|Wall Street spends a lot of time on its mustache. A lot of time.|
Wing Commander R_. C__, RCAFVR, D.F.C. (Bar)
Isle of Axholme,
I hope this letter finds you well, at the threshold of the Christmas season. I hope our little package has found its way to you. It's been over a month in the mails, so please do let us know when you've received it. Business news and family secrets can take a back seat for a moment in our correspondence.
On family matters, you find us well. Your youngest son will have communicated privately that he has passed through his basic flying training close to the head of his class. His path to instrument flying training is clear, and the programme at Berkeley allows him to "dip into" navigational and flight engineering. He has expressed some impatience to me, as, of course, he wants to be a fighter pilot, and suspects me of wanting him to move on to the big patrol planes. (As, of course, I do. But I think I understand young men well enough not to force him onto that path, but rather to bend his course towards the night fighters, as I have intimated before.)
James has received an intimation that he will be permitted to hoist his flag as a Rear Admiral (E) upon retirement beginning in January of 1947. Since he is due for half-pay leave tht he cannot take until Japan is sorted out, hs effective separation from the warm bosom of the Admiralty is not much farther off than the end of this beastly war! The pension notwithstanding, it's something of an empty honour, but an honour nonetheless, and one that,as you know, he has been waiting for. To be fair, he would have to wait until 1950, at least, to receive the promotion in due form! We've not sorted out the niceties of his board memberships and such as yet, but I imagine he will simply set up a consulting practice in the Bay Area and wait for formal incorporation of the shops around the Bay. Bill and David are talking about waiting another decade, making the Admiralty look positively speedy by comparison.
Vancouver is, unfortunately, quite out of the question, but at least you will be on the same continent at last, providing that the RCAF does not suddenly decide that it needs you to keep spying on Germany after the peace, as see below. Your two(?) grandchildren will be close, if not quite on your doorstep --unless you retire to take your ease on the old family homestead, she subtly hinted.
Miss "V.C." has done quite well in her Christmas exams. She will be spending two weeks with her parents in Chicago over the Break, but is eager to return and resume language lessons with Suzie, who will be attending Santa Clara this fall. She is also looking for instruction in Kwakiutl, perhaps via the agency of our new friend, the --landlord, we'll call him? I think we will avoid naming him in the characters, as matters of language are coming ever more clearly into focus. Tommy Wong messages me with more hints of his new assignment in Alaska, such as he grasps of it, with the suggestion that a mastery of Asiatic languages is to be paired with a feel for electronics in a way that reminds one that it is impossible to read other people's mail unless you can get at it, and you can read the language. Though as dramatic as the spying stuff is, much more of his swotting is supposed to be devoted to meteorology. (You can imagine me pouting, now.)
Well, that is the home front for you. Now I need to turn to the Earl's letter. First, I cannot say how pleased I am that you have finally won the Earl over to the case that Cousin Henry really does not know what he is doing in Fontana. I cannot say, however, reading between the lines, that I am likely to be more comfortable with his new investment preferences. I understand that, having turned him away from what must seem, from a certain perspective, a gilt-edged growth equity, that we are turning sour on stocks entirely. That is not the case! Uncle George's preference for equities over Treasuries is not just framed around a few pet businesses and that thrill of being near celebrity that comes of having our friend's confidence. Uncle George believes that we can make more money in equities. Surely that is important, too?
I suppose the controversy here is over the vexed question of whether anything will be made and sold after the war? The vote of Santa Clara is for "yes." I shall have more to say about this below, as our friend, The Economist's "New York Correspondent," reappears to argue the Earl's position that we stand at the precipice of a new era of "secular stagnation." Apparently, wages are far higher in America than productivity gains will permit, and thus there will be a Depression-scale downward ratcheting of wages and prices (somehow?), followed by stagnation ever after as no-one ever invests in anything but Treasury Bonds again.
I guess that I have telegraphed the conclusion ahead of the argument here, but the tradition of these letters is to take a moment to justify the abuses to which we've put the Earl's money ahead of our reading of the press to justify our actions. I can understand his dyspepsia, but I think we've earned some confidence! There will be money spent after the war. I'm certain of it.
The Economist, 2 December 1944
“Five-Year Record” The paper notices that the statistical blackout is over, and that the last five years of official statistics have been released, with the White Paper on “Statistics Relating to the War Effort of the United Kingdom” leading the way. The paper lays on with self-congratulation about ships flown and planes launched at great length. Probably no-one will be more pleased than the paper that each year, the Government has borrowed a smaller proportion of a growing expenditure. Taxes, which before the war took 22 ½ % of national expenditure, have risen to 36%. £1000 million of overseas assets have been liquidated, and £2300 million of overseas liabilities assumed. The paper continues to speak of “Mutual Aid,” instead of “Lend-Lease,” as though it has the slightest hope of making that stick, even in Britain, never mind America. It's all a little schizophrenic, but, perhaps because money is involved, the paper forgets all about achieving full technical efficiency for a moment.
|Needs moar cottage!|
“Liberation Pains” The paper is –distressed, yes, that is the right word, distressed—with the continuing political crisis in the liberated countries. Only the most irresponsible person would take any pleasure in the excitements of strikes, demonstrations and shootings. Leftists are making trouble, as they are wont to do. Demogogues and anarchists, the lot of them! Except the Communists. Eisenhower, the paper reminds him, is responsible for maintaining law and order in the interests of the war effort. I suppose this is the point where, if the paper were as conservative as its money directs it to be, it would call for the troublemakers to be shot. Since it is not, it can just ever-so-gently-let-the-suggestion-hang.
“International Cartels” Americans hate them. But are they really cartels? The answer, of course, is more nuanced. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they are not. One must be perspicacious and discriminatory. Unless it is a domestic restraint on trade. Those are terrible.
Also, something about cricket.
Notes of the Week
“Last Lap” Either the war, the present government, or both. Before the election, the Government should take all the prompt and vigorous action the paper has advocated. Also, Poles are excitable (x 2), as are Canadians, Persians and Jugoslavs. And the month saw talking about taking about civil aviation. (also x 2.) Sir William Beveridge is on a national speaking tour
The Select Committee on National Expenditure should be made permanent, The Trade Union International will have a world meeting in February, where Sidney Hillman will propose a World Political Action Committee. The Dutch Government in Exile has visited the unexiled bit of the kingdom to hear talk of food, collaborators, and a new Dutch Army on Dutch soil. The Federation of British Industries has an interesting opinion on Bretton Woods, which is an arrant lie, as there is nothing interesting about Bretton Woods. Necessary, yes; interesting, no. Australians are not excited this week, because they are talking about talking about civil aviation. The London County Council is to look into homes for institutionalised children. First class compartments might be on their way out in the rails. The Prime Minister’s 70th birthday is widely celebrated. How is it that he is still alive under all of this strain? James points out from an idle look through your youngest’s pet encyclopedia that kings of old died, at an average, at 55, ten years younger than non-kings. Admittedly, he was reading tea-leaves on the subject of Warren versus Truman, ’48, as to whether the Senator will have the incumbent’s advantage, but still.
