Fixing America – Idea 21 – We Attorneys Are a (Big) Part of the Problem – Part 1

Posted by Mack W. Borgen November 30th, 2020

Blog No. 125 
December 1, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 21 

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

By Mack W. Borgen

University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School; National Award-Winning Author, The Relevance of Reason (Volumes I and II) (2013) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Volumes I,  II,  and  III (2018-2019).
My Resolution for the Year: To write shorter blogs. This is Part 1 on this subject. Part 2 will be posted on Thursday, December 3, 2020.
For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/ .

Introduction

Over the last two years, I have presented a wide-ranging set of ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog is the twenty-first idea in this “Fixing America” series of articles.

We Attorneys Are a (BIG) Part of America’s Problems

Part 1 

(Note: All footnotes are at the very end of this article)

1. Background. 

A. Even Before We Begin – Three Preliminary Notes and Caveats

                First, my background and career. It is impossible for this author to be entirely impartial with respect to the practice of law in the United States since I have practiced business and real estate law for decades. During that time, it has been my honor to work for and with large national law firms, medium-sized law firms, small firms, sole practitioners, and corporate in-house counsels. With that experience, I hopefully can accurately address the roles (and abuses) of some attorneys in our society from the concurrent perspectives of both an attorney and a writer/social commentator.

                Secondly, many good and honorable attorneys and the provision of many useful services. There should be no doubt or confusion that there are many good, conscientious, dedicated, and honorable attorneys and that attorneys provide innumerable essential services for many Americans and, in the process, for our economy and our society. They help clients memorialize agreements, structure businesses, anticipate problems, resolve disagreements, protect and preserve assets, establish estate plans, minimize taxes, and achieve clarity in documents and communications. The list of valuable services is endless.

                Thirdly, awarding of attorneys’ fees. Many of the issues raised in this article could be resolved merely by changing America’s legal practice so that in the context of litigation attorneys’ fees are paid by the losing party. See my article, Fixing America – Idea No. 4 (Blog 107, October 28, 2019). However, just as the adoption of terms limits in the context of American politics is unlikely, there is regrettably little reason to believe that America will soon change its manner of awarding attorneys’ fees to the winning, i.e. the prevailing, party. Thus, other approaches, such as those included in this article, may be necessary. 

B. Problem 1 – Too Many Attorneys. There are too many attorneys in our country. This is both a cause and a reflection of many societal problems. In the U.S., there are about 1,350,000 attorneys – about one for every 250 people. In California alone, there are about 266,000 licensed attorneys[1] and 199,000 licensed and active attorneys — about one for every 208 Californians (and one for every 161 adult Californians!).

In the opinion of this author, there are too many attorneys – especially, for example, compared to other professions. In California, where there are 266,000 licensed attorneys, but there are only about 143,000 physicians. There are 266,000 licensed attorneys, but there are only 119,500 full-time law enforcement personnel.[2] Worse yet and almost eerily, there are almost exactly the same number of attorneys in California as there are schoolteachers (266,000 attorneys vs 266,255 teachers).[3]

Admittedly, comparing the number of attorneys to other professions or to the total population is, at best, a very rough measure of whether there are too many or too few attorneys. Other factors, such as the size and legal complexity of our economy or the over-legislation and over-regulation by our government are contributory problems. Also, the high number of attorneys might merely reflect, but does not independently cause, many of the problems discussed below. But whatever the reasons or no matter the measure, there are too many attorneys in our society.

C. Problem 2 – Too Many Laws and Regulations. There are also too many laws and regulations in our society. I have discussed this subject before in the context of the over-criminalization in American society. [4] However, there are too many federal and state laws and regulations in the context of both criminal and civil statutes. Over the course of many years, these laws and regulations have been stacked upon us — one on top of another. The suggestion of mandatory sunsetting of all new legislation will be made in a future Fixing America article, but for now, it is only necessary to note that, almost definitionally, the more laws passed by politicians usually means, over time, a higher demand and need for more attorneys.

On the other hand, blaming politicians for the proliferation of our nation’s and state’s laws is a bit circular since 145 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (i.e. about 33%) and 47 of the U.S. Senators (i.e. 47%) are attorneys. One could argue that blaming politicians and legislative bodies merely leads us to come full circle … back to blaming lawyers once again.

D. Problem 3 – Too Much Litigation. For several primary reasons, litigation is far too frequently – indeed almost far too routinely — commenced in our country. In 2019, there were 610,627 civil cases[5] filed in California Superior Courts alone. Because many of these cases were initiated by corporations or other legal entities, it is difficult to juxtapose this number with the population of California. However, the number remains – 610,627 civil cases in one year alone. As briefly discussed above, it is tempting to blame this litigation volume upon the size and complexities of the world economy and the proliferation of laws and regulations, but we lawyers have played a substantial role as well.

First, any good lawyer can mold an argument and make a claim out of any set of facts, any bowl of clay, or — to be blunt –  any pile of bullshit. Any good attorney can weave thin threads of truth into a thick rope of claims. Both attorneys and the litigation process itself can transform obvious truths into reasonable doubts. In most instances, such molded claims survive summary judgments, and the costly, protracted litigation continues — in part to the continuing economic advantage of the litigant attorneys.

Second, while litigation is sometimes necessary and unavoidable, too frequently litigation (or the threat thereof) is used as a tactic of negotiation, intimidation, or even retribution. In some instances, litigation becomes a test of resolve and resources more than a matter of right and wrong; a devil’s brew of staying power and stubbornness more than a means of finding truth or achieving justice.

Thirdly, it is tempting to suggest that the decision relating to the commencement of litigation is the sole province of clients but that is oftentimes not true. Clients do (and should) make the final decision, but attorneys have a powerful, influential role. As I wrote in an article published years ago (which was reprinted in a number of California legal publications),[6] attorneys should remind their clients more often and more aggressively that litigation is rarely a prudent course of action. There are certainly some major exceptions and unavoidable needs for litigation, but while the attorneys will normally be paid “upfront,”  any favorable judgment (and the collection thereof) for the client will usually be the hardest money they ever earned.

Fourth, attorneys (and their prospective clients) too often blindly believe that everyone deserves vigorous, committed counsel and that clients deserve “their day in court.”[7] However, this author suggests that this adage is far too blindly and far too widely accepted. In the first place, except in the rare case of court-appointed representation, attorneys do not have an obligation to accept a client; to further his or its cause; or to advance his or its claims. Admittedly, once a matter is accepted, then withdrawing from a case has appropriate ethical and judicial restraints. But initially, cases can be turned down. And more cases should be turned down.

Fifth, states have various litigation containment mechanisms by which they seek to control the destructive, harmful whims of what are called “vexatious plaintiffs.” However, such variously named mechanisms (abuse of process or vexatious claimant statutes) are rarely invoked by the courts.[8] Consequently, if there is to be a meaningful control upon the filing of spurious claims initiated primarily for purposes of retribution, shakedown, intimidation or negotiating advantage, then attorneys can help society by merely asserting their right to decline representation. Not all news is fit for print. Likewise, not all cases are deserving of representation.

Thus, the focus of this article, is that Americans too often “abuse” the legal system and that attorneys too often are complicit in filing baseless Roy Cohen-type lawsuits for, as referenced above, purposes of harassment, intimidation, negotiating position, retribution, spite, and even whim.  Author’s Note: It is beyond the scope of this article, however, it is also a financial reality that due to cost alone, the retention of attorneys is far beyond the capacity of most Americans. In that sense, attorneys themselves become an unwitting tool almost solely of the wealthy class or their corporate entities.                                               

SOME SOLUTIONS AND IDEAS – SEE THURSDAY’S BLOG 126

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The Fancypants Word of the Day

Neophilia (Part of speech: Noun; Origin: American English) 1) Love of, preference for, or great interest in what is new 2) A love of novelty.

Examples of use in sentences: “My damn neophilia makes me always bring home the next generation of iPhone as soon as it’s released.”

“My aunt says she’s not a hoarder, but she admits suffering from extreme neophilia and has to get a new thing for her house every day.”

Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. 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 or reviews, without prior written permission by the author.

FOOTNOTES TO ARTICLE

[1] In California, there are 266,000 licensed attorneys, but of these only 190,000 are “active” and permitted to practice law at this time.

[2]  Of this 119,500 law enforcement number, 78,500 are full-time officers with full arrest powers and 41,000 are civilian staff.

[3]  This translates to an average California teacher:student ratio of 1:24 — compared to the national average teacher:student ratio of 1:16. In addition, there are about 16,555 school administrators representing an administrator to student ratio of about 1:386.

[4]  See, Borgen M., “Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes and Address the Issue of Over-Criminalization om American Society” (Blog No 114, February 25, 2020).

[5] This number even excludes criminal cases (189,013 felony and 766,782 misdemeanor cases), family law cases (375,529), juvenile law cases (74,507), and probate matters (49,152). See courts.ca.gov.

[6] Such publications included the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the San Francisco Daily Journals, and various other county and regional bar publications.

[7] This article focuses upon civil litigation rather than criminal cases where the right to counsel has been long established by the US Supreme Court.

