Press Release – National Book Award for Mack W. Borgen

Posted by Mack W. Borgen April 14th, 2019

Blog No. 97 

PRESS RELEASE

April 15, 2019 

For Immediate Release:  PLEASE FORWARD TO APPROPRIATE EDITOR,

REPORTER, OR FEATURE WRITER.

For more information or to schedule an interview or speaking engagement:

Schmitt, Schmitt & Brody Publishers, 3655 Montalvo Way, Santa Barbara, California 93105
Tel: 805-450-2602 // Author Direct Email:  mwborgen@live.com // Website:  www.mackwborgen.com

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

April 15, 2019 – An Independent Publisher National Book Award has been awarded to Mack W. Borgen for his book Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America – Volume III (1994-2015). 

In competition with contestant authors of the over 1,078,000 books published in the U.S. in 2018 by university presses, independent presses, and self-publishers, Borgen’s book received the Silver Award for the Best Nonfiction Book of the Year (Reference). 

The award will be presented at the 2019 Awards Ceremony during the BookExpo America Convention in New York on May 28, 2019. 

– – –

Mack W. Borgen is a resident of Santa Barbara, California and a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of California at Berkeley (Honors in Economics). 

Books authored by Mack Borgen

DEAD SERIOUS AND LIGHTHEARTED

The Memorable Words of Modern America – Vols I (1957-1976), II (1977-1993), and III (1994-2015)

“A herculean task … Packed with cultural highlights and pivotal moments from a

               wide array of sources.” Kirkus Reviews 

“An expansive and eye-opening collection.” Clarion Reviews 

“Opening this book feels like unlocking a time capsule” U.S. Review of Books 

“Teaches the history of Modern America … in a captivating way.” Reader’s Favorite 

“A ‘must read.’ The brilliance of Borgen’s books lie in their breadth … and his

               powerful page-by-page commentaries….” Michael Levin, New York Times

               Bestselling Author 

“Deserves a place in our higher education curriculum.”  Reid A. Olsen, Education and

               Business Consultant, Chicago, Illinois

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT AUTHOR OR BOOKS

More information about the author, these award-winning books, the author’s 2013 national award-winning series The Relevance of Reason, or to order a Media Kit, please see www.mackwborgen.com. All books are available from Amazon or Direct-from-Publisher at https://www.mackwborgen.com  (Book Ordering).

FOR REVIEW COPIES

OR

TO SCHEDULE A MEETING, SPEECH, OR INTERVIEW

Contact Schmitt & Brody Publishers at SchmittBrodyPublishers@gmail.com or Mack W. Borgen directly at 805-450-2602 or mwborgen@live.com.

Wilson Phillips, Brad Paisley, Barbara Lewis – The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 7

Posted by Mack W. Borgen April 9th, 2019

 
Blog No 96 
April 10, 2019 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America- Part 7

– The Poetry of Modern America –

By Mack W. Borgen
Author, National Award-Winning Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America – Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015) (Published 2018-2019)The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data about the State of Current America – Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture) (2013-2014).
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles and reviews, without the prior written permission of the author. For a “cleaner” /non-email presentation of this blog and to review my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at mackwborgen.com. 
Dear Friends and Readers, 
Six years ago my first books were published and I started publishing my Blogs and Articles. In that time, I have tried to reach more and more readers. Though still extremely modest numbers, I am deeply appreciative that there are now more than about 1,000 regular monthly readers of my Blogs and my Google measures are finally creeping above 250,000. 
As you know, I try to write balanced, unique, and sometimes humorous articles about a wide array of social, political, and economics matters. But piercing the ether of the American writing market is difficult, and I would be honored to have more readers each month. 
Please invite your family members, friends, and associates to receive my (about) twice-monthly blogs. All that is needed is their email address, and I will happily add them to my Blog circulation list. 
There is no charge of any kind. They can easily unsubscribe at any time, and I never forward, circulate or sell any of my email contacts or lists to any person or entity. 
Just forward me their email addresses or your friends can just contact me directly at mwborgen@live.com, and I will add them to my circulation list. 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America- Part 7

– The Poetry of Modern America –

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.

Here is Part 7 of my assembled list — assembled over the years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America.  For an explanation about the background of this Best Lyrics project, see below.

Also, please see my publishers new Direct-From-Publisher Special Book Sales Offerings. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All directly ordered books will be signed by the author and shipped within five business days. Free shipping for orders of 10 or more books for your family, friends, or clients.

But, now, … The Best Lyrics of Modern America – – From 1957 through 2015 –

Enjoy. 

The Sixties 

Baby, I’m Yours (1965) (Barbara Lewis )(B: 1943, Salem, MI).    

     “Baby I’m yours

     And I’ll be yours until the sun no longer shines,

     Yours until the poets run out of rhyme

     In other words, until the end of time.”       …

     “(U)ntil the mountain crumbles to the sea.” 

