Friday, November 8, 2019

Postblogging Technology, August 1949, I: The Great Comet of '49

R_. C_.,

Dear Father:

It's hard to believe that it's the second week of August already! Even though the Navy hasn't decided what to do with us in the Fall, Ronnie and I have agreed that she will take over the letters in the Fall, as she has already been warned that she will be living in the library for first year. I will either be around to help, or I won't be. I've mentioned rumours that we're to ship off to Formosa to interpose our planely-bodies between Communist and Nationalist. It seems like a terrible idea to me, but the British are already on the verge at shooting at the Koumintang, and having Americans on hand might turn out for the best, and not the worst. 

On the other hand, it's just a rumour, and the Navy is also getting ready to receive the snorkel GUPPYs, and they'll need someone to play hide-and-seek with. We'll see. 

I'm sorry to hear about Uncle George. Ronnie and I would be glad to meet him at the airport and drive him down to Santa Clara, although I guess it will be Wong Lee. It's tragic to think that he'd have his attack on his first visit to London in ten years, but at least he got to see the Earl before he was incapacitated. I hope the fact that the doctors let him fly means that it isn't as serious as we thought. 

Uncle Henry seems to be bearing up well, and as far as I can tell, Aunt Bessie will linger for years yet. Ronnie says Edgar isn't worried about his parents so much as he is about the company. Not much  I can do about that.

Your Loving Son,

A Precis of Aviation Week For the First Half of August

The USAF is looking into an area near Las Vegas for an "air engineering development centre." Fairchild's board is going to Washington to sort out what it can expect now that it is a new board. Stratocruiser operators have been asked to join Air Material Command's study of problems with the Pratt and Whitney R-4360 cowling. Speaking of, Boeing is replacing the oil pump idler gear, oil screens and bypass valves of its R-4360 engines after the Shannon incident that almost killed Danny Kaye. The prop loss was caused by excessive oil back pressure, which they believe was caused by a clogged filter and inadequate bypass, but they're replacing the idler gear too, just in case. The B-36 inquiry is stalled, and the House is upset about the proposed Air Force budget cuts.  Speaking of whether or not B-36s can get to Moscow, The Red Air Force has continued to improve its prop fighters, with the Yak 9U good for 450mph at low altitudes with its 1800hp Klimov VK-107, while the La-9 has a domestic copy of the Wright R-3350, putting it in the 450mph class. It now has an all-metal shell replacing wartime plywood construction, and two underwing rockets to give brief 500mph bursts. Ramjets have also been tested. The Russians also have a transport version of the B-29ski.

Letters look at the mathematics of the delta wing and the usefulness of the afterburner, which will burn more fuel than a fighter can carry if they are actually used to get a fighter up to bomber height. 

A week later, Aviation News was reporting that the Sapphire exists, that the Goblin IV gives 3600lb static thrust compared with 3300 for the Goblin III, and summarises the "somewhat outmoded" Proteus. Both Curtiss Wright and Hamilton Standard are in trouble over props. The hollow-bladed Hamilton blades on the Stratocruiser are cracking, and the heavier Curtiss-Wright hub required to refit American's DC-6 and Convair 240 fleet is due for delivery on October 1st. The major helicopter makers are advertising improved control of one form or another. The French SE 2410 will be a research aircraft only, while Slick is looking into single engine freighters to serve small airports, because it doesn't feel that it is being reckless enough yet. Aviation Week is reasonably impressed with the Comet. Aviation Week runs a very nice photo of the ejection seat bailout. (Aviation Week then sends Charles Adam to Washington to see if he can gin up a jet airliner crisis, with Senator Brewster rising to the bait with a draft bill to spend a million trillion dollars on jet airliners NOW. Aviation Week isn't that impressed considering that the American industry has a practical monopoly right now, but Juan Trippe warns that the British will head American airlines off at the pass even with American equipment. Senator Kem takes the bit between his teeth and rides off in all directions to conclude that the Comet shows that the ECA is folly since we are subsidising the foreign airlines that will take all our business. It's nice to have a friend in Washington. Convair doesn't and has been told that it has to figure out how to get the 240 into smaller airports or forget about those postal contracts. 

Very important not-dying related news for jet pilots. 

Letters  for this week feature a British correspondent explaining that British jet maintenance wasn't as bad as all that, while Professor Upson patiently explains that, yes, stall warning indicators are useful. 

The editorial for the 8 August number is worth comment, because Aviation Week comes down  on the non-sked issue, pointing out a whole  host of issues in which the non-skeds get to skate by significant safety issues in reducing their operating costs below that of the certified airlines. They're not covered by minimum ceiling rules, maintenance rules, radio frequency rules . . . And if the proof is in the pudding, look at all the crashes! Regularly scheduled passenger service is no place to go back to the Wild West! 

Flight, 4 August 1949.


"Confidence at Cowes" Everyone at Saunders Roe is very confident that the Saro Princess isn't a horrible mistake. 

"From Another Point of View" The Financial Times says that, considering how frightening the airliner business is, the British aircraft manufacturers are doing very well, with none of them going through an unexpected bankruptcy except Miles, which doesn't count. The £35 million export target will probably be met. 

"A Princess Advances" The Princess will be a 140t flying boat powered by ten Bristol Proteus engines. It will be the largest aircraft ever built, with the internal volume of three and a half Constellations. It will carry 105 passengers nonstop New York-London, against 90mph headwinds, and has a claimed power loading of 9lb/hp against the Proteus' claimed 3500hp. Assuming that the Proteus comes up to power, the Princess needs to make a cruising speed of 260mph against that 90mph headwind on its 14,500 gallons of fuel plus passengers. Let's remind ourselves that Saro's last flying boat, the Lerwick, had a legend maximum speed of 214mph on two Bristol Hercules giving 1375hp at a normal loaded weight of 28,400lbs. The Princess has retracting floats, but that's a gain of ideally as much as 10% parasitic drag, not nearly enough to achieve a more than 50% increase in cruising speed from a 20% improvement in power loading. (Exact percentages not guaranteed because I'm writing in a nice, shady corner of the basement and I'm not going upstairs for my slide rule.) All of this should be obvious to everyone, so I have no idea what everyone's playing at.

It does look nice on the runway. 
"Comet in the Sky: Surprise Maiden Flight of Britain's Most Advanced Air Liner" Last week, the Comet had come out of Hatfield to do taxiing trials and first flight was vastly far away. Then at 8 last Wednesday, John Cunningham took the controls, ran it 800yds down the runway, and up to fifteen feet. A full takeoff power test followed, with the aircraft held against 20,000lbs from its four Ghosts by its brakes. And by 6 that evening, with everything working perfectly, there was no reason not to take off and make a sustained flight. Not bad for an aircraft ordered in 1946, and good reason to think that de Havilland will make its 1952 target for service.  Which seems awfully rushed to me, but, then, everyone keeps telling me that I'll never be a great pilot because I always worry too much about that strange noise or the smoke wafting through the cabin.

Here and There

Lord Brabs has a book out about flying back in the old days, before the war. London Airport's new system of approach lighting with marker lines of pairs of low-intensity red lamps at the 1000, 2000 and 3000 yard marks, will be operational next Monday. The Boy Scouts answered criticisms that they are an upper class organisation by flying up to Norway by chartered air to participate in the Fourth World Rover Moot followed by fly fishing and lighting cigars with five pound notes. The Government's official statement on airfields says that of the 650 in use in the war, 350 are still in operation, but the Ministry is making sure that the grass is cut for hay, while all of the disused airfields are being used for this and that, and not just sitting unused, because that would be bad. I'm not sure why we need to be told this? The Science Museum was closed on Monday so that the aviation exhibit could be moved to a grand new hall. Vice-Admiral Creasy has been promoted from Fifth Sea Lord to Vice-Chief of the Naval Staff. Captain Vincent Mazza and Staff Sergeant James tested the new Lockheed ejection seats while flying a TF-80 at 550mph, 10,000ft. Flight stayed up all night to finish the latest issue of Nickel Bulletin, which his full of fascinating articles about the notch sensitivity and corrosion characteristics of forged pieces of nickel-rich ferritic alloys.

American Notebook

A different serving of pie in the sky. 
"Favonius" gives a full account of the round-the-world possibilities of a hypothetical Northrop flying wing with boundary-layer control and two 10,000hp Northrop Turbodynes. Wright Field tested boundary layer control with a Stinson Vigilant fitted with full-span,40 percent chord double section trailing edge flaps without achieving naything like the theoretical 5.0 to 6.0 lift coefficients, probably because it was a ridiculous contraption that could barely get off the ground without a wing twisting off, but Northrop has hired a Swiss fellow named Dr. Pfenninger who had nothing to do all war but doodle boundary layer schemes. This makes him a perfect fit at Northrop, where they do nothing but doodle flying wing schemes, and he's working away at the round-the-world flying wing as we speak. Granted that it all works, "Favonius" assumes that people will be more interested in payload than range.

At Lockheed, meanwhile, the XF-89 has been followed by the XF-94, a radar-equipped version of the TF-80 for high altitude, all weather interception. The radar is by Hughes, the armament is 4 20mm cannon, and there's a Solar afterburner to boost the J-33's normal 4600lb thrust to 7000 or more, perfect for overcoming the long stern chase likely to follow intercepting a B-29ski on its way from Kolyma to, well, Seattle, which, being the only place the Russians can bomb, is presumably first on their list. (They could also bomb Vancouver, but I'd be busted to know why they'd want to.) The ramjet needs a bit more weight for burners and the variable area exit nozzle, and the total fuel used for an afterburning, stand-on -tail climb to 40,000ft might not be much more than for the regular climb, because it takes so much less time. 