Apparently there is nothing to survey, and we move right on to American Notes
Mr. Hull will be succeeded by Mr.Stettinius. The President’s job programme is discussed, including the $100 million national highway system, but more attention is paid to the $1 billion flood control programme, embracing amongst other bold measures the St. Lawrence Seaway previously discussed.
“Cracks in the Solid South” One would think that if the South dislikes Roosevelt as much as it says it does, that voting solidly for him is a bit mad, and polls suggest that the South is waking up to this.
The 1928 rebellion against Al Smith would certainly be repeated if Mr. Wallace were nominated in 1948.
Now, Uncle George would laugh loud and hard at this, because, in his passing-obsessed mind, the Republican inroads in the South are down to the GOP's nomination of an octoroon (Harding), half-breed (Coolidge), and, when a favour had to be done to the line of the old Governor and the Engineer nominated in 1928 (of whom none shall inquire past the cover story of his origins at unspecified peril, least of all mention his half-Chinook mother), an actual Indian as Vice-President, at least. I am scarce convinced. An airy statement of President Coolidge's Indian heritage in 1932, even by the "Sage of Emporia" does not retrospectively influence the election of 1924! The obvious point is that it will be President(!) Truman on the odds, and Governor Warren will not make much headway with Southern conservatives against him. All to the good, because it will allow the Governor to make headway with Northern liberals and win back the Coloured vote.
“Military Training” There is no great will to end conscription in America in the peace. Though the paper conjures it out of some statements by the Episcopalians (peace good) and Catholic bishops (parental supervision of young men good). It strikes me that the crux of the matter is that it will fall on the youth generation born in the 1930s, and there were no youths born in the Great Depression, so who cares what they think?
The World Overseas
Our Polish Correspondent explains that Poles are excitable. Our correspondent in Natal explains that…
“The British War Effort” is a noble effort to summarise the aforementioned White Paper. I can safely say that the thing that amazes the paper is how much slack there was in the British economy to be liberated by working harder and more efficiently and by deferring depreciation expenditures. The question would be whether this can be sustained in the long run as machines, people and buildings fail.
The Business World
“Charts and Markets –II” Some people suppose that by staring at charts long enough, you can out perform the market in stock picking. The paper is dubious.
“Debts in America” by Our New York Correspondent. Since we have not lost the war, and Roosevelt was elected without Martian invasion, mass volcanic eruption or bubonic plague breaking out, it is time for ONYC to emerge from wherever he was hiding and find a new hobby horse of doom. He has discovered that while the Federal debt has grown enormously, other forms of debt in American dollars have fallen! Who would have thought? Apparently, the training of even distinguished senior correspondents of the paper does not extend as far as the mysteries of double-entry bookkeeping. It is odd, I admit. Why do you have to enter the same number twice? So they cancel out? What’s thesense in that?
So if private debt is small, how did all this war production come to be? From profits on the sale of these things to the government, which was paid for in some mysterious fashion, which if our ONYC could grasp the essence of the matter, would probably make the whole mystery clear. Anyway, this means that private business has plenty of money to invest on increasing production, and that private investors have plenty of money to throw into this in search of good returns.
So much for the ridicule; in all seriousness, the appearances and disappearances of this correspondent suggest to me that he was a senior man in the Dewey campaign, and we need to pay attention where attention is due, and he does have a case to make. We have now seen twenty-five years of decline in commercial bank loans, from the 1920s through now. Banks have turned to commercial credit of the department store balance kind, to service charges, to all sorts of alternative ways of making money, precisely because people are not borrowing to invest. Some analysts, and here my effort to muster respect for ONYC wanes a little, as he points to the wisdom of the great and good rather than do anything as otiose as taking a stand, see here evidence of a long-continued depressed business activity.
In short, this is nothing less than the “toboggan of secular stagnation,” awaiting us at the top of the hill marked “victory.” I get the impression that everyone save Alvin Hanson and I have forgotten this spectre of 1939. I have the advantage of reading Uncle George's old letters and clutching them to my chest as I remember girlhood and first love, for James really was so handsome, and London so beautiful that summer. In fact, unless Professor Hanson discovered love on some summer terrace those months when the world fell apart, he has probably forgotten "secular stagnation." too.
And then there is the Earl's advice, and the issue for ONYC, which is the recent Railroad Report. Fortune has its own answer to the report, but the basic point is that the American railroads need masive investment, ,and have the money to do so. The question is whether the return will justify it. Hanson's claim was that, due to the end of technological innovation and of population growth, they will not. My mind fairly tickles at the notion that the two are connected, and with the suspicion that we understand technological innonvation half so well as we think. If only I could wrestle these itches and tickles into an argument that justifies my vision of, on the one hand, an elevated birth rate for several years after the war, and, on the other, continuing "technological innovation."
“Gilt Edged Speculation” Fixed interest stocks are doing well. Old Consols stand at 82, compared with the 1934 peak of 94 3/8, so ONYC has his fellow travellers. Financial relations with France are moving towards normalisation. A Labour fact-finding mission to the state-owned coal mines of Holland are refuted by the paper with respect to the desirability of nationalisation. Malaya will probably make a lot of money exporting rubber and tin after the war. Electrical and Musical Industries is showing continued healthy increase in profits. Furniture production for the post war is being planned. A drastic shortage of cotton yarn is emerging in Lancashire.
Flight, 7 December 1944
“Arm or Air Weapon” The Admiralty is concerned that Fleet Air Arm officers are not getting enough ship-handling experience to be interchangeable with other specialist branches. The paper thinks that the Navy should just accept that it has an air force.
“Telling the World” The paper joins the orgy of self-congratulation over “Statistics Relating to the War Effort of the United Kingdom,” and picks out its favourite lesson, which is that the production priority for fighters during the Battle of Britain led to fewer bombers being built, whereas, since giving the highest priority for heavy bombers subsequently has not led to a reduction in fighter production, Lord Beaverbrook is an idiot. Which was not at issue, I thought?
“Back to Bilateralism” Talking about talking about civil aviation might be bilateral soon.
War in the Air
Winter still reduces the extent to which aircraft are involved; Antwerp is reopened; the Japanese suffered losses off the Philippines. General Eisenhower is especially concerned that the Germans still have 28 Rhine bridges, which means that they will be able to retreat across the river without difficulty when it becomes time, although other sources say that the final battle will be fought west of the river, because of German morale. Unless our bombers do away with it, first. For example, we are dropping 12,000lb blast bombs in Munich, and attacking oil refineries, railway stations, and “other targets.” Mosquitoes are making daylight raids against German cities, dropping 4000lb bombs. We are told that one column of 8th Army in Italy has turned northeastwards towards Russia. Quite a trip, the paper notes. Austria is closer, although the Alps get in the way. The Dortmund-Ems Canal has been breached again. American armies are short of ammunition, British armies are not. Our fighters strafe more rocket launching sites. German jet fighters are appearing in greater numbers in theWest, but are not fighting much, presumably due to training issues. B-29s have attacked Tokyo again. The Japanese government condemns this as a violation of international law, allowing them to treatcaptured airmen as war criminals. Japanese attempts to reinforce the garrison of Leyte have suffered severe reverses from air attack, and Japanese air efforts to defend them are inadequate, perhaps because of carrier losses and perhaps because their machines are inferior. The typhoon season is hampering operations in the Philippines, though fortunately there has been no “Capital ‘T’” typhoon.” The weather in Burma, on the other hand, is fine, and aircraft are much involved there. Japanese supplies must be travelling on coolie back through the trails at night, the paper supposes. Third Army is advancing rapidly in the Saar area. Bomber Command has dropped 53,000 tons of bombs on Germany in the last month. 8th Air Force carried out 13,600 fighter sorties last month.