     “‘Till the stars fall from the sky.”  

     “’Till the rivers all run dry.”  

     “’Till the poets run out of rhyme.” 

Fire (1968)
(Arthur Brown) (B: 1942, Yorkshire, England)     

      “I am the god of Hell Fire and I bring you

     Fire…”   …

     “Fire, to destroy all you’ve done.

      Fire, to end all you’ve become.”

The Seventies 

Walk Away from Love (1976)

(David Ruffin) (B: 1941, Whynot, MS – D: 1991 (Age 50), Philadelphia, PA). 

     “But those arms you’ve got around me

      Will let me go someday

      And I’d rather leave you holding on

      Than pushing me away

      So I’m leaving, yes I am

      This time I’m playing it smart

      I’m gonna walk away from love

      Before love breaks my heart.” 

Grease (1978) (Frankie Valli)(B: 1934, Newark, NJ).

     “There ain’t no danger we can go too far,

     We start believing now that we can be who we are”  …

     “They think our love is just a growing pain

      Why don’t they understand, it’s just a crying shame.”  … 

     “We take the pressure and we throw away

     Conventionality belongs to yesterday.”    

     “This is the life of illusion

      Wrapped up in trouble … faced with confusion.”

The Nineties

Hold On (1990) (Wilson Phillips (Group)) (Years Active: 1989-1993, 2004, 2010-Present).

     “Don’t you know things can change

     Things’ll go your way,

     If you hold on for one more day.”

Vogue (1990) (Madonna) (B: 1958, Bay City, MI).

     “What are you looking at

     Strike a pose, Strike a pose …

     Vogue, vogue, vogue.”   

    “All you need is your own imagination

     So use it  – that’s what it’s there for …

     Go inside, for your finest inspiration

     Your dreams will open the door….”

Country Western 

He Didn’t Have To Be” (Brad Paisley) (B: 1972, Glen Dale, WV).             

     “I met the man I call my dad when I was five years old

     He took my mom out to the movie, and for once I got to go,

     A few months later I remember lying there in bed

     I overheard him pop the question

    And I prayed that she say yes.” …

    “And then all of a sudden, oh it seemed so strange to me

     How we went from something’s missing to a family

     Looking back all I can say about all the things he did for me

     Is that I hope I’m at least half the dad he didn’t have to be.” 

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

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.

About nine years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America. I spent much of the initial 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 in bowing recognition to 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, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that 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, starting on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Lyrics of Modern America.

Get Copies of My Books

Multiple National Book Awards.

Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

      Volume I (1957-1976) (508 pp) ; Volume II (1977-1993) (400 pp) ‘ Volume III (1994-2015) (570 pp) 

The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data about the State of Current America

     Volume I – Business and Politics (408 pp); Volume II – Society and Culture (438 pp). 

Best prices. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All 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. and at select independent book stores.

Prison Is the Price of Guilt – The College Admissions Scandal

Posted by Mack W. Borgen March 20th, 2019

Blog No 95 
March 20, 2019

College Admissions Scandal

– –

Prison Is the Price of Guilt 

By Mack W. Borgen
Author, National Award-Winning Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America – Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015) (Published 2018-2019)The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data about the State of Current America – Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture) (Published 2013-2014).
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles and reviews, without the prior written permission of the author. For a “cleaner” /non-email presentation of this blog and to review my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at mackwborgen.com.

The college admissions scandal has been the talk of the nation for the last week. The list of alleged offenders includes numerous wealthy people — CEOs; corporate founders, owners, and officers; an actress and a fashion designer; a casino operator and a vineyard owner; a doctor and a lawyer; multiple fund managers and venture capital executives; and, just for good measure, a parenting advisor and author.

The reasons for the wide media coverage are both understandable and deserved because the scandal is unique in so many respects.

First, the scandal touches universities, communities and families from coast to coast – from Yale to University of Texas to USC. It is not an isolated hurricane in Houston or a foothills wildfire in California. It is not a political fight in D.C. or financial debacle from Wall Street. No, the college admission scandal is geographically widespread. It is everywhere. It affects and offends nearly all Americans.  

Second and worse yet, the scandal tampers with our families. It affects our kids. It squelches our and their dreams. It fans our cynicism. For some, it diminishes their (last and best) hopes. 

Third, and possibly most importantly, the scandal is easy to understand. It is not twisted by complexities. It does not get lost in the numbers. Instead, the cheating is simple, straightforward, and down-home dirty. And it is readily, albeit tragically, believable.

As a result, the reactions of nearly all Americans are similar, if not unanimous. Unlike so many issues of our social, cultural, political, and economic lives, the offensiveness of the college admissions scandal is unique because it is easily understood;  because it is similarly viewed; and because our shared reactions are this time unburdened by predisposition or personal bias.