So Boeing, Pratt and Whitney and GE and BOAC are up to their neck over the Stratocruiser. "Favonius" starts with BOAC, which requested that the galley be at midships in their planes, and that it be built in their shops then added to their planes. It is also reported that the Stratoliner is coming in at well over the allocated $12 million. "Favonius" lets the two facts stand together with the implication that one caused the other. This British folly is a nice palate cleanser (the restaurants my suddenly and briefly flush fiancee lavishes with Navy dollars!) where the appetiser should go, leading into the derating of the Wasp Major in the wake of all those propellers coming off and superchargers spitting valves; the Air Line Pilots' Association accusing the CAA of changing its safety regulations to allow the Stratocruiser to cruise at its current all up weight with fully-feathering props, and the decision to extend LA's main runway by 2000ft across the highway on the west side of the airport, using a hinged wooden fence that is pushed across the road whenever a Stratocruiser is taking off and landing. All of this seems like it's egg on the face of us American cowboys with our spurs going jingle-jangle-jingle, so it's a relief  that "Favonius" closes off with a timely reminder that it's actually the (Labour) Treasury's fault for being hornswaggled into paying so much for a Boeing-Pratt and Whitney-GE bill of goods.

"Recruiting, Training and Licensing: Report of the Committee Formed to Inquire Into the Provision of Qualified Staff for Civil Aviation" There's not going to be enough pilots, so the State should pay for scholarships to train more of them.

Downtown Winnipeg, March 1950
Robert Russell, "Bush Flying in Manitoba: The Duties of a Representative Air Service" Canada is a vast land with many remote places, which is why Canadian bush airlines actually carry more air freight than is flown in all America. The author reviews the early days with the RCAF, the beginning of the provincial air services, the labour-short days of WWII, the need for suitable small aircraft. 

National Air Races" While I don't think anyone cares very much about the King's Cup, assorted maniacs showed up in some very hot ships for a speed race, which was something else again. I include a clipped photo showing Spitfires, Sea Furies, a Hornet and a Sturgeon on the ground before the race. There are also Vampires and Firebrands about, although the Sturgeon withdrew before the race. If you're at the edge of your seat, once all the handicapping was sorted out, the Firebrand won thanks to being a naval aircraft and quick off the ground. 

Maurice Smith, "Introduction to Spain, Part Two" G. Geoffrey Smith's son (for which, gloves off, I do now blame him) give us the second part of the story of his Spanish holiday, with splendid flying, weather, drinking, hosting, and no mass graves at all. No word here on whether he ate better than your average Spaniard. 

In shorter news that goes at the bottom of the page because Smith ran out of steam, John Slessor has succeeded Lord Tedder as CAS, hurray. 

Civil Aviation News

Everyone is very excited by the Super DC-3, which is the best replacement for DC-3s out there for the chartereds, but they cannot afford the dollars. AOA's flagship Stratocruiser was in London to show off that they have Stratocruisers now, too. AOA lands them at 25% flap to get speed down to 125 knots before dropping undercarriage and getting onto the tarmac before the plane crashes there on its own.  Various services are getting better and flying further, or maintaining more things at more specialised shops, or broadcasting to all of our ships at sea. Except Aeroflot, which has stopped paying commissions on tickets,which has ticket sellers upset. 

"The Mamba Marathon Flies" Flight sticks its tongue out at the whole world for a round "nah-nah" over the fact that Britain now has three turboprop airlines, and how many do they have? Why, they have none! And all it cost the British taxpayer was a few paltry billions of pounds and a world war, cheap at twice the price! The fact that the Hermes V and Marathon have no hope of making the turboprop pay by virtue of being too slow, does not matter. Of course Handley Page is building production Hermes with Gipsy Queens and Hercules. That's not the point! The point is that they are associated with turboprops, which are the coming thing, and so you should buy them. 

Follows a story about Lord and Lady Trenchard turning out for the 47th Cranwell graduation and the death of H. V. Roe, the third of the Roe brothers. 


D. B. Parkinson hopes that, if the Viscount appears with three abreast seating, it will be possible to reserve the window seats. D. F. Dakota writes to protest Flight's picture of the Greek airlines as being run by donkey-loving hillbillies graciously operated for them by British crews. Francis Kappey writes with a theory about the plane that W. J. Smith might have seen that one time, one afternoon, before the war, in 1908 or thenabouts. It might have been the "Piffard." Charles Nicollas counters with several other mystery planes that made their homes around Hanger Hill in Ealing many years later, a very long time ago, but not before the war.

The Economist, 6 August 1949


"Western Defence" America wants to send some guns to Europe, and maybe pay for some European guns. It would be good for the economy and good for the dollar problem, and, oh, probably good for the whole "Communists want to conquer the world so they can eat all the babies" thing.

In that interest, the American Chiefs of Staff came over for a European tour last week. The Economist spends a lot of words on it, but it boils down to a few points.

First, the Senate is having the usual fight in which the Administration asks for some money, all the bien pensants, as Ronnie says, tell the Senate that they need to go along, and the Senate decides that it needs to assert itself by finding an excuse to hand over less money. So off the Chiefs go to ask the Europeans if they're really, truly, deeply, sincerely, SERIOUSLY committed to defending themselves with American guns.  So the Europeans say that, "Yes, we're so serious that we're even willing to let a Frenchman command British troops and a Brit command French ships." And the Chiefs say, "Oh, that's super serious!"

And then they ask, "Well, if you're so serious, why aren't you rich?" And the Europeans allow that even though they have all these cruisers and aircraft carriers and planes, the Russian Reds are a faceless, ravening Asiatic horde, and without American aid they would be on the Channel in five minutes, with a quarter hour out for tea. (Do Communists drink tea? They would have to, at least so long as they haven't got any babies to eat.)
(Thank Heavens we're past this kind of ethnic stereotype.)

And the Chiefs pretend to agree that that could happen, and that the Reds wouldn't  just be bombed to ribbon the moment they moved out of their barracks. The jury may be out on winning wars with air power, but I think we can agree that you can't launch tank columns on thousand mile swans without it!

It's very pretty, but they made the hinges of the dive brakes
out of leather. 
So then that's settled, the Europeans will get their guns. Now, will the British and French use their guns on Reds? Well, no, they'll ship them off to the colonies and use them on rebels there. But that's okay, it's not just selfish imperialism, all those rebels are Communists too, so it is very important that we dive bomb them into working on the rubber plantations for low wages and being governed by a bunch of Malay playboys.

"BlacBlack and White in Africa" Creech Jones did a tour of Africa and happened to tell the crowd in Northern Rhodesia that the government wouldn't allow them to go the way of Southern Rhodesia, much less South Africa. This is a reference to the "Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland" floated by the European communities of the two colonies recently, which, obviously, is dead in the water as far as Africans are concerned, but has the  The Economist to hand wring about how Labour is on the verge of reverting to the policy of the 1920s that put African interests first. This is bad, because we are past colour prejudice now, which means that "a partnership of Europeans and Africans" is obviously the only way forward for Africa. So it would be a backwards step to take prejudiced steps to prevent Whites from exploiting Blacks. Either adopt a pro-Black policy of forcing Africans to plant and farm all of the unused land, or a pro-European policy of letting European settlers take all the vacant land. To prevent racial prejudice, you see.

"Arabs, Oil and Dollars" The Middle East Conference is over, and the Foreign Office has published a communique and "invited comment." The Economist never needs an invitation, so if it has one, it has to be even more The Economist. So: Arabs and Israelis aren't talking, mainly because of the refugee problem. The refugees are, technically, Israel's fault, but if Israel were to pay for them, they would be angry and forget to be "anti-red." (Which they are now, if you haven't been keeping up. I know I haven't!)

Meanwhile, the Arabs are producing ever more oil, which means a lot of money for oil company royalties (The Economist doesn't actually plunge its hands around a great big pile of money and laugh hysterically, but . . . ) and also some money for the Arabs, too. So it's only fair to argue that the Arabs shouldn't get any western aid, because money. On the other hand, you could argue that the West is taking advantage of their oil, so they should. Now, what about defence? The Arabs want to be neutral oil magnates, but if the "mountain frontiers of Greece, Turkey and Iran" "collapse," the wells will be lost, and no amount of "recovering them from back-line bases in Kenya can restore them to their present worth to lessor or lessee." Communism makes oil go sour? The Greeks and Turks are fine with Anglo-American defence aid, but the Iranians are having trouble separating it from being occupied. So the British must hold the Canal Zone, because bases in Cyprus are not enough, and they are certainly not going to pay for them. When push comes to shove, they are not even going to give the Egyptians their money back, but let's not talk about that. On the other hand, the Americans and all of those new international banks are welcome to give Egypt some money if it will make them happier with the British. The Economist is so generous!
As is Egypt, with its water and labour. Under the Truman Doctrine, the Americans are willing to offer loans, technical assistance, and all the helpful advice the Arabs could want. (And Iranians, who are, Ronnie points out, not Arabs at all.) The Economist is also willing to let the Americans give money to those Arabs who aren't going to make any money off oil who are also not Egyptians. It is assumed that Israel will get some money.

"The Future of Television" So you know that industry that is leaping and bounding across America, growing like Topsy and selling millions of televisions to go with all those new television stations? You know what happens when The Economist tackles its "future"? Of course you do! It's a tale of unremitting dolour and dismay. As far as I can tell, the problem is that it would be too expensive to extend television service across the whole entire of the British Isles on licensing fees, and since it is clearly impossible to let advertisers or the movie studios pay for it, clearly the British will have to do without television, more-or-less. The BBC is certainly welcome to give it the old college try, as long as it doesn't spend too much money, but it's probably all a to-do over nothing, as apart from sports and parades, there's really nothing on television that's worth the effort except for movies, and see above for that.  Unless some competition is allowed; but only on radio and television, since if the BBC retains its radio monopoly a private television broadcaster will be unable to compete. Done with sharing the tragic news of television with us, The Economist briefly moves on to point out that, in the distant future, radio will be broadcast over shorter wavelengths, too, requiring smaller broadcast coverage, leading to the same unaffordability. So, in the future, the British will have to do without radio (and competition), too.

