The Charlotte News

Saturday, February 24, 1940


It's A Record*

Mecklenburg Body Vacates Position For General Good

An old Mecklenburg custom is to take a position and stick to it through hail, high water and dam the torpedoes.

Of that characteristic, the cheerful evacuation of a position by the Charlotte Civic Council deserves not only comment; it deserves a memorial tablet.

This Council, dusting around for projects, had decided to raise a couple of thousand dollars to run the Library from March 1 until July 1, when the County Government was expected to take over. However, several interested organizations, while commending the Council's intentions, disapproved its method.

Ourselves, we thought it best for the Library to remain closed tight while the people were voting on the tax to reopen it, and we wondered if laying $2,000 on the line would actually put the Library in operation again. After all, its Board of Trustees must exercise their own judgment and discretion, and it could well have been undesirable in their eyes to reopen the Library impermanently on a shoestring.

And so the Civic Council, informed of these objections, decided that the Library election was the main thing, and that no disunity should be allowed to jeopardize its favorable result. It gave up its campaign, which it still thought well of, in good grace and spirit, and thereby set some sort of record in the public affairs of this opinionated community.


Mr. Barton Makes Strange Sounds For A Republican

Representative Bruce Barton, of New York, is a Republican. But he had better watch himself, or he won't be long. Wednesday on the floor of the House he came right out and said that he was in favor of Mr. Hull's trade treaties and would vote to have the Secretary's power to make them extended, adding:

"We need to export in order to keep our economic machine running at maximum efficiency. It is a matter of common sense that we should take useful goods--rather than, to us, useless gold--in exchange for our exports."

And that it certainly is. We have nearly two-thirds of all the monetary gold in the world now; if the practice of taking it in payment for war orders keeps up we promise to have nearly all of it in a short time. And the inevitable result of that is going to be that the other nations will abandon it altogether as a medium of exchange, leaving it practically valueless to us, since its possible use in manufactured products is very limited. Which is to say that we shall be in the position of having largely given away the goods we sold for it.

But however truthfully Mr. Barton spoke, he is skating on thin ice. In a Republican's mouth such words are a heresy comparable to an Indian pariah's slaying and eating, say, a sacred monkey. Republicans didn't invent the tariff other than for revenue only. But as soon as the party was born, it adopted the idea and made it its own. It has grown great and powerful by feeding the Eastern industrialists on it. And right now all the fat cats are roaring for Smoot-Hawley all over again--the same fat cats to whom the party looks to fill its war chest for the coming campaign. Mr. Barton had better look after himself.

Nazi Rights

We Aid In Setting Up A Neutrality Definition

The new Nazi definition of neutrality continues to develop rapidly. Norway is put on notice that she must not allow any British violation of the old rules of international law, however doubtful, though Nazi German submarines daily violate one of the oldest and most solidly established principles of that international law by sinking Norwegian merchant ships without warning, and drowning their crews.

And now we, the loudest and longest champions of strict international law, find ourselves in the involuntary position of aiding her to extend the definition as regards Belgium. That little country is in process of buying eight merchant ships from the United States. Of her right to do so under international law there is not the slightest doubt. All the conventions specifically confirm the legality of the transfer (a bona-fide sale) of ships from one neutral to another in time of war. And the fact that it may be designed to circumvent the cash-and-carry clauses of the United States Neutrality Act has nothing to do with it. Belgium has the right to own ships and use them in the carriage of goods to England and France, subject only to the law of contraband.

But the Nazis are roaring darkly over it on precisely the ground of the Neutrality Act. That act, of course, is not predicated upon the proposition that Germany has a right to the immobilization of our merchant ships and the denial of their use to carry goods to her enemies. It is predicated upon the proposition that Germany was well known to be prepared to defy international law and sink our ships without visit and search and provision for the safety of the crew--as she is currently sinking those of the Norwegians and other neutrals about her. It is essentially an attempt to avoid a clash with a criminal by staying out of the area where his gang operates.

Nevertheless, the Nazis are busily making it the basis for the claim that Belgium is violating their rights and putting the ships to work. And it is not unlikely that before long she will be making the claim against us directly for selling the ships to Belgium.


Dr. Poe Examines And Prescribes For Tarheelia

In an article entitled "A Pattern for Progress," which the University News Letter reprints from the Progressive Farmer, Dr. Clarence Poe lucidly sums up the case in which North Carolina finds itself. These, he says, are the basic facts.

1--North Carolina is a poor state.
2--North Carolina ought not to be a poor state.
3--We have plenty of natural resources to make it a rich state.
4--Our people have plenty of ability energy and character to make it a rich state.
5--We have plenty of organizations, institutions, and agencies to make it a rich state, if they can be united in a common purpose.

North Carolina's per capita income for the farm population is $167 a year, as against $262 for the Midwest, and $366 for the East. The non-farm income is $472 as against $854 for the Midwest, and $946 for the East. Assessed property valuations per person in North Carolina are more than 50 per cent below the average for the United States. Average annual wage of industrial worker in North Carolina is $662, as compared with $1,036 for the nation. Average family income in North Carolina is more than 50 per cent smaller than the average the country over. Net income of corporations per capita in the Tar Heel state is over 200 per cent smaller than the national average.

In the South as a whole, cotton acreage has been reduced from 45,000,000 to 25,000,000. In 1928 North Carolina produced 832,000 bales of the staple, which fetched her in $87,000,000. In 1932 she produced only 388,000 bales, got only $26,000,000 for it. Half the people who were formerly engaged in the production of cotton can no longer find employment in that occupation. Yet North Carolina until recently was importing from outside the state:

One out of every four ears of corn.
Two out of every three biscuits.
One out of every four bales of hay.
One out of every three pounds of beef.
Five out of every six pounds of mutton and lamb chops.
Two out of every three quarts of milk.
One out of every two chickens and eggs.

That system, Dr. Poe finds, is beginning to break down a little, but the process still greatly needs speeding up. There is no hope for the North Carolina farmer if he goes on depending on cotton and tobacco alone. North Carolina farmers engaged in producing such crops work only 150 days a year; they need to learn to work more and to use their intelligence in (1) determining what they shall produce, and (2) the development of markets. In the transition from the one-crop system to diversification, they need the aid of government. But too many agencies working at cross purposes may hinder rather than help.

To solve the unemployment problem North Carolina needs factories. In the past, there has been too much concentration on the processing of cotton and tobacco. What we need now, says Dr. Poe, is less concern with building great industrial cities and more with getting small diversified factories for every small town and village. He speaks with approval of Governor White's BAWI (Balance Agriculture With Industry) program in Mississippi, points out that in the first two years of its operation, the annual value of manufactured products in that state rose from $120,000,000 to $190,000,000.

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