[8]  Since 1991, California has maintained a Vexatious Litigant List, however because the threshold for “repeated” motions or causes of action is very high, vague, and hard to prove. Thus, the Vexatious Litigant statutes are rarely invoked. After nearly three decades, the California list includes only a few thousand names. Other than The Church of Scientology and a couple of trademark trolls, most of them are not well-known individuals or entities.

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America’s Achievement – 149,000,000 Voters in 4 Weeks – A “Participatory Democracy”

Posted by Mack W. Borgen November 9th, 2020

Blog No. 124
November 10, 2020

 America’s Achievement  – Deservedly Proud – And Now We Know  

Reading Time: 8 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/
Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. 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 or reviews, without prior written permission by the author.

Introduction 

For the past six weeks, I have been “quiet.” During this period of our nation’s loud and tumultuous election, I decided that there were enough words being thrown into the ether. No one needed more. 
I thought of the line from Max Ehrmann’s early 1920s prose poem, Desiderata— “go placidly amidst the noise and haste of the universe and remember what peace can be found in silence.” (Note 1) With that in mind and for most Americans, this has been an challenging and dangerous period for our country — an acrimonious, insulting, and even embarrassing period for our country.  
In the coming months, many contentious debates will continue. Blind partisanship (and even rampant showmanship) will continue to be a huge challenge. But for now, let us note what DID happen. Let us congratulate ourselves for what Americans – of both parties – achieved.               
It is too early to know if there may be reason for a touch of stubborn optimism.  But I offer a small start with this modest, welcome-back article. It is about a success which should not be overlooked. 

America’s Participatory Achievement 

Our Founding Fathers sought to construct a participatory democracy. At the time of America’s founding, the population of our entire and new country was less than 5,000,000 – less than the current population of New York City.  
But when the 39 delegates signed the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787 after a four-month-long convention, did they remotely envision establishing a participatory democracy that would work in a nation of 330,000,000 people; in a nation which in less than 225 years grew to nearly 70 times its original size? 
Could the Founding Fathers have anticipated a “participatory democracy” with this level of population? With our current population it at least could have been questioned whether or not a “participatory democracy” could still work. 
And now we know. At least in the context of “participatory,” now we know the answer is YES.

 Congratulations Are Due 

During this election, more than 149,000,000 Americans voted. (Note 3) This number represents about 66.5% of the 257,000,000 eligible, over-18 voters in the US. This number is the highest voter participation percentage in over 125 years.  I deeply respect that some people for personal or even religious reasons chose not to vote. But 149,000,000 Americans did.
Certainly, such voting is also an indicator of the extent of our country’s division. But for now. For just a moment. Let us pause. 
Let us take note what this level of voting also means. 
Whether Democrat or Republican and in addition to honoring our veterans on this Veteran’s Day this week (Note 4), let us also honor our country’s voting.   

This Level of Voting   

This Level of Voting is good – in and if itself. 
This Level of Voting is good  – regardless of which party received the most votes. 
This Level of Voting evidences that even amidst the noise and craziness of our world, 149,000,000 Americans took the time to get out their pens, read their ballots, fill out and sign their ballots, mail them or drop them off while other Americans walked or drove to polling places, stood patiently in line – sometimes for hours in the cold and rain – and then voted. (Note 5) 
All across America – 50 states and the District of Columbia, 433 Congressional Districts, 3,141 counties, more than 200,000 polling places, hundreds of thousands of poll workers (Note 6), tens of thousands of poll watchers, the USPS, the printers, the security guards, … and people voted. People “participated.” People “spoke.” (Note 7) 
Americans can debate everything later – and, for the foreseeable future, they certainly will. It will take us a long time to shift from “argument” to “debate;” from adamancy to compromise; and from polarization to unity. But for now, let us hold the backslaps and fist pumps. Let us ignore the tweets and the snide remarks. Let us turn our backs on the dark predictions. Instead, let America take a moment to congratulate itself. 
Well, we did it. You did it. Both Republicans and Democrats (and even my Libertarian friends) should recognize what was accomplished; what Americans successfully did. 

 NOTES

1.  Desiderata. In light of the many contentious debates (and arguments) which will cloud America’s next months, this author notes that possibly it is the next line in Ehrmann’s Desiderata which may be even more relevant — “as far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.”
2. Timing and Manner of Voting. In a few states, even earlier voting was permitted, but most voting – both in—person and by mail – was done in the last month.
 3. Voting Percentages by Candidate. At the time of this writing, the voting allocation appears to be approximately 75.6MM (50.7%) for Biden, 71.0MM (47.6%) for Trump, 1.7MM (1.2%) for Jorgenson (Libertarian), and 0.7MM (0.5%) for others (sorry, Kanye).
4. Veteran’s Day. The major hostilities of World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Thus, this day – Armistice Day and Remembrance Day – has long been recognized. In 1954, the day was re-named Veteran’s Day.
 5.  Covid Vaccinations. It is beyond the scope of this article, but it is tempting to suggest that if 149,000,000 can — in a short period of time – take the time to vote, then possibly a similar number can take the time to soon receive a proven covid vaccination. In the context of this covid pandemic, most of us still cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel. But maybe we can hear the whistle.
6.  Number and Ages of and Compensation for Poll Workers. The exact number of poll workers is not yet readily available since due to the Covid pandemic and for other reasons, the number of polling stations has been changing radically, but it is estimated that the number is about 225,000. As of the 2016 election, 58% of the poll workers were over the age of 61 (16.4% – Ages 18-40; 25.5% – Ages 41-60). Especially because of concerns about covid, this poll worker age allocation may have changed considerably in the 2020 election.
7.  No Evidence of Vote Fraud. It is recognized that some believe – and will obstinately always believe — that extensive voting fraud existed. However, as of the time of this writing, there has not been a single presentation of any verifiable voter fraud – let alone any evidence of organized or massive voter fraud. To the contrary, the election – despite its size and the anticipatory fears – worked – and worked well.

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THE FANCYPANTS WORD OF THE DAY 

(Note to Readers: For more fun and commencing with this blog, this author is going to try to use the Fancypants Word in at least one humorous sentence below).
Sempiternal (Part of speech: Adjective; Origin: Latin) Eternal and unchanging; everlasting.
Examples of use in sentences: “As an astronaut, I am intrigued by the sempiternal vastness of space.”
“I listened to him for hours, and then I came to understand the sempiternal emptiness of his mind.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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Fixing America – Idea 20 – Truth/Balance Ratings of News Shows and Commentators

Posted by Mack W. Borgen September 21st, 2020

Blog No. 123
September 22, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 20 

Reading Time: 10 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/
Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. 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 or reviews, without prior written permission by the author. 

Introduction

Over the last two years, I have presented ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog is the twentieth idea in this “Fixing America” series of articles.

Idea No. 20

-The Truth Problem-

The Need for Truth and Balance Ratings  

For Newspapers, Magazines, Columnists and 

Television and Radio Stations, Shows, Hosts, and Commentators  

Background: Getting accurate information in this 21st Century is challenging. This is especially so in the context of this year’s acrimonious, highly partisan, and fact-challenged national election. Words such as “hoax” and “fake news” have long replaced Rush Limbaugh’s dismissive “drive-by media” chants of the 1990s. Adding insult to logic, even the concept of “alternative facts” has been suggested by some commentators and presidential spokespersons so that individual’s can more easily be persuaded to conveniently mold a challenge, deflect a criticism, or pass off an excuse as an explanation.

Admittedly and regardless of the context, truth can sometimes be elusive. But, in America, finding the truth has become a never-ending task. At times, truth-finding feels more like game of wits and bluster. At times, truth itself is presented as a fungible blob which can be twisted, changed, or worse yet, hidden.

Americans do not deserve this. Even more frightening, our system of governance cannot long survive this.

However, there is good news. This article will outline that one aspect of the “truth problem” which could be readily fixed.

First, allow me to briefly present some background and perspective.

More than 50 years ago, in 1968, the United States implemented a film classification system whereby the Motion Picture Association began rating films based upon their content (G, PG, PG-13, R). Except for the R-rated films, this is not a form of censorship. Instead, the ratings are offered only for advisory use.

And America has become comfortable with rating systems. Especially in our Internet-dominated America, we rate nearly everything. We consult Yelp to find a good handyman, car mechanic, and house painter. Niche.com and greatschools.org offer every multiple comparative criteria for evaluating high schools and colleges, and U.S. News and World Report and Princeton Review present their annual ratings. We read jdpower.com to compare cars. We check with Consumer Reports to get the inside scope on every product in America.

There are also consumer warning labels everywhere. They, too, are intended both to inform and to warn us. Baby bottles, baby cribs, baby strollers come with warning labels. Our food is packaged with ingredient labels measuring product ingredients down to milligrams and Daily Percentages. Sports equipment, camping gear, lawn mowers, and power tools come with informational packets the size of small books. Backyard bar-b-ques and propane tanks have warning labels. Our medicines are delivered with pages of do’s, don’ts, and cautions. In a curious turn of words, there is even a “Harmful-If-Swallowed” choking warning on, of all things, “Lifesavers.”