Now, about fire and the wheel . . . .
Notes of the Week

"Escape from the Yangtse" The Amethyst's escape is something that happened and not just a state visit, speech or communique, so arguably doesn't belong in this paper at all. On the other hand, it can serve as the introduction a discussion of the "confusion now prevailing in China," so The Economist has to cover if, even though it is suspiciously like news. The point,if you were wondering, is that the British couldn't negotiate an end to the standoff with the Communists because no-one could decide who was in charge, and not because it was an incredibly ticklish point. This proves that the British don't need to recognise the Communist government. This month.

"Questions in the Air" Moving on to a more comfortable topic involving state visits, The Economist explains that General Bradley says that the Americans want to build long range strategic bombers as their principal contribution to western defence, while the British want medium bombers as the "rapier" to Fighter Command's "shield." They are strictly for defence, and will defend Britain by blowing up all airfields in range, up to, and including Moscow. Meanwhile, the speeches at the Russian Air Force Day three weeks ago confirmed that the Russians are building strategic bombers.

As The Economist really is going through one of its inscrutable phases right now, it's a bit hard to grasp just what it is talking about. The specifications of the British "medium bombers" were laid down three years ago, and presumably the models are now well advanced, and The Economist knows what they can do, even if I can only guess. I have them pegged as 600 knot, 50,000ft, 75,000lb bombers. I'm going to say that they will have Avons, and that most advanced of them will have the Avon engine, which is very powerful but  shows no sign of futuristic, ,economising improvements like a ducted fan or the economiser interstage the British gave up on after the Theseus. So they'll be very fuel hungry and given a 40,000lb payload, after allowing for a 10,000lb "special" bomb, I am going handwave ten hours in the air (3000lb fuel per hour through four jet engines seems about right.) That's Moscow. Bradley seems to be saying that the committee will sign off on the B-36, even though it hasn't even met yet. Is that official word from someone in Washington? If that's word from God, the Russians need to build super-bombers themselves and hide them away in Kazakhstan, just to have effective retaliation the British can't touch. Is The Economist attacking the British bomber doctrine, or defending it without giving it much thought? I'm going to guess the last, if only because I cannot begin to imagine this paper calling for a Brabazon bomber.

"Agricultural Crisis" The Minister regrets that only two million of a planned two-and-a-half were planted in wheat this year, and that the coarse grain target had been missed by 150,000 acres. He warns that the livestock target, "on which so many hopes were set," requires British farmers to get the lead out. The Opposition is disgusted by such talk, which is only good for coal miners, pointing out that farmers are working ever so hard, that some of those acres are unsuitable, that the Government should really just let it all go to grass and free up some Marshall dollars for more imported coarse grain to bring the livestock herd up to target. The Economist thinks they're both out to (rationed) lunch. The government obviously doesn't understand the free market economy, because it keeps relying on financial incentives to promote efficient agricultural production. (Look at me! I'm sarcastic like my uncle!) Since it's crazy to think that British agriculture can ever be efficient, the key is free trade paid for by industrial full technical efficiency and imported coarse grain to feed grass-fed cattle.

"The Third and Fourth Estate" The Royal Commission on the Press has assured the Commons that the only problem with the press is the amount of trash it produces. The press barons are fine. However, there really should be a public pension for superannuated journalists. I don't know? Maybe the old journalists are reduced to following Princess Margaret around, and if they only had a nice pension they'd go sit around the Old Newspaper Man Home and talk about the old days, before the war, instead? Me, I'm all for another go at the press barons.

"The North East"

 (Shorter The Economist, except Tynside and not Yorkshire. I had no idea that "overpopulation" was a thing in this conversation in 1949.)
Speaking of disadvantaged parts of the world where the population is growing too quickly, Portugal is to be invited into the Western Pact, as it is not Fascist at all, but Maximum Leader of the Glorious Portuguese People Dr. Salazar thinks that Spain should be invited, too.

"Noah's Ark and the Cold War" Mount Ararat is traditionally the place that Noah's Ark came to rest. "As such, it is potentially among the Holy Places of European and American religion." Only it's not, because it is 17,000ft straight up in the midst of Armenian-infested wilderness, and that's asking an awful lot of your average church lady. The Economist tells us, the Ark has a special fascination to Americans of the "bible belt," because they used to get washed away by floods and tornadoes in the old pioneer days. "[T] he Ark was a vivid prototype of divine aid, and in certain states impertinent questions about the historical validity of the story have been liable to cause rugged old farmers to reach for their shotguns." Back in the war, an American airman claimed to see the Ark, frozen in a mountaintop "frigidaire," and now four Americans want to climb the mountain to look for the Ark, which has the Russians upset, since they think it is just a cover for spying. Furthermore, if the Americans send pilgrim-spies up Mount Ararat, the Russians will want to send pilgrim-spies to Mount Ararat, and where does it end?
"Planes But Not Pilots" The Economist's coverage of the Committee on More New Pilots manages to notice that the Ministry of Civil Aviation thinks that it is moonshine. Only 251 pilots are wanted by the British air lines right now, and 385 by the end of 1957. That being said, there's no reason not to look at extending the current active flying life of pilots once they're not being beaten up by piston engines, and giving RAF flight engineers a certificate so that they can get jobs. Though that is kind of the opposite of what the non-skeds want! No certificates means lower pay, right?

We might well realise that the end is nigh if only we had proper
information about developing trends. Doom might, of course,
not be nigh, but the prudent course is to assume that it is.
"Housing on the Level" Housing seems to be "stable", The Economist says. Some 200,000 have been added from January to June and everything seems to be going well, especially considering the 1948 cuts. Well, you can't end an article like that around here, so now we have to tack on a last sentence about how local councils, which have "put under construction or have completed as many houses as they built between 1920 and 1929," will soon rebel against the costs. And speaking of, the Government has issued a booklet about the National Health Service, which means that it is time for The Economist to imply a prediction of doom, due to it all becoming too expensive in the future.

"Japan and the Sterling Area" Japan imports many of its necessities from the United States, but cannot sell there any more than anyone else can. It is selling to the sterling area, but the effect is that Japan is building up a sterling surplus, some of which it is currently allowed to convert to dollars, which is bad news for the sterling area. The proposed Japanese solution for this is a devaluation of the yen. The Economist would prefer it if the Japanese bought more in the sterling area.

"Varga Explains" Eugen Varga has released an apology for The Economic Transformation of Capitalism at the End of the Second World War, in which he admits that he failed to realise how Labour Britain is still a bourgeois state. The Economist makes fun. It also appears that the Peronists are making their own apology, this time for not believing in reality and "orthodox economic policy."

"Mrs. Colebrook" appears to be the sister,.
Walter Stoneman,
CC BY 4.0,
"Hazards of the Home" In a study for the Birmingham Accident Hospital "Dr. and Mrs. Colebrook" have found that about a thousand people die every year in Britain from burns and scalds. Seventy percent are hurt at home, and 70% were children under 15, 53% children under five.  Unguarded coal fires are the main cause, with electric and gas fires following up. The study scolds manufacturer's for not doing more about it. Inflammable clothes are another problem, and the Colebrooks lament the disappearance of "non-flam" fabrics and hope the Government gives regulation another look. There's no point in nurses warning mothers of the dangers of flannelette when wool and cotton blends are also dangerously flammable.

From The Economist of 1949 comes word that the press is bad for Parliament, but that might not be a bad thing. The Economist didn't get lazy just yesterday. It was born this way.


Eric Fletcher writes about Soviet forced labour camps, which somehow turned into a new and pressing matter in the last half of July. Austen Albu is worried that the shareholders do not have enough control over corporate directors. Eric Hartbrodt and Fonso Carlton get into the issue of how Australian wool exports to the sterling area can end up being sold under their official exchange rate value and damage Australian exporters, who have to compete with their own product, and the Treasury, which loses on the European exchanges so employed. "Overseas Banker" goes on to explain that it is worth doing because the dollar is "more trusted," and that, therefore, the American buyer can get £100 of wool for $300 instead of $403 this way. R. F. Fisher explains that there's a reason industry hasn't run out to buy gas turbines yet. Gas turbines are unreliable and not very economical, so there's not actually much reason to use them to replace steam turbines and diesels yet. The exceptions include standby sets, as well as the usual.


 Robert Payne has Fabulous America, while Edgar Ansell Mowrer has The Nightmare of American Foreign Policy, and The Economist is reminded of Thurber's Fables for Our Time. Mowrer's confabulating is confined to history. Looking back, he sees that a better path was always possible. Payne's is seen as purely ridiculous, because his title is not ironic. America is the engine room of the world, and "peace armies" of "millions of young Americans" will transform the world. While I think that The Economist could afford to be a bit less cynical, I do wonder about the idea that "Oil should be placed under international control." That's how Burmah Oil started Great Grandfather's career as the archenemy of Western Civilisation in the first place! The thing is, we can all agree that atomic war is a bad idea. Shouldn't we at least listen to someone who claims to see a path to an atom-war-less future?

M. J. Bonn's Wandering Scholar is a good read, and so is Arthur Keppel Jones' new history of South Africa. Henri Mourer's Les Amerique et l'Empire des airs is one of those French books that are just too long and statistical and have too many words about things. He's right to think that the American airlines get more support from the State Department and the Post Office and the "mandarins of Washington," if you'll pardon my skip from a French to a Chinese term without passing through English first, since English doesn't really have the word I'm looking for.  Suzanne Labin's Stalin's Russia is interesting in that it is an anti-Soviet work with a foreword by Arthur Koestler, published by Victor Gollancz, but those signs of the time are all that it has going for it, as even an anti-Soviet reader is not going to be impressed.

American Survey

"Mapping MAP" MAP is our latest alphabetical agency, the Military Aid Programme. A page and a half is spent on not saying that shipping some tanks and airplanes over to Europe would be good for the economy.

