Happy Birthday to Sheriff Leon Lott, the federal income tax, and anyone else born on this particularly auspicious day

Well, I got my annual birthday card from my twin, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

He’s a thoughtful guy, although in truth, it’s not that hard for him to remember, even though he’s getting older now. He and I were born on the same day, right here in South Carolina.

The coincidences between Leon and me abound. For instance, we’re both known and admired for our rugged good looks. He passed a series of demanding fitness tests to be named the SC Law Enforcement Officers’ Association “Toughest Cop” — twice. I have been named “South Carolina’s Toughest Editor” multiple times. Or I would have been, if such an award existed. He once got three standing ovations at Columbia Rotary, in the midst of the national controversy over his having busted Olympic champion Michael Phelps for smoking dope in Columbia; I got one such ovation — when I got fired from the newspaper, which makes you wonder what they were applauding.

And a few moments ago, when I called to thank him for my card and wish him a happy right back, the lady who answered the phone was named “Janell.” My mother and one of my daughters are named “Janelle,” although we spell it differently. And Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln. (Although, despite urban legend, Lincoln did not have a secretary named “Kennedy.”)

But wait: I’m not done. Taegan Goddard reports the following today on his Wonk Wire:

Happy 100th Anniversary to the Federal Income Tax

Today is the 100th anniversary of the federal income tax. President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation into law in 1913, concluding a process begun four years earlier by President William Howard Taft.

Paul Caron: “The new tax applied only to those with very high incomes. There was a personal exemption of $3,000 for individuals (equivalent to $71,000 today) and $4,000 for married couples (about $94,500 today) but none for dependents. Additionally, all interest and state and local taxes were deductible. After that, the following rate schedule applied to both individuals and couples.”

Some of my libertarian friends will find it particularly meaningful that the income tax and I share a birthday, although Leon and I are slightly younger. Y’all all join me now in a rousing hip, hip huzzah for former Columbian Woodrow Wilson…

Or don’t. No skin off my nose.

I will now thank a partial list of folks for wishing me a happy birthday so far today: Five Points businesswoman and community leader Debbie McDaniel, frequent candidate Joe Azar, Chapin Mayor Stan Shealy, former Mayor Bob Coble, ex-coroner Frank E. Barron III, Rabbi Marc Wilson, lobbyist Robert Adams, Patrick Cobb from AARP (fitting, huh?), Randy Pagem (director of PR at Bob Jones University), veteran political reporter Steve Piacente, radio host Jonathon Rush, SC Treasurer Curtis Loftis Jr.

There were 63 in all. What’s the etiquette on this — thank each individually, or all at once?

Sheriff Lott called me back while I was typing all this. He and I agree that this just doesn’t make sense — when other people are this age, they’re old. At least, that’s always been the pattern in the past. It’s weird…

8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Sheriff Leon Lott, the federal income tax, and anyone else born on this particularly auspicious day

  1. Doug Ross

    Happy birthday to you. Not so much to the Income Tax – a day that will live in infamy. Although the income tax did spawn a multi-billion dollar industry that does nothing productive besides calculate taxes owed or (if you are rich enough) figure out ways to avoid taxes.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I was associate editor of The State. I wrote a pretty good column about the end of that trial — about the 180-degree difference between black and white perceptions of what happened — but I didn’t publish it.

      It was just something I wrote very quickly and easily that afternoon, so no great loss.

      Why did I not run it? Because it frustrated me that I could OBSERVE this phenomenon, and comment on it, but had zero ideas what to do about it. This was less than two years after I had joined the editorial board, and I still had this idea that anything I wrote had to be prescriptive. You know, “I see this problem, and here’s what we ought to do about it.” And I just had no idea.

      Later, I would get over that, and more than once wrote about the cognitive wall that sometimes came up between black and white in America…

  2. Mab

    Gosh, no wonder the Sheriff’s picture was in the paper today. Sometimes I wonder, ‘how many days can they and he go without seeing it?’

    And then I start thinking of a great country song, that didn’t get near enough airplay. Or … maybe it did?

    “Neon Leon.” Happy Birthday to the both of you!


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