But when it comes to the media, we are somehow left on our own. The manner in which most American adults “learn” almost everything, is hit-and-miss show. No guidance. No disclosures. No warnings. With newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations and shows, and commentators and writers, we get nothing except community gossip and an occasional Fact-Checker comments. And those are not enough to save America – especially in our read-and-run, hear-and-repeat, he said-she said world.

The problems relating to the American Disinformation Network are the result of at least four, highly inter-related reasons.

First – No Single Source. Up until about four decades ago, most Americans received their news from one of three sources – ABC, NBC, or CBS. Walter Cronkite (Years of New Anchoring: 1962-1981) was for years recognized as the “most trusted man in America,” and he worked amidst a small group of other respected and serious news anchors – names like John Chancellor (1970-1982), Chet Huntly (1956-1970), David Brinkley (1943-1997), Tom Brokaw (1982-2004), Peter Jennings (1983-2005), and Bernard Shaw (1980-2001). Although every American interpreted “the news” in their own manner, at least everyone started from the same place. Everyone heard roughly the same news. Everyone read from roughly the same page. That is no longer the case. Now, “news” is distributed almost willy-nilly through and from hundreds of different sources. We no longer “start from the same place. I can have my facts. You can have yours.

Second – Blending of News and Entertainment. More and more over the recent decades, both television and talk radio sought to blend news with entertainment. Some argue that this coincided with the launch of CNN in 1980, but the more toxic mix of news and entertainment (or “news as entertainment”) was accelerated with the launching of Fox News in 1996 and with the spread and reach of the Internet and other forms of social media.

Third – Glimpsing of the News. With the headline-grabbing, photo-based “journalism” of the Internet and social media, news is more and more the subject of glimpsing rather than study. Intellectually, most Americans know that there is proverbially “more to every story,” but in the rush-madness of the Internet Age, casual listening is followed and conveniently reinforced by the echo chambers of talk radio. Too often, careful reading and thoughtful analysis are now left to nerds, scholars, insiders, and the Bill Moyers/NPR-types. 

Fourth, Proliferation of New Sources. The proliferation of news sources also has changed everything. Most Americans once had a local paper and a few major network stations from which to choose; from which to get their news and information. Now, there are hundreds of television and cable stations. There are endless streams of 24-hour talk radio shows. Unsurprisingly, both newspapers and the dying art of reading the news have lost their hold on many Americans. Thus, as a cause and as a result, these developments reflect the increasingly tribalistic political environmental of America. We are no longer inconvenienced by truth. We are no longer burdened by the need for accuracy. Instead, we can tailor our news sources to those which best most reflect (and reinforce) our beliefs.

But in fairness, there is one more huge problem – whom to believe. There are multiple takes on every issue. The mastery of “spin” is no longer left to the politicians. It has become a skill and tool of newscasters, television, and radio talk show hosts as well.

It is beyond the scope of this article, but this author also believes that the Federal Communication Commission’s 1987 elimination of the “fairness doctrine” contributed to the slanting or narrowing of balanced news reporting. The “fairness doctrine” was in place for almost 40 years after it was first introduced in 1949. It required all broadcasters to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner which was honest, equitable, and balanced. Broadcasters had wide latitude in the application of this fairness doctrine and although (despite common belief to the contrary) the rule did not require “equal time” for opposing positions,  there was still FCC licensing and regulatory pressure to present the news with a certain degree of “fairness.” Note that this did not mean that every angle, every article, and every rumor had to be presented. There was no requirement for any broadcasters to present QAnon’s latest Pizzagate, cannibalistic pedophilia claims or their latest Reptilian, “deep state” absurdities. But there would have been a requirement at least to present, in a “fair” manner, other responsible ideas or interpretations. Many believe that the 1987 elimination of the fairness doctrine by the FCC contributed to the political polarization of the United States.

But even without the reinstatement of the fairness doctrine, there is something that can be done to help Americans more easily determine who to believe and what are the facts. In time, this “something” may greatly assist Americans in making better electoral selections and policy decisions.  This “something” is the establishment of a truth and quality rating system for the media.

At first blush, this may seem challenging and dangerous. However, the American people have a right to know whether they are listening to an entertainer or a news reporter; whether what they are reading or hearing is raw propaganda or hard facts.

Furthermore, such media rating is neither unreasonable nor far-fetched. Americans already know that there is a difference between The New York Times and The National Inquirer; between Time Magazine and Mad Magazine.

Admittedly, the lines are more blurred in the context of television and radio. For example, at times, Rush Limbaugh has himself claimed to be the voice of truth in America. At other times, he has himself claimed to be merely an entertainer. Which is it? NPR puts out it seemingly-fact based stories, but there is no easy way for the average listener to ascertain their truth and accuracy. Some Americans do not believe anything unless it comes from right-biased Fox News or the left-biased MSNBC. But, some form of truth and balance ratings can help serve as a guide. For even in the context of television and radio, there is a difference between Alex Jones and Lester Holt. Fox News deserves credit for its clever “Fair and Balanced” slogan, but this slogan cannot be allowed to mislead the public about Fox News’ bias as presented daily by Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, or Tucker Carlson. And the same is true with respect to the MSNBC voices from “the left.” Truth and balance should not be required, but their absence must be noted. It is time for bias and selective editing to be registered and disclosed.

Idea: Based upon an established set of announced and evenly-applied criteria, an independent body of persons should rate the balance of editorial selection and the factual accuracy of the content of (a) all major newspapers and magazines, (b) all television and radio news or commentary stations and shows, and (c) all commentators and writers. Such guidance ratings should be conspicuously posted (in the corner of each television screen or on the front cover of each magazine and newspaper or, in the case of radio shows, disclosed at the commencement and end of each radio shows) so that the ratings are readily discoverable to the American reading and listening public. Lastly, all such ratings should be periodically reviewed.

Implementation. The implementation of such a truth and balance rating system will be challenging. However, the current absence of such a fact/balance rating system is devastating. The problems of both ignorance and bias have helped to nurture America’s level of angst, anger, and acrimony within America.

The independence of the panel of reviewers must be steadfastly maintained. Just like Consumer Reports, WebMD or Healthgrades physician reviews, U.S.News and World Report’s List of Best Colleges, J.D. Power and Associates car evaluations, Zagat’s restaurant reviews, IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes movie reviews, Expedia’s hotel reviews, and on and on — the ratings, at times, will be imperfect. This author rarely uses the word “absurd.” But it here applies. The Cronkite era is long dead, and now it borders on the absurd that there is no truth and balance rating system with respect to the sources of America’s news and information.

The manner of selection of and appointment to the commission of reviewers deserves serious consideration. However, it can be done. The commissioners must be financially independent of such news and network organizations. They should not have been elected public officials. In addition, it is recommended that they be barred from appearing on any reviewed program or published in any reviewed publication both during one’s tenure on the panel and for a fixed number of years thereafter. Again, the selection process will be challenging. But it can be done. It must be done.

In closing, a reminder: Americans have the right to easily know the relative truth and balance of those persons they read or hear. If a particular newspaper, magazine, network or cable station, or commentator gets a low, poor, 1-star rating, maybe it or they will try harder to present more truth and better balance — and that itself, would be a fine result for all of us.

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For you or your friends and associates to receive copies of my blogs, just send your or their email address to me at mwborgen@live.com.

Dead Serious and Lighthearted book cover

See Additional Previously Presented “Fixing America” Ideas

Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 2 – Term Limits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).
Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fess to Winning Party (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).
Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 
Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 
Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Blog No. 109, Nov 26, 2019). 
Idea 10 – Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 11 – Scrutinize (and Possibly Eliminate) the Congressional Health Care System (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 12 – Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Blog 111, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 13 – Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Blog 112, Dec 7, 2019).
Idea 14 – Institutionalized Use of U.S. Military Units in Event of Natural Disasters (Blog 113, February 11, 2020). 
Idea 15 – Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes and Address the Issue of Overcriminalization in American Society (Blog 114, February 25, 2020).
Idea 16 – It’s Time to Reset America (Blog 118, June 30, 2020).
Idea 17 – If They’re Good Enough for Our Capitalism, They’re Good Enough for Our Democracy – Monthly Bonus Payments for Excellence in Citizenship (Blog 119, July 15, 2020).
Idea 18 – Let Us Try – The Simple Utility of Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities” (Blog 120, August 2, 2020).
Idea 19 – – If We Get It Right – The Next “Greatest Generation” (Blog 121, August 18, 2020).
Idea 20 – -The Truth Problem – The Need for Rating Newspapers, Magazines, and Columnists and Television and Radio Stations, Shows and Commentators (Blog 123, September 22, 2020).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Blandishment (Part of speech: Noun; Origin: Latin) 1) Flattering speech intended to coax or influence; 2) The act of persuasion by means of flattery.
Examples of use in sentences: “The fundraiser organizer used blandishments to convince the donors to pull out their checkbooks.”
“Sometimes, you can get on your boss’s good side with a little blandishment.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

If you like what you are reading … Order Copies of My Books Now

Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

 (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015))

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)) 

Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories

– U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference –

Mackwborgen.com

Paperback or hardback. Simple ordering. Special prices at https://www.mackwborgen.com/shop/ . My books are also available on Amazon etc., but your ordering direct from my publisher is greatly appreciated — and lowest prices.  In addition, a percentage of my receipts are donated each year to selected charities. 
Your buying of my books is appreciated beyond words — and they make good gifts!

