Fixing America – Ideas 7-9

Posted by Mack W. Borgen November 25th, 2019

Blog No. 109
November 26, 2019 

Fixing America – Ideas 7-9 

Reading Time: 6-7 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 (And Happy Thanksgiving Week to All)

This is the third article in my series of Ideas Blogs. In this series, I present ideas which might help in “fixing America.” 
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 them are older, even well-known ideas, which I believe deserve reconsideration.
These ideas cover a wide range of subjects. The ideas are presented without lengthy comment or recommendation, but I believe that you, like me, may conclude – like the title of my initial blogs in this series – that many of the ideas already percolating out there in our America “are good … and some are brilliant.”  Enjoy.

Mack W. Borgen

Idea No 7. 

– NASA All Over Again! –

The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Communication and Media Professionals

for the Development of an Education Campaign

Background Many issues, especially scientific issues, are complex. Nevertheless, understanding and appreciating, these issues can be uniquely important to society so that such ideas do not become forgotten, buried, or politically charged. Climate change and global warming are such issues. Despite near unanimity of agreement amidst all scientists around the world as to the existence (if not quite fully as to the causes), the subjects of climate change and global warming are not being presented well. They are not, very bluntly, being presented in an effective manner or by the right parties. These subjects are running the risk of being “NASA’d.”
NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was formed in 1958 – more than 60 years ago. Tens of thousands of brilliant scientists have worked at NASA. It has a current annual budget of more than $21.0BB. However, most people have long remained largely uninformed about its projects. We know that NASA discovered Tang. NASA gave us great Man on the Moon pictures.  NASA served up the back story for Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 movie. NASA has a space shuttle “up there” doing something. But NASA and its scientists have not taken the time or used the energy to explain, indeed “market,” its accomplishments or purposes.
A parallel, but far more frightening, fate is happening in the context of climate change and global warming – albeit with the added periodic attraction of celebrity and alarmist shout-outs that all humanity is going to suffer. But if there is one thing that America should know, it is that communication, marketing and educational campaigns can work. Madison Avenue has the tools. Madison Avenue has the experience. Madison Avenue knows how to sell the ice to Eskimos and vaping smoke to teenagers. Now, we need scientists to respect those talents of Madison Avenue and social media experts so that the issues of climate change and global warming can be well, widely, and accurately explained.
Idea: Scientists must devote more of their time to developing informative, engaging, educational presentations about of climate change and global warming. In order to do so, they must explain these issues to the American people through and with the tools of Madison Avenue and social media experts. Thick-worded scientific reports by scientific organizations will not assure our nation’s needed and thorough understanding of these issues. In other words, climate change and global warming cannot become NASA’d. The importance of these issues must cross from the scientific community to the general public — but they must not pass through the colored lens of politicians or businesses. Due to the importance of these issues, the sophistication of the information delivery may be literally as critical as the substance of the content.  
Implementation:  The implementation of this idea should be in multiple formats (radio, print, digital, academic, educational, etc). The implementation must be well-presented from many different sources. There is no place for propaganda and speculation, however meetings in Paris, articles in National Geo, and mumbles from the scientific unanimity are not enough. Scientists must retain communications specialists – public relations, advertising, marketing, education, and social media experts. They too are specialists. They have their own skills and tools. And they must be retained to deliver a sophisticated, successful, and accurate education campaign. It is regrettable, but we can be live without knowing about NASA’s – or for that matter Elon Musk’s latest race-to-Mars accomplishments. But the consequences of our ignorance or our under-estimation of climate change and global warming is far more serious.
Source: Mack W. Borgen

Idea No. 8

Redefining the Concept of “News”

