Enjoy – The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America

Posted by Mack W. Borgen October 9th, 2018

 Blog No 83

 October 9, 2018

 “I Read the News Today. Oh, boy”

 Song Lyrics – The Poetry of Modern America

guitar player

Introduction and Background

Song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America. The lyrics of our favorite songs roll around in our heads for decades. Almost unconsciously, every day we honor the words of America’s songwriters who said something in that perfect, poetic, or clever way.

Eights years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America. I spent nearly a year assembling, sorting, and selecting those “memorable” song lyrics to be included in my books.

However, I eventually decided that it was necessary to exclude song lyrics from my books. This was done partly in deference to the needs of book brevity and partly in bowing recognition of the unavoidable subjectivity of making such selections. But it was also done because most songs are almost definitionally “intra-generational” in that they remain the separate and proud province of each generation. They are a part of each generation’s formative and collective memory – but not beyond that.

Nevertheless, as a result of that year of research, I assembled a relatively massive collection of what may be, by some measures of broad consensus, the greatest song lyrics of Modern America.

I have decided to start presenting them here for your remembrance and enjoyment. I confess that this is partly triggered by the fact that I have already done the fun, but painstaking, work of such assemblage. However, the presentation of these lyrics is also because America needs – maybe now more than ever — to reach back and enjoy something — or, as best said in 1967 by the Beatles in their song A Day in the Life” — “I read the news today, oh boy.”

Thus, from now on and with some regularity, I will start posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Lyrics of Modern America.

The other “serious” and “lighthearted” words of our generations are carefully presented in my three volumes of Dead Serious and Lighthearted – Volume I (1957-1976), Volume ((1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015). Volumes I and II are available now – PLEASE order your copies for yourself and your friends – (great and unique gifts!). Just go to www.mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All directly ordered books will be signed by the author and will be shipped within five business days. My books are, of course, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. My earlier books, The Relevance of Reason (Vols I and II) are also available.

 

The Greatest Lyrics of Modern America

– From 1957 through 2015 –

concert scene

 Today’s Selections.

Enjoy.

 

The Late 1950’s – Catching the “Tone” and “Sense” of a Generation.

The All American Boy by Bobby Bare (1959)*

“Gather ‘round, cats, and I’ll tell you a story

About how to become an All American Boy

Buy you a gittar and put it in tune

You’ll be rockin’ and rollin’ soon.”

But then one day my Uncle Sam

He said ‘Here I am’

‘Uncle Sam needs you, boy

I’m ‘a gonna cut your hair

Ah-Take this rifle, kid

Gimme that gittar .. Yeah. “

*            1959 – Top Hit – The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton

 

A Rainy Night in Georgia by Brooke Benton (1970)*

How many times I wondered

It still comes out the same.

No matter how you look at or think of it

It’s life and you just got to play the game.

*            1970 – Top Hit – Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel

 

Country Music

Family Tradition by Hank Williams Jr. (1979)

I am very proud of my daddy’s name,

Although his kind of music and mine aren’t the same.

Stop and think it over.

Put yourself in my position.

If I get stoned and sing all night long,

It’s a family tradition.

 

They .. want to know, Hank,

Why do you drink?

Why do you roll smoke?

Why must you live out

The songs that you wrote?

 

Now Four Great Book Reviews – Including From Renowned Kirkus Reviews

Posted by Mack W. Borgen September 28th, 2018

Press Release and Blog No. 82
October 2, 2018
(Prepared by Schmitt & Brody Publishers, Santa Barbara, California)

Newly Released Book Reviews of Mack W. Borgen’s

Dead Serious and Lighthearted

– The Memorable Words of Modern America –

 Volume I (1957-1976) (508 pp)(Released March 27, 2018); Volume II (1977-1993) (400 pp) (Released August 13, 2018) and Volume III (1994-2015) (624 pp) (To Be Released January 7, 2019).  

FOUR GREAT REVIEWS – The powerful and deservedly influential Kirkus Reviews, Clarion Reviews, US Review of Books, and Reader’s Favorite. 

KIRKUS REVIEWS. Since its founding in 1893 in New York City, Kirkus Reviews has remained possibly the most prestigious (albeit tough) and one of the most respected book review magazines in the United States.

KIRKUS’ TERRIFIC REVIEW OF BORGEN’S VOLUME I (Years 1957-1976) was also selected for inclusion in the September 15, 2018 issue Kirkus Reviews Magazine— an honor reserved for less than 10% of Kirkus’ reviewed books.

Excerpts of those reviews (and links to the full reviews) and copies of other testimonial and reader reviews are set forth below.

 – – –

Make it a special Christmas.

Order your signed copy or copies of Dead Serious and Lighthearted today.

Just go to www.mackwborgen.com/shop/

 Although this author humbly admits that the ink may be worth more than the signature,

All books will be signed by the author.

 PLUS FREE SHIPPING

For all orders of 10 or more books.

 

Book Reviews of Dead Serious and Lighthearted

Kirkus Reviews 

(Featured in September 15, 2018 Issue of Kirkus Reviews Magazine)

 A “herculean task”

“Crucially, the author follows each of these entries with a concise explanation of “context, meaning, and impact.” Likewise, he includes information about seminal books that appeared within the same year, at times producing delightful juxtapositions like these three titles from 1957: Atlas Shrugged, On the Road, and The Cat in the Hat.”

“The volume retains a depth that goes far beyond simple nostalgia. The work’s approach to … history may inspire the search for commonalities without erasing differences.”

“…Packed with cultural highlights and pivotal moments from a wide array of sources.”

Review Citation:  https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/mack-w-borgen/dead-serious-and-lighthearted

 US Review of Books

 “Opening this book feels like unlocking a time capsule.”

“To those who lived through the 60s and 70s, these glimpses are magnetic, attracting memories from our distant past. For Generation X and Millenniums, this may be your first time hearing this information.”

“Whether readers prefer cultural theory and arguments or simply reliving memorable words of our collective lifetime, the book does not disappoint.”

“It is a reference for researchers and librarians, but sure to be beloved by boomers.”

Review Citation: http://www.theusreview.com/reviews/Dead-Serious-and-Lighthearted-by-Mack-W-Borgen.html

 Clarion Reviews

“Ambitious in scope and dutifully researched .…”

“This expansive book carefully presents the … words that define America’s identity.”

“Neither dry nor loaded down with jargon….”

 “Efficiently organized and effective….”

 “…(P)ivotal information for liberals, conservatives, and centrists alike.”

 “An inspiring introduction to a university-level history course.”

 “An eye-opening collection/”

 Review Citation: https://www.forewordreviews.com/books/contributors/mack-w-borgen

 Reader’s Favorite

“….(T)he first in a series that present, without bias, the words that portrayed the feeling

of the American people at a specific point in time….”

“….(T)eaches the history of modern America … in a captivating way.”

“(A) keenly selected and presented collection of various spoken or written words.”

“A unique and fun way of learning America’s history.”

“Another great aspect of Dead Serious and Lighthearted is that (it) includes … history from diverse fields and events such as social movements, literature, politics or entertainment.” 

Review Citation: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/dead-serious-and-lighthearted
 

 OTHER TESTIMONIALS AND READER REVIEWS

About Dead Serious and Lighthearted – – The Memorable Words of Modern America

(Order Your Copy or Copies Today)

Just go to www.mackwborgen.com/shop/

Michael Levin, New York Times Bestselling Author, Boston, Massachusetts: “A … ‘must read.’ The brilliance of Borgen’s book lies in its breadth, his clever and painstaking assemblage of our country’s Memorable Words and from his powerful, page-by-page commentaries .…”

Wayne S. Bell, Former California Real Estate Commissioner, Sacramento, California: “…A creative, new, and smart look at American history … extremely wide-ranging – starting in 1957 and progressing year by year – about where we – as Americans – were, where we are now, and where we might be heading. “

Dulaney O’Roark, U.S. General (Ret), Lexington, Kentucky: “Borgen brings a keen intellect and delightful sense of humor to his trilogy The Memorable Words of Modern America. He offers a unique approach to understanding history in a way that we can see both the forest and the trees. Using an extraordinary collection of sources representing the zeitgeist of the times, Borgen infuses our history with vitality rare in any history writing.”

Scott King, Medford, Oregon: “A meticulous book … entertaining, informative, and some needed perspective to all generations … Can we all put down our smartphones and please read this book? “

Paul D. Hermann, Harvard Law School, Attorney, Atlanta, Georgia: “Words … from all walks of American life—Yogi Berra to JFK, Ralph Nader to the Supremes, and the Supreme Court …. Entertaining and fascinating …Finally, a history devoid of personal, political, cultural bias. … with words that will trigger good and fun memories.”

