The New York Times reported the Selma affair last Tuesday: The "peaceful confrontation" just outside Selma between the freedom marchers and George Wallace's mad dogs "was worked out in advance," with Lyndon as the mediator.
"Both sides knew that the marchers would turn back after a prayer session and that there would be no use of nightsticks and tear gas... Most of the marchers, however, were unaware of the plans and prepared for the worst." (Emphasis added)
Such is the stuff of which peace prizes and presidents are made in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
* * *
Lyndon assured the black folk of Selma, and their supporters everywhere, that he's going to make Congress pass another piece of paper, which can be put on top of the other pieces of paper Congress has passed.
Those pieces of paper that Lyndon and the Congress are so fond of passing have writing on them and they are called civil rights acts. Ho hum.
* * *
Lyndon has been troubled about the pollution of the rivers in the U.S. He is backing an obscure bill in the Congress that's called the Clear Water Act, or some such.
[Minnis is referring to proposed legislation that later became of the "Water Quality Act of 1965." This should not be confused with the far stronger and more effective "Clean Water Act" that was passed in 1972.]
The bill is just now taking shape and it is hard to say what it will provide for. However, it's pretty sure that it won't provide any way to curb the real polluters of the rivers.
The New York Times ran a story the first of this month which talked about river pollution. Material for the story had been gathered in Georgia, so the culprits in Georgia were the ones mentioned. They have their counterparts in every state in the nation.
The writer of the story mentioned one source of river pollution as being the sewage poured into the rivers by city sewage systems. He seemed to have no qualms about naming the cities involved. But when it came to the other big source of pollution, he was more delicate.
He described two plants at Savannah, Georgia, which are responsible, he said, for as much pollution as would be caused by cities of 810,000 and 130,000, respectively. (The total population of Savannah, at latest count, was about 150,000). The plans dump waste chemicals into the river. The writer described the first plant as a "Paper-bag plant" and the second as a "can" factory. (This omission of the names of the corporate malefactors gives rise to the suspicion that they or their affiliates buy some advertising.)
Union-Bag Camp Co. (225th largest U.S. company) has a large bag plant at Savannah, and Continental Can Co. (36th largest U.S. firm) has a large can factory there. The planets were located there, partially at least, because the Savannah River provides a cheap and easy means of disposing of plant wastes. The wastes can be dumped into the river, and, from there, carried out to the sea. Of course this means that not only is the river polluted with chemicals, but the stuff is carried downstream into the Atlantic, where it pollutes bathing areas, kills fish, etc. But the busy executives of these companies cannot be bothered with such trifles. And they are busy.
The two top officers of the Union-Bag Camp Co. are the Camp brothers, Hugh and James. In addition to their duties at Union-Bag Camp, they are officers of tax-exempt family foundations which are devoted to providing "park, playgrounds, recreation facilities..." (Directory of Foundations)
Obviously it is cheaper to put up a few thousand tax-exempt dollars now and then to buy some swings and slides for playgrounds, thereby keeping bright the imagine of the civic-minded corporate executive, than it is to spend the profits of the company in devising means to dispose of plant wastes without polluting the rivers and beaches.
The president of Union-Bag Camp is Alexander Calder, who is also a director of Citizens and Southern National Bank, the New York-controlled colossus which stands astride banking in Georgia. The top man at C&S is Mils B. Lane, Jr., ardent backer of Governor Sanders and Lyndon. He has not been heard to utter a word condemning Union-Bang Camp for polluting the rivers. Neither, of course, has Sanders or Lyndon.
Continental Can has two directors, Sidney Weinberg the New York investment banker, and Paul C. Cabot, of the Boston Cabots, Harvard, First National of Boston, etc., Who were signers of the pro-Lyndon advertisement which appeared just before last fall's election. Since Lyndon is so close to these two, couldn't he get them to agree to stop polluting the rivers with their can factory in Savannah? And if they wouldn't agree, couldn't Lyndon get laws passed that would tax these companies for whatever it costs to clean up the mess they make of the rivers? Theoretically he could do either. But we know that's not the way things work. We know the Cabots and the Camps and the Lanes and the Weinbergs don't get presidents elected and then permit them to pass such laws.
We know what Lyndon will do. He'll get Congress to pass a "Clear Water Act" which either will use our tax money to find a way to dispose of plant wastes for these and similar industries, or which will use our tax money to clean up the mess these industries are making. There is, of course, a third possibility. Lyndon may just make the Clear Water Act a pure pork barrel deal, which does nothing about the plant wastes, or cleaning them up, but merely puts some more of his chums on the public pay roll. Under Lyndon's type of government these appear to be the only alternatives. Take your choice.