Here and There
The first contingent of 500 WAAF officers and other ranks arrived in Bombay this month to free up RAF personnel for certain duties in India and Ceylon. Mr. T. G. John has left the boards of Alvis and Alvis Mechanisation. Group Captain F. O. R. Gayford, of the old Long Range Flight, has retired from the RAF with a promotion on retirement to Air Commodore. The Dowty Players, of Dowty Equipment, have put on a performance of “Pride and Prejudice” to benefit Cheltenham Hospital. I hope that the levered suspension and live-line carburetor experts did a good job! I love that book. The Blue Riband of the Air now belongs to a Transport Command Mosquito, which made the flight in 6 hrs, 8 minutes. In a recent talk to the Institution of Civil Engineers, A. Shaw MacLaren confidently predicted that jet airliners are on the way. If you are wondering why the ICE should even remotely care, I would hazard a guess that it has to do with runway load limits, on which more below. He went on to suggest that 360,000lb aircraft (maximum all up weight 400,000lbs) with 300ft wingspans were on the way. Also, helicopters, which might be used as air taxis. For example, for moving ground crews from one end of a 400,000lb aircraft to the other. Which is admittedly silly hyperbole, but so is 400,000lb a.u.w..
Although to be fair to Mr. MacLaren, runways are likely to have longer lifespans than aircraft generations, and perhaps I need to be looking forward 50 years, not 5.
Spain’s largest airport is in the Canary Islands. On the one hand, it is quite small; on the other, please come and enjoy our sunshine and how far the pound/dollar goes in our beautiful country which is not, and has never been, in any way, Fascist. The ATC has signed up 12,000 new recruits since October, presumably when the hat situation was sorted out. Commando, the unique B-24 with the largest single fin in existence, has logged 400,000 miles. Australian Senator Donald Cameron is concerned to see measures taken in industry which will insure a virile Australian air force in the future. Plenty of red meat, cold baths, open windows, healthy out-door exercise?
Senior Captain W. L. Stewart of BOAC recently made his 100th Atlantic crossing. The new Secretary of Commerce in America, Jesse Jones, proposes 3000 new airports and the improvement of 1600 existing ones at a cost of $1.25 billion over the next five to ten years, including 31 to standards suitable to support international commercial flying.
“Indicator” discusses “Organising for Efficiency” Indicator talks non-rot about stuff that I, nevertheless, do not care about.
This month sees the Silver Jubilee of the Vickers Vimy 28 day England-Australia flight of 1919. They were men of iron in those days. Or better, since I doubt that a piece of iron laid over an old Rolls-Royce Eagle would have survived 28 days unshattered. “U.K. Aircraft Production” The paper summarises its favourite bit of “Statistics.” With bar charts and summary boxes! Over the course of the war, the proportion of engines to planes produced rose steadily. This is a credibly important point, it seems to me. Engine production will have had a far greater impact on industry in general than airframe production. That said, ancillary equipment, particularly electrical, will probably have had a greater impact than either, since engine production will have represented an adaptation of existing plant production.
“A Review of the Latest Fleet Air Arm Reconnaissance Aircraft: Fairey Firefly” And now for an article about the Firefly that has not been written by a mysterious Admiralty Svengali (“Catapult”) or an inveterate time-waster (B. J. Hurren). Like the Barracuda, the Firefly is noteworthy for a great deal of flappery of the kind that was supposed to appear on the F.C. 1, and which will presumably make those 400,000 lb auw airliners safe for the runways of the world. Although here the purpose is to produce “a perfect lady with venomous possibilities.” (In my experience, that is all perfect ladies, but what do I know about perfect ladies? I am far too full of venomous possibilities.) The back seat means that the Firefly lacks the performance of the best naval fighters, and its unparalleled speed range is not going to impress young men like Junior. However, it seems that with all of the modern “scientific devices” with which aircraft are equipped, the rear seat Observer/Radio-Operator is necessary.
So a carrier aircraft that can carry an observer/radio-operator and still be “nearly as fast” as a fighter must have elaborate flaps. We have heard about the relationship between flaps and performance, and the Fairey-Youngman flaps, oh, I would say, long ago now, with the Barracuda, but I would say that because the war seems to have sped everything up. The Barracuda has been around for only a little more than a year now, and the flap installation on the Firefly seems to be even more elaborate than on the Barracuda. I have exercised my new micro-camera again to illustrate the point. In order to maintain lateral stability without an excessively large empennage, the “blown” flap must extend under the fuselage, as shown in the photographs. I have no idea how useful this will be in combat, but it does underline just how far “flaps” have come in terms of complexity of actuation and operation. All the more reason, then, to think of the current generation of large airliners as a transitional generation and not invest too much in them.
Studies in Aircraft Recognition
The Mitsubishi “Betty” is shown, and compared with the Vickers Wellington. The paper does not note it, but I think that this is because the Wellingon’s structure encouraged an unusually high aspect ratio for better range. The “Betty” is also quite long-ranged, 1500 miles (with performance at 279mph at 11,500ft, and carrying 1760lbs of bombs, not very impressive except that it represents one torpedo.) Mitsubishi achieved this without geodetic construction, too.
“The ‘Gen’ Box: Astonishing Release of a Well-Kept Secret” The paper explains that our bombers see in the dark using a device that generates radio waves that bounce off objects and are picked up by a receiver, the resulting signal then being shown on a cathode ray tube. You do not say! The paper goes on to point out that this is like “almost any other Radar device,” in that waves bounce off “solid” things. Either the public is not considered capable of understanding how radar actually works, or the correspondent doesn’t. Either way, the electronics engineer looks like the mighty sorcerer of the next generation. I shall try to explain to your youngestthat he should not, however, try tocast death spells on Imperial consorts, no matter how good an idea it might seem at the time.
“U.S. Technical Mission is Astonished: Roy Fedden Apologises for Misleading British Public to Rapturous Reception from Rothermere, Beaverbrook Press; Economist promises never again to speak of ‘Full Technical Efficiency’; Aeronautical College Proposal Abandoned." A girl can dream.
There hasn’t been enough talking about talking about civil aviation, so now the paper offers us a few pages.
C. A. Politt, “A Civil Power Plant: Liquid-cooled Engines Supsended Below Front Wing Spar: Radiator Above Reduction-gear Casing” The civil power plant of the next generation will have reduction gearing, an intercooler, a maintenance-friendly, lowerable mounting, five gold rings and a partridge in a pear tree. Or we can just wait for turboprops.
“R.A.F. Master Bombers”
I probably do not have to summarise this article for you, sir, so I won’t.