Tim Bremner, Senior Officer, Wealth Management, Newport Beach, California: “Borgen’s unique ability to be relevant and to capture the mood and temperament of our nation is always earnest and poignant. “

Reid A. Olson, Education and Business Consultant, Chicago, Illinois: “Simply stated, this book deserves a place in our higher education curriculum. This book belongs in the hands and minds of those individuals seeking a quality education both baccalaureate and beyond. Mack W. Borgen has shaped his life with the knowledge of history and is leading by example with his masterful work. Researched, frank and humorous, Borgen’s determination to delineate historical facts brings his audience to laughter and tears. Weaving his way through our nation’s cities and towns over time, he has reintroduced the readers to the men, women and events of Modern America. “

Dr. Roger J. Acheatel, Cardiologist and Attorney, La Jolla, California:  “…(A) compendium of modern Americana. “

Patricia Gordon, Patricia – Educator (Ret), Atlanta, Georgia: “Methodically researched to highlight meaningful quotes and historically significant anecdotes, Borgen’s book is a fascinating read …. This book demonstrates the importance of knowing one’s history. They will bring back memories for those who experienced those changes first-hand, and impart valuable knowledge and insight of our country’s recent history to those who came later. “

 Martha Lange – Business Owner, Santa Barbara, California: “Borgen lays out the mosaic of memorable words and phrases that have defined our history in the past 50 years in a way that helps us see the richness and variability of our shared American experience. In an era when American discord is at its highest, Borgen reminds us that there are certain words and phrases that bind us together across both geography and generations. “

Amazon Reader (2018) – Book Rating – 5 Stars: Once again, Mack Borgen has delivered an eloquent, exhaustive and enlightening view of the words that framed this period of our collective lives. Much like his previous books, Relevance of Reason books 12 and 2, Borgen impresses me with the breadth of research and the unparalleled manner in which he is able to deliver wildly diverse viewpoint into one cohesive, seminal work. I highly recommend this book to anyone in need of lifted spirits and powerful reminders just how diverse (and amazing) are the people that have shaped our country!”

 Amazon Reader (2018) – Book Rating – 5 Stars: “A Tour de Force. Mack Borgen’s first installment in a 3-part series is a remarkable achievement and a seminal accomplishment. In reviewing the significant cultural, political, social and artistic events of the period from the post-War ‘50s to the mid-1970’s (Volume I), Borgen highlights and contextualizes the things that have influenced who and what we are today. The author’s selection of significant events and achievements is itself remarkable as it deftly captures a sense of what the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s were about and provides a sense of the history of the times. The book is both history and cultural roadmap. A delightful read. “

 Amazon Reader (2018)  Book Rating – 5 Stars: “Borgen has taken the complex and politically sensitive history of our modern time and put it down in a style that is easy to read and understand. …with quotes and illuminations that took place and shaped our country. (He) even brings the well known to light in a manner that makes it come to life alive again….This is more than a book to read and put back on the shelf.”

 Amazon Reader (2018) – Book Rating – 5 Stars: Mack Borgen has a brilliant way of the cleverness of his writing mixed with humor and historical facts that take you down memory lane. His commentaries are insightful and make you think, laugh, and remember. A must read for any and all that are interested and care about the national dialogue that is so needed in this country right now. Highly recommended. While perhaps not written as a book that is intended for schools, it would be so valuable to students and teachers. It is well researched, presented in a reader friendly manner and speaks to those from all walks of life who care about the national discourse currently going on in our country, yet written in a way that engages the reader while making you look so fondly and humorously at times past and how they intertwine with the present. I highly recommended read for those who want to take a new and innovative look at US history.”

 Amazon Reader (2018) – Book Rating – 5 Stars: “Amazing read you don’t want to miss….Mack Borgen’s thoughtful, humorous, and provocative writing makes his series of books a delight to read ….”

 Amazon Reader (2018) – Book Rating – 5 Stars: ” “Engrossing” book in that it “identifies and invokes memorable words to cast insightful looks at the social moods and swings of modern America.”

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Book Signing at Chaucer’s Bookstore, Mack Borgen on Elizabeth Stewart Show, Last Days of Special Offer

Posted by Mack W. Borgen August 4th, 2018

You Are Invited
– – –
Chaucer’s Bookstore
Mack W. Borgen Book Signing

New Volume II (Years 1977-1993)

Dead Serious and Lighthearted –

The Memorable Words of Modern America 

3321 State Street, Santa Barbara
7:00 – 9:00PM
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments

and

Join Us and Listen to Radio Interview
With Mack W. Borgen
about His Latest Book

on
The Dr. Elizabeth Stewart Radio Show

Friday, August 17,*
10:00 AM
KZSB AM 1290

*Show also tentatively planned on being re-broadcast
at 8:00PM, Friday, August 16 and 11:00AM, Sunday, August 19.

– – –

If You Haven’t Already Ordered Your Copies
Place Your Order Now – Summer Special – Now Available –

Both Volume 1 (1957-1976)

and Volume II (1977-1993)

(Please Note: Volume III (Years 1994-2015) will be released on January 14, 2019. If you order sets of all three Volumes now at the Special Price, Volumes I and II will be shipped immediately. Your Volume III will be shipped automatically to you upon its release. 

SALE – Sets of All Three Volumes
(Volumes I (1957-1976), II (1977-1993), and III (1994-2015))

Paperback Sets of All Three Volumes – Author-Signed

Regular Price: $65.85
SPECIAL PRICE – 40% OFF $39.95 Per Set

Hardback Sets of All Three Volumes – Author-Signed

Regular Price: $104.85
SPECIAL PRICE – 35% OFF  $69.95 Per Set

SALE – Volume II Only

Paperback – Volume II Only – Author-Signed

Regular Price: $21.95
SPECIAL PRICE – 30% OFF  $14.95 – Vol II

Hardback – Volume II Only – Author-Signed

Regular Price: $34.95
SPECIAL PRICE – 30% OFF $24.95 – Vol II

 

SPECIAL OFFER EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2018

PLUS Free Shipping
(Orders of 10 Copies or More!!)
— Direct from Publisher —

Just Go To
www.mackwborgen.com/shop

Also Available on Amazon

* Reminder – Book Costs May Be Tax Deductible. Book costs may be tax deductible in certain circumstances such as if delivered as client/customer appreciation gifts or for client development. Please consult your tax advisor.

If you have already ordered sets of books or copies of Volumes II or III, your copies will be automatically shipped to you within about ten (10) days after their release date.


Blog 78

May 22, 2018

You’re Invited  
– – – 

New Book – “Your Years” – Volume II of Dead Serious and Lighthearted Series – NEW SPECIAL OFFER

Posted by Mack W. Borgen July 17th, 2018

Personal Note:

My great thanks to those many of you who have already ordered copies of my Volume I (Years 1957—1976) and my special, special thanks to those of you who have ordered 5, 10, and in one case even 20 copies. I am pleased to now announce the release of Volume II which is about…

“YOUR YEARS”

ANNOUNCING THE RELEASE
OF

Volume II (1977-1993)

Dead Serious and Lighthearted
– The Memorable Words of Modern America –

Volume I (1957-1976)
(524 pages) (Released March 27, 2018)

Volume II (1977-1993)
(416 pages)(Release Date: August 13, 2018)

Volume III (1994-2015)
(618 pages) (Release Date January 14, 2019)

Early Vol I Awards and Reviews

Best Book of the Year
(General Nonfiction) (2nd Place)
San Francisco 2018 Book Festival

Honorable Mention Award
(General Nonfiction)
New York 2018 Book Festival

“Opening this book feels
like unlocking a time capsule.”
“These glimpses are magnetic….”

The US Review of Books

“This book is a ‘must read.'”
Michael Levin,
New York Times Bestselling Author, Boston, Massachusetts

“Deserves a place
in our education curriculum”

Reid A. Olson,
Education and Business Consultant, Chicago, Illinois

Amazon Customer Reviews

“Makes history come alive again”

“A remarkable achievement and a seminal accomplishment. The author’s selection
of significant events and achievements is itself remarkable.”


“…Eloquent, exhaustive and enlightening”

“A writing style mixed with humor and historical facts.”

“Engrossing.”
– – –

VOLUME II PRE-RELEASE OFFER

 

For Yourself, For Your Friends, or
For Birthday, Christmas, or Client Gifts

SALE – Sets of All Three Volumes
(Volumes I (1957-1976), II (1977-1993), and III (1994-2015))

Paperback Sets of All Three Volumes – Author-Signed

Regular Price: $65.85
30% Off SALE PRICE: $44.95

Hardback Sets of All Three Volumes – Author-Signed

Regular Price: $104.85
30% Off SALE PRICE: $74.95

SALE – Volume II Only

Paperback – Volume II Only – Author-Signed

Regular Price: $21.95
30% Off SALE PRICE: $14.95

Hardback – Volume II Only – Author-Signed

Regular Price: $34.95
30% Off SALE PRICE: $24.95

 

PRE-RELEASE OFFER EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2018

Free Shipping
(Orders of 10 Copies or More!!)
— Direct from Publisher —

Just Go To
www.mackwborgen.com/shop

 

Also Available on Amazon

* Reminder – Book Costs May Be Tax Deductible. Book costs may be tax deductible in certain circumstances such as if delivered as client/customer appreciation gifts or for client development. Please consult your tax advisor.

If you have already ordered sets of books or copies of Volumes II or III, your copies will be automatically shipped to you within about ten (10) days after their release date.