* * *
Lyndon's Public Housing Authority announced on February 24 that it has given the City of Montgomery, Alabama, $40,000 [equal to $292,000 in 2012] to begin planning a program for 500 new low-rent homes in Montgomery. Lyndon, are you sure there won't be any racial discrimination in this housing program? Did governor Wallace promise, Lyndon?
* * *
Still another corporate beneficiary has shown up for Lyndon's tax ruling making monopoly triple damages deductible from taxable income. United Fruit Company has been sued by O. Roy Chalk's (he also runs the Washington, DC transit company) International Railways of Central America. Chalk charges that when United Fruit owned International (prior to 1962) it refused to permit other companies to ship products over the 795 miles of track International owns in Guatemala and El Salvador, and that United Fruit thereby deprived International of $75 million in freight tariffs. The reason United Fruit didn't want other companies to ship on International was that United Fruit wanted to monopolize banana production in Central America. It couldn't always keep others from growing bananas (despite the fact that it owned, and largely still owns, the Guatemalan government), but it could keep others from getting their production to market if it owned the only railway.
Chalk is suing United fruit for $75 million. If he is awarded triple damages, he'll get $225 million from United Fruit. The company will have to pay one-half of that from its treasury and the other half, $112 million, will come out of U.S. tax funds.
* * *
Two U.S. oil companies and one that is foreign owned have been awarded a three-year contract to supply fuel for South African Airways. The contract involves $21 million. The U.S. Companies are stand of New Jersey (in which the 7 Rockerfeller Foundations own nearly 8 million shares valued at around $325 million) and Socony Mobil Oil Co. (in which the same 7 Rockefeller Foundations own 602,000 shares valued at around $25 million). The foreign company is Shell Oil, which is partially owned in Great Britain and partially owned in Holland with the Royal Family of Holland owning a heavy share. (When a Holland princess recently married one of the wedding gifts from the family was a hefty block of Shell stock).
This kind of lucrative trade between U.S. corporations and the racist government of South Africa is what makes the American idealists who call for an economic boycott of South Africa appear just a bit ridiculous to Lyndon and his big business friends. There's been talk, as we mentioned earlier, that Lyndon might appoint David Rockefeller to Treasury.
Incidentally, Monroe J. Rathbone, recently retired Chairman of Jersey Standard, not long ago received the "Man in Management" award of Pace College. In his acceptance speech at the Waldorf- Astoria in New York, Monroe listed the quails he said he believed essential for business managers. Heading the list was what he called "ethical standards" or "to use an old fashioned term, honor."
Yes, Monroe, there is a Santa Claus, and an Easter Bunny, too.
* * *
Lyndon's war on poverty rolls on, though the warriors seem to be making more war on one another than they are on poverty.
The mayor of Paterson, New Jersey is disturbed because the poverty general in that city is scheduled to receive $1,000 per year more than the mayor's salary. Says the mayor; "I can't accept the idea that a man selected to head an operation within a city should get a larger salary than the mayor of that city." The mayor, at last word, was still pouting and trying to eke out an existence on his $17,000 a year [equal to $124,000 in 2012]. We understand there was not one dry eye in the ghetto when word of the mayor's plight got around.
The poverty loot for Louisiana has had to be suspended because Lyndon has "discovered" that Shelby Jackson, who was to have been one of the top poverty executives in that state, has a segregationist background. If Lyndon had any kind of contact at all with the people, he could have found that out in front. He could have asked any Negro in the state. Shelby has been spouting his race hate in public at every opportunity since he was first elected State Superintendent of Education many years ago.
Trouble in Alabama poverty too. The state poverty general, Claude Kirk, appointed by the honorable Wallace, refused to attend a series of poverty workshops in Birmingham. Jack Conway, former head of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department, was to be a main speaker and Kirk said that represented a "left-wing" takeover of Alabama poverty. Kirk, apparently, has not heard that the whole AFL-CIO long ago earned their championship spurs in the game of redbaiting.
Alabama has been granted $134,000 for "technical assistance" in "planning" the war, and $570,401 for "adult education." We suppose Lyndon extracted a solemn promise from Governor George that none of the poverty money would be used to buy clubs and whips and tear gas to use against Negroes. And if there is anyone in the country who can promise more solemnly than Lyndon, it's George. Of course, Lyndon has a remarkable ability not to discover that such promises are not being kept.
Well, he's busy, Lyndon is. Busy building the Great Society.
March 10, 1965
Copyright © Jack Minnis, 1965