Everyone inclined to write something provocative is busy with their Christmas shopping, so this number is confined to L. S. Ash and “Another of Them” criticising Mr. Greensted criticising that article about test-piloting, and Mr. Bottomley criticising Mr. Ashley criticising the standard of training in the RAF trades. And Nigel Walker crunching the numbers to show that air freighters can be profitable. I think, and perhaps I am just being a silly goose, that this was already proven by the fact that they exist.
The Economist, 9 December 1944
“The Greek Disaster” I suppose that I will be accused of being flippant by boiling this down to “Greeks are excitable,” especially since HMG has been drawn into it, but I am sorry, unless the civil war in Greece turns into an international issue, nothing can induce me to care. And bringing down the Government in the General Election that is still months away does not count as an international issue now. What does bother me is that the paper very sensibly objects to British involvement, pointing out that never once in the last twenty years has a Red scare led to a Communist revolution. All the revolutions have been from the Right, and it is Rightist private armies that we are supporting in Athens! Well enough, but what about the paper's pot-stirring in France and, especially, Belgium? It does rather look as though, because the paper approves of the Belgian monetary reform and sees a chance of wounding the Conservatives in favour of the Liberals, that it has taken diametrically opposite positions on Red-baiting.
“Lessons of Five Years” We did not coerce labour hard enough, or early enough, although the only real disaster was in fuel. Imports were also not reduced in value nearly as much as one might have hoped, showing that perhaps 91% of them are necessary, and must be paid for by exports, so on and so forth. “Full technical efficiency.”
“Farm Prices” The paper cannot continue the fight against farm price supports any longer, so it issues a cloud of warmly opaque and stinky words and scuttles back to the "but not too much!" hole under cover.
“An International TVA?” The Tennessee Valley Authority is proposed as a model for the Yangtse, Jordan, Danube, Nile, and Ganges, amongst others. On the other hand, it would be hard, because, for example, Danubians are excitable. If only there were one country overseeing the whole Danubian valley to bring hydraulic uplift to the entire “Special Region,” but that is pie-in-the-sky.
It goes on far too long. That's how you can tell it's the real Radetzky March.
Notes of the Week
“Lend-Lease and Exports” The British Government announces the relaxation of various restrictions relating to Lend-Lease, without, it assures American public opinion, affecting in any way the conditions under which it operates. Look, over there, Japan! Anyone who knows actual Americans knows how unlikely this is to work.
“Attempts at Reorganisation in China” Speaking of!
“Doctors and the Medical Service” The British Medical Association is talking about talking about national health insurance, and does not want to be rushed. As also civil aviation, cf. Chicago Conference.
“Wages Council” A new chapter in industrial relations, apparently.
Poles, Persians, French, Finns, Indians and British prostitutes are excitable. The Home Guard is to be stood down on Sunday, as the German Volksturm stands to action. (Home Guard good, Volksturm bad, for those keeping score at home.) Lady Astor’s silver jubilee in the House is to be celebrated as a milestone in the progress of women in government. An odd thought, though better maintained in the argument than it could have been.
The Prime Minister thinks that the Public Schools should be open to all. The paper agrees with the principle, disagrees with the means.
The Durham Miners’ Association has different views on what ails the industry than the coal owners’ association does. Specifically, they are not investing enough of their profits back into the industry. "Secular stagnation!"
W.W. Greg seeks to explain double-entry book-keeping to the paper with respect to exports and imports. T. W. Walding gets into the act by explaining economies of scale with respect to the same.
“Wool in the West” Our Colorado Correspondent explains that the wool surplus is a menace which has led American sheepmen to reduce their herds by 14% in the last two years. It is unfair that ships returning from Australia should carry loads of Australian wool, and federal interference has damaged the lamb business. And certainly not packaging horrible mutton as lamb, because that would never happen.
New men at the State Department are new. Joseph Grew has been promoted, various persons, Dean Acheson apart, have been dismissed, William Clayton, Archibald MacLeish, and Nelson Rockefeller are in. Businessman, poet, rich person.
“Stretching the Wage Formula” The 5 cent an hour increase to night shift steel workers is either the thin edge of the wedge of wage inflation, or grossly under the rise in cost of living, depending on from which side you oppose it.
“Second Thoughts on Reconversion” Are due to the current ammunition shortage. Blaming the unions is ridiculous, and it might be logistics that is at issue, too.
“Social Security” might be revised.
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” is the song of the cigarette shortage, and certainly not “Strange Fruit,” which the paper, like Time, appears not to recognise as a fairly provocative name for a tobacco brand these days.
The World Overseas
Our Accra Correspondent writes on West African Regionalism. West Africa even has town planning now! Czechs are excitable.
The Business World
“The Steel Merger” The merger of Baldwin and Richard Thomas is big news. So is state banking in Australia.
France is offering a 3% Liberation Loan. The Bank of Greece has raised its discount rate to 11%. That should quiet things down! Or not, although the lesson should be edifying, ruined lifes not taken into account. British Celanese is issuing a dividend, the grey market in securities is being looked into, and the wartime Trade Boards are being superseded by the new Wages Councils. The paper is impressed by the London bus-building consortium that went into making Halifaxes as the London Aircraft Company. I would be more impressed if the Halifax had a better reputation for structural weight economy in practice. The Communist Party has a report out on the shipbuilding industry which the paper quite likes, as it recommends reaching full technical efficiency. At least the Communists might have some idea of how industry works. If anyone does.
Flight, 14 December 1944
“After the War” After the war, we shall talk about talking about many things, and Lord Trenchard sets on a sure course to that wonderful future by talking about talking about talking about things Service-aeronautical in the Lords.
“The Pattern –with Variation” Perhaps you want to skip large quantities of newsprint in your pursuit of Christmas things? The paper is indulgent,blah blah. And then there is a picture of a freakish looking glider, because apparently Vincent Burnelli is owed press coverage as by divine right.
War in the Air
A break in the rain last week led to 4000 Allied sorties in the first twenty-four hours of favourable weather. The synthetic oil plant at Leuna was attacked by Bomber Command again. RAF fighters strafed ELAS fighters in Athens this week, because Greeks are excitable. “[I]ncapable of refraining from fighting each other” is followed by “much of the fighting on the ground. . .is done by a British parachute regiment.” I think I prefer The Economist’s coverage. B-29s bomb Tokyo again, and Japanese parachutists assault Saipan’s bomber bases. Bruce Fraser has been made C-in. C, Pacific, Sir Arthur Power C-in. C.,East Indies. In Burma, 14th Army is racing towards Mandalay. Also, a picture of a shot-down Me 262 being inspected by Air Ministry experts, and an Air Ministry official diagram of the V-2, which, as widely rumoured, is an alcohol-oxygen, single-motor rocket with a fuel load of 18,500lbs and a half-ton payload. You will recognise James’ handwriting in the margins calculating expected range (and, in the interest of the astronauts of the future, perihelion in Earth gravity, although he could have looked it up in the press: 800 miles). He also works out what the second motor below would have to look like to hit New York. Very big!