Volume I (1957-1976) (524 pages)
(Released March 27, 2018)


Volume II (1977-1993) (424 pages)
(Being Released August 13, 2018)


Volume III (1994-2015) (624 pages)
(Being Released January 14, 2019)

Presented For Every Year
The Memorable “Data Words”

Seminal Books
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Books
Analysis of The New York Times Best Sellers Over the Years
Academy Awards and PrettyFamous’ Best Picture
Best Movie Lines and Most Widely-Viewed Television Shows
Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album
Best and Worst Book Titles and Books Most Frequently Banned
Presidential Campaign Themes and Corporate Slogans and Advertising Tag-Lines
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY
The Memorable Words from Speeches, Books, Writings, and Other Sources

The fascinating and frivolous; the tragic and momentous,
The eloquent and bumbling; and the touching and endearing.

Narrative Description of Books

These books introduce the history of Modern America in an entirely new way — without the tired stories, heavy words; without the litany of “isms” and “ologies.”

The Memorable Words, both the dead serious and the lighthearted, are carefully presented – the fascinating and frivolous, the tragic and momentous, the eloquent and bumbling; the touching and endearing – from Ike to Obama, from Lucy to Lady Gaga.

The Dead Serious and Lighthearted  series is written without agenda, but it carefully identifies who said what and when and where – exactly. Each entry is carefully placed into the context of our nation’s recent history — whether the basis for that placement is rooted in the words’ humor, passion, eloquence, prescience, wisdom, shock, evil, or even foolery.

The first volume, released on March 27, 2018, presents the words from 1957 until 1976 – from American Bandstand to The Godfather, from Lucy to Charlie’s Angels and Rocky’s call of “Yo Adrian!”; from the end of the Fifties through the wildness of the Sixties; from the ascendancy of the Civil Rights, feminist, and environmental movements through the tragedy of Vietnam and the disgrace of Watergate.

The new book, Volume II, which is being released on August 13, 2018, presents the Memorable Words of Modern America from 1977 until 1993 – again with each entry identifying the speaker or writer; again with each entry carefully placed into context and explained as to meaning — the fascinating and frivolous, the tragic and momentous, the eloquent and bumbling.

From Star Wars’ “may the force be with you” to Nicholson’s “you can’t handle the truth;” from the lightness of Happy Days to the edginess of Roseanne; from the efforts of Carter to the rise of Reagan; from the Go-Go financial markets of the 1980s to the fall of Communism; from the emergence of modern conservatism to the impacts of globalism and technology.

Volume III, the last of the three-volume Dead Serious and Lighthearted series presents the memorable words of Modern America from 1994 until 2015.

From Forrest Gump to 12 Years a Slave; from 9/11 to the Great Recession; from “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”  to “Hands up! Don’t shoot;” from “Mission Accomplished”  to “Hope is not a strategy;”  from the “Contract with America” to “Drill, baby, drill”; from the impact of “Shock and Awe”  to the reminder that “Politics ain’t beanbag” and the rise of Trump(ism).

Place Your Order Now
For Yourself, For Your Friends
For Birthday, Christmas, or Client Gifts

Order Your Specially-Price
Set or Sets of Books
Or
Your Volume II
Now

Free Shipping
(Orders of 10 Copies or More!!)
— Direct from Publisher —

Simple Ordering
Just Go To
www.mackwborgen.com/shop

 

Book Award and First Book Review

Posted by Mack W. Borgen June 11th, 2018

I Am Pleased to Announce

That My Latest Book,
Dead Serious and Lighthearted – Volume I
Has Just Received

Best Book of the Year
(General Nonfiction) (2nd Place)
San Francisco 2018 Book Festival

In Addition
A Great Review From

— The US Review of Books —

Excerpts:
“Opening this book feels like unlocking a time capsule.”
– – –
“To those who lived through the 60s and 70s,
these glimpses are magnetic, ….”

Full Review Is Set Forth Below

If You Haven’t Already Ordered Your Copies
PLEASE – Place Your Order Now
For Yourself, For Your Friends, or
For Birthday, Christmas, or Client Gifts

“This book is a ‘must read.'”
Michael Levin,
New York Times Bestselling Author, Boston, Massachusetts

Presented For Every Year
The Memorable “Data Words”

Seminal Books
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Books
Analysis of The New York Times Best Sellers Over the Years
Academy Awards and PrettyFamous’ Best Picture
Best Movie Lines and Most Widely-Viewed Television Shows
Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album
Best and Worst Book Titles and Books Most Frequently Banned
Presidential Campaign Themes and Corporate Slogans and Advertising Tag-Lines
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY
The Memorable Words from Speeches, Books, Writings, and Other Sources

The fascinating and frivolous; the tragic and momentous,
The eloquent and bumbling; and the touching and endearing.

A SPECIAL GIFT FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS *

Free Shipping

(Orders of 10 Copies or More!!)
— Direct from Publisher —
Just Go to www.mackwborgen.com/shop

Also Available on Amazon

* Reminder – Book Costs May Be Tax Deductible. Book costs may be tax deductible in certain circumstances such as if delivered as client/customer appreciation gifts or for client development. Please consult your tax advisor.

US Review of Books
Full Text of Review

May, 2018
— Dead Serious and Lighthearted —
— The Memorable Words of Modern America – Volume I (1957-1976) —

“History is a quiet medicine, but it can allow us individually and as a nation to better remember our accomplishments. It can reinforce our patience…”

Opening this book feels like unlocking a time capsule. What were people watching on TV or seeing in movie theaters in 1967? If you can’t remember, two popular offerings were The Andy Griffith Show and In the Heat of the Night. If you could step back into a bookstore in 1965, what books would be on the best seller’s shelf? The author tells us they were The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Unsafe at Any Speed. Meanwhile, the memorable phrase of 1973 was “What did the President know and when…”

To those who lived through the 60s and 70s, these glimpses are magnetic, attracting memories from our distant past. For Generation X and Millenniums, this may be your first time hearing this information. That is all right since the author plans two more volumes that will cover the years 1977-2015. Then reader roles may be reversed, and baby boomers will have to be brought up to speed by the current generations. As explained in his introduction, Borgen’s intent in writing a modern American history is to draw together generations living today. In previous centuries sometimes only two generations lived at the same time, so traditions and stories were handed down orally. With increased life expectancies, America now has four generations who must get better acquainted in order to live and work together.

The layout of this 500-plus-page book is atypical. Roughly divided into three parts, six introductory chapters precede the memorable words of the 1957-1976 section. The last third of the book contains appendices, endnotes, resources, and an in-depth index. Future volumes are to follow the same format.

Whether readers prefer cultural theory and arguments or simply reliving memorable words of our collective lifetime, the book does not disappoint. It is a reference for researchers and librarians but sure to be beloved by boomers.

Book is recommended by US Review of Books

You Are Invited – Tecolote Book Signing and KZSB Radio Interview with Mack W. Borgen

Posted by Mack W. Borgen May 22nd, 2018

You Are Invited
– – –
Tecolote Bookstore
Mack W. Borgen Book Signing

1470 East Valley Road, Montecito
3:00-4:30PM
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments

and

Join Us and Listen to Radio Interview
With Mack W. Borgen
about His Latest Book, Dead Serious and Lighthearted
on
The Dr. Elizabeth Stewart Radio Show

Friday, June 1*
10:00 AM
KZSB AM 1290

*Show also tentatively planned on being re-broadcast
at 8:00PM, Friday, June 1 and 11:00AM, Sunday, June 3.
– – –
If You Haven’t Already Ordered Your Copies

Place Your Order Now

“This book is a ‘must read.’”
Michael Levin,
New York Times Bestselling Author, Boston, Massachusetts

“The ‘memorable words’– reminders of where we were, where we are now,
and where we might be heading.”

Wayne S. Bell, California Real Estate Commissioner, Sacramento, California

“Deserves a place in our education curriculum …”
Reid A. Olsen, Education and Business Consultant, Chicago, Illinois

Presented For Every Year
The Memorable “Data Words”

Seminal Books
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Books and The New York Times Best Sellers
Academy Awards and PrettyFamous’ Best Picture
Best Movie Lines and Most Widely-Viewed Television Shows
Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album
Best and Worst Book Titles and Books Most Frequently Banned
Presidential Campaign Themes and Corporate Slogans and Advertising Tag-Lines
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY
The Memorable Words from Speeches, Books, Writings, and Other Sources

The fascinating and frivolous; the tragic and momentous,
The eloquent and bumbling; and the touching and endearing.

A SPECIAL GIFT FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS*

Free Shipping

(Orders of 10 Copies or More!!)

– Direct from Publisher –
Just Go to www.mackwborgen.com/shop

Dead Serious and Lighthearted
The Memorable Words of Modern America – Volume I (1957-1976)

 

Also Available on Amazon

* Reminder – Book Costs May Be Tax Deductible. Book costs may be tax deductible in certain circumstances such as if delivered as client/customer appreciation gifts or for client development. Please consult your tax advisor.