Scandals in America are a dime a dozen. They clutter out headlines. They dominate the Internet. But most thoughtful Americans usually want to first know the facts and understand the details. What happened? How did it happen? Who was involved? Are there two sides to the story? Was there justification or provocation?

But that is not the case with the cheating scandal. We admittedly don’t know the details, but we feel we know the facts. We feel like we know what happened. We feel like we already know the facts. And this level of certainty is unique.[1]

We do not need to rely upon commentators to explain what happened. We do not need lawyers to detail the crimes. We do not need to listen for code words or weigh excuses and defenses. There are none.

Thus, once again, this scandal is easy to understand. It stinks, and, worse yet, it underscores all of those deep-rooted cynicisms which many of us so steadfastly try to set aside.

But one aspect and one huge risk of the college admissions scandal have not yet been addressed. To some Americans, these two matters will be seen as posing a serious threat and potential harm to our country. To other Americans, these matters will be seen as the long, awaited and triggering opportunity for “fix” our country.

The Drift from Frustration to Anger

Normally, social, cultural, political, and economic tensions bubble for years; for decades; sometimes for centuries. But sometimes, a single event triggers “everything” – the shooting of an obscure Archduke triggered World War I; the Black Monday Crash of 1929 brought on the Great Depression; the 1957 beep–beep of an orbiting basketball-sized Sputnik which led to formation of NASA and the acceleration of the Cold War; the assassination of JFK ended Camelot and sobered a nation overnight; Reagan’s exhortation to Gorbachev echoed throughout so many corners of the USSR that it accelerated the long-awaited demise of the USSR. More recently and more tragically emphatic, there was 9/11. It, too, just one horrific event, changed everything.

The college admission scandal certainly would not rival these events except when it is placed in the context of America’s growing fears about income and wealth inequality. America is not panicked about the fact that the top 1% of wealthy Americans now holds the same wealth as the “bottom” 95%.[2] But American’s are angry. They are pissed. And, in that context, the college admission scandal feeds the narrative. It confirms worst fears. It insults us with the hard reality that the playing field is more unequal than ever.

And though it is not yet obvious, the college admissions scandal has the potential to change everything. The scandal, almost by itself, may greatly accelerate the demands for serious change in this country. This is not offered as the screech of an alarmist, but again, because this scandal is unique.

Exactly because of the scandal’s notoriety and its wide-spreadedness (not a word, but it should be) and because of the massive media coverage, the scandal may, in time, come to be viewed as one of the sober beginnings of a tectonic shift in American politic and social life.

It will further our country’s drift from frustration to anger.

One certainly can argue that there are many components of American society which beg for change. The role of government will be debated until long after the cows come home. Racial tensions are sad, tragic, and wrong, but they will continue to be cynically viewed by some Americans as NIMBY-containable. Maybe The Wall needs to be built. Maybe it doesn’t. But the truth is that I, like most of you, haven’t been to a Texas border town in years. Health care issues are serious and important. But there are pros and cons to weigh with respect to almost every reform proposal. Even debates about the quality of education in our schools are burdened by the many-sided complexities of funding, student-teacher ratios, curriculum selection, and, more recently, even school safety issues.

But, the college admissions scandal is again unique due its confirming clarity. And when it is so publicly confirmed that rich people buy their kids’ way into some of America’s finest schools by simple cheating and bribing – then hell can break loose. Alumni ties and donor contributions have long been understood to open admissions gates — but proof of bald-ass bribery and cheating at some of America’s finest schools is hurtful news.

Admittedly, it is too early to know the lasting consequences of the college admissions scandal. However, it is here suggested that the college cheating scandal may accelerate the drift of the American people from frustration to anger.

But there is one more aspect, which this author refers to as a “risk, which will soon be become a major and lasting component of this scandal.

Prison Is the Price of Guilt.

Fines Are Merely the Cost of Errors.

The Real Risk of the College Admissions Scandal – Monetizing Our Judicial System 

Over the years, I have written on numerous occasions about the monetizing of our judicial system; about how the imposition of fines are too readily and too often used in the place and stead of good old-fashioned incarceration. See, for example, my article “Money Can Be Paid – But Time Must be Served – The Misuse of ‘Deferred Prosecution Agreements’ and How Guilty Corporate Executives Avoid Prosecution and Incarceration.”[3]

But the risk of fines rather than incarceration will soon be before the courts in the context of the college admissions scandal. Judges will soon be asked to approve plea agreements or impose sentences. And these plea agreements and sentences must include incarceration.

If this country is going to routinely send young poor men and women to prison for using drugs or for robbing a 7/11 in order to punish and send a message, then it must likewise send older rich men and women to prison for bribery and theft in order to punish and send a message. The subject of the theft is unimportant – cash from a till or an admission slot to college. They are merely different kinds of products.

