Skip to main content

More editorials from the vaults, in which we see my father's views on shock journalism and on government opulence (that seems so very cheap from our viewpoint - but the entire debt was 285 billion at the time...)

February 12, 1959


Perhaps you saw the television coverage of the recent disorder in New York City. A portable TV camera followed rescue workers as they carried in the dead and injured. Then it made its way into the building where relatives waited.

The microphone eased up close to hear the officials tell them that their loved ones were among the missing. Then the camera moved about the room peering avidly over shoulders at tear wet faces, while technicians tuned the microphone delicately to catch the murmurs of disbelief, the uncontrolled sobbing.

Television news reporting is apparently striving for those same high standards of journalism which smear the front pages of many big city dailies with the most intimate details of murder, arson, rape, suicide and embezzlement.

The newsmen claim they are giving the public what it wants. What dreadful disease infects the soul of Man that must be fed daily with doses of the most morbid tragedies and disasters? Are we really so far from the days of the Roman Colosseum? What kind of profession is this whose members act as procurers of human agony, as dealers in gore and filth?

There are newspapers with a more humane and dignified concept of what makes news. They resist this trend; we in our small way shall resist it also.

If there is a murder or a murder trial in our area, do not look for us there. We will be off in the other direction photographing the Cub Scouts or the 4-H, or somebody's town board planning an improvement to their village.

Human injury and human grief are neither news, nor entertainment to wholesome people who have seen them firsthand and know what they mean. As we print our little paper from week to week, we earnestly hope that we may be given the grace to help in publishing the GOOD NEWS, which seems to us to be that men and women are still resisting the evil all about them, that they are doing their work, solving their problems, and seeking the Kingdom of God.

We feel you do not want morbid news and morbid pictures in a family newspaper which comes into your home for your children to read. We shall try to see that you never find them here.

April 16, 1959


In almost any election, local or national, there are candidates who think they have got it made once they sink a taproot into the public treasury. Some of these people get elected. What may follow is the reason that a nation where the citizens are the final authority, requires the publication of financial accounts.

Lin Yutang, the great Chinese writer, claims that because we watch our public officials, nine out of ten of them are honest; whereas in China, it used to be that all officials were expected to be above reproach, and no public accounting was made. As a result, nine out of ten stole the public's money.

Besides the outright thieves, who sit up nights thinking of ways to accept valuable favors through transactions involving their brother-in-laws or their secretaries, there are also the good men who are a little overwhelmed to find everyone suddenly bowing in their direction, and yield to the temptation to cut their slice a little high on the hog. (After all, everybody's doing it!)

Ever since the announcement of Ike's Fairy-Tale “Balanced Budget”, (based on increases in income and decreases in expenditures for the coming year, none of which are in sight) the Republicans have been licking their chops as they waited to see the Democratic Congress try to stay within this impossible budget and at the same time attempt to do something for the country. The word has gone down to all their little “Yes-Men” that “Inflation” is very suddenly the one great danger to the country; and wage increases, full employment plans, and slum clearance are labelled “inflationary.”

Would we be forgiven for inquiring, with Paul Douglas, whether a million here and a million there could not be saved around official Washington?

In the course of his rounds as a watchdog on expenditure of the public's monies, Senator Douglas has uncovered the interesting fact that as of June 30, 1958, the government owned 1,450 passenger automobiles in the Washington area.

Besides these automobiles, most of which the average taxpayer would consider very desirable transportation, there are also ninety-nine Big Shots so important they cannot ride in such automobiles. They can go about Washington only in large black limousines, complete with “stone-faced chauffeurs.”

Does the Big Brass in the Pentagon really need THIRTY-SEVEN limousines? Couldn't some of these boys swap rides once in awhile? And does Mr. Eisenhower need EIGHT full-time limousines on call at the White House? He may take vacations in eight different places? but not simultaneously!

The taxpayer pays the bill for all this opulence, but he doesn't get taken for a ride – OR DOES HE? It is almost embarrassing to note that in addition to the 99 we own, there are 39 more luxury vehicles LEASED to important people in government by General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler at just $500 per year – far below the yearly depreciation on such cars. Need it be added that many of the officials so favored are directly involved in handling contracts between these firms and the government, involving vast sums of money?

Less than a million annually could be saved by a little economy there, but several millions could be picked up by controlling the rather remarkable abuses practiced by the “Sacred Cows” over in the Pentagon. Civilians by the thousands (selected as “Influential Citizens”) are being given free rides in military aircraft – in some cases clear across the country - in order to attend big military demonstrations as guest of the military. In this way, Defense funds are used to propagandize key civilians into supporting larger and larger appropriations for this kind of “military” programs.

These “Pentagon Paranoids” have only to scream that the Russians have a new bomb or a new rocket, and the world is lost unless we increase their appropriation another hundred million dollars; and PRESTO! They have the money. Then they turn around and use a good portion of the money building hysteria and fear in the public mind, so they will be voted yet MORE money. We may be sure that the Big Brass of the Red Army is telling poor Ivan, at the same moment, that his taxes must go up another hundred million rubles in order to arm against the Americans, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

How much could be saved if both sides were to scrap these death-dealing armaments and battle it out instead in the high hurdles and the weight-lifts at the Olympics?

t has become popular to “expose” every Congressman who employs members of his own family in his office. It is worth mentioning that they do not have a limousine apiece at the taxpayer's expense; and they do not use federal funds to conduct propaganda campaigns aimed at increasing the share of the taxpayer's dollar which flows through their hands!

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site