"County and City" America has 155,000 local governments. The Economist spends a good page explaining what they are without ever quite mustering up an explanation for why we need to be told this, in a newspaper, this week. Answer: Because it's summer, and it's too hot to work. (If the number seems high, 100,000 are school districts)

American Notes

"Sharing the Atom" "New and more effective atomic weapons are now being produced on 'an industrial basis,' says the Atomic Energy Commission" in its semi-annual report. Good news! The Economist thinks that this is a good argument for the Americans taking over producing all atom bombs for the Western Alliance, but that is, of course, subject to the Americans sharing all the details that lead to "constructive" uses for atomic energy. The Americans aren't doing that, thanks to the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, but maybe there are loopholes and gentlemen's agreements that will get around the Act, especially considering that the Americans get their uranium from Canada and a British-controlled Belgian source. On the other hand, maybe American prospectors will find some high-grade uranium in America.

Even before the British atomic programme stops being Top Secret, The Economist is testing out being against it.

"Unification at Last" You know how the Armed Forces have been Unifying for years? Well, now they are Unifying some more! There's to be a Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and also the secretarial pool will be combined, unless I'm misreading the part about the Service Secretaries. I probably am, but I think my reading is much more fun, so I'm keeping it, and it's about all this story has to say that isn't about Departments this and Committees that, snore.

"Church and School" The Economist explains the hitch in the Education Bill, which is that it allows the states to divert funding to parochial schools. The House doesn't like this, and its bill reserves Federal aid to public schools and also allows the states to discriminate against Negro schools. The Senate bill doesn't allow this. It was thought that Congress would capitulate and accept the Senate bill, but now Cardinal Spellman and Mrs. Roosevelt are fighting over the notion that Federal money for parochial schools violates the principle of separation of Church and State, and so the Education Bill is doomed because if Congress keeps talking about it, there will be sectarian fighting in the streets. And just like that, segregation keeps on keeping on, all coincidental-like.

"Pacific Orphan" The Economist explains the docks strike in Hawaii as best it can. How exactly does a strike for wage parity with the San Francisco docks end up scuttling Hawaii's bid for statehood? Well, the Senate doesn't like the idea of allowing a state with a Coloured population but no segregation, and this is related to the strike because it is being held by a Communist dominated union, and of course Communists and racism are two things that  . . . I think at this point I'm supposed to stop reasoning and start shouting, but it is too hot for shouting, so take it as read, as they say.

"Whiskey Fizz" Whiskey needs to be aged for, oh, say, four years, which means that increased postwar American whiskey production will hit the market and compete with the $12 million in annual Scotch whiskey imports into America annually, and that will probably lead to fights over excises and taxation as we find out whether American drinkers will really prefer the Scottish style once there is price competition.

Shorter Notes mentions that Truman's replacement for Justice Murphy is Tom Clark, neither a Catholic nor a Republican. Apparently, a Democratic President appointing a Republican Supreme Court Justice would be the statesmanlike thing to do. The Economist is disappointed. Also, the latest census returns show that farmers have only one third as many baths as city dwellers. This is not because they are poor, but because they can't get indoor plumbing because it is "difficult" to install it in rural regions. (Although if "difficult" means "more expensive . . ." But it doesn't, because then we'd have to reconsider our stand against price floors!)

I'll add that we're going to miss an American Note about the "American cult of the kitchen" in two weeks. That's your The Economist. Brits need to be paid less, Americans need to spend less. 

The World Overseas

"The Scotland of North America" Scotland sits on England, and Canada sits on America. Scotland has lots of Scots, and so does Canada, relatively speaking. Canada has less than a tenth the population of America, but its border with America is very long. No one cares about Canada, even though it has a quaint little Parliament. Canada needs more people and more investment, which translates as "American Men and Money Needed." On the other hand, dividend payments drained Canada's dollar and gold reserve by $90 million to $977 million in the last quarter, which seems like an argument against American investment, but you can't develop Labrador iron, Alberta oil or Northern base metals without American capital, so there you go. Sometimes you need to remind yourself that a third of Canadians are French speaking, which seems to mean that they speak French, and not English. It is assumed (you can't really talk to them, because they speak French), that they like France more than America, and they also like Mr. St. Laurent, although he won so many seats in the rest of Canada that he could govern without his Quebec caucus, which you would think would be bad news for him in Quebec, but who knows, because you can't talk to those people, because they don't speak English.

"Austria Prepares for Freedom, I: Prospects of a Neutral Republic" Austria might look like your optometrist is using a map of Europe to check for double vision, but it is not like Switzerland at all, because Vienna is much closer to Budapest and Prague than Switzerlandville. (Geneva? Zurich? Basel?)  Austria is governed by a coalition of conservatives and socialists, which seems odd, but they both hate Communism. That leaves room for a People's Party. Something might happen after the election,but probably won't, because Austrians are boring.

"Afghans and the Frontier" Remember how The Economist predicted that the Northwest Frontier would collapse without the British there to hold it up? Well, it still could! It might seem like it has turned out that Pakistan is the boss of the Afghans and not the other way round, but that could change, because Afghanistan is full of people who aren't related to the Pathans, who live on both sides of the border and speak Urdu. That would be nice, because right now the Afghans are very boring, and seem to prefer growing apricots and getting on with life to making trouble. Fortunately, the Prime Minister of Pakistan is in Moscow this week, so maybe Pakistan will start some trouble. That'll show all the "India should be independent what's the harm" crowd!

This ad was on that page. That's all.
"Trading Difficulties in Hongkong" It turns out that China is having a civil war revolution, and that's bad for trade, although The Economist prefers to blame Cripps' change from "a seller's to a buyer's market." I wonder if Hongkong needs full technical efficiency, too. On the bright side, Vice-Admiral Madden has promised that the Royal Navy will protect trade from the Nationalist blockade. If we can't have an atom war with Russia just yet, we can always try the Americans on for size! (I keep hearing rumours that we're to ship out for Formosa to discourage a Red invasion. It seems crazy, but there it is.)

The Business World

"Are Profits Too High" Have we heard this story before? Has The Economist concluded that they aren't? Is it still the same old story? Yes, to al those questions. The Economist is embarrassed enough to footnote its own January and May stories on the same theme. Not only are profits not too high when everything is taken into account, they are not rising nearly as quickly as they should be!

"Gas Turbines in Aircraft" The Economist is very excited about the Comet, which "may repay the British aircraft industry for its humiliations at American hands since the end of the war." The jet turbine originated as a purely military application, so The Economist councils caution. There is a lot to be learned about their use in civil aviation. It reminds us of how amazing the Viscount and Apollo are: "[M]many engineers, including the United States aircraft industry as a whole, believed [turboprops] impracticable." This is worth a note to self. I don't think it is true, but it isn't unreasonable, either, especially when we hear this month that a free wheel turbine is going into a carrier plane. You have a propeller driven, in the end, entirely by the thrust imparted by a gas flowing through a tube across a turbine. The only time it touches a mechanical train is when it goes through the reduction gearing, which in the bigger engines has to split the power between "twin" props and contraprops. The upshot is that the power train, and your plane's whole "go," depends on the  mysteries of fluid dynamics in the tube. I still can't quite believe proposals to fly them on and off aircraft carriers. I mean, it's more sensible than pure jets, but it's still a bit demented to think that you're flying into the traps with a throttle that basically only offers a suggestion about prop speed. Now, you can adjust prop pitch directly, but that's asking a lot of that poor gear train --and if the blade stalls, you are right out of luck! Civil airliners don't have to fly on or off ship's decks, but they do have to fly in headwinds and tail, rain and ice, tropic heat and frozen cold. All of those things have their effects on fluid dynamics!

To get on with what The Economist has to say, and not your son, the question is less about engine speed control than fuel economies. The jet's main advantage is that it is faster than a prop, and can make more flights. It's "utilisation" rate is higher. The Ministry of Supply and BOAC are convinced enough to order 14 Comets direct off the drawing board, which will give BOAC a lead of several years over other airlines (that don't buy Comets). I'm not convinced here. There is a great deal more that's novel about the Comet, notably its control system, than its engines, and direct-from-prototype orders have gone poorly in the past. BEA, it is rumoured, will be going just as fast with the Viscount, ordering either it or the Apollo for European routes very soon. The Brabazon I, currently flying, is only in the air to test the colossal fuselage. The II, the production and service type, will be a turbopro type, which should ease the strain on the wings, but it won't pioneer the technology the way that the Comet and Viscount will. It might also get skipped. The de Havilland hope is that the Comet will be able to manage the Atlantic, making up endurance with speed. I don't really see how BOAC could be sold, though, given that the Atlantic Comet might only carry 20 passengers compared with the 34 of the Constellation.

Another issue is stacking. It's all very well to fly fast between airports, but what about delays in landing? Piston engined airliners are expected to carry an hour-and-a-half of fuel reserve in case they need to stack and wait to land. That would wipe out the entire payload of a turbojet and be a problem for turboprops, although Vickers thinks that the Viscont can idle two Darts  in the air. To make jet aircraft work, the airliner needs to have landing information before they begin their descent from efficient cruising altitude. That isn't a problem for props, but a jet Comet is up at 40,000ft. The American GCA radar now installed at London Airport can give ground control out to 160 miles and 40,000ft, but you'd need a whole chain of such radars to give effective control on a jet airliner and bring it in safely. All countries need to agree to have them, along with the telex lines to connect them.

Business Notes

Leading off the Notes is financial news. There is some talk that interest rates might continue to go up, and a discussion of the Government order requiring retailers to sell Utility goods 5% cheaper, which may or may turn out to be an intelligent way of achieving a painless price reduction, the question being whether the Utility schedule has been well chosen. The Coal Consumer's Board had hot words about the price of coal, the shortage of coal, the poor quality of coal, and the bad design of coal fires, which isn't being addressed in new buildings. Then it went into recess, as it only meets four times a year. There is a new money agreement with India, in which The Economist detects alarming signs of something or other. Trade with Brazil under the new Anglo-Brazilian Trade Agreement is affected by the decline in Brazilian agricultural production, which leaves less rice, sugar, maize and oilcake to buy, and Brazil's sterling balance too low to afford British cars. Bank deposits are lower than The Economist would prefer, the government is relaxing restraints on the LSE that restricted trading in overseas securities, and frets that improvements in the terms of trade might not be good news after all.