Blog 78

May 22, 2018

You’re Invited 
– – –
 – Tecolote Book Signing and KZSB Radio Interview with Mack W. Borgen –


LAST 4 DAYS – Book Publishing Names/Contact Information

Posted by Mack W. Borgen May 2nd, 2018

LAST FOUR DAYS

40% OFF SALE
(Free Shipping for Orders of 10 Books or More)

SALE ENDS MIDNIGHT, SATURDAY, MAY 5

BUY NOW
Just Go To:
  www.mackwborgen.com/shop

– – –

My Third Run at the Wall – Book Publishing in America
– Time and Cost Estimates –
– Names and Contact Information of Publishing Experts –

Over the last few months, several of my readers have asked me about the U.S. publishing business – my impressions and experiences; the costs and characteristics.

In this short article, I am pleased to try to address these subjects – but with the understandings that every genre of writing and each book is slightly unique unto itself and that my writings have solely been nonfiction. In addition, my experiences are still, even after nearly six years, somewhat limited. My first books (The Relevance of Reason – Volumes I and II) were released in June and October, 2013, and I am only now starting to release my third, fourth, and fifth books — the Dead Serious and Lighthearted series – Volumes I, II, and III.

I have also listed below for your use, if you wish, the name and contact information of certain highly talented and experienced people with whom I’ve worked and whom you may want to contact if you elect to pursue publishing.

With the continuing caveats (a) that there is still a great amount I don’t know and a great amount I am still learning every day – especially in the context of book marketing, and (b) that my comments are limited to adult nonfiction, my overall impressions of the publishing market is dominated by three words:  crowded, disarray, and costly.

Crowded speaks for itself – everyone has a story, and there are a million topics. The disarray in the context of publishing results especially from, as with so many industries in America, the constant introduction of new technologies and new avenues of media and marketing. The most conspicuous example of this is the slow shift away from “traditional printing” (which I used with my first books) to various forms of “print-on-demand” publishing. The changes in printing format have paralleled (a) the explosion of various formats of hybrid, independently or self-published books and (b) the growing quality and market respect for such “Indie” books. Today, the quality of Indie books is, in almost every way, the same as that of traditional presses, and books can be relatively easily and efficiently printed through the print-on-demand systems of Amazon’s CreateSpace and IngramSpark.

The dominant words which summarize book marketing are almost the same – crowded, disarray, and costly. However, I would also add the word “technological” since such a considerable degree of modern marketing relies upon our ever-changing social media tools.

Any thoughtful discussion about writing and publishing should also probably include a reminder about the need for patience, energy, and even luck. It is not easy.

Having a good, even a great, book is not enough. Without patience, energy, and luck, another good — even great — book can be just another whistle in the wind. Especially in that sense the book writing and publishing industry is a frustrating environment. And I confess that it hurts that on any given day, my books will never sell as well as that of the forthcoming 14-page, fold-out special of Stormy Daniels – really? Or the confessions of any serial killer. Or the memoirs of any disgraced public figure. Or the tell-all of any broken Hollywood celebrity or any former White House parking attendant.

But, life isn’t fair, and sometimes one just has to write. That is the proverbial bottom line. For me, writing is my expression of hope that things will get better in this country; that we can again have both knowledge and fun; that we will find ourselves again. And even in the very process of writing, much can be learned.

There are many stages (and sub-stages) of writing and publishing. If it might help, some of the major stages and my rough, rough estimates of needed time frames are as follows:

 1.          Topic Selection, Research, and Writing (1-4 Years)

Outline and re-outline.
Notes and research.
Write and re-write.
Kick the cat and walk the dog
Then re-write again.
Hit “Delete” and start over.
Modify the subject and approach.
Take a walk, look for a verb, and start over (again).
Draft Nos 1-37.
Kick the cat again for good measure.
… You get the picture.

 2.         Copy Editing and Proofing (and Re-Proofing; and Consistency Proofing) (2-4 Months)
 3.         Page Layout and Review (1-3 Months)
 4.         Cover Design (1-2 Months)
 5.         Indexing (4-6 weeks)
 6.         Preliminary Comments, Reviews, and Testimonials (1-2 Months)
 7.         ISBN, LCCN and Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication Data (1-2 Months)
 8.         Website Design, Launch and Maintenance (2 Months and then on-going)
 9.         Wholesale and retail distribution channels and order fulfillment systems. (1 Month)
10.         Marketing Plan – endless, definitionally disorganized, and largely tech-based. (1-4 Years) (Including book reviews, contests, signings, and shows; advertising; press releases.

Total Time (Exclusive of Marketing) – My best estimate: 1.8 years – 5 years per book or book series.

Rough Out-of-Pocket Cost Estimate. Apart from the many thousands of hours of research and writing with or without staff or administrative assistance, there are certain almost unavoidable out-of-pocket costs incurred in the publication and release of one’s book. These amounts can vary greatly from book to book, and the following estimates assume the following: Per 500+ page book; No Illustrations; Professional Editing, Page Design, and Indexing; and Professional High-Quality Design and Cover):

Using Print-on-Demand Publication Services: $12,000 – $20,000
Using Traditional Printing (With 1,000 Initial Print Run): $17,500 – $25,500

The above estimates do not include marketing, advertising, and publicist costs — which can be, .literally, endless. It is neither my place nor my desire to complain, but like all products, book sales are – to a degree – a direct function of marketing. However, even recouping the out-of-pocket costs of publishing and marketing is, at best, challenging especially when Amazon, for example, takes about 60% off the top. That is THE deal. The only real deal. There are very few other avenues for offering one’s book to America. And that is one of the reasons  I ask my friends — if they think my books are worthy – to buy and tell others about my books.

Those of you who know me well, know how difficult it is for me to self-promote my own books. I am willing to lower my head and wear my “Will Write For Food” T-shirt, but please know that your or your friends buying of my books is greatly, greatly appreciated.  THANK YOU.

But one of the true silver linings of the last six years has been my meeting and working closely with many fine and talented people.

GREAT PUBLISHING PROFESSIONALS

As noted above, a few of you have made some specific inquires about publishing. Thus, it is my honor to recommend the following professionals if you are considering writing and publishing a book. Their help has been invaluable to me and in many instances is still on-going. I, again, thank them.

Listed alphabetically, …

Burton, Jen. jen@columbiaindexing.com. (Reno, NV). Indexing. Eighteen years of experience in indexing books. Though Jen works for many international publishing houses, she also enjoys working directly with self-publishing authors. Jen is a generalist and is comfortable working on topics a diverse as art, finance, psychology, and history.

Kearns, Gail. gail@topressandbeyond.com. (Santa Barbara, CA). General publishing and marketing consulting. President of To Press & Beyond, a full-service book shepherding agency. For over 20 years, she and her team have offered all levels of book editing, production oversight of indie published books and marketing and PR of their clients’ titles. Mention “”Mack” and get a half-hour gratis consult on your next book.  A wonderful guide and friend.

Moran, Kathy. Kathy@webdevelopmentartistry.com; www.webdevelopmentartistry.com (Ojai. CA.) Web design and development, social media, PPC advertising, SEO and email marketing. Talented, committed, and brilliantly patient in resolving and explaining many web- and SEO-related issues.  I have worked with many SEO  and web-design professionals over the years – and she is one of the best …!

Pizzirani, Jolinda / Pizzirani Consulting. pizziraniconsulting@yahoo.com. (Summerland, CA). General publishing and marketing consultant and book cover design. Enthusiastic, talented, and experienced general publishing and marketing consultant and book cover designer. 12 years owned and operating Summerland Publishing. General guidance for creation of your unique book. Overall logistics, text payout, cover design, graphic design services (e.g. flyers, advertisements, newsletters, and note cards), and basic editing.

Siems, Bennett A. (Ben). WillieAugust@hotmail.com. bensiemsmusic.com. (Minneapolis, MN). Book editing. Brilliant and thorough book editing. Phi Beta Kappa Graduate of Brown University. Tight and conscientious editing. Editing experience includes nonfiction, novels, poetry, essays, articles white papers (including several commissioned as part of President Obama Open Government Initiative and a recent report submitted to the chairs of a congressional committee investigating an overseas money laundering operation), and grant applications. Personally-published writings include essays, articles and literary, film, and music reviews.

Additional fine book editor. Calzone, Cynthia. ccalzone58@yahoo.com. (Waterbury, CT). 25 years in the field of proofreading and editing. I work hard to make your writing the best it can be. “Interesting and error free. Reasonable fee and decent turn-around.”

theBook Designers (Alan Hebel and Ian Koviak). alan@bookdesigners.com. (Fairfax, CA). Experienced and talented book cover designers of many successful and nationally well-known books.

Viau, Ghislain / Creative Publishing Book Design. info@creativepublishingdesign.com. (La Crescenta, CA). Extraordinarily talented, focused, easy-to-work with book formatting and publishing advisor. Absolutely one of the best. Offers assistance to authors self-publish their book. Services include book cover design, book formatting (typesetting), ebook conversion, and liaison with printers (offset printing or print-on-demand). More than 25 years of experience and many contacts with others in the field such as editors, proofreaders, website designers, indexers, etc. Many authors have been happy with results (See reviews at http://www.shopperapproved.com/reviews/creativcep[ublishingdesign.com/oage-).html .

