The Contributors' Column
IN these days when so much is out of joint, there are inevitably many prophets to give us word pictures of the Promised Land, and many leaders to show us the way if only we will follow their footsteps. But before we go, says Albert Jay Nock (p. 641), let’s look into this business of prophecy: let’s classify these prophets and decide for ourselves which ones are attending to the Masses and which are appreciated by the Remnant. Listen to this voice crying in the Wilderness.
’It might interest you to know,’ writes Clifford Dowdey (p. 650), ‘that the “wagoners’ battle" at Williamsport, which I described in “Bugles Blow Retreat,”was a tale on which I grew up. My great-uncle, Ira Blunt, was a member of Richmond’s Company F, which was one of the two companies of infantry in the battle. He bad been detached for hospital duty, and he used to relate the gory details of field operations on the wounded. Hergesheimer, in his chapter on the Foot Soldier in Swords and Roses, mentioned Ira Blunt’s activities, so 1 imagine fiis reminiscences were not too highly colored. The main source of material for the details of the battle were supplied by One of Jackson’s Fool Cavalry, by John Worsham, an old member of Company F, and General Imboden’s report in Battles and Leaders, which also served as the main source for the details of the wagon-train retreat. Another greatuncle of mine was a quartermaster with the trains, hut I have discovered that his memoirs must be taken with a good deal of salt, as he was iiot only a prodigious liar hut a most immoderate drinker.’
John W. Owens (p. 664) is editor of the Baltimore Sun, but when he appears in our front row be does so as a private citizen, not as a spokesman of a paper or party. We encouraged him to sit down and write what he thought about the essentials of the campaign before the issues were drowned in a sea of oratory.
In an election year why not hear from the poets, too, especially one as wise, as sympathetic, and as pithy as Robert Frost (p. 669)?
Down the corridor of the years looks Alfred North Whitehead (p. 672), to note in his philosophic memoirs those shifts in emphasis and behavior which make the difference between past and present.
Learning, writes F. Emersion Andrews (p. 680), is like water. Does it flow freely in our colleges to-day, or does it back up to form a stagnant swamp? Here’s a subject for the dissertation of Ph. D.’s.
From Ipswich, Massachusetts, Isadore Luce Smith (p. 688) sends us an essay which we are delighted to present to all June brides.
George E. Sokolsky (p. 691) sees approximately 40,000 miles of America each year. In the course of his recent travels he has had opportunity to feel the effects of the extraordinary leadership on our continent.
Born in Finland in the days of the Tsar, Otto G. Lindberg (p. 701) came to the land of liberty, where he made a place for himself and became an American by adoption. The threatened invasion of the new tax laws makes him wonder if it’s time to quit.
Richard Dana Skinner (p. 704) leads a double life. At times he is an investment counselor for various savings banks; at times he is an associate editor of the North American Review.
From the Hindman Settlement in Kentucky James Still (p. 708) sends us his vivid sketch of mountain tenements.
Although written in Czech, Karel Čapek’s essays (p. 711) have the charm, terseness, and wisdom that would make them relished in any tongue.
A station clerk in 1899, track apprentice in 1901, general foreman in 1903, John J. Pelley (p. 713) rose to be president of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. He is to-day president of the Association of American Railroads,
A student at Northwestern University, Lionel Wiggam (p. 720) celebrates his majority by publishing this month his first volume of poems. Possessors is the title; we wish it success.
Henry Williamson (p. 721), the most sensitive nature writer in England, tells how it feels to see the spring alter the long incubation of winter. Mr. Williamson has spent over five thousand hours, during the past few years, observing salmon from bridges, branches of trees, river banks: watching them leap, dig the gravel with sinuating movements for the spawning redds; noticing the ways of currents, eddies, and their effects on the gravel and sand of the river’s bed. This lore has been vividly set forth in his new narrative, Salar the Salmon, which appears in book form the second week in June.
As his name implies, Jo Pagano (p. 725) is an Italian-American — one of the first to write of the gusto, appetite, and humor that the Italians have brought with them to the American scene.
From Turramurra, Australia, Mrs. Ethel Anderson (p. 734) has sent us three manuscripts, each one devoted to a Timeless Garden.
