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THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
Published weekly by the
University of North Carolina
for its Bureau of Ehrtension.
FEBRUARY 23, 1921
CHAPEL HHX, N. C.
VOL VII, NO. 14
Editorial Board i fi. 0. Branson, L. R. Wilson, E, W. Knight, D. D. Carroll, J. B. Bullitt.
Entered as second-class matter November 14, 1914, at the Postofflce at Chapel Hill N» C , under the act of August 24, 1912,
RICH IN AUTOS, POOR IN SCHOOLS
RICH IN MOTOR CARS
One hundred and forty million dollars
invested in automobiles in North Caro
Our wealth in motor cars is almost
exactly half the capital invested in the
railways of the state.
It is nearly five times the sum we have
invested in the church buildings of our
fifty-two religious denominatioiis.
It is almost, exactly six times the
amount we have invested in public school
property for both races, town and coun
It is ten times the value of our thirty-
one college properties public and pri
vate, church and state.
It is more than twice the value of the
public school houses, church buildings,
and college properties of North Caro
lina all put together.
Our churches and schools are the slow
growth of two hundred and fifty years.
Our automobile wealth is the swift ac
cumulation of a single decade.
We invest in motor cars with eager
right hands. We invest in vital com
monwealth causes with reluctant left
hands—or apparently so.
Our motor car wealth averages $54
per inhabitant counting men, women,
and children of both races.
Our j::hurch property' averages $11.50
per inhabitant, our public school prop
erty $9.40 per inhabitant, and our in
vestment in thirty-one college proper
ties, church and .state, $5.70 per inhabi
We believe in public schools, church
causes, and college education or say
we do, but our faith in automobiles is
stronger—nearly two and a half times
We believe in motor cars in North
Carolina—no doubt about that. But we
doubt the durability of a Tin Lizzie civ-1
Now, we perfectly understand that
passenger cars, motor trucks, and trac
tors are necessities as well as luxuries
in modern life. But if ever we come to
believe as strongly in brain power as in
gas engine power, as strongly in culture
and character as in gasoline and lubri
cating oil, the Old North State will
quickly lead America in public educa
tion, public health, public highways, and
There is both accusation and condem
nation in the following table of invest
ments in North Carolina in this year of
our Lord, 1921:
1. Automobiles $140,000,000
2. Church buildings 30,441,000
3. Public school houses ... 24,069,000
4. College properties 14,008,000
And, mind you, these figures come
straight from (1) the Secretary of State
who licenses motor cars, (2) the last
Federal Census of Religious Bodies, (3)
the State Superintendent of Public In
struction, and (4) the college authori
If we are deliberately minded to fash
ion a topsy-turvy civilization here in
North Carolina we are set about it in
exactly the right way. The present
order of things is witless, and our sense
of final values needs to be immensely
quickened and thoroughly revised. We
cannot build a noble commonwealth in
$114,000,000 a Year
But even more amazing is the annual
cost of keeping our motor cars in com
mission. It takes a vast sum of money
to keep 140,000 motor cars going in good
order at full speed. It called for some
sixty-seven million dollars in North Caro
lina in 1920. And this total is figured
according to the formula of The Rail
way Age; but with almost every detail
less than the average for the country-
Depreciation, 20 percent of
Interest on investment, at 6
Gasoline, 20 gal. a month per
car, at 30c a gal 10,080,000
Lubricating oil, 8 gal. a yr.
per car, at $1.25 a gal... 1,400,000
Tires, 4 a year per car, at
$20 each 11,200,000
State license fees 1,776,000
Insurance, 70,000 cars at $72
Labor cost of repairs, at $10
And sixty-seven millions is a minimum
figure. It leaves out the cost of motor
car accessories and parts used in re
pairs, losses not covered by insurance,
garage storage and service charges,
chauffeur hire, repainting, varnishing,
and upholstering, etc.
They amount to millions a year, of
course, but they are omitted in this ex
hibit ,for lack of authoritative data.
Now add to these 67 millions the 47
millions we spent last year for new au
tomobiles and automobile parts, and you
have the startling total of 114 million
dollars spent by the people of this state
on automobile account in 1920.
It is a rich people that can afford to
invest 140 millions in motor cars and
another 114 millions a year to keep them
‘ And if we balk at state bond issues in
millions for public highways, state col
leges, and state hospitals for the insane,
epileptic and ' feeble-minded, for the
blind, deaf and crippled, the neglected
and wayward, then we stand convicted
of big-scale spending for private indul
gences and small-scale spending for
noble state ente'rprises.
A Bill of Indictment
Here is the way we spent money in
North Carolina last year, and the table
that folio ws is a bill of indictment against
us, as matters are at present.