Please know that there are many, many others who have provided great guidance, assistance and encouragement to me over these last years (including, for example, Laren Bright (Terrific writer)(Venice, CA); George Foster (one of country’s finest book designers)(Fairfield, IA); and many of the personnel at Sheridan Books (Book publishing) (Ann Arbor, MI). But hopefully, the names of the people set forth above may assist you if and as you wish to go forward.


Blog 77

May 2, 2018

By Mack W. Borgen

Santa Barbara, California


A Case for the Elimination of Income Taxation

Posted by Mack W. Borgen April 18th, 2018

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A Case for the Elimination of Income Taxation
 – There Is a Far Better Way –

By
Mack W. Borgen
Santa Barbara, California

Author’s Note
I started writing this article over six months ago. Possibly it is merely a subliminal coincidence that it was finished this week – the same week that I, like you, completed my tax returns and paid my income taxes. On the other hand, this year’s taxes again reminded me of our need to replace the taxation of income in the United States.

Introduction
 – Maybe I Was Right the First Time –

Many years ago —- back when I had more energy and exercised less caution; back when I could party all night and still get up in the morning; back when I thought that prudence was for pussies and planning was for nerds, I wrote my law school thesis on the U.S. tax code.

Seriously, the U.S. Tax Code.

Following the mantra of my youth, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was in law school, but Massachusetts is cold in the winter. It was dark and snowy. The wind was always howling. It was lonely, and I had no money. And, to be blunt, there wasn’t that much to do other than to write my thesis. Page by page.

But I realized, even then, that taxation was an important subject. Although I wasn’t particularly interested in income and estate taxation, my theory was it if I wrote my thesis on it, I would be forced to learn the subject.

So I sat in my library carrel all winter. And I wrote. Isolated deep inside the bowels of Langdell Hall, the Harvard Law School Library, I wrote about a radical alternative to income taxation, which was then and still remains the primary source of governmental revenues.

It seemed to me then, and even more now, that income taxation is an inappropriate basis for the imposition of taxes. It was then and still is. at best, a clumsy, inaccurate, means by which to measure one’s capacity or public duty to pay taxes.

My disdain for income taxation was further fueled by the hours of classes in which we, as students and future lawyers, were taught the wretchedly clever, but lawful, means by which income can be restructured or re-characterized from the high-rate “ordinary income” to lower-rate “capital gains” — you know, by changing standard W-2 income, which is still reported by a vast majority of Americans, to substantially lesser-taxed “capital gain” income. We were taught twisted machinations by which income could be averaged, deferred, or tax-straddled between years. We were taught the use of generation-skipping trusts so that substantial wealth could be passed, tax-free, from one generation to another generation – so properly named, the beneficiaries. And on it went.

One tax maneuver after another was presented as we learned how to guide clients to walk that sometimes perilously thin line between unlawful tax avoidance and lawful tax minimization.

It struck me that the course of correction would not be found by merely tinkering with the tax code or the hundreds of tax regulations. The wasted efforts of 22 Congresses since then have proven, in the opinion of this author, that this early conclusion was correct.

Instead, I thought that there must be a better; simpler; more efficient and equitable manner upon which to base our federal taxes. For the numerous reasons discussed below, I concluded that taxation upon one’s annually declared net wealth would be far superior to taxation of one’s annual declared net income.

It has been decades since I wrote my thesis on the advisability of such wealth taxation. Now, I suggest here again, that taxation should be based upon one’s wealth – not one’s income.

Be assured that this article is not written from the perspective of politics or in order to advance the agenda of any political party. In fact, I am becoming convinced that I am not smart enough to know to which party I belong: with whom I wish to be associated; and, for that matter, who would have me. So, please accept that this article is not about politics. This article is not about class or class warfare. It is merely about seeking the best, most efficient, and most equitable method by which to fund our national government.

One Assumption, One Clarification, and One Observation
– Economists, “Net Wealth” Tax, and Existing U.S. Wealth Taxes –

One Assumption – Economists. Before diving into the subject of wealth taxation, it would be useful to agree that economists and tax analysts rarely agree on anything – except for their delight in using thick talk and their strange love of macro models. While I have the highest regard for economists as an honorable and needed profession and even though economics was the focus of my undergraduate studies, let us agree upfront that no matter what I write here — and however you respond and react —, we can each find herds and gaggles of economists to back up whichever theory we choose to espouse.

One Clarification – “Net Wealth” Taxation Only. This article addresses the subject of a wealth tax, however in reality it is a “net wealth tax” which is proposed since the tax rate, whether progressive or fixed, would be imposed solely upon one’s “net wealth.” Very similar to the calculation of one’s net worth, a wealth tax would be imposed only in the event one’s net wealth (the aggregate value of all assets less the aggregate amount of all mortgages and other debts and liabilities) exceeds an agreed-upon baseline, minimum, and tax-triggering net wealth.1 The minimum net wealth would serve a function similar to that of one’s standard deduction in the context of income taxation.

One Observation – Existing U.S. Wealth Taxes. To a degree, the concept of a wealth tax is not new. As correctly noted and as well said by one writer, wealth is already taxed – “just not very intelligently.”2

The most conspicuous example of an existing wealth tax is property taxation which is the very foundation of the funding of local governments. The property tax rates vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction based upon property tax rates, property valuations, and other factors such as the lock-in provisions of Prop 13 in California. Nevertheless, nearly every jurisdiction in the U.S. imposes taxes upon the raw ownership of real estate.

But I would respectfully suggest that the real question, so steadfastly ignored, is why these taxes are so routinely imposed on real estate — the bedrock asset of Middle America. Stated conversely, why are taxes not imposed on cash, stock and intangible asset portfolios – the bedrock asset of Wealth America?

Other examples of existing “wealth taxes” are estate and inheritance taxes. These taxes, derisively referred to by some as “death taxes,” are theoretical charges upon transferred wealth. However, the loopholes are bigger than the loops.  In the first place, federal estate taxes apply only to estates in excess of $11,200,000 for individuals and $22,400,0003 – an absolutely miniscule percent of the American people. These exemption amounts reflect the 2018 doubling by Congress and President Trump of the prior exemption amounts since the prior $5,490,000 and $10,980,000 ensnared, it was argued, far too many hapless, wealthy Americans.

However, the truth is that any wealthy person worth their weight in accountants knows that the imposition of nearly all estate taxes can be avoided. Estate taxes can be easily avoided by a myriad of estate tax planning techniques. As noted by Gary Cohn, the former White House National Economic Council Director and the former president of Goldman Sachs, “only morons pay the estate tax.” 4

Thus, for all practical purposes and due to the size of the exemptions and the plethora of tax-avoidance mechanisms, the “death tax” is now largely dead. It now only applies to the over-wealthy and under-lawyered.

The Place to Begin
In Considering the Advisability of Wealth Taxation

I noted above that this article is not intended in any manner to be political, and in reiteration of that point, the place to begin in considering the advisability of using wealth taxation is to understand that wealth taxation is not a Left-Wing, Bernie-rant.

First, when I initially wrote my thesis on wealth taxation as a substitute for income taxation, Bernie was still learning his “right” from his “left.” He had not yet ascended to any national stage. My proposal was written nearly 36 years before he even became a U.S. Senator. He was just another young man working as a carpenter after having moved to Vermont and after having graduated from the University of Chicago. So let’s not blame Bernie or any other liberals on this one.

Second, it has been my experience and, for all purposes of this article, this author happily and without reservation assumes that a vast majority of the wealthy are good and fine people. This article is not written from a place of envy, covet, or disgruntlement. For purposes of this article, this author is willing to readily assume that the assets, the life advantages, and the personal and financial security of the wealthy have been earned and that in a vast majority of instances, the wealthy currently protect and preserve their income and assets in wholly legal manners (albeit with a cadre of skilled lawyers and accountants). But none of these experiences or assumptions about the wealthy in America change the fact that many things must change in America – and one of them, one of the easier changes, is the basis upon which this nation collects its taxes, seeks to reduce its debt, and provides necessary governmental services.

Third, this author is no longer alone in this recommendation. Over the last couple of decades, a few people with widely disparate political and economic views have proposed implementing a wealth tax. In the late 1990s, even Trump proposed a one-time 14.25% wealth tax on individuals and trusts in excess of $10,000,000 in order to eliminate the national debt. Less surprisingly but more articulately, Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton and now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, likewise advocated what he referred to as a “surtax” on the super-wealthy as a means to “rebuild our schools and infrastructure (and for) saving Medicare and reducing the long-term budget deficit.”5 The problem with both Trump’s and Reich’s advocacies are, however, that they sought to use a wealth tax as a curative measure (Trump to eliminate the national debt and Reich for a number of reasons – schools infrastructure, Medicare, and deficit). The proposal in this article is for the use of a national wealth tax as a permanent substitute for the archaic and burden-distorting income tax.

Fourth, in many parts of the world community, wealth taxes are not unusual. They exist in various formats in a number of countries – Argentina, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland. A number of other Western European and Scandinavian countries had wealth taxes but over the last couple of decades have discontinued their use for various reasons.6 Thus, while the U.S. has the dubious distinction of being the lone(ly) chair in the room as the only major industrialized country without any form of national health insurance, the U.S. would not be alone, or even particularly unique, if the U.S. adopted a form of wealth taxation.