9/11 – On This Sacred Day – Three Things America Must Do

Posted by Mack W. Borgen September 10th, 2020

Blog No. 122
September 11, 2020 
Reading Time: 10 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/
Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior written permission by the author.

On This Sacred Day – Writing a Better History

By Mack W. Borgen
University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School; Author, The Relevance of Reason – ((Volume I) (Business and Politics) and Volume II( Society and Culture) (2013) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015) (2018-2019). Author’s Note: This blog is based upon an article written by this author five years ago — September 11, 2015. It is here re-printed on this sacred day with some minor adaptations.
As Advertised in The New York Review of Books and Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

 Preamble

We Have Entered the Third Decade

9/11/2001 — 19 years ago.
It seems long ago. It seems like yesterday.
Children born after 9/11 are now voting. They are now in the military.
And our sacred duty is to honor that day

By taking action.

Our American democracy is neither young nor innocent. But, like all aging celebrities, we still think of ourselves as vibrant and energetic. We still believe we have a deep reserve of hard-earned wisdom.  
And with that in mind, today should be a day of national unity and remembrance; a day to reflect about that tragic days 19 years ago. Maybe, this year — this election year, it may be good to reflect upon how we want to be and behave.   
Some still see America as the only real and deserving world power. But the discord in our country reminds us that few Americans us as cresting in our greatness. In fact, three out of four Americans believe our country is heading in the proverbial “wrong direction.”
This may be accurate for the harsh tone of our country has enveloped us all. Too often, we seem to forget that our actions matter and that our words matter. Our rabid partisanship has consequences. And the style and behavior of our leaders matter.
We have now entered the third decade of this century. It is time for America to reset itself because too many of our country’s honored traditions are being abused or neglected. And the abuse and the neglect are taking a toll. 
In its own way, the horrific atrocity of 9/11 helped cause America to lose its way; to become divided; to become nationalistic and for dangerously re-aligning our nation’s friends and allies.
This November 3rd people who were born after 9/11 will vote for the first time. Those of us who were born before must at least try to set an honorable example for our younger citizens.
For example, we know name-calling and bullying are hurtful. They have existed for centuries. However, traditionally they have been left on the schoolyard playgrounds. Now, they have become a part of the style of our national conversations.
Allow me to suggest that we know better. Our democracy is more than 230 years old. America is now the longest surviving, constitutional democracy in the world. That is both a hard fact and a noble accomplishment.  
Until now, our nation has survived and flourished for many reasons – the breadth of our hopes; the aspirations of our equalities; the brilliance of the 4,543 words of our Constitution; the energy of our people, the bounty of our resources; and maybe because, for better or worse, our citizens have historically been more inclined to action than reflection. But regardless of the reasons, America is now in rarefied company. America has lasted nearly half of the duration length of The Roman Empire itself.
But now we are again at a crossroads — this one is of our own making. We have hard choices to make and much work to do. We cannot stay our current course. That itself is what a “crossroads” means. Wholly apart from the pains and strains of this pandemic, many communities have been dissolving for many years and many reasons. Partly, this is because the strain of America’s admixtures continues — contentment and cantankerousness; wealth and poverty; hope and despair.
And exactly because of these “strained admixtures” – this is a good time to re-commit to doing better; to working together better; to talking with lower voices.              
There is absolutely no need for us to allow a force-of-history inevitability of our own version of Gibbons’ Decline and Fall. Instead, this author believes we can write a better history for our nation. But a new style of leadership must evolve. Very bluntly, it is time for us to put away our childish toys; to use grown-up words; and to both earn and give respect of our fellow Americans.              
This article is written in honor of 9/11 – Modern America’s sad day of infamy. With our prayers and memories close at hand, this article suggests that this day serve as a day of remembrance and unity. This article humbly encourages us all to make some changes so that, together, we can write that better history.
One day at a time. One conversation at a time. We can do it.

Writing a Better History

As I wrote in my first book, The Relevance of Reason, I never met my uncle; my mother’s brother; my grandmother’s son. He died in the World War II. He died young. He died a long way from his Montana home while carrying a machine gun up the lonely, rocky hill in Monte Cassino, Italy.
For reasons I cannot easily explain, I miss him; a man whom I never met. Like thousands of others who lost a father or son or uncle or mother or friend in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Desert Storm, or more recently Iraq or Afghanistan — I sense that my life would have been different had he lived; had we met. Many years ago in a small town in Montana, my grandmother gave me his Purple Heart. She also gave a scrapbook which she had kept for him as a young boy. Now, so many years later, I still feel his presence. I remain indebted to his sacrifice. Even though he made it nearly 60 years before the infamy of 9/11.
Possibly this is because I, too, am a veteran. Possibly it is because I, too, have watched our young soldiers die or our wounded warriors come home — injured, scared, and in pain. Now, we owe it to them (and to ourselves) to understand the state of our country and lessen the confusion and anger of our people. To do this, we need to reflect upon the state of our ethics. We need to re-assert our principles and those of our Founding Fathers. There may be no better day today, this 9/11 — the Pearl Harbor of America’s younger and soon-to-be governing generations.
We need to address the millions of Americans who live in poverty; who are broken by despair; who are hobbled by fear. When I wrote this article five years ago, I noted that we could no longer ignore the fact that the proportion of children living in poverty is higher in the United States in than in any other developed country (excepting Romania). This has been allowed to continue. Because of the pandemic, it has even worsened. But our children should not be destined to accept fates which are undeserved and, worse yet, unnecessary.
Now five years later, we are fighting amongst ourselves and our allies. We are having trouble getting alone with Canadians. Think about that. Our wonderful, maple-leaf Canadians? Even in the context of the pandemic, we are trying to lead the world from the back of the pack – by almost any measure – cases per capita, fatalities per capita, and on and on. These are not matters of quibble for our political parties and the various departments of our government. These are facts we must first address. Then, we must learn from them.
And time is not on our side — and it certainly was not on the side of the more than 190,000 Americans who have died to date.
Nobody needs preachy, and I will use great caution. But there are, in my humble opinion, three things which must be done.
First, Americans must come to better recognize our 21st Century enemies. Sadly, our country will, from time to time, face some enemies in uniforms and with guns. Just like the era of 9/11, there will be terrorists who must be dealt with. But most enemies in our new century will be of a wholly different nature – climate change, forest fires, weather severity, food shortages, hurricanes, and flooding, and – unless America narrows wealth inequality in our country, devastating and incurable economic insecurity. Lastly, there will be more pandemics. Our history books someday will be filled with the scientific nomenclature of America’s new enemies – HINI, HIV-AIDS, Zika, Ebola, MERS, SARS, the Asian flu, the Swine flu, and now Covid.
Second, as lame as it may sound as you read this on a weekday morning, America must re-instill higher levels of CDH – Courtesy, Decency, and Honesty. These qualities must be embraced accepted as the threshold criteria for social, political, and even long-term economic success. Regardless of which political party one chooses and regardless of public policy disagreements, the trio of CDH – Courtesy, Decency, and Honesty must be accepted as prerequisites of public office. There are many reasons for this. We teach this to our children. We expect this from our children. So why do we so willingly allow (and display) lower standards from America’s ;eaders and our voting adults? In addition, there are severe consequences if we do not quickly change our behavior. This is because, over time, style becomes substance. Amidst today’s hyper-sensitivity about our use of language and image, I am hesitant to suggest that we bury our hatchets. But it is time. We must do so. CDH – Courtesy, decency, and honesty. It is a simple and needed change.
Third, allow this sacred day of 9/11 to be used as a day  of remembrance and unity.
Thus, My Summary Ideas Offered for Your Consideration
First,  better recognize the nature of America’s real 21st Century enemies. 
Second, demand that courtesy, decency, and honesty (CDH) be prerequisites for public office.
Third, use this day, 9/11, each year, as a sacred day of remembrance and unity.

 

INVITATION 

ADD ME ON INSTAGRAM AT MACKWBORGEN.

For you or your friends and associates to receive copies of my blogs, just send your or their email address to me at mwborgen@live.com.

Order Copies of My Books Now 

For the best prices, just go to mackwborgen.com and click  “Book Ordering.”

Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

 (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015))

The Relevance of Reason

(Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture))

 – Eight National Book Awards –

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Categories

U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference –

Paperback or hardback. Simple ordering. Special prices at https://www.mackwborgen.com/shop/ . My books are also available on Amazon etc., but your ordering direct from my publisher is greatly appreciated — and lowest prices.  In addition, a percentage of my receipts are donated each year to selected charities. 
Your buying of my books is appreciated beyond words — and they make good gifts!