The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News 

Background:  The Beatles famously sang the words “I read the news today, Oh, Boy.” And there was a time, not so long ago, when the gentle tones and words of a more singular and uniting Walter Cronkite and John Chancellor delivered commonly-heard evening news. Now, with the splintering of the news media, news has taken on a hostile and dispiriting tone with toxic, counterproductive – and sometimes ill-deserved – toxic effects. In a small, but important, measure this can be changed. This is because if the rough definition of “the news” is the information we need to formulate informed opinions about our country (its economy, politics, society and culture), then “good news” needs to be communicated by our reporters and broadcasters as well. “Good news” is an important aspects of part of our country as well.
Drawing a marital analogy, we all have a common law marriage to this country. We are in it. We are a part of it. And unless we wish to become divorced by emigration to another nation, then we should be – literally and regularly – told and reminded of that which is good; that which deserves honor in addition to that which is needs correcting.  
Idea: Encourage our news reporters and broadcasters to include — in each days news reporting  — some good, positive, and encouraging news.                  
Implementation Comments: For a multitude of reasons – including necessity for the freedom of the press – this idea can only be proffered as a request. However, it is humbly suggested that journalists and reporters need to rethink the nature of “goods news.” It is not here suggested that such news is somehow needed because we want a dose of the “feel-good.” To the contrary, it is here suggested that such reporting is one of the responsibilities of journalists and reporters because, in its own way, such news is as constructive to our society as information about impeachments, mass shootings, far-away lands and battles, or the stock market.
Source: Robert Badal, resident of Santa Barbara and one of nation’s preeminent antitrust attorneys, and Mack W. Borgen (who is solely responsible for the above wording, argument, and presentation).

Idea No. 9

The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service

Background:  Conscription, more commonly known as “the draft,” has only been used five times in the our country’s history. In the 20th Century, it was used during both World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam Era. The last mandatory draft expired in December, 1972. While there were a number of exceptions and deferments with respect to, for example, married men, married men with children, college students, and conscientious objectors, most men of draft age (appr. 18-25) were subject to the draft unless they “voluntarily” enlisted in one of the other services.
The concept of the draft was rarely viewed from the perspective of “public service.” Instead, it was seen as a matter of national security and defense. The roots of “public service” are better exemplified by Roosevelt’s New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps in which young men could serve and provide manual in exchange for housing, food, and $30 a month. Today, there are many social, community, and faith-based organizations which provide opportunities for community service. There are also voluntary civil service programs supported by the federal government such as the Peace Corps (235,000 Americans have served since its inception in 19062) and AmeriCorps (about 75,000 Americans each year since 1994). However, the common characteristics, indeed arguably problems, with both the now-”All Volunteer” Army and these public service organizations are that too few serve and that those who do serve are disproportionately from the middle- and lower income families. The concept of wide-shared service and commonly-shouldered burden has been lost. More subtly, for a vast majority of America’s younger generations, there is a loss of the honor and sharing of the bonding and “equalizing” experience of serving this country.
Idea: Subject to certain appropriate, but narrowly defined exemptions, all young men and women should be required to complete not less than 18-24 months of mandatory public service prior to the age of 25. Recognizing the vast differences in personal preferences and skills, such mandatory public service requirement should be allowed to be met in the context of a wide array of alternative services – from military service to teaching; from health and child care to environmental, forestry and park services; from the provision of dental care to legal services; from implementing anti-drug campaigns to fostering programs for the abatement of homelessness.   
Implementation: At first blush, this proposal may seem to be greatly disruptive to our young people’s planning and careers and to our economy. And it is. So was World War II. So was Vietnam. And our country is still in need of public service. There is plenty of needed work to be done in this country from the manual labor of fire prevention to the construction of new public facilities; from the building of care facilities to the maintenance of veterans’ facilities. Similarly, at first blush, this proposal may suggest a powerful pushback from, for example, our teachers’ unions. But this proposal need not adversely impact or displace, in this example, experienced and career teachers. To the contrary, teachers need and deserve our help, and nearly every teacher could use a teacher’s aid. Nearly every teacher dreams of cutting class sizes. Lastly, public service will also tighten our nation, adjust our perceptions of one another, and equalize our bonds.
Source: Long-standing Idea Deserving of Reconsideration

See Previously-Presented Ideas: 

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

Idea 2 – Term Limits (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, October 14, 2019).

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

Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fess to Winning Party (Mack W. Borgen Blog 107, October 28, 2019).

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

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

Excerpts from Dead Serious and Light-Hearted by Mack W. Borgen 

Having Fun – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Ersatz (Part of speech: Adjective; Origin: German)  1) Describing an artificial substitute for something, usually of inferior quality.  2) Simulated or imitation. Examples of use in sentences: “It has been on sale, but the ersatz cheese was so bad that no one wanted it” and “The antique dealer was caught trying to sell ersatz vases.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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The Best Songs Lyrics of Modern America – Part 11

Posted by Mack W. Borgen November 11th, 2019

Blog No 108 
November 12, 2019 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America- Part 11

READING TIME: Just 4 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

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

Here is Part 11 of my assembled list — done over the last nine years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America.  For an explanation about the background of this Best Lyrics project, see below.