Lastly, despite an anticipated initial reluctance of many wealthy families to embrace the idea of a national net wealth tax, many American families — and especially the middle income and moderately wealthy families — may pay considerably less under a net wealth tax system than they currently pay under America’s income tax system. This is definitely the case when one takes into account (i) the year-in and year-out costs of lawyers, accountants, and trustees, (ii) the complexities and time-consuming burdens of annual income tax preparations, and (iii) the hard- and soft-costs incurred and the contract and market distortions caused by tax-structuring transactions.

But there are many definitions of “wealthy” and there are many possible variants of a wealth tax which could be adopted.

The Relative Definitions of “Wealthy”
and the Many Possible Variations of a Wealth Tax

Defining when a person or family is “wealthy” is, at best, challenging. It can lead to heated debates at both the corner store and the local country club. However, despite the debates about where to draw the exact lines, clearly some people are “wealthy.” Clearly, some people are not. In this sense, the difficulties of definition are not of themselves justifiable reasons for not implementing a wealth tax.

For purposes of even preliminary agreement, let us agree that there is some net wealth number which approximates a valid distinction between the poor and middle persons and between the middle and the wealthy persons. Arguably, the appropriate exemption would be based at that point where a person has enough wealth to cover his or her immediate needs (food, transportation, housing, health, and other basic needs) plus a reasonable cash or other asset reserve.

Defining the threshold net wealth amount is generally beyond the scope of this article; however this author would suggest that it might be in the $3,000,000 or $5,000,000 net wealth range rather than the current absurdity of the $11,200,000 to $22,400,000 estate tax exemptions. Part of the reason for this proposed lower $3,000,000 to $5,000,000 range is because the wealth tax would be used as the primary source of revenues for the payment of national defense and public services. A wealth tax is not proposed as a grabbing super-tax by the 99%  of the wealth of the supposed 1%. To the contrary, it would be advisable for the tax burden to be more widely shared by using broader concept and definition of the wealthy. Thus, the $3,000,000 to $5,000,000 range is proposed as an initial working number. Although there are many gradations of wealthy and although American society now routinely talks about and magazines list “billionaires,” most Americans might readily agree that a person with a net wealth of “even” $3,000,000 to $5,000,000 is, at a minimum, colloquially, wealthy.

This author realizes that it is terribly dangerous to speak about other people’s wealth and, certainly likewise, to spend other people’s money (although this is addressed below). Nevertheless, it would preliminarily be useful if some numbers were used; some examples were displayed; and some orders of magnitude were presented.

Therefore, consider, as examples, the relative impact upon certain middle-income and wealthy families upon their following respective amounts of net wealth. Even assuming a fixed annual wealth tax rate of, say, 2%, and a flat net wealth exemption of $3,000,000, the amounts of such annual taxes and the post-tax net wealth of such families would be as follows:

Pre-Tax Net Wealth 500,000 3MM 10MM 100MM 500MM
Net Wealth Tax Liability (2%) 0 – Note 1 0 – Note 1 200,000 2MM 10MM
Post-Tax Net Wealth 500,000 3MM 9.8MM 98MM 490MM

Note 1: Assumes a $3,000,000 exemption amount.

As is evident and as noted above, some wealthy families may pay substantially less in wealth taxes than they currently pay in income taxes. Also as noted above, this is especially the case if one adds back to these families the “public monies”7 which they spend every year on tax advisors, financial planners, and accountants.

In the next section, other reasons for the adopting a net wealth system of taxation are presented.

Reasons for Wealth Tax

Reason One:
Net Wealth a Better Measure of One’s Capacity to Pay

Let us start with the obvious. People compare balance sheets. They don’t compare tax returns. There is a reason for this. Wealth, not income, is a far better measure of one’s financial condition and security; of one’s capacity, and arguably one’s civic obligation, to pay taxes.

When someone wishes to review or present their financial well-being, they look to their net worth – not their tax return from last year. Everyone knows that taxable income fluctuates. Everyone knows that income can be buried under artificial depreciations, by tax-year straddling, and by the careful timing and characterization (or, re-characterization) of tax-flows.

For these reasons alone, wealth, not income, is the best measure of one’s capacity to pay.

It is acknowledged that in the course of making lending decisions, banks routinely ask for one’s most recent tax returns in addition to basic asset and liability information. However, to a considerable degree, the lender’s insistent review of tax returns is because lenders know that tax returns approximate an “official document” since they are filed by the taxpayer/applicant under penalty of perjury. If people had to file net worth statements under penalty of perjury (rather than the crude bank form assets and liabilities listings provisions), this author suggests that — in quick order — balance sheets would become the primary loan application submission document. Thus, there is a both a simplicity and propriety in the use of balance sheets rather than tax returns to most accurately measure one’s ability.

It is also acknowledged that net worth does not necessarily reflect one’s cash liquidity, i.e. the amount of assets which are or can quickly be converted to cash. However, most persons (an admittedly dangerous vague phrase) have broad enough asset compositions so that tax payment liquidity should rarely be a problem. This is underscored by the amount of highly liquid, financial assets held by the wealthy.

There is much press, banter and discussion about the many forms of retirement plans — 401(k)s, IRAs etc., but the truth, so often ignored or forgotten by the wealthy, is that most Americans do not closely track the Dow or the S&P. This is because 90 percent of the financial assets in the U.S. – including both stocks and pension-fund holdings – “are owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans. The top 1 percent owns 38 percent” of all financial.”8 Wholly apart from pension funds (which are ever-declining in the U.S.) and maybe some mutual funds here and there, over-whelmingly stocks and bonds are (always have been) held by the wealthy. The rise and falls of the market ultimately affect all members of society, but such rises and falls only indirectly affect the lower and middle classes. In this sense, it is almost unsurprising that the financial markets are rarely a focused matter of interest for the middle or lower classes.

It could be argued by the wealthy that even with the access to cash liquidity for the payment of taxes, the imposition of this type of tax may force these wealthy citizens to liquidate assets in an untimely manner for tax payment purposes. However, think about this comment. Think about this concern. Is a wealthy family’s tax-driven liquidation of some financial holdings really different from a middle income family deferring a vacation because they have to pay taxes; from not funding their child’s college savings plan; from putting off some medical procedure or some desired home improvement? Even with the best planning, every family, rich and poor, incurs inconveniences, disappointments and even losses as they assemble cash for scheduled tax payments — and certainly liquidating stocks in a down market is not qualitatively different than deferring a deserved vacation or postponing a needed surgery.

But there is another asset-composition factor to be considered. That factor results from the fact that the dominant asset and most of the net worth of middle–income families and the only moderately-wealthy families is the highly illiquid and, if you will, necessitous family residence.

Because of the high wealth tax exemption amount (e.g. $3,000,000- $5,000,000), the taxpayer’s residence will rarely be at risk due to his or her tax liability. Future year tax liabilities may affect the size of one’s home. They may affect the advisability of purchasing second and third homes, etc., but this is no different than any other form of financial planning. We all buy homes and make investments with a prudent eye upon our foreseeable futures obligations and liabilities. And projecting one’s net worth (and resultant net tax liabilities) may be far easier than projecting one’s future income (and resultant income tax liabilities).

However, apart from one’s capacity and liquidity to pay taxes, the concept of using a wealth tax should also be based upon the relative receipt of public benefits. For some readers, this component of the wealth tax argument may generate more debate, but please consider the following reasoning.

Reason Two
Wealth Taxation As a Means of Eliminating the Absurdity of the Stepped-Up Basis

This reason requires my advance apology because it requires getting a little tech here, but a basic understanding of what is known as the “stepped-up” basis is necessary. Although financial/estate planning tools utilizing a stepped-up basis are not a secret and are commonly and routinely utilized in estate planning, it also not widely known or understood by the general public. But it should be.

Very summarily, the use of a stepped-up basis is a lawful means by which capital assets (think stocks, bonds, real estate, mansions, works of art) can be passed on tax-free from one generation to another. If any of these assets had been sold during one’s lifetime, then the appreciation component of the sales price would ordinarily be subject to at least the capital tax rate upon their sale. In other words, in very general terms, the tax would be imposed upon the difference between the sales price and the seller’s original purchase price since this is a taxable gain’ a form of “income.” However, even though part of the reasoning for the adoption of the estate and the capital gains taxes was to prevent (or at least limit) the growth of familial dynasties in the U.S. and to reduce inequality, it is obvious from especially the last several decades that these taxes have not achieved these goals. Part of reason is because if the wealthy during their lifetimes do not sell a capital asset (and don’t have to sell a capital asset to raise money to pay taxes for example), then the capital asset can be passed on to their heirs without ever having to pay capital gains on such assets. The gain — the appreciation – is safe. It is never taxed. It stays home free and clear. The deemed “purchase price,” i.e. the basis, of the asset in the hands of the heirs is the value as of the date of death of the benefactor. In this manner the heirs get a stepped-up basis. And on and on. Especially in an age where there is substantial wealth inequality, this results in capital gains taxes being avoided. Game. Set. Match. And the appreciated assets of huge estates are passed on tax-wisely and tax-free from one generation to another. From a economic-social perspective this reinforces the possibility, even likelihood, of impregnable wealth consolidations to be created within families. As despicable as it is to quote Leona Helmsley, maybe she was partly right – “only the little people pay taxes.”