Automobile upkeep $67,000,000
New automobiles and parts.. 47,000,000
Manufactured tobacco pro
Carpets and luxurious clo
Public school support 12,000,000
State government 7,000,000
Church support 6,000,000
College education, church and
State benevolent institutions 1,446,000
State college support 730,850
No guesses here. These figures are
based on the very latest reports of the
Secretary of State, the Secretary of the
Federal Treasury, the State Tax (Com
mission, the Federal Census of Religious
Bodies, and the authorities of our thirty-
one colleges, state and church.
Wrong End Foremost
Reduced to expenditures per inhabi
tant, they mean that for every $46 we
spend to keep our motor cars going,
we spend $5.30.to keep our public schools
going, $2.65 to keep our churches going,
92 cents to keep our thirty-one colleges
going, 64 cents to keep our state hospit
als going, and 33 cents to keep our
nine state colleges alive.
What a curious sense of values! Dol
lars for automobiles, tobacco, rich ap
parel, and candy! dimes for public
schools! still fewer dimes for churches!
and just a few cents for college educa
If we are wise we will right-about-
face in a hurry and set our civilization
right-side-up. At present it is clearly
If we are incurably childish, we will
driftmlong in graceless self-indulgence.
But let us remember that both the state
and the church are imperiled by selfish
self-indulgence and tight-fisted citizen
What a man does with his money is
If he hoards it and starves himself
and his family, he’s a miser. If he earns
it diligently, saves it prudently, and
spends it wisely, he’s thrifty. If he
throws it away like a drunken sailor,
he’s a spendthrift. If he is diligent in
business serving himself alone, he’s a
tick-and-flea citizen. That is to say,
he’s interested in the commonwealth he
lives in exactly as ticks and fleas are in
terested in the animal they live on. And
rich or poor, if he indulges himself gen
erously and supports his community
and his church stingily, he is apt to
think in two-penny ways about common
What we do with our money in North
Carolina is significant. At present it
goes in millions for personal indulgen
ces, and in midget sums for public ne
cessities. Does anybody know of any
surer way of building a pagan civiliza
tion here in North Carolina f
THE GOVERNOR’S LOOK
The program I have suggested does
not contain new or revolutionary
ideas calculated to excite wild enthu
siasm, but in my judgment, it is a
program which, if carried out, would
make North Carolina the fairest and
noblest habitation for men, women
and children to be found upon the
earth. Its adoption in completeness
and fullness will require political
courage of a high order. I appeal to
the progressive men and women of
the state to come together upon this
program, agree to details and plans,
and courageously proceed to write it
into the law.
The reactionary will whimper to
the timid that this is a bad time to
expend much money because of the
depressed condition of our whole
business life, but North Carolina is
still rich enough to take humane
care of its defectives and unfortu
nate, to guard itself as far as an en
lightened knowledge of preventive
medicine will enable it to against
sickness and suffering, to provide
adequate schools for the training
and education of its children, to build
a system of roads suggested by
sound business, and to do all other
things reasonably necessary in the
discharge of the high duties of a
Bonds for Vital Causes
If we were willing to bear a tax bur
den of $2.95 a year per inhabitant for
thirty-six years for public highways
and public schools, state colleges, and
state institutions of benevolence—if
year by year for a single generation we
were willing to spend one-tenth as much
for vital state causes as we spent last
year on motor cars alone, then the peo
ple of this state would quickly move up
out of the mud and at the same time lift
out of the mire our state hospitals and
state colleges. Good roads are funda
mental and for lack of them, churches
and schools, trade and banking languish
in sixty-eight counties of this state.
Two dollars and ninety-five cents a
year per inhabitant would pay the an
nual interest on one hundred and twenty-
five millions of five-percent bonds and
settle the debt in thirty-six years. These
figures, bv the way, are based on the
amortization tables of the Federal Bu
reau of Markets, and they are correct.
These bonds could be issued in series,
as fast as the money is actually needed
for construction purposes, and they could
be sold at par—not today perhaps but
tomorrow certainly when money mar
kets are easier.
They could be applied as follows:
Public highways $99,000,000
State colleges 14,500,000
Public school loan fund 6,000,000
State hospitals 5,500,000
Reduced to a rate, it would mean a
levy of three mills on the ad valorem
taxables of the state, or thirty cents on
the hundred dollars of property. A rate
of this sort would mean a dollar and a
half a year for a taxpayer with five
hundred dollars on the tax list. And
mind you, right around one half the tax
payers of the state, or fifty-one percent
of them all, have less than five hundred
dollars on the tax books. So it was or
thereabout in 1917. With three hundred
dollars of personal property exempt—
household furnitures, farm tools, me
chanics’ instruments, wearing apparel,
and the like—this ratio of small taxpay
ers in 1920 ran away beyond fifty-one
percent. Nearly nine-tenths, or eighty-
nine percent, of this tax would fall on
taxpayers with more than one thousand
dollars on the tax books.