To order copies of my books for Christmas gifts, just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ .

But, now, … The Best Lyrics of Modern America – Part 11

– From 1957 through 2015 – Enjoy. 

The Sixties

For What It’s Worth (1966) (Buffalo Springfield) (Group) (Years Active 1966-1968; 2010-

2012) (Included members such as Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Jim Messina).           

“There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear

There’s a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware. …”

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

            Everybody look what’s going down.

 There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Young people speaking their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind ….”

  “A thousand people in the street

 Singing songs and carrying signs

 Mostly say, hooray for our side.”

 

The Seventies 

Running on Empty Sundown (1978) (Jackson Browne) (B: 1948, Heidelberg, Germany).

“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels

Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields

In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one o one*

I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on….”

“Running on – running on empty

Running on – running blind

Running on – running into the sun

But I’m running behind. 

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive

Try not to confuse it with what you do to survive….”

*  As a write this blog, this author is only about ¼ mile from “one-o-one” (Highway 101) in Santa Barbara, California.   

       

The Nineties 

Candle in the Wind (1997*) (Elton John) (B: 1947, Middlesex, England) and Bernie Taupin

(B: 1950, Lincolnshire, England).  Note: This song was originally written and released in 1973 in honor of Marilyn Monroe, who had died 11 years earlier. However, the even more famous version of this song was written and released in 1997 in honor of Diana, Princess of Wales).

“Goodbye England’s rose

May you ever grow in our hearts

You were the grace that placed itself

Where lives were torn apart.

You called out to your country

And whispered to those in pain

Now you belong to heaven

 And the stars spell out your name. 

And it seems to me you lived your life

Like a candle in the wind

Never fading with the sunset

When the rain set in

And your footsteps will always fall here

Along England’s greenest hills

Your candle’s burned out long before

Your legend ever will….”

 

 Country Western

This Week’s Blog –  Some of the Best-Said, Short Lines Ever 

Feels So Right (1981) (Alabama) (Group) (Years Active 1969-2004, 2006-2007, 2010 –

Present) 

“Whisper to me softly,

Breathe words upon my skin” 

Don’t Rock the Jukebox (1991) (Alan Jackson) (B: 1958, Newnan, GA). 

“I don’t feel like rockin’

Since my baby’s gone

So don’t rock the jukebox

Play me a country song”

It’s Your Love (1997) (Tim McGraw with Faith Hill Lyrics)(Tim McGraw – B: 1967, Dehli, LA) (Faith Hill (B: 1967, Ridgeland, MI).

“Better than I was

More than I am

And all of this happened

By takin’ your hand.”

The Most Beautiful Girl  (1973) (Multiple Artists and Multiple Release Dates) (Charlie Rich)

(B: 1932, Colt, AR – D: 1995, Hammond, LA)(Age 62).

“I lost my head and I said some things

Now comes the heartaches that morning brings”

 

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

As noted above, song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America, and about nine years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America, I spent much of the initial year assembling, sorting, and selecting those “memorable” song lyrics to be included in my books.

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

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

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

Thus, starting about a year ago — on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Lyrics of Modern America.

– – –

New Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Picaresque (Adjective; Origin: Spanish)) 1) Related to a mischievous character; 2) A type of fiction concerning the adventures of roguish but likeable characters.

Examples of uses in sentences:

“His new novel was full of picaresque characters ….”

“She wants to settle down, but she’s constantly drawn to picaresque sorts who will never give up their life of adventure.”

 

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Fixing America – Ideas 4-6

Posted by Mack W. Borgen October 28th, 2019

Blog No. 107 
October 29, 2019 

Fixing America – Ideas 4-6

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 

          This is the second article in my series of Ideas Blogs. In this series, I present ideas which might help in “fixing America.” 
          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 them are older, even well-known ideas which I believe reconsideration.
          These ideas cover a wide range of subjects. The ideas are presented without lengthy comment or recommendation, but I believe that you, like me, may conclude — like the title of my initial blog in this series – that many of the ideas already percolating out there in our America “are good … and some are brilliant.”  Enjoy.