And thus, prison incarceration must be a component of the imposed sentences —- because prison is the price of guilt. Fines are merely the cost of errors.

We have all paid fines and their many variants – parking and speeding tickets, late fees and overdraft charges, tax penalties and interest. But prison is where guilt is paid. That is where one “does time” for his or her misdeeds. One has to go to the “up the river” “to the big house.” My use of such jargon is not intended to trivialize the need for prison time to be imposed. Instead, it is used to underscore the massive difference between fines and prison.

It’s downright sweet that Felicity Huffman, aka Defendant Felicity Huffman, found it necessary to retain a crisis public relations team this week, but that both misses the point and is the point. The college admissions scandal is not a matter of public relations. It is not a mere civil wrongdoing. It is criminal.

The courts cannot be distracted by the defendant’s charitable contributions; by the fact that their crimes may be first-time offenses; or even by the fact that these people on paper may have led “blameless lives.”

As noted above, it is sad that the defendants includes a doctor, a lawyer, an associate professor, a fashion designer, a casino operator, multiple corporate and equity fund CEOs and managers and multiple corporate founders and executives, a vineyard owner, and maybe worse of all, a parenting author. But who cares? They are now defendants. And when given a number, they will all sound the same.

Thus, the forthcoming risk of the college admissions scandal is that if these cases are dismissed by the mere imposition of fines, this would further confirm the monetization of the criminal justice system. Instead, America cannot allow wealthy individuals to buy themselves out of trouble any more than it can allow them to buy their kid’s into college. Thus, even though fines must be part of each sentence, they cannot be all of the sentences.

And while it is far beyond the scope of this article, this author should note that it may be a “fine” time (pun intended) to follow the lead of other countries and to discard fine amount schedules. Instead, the amount of one’s fine should be based upon one’s income or wealth. Variations of this have been done for years in Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, and even Argentina. While there could be some initial constitutional challenges to such income- or wealth-based impositions,[4] this author believes that these objections can and should be easily overcome. As well and recently said by one writer (admittedly in the context of mere traffic fines) “a billionaire and a nurse shouldn’t pay the same fine.”[5]

CLOSING

This author readily acknowledges the heated words of this article. Normally, I do not comment upon such recent and current events. Furthermore, in full disclosure, this author has a son who will soon be applying for college admission.

However, the subject of income and wealth disparity and the dangerous slant of our legal and judicial system have been addressed by this author on many occasions – and the college admissions scandals embodies everything about which I have been writing.

Lastly, my viewing of the widely-reported passions attendant to the college admissions scandal – both in and of itself and as a last straw – convinces me that there may soon be a further shift — from frustration to anger.

It is time to act responsibly. But it is also time to act.

FOOTNOTES

[1] This level of assured and ready disgust is unusual because, as noted in one of my earlier books, The Relevance of Reason, America is usually (and almost unavoidably) a separated nation. In the context of most scandals, we are separated — by geography, by age, and by generational association. We are normally separated by the circumstances of our birth and by the strength or weakness or even presence of our families. From an early age, we become further separated by what each of us has seen and by the sense of hope which may (or may not) have been instilled in us. We are also separated by the quality and (later) the extent of our respective educations and by the availability of opportunities. Many of us are separated by a wide array of ethnicities, heritage, race, creed, and color and even by our height, weight, gender, health, tastes, and religious associations.

Even more, we are separated by our attitudes, by our dispositions and inclinations, and by our varying levels of empathy. Usually by early adulthood, we are further separated by the whims of luck, by our respective accumulation of experiences, by our jobs or professions, by our finding of love and possibly by the blessing presence of children and close friends. Time and money allowing, we welcome, but are again separated, by our various hobbies, sports, affiliations, and interests.

But, as noted above, all of these “separations” disappear in the context of the college admissions scandal.

The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data about the State of Current America – Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture) (2013).

[2] Interesting comparative note: At the beginning of the Great Depression and even after the increase in wealth disparity which resulted from the Roaring ‘20s, the top 1% of America’s wealthy families only held an amount of wealth equal to the bottom 30%. Thus, that 30% has now grown to 95%. In other words, on an averaging basis, wealth disparity in America has grown worse by about 7.5% per decade for nine decades. There’s finally almost no wealth left to be taken. 

[3] Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 56, February 23, 2015 at https://mackwborgen.com .

[4] The Constitutionality of Income-Based Fines, 85 Univ of Chicago L. Rev 1869 (Dec., 2018).

[5]  Schierenbeck, A., “A Billionaire and a Nurse Shouldn’t Pay the Same Fine for Speeding,” The New York Times, March 15, 2018.

