is he truly Fascist? It would not seem so in view of his attitude in this instance.
It is perfectly true that Haiti had already taken a conciliatory tone about the case. It is true also that Haiti had the greater population of the two island countries. But on the other hand, Trujillo has by far the best trained and equipped army. He probably could conquer and annex Haiti if he chose. And it is the essence of European Fascism that he would so have chosen, or made threatening sounds like it. That he did neither is a sign of the essential Latin-American nature of his rulership.
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