Idea No 4

Award Attorneys’ Fees to Winning Party

          Background Attorneys’ fees are oftentimes a dominating consideration with respect to the initiation of and the defense against lawsuits. There are multiple iterations of small claims courts in all jurisdictions, and in such courts attorneys are normally barred from appearing. However, the maximum recoverable amount  is oftentimes very low – from $2,500 to $7,500. In other cases statutory provisions allow for a prevailing party to recover attorneys’ fees, and certainly attorneys’ fees recovery allocations are a boilerplate component of every well-drafted contract. But still, there are many cases in which each party, rightly or wrongly, must pay their own attorneys’ fees. This means that far too often courts – the judicial system of America – are, as a practical matter, only available to corporations and the wealthy because only they can afford to sue or afford to defend themselves when sued. There is a far better way. 
          Idea: It should be provided in both federal and state courts that the prevailing party in any litigation should be entitled to recover attorneys’ fees and costs. Stated conversely, the losing party should be required to pay the attorneys’ fees of the winning party.
          Implementation: The allowance for the award of attorneys’ fees is common practice in many other countries. Disappointingly, it is not that way in the U.S. It is the opinion of this author that the U.S. non-allocation of attorneys’ fees leads to many bad consequences. For example, requiring a “winning party” to have to absorb his, her or its own attorneys’ fees contributes to the initiation of many “shakedown” lawsuits in the U.S. Requiring each party to absorb their own attorneys’ fees regardless of whether they are found liable is one of the mechanisms whereby both corporations and wealthy individuals sometimes feel largely immune from attack – and conversely, merely because wealthy individuals and corporations can more easily afford paying attorneys’ fees by and of itself intimidates customers, employees, contractors, and other third-parties. Lawsuits oftentimes recite numerous claims, and as a result, it is commonplace for a party to win some claims but lose others. However, even in these instances, attorneys’ fees can and should be awarded by the court. Courts routinely allocate what is known as “relative” or “comparative”  liability.” Thus, even in such normal cases where one party wins some but not all claims, the common law practice of awarding for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party could easily be the standard practice. The soundness of this idea may also be buttressed by the simple fact that every attorney will confirm that this change would immediately lessen the number of lawsuits filed each year in the U.S. And that would be a good thing. Source: Long-standing Idea – Included for Reconsideration

Idea No. 5

Positive Aspects of U.S. Society As Distinct Chapter of School Curricula  

          Background:  In today’s acerbic and dangerously pessimistic environment, it is easy to overlook that which is “right” with our society, our constitutional democracy, and our economic system. This is especially true among younger Americans who have not experienced calmer times or witnessed more congenial debates. As I write this, it seems strange that it should even be deemed “an idea” to have to suggest that it is affirmatively necessary to teach the positive aspects of America as a formalized part of U.S. curricula. But this is necessary. Debates about America’s contemporary problems will rightly remain at the center of secondary (high school) U.S. history courses, but the positive aspects of our society should also be a distinct component of such courses – the brilliance of the 4,400 words of our constitution; the rights of free speech and association; our freedom of religion; the commitment and talents of most Americans to their work; and even the glory, diversity, and expanse of our country’s geography and resources. It is not the intention of this idea to diminish the many serious issues facing this nation or to deflect from the reality that our country is deeply divided. However, amidst this stir of stress and confusion, remembering what is right with our country is also important and may give us encouragement.
          Idea: The curricula of U.S. history classes in our secondary schools should expressly address — as an express block or section of such classes — those aspects of our society, constitutional democracy, and economic system which are commonly viewed as positive and honorable in theory and sometimes in practice.
          Implementation Comments: Politically charged writings dominate both the news and the bookstores, but there are a number of books which highlight America’s positive virtues. For example, although written in a lighter and essay style, Roger Rosenblatt’s “Where We Stand – 30 Reasons for Loving Our Country” (2002) could be one source of supplementary reading. This book is offered as only one alternative, but it cleverly presents “the remarkable qualities that make our country worth preserving” in a series of “thirty short essays.” The implementation of this idea would be uniquely challenging since most curricula are developed at the state or school district levels. Nevertheless, in the humble opinion of this writer, this idea should still be adopted even if it must be done one state or one school district at a time. Source: Mack W. Borgen

Idea No. 6

Office of International Comparisons (the “OIC”)

