Hail and farewell to accolades and brickbats | TheUnion.com

Hail and farewell to accolades and brickbats

This is an extremely hard column for me to write. For the last six years, I’ve been privileged to be able to express ideas through this column which have resonated with many of you in ways I could never have hoped for. For this I’m deeply grateful, and want now to say: “Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.”

Some of you have sent my article on smoking to your college students. You’ve sent my thoughts on terrorism to friends in New York. I recently visited a son in Oregon who introduced me to a friend who proudly showed me one of my articles taped to his refrigerator, and one of you even stopped me on the street to say that my suggestions for preparing for your old age made her change her lifestyle. You’ve made me feel welcome into your homes, and I’m truly indebted to you for your thoughts.

When we columnists first appeared, the theme was “Both Sides Now,” which attempted to pit opposing points of view against each other. The idea was sound. It was fair. I think it appealed to most of you readers, and I optimistically believe you’d like to see that approach continue.

Now, as you probably know, The Union has decided its local, paid columnists will no longer appear in its Saturday editions. The editorial thinking (and I can’t argue with this) is that we columnists have an unfair advantage over the usual letter-writer in that we have 740 words in which to get our views across.

Along with all readers, we’ve now been invited to submit the usual 200-word “Letter to the Editor” each month and one column per year as an “Other Voices.”

However, there’s a great difference between a short letter and a longer editorial. I have to confess that I don’t quite know how to handle this for, as you know by now, my opinions can be controversial, offbeat and lengthy.

And speaking of controversy, the hardest part of this farewell is sticking with the editorial dictum that my farewell not be political. Not political? Almost everything you and I deal with daily is political. For example, all of us are entitled to make investments with the anticipation of making a profit. That’s the capitalistic system under which we operate. However, when one group proposes laws that will guarantee a profit at the expense of the rest of us, that’s extortion, and is definitely un-American. It’s political, and it should sure be discussed.

If you run a business, you don’t fire your experienced, loyal, competent employees and hire a group of untested, wooly-headed wannabes; yet in our elections, we’re often asked to do this. That’s political, and it should be discussed.

If proposed gains for the few endangered the well-being and lifestyles of the many, that’s political, and it should be discussed.

So if in this final article I’ve got to eschew politics, I hope I’m not out of line in asking you to do some vital thinking before you go the polls Nov. 5 and make your decisions by asking yourself: “How do the values presented by these candidates and propositions square with those I choose to live by?” Using that yardstick, and not political rhetoric, I believe you can make informed and beneficial choices. If we do, our controversial, and heated, actions and opinions will continue; and so will our beautiful and laid-back Gold Country lifestyle.

So, again, I’ll miss your accolades, and your brickbats. My goodwill goes out to all of you. Goodbye, and God bless.

Otto Haueisen, an investment adviser in Nevada City.

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