A physicist now established at the California Institute of Technology, Robert A. Millikan (p. 737) has received almost every honor that science can bestow, including the Nobel prize. His paper illuminates the three major achievements in physics during the past year.
A New Yorker born and bred. Mary Doyle (p. 742), as the ‘girl behind the counter,’has watched the life inside the greatest hotels in Manhattan.
Professor Harwood L. Childs is a member of the Department of Politics at Princeton University.
The Atlantic has received correspondence challenging the thesis of George E. Sokolsky in his article in the issue of May 1935 on the ‘Irresponsibility of Labor.’ Mr. Sokolsky made the point that unless labor unions are organized and chartered it becomes practically impossible to hold them to account for their conduct.
These criticisms were referred to Mr. Sokolsky for reply. He sent the article and various criticisms to Kenneth L. Houck, a lawyer engaged in legal research at Columbia University, and asked for an opinion. He has now received from Mr. Houck a learned statement, unfortunately too long to print in full, in which the entire field is surveyed and which completely upholds Mr. Sokolsky’s point of view. Summarizing his position, Mr. Houck says: —
At the common law and in all but a very few states to-day, a labor union cannot be sued as an entity. To pursue actions against all the members is a physical impossibility, and this procedure — as well as representative actions against all the members in the rare case where the members as such are at faultis made worthless by the general financial irresponsibility of the individual members. In the federal courts the situation is no better, for, in a case where it would be possible actually to get jurisdiction in an action against a union, the Norris-La Guardia Act steps in to say not only that ‘injunctions shall not issue,’but also that ‘no officer or member of any association or organization, and no association or organization participating or interested in a labor dispute, shall be held responsible or liable in any court of the United States for the unlawful acts of individual officers, members, or agents except upon clear proof of actual participation in, or actual authorization of, such acts, or of ratification of such acts after actual knowledge thereof.’ Imagine the difficulties involved in furnishing such proof! Such impossibility of proof in cases seeking to hold labor unions, or persons actually responsible for illegal acts, legally responsible has been amply demonstrated. There would be infinitely more similar demonstrations in the books if it were not for the futility of bringing such actions.
IN response to George W. Alger’s article in the March issue, ’What’s the Matter with Parole?’ theAtlanticreceived this interesting statement of the Four Fallacies about Crime.
Almost every American accepts blindly four major fallacies regarding crime. Why not? Every newspaper says they are true. Yet each one is wrong.
Fallacy No. 1: That crime is committed by individuals of low intellectual level — morons, if you please.
I am in charge of District 6, Pennsylvania Department of Justice, Board of Pardons and Parole. It covers seven thousand square miles. The men who are under my supervision — and they are many— have a mental age of between 13½ and 14 years. This is taken from psychological tests. Of 6000 men on parole in my state, thee mental age is between 13 and 14. New York reports about the same. It was Warden Lawes who remarked that men in Sing Sing had slightly higher intelligence ratings than men outside the walls. Army tests showed that 71 per cent of all Americans have a mental age of 13 years. Movies are made for 12-year-old minds. The intelligence of the criminal is as high as that of the average man in private life. His trouble comes from something else: he lacks emotional stability.
Fallacy No. 2: That most paroled prisoners commit new crimes.
Well, they do not. Here are the figures. In my own state, just about 4 per cent of all men turned out on parole commit new crimes. New York’s figures are slightly below ours. It is true that about 14 per cent go back sooner or later. But only 4 per cent go for new crimes. The other 10 go back for some infraction of the parole rules, not crimes. That leaves 86 per cent who go straight.
Fallacy No. 3: That the parole system is sentimental, pampers criminals, and costs society much money.
All untrue. In my state it costs a little over $600 a year to keep a man in prison. We care for men on parole for around $39 a man. That includes all salaries, office expense, and everything. Sentiment does not enter in at all. Before a man comes out on parole there are many investigations — psychological, economic, scientific. He must have a good chance of going straight Before he is allowed to be on parole. The parole supervision never pampers the man. In fact, it is very strict.
Fallacy No. 4: That most of our crime is now committed by children.