 

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Buffalo Springfield – Allman Brothers – Childish Gambino – The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 6

Posted by Mack W. Borgen March 13th, 2019

Blog No 94 

March 15, 2019

The Best Song and Most Memorable Lyrics of Modern America- Part 6

– The Poetry of Modern America – 

Author, National Award-Winning Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America – Volumes I (1957-1976), II (1977-1993), and (III (1994-2015).
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles and reviews, without the prior written permission of the author. For a “cleaner” /non-email presentation of this blog and to review my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at mackwborgen.com.

 

 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.

Here is Part 6 of my assembled list — done over the last eight years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America. For an explanation about this Best Song Lyrics project, see below.

Also, please see my publishers new National Book Awards Direct-From-Publisher Book Sales Offerings. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All books will be signed by the author and shipped within five business days. Free shipping for orders of 10 or more books for your family, friends, or clients.

But, now, … 

The Best and Most Memorable Song Lyrics of Modern America

– From 1957 through 2015 –

Enjoy.

The Simpler Themes and Memory-Triggering Titles of the Late 1950’s:           

Party Doll (1957) (Buddy Knox) (B: 1933, Happy, TX – D: 1999 (age 65), Bremerton, WA).

                           “Well all I want is a party doll,  …

                           Come along and be my party doll”

 Peggy Sue (1958) (Buddy Holly) (B: 1936, Lubbock, TX – D: 1959 (Age 22), Clear Lake, IA).

                        “Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue,

                        Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty Peggy Sue”

Endlessly (1959) (Brook Benton) (B: 1931, Lugoff, SC – D- 1988 (Age 56) Queens, NY).

                        “Higher than the highest mountain

                        And deeper than the deepest sea,

                        That how I will love you, oh, darling, endlessly.”

The Sixties 

For What It’s Worth (Stop. Heh, What’s That Sound). (1966) Buffalo Springfield (Active Years 1966-1968, 2010-2012).

                        “There’s something happening here.

                        What it is ain’t exactly clear.

                        There’s a man with a gun over there.

                        Telling me I got to beware.”

                       “I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound

                      Everybody look what’s going down.”

                      “There’s battle lines being drawn

                      Nobody ‘s right if everybody’s wrong

                      Young people speaking their minds

                     Getting so much resistance from behind.” 

                     …

                     “What a field-day for the heat

                    A thousand people in the street

                   Singing songs and carrying signs

                   Mostly say, hooray, for our side.”

                   “It’s time we stop ….”                       

Ballad of the Green Beret (1966) (Barry Sadler) (B: 1940, Carlsbad, NM – D: 1989 (Age 49) Murfreesboro, TN).

                    “Fighting soldiers from the sky

                     Fearless men who jump and die

                    Men who mean just what they say

                    The brave men of the Green Beret.”

                    . . .

                    “Silver wings upon their chest

                    These men are America’s best.”

Tell It Like It Is (1967) (Aaron Neville) (B 1941, New Orleans, LA).

                   “Life is too short to have sorrow,

                   You may be here today and gone tomorrow.” 

The Seventies

Ramblin’ Man (1973) (Allman Brothers Band) (Years Active: 1969-1982, 1989-2014).

                   “Lord, I was born a rambling man,

                   Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can.

                  And when it’s time for livin’,

                  I hope you’ll understand,

                  That I was born a travellin’ man.”

The Eighties 

Another Brick in the Wall (1980) (Pink Floyd) (Years Active: 1965-1995, 2005, 2012-2014).

                   “We don’t need no education

                   We don’t need no thought control

                   No dark sarcasm in the classroom

                   Teachers leave the kids alone.”

                   …

                   “I don’t need no arms around me

                   And I don’t need no drugs to calm me

                   I have seen the writing on the wall.

                   Don’t think I need anything at all.” 

The 2000s 

This Is America* (2018) (Childish Gambino / Donald Glover). (B: 1983, Edwards AFB, Kern County, CA).  * This No. 1 song, released in 2018, falls outside my definition of the years of Modern America (1957-2015), and it is too early to know whether its lyrics will become “memorable.” However, these lyrics are included because they well-evidence the changes in the style, linguistics, subject matter, and tone of America’s song lyrics. Viewing of music video recommended as well.

                 “This is America

                 Don’t catch you slippin’ up

                 Look at how I’m livin’ now

                 Police be trippin’ now

                Guns in my area

                I got the strap

                I gotta carry ‘em.”

              …

              “This is America

              Don’t catch you slippin’ up…

              Look what I’m whippin’ up.”

            …

             “Look how I’m geekin’ out

              I’m so fitted

             I’m on Gucci

             I’m so pretty …

            You go tell somebody

            You muthaf***kas owe me

            Grandma told me.”

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

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.

About nine years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America. I spent much of the initial 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 in bowing recognition to 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 — or at least most memorable — 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, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that 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, starting on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Songs Lyrics of Modern America.