Getting on to business that involves actual things, the motor industry is seeing a steady decline in exports, with steady Canadian and Australian demand the one hopeful sign, especially Canadian purchases of luxury cars that could not be moved a year ago. Base metal prices are up, hopefully a sign that the American recession is coming to an end. The British Film Producers' Association is moving to cut executive salaries as a step towards the "retrenchment" needed for a "programme of recovery." American producers have agreed to meet the $1.80/bushel that Britain has got from other suppliers in its bilateral agreements, which is good news. GE, Dorman Long and British Electric Traction have held general meetings that reflect the tenor of the time. GE has had a bit of a trading setback, Dorman Long is finding money for new loading facilities in Cincinnati, and BET is preparing for possible nationalisation in some of its divisions. Price controls on rayon have been relaxed, Austin Motors production is up 48%. Cable and Wireless and Transport Services continue to wind down their affairs now that they don't exist any more under nationalisation and Holland is taking big loans from the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the Bank of Finland (What's that about?) to finance increased industrial capacity.

Flight, 11 August 1949


"Royal Favour"  The King and Queen turned out for an air this-or-that, which is big news down England way.

"Farnborough at Hand" A year already! It's time to get ready for Farnborough, where the Canberra, Comet and "Hermes V turboprop airliner" will be on show. Flight also hopes for word of rocket motor developments and the Avon, to take the sting out of not having anything to show, afterburner-wise. (Flight is so embarrassed that it forgets that there is an official, snobby English way of saying "afterburner:" "reheat." But I remember!) 

The Firebrand: Pretty but scary
"Elmdon Echoes" More exciting photos and stories from the National Air Races, such as the DH108 turning out, although not for the racing, and not  crashing,, and various pictures of officials, partygoers, and private planes, but not a wonderful study of the Blackburn winner, which is buried a few pages later. 

Here and There

Try as I might, I can only find a bit of news here, which is that the MATS is flying 567 airmen to Britain in four Globemaster flights, 95 passengers each, an Atlantic record. Also, some American and Canadian air cadets are in Britain for the summer and the government is going to try to build a bombing range next to a bird sanctuary on the Severn again. This will be a disaster, because British people are all enormously eccentric bird watchers. I saw it in a movie, so it must be true!

"Aero 45 in the Air" Czechoslovakia is in the news all over the place this month, mostly about the evils of nationalisation, so it's nice to have a pleasant "how it flies" article about the Aero 45 from Maurice Smith. Fascists one week, Communists the next. Maybe he thinks it cancels out. It doesn't. Oh, and the plane is nice enough but is a bit nasty to land. 

"Replacing the Rapide: A Critical Examination of Requirements for Particular British Internal Routes: The Ideal Specification" The Rapide is going to be eligible for its old age pension soon, so BEA will need to replace the 19 it is running up in Scotland and losing money hand over fist, since although it makes a profit when fully loaded with five passengers to go with two crew, it loses money when only three passengers buy tickets. BEA is putting in a new radio and going to a one-person crew next year, but it would be nice to have a plane that wasn't wooden-framed and wire braced, since at this point all the mechanics who can maintain them are stumping around on two cranes, poking ear trumpets in your face and telling meandering stories about the years before the war to anyone who will listen, and most who won't. (It's impolite to break the bony grip they take on our wrist as they stare, rheumy-eyed, into yours and get hopelessly confused about which V. Roe was which.) BEA's final conclusion that none of the Prince, Drover, Dove or Marathon can replace the Rapides, which will therefore soldier on, and achieve profitable service just as soon as BEA can switch to zero-crew operation. 

In shorter news, the WRAF's new commissioning scheme includes provisions for officers "on completion of professional and officer training" in the "equipment and SECRETARIAL(!) branch." I don't know. I've learned to be appropriately respectful of the Colonel's secretary, but I always thought of her more as a Matron-Sergeant-Major than a Matron-Major. I'll let her know that she's been promoted, and then wilt into dust under her steely gaze.

"Hispano Suiza 12B" As you think about the last ten years, one thing you wonder about is what the French Air Force would have got up to if they hadn't been knocked out of the war in 1940. Well, I do wonder it, damn it ! The big problem with the planes of 1940, which I do not think were much to the credit of the French industry, notwithstanding the kind words that some have for them, is the engine. The 12Z V-12 was down on power compared with the Merlin and Daimler-Benz that was its competition at the time, and no wonder with only two ports. Klimov improved on the design for the Red Air Force. The Swiss worked on their license as well, and I hear tales of very powerful Swiss Hispano-Suizas. The French have evidently done the Swiss far better than that, extracting up to 2200hp for takeoff. That's less impressive when you notice that it's a 36 litre engine weighing up to 930kg. The turbo-compounded version maintains the 1700hp maximum output at 13,000ft up to 28,000ft, making it ideal for airliner use except for the part about being a liquid-cooled engine that can't really compete with a Merlin in the unlikely event that an airline has an "episode" and decides that a liquid cooled engine is a good idea. 

"Python: Design Details of the Larger Armstrong Siddeley Turboprop" The Python is actually a very old design, having originated as Armstrong Siddeley's ASX turbojet with axial compressor way back in 1943, if you can imagine that far back. The Parkside works then moved on to a ducted fan version of the turbojet, as was the fashion of the day, before deciding that they could probably get as much work out of the modification by putting a reduction gear and a prop on it and calling it a day. Parkside claims 3670shp from it at sea level and 4000hp at 465mph in the Westland Wyvern prototype. It's another reverse-flow engine, which Parkside engineered in the thought that there was need for a fair length of ducting between combustion chamber and turbine. Parkside says that a straight-flow Python is beyond engineering except at even greater length, which doesn't make sense to me, but they have the water-cooled slide rule all greased up to prove it. The engine is massively engineered in intriguing ways, and the original design took the combined thrust of turbine and compressor on a thrust pad consisting of an optically-ground flat surface with radial grooves to maintain oil flow so that the lubrication oil was the actual bearing surface. This was thought capable of taking up to 18000lbs pressure from the butt of the engine on the casing, although once a Hoffman thrust ball bearing with a 12,000lb limit was available, the engine was summarily re-designed. So I don't know why I bothered to write all of that except that it was super keen engineering. The reduction gearing is a sungear anchored by hydraulic pistons and feeding four layshafts consisting of coaxial torsion shafts  driven by a splined bearing each to the next layshaft, which I have described in both excessive and inadequate detail mainly because Armstrong Siddeley advertises it as a way of preventing hunting in the drive. Very interesting, especially if it actually works. The maths of successful damping are so demanding, and so hard to work out as a mechanical arrangement, that I am always at cocked-eye when I see this claim. 

The final reduction gear has been subject to much detailed engineering to cure it of a tendency to grind, and the props brake that prevents a windmilled prop from running the motor when the aircraft is at rest (where it might get 40kts across the deck) is very clever, and associated with an automatic feathering arrangement. Both are fed from the same oil reservoir,with valving to lock the props when feathering happens under no-load (that is, the plane is on the deck facing said 40kt wind).

Armstrong Siddeley is quite pleased with itself over the combustion chambers which use  a vortex vaporiser designed in-house, it seems, to give a turbulent air flow that accelerates combustion. Mixing losses are unusually low, and fuel is pumped in via a Lucas swashplate unit, but the flow control is by Armstrong Siddeley, another nice bit of tough mathematics given mechanical form. I mean, not tough mathematics in the sense that it's hard to solve, tough in the sense that it is a hard algorithm to get right. 

As might be expected from the length and rich details, the article is signed by Miss Bailey-Watson. 

Civil Aviation News

BOAC and three American airlines have come to a settlement of their dispute with Idlewild over leases. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has published the schedule for the changeover from M/F to VHF frequency air traffic control and direction finding in Britain, freeing H/F bands for long range uses such as merchant shipping and M/F for navigational control. BOAC is starting Argonaut service 23 August on the Cairo route, since Canadair has delivered early, for a wonder. The Australians have certified the de Havilland Drover on completion of some required modifications. Mr. Audrey Ping replaces I J. Hayward at BEA. Forty-nine senators have asked President Truman to hold up the agreement that allows Canadian airlines to fly the Montreal-New York route because it was negotiated in secret and American airlines were damaged. 


Since the King's Cup was a wonderful success, it is only appropriate to have James Hembrow write and complain that it has "lost its identity." Mention of the Piffard has R. Reynolds reminiscing about the old days, before the war. Geoffrey Dorman, of course, never stopped, and is reminded of old Lieutenant Colonel Noel, who was quite the chap. Whatever happened to him? We don't know, either! Thomas Keegan thinks that air travel has too many expensive frills these days. "Interested" is interested in satisfaction from Lankester Parker on his bizarre claim that flying boats take off one way upstream and another way downstream.

Allison T40: A Master Control Unit, which is nice,  using 25 vacuum tubes, which isn't. I mean, yes, turboprops are low vibration, but come on!

American Notebook 

The Convair XP5Y-1 is sitting around at San Diego Airport waiting for its Allison T40 engines to arrive, at which time they will be fitted and the XP5Y-1 will show off its form and claimed 20,000lb (120,000lbs all up) bomb load at 4600 miles, cruising at 210mph with a top speed of 390mph claimed. NACA says that the great length to beam will give superior drag reduction without spoiling performance int he water and that the forward hull form greatly improves rough water performance. The Martin XP5M-1 is an even more dramatic implementation of NACA's bold new ideas, but Convair thinks that its more conservative hull lines will win out. They certainly don't want to take another bath on a big flying boat after junking their 131! 

In "Favonius'" account of the CAA crackdown on the non-skeds, one hears more about the San Juan, Seattle, and Los Angeles crashes and less about the sacred rights of free enterprise. CAB says that there have been six non-sked crashes this year, claiming 114 lives. Speaking of American ways, "Favonius" attended the I Ae. S. meetings this year, and tells his fellow Americans that they have nice food, and ought to start cooking it better, but their chairs aren't very comfortable, and that they should whip over to the ICE building in Westminster to see it done better. "Favonius" was denied entry into the guided missile session, because he lacked clearance, but enjoyed Dr. Hafstad's address on progress in atomic power, which apparently is all in Britain and Canada, as America hasn't built any new reactors since the war, compared with Chalk River and whatever the British do. That might actually be true, considering what I've heard the Great Man yell at various people whilst stalking the tarmac. Whatever that man is taking, he needs to cool it. [and Stafford Cripps. . . .]