The word ’children’ is taken from a widely quoted magazine article. It said that 600 murders last year were the work of youths under 21. But there were over 13,000 murders in America last year. The 600 does not make a very high percentage, A check of our state institutions will show that the average age of all men in the prisons is Between 23 and 24. Those on parole in my district, and those who keep coming in, average about 24. Yet I also have a large group whose ages are between 40 and 50. True, the age of the criminal is coming down. Most thefts ol automobiles are the work of youths under 21. But as yet the bulk of our crime is not the work of ’children.’
We who deal with crime know that it cannot be put down by getting emotional, sentimental, or religious over it. The psychologist, the trained crime expert, the doctor, all working together can do wonders. When society will ask one question, and one alone, about every crime, and then try to answer it scientifically, we can begin to get somewhere. And the question to be asked is a simple one: Why was the crime committed? Why?
CHARLES J. DUTTON
To be or not to Be—in New York City ! That is the question with which Mr. Penny feather opened our April issue.
Dear Mr. Pennyfeather:—
After reading your article I was reminded of this poem on New York:—
Overdressed and underbred,
Heartless, Godless, hell’s delight,
Rude by day and lewd by night,
Bedwarfed the man, o’crgrown the brute,
Ruled by Boss intent on loot;
Purple-robed and pauper-clad,
Raving, rotting, money-mad;
A squirming herd in Mammon’s mesh,
A wilderness of human flesh;
Crazed with avarice, lust and rum,
New York, thy name’s delirium.
J. R. DYKES, M.D.
A letter from Unorganized Labor.
It is my belief that the Atlanlic has always maintained a more than average attitude of fairness towards all questions of general public interest to the masses, and by this I mean employees who don’t get living wages or decent treatment from employers who think and act only in terms of profit for themselves and dividends for their stockholders, especially where the employers themselves have large holdings.
This protest certainly does not come from a man who sees only the side of the workers, nor from one who believes owners of industry are not entitled to a reasonable profit on their investment. I well remember how workers took advantage of employers during the World War. I have also been an observer during the past five years of depression, about one third of which time was spent looking for work — any kind of honorable work. Although I am considered an expert in my line, every avenue was closed except selling on commission.
The one big point I am trying to make is this: the President, Congress, brain-trusters, and professional politicians have to take all the blame for the depression, whereas it should be placed where it rightfully belongs, on the doorstep of capital and industry. Their boast when labor was ‘sleeping on the job’ during the war, and in the boom after the war, that their day would come, was certainly prophetic, and they have retaliated by squeezing out every possible worker, or reducing his wages or working time until he was forced on relief.
This writer never slept on the job during or after the war, never received ’wartime wages,’but was laid off in 1932 after working for a large industrial concern for ten years, seven days a week, and not even told why. This same corporation to-day is turning out more product with not more than half the men it used five years ago, and at no time during the depression has it put forth the least effort to put more men to work, except where it could actually profit by so doing. It coöperated enthusiastically with the NRA, but only because it could do so with profit to itself.
While labor-saving machinery is responsible for idleness of hundreds of thousands of men, it is not wholly to blame for the present situation. There’s a scheme far more damaging and sinister than the labor-saving machine, which was initiated by one of the larger steel companies and has spread like an epidemic, not only to that, but to all other big industry. It is known as the man-hour system, and here’s how it works: A force of efficiency men were given the task of stalking every foreman to show him how he could do the same amount of work with half as many men. Other ’spotters’ were sent out among the men, and wherever they found a man who was not furiously busy every minute he was handed a pink slip. In the large plant that initiated this ‘system’ the Assistant General Manager was frequently seen in the plant at three o’clock in the morning, not actually passing out ‘pink slips,’but watching the men whose duty it was to pass out as many as possible. In other words, it was a spy system such as any country at war might have.
Over a period of five years this particular company was able to dispense with something like half the number of employees it had formerly used, and, by thus cutting down its payroll proportionately, it was able to show enormous profits. Many of the men laid off were absorbed by other steel plants that had not heard of the man-hour system. The secret was soon divulged, however, and soon the entire industry saw a great light which showed the way to reduced payrolls, which meant greatly increased profits. It entirely overlooked the fact that the men it was laying off constituted a huge market for automobiles and many other commodities made of steel products. This was really the beginning of the depression, and it began at least two years before the stock-market crash in 1929.