Books authored by Mack Borgen

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fixing America – Idea 19 – If We Get It Right – The Next “Greatest Generation”

Posted by Mack W. Borgen August 17th, 2020

Blog No. 121
August 18, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 19

 Reading Time: 10 Minutes

By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/
Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. 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 or reviews, without prior written permission by the author.

Introduction 

Over the last year, I have presented ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This is the nineteenth idea in this “Fixing America” series of articles.

Idea No. 19

– If We Get It Right –

The Next “Greatest Generation”

 

The phrase the “Greatest Generation” is widely attributed to Tom Brokaw’s 1998 bestselling book by the same name. By rough consensus, the “Greatest Generation” relates to those Americans who were born in the years 1901 to 1927. They endured World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and then World War II. After WWII, they returned home and finished building this country into the most powerful nation on Earth. Things were by no means perfect. However, by almost any measure, this generation of Americans were tough, resilient, and hard-working. 

Contrast them with our America. As I write this, more than 170,000 Americans have died from the Covid-19 pandemic – more Americans than were lost in World War I, the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq combined. We are edgy and frustrated. Our economy is bifurcated and shaky. Many aspects of our lives have become harsh, hostile, and politicized. There are BLM protests in the streets and Me-Too cases in our courts.

But wait.

Let us view our current situation from the longer perspective of America’s own history. This can be encouraging because if we get it right, America may be able to create its second “Greatest Generation.” As I write this, I realize how wildly optimistic this may seem. However, there was little optimism among the men standing in soup lines in the middle of the Winter, 1933. There was little optimism as the Great Depression went on year after year. There was no optimism in the mother’s face in Dorothy Lange’s iconic Depression-era photograph — which was taken next to the fields in Nipomo, California — right outside of Santa Maria, California. There was more fear than optimism as Americans woke to the Sunday morning news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor or as children waved goodbye to their older brothers, their fathers, and their uncles.  

The current generation of Americans in the 2020s are obviously not the same that of the 1920s. However, looking back, who would have anticipated that the tortuous years in America in the first half of the 1900s would have “created” the grit, sobriety, societal wisdom that led to the Greatest Generation.

As noted above, neither America nor the Americans of the Greatest Generation were perfect. Instead, just like now, America remained imperfect even during this era. But perfection is the goal. It can never be the standard.

Heck, looking back at the Greatest Generation, they did some crazy things just like us. We can beat ourselves up about mask or no masks, but the seeming response to watching 675,000 Americans die from the Spanish flu was sober up with the enactment of Prohibition (1920-1933) while, at the same time, kicking up the dancing storm with the Roaring Twenties. If excess and blind optimism describe the 1920’s, those of the Greatest Generation also endured Black Thursday, October 24, 1929 and the following ten long years of the Great Depression. And that was followed by World War II.

Today, we banter about trade wars and tax policies. We get charged up with anger and even pessimism. However, maybe we should rethink our lives; our positions; our conditions. History may not give us the answers, but it can offer us perspective.

So, if we get this right, isn’t it possible that we can again create another “Greatest Generation?” The impact of Covid-19, the hostility in society, and the tribalism of our current politics need not necessarily dampen our children. Possibly, though hard to imagine, it can make them stronger. Our children are intelligent. They watch well. And they learn far more than we teach them.

But hasn’t everything in America changed over the last 100 years? Yes, of course. But there are also strong parallels between the 1920s and the 2020s. Today, for example, Americans are still learning how to live with our many, new technologies – the Internet, social media, virtual living, and the rest. But so did the Greatest Generation. In their own way, they were similarly shocked by the introduction of their own new technologies — cars, radio, movies, and travel. Both the parallels and the dissimilarities are endless.

But aren’t things today generally far worse? The answer is — only maybe. Americans today must deal with the constant presence of fear and uncertainty. But now our country has at least some safety nets, social security, advanced medical capacities, welfare, and unemployment insurance. These things were unheard of during the formational years of the Greatest Generation. And they, like us, had to deal with the constant presence of fear and uncertainty. Americans today might be waiting hours for a Covid test. Americans today might be waiting in long lines at food banks. But the Greatest Generation also stood for hours in soup lines. Their backup plan was to sell pencils on street corners. Some of them went home and packed their few possessions and just moved to the proverbial somewhere else.

But isn’t the world a far more dangerous place? Well, it is dangerous. The entire concept of mutual assured destruction is as disheartening now as when it was first introduced in the 1960s. But America, if it chooses to remember and behave, is now the strongest nation on earth. At the beginning of World War II, America had only the 17th largest Army in the world – slightly smaller than the Yugoslavian Army. Now, America is protected by the greatest military in the world. This author does not under-estimate the tempestuous nature of North Korea or the constant meddling of both Russia and China. Yes, our dangers are real. But so were their dangers — and the Greatest Generation grew up amidst the fresh memories of World War I.

But isn’t there more fear, apprehension, and sadness today? It may seem so. Covid-19. The hostility of our politics. The widespread presence of drugs and gangs. But try to consider the bleakness of the endless Great Depression. Try to appreciate the fear, apprehension, and sadness of watching your father, uncle, or brother getting drafted into the Army and shipped off to fight a war somewhere in the world – far away and without phones, Skype or Zoom. In 1941, the Greatest Generation went to war with an understanding that if they survived, they would come home when the war was over. During the Vietnam War years, the draft obligation was two years. The in-country tour of duty in Vietnam was 13 months. And since 1975, there has been no draft at all.

So, what are the differences that really count?

Just three things:

Our cynicism – which we could reel in;

Our resolve – which we could reboot; and

Our respect for America as a national community – which we could re-build.

If we get those things in line and if we get it right, we may have all the sobering ingredients to create the second Greatest Generation. If we get it right, we could instill in the next generation a level of composure, grit, and determination that has been so missing for decades.

And thus, I encourage all of us to recommit – rather than withdraw. But, with my own great fear of appearing preachy in this article, we must — to paraphrase Crosby, Stills & Nash — “teach our children well.” And this teaching cannot be outsourced to our schools; our neighbors, or even our churches.

It is a shame that DNA does not incorporate the Golden Rule; that our bodies do not repulse at the smell of drugs; that our minds are not pre-programmed for the concepts of duty, empathy, and sharing; that we do not crave knowledge and learning; or that our genetic code does not trigger us awake at 6:00AM ready for work. Instead, we must learn these things. As adults, we must teach these things. And, now, if we get it right, against the backdrop realities of our Modern America, we may have an opportunity to create another Greatest Generation.  One child at a time. One person at a time. One family at a time. One neighborhood at a time.

We need our friends, and they need us. We need our children, and they need us. We need our neighborhood, and it needs us. If out of the tragedies and travesties of our Modern America, we can create the next Greatest Generation, then good will come from all of this. If we can learn not what to say and not how to act and not what to do from some of our current leaders, then – curiously – they will have served us well. America needs another Greatest Generation, and we can build it at home if we take the time and put in the energy.

Right now, this author — possibly like you — finds little reason to be optimistic. I regret that. I am saddened by that. But, as noted above, I also recognize that there was little optimism during the formative years of the Greatest Generation. And possibly, the last contribution to our country by the Greatest Generation may be that it will remind us that we can do it again — if we get it right.

INVITATION

ADD ME ON INSTAGRAM AT MACKWBORGEN.

For you or your friends and associates to receive copies of my blogs, just send your or their email address to me at mwborgen@live.com.

See Additional Previously Presented Ideas:

Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).

Idea 2 – Term Limits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).

Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).

 Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fees to Winning Party (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).

Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).

 Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).

 Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019).

 Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019).

 Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Blog No. 109, Nov 26, 2019).

 Idea 10 – Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019).

 Idea 11 – Scrutinize (and Possibly Eliminate) the Congressional Health Care System (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019).

 Idea 12 – Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Blog 111, Dec 7, 2019).

 Idea 13 – Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Blog 112, Dec 7, 2019).

Idea 14 – Institutionalized Use of U.S. Military Units in Event of Natural Disasters (Blog 113, February 11, 2020)

Idea 15 – Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes and Address the Issue of Overcriminalization in American Society (Blog 114, February 25, 2020).

Idea 16 – It’s Time to Reset America (Blog 118, June 30, 2020).

Idea 17 – If They’re Good Enough for Our Capitalism, They’re Good Enough for Our Democracy – Monthly Bonus Payments for Excellence in Citizenship (Blog 119, July 15, 2020).

Idea 18 – Let Us Try – The Simple Utility of Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities” (Blog 120, August 2, 2020)

Idea 19 – – If We Get It Right – The Next “Greatest Generation” (Blog 121, August 18, 2020).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Redolent (Part of speech: Adjective; Origin: Latin) 1) Strongly reminiscent or suggestive of (something) 2) Strongly smelling of.
Examples of use in sentences: “The small homes are redolent of the initial ones in the city.:
“The aromas of spring are redolent with flowers and freshly cut grass.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

If you like what you are reading … Order Copies of My Books Now –

Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

 (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015))

The Relevance of Reason

(Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture))

 Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories

U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference –

Mackwborgen.com

Paperback or hardback. Simple ordering. Special prices at https://www.mackwborgen.com/shop/ . My books are also available on Amazon etc., but your ordering direct from my publisher is greatly appreciated — and lowest prices.  In addition, a percentage of my receipts are donated each year to selected charities. 
Your buying of my books is appreciated beyond words — and they make good gifts!