"Meteor's 12-hour Flight: Successful Trial of New Air Refuelling Technique" Flight Refuelling was able to keep a Meteor in the air for twelve hours with a Lancaster tanker, although Meteors go through so much fuel that the Lancaster had to land twice. It's an endurance record for a jet aircraft, although not a very meaningful one; it's also proof of the new drogue-and-probe refuelling method. The drogue is the funnel-thing the Lancaster trails behind it, which the Meteor successfully probes. Apart from the obvious dirty jokes, it is a great advance on the boom method, because the Meteor can refuel in three minutes, and formation flying a fighter jet and a tanker is very dangerous given the stall speed differences. I'm not sure it would be practical at all at 40,000ft, where the atomic bomb fleets would have to do it on their way to Moscow. Though a faster tanker would make the difference. Flight Refuelling is proposing their method as a way of maintaining standing patrols, which would greatly improve the fighters' chances of catching an incoming atom bomber, although that would require a lot of tankers.

The Economist, 13 August 1949


"Britain in the Pillory" Parliament is taking a summer vacation, so there's no news. That leaves The Economist with nothing to write about except to argue with other newspapers, or the people those newspapers quote. Everyone abroad thinks it is terrible that Parliament has gone on vacation during an economic crisis, so that's what they talk about. Specifically, in America this person and that person and also Fortune are on about how "socialism" is the cause of Britains' problems. It's not, The Economist points out. Europe, meanwhile, thinks that Britain is the cause of the world dollar deficit due to not working hard enough and over-valuing the sterling. The Economist uses the indices of increases in industrial production to prove that this is wrong, which I don't see how it proves anything except that the British are producing more than they did in 1938 by a long measure, which is nice, but the question is whether it could be more. Having dealt with the criticisms, it is pointed out that the problem is the balance of trade. Britain isn't, in particular, the culprit here. At this point it seems like The Economist is winding up to say what is, but, instead, it says that Sir Stafford is off to Washington in September and then we'll see what's what.   Also see Letterrs, this number.

"Diplomacy Under Strain" Communism is bad, The Economist summarises various episodes in Eastern Europe as saying. In the same vein, "Murder" smmarises the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, is bad. Some murders are worse than others. As long as we have capital punishment, we should only execute the people who commit the worst murders.

"India's Economy" The Economist explains the problems in India's economy and how the Anglo-Indian Financial Agreeement will help. India has a budget deficit, a current account deficit, and inflation. The jute industry, which accounts for 35% of exports, is in decline and there is not enough investment, while food production needs to increase. A 10% increase would eliminate the balance of payments deficit. 

 Notes of the Week

The Council of Europe and the United Nations are meeting or have been hearing reviews. The latter needs to be more anti-communist. Also, even though the strike is over, The Economist isn't satisfied with the situation on the docks. Crime is up, and The Economist thinks that it is juvenile delinquency could be much higher than it is, what with the war and all. Grave but vague forebodings overhang the situation in China and occasion recriminations over what was, and apprehension over what will be.

Economist article or Tarot card reading? It's hard to tell!
"Indonesian Republic in Sight" Since it is now absolutely clear that the Republic of Indonesia will soon rule a federated and independent Indonesia where there was once only the Dutch East Indies, it is time for The Economist to admit that Soekarno will be in charge. 

"The Nation's Health" The second annual report on the National Health Service shows that the health of the British nation is improving at an incredible rate. The Economist tries hard to not look as though it is sucking a lemon for a few paragraphs before giving up and asking why, if everyone's health is so good, "it is so difficult to do a hard day's work."

"Israeli Diplomacy" Someone from the Israeli Foreign Office is visiting Moscow, which is obviously a top Note, since it might be that Israel is moderating its "anti-red" stance of weeks and weeks standing. Also of concern is the Israeli attempt to extend the arms embargo that keeps the peace in the Middle East by restricting arms imports to just Israel thanks to America not being included in the embargo. Also, Israel wants Egypt to lift restrictions on the Suez Canal so that migrant ships and tankers bound for Haifa can use it. 

Bulgaria has a new government, and the Colonial Development Corporation is in trouble for talking about the elephants and tigers of Darkest Africa instead of stirring improvements in the literacy rate in this colony and in the trade union movement in that one. The Economist defends it. "The nation pays a lot to its PRO and has a right to expect from them occasional peeps through magic casements into faery lands forlorn." I think that's sarcasm, because it turns out that there are no tigers in Africa. 


O. P. Pearson, of Detroit, writes to say that, following the same methodology that The Economist used to find that the number of weeks a British worker requires to buy a car had increased from 39 to 55 weeks from 1938 to 1948, that for an American worker it had fallen from 27.4 to 25 weeks. Glyn Picton thinks that the "Are Profits Too High" Business World leader mishandled taxes. Alfred Mark reminds us that devaluation is like getting sick at sea. You better not wait too long, or you'll get it on your shirt.

It's not an exact analogy. 

Ernest Watkins thinks that The Economist has the wrong analogy to explain how the BBC should go forward on television. If you have the right analogy, which is like having two horses harnessed to the same shaft in the same direction, you'll see immediately how to fund studios in the Northeast, colour television and perhaps UHF. That's some analogy! Gerald Wilkinson points out that there is no communist revolution going on in the Philippines (which is wrong, but then he also calls it "predominantly Christian"), and the moral of the story is that stopping Communist revolutions in Southeast Asia is possible, but is more complicated than just bombing jungle hideouts. R. Stein finds Czechoslovak courts to be unjust, and Musheeruddin Ansari, of 89 Shrewsbury Street, Manchester, asks that The Economist cool it with the anti-Pakistan agenda for a moment. 


F. A. Voight's Pax Britannica is a book about how the British view of things is correct and how Communism is bad. The Economist loved it enough to give it a full column. David Dallin, a Menshevik emigre, explains, in Soviet Russia and the Far East . . . You fill in the blanks, as I honestly can't see a thing in a full column that you couldn't write down yourself. F. R. J. Jervis, Price Control: Government Intervention on the Free Market is only a major study of a contentious issue that's write up The Economist's alley, so this review is half the length of the first two, and doesn't even start talking about the book until halfway through. To be fair, the first para. covered Adam Smith, the problems of experts in democracies, African bushman who can't count and axes, so I learned a lot, whereas the next paragraph reads like the table of contents turned into sentences with some criticism of the style thrown in.

Walter White's A Man Called White is a memoir by the NAACP president that reveals that American racism is a tool in Communist hands, so America should quit it before the depression leads to race riots. However, he goes wrong in making the ridiculous claim that Britain isn't making galloping progress with racism in the colonies. Russell Meiggs, Home Timber Production (1939--45) would have been a better book to review with a lead paragraph about axes, although it could have left out the bushmen who can't count to five. On the other hand, that would have left no space for the actual review, which takes up a single paragraph and reads, again, like someone turned the table of contents into sentences. Mark Starr's Labour Politics in the USA is apparently about why there is no Labour Party in America. Everyone at The Economist must be too sick to read a whole book this summer. If only the country had socialised medicine!

American Survey

"The New Prometheus" The AEC's sixth semi-annual report gets the lead and a page-and-a-half. It was a very thorough report, and after it was tabled, and John Hickenlooper had banged the tables for an hour or two, the chair shut down Committee hearings because there were no questions left to ask. On atomic spies, twenty percent of the AEC's 5000 employees are doing security. On radiation, the AEC believes it has licked the solid and gaseous waste problems at Oak Ridge. On its work, the AEC is mainly focussed on atom bombs, of which it has an assembly line supply of improved and new ones. (The big deal, and you didn't hear it from me, is that instead of laying the shell of compressive high explosive right on the plutonium metal, they've found a way of separating it by putting the plutonium shell on little spokes. That gives the explosive compression a bit of momentum before it hits the shell, so you can use less of it and  have a smaller bomb. I'm an atom spy!) Various scientific contributions are noted, such as using radiography to measure "creep" in metals, and, overall, progress in discovering the "building blocks of matter" promises ever greater breakthroughs. That said, is the AEC perhaps too expensive for "smaller countries to duplicate?"

American Notes 

"Fresh Look at China" "US Relations with China" is a thousand page White Paper that is either an "Oriental Munich" or a "petition in bankruptcy," depending on who you ask. The $3 billion in aid given to the Koumintang since 1945 essentially benefited only "the Chinese concerned with its distribution" and the Communists who eventually received it. Even-handedly, the Paper also recognises that the Communists are agents of international communism, and Senator Knowland argues, reasonably enough, that just $175 million more would finally make the difference if it were just handed over by personal reinforcements from General MacArthur. The State Department, on the other hand, is setting up another commission to rethink things, and with President Quirino in town, to think about guaranteeing China's neighbours against a Communist attack. 

"Compromise on MAP" The latest is that Vandenberg and Dulles think that they can get a $1.16 billion package through Congress before a Labour Day adjournment, which is less than Acheson's $1.45 billion minimum, but otherwise fine, because it's hot in Washington in August. "Economy" will be saved by putting the bill for half the guns delivered on next year's budget, which is just as well, since American industry seems to be coming out of the slump and you don't want to overstimulate just as the Government turns reluctantly away from disinflation. 

"Getting the Byrd" The challenge to Senator Byrd's machine in Virginia failed, so The Economist spends a lot of time on what it would have meant if it had succeeded. Also, the Big Inch is now delivering natural gas to New York.

The World Overseas

"Italian Uncertainties" Italian industry is facing increased German and French competition, the countryside is overpopulated, the irrigation projects in the south are too expensive and Italy will only get American investment if it shows more "factory discipline." 