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Jefferson Airplane – John Mayer- Kenny Rogers – The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 5

Posted by Mack W. Borgen February 19th, 2019

Blog No 93

February 20, 2019 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America- Part 5

– The Poetry of Modern America –

By Mack W. Borgen
Author, National Award-Winning Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America – Volumes I (1957-1976), II (1977-1993), and (III (1994-2015).
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any storage or retrieval system, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles and reviews, without the prior written permission of the author.  

 

Author’s Note: Winter view from our former home deck on the Swan River in Bigfork, Montana. 

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.

Here is Part 5 of my assembled list — done over the last eight years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America.  For an explanation about the background of this Best Lyrics project, see below.

Also, please see my publishers new Direct-From-Publisher Special Book Sales Offerings. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All directly ordered books will be signed by the author and shipped within five business days. Free shipping for orders of 10 or more books for your family, friends, or clients.

          But, now, …  The Best Lyrics of Modern America

– From 1957 through 2015 –

Enjoy.

 

The Mid-1960s 

Greatest Lyric Single-Lines: 

Just Dropped In (Kenny Rogers and The First Edition) (1968).

                        “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in”

 The Sixties

White Rabbit (1967) (Jefferson Airplane).

            “One pill makes you larger

            And one pill makes you small

            And the ones that mother gives you

            Don’t do anything at all

            Go ask Alice

            When she’s ten feet tall”

             …

            “When logic and proportion

            Have fallen sloppy dead

            And the White Knight is talking backwards

            And the Red Queen’s ‘ off with her head!’

            Remember what the dormouse said:

            ‘Feed your head’

            ‘Feed your head.’ ” 

(Author’s Note: The Jefferson Airplane was a special band for me and my friends. When I was a young man, several lifetimes ago, I attended the University of California at Berkeley. At the time, the San Francisco music scene was just getting rolling. Every few months in the house where I lived, we would slide our dining room tables together on Friday nights in order to create “a stage,” and then we’d host a party from 8:00 until sunrise. Our favorite “local band” for these parties was Grace Slick and Marty Balin’s Jefferson Airplane. They would play at our parties for a few hundred dollars and all the beer they wanted to drink. But then they recorded their Surrealistic Pillow album and hit the big time. After that, we never saw them again — except when we could scrounge the money for their concert tickets. But, still, I can remember Grace in our “living room/dance floor” bellowing out White Rabbit – even if we didn’t fully understand what the words really meant.

The Eighties 

Designer Music (1980) (Lipps, Inc.).

”Everywhere you go

Lights flash

All got got to have

Is the cash 

While you think you’re able

It’s got to have a label!”

. . .

“If Calvin says it’s smashin’

It’s got to be flashin’”

“Following the crowd

It’s their game

Everything depends

On which name 

It’s got to be designer

There could be no finer”

“Wearin’ your Sassons

Stop the show

Got to be in Vogue

With Polo 

Stick it in your sweater

It’s got to make it better.” 

The 2000s 

Waiting for the World to Change (2006) (John Mayer) (B: 2007 Bridgeport, CT). 

“Me and all my friends

We’re all misunderstood

They say we stand for nothing and

There’s no way we ever could

Now we see everything that’s going wrong

With the world and those who lead it

We just feel like we don’t have the means

To rise above and beat it.”            

. . .

“So we keep waiting

Waiting for the world to change …”

 . . . 

“Now if we had the power

To bring our neighbors home from war

They would have never missed a Christmas

No more ribbons on the door

And then you trust your television

What you get is what you got

Because when they own the information

They can bend it all they want.” 

COUNTRY WESTERN 

The Best of My Love (Eagles) (1975). 

“We try to talk it over but the words come out too rough.

I know you were tryin’ to give me the best of tour love.”

“Beautiful faces and loud empty places,

Look at the way we live.

Wastin’ our time on cheap talk and wine

Left us so little to give.”

“But every mornin’ I wake up and worry

What’s gonna happen today.

You see it your way and I see it mine.

But we both see it slippin’ away.” 

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Songs Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

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.

About nine years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America. I spent much of the initial 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 in bowing recognition to 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, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that 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, starting back on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America.

PLEASE ORDER A SET OF MY BOOKS 

The other “serious” and “lighthearted” words of our generations are presented in my three volumes of Dead Serious and Lighthearted – Volume I (1957-1976), Volume ((1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015). All three volumes (and my earlier books, The Relevance of Reason (Vols I and II)) can now be ordered. Just go to https://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All books will be signed by the author and will be shipped within five business days. My books are, of course, available on Amazon etc. and at some independent book stores — but the easiest purchases are by going to my website at mackwborgen.com and clicking the “Book Order” tab.

It’s OK — But The Time for Tinkering Is Over.

