Washington Evening Journal

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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

Be True to Yourself

By David Hotle | Sep 21, 2012

There it was, right out of the blue. I had just done one final check of my e-mail before sending the daily edition of The Journal to print and I saw it.

“Hello old friend.”

The origin line showed the name of an old friend I hadn’t seen the better part of 15 years. We’ll call him Al. I blinked. Had I just become the victim of some kind of complex Internet scam? Those hackers must be getting pretty good if they can pull up someone from my past like that.

For security reasons I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I opened the e-mail. It was asking me if I was the David Hotle who had lived in Moline during the 1980s and ‘90s. I replied, asking if the person was in fact my long lost friend.

We got the paper out that day and before I had gotten back to my computer, I got another e-mail from another friend I hadn’t seen since high school. We’ll call her Tami. She explained that my name had come up as part of a Facebook discussion and that another old friend of mine had looked me up online. She found the Washington Evening Journal Web site and my picture next to my biography on one of the pages. They decided that they needed to get hold of me.

Al had also sent me a reply saying “Yes, it is me” along with a phone number.

A brief note here: I went back and looked at the Facebook discussion they had regarding me. According to the comments, they thought I was dead. I can’t begin to describe the laugh that the other members of the newsroom and I had gotten out of that. Apparently before planning a pilgrimage to my grave, one of them actually thought to try looking me up on the Internet. I am happy to report that rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

I forwarded the e-mails to my home address and responded to them after work. I found that many of the people I hadn’t seen since high school or college are living relatively nearby. Long story short – I have been spending about the past month re-introducing myself to old friends. It has been great.

One of the most amazing things is how much people have changed over 15 to 20 years. Another amazing thing is how much they have stayed the same. Some are professionals. Some don’t have jobs for whatever reason. Some are laborers. Many are parents. One thing that I can happily say is that in each case all my old friends seem to have remained true to what they had started all those years ago and they are all happy. Yes, I was the one who was always writing something or trying to find out the latest on what was going on.

This experience serves to illustrate the power of following your passion in life. I’ve met a few too many people who didn’t stay true to their goals or their passions and ended up miserable as a result. I guess if I had one piece of advice to pass along to the students I know attending high school right now, it is to follow what you like.

Just think, 20 years from now, someone you are currently friends with may get hold of you out of the blue. What would you like to be able to tell them you have done with your life?

Comments (2)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Sep 25, 2012 14:40

By Thomas Sowell

We could definitely use another Abraham Lincoln to emancipate us all from being slaves to words. In the midst of a historic financial crisis of unprecedented government spending, and a national debt that outstrips even the debt accumulated by the reckless government spending of previous administration, we are still enthralled by words and ignoring realities.

President Barack Obama's constant talk about "millionaires and billionaires" needing to pay higher taxes would be a bad joke, if the consequences were not so serious. Even if the income tax rate were raised to 100 percent on millionaires and billionaires, it would still not cover the trillions of dollars the government is spending.

More fundamentally, tax rates-- whatever they are-- are just words on paper. Only the hard cash that comes in can cover government spending. History has shown repeatedly, under administrations of both political parties, that there is no automatic correlation between tax rates and tax revenues.

When the tax rate on the highest incomes was 73 percent in 1921, that brought in less tax revenue than after the tax rate was cut to 24 percent in 1925. Why? Because high tax rates that people don't actually pay do not bring in as much hard cash as lower tax rates that they do pay. That's not rocket science.

Then and now, people with the highest incomes have had the greatest flexibility as to where they will put their money. Buying tax-exempt bonds is just one of the many ways that "millionaires and billionaires" avoid paying hard cash to the government, no matter how high the tax rates go.

Most working people don't have the same options. Their taxes have been taken out of their paychecks before they get them.

Even more so today than in the 1920s, billions of dollars can be sent overseas electronically, almost instantaneously, to be invested in other countries-- creating jobs there, while millions of American are unemployed. That is a very high price to pay for class warfare rhetoric about taxing "millionaires and billionaires."

Make no mistake about it, that kind of rhetoric wins votes for political demagogues-- and votes are their bottom line. But that is totally different from saying that it will bring in more tax revenue to the government.

Time and again, at both state and federal levels, in the country and in other countries, tax rates and tax revenue have moved in opposite directions many times. After Maryland raised its tax rates on people making a million dollars a year, there were fewer such people living in Maryland-- and less tax revenue was collected from them.

In 2009, many people specializing in high finance in Britain relocated to Switzerland after the British government announced plans to take 51 percent of high incomes in taxes.

Conversely, reductions in tax rates can lead to more tax revenue being collected. After the capital gains tax rate was cut in the United States in 1997, the government collected nearly twice as much revenue from capital gains taxes in the next four years as in the previous four years.

Similar things have happened in India and in Iceland.

There is no automatic correlation between the direction in which tax rates move and the direction in which tax revenues move. Nor is this a new discovery.

Back in the 1920s, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon pointed out that people with high incomes were simply not paying the high tax rates that existed on paper, because they were putting their money into tax shelters.

After the tax rates were cut, as Mellon advocated, investments flowed back into the private economy, producing higher output, rising incomes, more tax revenue and more jobs. The annual unemployment rate in the next four years never exceeded 4.2 percent, and in one year was as low as 1.8 percent.

Despite political demagoguery about "tax cuts for the rich," in human terms the rich have less at stake than working people. Precisely because the rich have so many ways of avoiding taxes, a high tax rate is likely to do them far less harm than it does to the economy, on which millions of people depend for jobs.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Sep 25, 2012 12:21
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