Here and There
The USAAF is opening up an air service to Spain, which will “carry fare-paying priority civilian passengers.” Priority to be determined by wealth and their need for a sun cure for what ails them, I imagine. (Does having too much money count as an ailment? Because I met a number of victims during my debutante season.) Some Spitfires have been handed over to our Italian-almost-Allies. Along with Baltimores and P-39s, which probably tells you what kind of Spitfires were made available. The United States is appropriating $100 million for rocket ammunition. The new Atlantic riband for heavies was set this week by 3 RAF Transport Command Liberators: 10hr, 31 minutes from Montreal to “a British airport.” Which last makes this just about useless information printed on scarce paper, so good work, censors! Mr.Norman Bower asks if we will spy on German long-range weapon research after the war. The Prime Minister assures him that we are already doing that quite a bit, and no doubt will continue after the war. If it weren’t for MI6, my cousin would have to get a real job! A Halifax was sent to South Africa. When a sightseer asked about the spaces opening up between rivets, it was explained that different types of aluminum fare better when separated from each other. The new High Commissioner for New Zealand went to an airfield and saw Spitfires. (No, really, it is a news story.) Captured American soldiers who claim not to have heard of V-1s are irritating their German interrogators. (No, really, etc.) Gliders left over from the Burmese airborne offensives are being used on the return trip to evacuate casualties by the “pickup” method. As many as 70 in 24 hours! (. . . .) Air Vice-Marshal Bennett is resigning from the RAF to take a position in private business. Because nobody likes him, James says. Air Marshal Sir John Slessor is said to be contemplating taking an academic position at Oxford. Japanese radio claims that Japan is developing heavy bombers to attack the United States, and superior forms of radar. Mr.Vincent Bendix, former chairman of the Bendix Aviation Group, says that a mass-produced four-seat “salon-type” helicopter will b available after the war, and will cost a quarter as much again as a car.” The paper rather snidely asks whether a Rolls-Bentley or Austin Seven is meant. Given that “It will be easier to operate than a car,” I think the answer is that there is a reason that Mr. Bendix is the former chairman.
Ninth Air Force flew 15,500 sorties on 29 days in November. Eleven fighters and 119 bombers were lost. Lord Brabazon and Lord Winter had a recent debate about civil aviation, which I am actually going to mention because of Lord Brabazon’s observation that the rapid development of jet turbines means that every large aircraft under development right now will be “hopelessly out of date” by the time it is finished.
“The Hamilcar Glider” Is a mammoth glider. Making a cheap, throwaway aircraft that could carry a seven ton tank, even unpowered, was quite a design challenge, and asked a great deal of furniture makers, but was accomplished. The article wants to say, “This was hard!” And, “This was important.” Alas, the gap between the experience and the writing is so great that we will never really appreciate how hard, and so all that hard work is lot to us, because important innovations are not always recognisable to anyone who has not actually done the work.
In a later article, General Gale of 6th Airborne Division says that the potential of the glider is great. Very large gliders can land even larger things!
“Glass-lined Cabins: New “Blanket Insulation” for Curtiss Commandos: Weight Only 185 Pounds per Machine” I am pretty sure that spun-glass insulation sheets is not actually new, and that this article is just an attempt to get the C-46 before the news. But even the writers appreciate that the real story is this incredibly light, moisture-resistant insulation. Even if we have heard about it before, and even if it is boring, it is going to change the whole practice of building and living in homes.
“Indicator” Discusses “The Proof of the Pudding: Making Our Air Transport Market” He thinks that after the artificial conditions of the war recede, the real problem will be persuading potential passengers, and that we need to pay more attention to safety than to performance. This is certainly true in light of promises of “New York in 10 hours.” This kind of promise just leads to disappointment, since we are notgoing to be flying New York-London in 10 hours in 1954, never mind 1946.
John Yoxall, “Shipfinders” It is worth noting that the Beaufighters of Coastal Command carry torpedoes and rockets and cannons, and possibly by now death rays, and that John Yoxall gets to fly with them. No word on whether he met Dale Arden doing it. Much more importantly, in spite of the title, and notwithstanding the fact that Radar is no longer secret at all, not a word on how the “shipfinding” is done. Mr. Yoxall did not even fly on the Wellington shipfinders which actually do that part of the job.
|Gina Holden, I think.. I scraped the picture from a site that couldn't be bothered to attribute. Me either. It's turtles all the way down!|
“Studies in Aircraft Recognition” Features the Nakajima “Helen” this week, and compares it to the Mosquito, because it is a plane that looks a little like other two-engined light-to-medium bombers, which the “Helen” is. Another plane that is a twin-engined light-to-medium bomber is the Mitsubishi OB-97 “Sally III.”
“Flying Boat Terminals” Mr. Glenn Martin thinks such things might exist in the future. It would be nice for Mr. Glenn Martin if his company were to get a contract to make a jet bomber or such, so that he could stop having to make himself think such things, as it must hurt as much as holding a funny face for as much and as long as the babies will laugh at it, because they will laugh longer than you will last, as your youngest has unfortunately discovered.
Civil Aviation News
Talking about talking about. . . And news of the Lockheed Saturn, as well as telling us all over again about Western Electric’s alleged mail-order airports, and Qantas’ alleged “Trans-Pacific” service.
Aviation, December 1944
Down the Years in AVIATION’s Log
In 1919, all airmail records between New York City and Washington were broken by a de Havilland plane carrying 630lb over 218 miles in 1 h 34min; 15 years ago, Commander Byrd flew over the North Pole in a Ford Trimotor, while Costes and Belonte flew 4902 miles nonstop France to Manchuria; Hoover asked Congress for 33 million for the Air Services; a Moth plane took off from a moving auto; the six engine Caproni bomber with a 150ft span flew 138 miles with a 9 ton bomb load; 10 years ago, the first French full scale wind tunnel was finished; and a total of 1285 planes were built in the US in the first nine months of the year.
|That's not nuts at all!|
“The Far East: Frontier for American Enterprise” The Orient has lots of people who could very well consume many American goods in the future. It could pay for them with ample raw material exports. One hears that it has tin and such. Unfortunately, it is very poor for some reason, probably having to do with the fact that they lack skills and technologies. And producer equipment. Doctor Sun Yat Sen recently suggested that China will need, for example, 25,000 locomotives and 20 million tons of steel in the first five years of reconversion. Realists, however, should bear in mind that there is about $2.50 per head of capital investment in China, compared with $600/head in America. Even before that, we should ask whether we want to industrialise the Far East. Good question! Of course we do. Next question, please. Will it take a while? Yes, much longer than Dr. Sen says. Much will depend on the Orient’s capability to export what it produces now to America. That should be the key to our trade policy, because it will promote the more rapid development of the Orient out of poverty and into a market to equal its numbers.
Leslie Neville’s editorial covers talking about talking about civil aviation at Chicago.
G. Geoffrey Smith, M.B.E., “Gas Turbines for Tomorrow’s Superpower” Uncle George’s heartthrob explains that the combustion gas turbine is the coming thing. Also, flying wings.
|G. Geoffrey Smith! He wrote a book about jet turbines, you know.|
“This is Our Air Policy, So Far” You know what there hasn’t been enough of in the press? Talking about talking about civil aviation.