Posted by Mack W. Borgen February 6th, 2019

Blog 92

February 7, 2019

By Mack W. Borgen

Author of National Award-Winning Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America- Volumes I (1957-1976), II (1977-1993), and III (1994-2015).  See https://www.mackwborgen.com/shop/
© All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any storage or retrieval system, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles and reviews, without prior written permission by the publisher.
– – –

INTRODUCTION
The top 1% of Americans hold the same wealth as the “bottom 95%.”‘
The top 1% of Americans hold almost double the wealth of the “bottom 90%.”
This author recognizes, even respects, that regardless of its spelling, the word “tax” is a four-letter word.  But the subjects of taxation and America’s widening wealthy inequality must be addressed.
Please know that this is not a new subject to this author.  This author is not a Johnny-come-lately economic theorist. I am not climbing on anyone’s political bandwagon.  To the contrary, I passionately try to keep my writings entirely apolitical even though that is challenging in an environment when our preferences in TV shows, coffee drinks, newspapers, and even quarterbacks,  are — for some — matters of passion and political stereotyping.  
But the subject of the perils of extreme wealth inequality is not new to this author. In fact, I first wrote about wealth inequality more than four decades ago.  It was the subject of my thesis at Harvard Law School, and even the below article on this subject was first posted nearly a year ago.
But 1% of Americans owning as much as the “bottom 95%” of Americans is wrong.
Worse yet, it is destructive and dangerous. To all. It is a matter for our wide and shared concern.
You don’t have to look too hard to find Reagan’s Welfare Queen. But rarely do the poor bring beers and party-hearty while waiting in line for their welfare checks. Rarely do the millions of workers of  the proverbially short-changed middle class sleep in, skip work, or toss money out the window.
And the subject of wealthy inequality is not about politics or Trump or Pelosi.
This subject isn’t about Mueller and immigrant caravans.
It isn’t about twisty economic theories.
And it is not a matter of envy, greed, or punishment.
It is a matter of the healthy survival of our dmeocracy.
This is the same stuff that Aristotle wrote about; that George Washington worried about, and that even a stinking Frenchman wrote a New York Times best seller about a couple of years ago.
The reality to all but the willfully blind is that the extreme wealthy inequality in the U.S. has to change.
It has been getting worse for four decades, but in this article there is no suggestion that the consolidation of wealth which has occurred in this country was achieved by devious or wrongful means.  
M ore importantly, we do not have time to fight over blame.  We only have time to fix it.  
The time for tinkering is over.
Lastly, this article is not about corruption. It is not about Citizens United or any abuse of any accumulated economic or political power.  This article is merely about the reality that our country can neither long  nor amicably exist when there is such a disproportionately unequal allocation of wealth. For all of us – the wealthy and the poor – massive disparities in financial security, access to education, health care, or housing cannot continue.
The time for tinkering is over.
A thoughtful relocation of this nation’s wealth assets must be made even though the phrase  “American dream” is not found among the 4,543 words of the U.S. Constitution. Neither are the phrases “equality of opportunity” nor “work hard and play by the rules.”  But even though these phrases are not in the Constitution, they are embedded in the hopes, aspirations, and dreams of our Founding Fathers.
The American Dream is our dream. It is central to what this nation is; what this nation stands for, what we, as a people , hope to offer our children and share with our fellow citizens.
The machinations of our economic and political democracy can by crushed by many variations of oligarchy – a fancy word  describing a power structure in which a small group of people controls a  society.  Oligarchies historically have rested upon the presence of throned nobilities or the power of religious orders or military powers. However, in the 20th Century, oligarchies have more and more been the result of consolidations of wealth and the self-serving exercises of economic and political power.
Please consider my article. It is just one way to get back “home.” As noted above, this article was first posted by me about a year ago. This author well-recognizes that no one needs an alarmist.
But nothing has changed.
Yet. 
This article is here re-posted in part because the subject of wealth inequality has recently become a major component of our nation’s political conversation in anticipation of the 2020 presidential election. Thus, admittedly and as a result, this author is taking the liberty of here re-posting my article from a year ago — for your consideration. 
Enjoy and know that your comments are always appreciated and welcomed.  

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

Mack W. Borgen
Santa Barbara, California

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 assets 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

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).
Yglesias, M., moneybox, March 6, 2013
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.
As quoted in Frank, R. cnbc.com, August 29, 2017. (Quoted remark of Gary Cohen to “group of  Senate Democrats”).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 4 – Enjoy

Posted by Mack W. Borgen January 16th, 2019

 Blog No 91

 January 17, 2019 

  

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 4

– The Poetry of Modern America –

By Mack W. Borgen

National Award-Winning Author, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Vols I, II, and III) (2018-2019); The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data about the State of Current America (Vol I (Business and Politics) and II (Society and Culture)) (2013)).

 

 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. These lyrics are not the words of Homer or Yeats or Byron or Tennyson, or even Poe or Frost, but they are ours. Many of us can remember them easily. We can remember them easily. And, maybe best of all, all of the lyrical poetry of Modern America comes with a song!!

