Business: Reform & Realism

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Irish Policeman. Joe Kennedy's appointment was more than a reward for contributions to Democratic campaign funds and lesser political favors. The President was convinced that the shrewd, genial, red-headed Boston Irishman would make an ideal policeman for the securities business. Like any good Irish policeman, he would be kind where kindness was called for, harsh where harshness was needed. As to his Wall Street record, Joe Kennedy would get a lusty laugh out of catching one of his old friends off the reservation, gaily clap him in jail if he possibly could.

Harvard son of an East Boston ward boss, Joe Kennedy was a small bank president at 25 and assistant general manager of Bethlehem Steel's Fore River Shipbuilding Corp. during the War. Thus, unlike most New Deal administrators, he went to Washington a trained executive. His job was not only to make the securities laws work but to keep them from wrecking the world's most sensitive economic mechanism. His solution was ingenious and simple.

Zeal v. Experience. From the Commissioners down, SEC is organized on the old Persian principle of placing mutually jealous people side by side. Men drawn from Wall Street are set off against those whose former connections with the securities business, if any, were largely academic. New Deal zeal is balanced with Wall Street experience.

In the case of the Commissioners, Joe Kennedy has to hold his own against two lawyers and an accountant. James McCauley Landis was the lean, young Harvard Law School professor who helped write the Securities Act of 1933 while serving on the Federal Trade Commission. Since Ferdinand Pecora resigned to become a New York justice. Commissioner Landis has been the sole SECommissioner with authentic New Deal credentials. Businessmen used to be terrified by his brilliant mind and by his saturnine eyes. Lately they have found him more sympathetic (see cut). Under the Landis wing are SEC's research divisions.

Commissioner Robert E. Healy is a Vermonter and nominally a Republican but long service as counsel to the Federal Trade Commission's utility investigation gave him rather a jaundiced opinion of Big Business. His specialty is the legal division. Commissioner George C. Mathews is also a nominal Republican. President Roosevelt picked him for his record on Wisconsin's liberal public service body to serve on the Federal Trade Commission.

The vacant SEC seat is slated to go to young Benjamin Cohen as soon as that New Deal legalite finishes drafting Administration bills for Congress to rubber stamp.

Below the Commissioners, zeal and experience are more evenly balanced. General Counsel John J. Burns, like Commissioner Landis, was a Harvard Law School professor. Self-made son of Boston Irish immigrants, he was elevated to the Massachusetts Superior Court bench before he was 30, quitting three years later to join the New Deal.

Director of Registration Baldwin Bane came from the Federal Trade Commission, is known as a protegé of Senator Carter Glass. He it is who issues SEC's ''stop-orders," which amount to injunctions shuting off the output of new securities. Since the Securities Act of 1933 was signed, he has passed 1,124 issues, stopped 58.

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