Earl D. Prudden, General Manager, Ryan School of Aeronautics, “Keep Those Contract Schools Going” Rumour has it that the working draft title of this article was “Send All Your Money to Earl D. Prudden, c/o Ryan Aviation, St. Louis, Miss.”
“Hang Your Shirt on a Star” Fashion; aircraft are involved. Specifically, Cavu of Cincinnati knows the editor.
|"A shirt you wouldn't mind changing your spark plugs in" is certainly a pleasingly low bar for the designer to cross!|
This month on the technical side is the paper’s 8th Annual Maintenance Issue. A scintillating article on a supercharged ignition harness for spark plugs designed and built by Chicago and Southern for United, leads off, though it is not as thrilling as news of the new upholstery shop layout aat UAL Cheyenne. Hoover Ball and Bearing Co. has an assembly line for cleaning ball bearings; TWA builds its own mockups in house; American Export’s instrument testing shop builds some of its own instrument testing instruments; and it is possible to be more efficient with snow removal from runways by doing preventive maintenance on removal equipment, specifically, by adjusting wheels, tyres and brakeshoes as shown here.
Instructions on pushing things with screwdrivers also included. (Not included: instructions on how to use screwdrivers to open cans of paint. Next number?) Douglas streamlines global repair services by promoting communication. Then we get into the workplace juryrigs, of which there are many. I include one that might be more entertainingly misguided if it did not imply a tragic inspiration.
|To be fair, a hardhat would ruin that 'do|
Costas Ernest Pappas, Chief Aerodynamicist, Republic Aviation, “Compressibility Calls a Challenge” Classical fluid dynamics relies on being able to treat fluids as either incompressible or infinitely compressible. These assumptions fail at or near the speed of sound, and no useful mathematical alternative is available. So we do a great deal of experimentation, instead. Here is Republic’s work, so far.
|This is whatd a business executive looks like these days. Good days to be young! If you can avoid the draft. Unfortunately, Mr. Costas Pappas seems to have avoided the kind of notoriety that gets me of his station in life into Wikipedia.|
Chester S. Ricker, Detroit Editor, “Pre-Viewing Tomorrow’s Metal Designs” The 26th Annual Metal Conference of the ASM was recently held at Cincinnati, and Chester didn’t spend his entire time there drinking with his cronies. He also collected an agenda and some advertising material to string out an article. He probably attended the key note (on hardness band testing of quenched steel pieces, which was very interesting to the automobile industry, as allowing them to use steels from more sources thanks to being able to test them more effectively.)
Rhodes E. Rule, John F. L. Bte, “Heavy Duty Runway Built by New Techniques” Lindbergh Field, at San Diego, California, was built by new methods! An 8500ft runway was built by doubling the existing runway, and can take aircraft at 170,000lb auw. It is 12” of concrete, 75ft wide, all on reclaimed land, sub compacted and drained by wells on the tidal flats end.
“Boeing’s Model 377 Stratoliner” More details on how luxurious it is going to be. If luxury sells airliners, or, more importantly, tickets, this will have proven to be a good idea. Otherwise, the two-storey airliner might prove to have been a mistake.
“Handley-Page Bid for Transport Market” The Hermes gets some American press.
James B. Rea, Chief Test Pilot, Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Co., “Give Operators More Cruise-Control Data” I continue to wonder just what Consolidated did to irritate the Air Force enough to let it be taken over by the clowns at Vultee. The point is given by the title, although this might be the paper you want if you are curious about how modern pilots and navigators choose cruising speeds, altitudes and engine rpms to maximise fuel economy on long range flights.
James J. Heatley, Operations Engineer, American Export Airlines, “When You’re Planning Payloads—“ and etc.
Raymond L. Hoadley, “Aircraft Stocks Climb out of the Bear Pit.”
“Repairing ‘Round the World” The mobile, self-contained ATSC Service Group is a mechanicommando! They are now in China.
And our lead stories in the news this month? “Plan New Airborne Operations with Aircraft ‘Built-Around’ Equipment”; More Comments Sought Re CAR [sic CAB] Change; Status of Civil Instructors, Reservists Reported; Report WTS Settlements; Begin 4th IAT Program; Zone Flying Still Tight.” The good news is that we are making progress in deciphering this quaint language. For example, the lead article is about how the Army is going to make more of its equipment air-transportable in order to increase airborne operations. The intimation here is that the Douglas DC-7 protoype, seen below, is to be used by the air force to move bulldozers. The bad news is that you have to tease this out of this horrid nonwriting, and then it turns out to not be worth the effort.
America at War: Aviation Comminque, No. 36 We are bombing the enemy! And flying freight! Our airborne troops, under “Lt. General L. H. Brereton,” are rated “effective.” Air Chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory contacts us from beyond the grave to say that the Luftwaffe has used up its reserves. General Arnold thinks that bombing has cut German aircraft production to 800 units a month. “Trend continues toward combining characteristics of dive-bomber, low level bomber, ground strafer, and fighter, In one airplane.” This is evidenced by improvements in the P-51, P-38, P-47, P-61, A-26. The new P-75 has been taken out of production. The Tempest and Me-262 exist more. Spitfires have Griffons now! Jet assisted takeoff is the new thing! Flying bombs will probably be a major weapon fo war in the future. Russia’s declaration of war on Japan in advance is important news for the Far East. The raids on Formosa reduced Japan to a “third or fourth rate naval power.” B-29s are undoubtedly operating from bases other than China now. A total of 46 million pounds of supplies have been lifted over the Hump. That’s two whole Liberty ships’ worth. (Comparison mine.)
Blaine Stubblefield points out that more air transport means slower demobilisation of the AAF, that if the war goes on long enough, there will be new planes, including transports that can lift 80,000lb loads; that one of, or some of, E. P.Warner, T. P. Wright and Jerome C. Hunsacker will be appointed to the new international aviation commission, and not other people that you might think would be; and that the big question around Washington these days is whether the public will back a massive new Army-Navy peacetime research effort, backed by US industry. “Nothing could beat such a research operation,” and it would be cheap, but the public probably won’t go for it, so what are you going to do? Blaine is going to have another drink.
“WPB Reports Production by Types; Grand-Total Output since 1940 is 232,403.” Total production in October was 7,429, a slight drop from September, and a considerable drop from the wartime high of 9,118 in March. It is because of design changes, increased weight, production cutbacks. We continue to settle contracts. It is expected that not all current helicopter companies will survive. More airliners have been ordered.
Pictures of the new LA-5 and YAK-3, along with fragmentary data. From Britain, reports that 3 Tudors are building, that Belgium might buy Lockheed, that Sweden has been reconverting interned B-17s as airliners; that 60% of the BOAC fleet is American, the balance being Short Empire boats, although there are 5 Flamingos. A new de-icing system is announced by an English consortium of three firms, TKS.
