A Few Parting Thoughts To The City I Love
From the Publisher Clif Smith
This is most likely my final editorial as publisher of The Beverly Hills Courier. For those who enjoy this column, thank you for the support. For those who don’t, thank you for reading it anyway.
Beverly Hills is a truly remarkable enclave of dedicated and committed people. First and foremost is the spirit of community. This is a town people love and it’s easy to love Beverly Hills. The love comes from the people and their concern for one another, not from the incredible wealth amassed by the City and by many in it. There are other rich places in the world, but not many are motivated by as much civic concern and outright generosity as Beverly Hills.
The concern and generosity are shown in real life in real time by the constant financial gifts to charities and by the gift of time to the community if you don’t have the bank account. Many contribute both. Often the form of the giving is a charity ball at The Beverly Hilton, The Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons or The Beverly Hills Hotel. As publisher, I never saw any reason to penalize people for giving while having a good time. Volunteerism finds one of its most obvious expressions in the endless hours devoted by so many people in this community to organizing and holding these events. Without these there would not be the tens of millions of dollars that go to support hospitals, medical research, education, help for the homeless and the battered, Rotary’s battle to end worldwide polio and to provide clean water–the list is endless. (Anyone who has been honored by an organization also knows that the honoree is supposed to sell tables to the event. That’s just fine – whatever works.)
On the quieter side is the pure charity of philanthropy. We see daily multiple examples of good works performed by many in our community, but quietly and with a minimum of recognition.
While the charities seem to be constantly asking for more donations, and we citizens are hounded daily to pay more taxes, what is nearly always overlooked is just how certain individuals came to amass enough of a fortune to be a major – or minor – donor or honoree. That story is seldom told or appreciated. Instead, we hear of “income inequality” and the vital necessity of punishing those who produce and achieve by stripping them of what they earned. That’s really sad, but it is a human trait. Apparently, it is significant enough to rate TWO “thou shalt nots” in the Torah’s Ten Commandments . . . something about “steal” and “coveting.” Please explain the difference between a bunch of us getting together to “vote” to take away someone else’s property and, instead, just putting a gun to his (or her) head and saying: “Give me your money or I’ll shoot you”?
Our American system up to now has encouraged and allowed individuals with all sorts of skills and dreams to build and prosper. Without those individuals taking risks, showing up for work every day, and sticking with it, there would be no money to support charity. Our community politically often fails to understand that you cannot give unless you have, and you cannot have unless you earn. You also cannot have money to give unless you can keep what you earn. Tithing is not 65-percent taxation, it’s supposed to be 10-percent. That’s the result of the gang “voting.” Is that “equality”? Hardly.
This City has its wealthy, but it also has its not wealthy. 90210 may be the stuff of legends, but 90211 and 90212 seem pretty middle American. They are often overlooked, but if they attend one of these charity events they typically get the top row at the Hilton, not the floor seats. Still, they try to be there and support good works to the best of their abilities.
The Courier has tried to emphasize the balance between giving and enabling people so they can give. We now have 65-percent taxation or greater when you take into account all the taxes embedded in what we spend in addition to direct taxes.
All of us know the fable of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Well, by any objective means we’re sure making it hard for the goose to lay those eggs.
Beverly Hills has an impact out of all proportion to its population. We at The Courier call it the “Most important City in the world with the smallest population.”
At The Courier, we see, hear and research all sorts of things. We get your tips constantly. Reporting on unpleasant things is not pleasant but it has been our duty.
We believe our duty also includes emphasizing the good. About 95-percent of The Courier for the last 10 years has been about “the good.” That part we really like. During this time, we believe our newspaper has done its duty regardless of the consequences. That is our gift to the people and your gift to us has been the steadfast reader loyalty and trust you have placed in The Courier.
The Courier really does try to look out for the little guy, encourage the bigger guy, recognize and thank all who contribute, stop government from inflicting its schemes on us, and above all demonstrate a deep-seated and long-lasting affection and love for Beverly Hills.
P.S.: Of all the people I wish to thank, Rabbi Jack and Margie Pressman have to be at the top of the list. From Jack’s columns to Margie’s advice to the Seders my family and I celebrated in their home–nobody could be more blessed by their friendship than me.