Here is Part 4 of my assembled list  — done over the last nine years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America.  For a more detailed explanation and background of this Best Song Lyrics project — why and how the lyrics have been assembled — see the “Explanation and Background” section below.

Also, please see my publishers new Direct-From-Publisher Special Book Sales Offerings. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/  All directly ordered books will be signed by the author and shipped within five business days. Free shipping for orders of 10 or more books for your family, friends, or clients.

But, now, … 

The Best Lyrics of Modern America

– From 1957 through 2015 –

Enjoy. 

The Mid-1960s 

Crying in the Chapel

(Elvis Presley) (1965) (B: 1935, Tupelo, MS – D: 1977 (Age 42), Memphis, TN) 

“Just a plain and simple chapel

Where humbler people go to pray

I pray the Lord that I’ll grow stronger

As I live from day to day.”

. . .

“Ev’ry sinner looks for something

That will put his heart at ease

There is only one true answer

He must get down on his knees.”

“Take your troubles to the chapel

Get down on your knees and pray

Your burdens will be lighter

And you’ll surely find the way.” 

The Seventies 

Sing a Song

(Earth, Wind and Fire) (1976) 

“When you feel down and out

Sing a song, it’ll make your day

Here’s a time we to shout

Sing a song, it’ll make a way.”

“Bring your heart to believing

Sing a song, it’ll make your day

Life ain’t about no retrieving

Sing a song, it’ll make a way.” 

I Have to Say I Love You in a Song

(Jim Croce) (1973) (B: 1943, South Philadelphia, PA –D: 1973  (Age 30) Natchitoches, LA) 

“Well, I know it’s kinda late.

I hope I didn’t wake you.

But what I gotta say can’t wait.

I know you’d understand.”

 – – – 

“Every time I tried to tell you,

The words just came out wrong,

So I’ll have to say I love you in a song.”

The Eighties 

Like a Virgin

(Madonna) (1984) (B: 1958, Bay City, MI)

“I was beat

Incomplete

I’d been had, I was sad and blue

But you made me feel”

“Shiny and new.” 

Hoo, Like a virgin

Touched for the very first time

Like a virgin

When your heart beats

Next to mine.”

COUNTRY WESTERN 

Too Much Fun

(Daryl Singletary) (1995) (B: 1971, Cairo, GA – D: 2018 (Age 46), Lebanon, TN) 

“ … I said officer what have I done

He smiled and said boy you’re havin’ too much fun”

            …

“Too much fun what’s that mean

It’s like too much money there’s no such thing.

It’s like a girl too pretty with too much class

Being too lucky a car too fast

No matter what they say I’ve done

Well I ain’t never had too much fun.” 

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

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.

About nine years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America. I spent much of the initial 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 in bowing recognition to 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, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that 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, starting on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started 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 presented in my three volumes of Dead Serious and Lighthearted – Volume I (1957-1976), Volume ((1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015). All three volumes (and my earlier books, The Relevance of Reason (Vols I and II)) can now be ordered. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ for the Direct-from-Publisher prices. All 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. and at some independent book stores.

You Are Invited – Mack W. Borgen on Dr. Elizabeth Stewart Radio Show – Release of Volume III (Years 1994-2015) in Dead Serious and Lighthearted Series

Posted by Mack W. Borgen January 5th, 2019

Blog 90
January 6, 2019

Author Mack W. Borgen

. . . You Are Invited . . . 

Join Us and Listen to Radio Interview

with Mack W. Borgen about his Latest Book

on The Dr. Elizabeth Stewart Radio Show

Tuesday, January 15, 2019*

10:00 AM

KZSB AM 1290

*Show also tentatively planned on being re-broadcast at 8:00PM, Tuesday, January 15, 2019

ANNOUNCING RELEASE OF VOLUME III

(Years 1994-2015) (572 pp)

Dead Serious and Lighthearted

The Memorable Words of Modern America

This last volume presents the memorable words of the last years of Modern America — the serious and the lighthearted words of social, cultural, political and economic impact — which were written or spoken during the years of Clinton, “W”, and Obama; from the rise of terrorism and the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq to the humor of Seinfeld and the darkness of Breaking Bad; from the release of Tuesdays with Morrie, Sh*t My Dad Says, The Da Vinci Code, Fifty Shades of Gray to the endless books of political vitriol and discord; and from the Great Recession to the dominance of technology and omnipresence of the Internet and iPhones.

Enjoy.

It’s All Here!!

Buy One Volume or a Full Set of All Three Volumes

Hardback or Paperback

Order now at Direct-from-Publisher Prices at https://www.mackwborgen.com/shop/

(Or Just Go to mackwborgen.com and Click the “Book Ordering” Tab)

(Visa, PayPal, or Check)

Dead Serious and Lighthearted book cover