With the adoption of a national wealth tax, a small percentage of the asset’s appreciation would be paid annually. Assets could still be conveyed from one generation to another, but the stepped-up basis mechanism of tax-free conveyance and assured inter-generational tax avoidance could be eliminated.

Reason Three:
Wealth Is a Better Measure of the Receipt of Public Benefits

Since the inception of our country, there has been debate about the value of government and the efficiency and utility of public services. That debate is set aside for another day; for another wave of our respective energies. This article accepts, for purposes of its analysis, the value and necessity of some level of governmental services.

And it is suggested that from a number of alternative perspectives discussed below, the wealthy – not the poor and definitely not the middle class – oftentimes disproportionately both structure and reap the benefits of those governmental services.

Admittedly, this is not inherently obvious. However, whether it be from the perspective of the recipients of defense policies and initiatives; from the perspective of business’ benefits from the (de-) regulation of the financial markets and the public investments in infrastructure improvements; from the educational training of our work force; and even from the slow, but determined, processes of our judicial system, it is the wealthy that receive the most public benefits — as much if not more, much more, than the lower and middle income classes. Reagan’s “welfare queens” get most of the press but that is not where the real money is.

The poor are the primary recipients of many forms of public benefits – from welfare to Head Start to government housing to, in some cases free, emergency medical care. But it is also the wealthy who rarely participate in military service. It is also the wealthy who, through a million machinations, receive many other, less visible, clusters of governmental contracts and services. In the context of the judicial system and access to judicial remedies, from the perspective of this author, it should be obvious that for hard cost reasons alone, the judicial process and the routine use of lawyers now lie solely within the province of the wealthy. Except in few and extraordinary circumstances, no poor person and very few middle income families can respond to the “so sue me” challenges which have come to dominate our economy and our society. The wealthy have growing influence, if not control, over our political processes and many of our governmental policies. Thus, it seems evident that the wealthy are well-aware of the impact and importance of government.

In 2010, a 5-4 majority held in the U.S. Supreme Court held in the Citizens United case9 that political spending is a form of protected speech under the Fist Amendment. As a result, the government may not keep corporations or unions10 from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates or parties in public elections. For reasons beyond the scope of this article and in part as the result of the Citizens United decision, it is increasingly difficult to track political contributions, but with respect to even reported contributions, the dominating influence and power of the wealthy is evident. In the 2016 election, for example, federal candidates received contributions from more than 3,200,000 Americans. But it is far more significant (and here relevant) that 50 percent of those total funds came from just 0.5 percent (i.e. just 16,000) Americans—wealthy Americans.11

For all of these reasons one’s net wealth, rather than one’s income, may be a far superior, mechanism for measuring the receipt and allocation of the government’s good and services being paid by taxes.

Reason Four:
The Need for Wealth Taxation May Be a Matter of Timing
And May Be Necessary Now (More Than Ever Before)

Whether America has been missing the mark by using income rather than wealth as the basis for it tax system can be left to historians and economists to argue about. The debates will be endless, and they’ll love it.

But there are new and clear reasons for shifting to a wealth tax which are relevant to all of us. These new reasons for shifting to a wealth tax are now compelling because the American economy is evolving to, in effect, a new form of capitalism.

Evidence of this evolution can be presented in many different ways — both in tone and use of terms. However, all of the evidence revolves around the undeniable fact that both income and wealth inequality have been growing. This has been especially true over the last three decades – from the Go-Go Years of the 1980s to the present.

We are far past Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (1984-1995). Now, we are at point where conspicuous consumption has been displaced by dangerous, and dangerously entrenched, income and wealth inequality.

There is every reason to have a continued, deserved reverence for individualism and to have every respect for one’s desire to keep their “hard-earned money.” Such concepts are easy to grasp. They are tempting in their seeming fairness, indeed their almost morality. But such concepts are too simplistic. The real challenges come not from matters of individuals and ownership, but from the more subtle questions relating to such income and wealth inequalities.

For example, what are the ramifications to a society where there is a heightened concentration of wealth? What are the long-term effects of allowing such concentrations of wealth to be lawfully protected and passed one generation to the next without the “burden” of taxation or even partial disbursement – you know, as was done for hundreds of years in feudal Europe. There are ready examples of honorable largesse such as those extraordinary men and women who have joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge. But society cannot afford to wait and rely upon the beneficence of the wealthy… because the steady reality is that wealth is rarely disbursed.

Once wealth is assembled, it’s kept. Once it’s concentrated, it remains so. Except in those rare instances such as the Giving Pledge participants noted above and except in small doses resulting from periodic and percentage-of-wealth charitable giving, wealth is rarely disbursed except over the dead bodies of lawyers and the exhaustion of all appeals. There is nothing surprising about that.

For those readers who need harder evidence, they can read about the increased concentration of wealth in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. There is a reason this 2013 book, an economics book of all things, became a New York Times Bestseller.Americans can try to stubbornly try to dismiss Piketty as another intruding Frenchman, but it is in our country’s best interests to recognize that there are solid reasons to conclude that Piketty (and, if I may, me 40 years ago) may be right – that some form of a net wealth tax is necessary. Furthermore, to the extent that Piketty was right – that over time inequality is not an accident but a feature of capitalism which can be reversed only through state intervention – then obviously America’s lame and avoidable estate tax is not going to achieve this necessary re-distribution of wealth.

A brief digression is necessary because an insistent dismissal of the alternative and cynical concept of a “flat tax” is necessary. Some politicians  –speaking on behalf of themselves, their benefactors, and their benefactors’ lobbyists, suggest that flat tax upon income (rather than a progressive tax) is preferable. Unfortunately, this simplification is made at the expense of both equity and logic largely because, by almost any measure, the flat tax greatly benefits only the wealthy.

I have no objection to simplicity – and the flat tax does offer that — but not if that simplicity is delivered as a means of palpable misdirection; not if that simplicity comes at the price of stupidity; and, most importantly, not if that simplicity is far removed from the needs of this nation and its people.

The harshness of this digression is results from two facts. First, the absurdities of a flat tax are not just hidden. They are also obvious and counter-intuitive. Despite the equitable marketing ring of “everybody pays the same flat tax rate,” the tax burden and the true capacity to pay vary radically. Ten percent of one’s income to a low income family is a matter of rent. Ten percent of one’s income to a wealthy family is a matter of one less vacation. This is a coldly delivered example, but it is impossible to believe that the cynical proponents of the flat tax are unaware of the adverse impacts of such a tax. Ask any economist – or at least any economist not running for political office. By way of another flat-tax example, this is why our schools and our military are not funded by sales taxes.

On a more optimistic note, there may be positive socio-economic effects of adopting federal and/or state net wealth taxes in place of their income taxes.

Reason Five:
Positive Socio-Economic Effects of a Wealth Tax

Our respective teams of economists will fight till sundown, but it is here suggested that there would be numerous, positive socio-economic effects which would result from adopting a thoughtful form of net wealth taxation in substitution of income taxation.

Unburdening lower and middle classes would increase consumption and stir the economy. The economic elevation of the lower and middle classes would, over time, reduce their reliance upon the complicated and inefficient delivery of goods and services by governmental and quasi-governmental agencies and private charities. Lastly — in the long run and possibly the most important, the adoption of a wealth tax may lessen the growing cynicism of both the lower and middle classes about the financial equity of American life. Stated more positively, the adoption of a wealth tax may help regenerate this country’s faith in the American Dream.

We are all well aware of Keynes’ reminder that in the long-run we are all dead, but all Americans should care about the “long-run.” Almost definitionally we will not be able to be there. We will not participate in the later-years wealth, prosperity, and the democratic economy. Nevertheless, many Americans – both the poor, the middle-class, and the wealthy care about this country on par with themselves. Many Americans care about the America which we bestow to our children and grandchildren. And even if they don’t care, the intelligent wealthy know that in both the mid- and the long-term it may be in their own self-interest to more appropriately and equitably re-distribute wealth in this country. The Caymans and Belize may be fine off-shore habitats for one’s money, but not many account owners choose to have to reside there permanently in a self-imposed, or at least self-initiated, exile.

Author’s Note
This author well-realizes the harshness, even shrill, alarmist tone of the foregoing paragraph. However, in my humble defense, I have recently re-read Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 political novel It Can’t Happen Here which is premised upon the unwritten subtitle that “Yes It Can.”

In the next section this author has tried to recognize that there are valid concerns about the substitution of a wealth tax for the existing income tax. While this author does not believe that they support a rejection of the needed change to a wealth tax, these objections and concerns should, nevertheless, be noted.

Arguments against the Use of a Wealth Tax

The arguments against the wealth tax fall into two distinct categories. The first set of arguments relates to economic effect objections (e.g. capital flight and disproportionate burden) and administrative, valuation and enforcement issues. The second set of arguments relate to possible equitable and economic effects (impacts upon agricultural and family businesses and liquidity issues).