Dead Serious and Lighthearted Book Series

Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities” – A List of 40 “Good Celebrities”

Posted by Mack W. Borgen August 3rd, 2020

Blog No. 120
August 4, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 18

 Reading Time: 7 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/

Introduction 

Over the last year, I have presented ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog presents Idea No 18 in this Fixing America series of articles.

Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities”

My First 40 “Good Celebrities”

Background. Americans are becoming a cynical people. To a degree, maybe this is understandable after the impacts of 9/11, the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the broadened reach of technology, the politicization of everything, the biased reporting, the BLM and Me Too Movements, and on and on. Worse yet, many Americans believe that “greed is good;” words are cheap, and slime sells. But we must stop fixating on fallen angels and wallowing in the shock and awe of scandals. Let us start distancing ourselves from the paparazzi, empty-headed influencers, biased commentators, and the whimsical powers of social media. Let us step back. As long-ago Bobby Kennedy used to say, it might be good for each of us – this author included – “to stand still until we really see.” Also, it might be good to stand still until we really remember.

One way to break through the growing cynicism of our society is to remember the “good people” as frequently as we read about the “bad people.” To that end, it may be useful – and fun — to remember the “good celebrities.” They oftentimes speak with quieter voices. They less frequently dominate the headlines with stories of audacity or crime. But they too are part of Us. They can, if we let them, serve models and inspirations for our children.

In my book series, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America, I specifically address both “the allure and danger of lists.” (See Section 1, pp. 50-52 of each Volume). I note that “all lists have a certain allure. Like a guilty pleasure, most of us cannot resist knowing who is or what is on this list or that list – the 100 Richest Americans, the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted, the Highest Paid Athletes, the 10 Best Retirement Towns, … the 37 Most Dog-Friendly States, … and on it goes.”

But still, lists are fun. Even if, in the end, lists are admittedly personal to each individual. Each of us has our own list for almost anything. Lists are also very fluid and generationally distinctive. Each week some names should be added. Each week, sadly, some names may have to be Cosby-deleted. And while none of these “good celebrity” names can replace the names of our parents, our brothers and sisters, our good uncle or aunt, or our best friends – still, the very act of sharing the names of good Americans can be unifying. And we need that. Our country needs that.

Each year Time magazine present the 100 Most Influential Americans. Forbes lists the 400 Wealthiest Americans. The movie and television industries recognize the best actors and performances in endlessly long awards ceremonies. The NCAA passes out its Heisman Trophy. But in the opinion of this author, because of the subjectivity of the word “good” and even “celebrity,” magazines do not generate lists of the “good celebrities.”

But still, let us try. Let us try. 

Idea:  List, recognize, and remember the many “good celebrities” in American society.

Implementation. The beautify of this little project is that it is fun, and it requires neither an act of Congress nor an allocation of funds.

My humble start of such a list is set forth below for your consideration.

Please remember that these celebrities are not my buddies. I do not know them. I do not break bread with them. I do not know their quirks and habits. Thus, with respect to any of them, I could be wrong. But send me your list – let me know who “should” be on or off the list.

This initial list of “good celebrities” is presented alphabetically. Some non-Americans (e.g. Bono and Michael J. Fox) are included because they are well-known to and, in varying degrees, a part of our American society. The list also includes some Americans who have died since 2000 (e.g. Maya Angelou and Tim Russert). They are included because of their continuing influence upon our society and because many Americans remember them. I also could not resist including certain professions and groups, such as our first responders and health care providers, who in this author’s opinion should be viewed collectively as “celebrities.” Some seemingly wonderful celebrities have been omitted merely because of their younger age (e.g. Jennifer Lawrence (B: 1990, Indian Hills, KY). Actress, activist). Such omissions seem appropriate because these younger Americans have neither endured nor been blessed with the passage of years. In our age of heated politics, I also have limited the number of political figures. And, lastly, my apologies in advance to the thousands of other deserving “good celebrities” and the millions of “good Americans” whose names are not posted below. However, fear of inadvertent omissions should not stop us from recognizing those “good celebrities” who come to mind at any given moment.

My First Forty “Good Celebrities” 

Individuals:

Angelou, Maya (B: 1928, St. Louis, Mo – D: 2014, Winston-Salem, NC). American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.

Bono (B: 1960, Dublin, Ireland). Irish singer-songwriter, businessman, philanthropist.  

Buffet, Warren (B: 1930, Omaha, NE). American businessman, investor, and philanthropist.

Bullock, Sandra (B: 1964, Arlington County, VA). American actress, producer, philanthropist.

Burns, Ken (B: 1953, Brooklyn, NY). American documentary filmmaker.

Bush, George H.W. (B: 1924, Milton, MA – D: 2018, Houston, TX). 41st President of the U.S., and Barbara Bush (B: 1925, Manchester, NY – D: 2018, Houston, TX). Former First Lady.

Canada, Geoffrey (B: 1952, Bronx, NY). American educator, social activist, and author.

Clooney, George (B: 1961, Lexington, KY). American actor, director, and producer.

Cronkite, Walter (B: 1916, Saint Joseph, MO – D: 2009, New York, NY). American broadcast journalist.

Dole, Robert (B: 1922, Russell, KS). Politician, statesman, and Republican Presidential Nominee.

Dungy, Tony (B: 1955, Jackson, MI). Professional football player, coach.  

Fox, Michael J. (B: 1961, Edmonton, Canada). Actor, comedian, author, and activist.

Gates, Bill (B: 1955, Seattle, WA). Businessman, software developer, and philanthropist, and Melinda Gates (B: 1964, Dallas, TX). Philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft.

Hanks, Tom (B: 1956, Concord, CA). Actor and filmmaker, and Rita Wilson (B:1956 – Hollywood, CA). Actress, songwriter, and producer.

Howard, Ron (B: 1954, Duncan, OK). Actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.

Lewis, John (B: 1940, Alabama – D: 2020, Atlanta, GA). Politician and civil right leader.

Meacham, John (B: 1969, Chattanooga, TN). Writer, Presidential biographer, editor; Beschloss, Michael (B: 1955, Chicago, IL). American historian; and Goodwin, Doris Kearns (1943,      New York, NY). American biographer and historian.

Nye, Bill (B: 1955, Washington, DC). Science commentator (To some, the successor to the original science commentator, Carl Sagan (B: 1934, Brooklyn, NY – D: 1966, Seattle, WA)).

Obama, Michelle (B: 1964, Chicago, IL). Former First Lady, author, and lawyer.

Parton, Dolly (B: 1946, Sevierville, TN). Singer, songwriter, humanitarian, and philanthropist.

Reeves, Keanu (B: 1964, Beirut, Lebanon). Canadian actor, director, and musician.

Ritter, John (B: 1948, Burbank, CA – D: 2003, Burbank, CA). Actor and comedian.

Rowe, Mike (B: 1962, Baltimore, MD). Television host, narrator, former opera singer, and trade activist.

Russert, Tim (B: 1950, Buffalo, NY – D: 2008, Washington, DC). Television journalist, lawyer, longest-serving Moderator of Meet the Press.

Shriver, Sargent (B: 1915, Westminster, MD – D: 2011, Bethesda, MD). Diplomat, politician, and activist.

Sullenberger, Chesley (B: 1951, Denison, TX). Retired Air Force fighter pilot and Airline captain.

Spielberg, Steven (B: 1946, Cincinnati, OH). Film director, producer, and screenwriter.

Washington, Denzel (B: 1954, Mount Vernon, NY). Actor, director, and producer.

White, Betty (B: 1922, Oak Park, IL). Actress and comedian.

Winphrey, Oprah (B: 1954, Kosciusko, MO). Talk show host, media executive, and philanthropist.

Groups:

Doctors Without Borders (Founded 1971, Geneva Switzerland).

America’s First Responders

America’s Doctors, Nurses, and Teachers

Personal Inspirations:

Chapin, Harry (B: 1942, Brooklyn, NY – D, Interstate 495, NY). Singer-songwriter, philanthropist. After

his tragic car accident death, it was discovered that he had quietly – and always – donated one-half of his concert receipts to charities.

The 204 Signatories of the Giving Pledge (Founded 2010).

Source: Mack W. Borgen.

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For you or your friends and associates to receive copies of my blogs, just send your or their email address to me at mwborgen@live.com.