Hilarious this week are an old-timer maintenance guy who tells us that “When the blanket-blank thing don’t fly, your preventative maintenance has been lousy and you gotta resort to corrective measures.” Also funny, the idea of a British person admitting that the British aren’t the best at everything. Specifically, Lord Beaverbrook says American airliners are best. Lord “Brabizon” replies that, on the contrary, the British are too modest. The Gloster “squirt,” for example, is better than the P-80. Sideslips points out that “m’lud” is confusing the P-80 with the Bell helicopter which does a fine job of hovering. Because the Gloster “squirt” is slow! Also hilarious, a sign on a gyro compass. “Do not jar. Handle like eggs.” You had to be there, I guess. A sales manager claims to have been asked by interested newspaper buyers if his “popular 165hp three placer” could carry a dark room by one customer, an “1800 lb press” by another. All glamour is officially out of air transport with news of an air-freighted load of 5000lb of spinach.
Fortune, December 1944
John S. Nollen of Grinnell, Iowa, thinks that the profit motive is overrated as a cause of human progress, and we must therefore support university laboratories as places where a devotion to service rather than profit inspires research and development of new technologies. Ernest R. Troughton, of London, England, thinks that the colour bar is stronger in America than in Britain. No, you are. Am not! Walter R. Tucker of Ottawa, Canada, thinks that Canada is marvellous. Our neighbour, John D. Cummin, of Food Machinery Corporation, believes that his new tractor belongs in every garden, because it is so compact and manoeuvrable. General Sommervell writes to say that he has time on his hands, and is thinking about public office. Wm. F. Smith, Private First Class, responds less nominally to the same article about veterans’ prospects with the suggestion that a great deal of difficulty might be avoided by a more generous mustering-out benefits than the “crumbs” of the GI Bill.
Here's a neat bit.. I confess to giving it more thought than is my wont by virtue of the dropping Dr. Sappir's name in finding rooms for Miss v. Q. and Queenie --or, I supposed by now, Mrs. Tommy Wong. (The loft is still decorated in knapped stone work after all these years!) A letter from Mario Pei of Columbia University suggests that “very few scientists” agree that there are “few” people in the world who combine perfect bilingualism with pedagogic training. Second language requirements are standard for higher degrees in the sciences, including science education, Pei tells us. People who have passed the New York exams have been heard to wonder if the “scientific linguists” profiled by the paper could even pass these exams. Any intensive language training programme can show good results if it recruits people with good aptitude. For the rest, the key issue is motivation, not instructional method. Motivation, not “native informants” (superfluous for the better-known languages) nor yetr still-controversial “systems of linguistic analysis” will make the difference postwar, too. The paper responds defensively, quoting from the hedging at the end of the article to show that it wasn’t completely sold by the “linguistic analysts.”
The Job Before Us
Edward Riley, “Statement” A new age of world peace and prosperity is before us, providing only that we achieve world prosperity and peace. Oh. And by the way, we need to support the Chungking regime. Because of loyalty. Hopefully, an “American Lafayette” will arrive there soon and tell the silly Chinese what to do. Yes, that should help!
“Taxes After the War” A reduction of corporate and consumption taxes is looked to, while income taxes remain high per Congress’ proposed Revenue Act of 1945 (1946). Americans are great savers, and will continue to save large amounts of money but this saving only helps if it is well-invested, that is, borrowed and spent. “If savings are not re-invested, production and national income will be straightaway adjusted downward.” Investment will only increase if consumption does, so we must aim to keep consumption up. Hence the balance of tax cuts on the corporate and consumption sides. This all seems obvious enough, but there remains more than enough controversy to keep the C.E.D., Ruml-Sonne, Twin Cities and Hansen-Perloff tax reform plans quite distinct.
Claude A. Buss, “What Follows Liberation?” The Philippines are a large and populous archipelago that will get still more populous, although it cannot grow bigger. It is full of potential raw material production possibiltiies, but requires more democratic reform. Racists think that Filipinos are useless for various reasons, but are, in fact, wrong about this. Filipinos sometimes cooperated with the Japanese, because the Americans tended to be assholes. Fortunately, the Japanese were worse assholes, so we have an opening to get back in to the Philippines, to the extent that they end up being independent, or “independent,” depending. Also of interest is how to deal with resident alien populations. Take the Chinese, who immigrate, take names like “Jesus Gonzalez,” and marry local girls, so as to take over the trades. That was bad. The Japanese persecuted them. That was bad, too. If theh persecution stops, the Chinese people named Jesus Gonzalez will take over the trades again, thanks to their innate characteristics of hard work and stuff, in contrast to inate Filippino traits of easy-goingness. That would be bad, too. The 30,000 Japanese who entered during the war were mainly interested in land titles, and that can be reversed. We should not stereotype the Filipino,who is, after all, happy and gay and light hearted. We should grant them independence to do exactly as we wish them to do, and promote the development of their export industries by any means possible, perhaps even by letting them export to the United States, if that is not too radical a proposal.
Edward T. Cheyfitz, “More for Less: In Increasing Our Industrial Efficiency Lies the one Sure Way of Raising America’s and the World’s Living Standard” The national director of the CIO’s Casting Division of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers thinks that higher industrial efficiency means higher wages and lower prices, providing management does its patriotic duty to support wage growth while raising profits. To do this, profits must be reinvested. “Idle money creates idle men.” Management should cooperate with labour, embrace the welfare state.” In return, labour promises to cooperate with time studies to keep the brothers working.
“Rise of the Washington Post.” Everyone should read this important new organ of daily opinion, which can finally fulfil the nation’s lack of a “Thunderer.” And it has an advice columnist who “pampers” readers.
|Women like advice columnists, right? I mean, there's an appeal. Makes sense that the Post would have one. I'm just not sure why they don't put dresses or babies in, instead?|
|Oh, I get it. It's because she pampers the readers. You know, like this guy is pampering his wife right now.|
“Rock Island Revive” the Chcago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway has been revived! All it took was great leadership.
|Just look at that leadership!|
And a war. A war helped, too.
Pardon me. That was a little short. The paper (and I) will get back to the Rock Island Line below, because the release of the Railroad Report makes the investigative report on the line that is published in this number fairly important. What can I say, just a flighty girl, letting my hair down after another hard day of being pleasant and agreeable, etc, etc.
“Checks by the Millions” The War Department’s Office of Dependency Benefits is the greatest accounting operation, ever. Brigadier-General Harold N. Gilbert built it up from scratch. Pictured is a cheque-writing collator involving 21,000 parts and twenty-five miles of wire.
|It's so complicated that need a full-bird Colonel (Corps of Accountants) to operate it|
|And a whole room full of girls to feed it.|
Machines also print off vouchers for the accounts paid off, and even stuff cheques in envelopes.
America and the Future
“U.S. Medicine in Transition: Wll the development of voluntary forms of doctor-patient cooperation head off the growing trend to a compulsory federal insurance law? Medical care is hard to come by right now, and this in itself headed off a growing problem in providing adequate medical care to the nation. With all the doctors at war, there's no supply to ration!
In the future, there will be the question of paying for medical care for all, which will become more pressing as the population ages, as we know it will. Even now a good estimate for health spending is $4 billion of that $165 billion gross national product (that is, we are sticking with Fortune's number for 194Q for the moment.) The profession is also concerned with the nation’s unhealthy nutrition. Meanwhile, the AMA resists all schemes for group payment which would make it easier for middle income Americans to get proper medical care. On the other hand, it does favour medical insurance.