It was a harvest for the steel companies until it was reflected in the form of reduced orders going into Detroit and other automobile manufacturing centres, and by the same token orders from the automobile manufacturers stopped going to the steel mills for raw material. Here was the joker the steel magnate had overlooked.
Well, what is going to be done about it? Must labor-saving machinery be scrapped in order to put men back to work? Well, that depends upon whether it is more important for a comparatively few patent holders to receive large royalties than it is for the masses lo have employment and be self-sustaining. It might be better to take a step back by doing away with machines that do the work of a hundred men than to have the national debt increase by leaps and bounds, owing mostly to relief, and then put the blame on the President. It would be infinitely better to say to industry: ’You cannot continue your manhour system,’ than to have ten or twelve million unemployed men and women because of it.
Now, Mr. Editor, I ask you: Is it so strange that the workers of America want to be organized for protection against unemployment and hunger? If effective unionism is so horrible lo contemplate, why does England have it? I am not a member of any union. I don’t suppose that I am eligible. I don’t even have any relatives who are union people. But I know justice arid injustice when I see them. I also can recognize hungry and emaciated children when I see them, and one does n’t need to walk more than a block in any town or city to see plenty of them, either. I also know what it is to be hungry and penniless, without an opportunity to earn a dime for nearly two years, and God knows I was trying every minute to find a job. And there were several millions in this white-collar class. Add to these the millions of laboring people who are unemployed, and how many of us do you suppose will vote against Mr. Roosevelt in next November’s election? only a mad dog bites the hand that feeds him. Al Smith hit the spot when he said nobody’s going to shoot Santa Claus. I need not tell you that such corporations as Procter & Gamble, Nunn-Bush Shoe Company, and some others, find it possible and profitable to pay their employees fifty weeks every year whether they operate or not. Can you imagine a steel company doing that? Or a newspaper?
If the steel industry had put forth half the effort that the automobile industry has, we’d have been out of the depression long ago. Again I say that the President of the United States is being blamed for something that industry itself is responsible for, and if the little group of men who started the man-hour system were put in jail, where all criminals belong, there’d be a different story to tell to-day.
If you can see your way clear to publish this, either as a letter or as an article, you are at liberty to use it, and it will at least give the readers of the Atlantic some facts that no other newspaper or magazine has had the moral courage to publish.
FLOYD W. GRADY
The Younger Generation (from Gates Mills, Ohio) pays tribute to Patience.
I am reading your story about I Patience, and her to brothers, Johnny and Richard.
I like the story very mucy.
I have pigtails like Patience.
But I am only 7 years old now, Patience is 12 years old.
And I have blond hair like Patience has.
And I have blue eyes.
And I found the places where t he children went. I found those places on the map.
May I tell you how very much my eleven-year-old daughter (and myself) have enjoyed the story articles of Patience, Richard, and Johnny, children of James Abbe. The style of these children is so similar to the style of Christopher Morley in his book I Know A Secret, of which we are so fond. Wo should like to thank you and the young authors for these very interesting and individual contributions.
MRS. ED C. HAMILTON
And here is an essay on public speaking written by an eleven-year-old (from Englewood, New Jersey) to show Patience bow it can be done.
BY PAGE BRIDGMAN
You can’t just go to a meeting place, say a few words and call it a speech. You have to sit down and think. By thinking, I mean you have to have a plan, something like the plan of a story.
For example: A man was appointed to make a short speech introducing a famous football hero.
This was his plot. He was to introduce Lou Little, a famous coach. He learned a bit of Mr. Little’s history, put that into several sentences and a few details, not very many, about three or four. Like telling the dates and scores of the games. Not too many but enough to explain the person’s success.
In forming your speech, learn what you are supposed to say. Just keep it in mind that you know all about this person. By this I don’t mean to memorise it, if you do you forget half of it and start with ‘um’ ‘well’ etc. All these expressions illustrate that you do not know your speech.
If you are not sure of what you should say, don’t, say ’um’ and so forth, it makes your audience uneasy. Complete silence or a short pause is satisfactory.