Previously Presented Ideas of Mack W. Borgen
Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 2 – Term Limits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).
Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fees to Winning Party (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).
Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Blog 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 
Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Blog 109, Nov. 26, 2019).
Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Blog 109, Nov 26, 2019).
Idea 10 – Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 11 – Scrutinize (and Possibly Eliminate) the Congressional Health Care System (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 12 – Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 13 – Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019).
Idea 14 – Institutionalized Use of U.S. Military Units in Event of Natural Disasters (Blog 113, February 11, 2020).
Idea 15 – Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes and Address the Issue of Overcriminalization in American Society (Blog 114, February 25, 2020).
Idea 16 – It’s Time to Reset America (Blog 118, June 30, 2020).
Idea 17 – If They’re Good Enough for Our Capitalism, They’re Good Enough for Our Democracy – Monthly Bonus Payments for Excellence in Citizenship (Blog 119, July 15, 2020).
Idea 18 – The Simple Utility of Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities” (Blog 120, August 4, 2020).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Lachrymose (Part of speech: Adjective; Origin: Latin) 1) Easily given to tears; weepy;  2) Sorrowful; tending to cause tears.
Examples of use in sentences: “Watching sad, sentimental movies always made her lachrymose.”
“Bring your tissues, because I’ve heard it’s a lachrymose play.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

The Gen Z* Slang Word or Phrase of the Day

Introduction: Communicating with younger generations is oftentimes difficult enough – especially since their conversations are dominated by memes, ever-changing social media platforms, and 280-character tweets. Nevertheless, our ability to “talk” with one another is important – and even if not important, it is at least useful. These short slang definitions might help.

Wig. “Wig” is an exclamation used to refer to something that is amazing. It suggests a thing or idea that is so amazing and incited so much shock in a person, that their “wig” flew off.

Example 1: “Wig!! Did you just see that too?

Source: The New York Times. * Definitions of Generations: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997- ).

If you like what you’re reading … Order Copies of My Books Now –

Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

 (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015))

The Relevance of Reason

(Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture)) 

Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories

U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference –

Mackwborgen.com

Paperback or hardback. Simple ordering. Special prices at https://www.mackwborgen.com/shop/ . My books are also available on Amazon etc., but your ordering direct from my publisher is greatly appreciated — and lowest prices.  In addition, a percentage of my receipts are donated each year to selected charities. 
Your buying of my books is appreciated beyond words — and they make good gifts!

Books authored by Mack Borgen

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If They’re Good Enough for Our Capitalism, They’re Good Enough for Our Democracy

Posted by Mack W. Borgen July 20th, 2020

Blog No. 119
July 20, 2020

 Fixing America – Idea 17

 Reading Time: 8 Minutes

By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner,” non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/

Introduction 

Over the last year, I have presented ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog is the 17th idea presented in my Fixing America series of articles. 

Certainly our country must first defeat the Covid pandemic, finish another national election, and start resolving America’s many problems. But, I respectfully suggest that we must think bigger and differently. We must think long-term, and we must stop being a harsh and reactive nation. And to that end, I humbly present these ideas for your consideration.    

Some of the ideas are my own. Some of them I have come across in the course of my research over these last now 12 years for my last two series of books – The Relevance of Reason (Vols I and II) (2013-2014) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted (Vols I, II, and III) (2018-2019). A few of the ideas are older and well-known, but I believe deserve reconsideration. A few of them incorporate the welcomed and attributed ideas of friends and associates. The ideas cover a wide range of subjects. They are presented without lengthy comment.

This week’s idea is relatively radical. It should not be considered until after the passing of the pandemic and the settling down of our economy, but I believe that it deserves serious consideration now.

Idea No. 17

If They’re Good  Enough for Our Capitalism,

They’re Good Enough for Our Democracy

Monthly Recognition Payments

for Lifetime Excellence in Citizenship

Background.  In addition to wages and salaries, thousands of American companies use bonuses and incentive payments to reward and motivate their employees. Such bonus and incentive plans are standard components of American business compensation structures. But, almost strangely, there are no parallel “bonuses,” rewards,” or “recognition payments” which are a part of our America’s democracy. Possibly that should change. Possibly, if bonuses are good enough for our capitalism, then they’re good enough for our democracy.

Very bluntly, public awards and the many and varied do-gooder recognitions are not enough — at least for our deserving citizens. There are thousands of public and private awards, citations, and other recognitions given out each year in our country. Distinguished This and Meritorious That. Some awards are certainly prestigious. Some are even well-known such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom which has been given to a widely and disparate range of famous people — from the Apollo 13 Crew to Mother Teresa; from Ronald Reagan to Colin Powell, from Edward R. Murrow to Walter Cronkite; from Aretha Franklin to Roger Staubach; and on and on.

However, most awards are not widely known. Sadly, few people have even heard of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, the NIA’s George Washington Spymaster Award, or the U.S. Forest Service’s Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Research Award. This is equally true of the untold thousands of state and local awards and the business, association and charitable service awards.

Ordinarily, these types of awards are made only annually to a single person or a limited group of people. But one very deserving group of Americans has been left out – and, collectively, this group of Americans may be the most deserving of all. This group of Americans is referred to in this article as the Excellence in Citizenship Americans — the “EC Americans.”

Our democracy, too often like our capitalism, is cluttered by the rules, laws, statutes, ordinances, policies, orders, and pressures. Similarly, we are constantly subjected to bossiness and negativism. We are too rarely encouraged and thanked. Instead, we endure the rattle, rags, and nags of “do this / don’t do that,” “be here / “go there,” file your taxes, yield to pedestrians, register to vote, pay your taxes, do your best, Don’t Pass Go … and on and on.

And with that in mind, it may be time for America to finally encourage, honor, and reward that which is central to our entire society — good citizenship. It may be time for our democracy to adopt the incentivizing and rewarding tools which have been so carefully honed by our country’s businesses; which have become such an integral part of our country’s capitalism. It may be time to recognize and reward those Americans who have been good citizens for a long time; for their entire life.

Such recognition would carry an honorarium whereby a monthly bonus payment would be added to these Americans’ social security checks. The monthly EC bonus payments could easily commence for each qualifying American at the age of approximately 62.5 years of age – the earliest age at which an American can start receiving social security.

Currently, the amount of one’s society security check is determined (a) by how much money a person mandatorily “contributed” to social security over the course of his or her life, and (b) by a series of complicated social security formulas. It is here suggested that if a person meets certain stringent qualifications, then his or her monthly dollar amount should be increased in honor and recognition of such person’s lifetime good citizenship.

 If we can pay rewards for lost dogs;

If we can pay bonuses for good sales numbers;

If we can structure incentives for timely work;

If we can pass out winnings for having the right lottery numbers;

Then,

We should be able to – and we should want to — honor America’s best citizens.

This author can already hear the deficit/debt push-back, no-can-do arguments.  And these are serious matters. However, as explained below, it is highly possible that these reward checks could be distributed with little or no out-of-pocket cost to our country. This is because good citizenship more than pays for itself in many ways — happier citizens, better communities, more education, less criminal activity, less dependence upon public welfare, more military or public service, and greater voter participation – to name just a few.

We cannot — and should not — build our democracy merely upon taxes and monies collected from fines, penalties, and judgments. Compare it with our capitalism. Businesses could easily punish, demote or fire employees who don’t meet the companies’ expectations. However, these companies have long recognized the advantages of adopting various kinds of incentives and rewards.

Idea:      Establish a universally-announced set of qualifying Lifetime Excellence in Citizenship criteria for Americans. Upon reaching a designated age each qualifying good citizen would receive an Excellence in Citizenship (“EC”) monthly bonus and recognition payment for his or her life. This payment would be added each month to their social security check.  

 Examples of possible qualifying criteria for achieving an EC status could include the following:

1.  Graduation from high school (supplied at no cost under our system of free public education).

2. No criminal convictions (with possible exceptions for speeding or minor vehicle or employment noncompliance infractions).

3. X Years (e.g. Two Years) of Military or Other Qualifying Community or Public Service Programs (e.g. Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Vista).

4.  No application for any federal or state welfare program benefits (or, alternatively, never aggregately received more than $____ from such federal or state welfare programs and with a possible carve-out exception for FEMA-related assistance in the case of a natural disaster).

5. Voted in X% (e.g. 80%) of U.S. national elections.

6. U.S. Citizenship.

The Excellence in Citizenship recognition payment and bonus simultaneously would serve four purposes:

First,  delivery of honor and monetary recognition to such deserving EC Americans;

Second, repayment, in effect, to such EC Americans for the monies saved by our country as the direct or indirect result of their excellence in citizenship (e.g. no incarceration costs, no or less welfare payments);

Third, monetarily incentivize Americans to model their behavior so that they, too, will someday receive the EC monthly bonuses; and

Fourthly, greatly financially assist some elderly and deserving EC citizens.

Implementation. Like many of the ideas set forth in these Fixing America blogs, this idea for monthly EC recognition payments would be almost impossible without an integrated, multi-state computer capability. But this capability does exist. The requisite EC criteria information could be readily tracked.

As noted above, the cost of such recognition payments should be paid for many reasons and could be paid for in many ways.

Consider the following:

On a theoretical level, good behavior should be recognized, and sometimes even rewarded – just as bad behavior should be punished. Certainly, one should not have to be “bribed” to be a good citizen. However, this is itself a matter of perspective. While this author agrees that bribery is objectionable, rewarding and incentivizing good people should not be objectionable.