"Austria Prepares for Freedom, II: Living on Overdrafts" Austria has a budget deficit and the Government Loan is undersubscribed because most people put their money in the black market instead. On the other hand, there is vast potential for hydroelectric development that will reduce dependence on coal imports. Industry is growing, but the oil and gas export settlement with Russia was a "bad bargain." At this point, The Economist realises that it  has run out of interesting things to say, and concludes the series.

"Anglo-Brazilian Trade" This could be a series, but isn't. Britain will import £33 million from Brazil this year and export £38 million, and reap the remainder from Brazil's sterlingearnings in return for giving Brazil a good deal on oil, machinery and textiles outgoing, cotton, rice and sugar incoming. The amount of sugar is likely to be disappointing due to a poor harvest, Brazilian machinery manufacturers aren't impressed, and Brazil is short on sterling from day to day, although the balance is on the  upswing. There's also hope that a British firm will win a contract for a  dam, in which case machinery exports will be much higher than a programmed seven millions. 

The next note is the first installment of a report on co-operative farming in Eastern Europe. 

The Business World

"Utility Ukase" Retailers are predictably not impressed with the mandated 5% reduction in the price of Utility schedule goods. The Economist has thoughts about how this is made possible (Utility schedule goods aren't subject to purchase tax or export schedules), and whether it is a good idea.

A long article follows showing why rising industrial stock prices aren't a sign of high profits. 

Putting more money in the bank is your patriotic duty!
-The Economist
Business Notes leads off with stories about gilt-edged stocks' response to higher interest rates and the problem of distributing Marshall Plan aid before moving on to the ticklish question of unrequited exports. India is not taking perhaps £50 million in exports, which will be sold in Britain as unrequited exports. The Treasury, instead of being very upset about this, is positively giddy about the minimal impact it will have on the balance of trade. The Economist suspects that it is underplaying the "crisis" until after the election. Ceylon is the latest to get dollar aid from London, and the trend of exports is again downwards in June and July after some checks in the spring that left one hoping for a return to the trend of three years of upward movement. After all, something that began like clockwork directly after the Americans adopted disinflation and went into recession is probably just some kind of sustained coincidence! Speaking of things of which The Economist disapproves, "dissaving," continues. Shame! Shame! 

Following financial news we have "Trade and Commodities" Unilever had an annual meeting in which it complained that, due to taxes and controls, it hadn't nearly enough capital to finance expansion. He also thinks that the hard currency/soft currency zone boundary is a problem since there is too  much edible fat "trapped" in the hard currency zone and not enough in the soft. The Chartered South African Company's mineral rights in Northern Rhodesia have been extended 37 years on the condition that the mines pay higher royalties. Coal output isn't up enough to cover losses during the holiday period, so it is in "doldrums." (Steel output is "steady.") Shipping is hoping to benefit from the Anglo-Argentinian agreement and is grumbling about Argentina's effort to build up its fleet. Talks over colonial sugar, rubber, and the dollar cost of tobacco continue, since it looks like Britain will have to buy another 25 million lb of tobacco in the United States to maintain stocks.  Softwood imports have been cut from 118,000 standards a  month in 1947 to 85,000 in 1948 and 57,000 the first half of this year to save dollars. It is likely that the 1949 total won't be quite so low, because European supplies tend to come on the market in the second half of the year, and the Russian agreement means another 100,000 standards. Stocks have halved in twelve months, which means that the housing programme must suffer unless there is a "savage reduction" in softwood used in other areas. Britain has lost thirty millions in gold to Belgium and Switzerland so far this year, which is a lot. 

Business Roundup

In last month's heat wave, a New York man went to jail for refusing to put on a shirt, and Detroit auto workers went home because it was too hot to work. Also, the economy sweated, or slimmed down, or didn't put on a shirt, because "the pace of the decline continues to slacken." That might be because everyone is on vacation, which is good for the vacation business, which is on track to earn $15 billion this year. This year's vacations were shorter (less than 400 miles), less extravagant (housekeeping cottages preferred to American-plan resorts), with more auto trips and some hotels cutting rates. Also, all the steamships to Europe are filled to capacity. 

A "million dollar cottage." Ha ha, that's crazy!
However, someone wasn't on vacation, because housing starts shot ahead of their 1948 record totals for the first time in June, with 100,000 new homes started compared with 97,800 last year, although builders are focussed on the under-$10,000 market by building "minimal, semi-mass-produced" houses. Builder profits are down, and while wages are still inching up, productivity is up, too. Though I would be happier with numbers less impressionistic than "bricklayers lay 1200 bricks this year, 500 in a recent year." It seems that completions are faster, too, with houses finishing in four months instead of "six to eight." Again, I'd like to see statistics and where they're coming from. It seems a bit loose. What's not loose is that bank credit is available. The Wisconsin  Savings and Loans League has surveyed its members and found that while fifty-one of ninety-one were no longer granting 4% GI loans, FHA-guaranteed 4.5% loans were at an all time high. FHA reports that applications for rental units was up and heavy construction hit a seven year peak in June. Public housing starts under the Truman-Taft programme have begun, and the Chemical Bank estimates that it will lead to a $1 billion annual flow into tax-free, federally-guaranteed municipal securities. 

On the other hand, steel was at 77.8% of capacity, the chemical industry had the worst year since the war (says one executive), a cotton mill in Connecticut closed, unemployment is up to 3,778,000, highest since 1942 (although employment is also up, to 59,616,000). Business spending is down only 4% in the first quarter over 1948, where it was predicted to be down 14%. Industrial production is down 15%, but sales are holding steady. Farm prices have firmed. Various easy money measures, including extended tax loss carry overs, longer term RFC loans and repeal of the transportation tax have gone through. The Federal Reserve has released an additional $800 million in reserves into the banking system and cut sales of treasury bonds until the yield dropped to 0.75% from 1.12%. Controls on consumer borrowing were dropped. "Counter-cyclical" measures like unemployment insurance and the GI Loan educational provision that allows veterans to duck unemployment by going back to school remain in place, while Senator Murray is pushing his economic expansion bill again. The MVA is advancing in Congress again.

Meanwhile, as you've heard, there's not going to be a coal or steel strike, even though there's no coal or steel contract. To show how the other half lives, the du Ponts are going to court to fight the antitrust order that they sell their 65% holding in GM and 17% holding in General Rubber. US exports, fed by ECA and falling prices, are running at twice the value of imports. The whole world is doing its best to cut dollar imports wherever it can, while various American producers are asking for tariffs. Fortune sees the dollar gap as entirely due to higher American productivity, and offers the Four Point programme as a solution. More American know-how is the answer! Also, more protection from expropriation, conversion losses and "unequal treatment" for American capital abroad, which will lead to more investment.

Cousin Edgar is in the news, instead of his Dad for a change, blaming "craftsmanship" for declining Kaiser-Frazer sales and proposing very small assembly plants, limited to 200 workers, which would build "five to twenty cars a day with loving care."  The airlines are in the black, uranium-prospecting is the latest summer vacation fad, Sherman Fairchild is back in charge of Fairchild in place of J. Carlton Ward, the Big and Little Inch are set to pump gas into New York State at the end of the month. Everyone is going to get Texas gas! Greyhound's double-decker "Scenicruisers" will have air conditioning, a partially-glassed in roof, and toilets. du Pont promises a new colour film to give Technicolor a run for its money. Miller's Pre-Pared Potatoes offers pre-peeled potatoes in thirty and sixty pound bags, speeding preparation time at restaurants and drug stores. A harmless preservative keeps them white.

Fortune's Wheel

The author of this month's article on prospecting for oil is Everette Lee de Golyer, who discovered some of the most important oil fields in Mexico, and who is now a multi-millionaire, bank director, patron of the arts, and controlling owner of the Saturday Review of Literature. But not too busy to write for Forune! Several Venezuelans are quite upset about the Fortune article about Venezuela, because it was hostile to the junta. It also mistakenly stated that the Deering-Milliken plant in Pendleton, South Carolina, closed immediately it opened, which is not true. Open, closed, really a minor difference when you think about it.

"The Battle for the Pound" You know how Fortune likes to do unsigned political hitpiece articles on the plain brown paper that it wraps around the good articles. Exactly. So if  you were wondering what The Economist was complaining about when it was complaining about how American writers blame "socialism" for the dollar shortage, here it is. As usual, not a hint of a suggestion that the dollar shortage is world-wide. If it were due to socialism, do you think that Switzerland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Turkey would be short of dollars, too?

"The Dispensers of Fear" Same section, same idea. Here the argument is that certain politicians and bureaucrats in Washington keep saying that recessions and depressions happen, whereas in reality they only happen in the past, whereas in the future they only may happen, which also means they may not happen. So if they don't happen, why, we won't need any of this "counter-cyclical" (I learned a new word this week!) nonsense. Which, since it is all socialistic or semi-socialistic, is bad for business. Harrumph.  

"The Education of the Businessman" You know how businessmen back in the Thirties sometimes sounded like slaveowners? Nowadays, said last month's Fortune Survey, they've learned that they need to pay their employees and support counter-cyclical policy. It's not because of unions, and they certainly won't go back to their old ways now that Taft-Hartley, no sir!

"Depression-Proof Store" Ohrbach's must be in Fortune's bad books, because it gets a company profile out here in the brown pages, where anyone much to the left of Attila the Hun is going to page right by without noticing.

Andre de Saint-Phalle, "Let People Fly" M. de Saint-Phaille is the President of California Eastern Airways, which is one of the nonskeds that hasn't crashed a war-surplus liner full of coach travellers in the last month, putting it in the top ten percent of the industry. M. de Sainte-Phaille believes that only pesky rules and regulations stop the airlines from making money hand over fist by flying the air-hungry public all the places that it is profitable to fly. And if you need to fly somewhere that isn't profitable, there will probably be some sadsack regulated airline that has to do it to keep their postal contract.

Hugo Skola, "Planning for Destruction: A Former High Czech Official Tells how Nationalisation led to Ruin"  So it turns out that Czechoslovakian industry has been ruined. In, what, a single year? Ruined!

