The Charlotte News

Wednesday February 23, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Today we have note of a Presley who drives around a lot in a car, the future chancellor of the University of North Carolina getting ready to hum his harmonica at Deep River, and a brief recapitulation of the music of the past: Why, only the other day, we were absent-mindedly just humming right away to ourselves, "My Pretty Little Kickapoo", in fact combined in a medley with "My Ida Whoa!", "Shy Ann from Cheyenne", and "Ain't You Comin' Back to Old New Hampshire, Molly?"

What's more, the day just wouldn't be right if you couldn't strike up a good chorus of "Yes, We Have No Bananas", leading naturally right on into "In the Baggage Coach Ahead!"

We suppose it all proves the old adage: if you hain't got no music, you hain't heard none yet, pardner, at least not in this here pasture, nor in the orchard back 'ere neither; and, by the way, watch where you're steppin' on the way on out--last city feller through here invented a whole new dance which we call the Wide-Stomp.

You can't beat those old time-worn aphorisms, can you?

Here We Go Again*

The boiling great events in Europe are likely to obscure something that is going to happen over here today, tomorrow or the day after. It isn't such an unusual something--that is, it has happened every year for the last seven years--but it seems peculiarly regrettable that it should be happening just now. At any rate, the Federal deficit for the current fiscal year is about to crack a billion.

The excess of expenditures over receipts was $995,758,245.06 on the last Treasury report. This means the country is not in exceptionally good position to assume greater relief expenditures, which it is having to assume on account of the recession. What's a great deal worse, it means that the country, in the seventh successive year of living on borrowed money, is in no shape to undertake a billion-dollar fleet building program, which it is going to have to undertake.

We have proceeded on the theory that it was a great deal more noble to spend money to win the fight against depression than it was to spend money to win the war. Apparently nobody ever figured out what would happen if we had to fight a depression and make ready for war at the same time.

Identifying a Movement

We do hope the religionists won't, in the acute phases of the Blue Law controversy, resort to the same old imputations of the prohibitionists. To the prohibitionists, the clamor for repeal was almost entirely the result of the insidious propaganda and fat purses of the Liquor Interests. These had preyed upon the gullibility and the avarice of the deluded public, and while the prohibitionists did not forgive the public, they did lament that the poor things knew not what they did.

The repeal of prohibition came about, of course, directly because of a general public impatience with it, not remotely because of the Liquor Interests and their greasing of palms, if any. And this city's Blue Laws are being modified for the same reason. Any effort to attribute it to the "well-organized and well-financed commercial interests" entirely misses the point. The baseball club operators and the movie people have a commercial stake in it, to be sure, and frankly admit as much. But without spontaneous insistence from a considerable body of Charlotteans themselves, the movement toward an open Sunday cannot get to--first base.

Time Is Irreversible

Five years ago the prison gates at Raleigh opened to receive two men from Buncombe County, Jack and Marion Ammons. A certain Jack Hart had been found lying in a ditch in Asheville suffering from a crude emasculation operation. On his testimony the Ammonses were tried and convicted of the crime within ten days afterward. Then the other day Hart was found again, once more the victim of a crude emasculation operation. At first he charged the crime against four other men, but finally confessed that he had performed both operations himself and that the Ammonses were innocent.

They have been pardoned. But neither a pardon nor any other power on earth can restore to these men the five years wrongfully taken from their lives. The best the State can do is to compensate them by a special act of the Legislature. And such compensation ought to be the first order of business in the next session of that body. The State has no right to commit an injustice against its citizens and absolve itself with a mere, "Sorry, it was all a mistake."

And as for Mr. Hart, he is obviously a dangerous lunatic, as, it seems to us, the court which tried the Ammons case might very well have found out had it troubled itself a little on the score--and ought to be safely locked up where he can do himself and other men no further harm.

Promise and Performance*

Representative Ramspeck of Georgia, who spoke to post office employees here Saturday night, deserved an immediate Bravo for his remarks, and would have got it had not the Old World suddenly begun wallowing in a new turmoil requiring the whole of our attention. Mr. Ramspeck is one of those rare birds, a politician who sincerely advocates civil service. He is the antithesis of Senator McKellar of Tennessee, for whom he had special condemnation, and he actually believes that the chaps in the post offices who see that the mails are distributed on time and that the stamps don't give out--that is, the assistant postmasters--are more valuable to the service than the boys in the front offices behind the big mahogany desks--that is, the political parasites.

Mr. Ramspeck told his audience that--

"We should make a real career service out of the Post Office Department."

The funny thing about this is that the Democrats, according to the solemn covenants of their last two platforms, wholeheartedly agree with him. We don't know why, with such a lopsided majority in Congress, they don't go on and do what they promised to do. (Seriously, we know all too well.)

A Foregone Conclusion

About the only reason we can discover for banner headlines of the story that the House of Commons has upheld Prime Minister Chamberlain is that, after all, the turn he has taken is perhaps the most fateful news of the day. But in the sense of the unexpected and startling, the story is not news at all. There never was any doubt that Commons would uphold him.

Neville Chamberlain is above all things a horse-trader. And he is far too canny to have taken the stance he has taken without first making sure that he would not be left out on a limb.

And moreover, he is a stubborn man. If Commons had voted censure, he probably would not have resigned to make way for another Conservative Cabinet headed by Eden, but would have gone instead to the country--a general election would have had to be held. And M. P.'s like elections as little as do our Congressmen. They cost them a great deal of money despite English laws that say they can't spend it, just as it costs Congressmen a great deal of money despite American laws that say they can't spend it. And--there would be the danger, the practical certainty, that some of the boys now sitting would lose their jobs. Indeed, there would be a chance, and perhaps a good one, that the Conservative Party would be thrown completely out of power--the last great calamity, of course, for a Conservative politician.

While Congress Hems*

The uses of procrastination, despite the adage not to put off until tomorrow what may be done today, are great. For example, the procrastination of Congress on the twice-recommended subject of wage-and-hour legislation has given the states opportunity and incentive to step forward and do the needful. It came as a great surprise to us to learn that 23 states have minimum wage laws. All but a few have maximum hour laws.

It is true that only one of the states, Oklahoma, sets out to fix minimum wages for men. The other 22 are content to save women and children first. It is likewise true that minimum wages generally are lower than Congress would tolerate, that hours are longer: and in these respects state regulation is not such a boon to the underpaid as Federal regulation would be. On the other hand, state regulation has its superiority.

It has the great advantage of authority over all industry and commerce, without restriction solely to businesses of interstate nature. It has the merit of affording various trials by error without upsetting the economy of a whole nation, as with misguided Federal legislation. It has the virtue of being cut to the smaller pattern, localized in its application and enforcement.

And, foremost of all, the fact that 23 states have minimum wage laws, even though presently only for women and children, and that nearly every state has maximum hour laws, is a sign that the states have life in them yet and that the original American system of restricted central government may be worth preserving.

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