And in this case, the monthly bonus program for EC Americans may largely pay for itself. First, there is a direct correlation between one’s educational achievement and one’s lifelong economic well-being. Second, there is a direct (albeit not guaranteed) correlation between one’s avoidance of criminal activity and one’s economic (and familial and community) well-being. Bluntly, high school graduates are less likely to go to prison than high school dropouts. Similarly, high school graduates are less likely to rely upon welfare than high school dropouts. Thirdly, our nation deeply needs – and should deeply appreciate — the performance of military or other qualifying public service from these EC Americans. Fourthly, every good citizen quietly could serve as a model for others, and as a result, the quality of our communities and our nation will rise.

Adoption and Implementation Details: This EC program will have the normal implementation challenges until (a) the EC data is readily and verifiably assembled, and (b) the program has been in place for a number of years. For example, while the EC qualification criteria should be finalized now, the EC payments criteria may have to be staggered. For example, all six of the EC criteria listed above (High school graduation, no criminal record, military or public service, no receipt of welfare payments, voting participation, and citizenship) might be demanded only of those persons currently of age 14 or younger. On the other hand, U.S. citizens currently 45 years of age or more may be permitted to qualify for a partial monthly EC bonus if between their current age and age 65 (a) they have no criminal convictions, (b) they receive no welfare benefits, and (c) they vote in not less than 80% of the elections in this 25 years. These are just examples of the necessary implementation challengers – but they could be overcome.

Closing Note: This author recognizes that this is a rather radical idea; a rather radical enhancement to our social security program. At first blush, it may seem counter-intuitive to suggest social security increases at a time when some critics are concerned about the financial soundness of the social security program itself. However, over the mid- and long-term, the inducement for high school completion, the containment of criminal prosecution and incarceration costs, the decline of reliance upon the public welfare systems, the increase in military and community service, the honoring of citizenship, and the rebuilding of our communities should far – and easily — outweigh these shorter-term concerns.

Lastly and importantly, it should not be forgotten that even $100-$500 monthly EC recognition payments will be extremely helpful to many senior Americans. And this amount would be doubled for qualifying senior couples. For some seniors, such payments could be life-changing. And again, remember, the only way they could receive such additional monthly bonuses is by their excellence in citizenship for their entire life.

Source: Mack W. Borgen.

INVITATION 

ADD ME ON INSTAGRAM AT MACKWBORGEN.

For you or your friends and associates to receive copies of my blogs, just send your or their email address to me at mwborgen@live.com.

See Additional Previously-Presented Ideas: 

Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).

Idea 2 – Term Limits (Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).

Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).

Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fees to Winning Party (Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).

Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).

 Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 

Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019).

 Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019).

 Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov 26, 2019).

 Idea 10 – Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases (Borgen Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019).

 Idea 11 – Scrutinize (and Possibly Eliminate) the Congressional Health Care System (Borgen Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019).

 Idea 12 – Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Borgen Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019).

 Idea 13 – Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Borgen Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019).

Idea 14 – Institutionalized Use of U.S. Military Units in Event of Natural Disasters (Borgen Blog 113, February 11, 2020).

Idea 15 – Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes and Address the Issue of Overcriminalization in American Society (Borgen Blog 114, February 25, 2020).

Idea 16 – It’s Time to Reset America (Borgen Blog 118, June 30, 2020).

Idea 17 – If They’re Good Enough for Our Capitalism, They’re Good Enough for Our Democracy – Monthly Recognition Payments for Excellence in Citizenship (Borgen Blog 119, July 15, 2020).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Noctambulate (Part of speech: Verb; Origin: Latin) To walk about at night.
Examples of use in sentences: “After dinner, he loved to noctambulate and watch the stars come out.”
“The best part of living in the city is that you’ll never noctambulate again.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

The Gen Z* Slang Word or Phrase of the Day

Introduction: Communicating with younger generations is oftentimes difficult enough – especially since their conversations are dominated by memes, ever-changing social media platforms, and 280-character tweets. Nevertheless, our ability to “talk” with one another is important – and even if not important, it is at least useful. These short slang definitions might help.
Fit. “Fit” is just a shortened version of outfit.
Example 1: “Their fit was bold.”
BUT NOTE: The British use of the slang “fit” is to mean attractive as in “she’s fit” or “he’s fit.”
Source: The New York Times.
* Definitions of Generations: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997- ).

If you like what you’re reading … Order Copies of My Books Now –

Just go to mackwborgen/com – Book Ordering

Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

 (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015))

The Relevance of Reason

(Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture))

Books authored by Mack Borgen

Recipient of Eight National Book Awards
Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories
— U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference –

Mackwborgen.com

Paperback or hardback. Simple ordering. Special prices at https://www.mackwborgen.com/shop/ . My books are also available on Amazon etc., but your ordering direct from my publisher is greatly appreciated — and lowest prices.  In addition, a percentage of my receipts are donated each year to selected charities. 
Your buying of my books is appreciated beyond words — and they make good gifts!
My thanks to Brody S. Borgen for his computer, technical, and design assistance on this blog.

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Reset America – Not Bad, But Necessary

Posted by Mack W. Borgen June 29th, 2020

 

Blog No 118 
June 30, 2020

 It’s Time to Reset America

READING TIME: Just 5 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen
Recipient of Eight National Book Awards.  For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/

It is time for America to reset itself.

In many ways, this is not bad, but it is necessary. Upon even passing reflection, such a “reset” can be viewed as an almost inevitable course of correction. And if the word “correction” is too burdened by an implication of error, wrongdoing, or blame, then just use the even more neutral phrase “course of change.”

Our country has been going through a rough time, and nothing in this short article is intended to diminish the many serious crises facing our country or the many Americans who have lost their lives or livelihood over the last months. We all know about, and in varying degrees share, the reality that our country has been enduring a pandemic for nearly five months; and that we suffer from fierce partisan tribalism and racial tensions – again and still.

However, as we try to discuss these subjects which have dominated our Internet, headlines, and Twitter feeds, hundreds of other pressing issues too quickly become a part of our “ya-but” conversations. And it is impossible to simultaneously debate income and wealth inequality, the breakdown of our Congressional bodies, the politicization of our Cabinet Departments and the Supreme Court, gerrymandering, public education, women’s rights and the MeToo movement, civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, poverty, immigration, cybersecurity, health care, term limits, and on and on.

Thus, in a certain respect, the first step is to start regaining our national composure. In that process, we also need to give ourselves a slight break.

Rather than thinking of our nation’s problems as a tiring and unending list, we must recognize that America doesn’t need fixes. It needs a full reset. And this is not unusual. The need for a reset is not a reason for panic. Everyone who has ever played a sport has heard their coach scream at halftime for a team reset. No time to lose control. No need to lose confidence. No place for anger. Just settle down. And go win.

And heaven knows, America, at the age of 231 years, is well past its halftime. There are a lot of different measuring dates, but the Soviet’s try at communism only lasted 72 years. The whole British Empire — with all of its ships and its “sun-never-sets-on” chants — only lasted about 450 years. Even up against the duration of the Roman Empire, America does well. We have been working, expanding, and in many respects improving our nation for almost two and a half centuries. Yes, America, 231 years is a long time. Democracy is wonderful. Capitalism can work. But we have problems, and it is time for a reset.

In a word of caution, this short article can be easily misunderstood. This article is not meant to be a piece of cheerleading. It is meant to present a sobering challenge. It is not meant to suggest that everything will be o.k. It is meant to suggest that we can no longer approach things sequentially. Because there is too much to do. Because enough is enough. Because the time is now.

Thus, we would do better if we view it for what it is – an American reset. We are at some kind of societal half-time. And that is o.k.

It has been 100 years since women got the right to vote. But we must do more and better.

It has been 67 years since Brown vs Board of Education and nearly 55 years since Representative John Lewis, after crossing the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, asked a State Trooper “if not us, then who? If not now, then when?” 

It has been almost a half century since 1968, the last big year of anger and protests – the Tet offensive, the assassinations of Martin and Bobby, and the riots in Chicago (and many other cities).

It has been 40 years since we heard the calming voice of Walter Cronkite give his last news broadcast.

And, possibly most importantly, it has been about a quarter century since technology changed the manner and, for better or worse, the ease of our communications — splintering forever the sources of our news and information. It is no coincidence that both Fox News and MSNBC began the same year – 1996, about 25 years ago.

But regardless, it’s halftime. We have to settle down. Take a breath. The halftime analogy of this short article can definitely spin way out of control, but — in closing – I’d suggest that we are one country, one community, one team. It is up to our leaders to encourage rather than to divide. But it is up to us to demand that they do so. It is up to us to have the confidence to win.

Closing Note: For an interesting, albeit slightly dated, approach to this subject of “reset,” see Professor Larry Sabato’s 1977 book A More Perfect Constitution – 25 Proposals to Revitalize Our Constitution and Make America a Fairer Country. It has been years since I corresponded with Professor Sabato, but I remember he and his book to be brilliant. It remains relevant. 

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– – –

New Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Fugacious (Adjective; Origin: Latin) 1) Tending to disappear; 2) Fleeting.

Examples of uses in sentences:

“Of late, the American Dream is itself fugacious.”

“Cookies are fugacious in my house.”

If you like what you’re reading, … Order Copies of My Books Now

Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories

— U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference —  

mackwborgen.com

Best prices. Fast shipping. 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, also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. and at select independent bookstores.

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