The Charlotte News

Sunday, March 24, 1940


Site Ed. Note: We are going to skip ahead one day to coincide with this Easter of 2008, again, the earliest one since 1940, ours being here on March 23. We will return to Saturday tomorrow.

If any there be who should lay eyes on this print 68 years hence, we say hello to you and hope all has gone reasonably well in the interim and that you are not reading it from a submarine in Iowa.

If things have not gone so well in the meantime and you are reading it from an igloo in Los Angeles, well, or a subtropical beach in Norway, don't blame us. We warned you. Where is your gas-guzzler now but frozen in the tundra in that which used to be known as Pacific Palisades, renamed Pack Icecapades?

Last night we happened to hear a familiar voice from the not-too-distant past speaking of policies for the future, policies among other things to put in place restrictions that would mandate a 100 mpg automobile. The voice was refreshing and we realized again why he governed so effectively when so many of his peerage have dismally failed or opted out of the process of governing altogether: that is because he can give a speech and make you believe its content and hopes. And making the public believe it, as long as it is the truth, more or less, as much as any of us may understand it, is three-fourths of the way to change and betterment of our society, after all.

We can sit and do nothing and call it all a hoax and then, when the paddling starts, as it already has, we can sit and carp and shout and say why didn't they listen, while those who didn't listen will complain of why didn't they tell them the truth before it was too late? But the truth is that that the truth is within each of us to witness and see every day, all around us. The evidence is stark and plain and increasingly long-term, not just in the last few years, but for decades, even if more striking in the last few years. All one really has to do is open one's eyes and realize that the only hoax with which we live daily is that advertisement for corporate profiteering, trying to sell you more gas-guzzlers by way of insisting that you cannot possibly survive without a mountain-climbing 4x4 or at least a truck which will pull a house behind it--so that you may drive the kids to school and to and fro the market in one big, tough vehicle.

Newsflash: they are all just a bucket of bolts and tin, plastic and rubber. The tin they put on trucks is the same tin they put on passenger cars. One is no more impervious to bending than the other. A small car is just as tough as a truck in an accident and substantially more maneuverable to avoid the accident in the first instance. One need not do an engineering study. Anyone who has ever driven both types of vehicles may attest to the fact. Those who buy trucks because they believe they are safer are kidding themselves.

Oh, but you say, since that bad hurricane season of 2005, there's been no repeat performance to that extent. Never mind the droughts in places not usual, the increase in twisters, tornadoes and torrential rains in the midwest and Texas. Never mind that. While it is a fact that we have not had another series of category 3-4 hurricanes since 2005, the record breaker, that is not the point. The changes in weather patterns are occurring incrementally over time. The long range trends over decades are the telling points, not necessarily one or two anomalies. But it is this pattern which demonstrates the change. These changes, as evidenced by the melting icepack at the poles, would occur normally over several thousands of years. We have merely arithmetically accelerated the pace and compressed this vast change into 150 years of time. The natural environment including man's historic nomadic patterns, normally would adjust over these long periods. It cannot in a matter of decades, creating the potential for the cataclysmic conditions which will occur inevitably as the melting polar caps raise sea levels, changing atmospheric evaporative rates, changing ocean temperature, consequently changing cyclical ocean currents and thus exacerbating the existing greenhouse impact on temperature created directly by the unnatural abundance of CO2 emissions.

Those who suggest that, well, we breathe out carbon dioxide with every breath we take, the plants inhale it, transact photosynthesis, and the planet goes along in ordinary cycle, that all we are really doing is supplying an artificial boost to nature's ordinary pattern in supplying the planet with all the extra carbon, indeed contributing to the greenery, are of course not dealing with the facts: that the natural balance, absent man's mechanized contribution to it, established by nature over the course of billions of years has been upset by our unnatural substantial additional contribution over the course of the last 150 years. On average, each person contributes several tons of carbon annually from the use of motor vehicles, electricity, as well as consumption of products built in factories producing carbon by the several tons everyday. An average automobile weighing about a ton and getting 20 mpg, over the course of 12,000 miles in a year, will put a ton of carbon into the atmosphere. Worldwide, cars alone produce about 3.3 times the carbon which humans naturally exhale.

In any event, change will come, the painful way, or the easy way. We are still trying to live a latter nineteenth century dream on a twentieth century adman's pitch in a twenty-first century in which, at every turn of the season, the wind, the rain, the extra heat and drought, are telling us that the earth will no longer sustain this way of life for long. Nature is growing impatient with our collective profligacy. It is not them or aliens, either foreign or from outer space, or cock-robin. It is us, all of us. And we either sink or swim together. The boat is listing and laboring by the bow. When next you hear someone say: get a life, suggest to them that maybe we all should, or prepare to have one determined and selected for us by forces which no army on earth may combat, and of a type for which none of us are prepared.

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Iron Robin

It Knows That Spring Is Coming, And So Do We

One time a year, about half past March or a quarter to April we look out the window to observe the crazy gyrations of a sheet iron smoke stack cap. It is there, year after year, and performs its duties unobtrusively. But when the March winds blow it loses its smug and smoked pretensions to hard-working respectability, and begins to pitch and whirl and cut capers all out of tune to its basic purposes. Upon which, having looked and seen and given thought, we know that Spring once more is just around the corner.

Let others pitch their vernal lays to the key of awakening crocuses. Let them sing of pale green grasses peeking timorously from beneath the brown leaves of yesteryear. Let them carol of the ardent-throated robin whistling for the balmy breezes of Springtime, and dust off the guffaws of time gone on the subject of Spring fever and school days and of the ol' swimmin' hole.