"The Misconceptions of Mr. Krug" Recently, Fortune ran a hit piece from the private power industry. Julius Krug, Secretary of the Interior, wrote a letter back that shows that Washington is crammed full of damn Socialists. Fortune has to print it, because he is the gosh-darned Secretary of the Interior, but that doesn't mean that it can't frame it with an entire article four times the length of the letter, arguing with every point he makes.

"The Missouri Valley" Which brings us to the feature article on the proposed Missouri Valley Authority, also in the brown pages, but with photographs, unlike the Ohrbach's article. 

The Missouri basin is 1300 miles long and as much as 700 miles wide, covering a sixth of the country, but with only 7 million people on 582,000 farms that cultivate 113 million acres, about a third of the total, only five million irrigated. The Pick-Sloan plan means to double that total by the construction of 105 dams and reservoirs, of which only one, the Fort Peck dam, is finished. When complete, they will store 100 million acre-feet. Eventually, 15000 smaller dams will retard water runoffs to prevent silting, with a network of canals and drainage ditches in the irrigated areas. The Missouri-Souris is part of this in spite of being outside the Basin, and Colorado-Big Thomson projects is an inspiration for this effort. The plan foresees 53,000 new farms, 212,000 more rural inhabitants, and an additional 450,000 in the cities using the ten billion annual kW-hr.(Annual? Someone hates standardised comparisons around here!).

In olden times, steamboats ascended the Missouri all the way to Fort Benton, Montana, but the arrival of the railroad eliminated the traffic, and also highlighted the Big Muddy's spring floods, a constant threat to the railroads. This retreat from the river was matched after 1910 by a retreat from the wheat lands around it. The area's congressional delegation has fallen from 64 to 51, which is an interesting way of expressing what I guess isn't a fall in population, but a relative loss compared with the rest of the country. Though if I remember my civics, the Congressional delegation can't fall below some minimum, and several Valley states have very low population. Like I said, "interesting," because it is a measure of political power, when you get down to it. Also, very much later on, Fortune drops a mention of the population of North Dakota dropping from 680,000 to 560,000 since 1920. The Souris plan would do a lot to reverse this, but only if farmers can be persuaded that it is a good idea. There is also the question of whether North Dakota can have this or the Garrison Dam project, which would irrigate an area in the western side of the state with more pull in Congress.

Speaking of political, "Pick-Sloan" is a lash-up of two development plans, one at the Corps, one at Interior, put together to head off Roosevelt's MVA, back in '44. Now it is the MVA plan! Besides the advantages already mentioned, the plan allows for a nine-feet navigational channel below Sioux City. Not everyone thinks that the channel is a good idea when Federal Barge Lines loses money, although Omaha is confident enough to build a quarter-million-dollar municipal dock.

What are the drawbacks? The New Dealers continue to argue for an "MVA." The Hoover Commission thinks that divided authority between the Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior is inefficient. Development costs have doubled since the war, with costs in the billions not fully paid off for a century. On the other hand, there is irrigation. "The total annual flow of all Montana's rivers would cover it with six inches of water," but only two million acres of Montana and Wyoming are "under the ditch." An acre under the ditch is double the value due to being able to produce sure crops such as sugar beets, potatoes and beans. People have been building local reclamation projects out here for years. For example, and I just have to mention this because it's so damn interesting, Buffalo Bill Cody set up the Buffalo Bill Dam to feed an irrigation canal around Cody, Montana, "now worth $8 million a year as a tourist centre alone." It's on the Shoshone, where some settlers are still paying off their debt to the Bureau of Reclamation forty years after settlement. This point introduces the general question of costing irrigation developments and then collecting the projected revenues while covering maintenance. In this part you get to learn about reclamation districts and such. It's sort of the same story as for "public power," but without the utilities stirring it up --directly. It does serve the utilities interest to raise questions about cost recovery on irrigation, since the public power advocates always use irrigation as a supporting argument. Montana Power Company, and its chief customer, the Anaconda, are in a fight with the state of Montana right now over a new Canyon Ferry Dam, which will replace the old one and possibly also reduce the power output of the company's two other dams. It will irrigate another 310,000 acres of land and provide more water for 196,000 more, regulate floods, and provided another 50,000 kW (hours, I assume) of power. Montana wants to build the dam and transmit the power, while MPC wants to do it, itself. This is only one of several battles being waged by the MPC.

The Corps of Engineers says that flood control, and irrigation, goes well beyond frontier tracts in the semi-trammeled north. Dikes down to the Missouri's mouth will protect 1.5 million acres of bottom land and the industrial areas of Omaha and Kansas City. Twelve railroads cross the flood plain in the Kansas Cities area, with $100 million investment in the area, more than justifying the concrete levees along the river and twelve-to-fifteen feet high earthen agricultural levies some thousand feet back, creating a 3000ft wide flood plain. Water feeds the vegetable farms that supply Nebraska City's canneries and the stock-feed farms.

The article ends with an extended discussion of the politics of it all. It's interesting, and of course us young progressives are eager to see another TVA to prove the value of public administration in improving American lives. Whether it will happen or not is another question, and I am in the very strange position of rooting for the Hoover Commission, just because its reorganisation plan is a compromise between a fullblown MVA and giving up on grand plans in favour of the Corps of Engineers plan of one half-measure after another.

"Six in the Money" A bundled profile of National Motor Bearing, Marchant Calculating Machine, Schlage Lock, Solar Aircraft, Byron Jackson and Norris Stamping and Manufacturing, which are all successful California companies. The moral of the story is that California is nice and these companies are nice and the American Dream is nice.

"Summer North of Boston --An American Portfolio by Walker Evans" The American Dream is that any man can be born of a long lineage of milionaires stretching back to the Mayflower, the kind that gives their sons first names like "Walker." And, when they grow up, the "Walkers" and "Prestons" can summer in enormous palaces along the Massachusetts and Maine coast. At least when they're not on Grand Tours.

"The Grain Traders" A very, very long article profiles six Chicago Merchantile Exchange traders. I'm a little surprised that Mr. Luce let them in his paper, but in his defence, they all have German names, which is at least better than being suspiciously Mexican, like my Soon-To-Be-Estranged-Father-in-Law. Blah blah free enterrprise blah.

"The Promise of the Next Hundred Years" The Brookings Institute asked its president, Dr. Harold Moulton, to do a bit of a study on some of the small stuff for a change: To wit, the changes we can expect in the next hundred years. Flying cars and Moon vacations aside, he points out the basic change in the last hundred years. John Stuart Mill, aways back in 1935, thought we were doomed by the scarcity of natural resources and the "natural tendency for population to increase at a geometric rate." Thus the law of diminishing returns would apply until we were all farming an eighth of an acre of beans and potatoes. Now we know that Mill was, to put it politely, wrong. Science has improved the efficiency of all industries, while all sorts of institutions have made large scale business possible.

So what of the next century? A sixteen-fold increase in total US expenditure, although much shifted, so that the increase of expenditure on food and nutrition would be only three-fold, while eight times as much will be spent on shelter and  home maintenance. One thing he can't promise (leaving it to elsewhere in these pages) is there won't be another depression of the kind that has afflicted American business in 30% of all past years. Indeed, the fact that recovery from the 1929--33 slump was worldwide in spite of the type of government policy pursued is evidence that government policy is pretty unimportant.

Hmm. I may not be a 65-year old Think Tank President and PhD. in economics, but I know baloney when I see it on my plate! That's your introduction to politics, which is the next section, where Moulton concludes that the world needs just the right balance of regulation and capitalism that we have in America today. Perhaps we could send some "know how" abroad! He points out that prosperity doesn't mean using more natural resources. We won't be wearing twenty times as much clothing in 2049. In fact, considering the bikini . . . But we will need six to ten times as many clothes for the doubled population of a century hence, with the rest of the twenty-fold increase being made up by the fact that it will be ten times as nice or so. (The example he uses is a $100 dress compared with a $20 dress.) Also, various synthetic materials mean that the consumption of wool and cotton is going to be less than that six-to-tenfold.

Finally, to soak up all that increased income, there is recreation and travel.

As for natural resources, the only ones America can expect to run out of are high grade iron ore and base metals. We will certainly not run out of coal or oil. Engines keep getting better, and there is a lot of coal.

For Uncle George, there is a section on the place of electronics. Dr. Moulton is impressed with atomics, ultrasonics, infrasound, thermostats, "instantaneous" conversion of ac to dc, the creation of new chemical compounds, increased plant seed yield, sterilisation and preservation of food and flowers. "Electronic instruments of superhuman sensitivity increase human efficiency manyfold." Future progress will depend on controlling soil erosion and increasing productivity by introducing mechanisation into new spheres of life, and through better management and organisation. However, unions are against productivity, says Dr. Moulton, so something has to be done about that. Efficient, big business must be preserved, and monetary and fiscal stability ensured. Finally, wages and corporate dividends are not enough to distribute the gains of increased productivity. The only way to maintain effective consumer demand is for prices to fall in proportion to increases in productivity, which was a problem in the Depression and will be a problem in the future.

"How Men Find Oil" Oil is big business, and it is not easy to find. More than six thousand wildcat wells were drilled in America in 1948, and seven of eight were dry. Oil is found in underground traps that capture seepage from the oil's original production place under modern or long-lost rivers. But traps are hard to see on the surface and not all traps are effective. Early theories, based on where oil was found, had all sorts of "numerological" justifications. On the other hand, science, in the form of the "gravimeter," which detects changes in the local gravitational field due to reduced density underground, is very interesting, especially since the author was an early promoter. Seismographs are also useful, but I have a feeling based on a slighting comment based on tiny "bulges" used to find oil in Louisiana salt domes, that the better your old-fashioned optical survey, the more likely you are to find oil.

The Law This feature this week covers the worthy, if boring task of enforcing antitrust. Labour covers the movement's reaction to the "improvements" in Taft-Hartley, and the resurgence of Cyrus Ching's Federal Mediation Service.


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