Capital Flight Issues

Some argue that a wealth tax would trigger capital flight from the United States to various tax havens around the world. However, capital flight already exists. It exists in the form of the almost understandable incorporation of their businesses in foreign jurisdictions (think, for example, Ireland) or the extensive use of foreign subsidiaries (think, for example, nearly every major international business) as a means of legal and illegal parking of off-shore income.

The imposition of wealth tax would have to address these issues, which is why Piketty, for example, recommended the imposition of a global wealth tax. However, the point to note is that in especially the electronically wired, global economy, this is already occurring. In the opinion of this author the associated problems are not unique to wealth vs. income taxation.

Administratively Burdensome
and
Complicated by Challenging Asset Valuation Issues

One of the most curious objections to the wealth tax is that it would be administratively burdensome and would be inherently complicated due especially to asset valuation issues. As noted by one Wall Street Journal writer, “the wealth tax has a fatal flaw—valuation.” 12 With a seemingly uniquely tin ear, that writer sought to underscore his point by noting that “62% of the wealth of the top 1% is ‘non-financial – i.e. vehicles, boats, real estate, and (most importantly) private business….” 13 Even ignoring the slightly “listen-to-yourself” echo of this statement and even admitting that some assets would be challenging to value for purposes of calculating one’s net wealth, these types of challenges are not different from the myriad of challenges inherent in our existing income taxation system

There would be issues of imprecise or even fraudulent valuations and appraisals, but are these issues materially different from the issues attendant to the almost routine billions of dollars of misclassified business expenses that are currently claimed under our income tax system? Are these types of valuation issues more complex than the definitional issues of income, deductions, and exemptions which are now built and buried in the 75,000 pages of our nation’s income tax laws?

Taxpayers may certainly require the assistance of more appraisers in order to substantiate their net worth valuations, but commensurately there may be less need for every taxpayer (and in fairness, especially every wealthy taxpayer) to have all of their transactions winnowed through the channels and loopholes of the existing income tax system.

Disproportionately Burdensome on Agricultural Business
and Marginally-Profitable Family Businesses.

It has also been suggested that the adoption of a wealth tax would be disproportionately burdensome on certain types of businesses – such as agricultural business and marginally-profitable family businesses. The suggestion and concern of these related issues is that it would be unfair to force families to sell, leverage, or close their agricultural businesses (the “family farm” argument) or their marginally-profitable family businesses. While this author is respectful of these arguments and while the shift to a wealth tax in all events should be imposed only after the provision of an honorable, multi-year advance notice, these disproportionate burden arguments are, upon closer examination, specious.

First, there is the obvious, almost dismissive retort. Yes, taxes are rarely fun to pay, but they are a “cost” of wealth. Just like now, tax payment dates would need to be honored, and some manner of achieving the necessary liquidity assured. But how is this different from the annual imposition of an income taxes or the multitude of other capital, wage or operating expense dimensions of the “family farms?” The same is true of small businesses except that such businesses are rarely asset-based (or, more particularly, real estate-based) enterprises. Thus, by definition, if they are only “marginally-profitable,” then this would be reflected in their low valuation and their possible full exemption from the triggering of any wealth taxes.

A second, more cynical interpretation of the “family farm” and the “small business” arguments is that they are economic variants of the politicians’ shameful invocations of “Middle  America” and “Main Street” and the “Common Man.” No article should ever engage in arguments of “trust me,” but be assured that few politicians can define winter wheat. Few politicians set aside winter money. Few politicians run a convenience store and even fewer have kicked dirt in Kansas. One of the true challenges to the wealth tax is that it is far more likely that its acceptance or rejection will be decided in the Hamptons and not on some  homestead in the Far 40 of Montana.

Burdensome if Taxpayer’s Assets Are Illiquid

Liquidity has been discussed above, but it needs to be again briefly addressed here in this section about the “Arguable Reasons Against the Net Wealth Tax.”

This author respects these liquidity concerns, but the liquidity concerns are common to both income tax and wealth taxation. Yes, the scheduled imposition of wealth taxes may require advance planning, but this is the same planning as is necessary in the case of income taxation.

Neither wealth nor income assure liquidity, and there nothing more illiquid than a low or moderate income striving to meet its income tax liabilities by deferring vacations, by depleting saving accounts, or by driving old cars. Unquestionably, families who have net wealth tax payment obligations may have to take some steps to assure payment of its annual net wealth tax liability, but – again – this is really, neither in a moral or economic sense, different from the current liquidity burdens faced each April by low- and middle-income families.

Disproportionately Burdensome upon Seniors

The last ditch argument of nearly every counter-campaign usually includes strutting out the widows and orphans, the old, aged, and infirm. And here we go again. This interposed argument against the wealth tax suggests that somehow it would be disproportionately burdensome upon seniors.

Firstly, allow us to be careful of the argument itself — the argument is not that it would be disproportionately burdensome upon seniors – but, more precisely, wealthy seniors.

Secondly, though a bit lame and for what it is worth, allow me to remind the reader that this author may well fit into this category — I am, by nearly all measures, a senior.

But, mostly, this argument fails precisely because it is irrelevant. The net wealth tax would be imposed upon wealth – not age. The fact that a disproportionate number of wealthy persons are older does not means that they have diminished capacity to pay; that they are incapable of tax-obligation liquidity planning; or, for that matter, that they too have not enjoyed the net wealth exemption during their younger years during which they assembled their wealth.

To the contrary, this is the exact generation which is oftentimes the most thoughtful, the most capable of managing its assets and making payments, and the most experienced, if and as necessary, in the use of financial planners and other advisors.

Closing

Thus, despite the fact that there are arguments against the use of a wealth tax, in the opinion of this author, the arguments favor its adoption. When I initially wrote my thesis about the necessity of adopting a wealth tax, I was far too young and dumb to be able to assuredly foresee the future. But, even at that time,  a wealth tax seemed like a (darn) good idea.

Now, I am old. Much older. Some things have changed only in the context of adjectives. For example, I am now too old and too dumb to assuredly foresee the future. But a wealth tax (still) seems like a (darn) good idea. Income taxation in our country is not working efficiently, effectively or equitably. For reasons of fairness and simplicity and because of the dangerous and growing inequalities of wealth in our country, the adoption of a wealth tax would trigger a thoughtful and equitable economic readjustment.

The most I can do is to humbly ask you to consider it. Seriously. Closely. And now.

Notes and Citations

1 Theoretically, such net wealth taxes could be imposable upon all parties, what are sometimes referred to as “legal persons” including corporations, however this article assumes that the reach of the net worth tax would be limited to natural persons (or families, in the case of, for example, jointly filed tax returns).

2 Yglesias, M., moneybox, March 6, 2013

3 For purposes of simplicity, this article focuses the estate tax, but there are multiple and parallel exemption amounts applicable to federal estate and generation-skipping transfers.

4 As quoted in Frank, R. cnbc.com, August 29, 2017. (Quoted remark of Gary Cohen to “group of  Senate Democrats”).

5 Reich, Robert B., “The Widening Wealth Divide, and Why We Need s Surtax on the Super Wealthy,” robertreich.org. See also, Reich, R., “To Restore Democracy We Must Tax Wealth, newsweek.com, September 18, 2017.

6 See, e.g. Denmark (1995), Finland (2006), Germany (1997), Iceland (2006), Luxembourg (2006), and Sweden (2007). Year of the country’s discontinuation of such taxes are indicated in parentheses.

7 The phrase “public monies” is used because, in a sense, without any impact upon the taxpayer, the monies spent by the taxpayer on legal, accountancy, and tax planning fees could be re-allocated to the government which, in turn, would lower – even further – the effective, necessary tax rate.

8 Reich, R., The Widening Wealth Divide, and Why We Need a Surtax on the Super Wealthy,” robertreich.org.,, March 12, 2012. Author’s Note: First, allow me to again remind the reader that my recommendation for a wealth tax is not politically driven. While I have a high regard for former Secretary of the Labor Reich, the recommendations in this article were initiated by this author nearly forty years ago. They are not derived from any agenda, liberal or otherwise, and they are not a feed-off from Mr. Reich. In fact, I respectfully disagree with Professor Reich’s concept of a “surtax” on the super wealthy. This author believes instead that a annual, low rate, progressive tax upon all persons or families of wealth – not just the super-wealthy, would be far more advisable. It may be far more equitable and enhance public revenues, and it may lessen incentives for capital migration.

9 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310.

10 Some commentators have suggested a certain political-impact “balance” in the Citizens United decision because it arguably empowered both corporations and unions to make unlimited political contributions. However, this balance is not supported by the reality of the demise of unions as a major component player in U.S. political elections. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2018, there were approximately 161,000,000 American in our country’s work force. Of those, only about 14,800,000, i.e. only 9.1%, were members of  unions. In other words, the equivalence is not there. More than nine out of ten workers are non-unionized.

11 The Week, February 2, 2018, p. 16 (Citing The Washington Post).

12 Frank, R., The Problem with a Wealth Tax, The Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2012.

13 Ibid.


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Blog 76

April 18, 2018

By Mack W. Borgen

Santa Barbara, California