But for our own deep-lunged sighs of contentment, for that feeling of it-won't-be-long-now, for that most excellent consciousness that the coal man can just keep his ding-blasted black diamonds, then give us those once-a-year squeaking and squanking gyrations of the smoky old smoke stack cap which goes crazy in March.

Story Stuff

The Kingfish's Name Is Bolted Down To Granite

The overthrown Long regime in Louisiana is taking no chances with the immortality of its patron, Saint Huey. Despite the knowledge that Huey was a rascal, a crook and a charlatan, the common people of Louisiana hold him in kind memory. They will tell you that he had his faults but that he put the state on the map and ran it for the benefit of its citizens.

When Earle Long was running for governor, he tried to trade on this devotion by charging the opposition with the dark plot to remove Huey's grave from the capitol grounds at Baton Rouge, where it is a sort of shrine with spotlights playing over it at night and flowers waving in the daytime breezes. The charge was denied or ignored, but Earle, defeated, is taking no chances.

Last week the peace of the capitol grounds was shattered by a puffing steam hoist and rat-tatting power drills. Before Earle vacated he was making sure that Brother Huey held the fort, or at least if they moved his remains, they would have a man-sized job on their hands.

And so over this plot that contains the dust of the Kingfish, a mortal man if ever there was one, has risen atop a 21-foot granite base a 14-foot statue of Huey Pierce Long. Showy, they say it is: but Huey wouldn't have minded that. Thirty-five feet of monument on State grounds is something for Huey to be bragging about to his fellow shades, wherever he is and whoever they are.

Country Wins

Farm Chores Fine For Sons Of People Who Press Buttons

Letters to the editor this week, on comparative benefits of country or city raising for a boy, have agreed almost unanimously that the country is better. Far better. The fresh air, the farm chores and tasks, the development of resourcefulness in the lad, the freedom from city temptations, the old fishing hole, self-reliability and the feeling for Nature and the soil and the dignity of work and the thrill of making things grow--those are some of the reasons that the country was selected as the environment of this abstract youth in nine letters out of ten.

It is an appealing picture that the letters have painted, too, limning the happiness and the industry and the trustworthiness of the earnest little country boy.

A funny thing about it, though, is that while our correspondents have agreed almost with one voice that the country is the place to raise a boy, most of them either live in the city or strongly hanker to. Perhaps it is a case of appreciating the advantages of the country--for somebody else.

Another funny thing about our little contest was the phrasing of the question. There is no such word as raised: no such proper word, at any rate. It's an outright colloquialism, a perverted form of reared.

And that's all right. Indeed, it's all to the mustard. A few tried and true colloquialisms are good for any language to keep it from becoming colorless and too standardized. In fact, if the editors of The News ever go to speaking of rearing children, they will have got too fancy for their own raising.

Easter Story

A Message That Has Comfort For Our Times

The story of the resurrection which we celebrate this Easter morning nineteen centuries later, is so gripping a story, told so simply yet with such compassion for the man in the sepulchre and such great joy at his release, that we are likely to miss the parable of it.

For unto Pilate, governor of the land, came the Pharisees, all apprehensively. Sir, they said, this man who called himself the Son of God and whom we crucified and who now lies in a tomb, we remember while he was yet alive that he boasted that on the third day he would rise again.

Command, Excellency, if it please you, that his tomb be made secure. For if his disciples come by night and take his body away, they will proclaim unto the people that he has risen: and the last error shall be worse than the first.

Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch.

It did them no good. While the guards watched, an angel descended into that grotto, striking terror into the hearts of all who beheld him, and rolling back the stone from the door. And to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, come mourning to the sepulchre, he said,

Fear not ye: For I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.

Now, a saying common among the disbelievers in the religion of Jesus Christ is that his disciples did steal his body away, a version to which the guards of the tomb were bribed to testify. And to whatever comfort there may be in such disbelief, let them be welcome.

For the manner of Christ's resurrection is of no transcendent consequence now to the known resurrection and preservation of his sweet spirit all these years. And the stone that was sealed and the guard that was set around his tomb, these are methods that men use still today to stifle by force and law the expression of that which they dread because they half believe in it themselves, else cannot be certain of its utter falsity.

Truth, we know, may be crushed to earth, but will rise again. And mercy and love and compassion may be banished from the hearts of men, but they will return. And this is the parable to be drawn from the events of those tragic, joyful three days back there in the half-way of our known time, a solace for our uncertainty.


South Carolina Invites Rich Yankees To Settle

The State of South Carolina, like its twin sister, has appropriated, so to speak, a sum of money to make the place more of an attraction for outsiders. That is, the Senate has passed Senator Means' bill to repeal the intangibles tax, and if the House follows suit the result will be a cordial invitation to rich Yankees to come in and settle down.

To come in at the expense of the State's treasury, some people will say. And, yet, that's not quite true. The intangibles tax is a sockdolager, imposing 3-5% taxes on top of straight income taxes on all dividends and interest received in excess of $500. It is a tax, primarily, on investments, hence a special tax on the very kind of residents and property-owners South Carolina would like to acquire.

There is no virtue inherent in taxes. Wealth, to be sure, should pay its fair share, but there is not a great deal of wealth in South Carolina, and the effect of this tax was to discourage wealth from emigrating to the land of the palmetto, the quail, and the abandoned rice fields.

It is, as we make it out, a strictly business proposition. The State stands to gain more, in the long run, from the rich Yankees than its treasury stands to lose by foregoing the special tax, with nobody the loser.

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