I'll end here by pointing out that the author is quite excited by Uncle Henry’s prepaid group practice venture, which has defied the nay-sayers with its success. I feel that purely factitious sense of connection here, because there is a picture of that familiar waiting room where I have sat for all too many minutes waiting to pick up various of my ladies. It lacks only Mrs. Mahoney in extended conversation while I tap my shoes and think of poor Fanny left at home with the twins while the girls are off riding. Upstairs and downstairs ---I'm sorry, I drift. The point is that it would be very strange indeed if, after all of the things that Uncle Henry is known for have passed away (not the dams, of course!), it will be his little medical enterprise which endures.
“Merchant Marine, II: The World View” America has lots of freighters, but they are grossly uneconomical to operate, so we cannot win a subsidy war with the Norwegians, Greeks, and Brits, either. Nor will we dig as deep as the Norwegians, when Norwegian shipping operations bring in 36.5% of national export income, compared with 1.9% for America. A big American fleet would contribute to national security, but not nearly as much as some think.
“How Much in the Railroads?” The railroads could afford to invest in the billions, but fear of the future might forestall this. Building on Fortune’s “194Q” numbers, the paper proposes that the Rock Island will have $150 million in revenues in that year, well ahead of “some” forecasts. This will be 16% lower than in 1943. This will determine how much it can invest towards the “super-railroad” of the future, which will need ballast up to 2 feet thick, 112lb/yard rails, “ bridges strong enough to take trains at full speed,” centralised traffic control, tenders on steam locomotives big enough to allow them to run 125 miles between stops, grades reduced to 0.5% (6 inches per hundred feet), curves of no more than 1 degree 30 minutes, permitting speeds of 80mph. The 183 mile trunk, between Chicago and the Tri-cities, requires another 45 miles of centralised traffic control, an electric retarder yard at Silvis, Illinois, and track upgrades. In total, by the paper’s chosen accounting standard, an $8 million investment, or 1.58 for basic improvements. The 810 miles between Davenport and Limon, Colorado, is not in such good shape, and would cost 15.77 for basic improvements, 35 million to “super” status, and so on down the line, plus another $20 million in company-wide investments in new locomotives, a new repair shop, switchers and such, for a total investment of $95 million. The company has the cash, and the need; but will it have the revenues, or will this capital just be sunk and lost? It is quite the quandary.
I'll add here that this is the point where I went back to that number of The Economist and really gave some thought to the "exhaustion of technological possibilities" side of the "secular stagnation" idea. Does a "superrailroad" count as technological innovation? There is, in fact, a whole steel plant worth of "innovation," in terms of better equipment in the steel plants behind the ability to produce those 2 foot, 112lb rails. We just do not think of in terms of automobiles, electric lights, telephones, radios, all the "innovations" that were "exhausted" by the time of the Great Depression.
The problem is that many of those innovations are like the special rivet-removing head and measuring calipers that caught my eye in Aviation's annual Maintenance section. Is something that looks for all the world like an ordinary nut, only with inside-out cutting threads an "innovation?" Calipers with horns on the back to take measurements with? The fellows who used to have to drill the rivets out by hand, or who wasted time machining a part to the wrong size, would say so, but it's not obvious exactly what scientific breakthrough is involved! It's something of a miracle that we even know about them. People come and go from factory to office, carrying these ideas, or just the experience of coming up with them, and suddenly measuring calipers are being used, to, oh, I don't know repair typewriters. (Perhaps you know me well enough by now, sir, to realise that I'm trying to direct my thoughts to an advertisemen to which the paper stands open in front of me. I'm too sympathetic, perhaps, but I look at it and I try to imagine what this girl --Never mind, sir. I am not going to ask our courier to carry even a micrograph of this picture across the Atlantic to you, so it is entirely irrelevant to you what I think of it!)
The Farm Column
“More Precious than Gold” Yes, all the farmers are hibernating, so it is time for Ladd Haystead to write about something that he writes about all the time. Having mislaid his botanising books, that means water. And I need to apologise to Mr. Haystead right now, because while writing that water rights are the thing are more precious than gold is anodyne, he actually does a pretty good job of covering an interesting controversy in Colorado. In this case, over the Gunnison River on the western slope of the Colorado divide. The Gunnison is currently turned out of its bed to irrigate 150,000 acres, mostly in hay, but 85% returns to the bed, to be used again and again as it flows on its way to the Colorado River. Now it is proposed to divert it through a tunnel through the Continental Divide, at a cost of $108 million, to flow into the Arkansas. This will provide supplememtary irrigation to 400,000 acres, and presumably some electricity, too. On the basis of the Supreme Court precedent, greatest good for the greatest number should prevail, and 400,000 is greater than 150,000, but the farmers of Gunnison County insist that it is more complicated than that.
Then he bores on with some talk of haymaking, before finishing up with a discussion of the “Farm Problem,” which, since it is not to be a famine after all –fortunately, yes, that’s the word, fortunately—will be a surplus that will bankrupt the farmer. Why, England is sitting on a veritable mountain of surplus cold-storage food. Home cold storage of cheese, butter and eggs overhangs the market, as does the cotton and pea surplus. Although the Farm Union hasn’t given up hope of famine next year.
Books and Ideas
The big books which move the paper are White Papers: Employment Policy and Social Insurance. Also in review are Harold Feis, Sinews of Peace, which holds that international security and international peace are interdependent, and will flow from a good postwar settlement, Bretton Woods and all that, and Kuo-Heng Shih’s China Enters the Machine Age, which is about as pessimistic about the factories of Chungking as my Father is about its politics. There is also Professor Sumner Slichter, who has become that rarest of things, a prophet of hope, contending that the American economy can operate at a $157 billion GNP, still short of the paper’s $165, but better news than most money men have been willing to endorse. Finally, Harvard geographer Kirtley F. Mather says of resources that there is Enough and to Spare. With intelligent conservation, waterpower and soil will last, effectively, forever, and we have a thousand year supply of metals.
Business at War
Uncle George will not miss this one. No sign of Mr Whatsisname, and instead long pages about the Zenith Hearing Aid Company, getting ready to rush to the sound of the guns the moment the war stops. Yes, I’ve bought stock, if the Earl asks.
“Fortune Press Analysis: The Campaign” Asks why the papers favoured Dewey this time, as with Willkie last time, when Roosevelt won? Because the President was leading in the polls, and people will stop buying papers unless we pretend that the issue is in doubt. No, wait, we can't say that. It was the Republican sweep of the 1942 midterms, which showed that the country was shifting to the Right! Yes, that's it. The President "lost" the midterms. (The good thing about this story is that we can typeset it and haul it out again every twenty years or so.)
|Grace was 65 the year that "Calvin and Hobbes" began running in her local paper. She loved sharing the cartoons with her great-nephew and his two sisters, who filled a gap in her life before the arrival of the first great-grandchiild in 1986, and often said that the sledding and tobogganing strips reminded her of the war years, but couldn't s remember why. Like everyone else, she'd forgotten Alvin Hanson and his theories. Thanks to Gocomics, by the way.|