For a discussion of Who Pays Taxes
in North Carolina, see chapter six of
Essays at Citizenship, The University
Record No. 161. If you cannot credit
these figures, examine and analyze the
tax list in your home county, no matter
where it is located in North Carolina.
Two dollars and ninety-five cents a
year per inhabitant for public highways,
public schools, state colleges and state
hospitals, looks like a whale of a sum.
But it is a trifle when the circus or street
carnival squats in our neighborhood, or
when the car needs a new tire, or
when the family wants a picture-show
I spree or two.
' And one hundredjand twenty-five mil
lion dollars looks like a whale of a sum,
even when spread over thirty-six years.
But we spend one hundred and fourteen
million dollars in a single year on auto
mobile account, and another hundred
millions on tobacco, candy, and fine ap
parel, and we do it without batting an
People that can do these things are
not poor. They are rich. They are rich
in self-indulgence. And they need to be
rich in state enterprises.
How The Counties Ranh
How much we think of motor cars on
the one hand and public schools on the
other appears county by county in the
deadly parallel columns prepared by Mr.
L. deR. McMillan of Wilmington and
published elsewhere in this issue.
In the state at large our motor car
investment is almost exactly six times
the value of our public school properties.
In ninety-one counties of the state
more money per inhabitant is invested
in motor cars than in schools, in ratios
ranging from one to one in Clay, on up
to twenty-five to one in Alexander.
Alexander’s faith in automobiles is su
Eight counties have greater per cap
ita wealth in school buildings than in
motor cars. They are mountain and
foot-hill counties, with relatively very
little money invested in either schools
or automobiles—with one inspiring ex
Fifty-four dollars per inhabitant is
what we have invested in automobiles
in the state at large, the averages rang
ing from one dollar per inhabitant in
Mitchell and Grah'am to ninety-nine dol
lars in Greene and one hundred and six
dollars in Scotland. These two counties
head the list in motor car property, and
both are rural counties.
But in school property our investment
is another story. It is only nine dollars
per inhabitant the state over, and the
averages range from two dollars in Al
exander and Brunswick, three dollars
in Ashe, Chatham, and Clay, to twenty-
two dollars per inhabitant in Buncombe
and twenty-four dollars in Transylvania.
These two counties head the list in per
capita public-school investments.
Scotland stands first in automobiles
but twelfth in schools. Greene stands
second in automobiles but eighty fifth
in schools. Pitt stands third in auto
mobiles, but forty-fourth in schools.
Amazing investments in motor cars—
amazingly large! side by side with amaz
ing investments in public-school prop
The people of this state ought to know
the facts in every home county.
Mr. McMillan’s table for the first
time gives the people of North Carolina
a chance to look themselves straight in
the face and decide once for all, county
by county, whether or not they are set
ting gas-engine power above brain-pow
er, culture, and character.
There is a great future for any county
that leads in public spirit—for counties
like Lenoir with two million dollars in
vested in good roads, or Guilford with
two millions voted for good roads and
sixteen hundred thousands more f^r
schools when other counties are crying
hard times and bankruptcy, or Forsyth
with nearly a million going into new
school buildings, dr New Hanover with
a new half million dollar high school
building nearing completion, or Tran
sylvania and Buncombe which far and
away lead the state in per capita invest
ment in public school, property. And
by the way, the new school building at
Roanoke Rapids and at Elizabeth City
will each cost more than twice as much
as any building on the University cam
But what is the outlook for a county
like Alexander with $52 per inhabitant
in automobiles against $2 in school prop
erty, or for Greene with $99 in automo
biles against $4 per inhabitant in public
school buildings and equipments?
MOTOR CARS AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Investments per Inhabitant in each on Dec. 30, 1920
Based on Reports of the Secretary of State and the State Superintendent of
Public school property, state total $24,000,000 in 1920, or $9 per inhabitant.
Private motor car property, state total $140,000,000, or $54 per inhabitant.
L. deR. McMillan, Wilmington, N. C.
Department of Rural Social Science, University of North Carolina.
Per cap. Per cap.
Scotland $106.... $14
Greene 99.... 4
Pitt 89.... 9
Wilson 84.... 10
Guilford 83.... 11
Davidson 82.... 6
Lincoln 73 ..
W ake 71...
Johnson /. 71...
New Hanover 61...
Stokes 7 63...
J ackson 10...
... ■ 49..
.. . 36 .
.... 27 .
.. • 16