          Background:  There are 195 nations around the world. Each nation is almost definitionally unique. However, many nations – and especially, many developed nations — face issues similar to those of the U.S. Consequently, prior to the enactment of legislation in the U.S. with respect to any matter, it would be advisable for there to be a formalized, routinized, and mandated step to review how the subject of the legislation is handled in other jurisdictions. This is sometimes done now, but it is done only informally and occasionally as a result of the knowledge and expertise of the drafting party or his or her staff. Thus, the experiences and ideas of other nations remain unknown or ignored. As a result, the U.S. (and our states) are too often re-inventing the proverbial wheel.
          Idea: Establish a federal Office of International Comparisons (the “OIC”) to serve as a readily available resource for federal, state, and even city elected officials and their staff. Through the OIC, before any legislation is proposed or any new rule or regulation is promulgated, the author(s) of such legislation or proponent(s) of such rule should be required to summarily review how such matter is addressed in other jurisdictions.
          Implementation: At first blush, this proposal may seem to be almost overwhelming. It may seem to add another burdensome level of bureaucracy; another step impeding needed legislation. However, as noted above, the alternative is to reinvent the proverbial wheel over and over again and to remain ignorant and uninformed about the sometimes fascinating and creative approaches already being taken in other countries with respect to any given matter.
                Take two quick and widely disparate examples.
                Voting and Voter Protection. Every democracy has voting procedures to encourage, protect, and validate the will of its people. But what are the procedures used in other country – hours and manner of voting, ballot protection and counting mechanisms, containment of voter intimidation and voting fraud, proof of right to vote, etc.”
                Encouragement of Constructive School Behavior. What steps are used in other countries for the enhancement of education and the encouragement of constructive school behavior? We know the normal alternative mechanisms commonplace in the U.S. ranging from dress codes to study hall; from suspensions to student expulsions. But what are the school practices in other countries? Other ideas could be made readily available to legislators and school boards through the use of a single, accessible Office of International Comparisons data base.   Source: Mack W. Borgen

Cross-Reference – See Also Additional Previously-Presented Ideas

Idea 1 –   Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspensions or Revocations (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, October 14, 2019)
 Idea 2 – Term Limits (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, October 14, 2019)
Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, October 14, 2019)

Added Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Senescence (Part of speech: noun; Origin: Latin)  1) The aging process,  2) In nature, a cell’s loss of the ability to divide. Example of use in sentence:  “Senescence comes with aches and pain, but it’s also a time to look back on your life.” Source and thanks to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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Dead Serious and Lighthearted Book Series

Fixing America – Ideas 1-3

Posted by Mack W. Borgen October 16th, 2019

Blog No. 106
October 16, 2019 

Fixing America – Ideas 1-3

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 

          This is the first in my new series of Ideas Blogs. In this series of short articles I will present ideas which might help in “fixing America.”
          Some of the ideas are my own. A few of them are already well-kn0wn but deserve our reconsideration.  Most 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).
          These ideas cover a wide range of subjects. I will present them without lengthy comment or recommendation, but I believe that you, like me, may conclude — like the title of my last blog – that many ideas are already percolating out  — some of them “are good … and some are brilliant.” Enjoy.

Idea No 1.

Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation

Background Some professions have strict licensure requirements for practice. For example and with only very limited exceptions, health care professionals (e.g. doctors and nurses), psychologists, lawyers, engineers, and architects, have to be licensed by the state in which they practice. In some cases, these persons must also comply with mandatory continuing education or re-examination, qualification, and other licensure maintenance requirements.
          Most clients, patients, and other customers understandably want to know the qualifications and expertise of those professionals they retain and with whom they entrust their lives, monies, or businesses.
           While some states maintain easily accessible databases by profession, oftentimes the databases are not well-known. In some cases, they are not well-maintained. For that reason, clients, patients, and customers are left to unduly rely upon word of mouth or Yelp-type reviews in their selection of their professionals.
          Even worse, in mobile, right-to-travel, re-invent ourselves America, an individual who has had his or her license revoked or who has been disbarred or censured in one state, can relatively easily move to another state and start dangerously afresh,. In the new state, the disbarred or censured professional can start anew. This is unwise, unfair, and risky.
Idea:      Develop a single, high-quality, widely-known, and well-maintained consolidated national database for selected licensed professionals. America needs an “American Professionals” database.
Implementation Comments: Careful identification procedures should be put in place so that no information is incorrectly included (or omitted) from the database. Arguably, there could or should be some procedure whereby an individual who has been the subject of a suspension or license revocation can after X years (e.g. 15 years) have such reference expunged.
Source: Mack W. Borgen

Idea No. 2

Term Limits

Background: The concept of term limits has been debated for many years at both the federal and state levels. At this time some form of term limits exist in 36 states (albeit with some material exemptions such as limiting only “successive” terms). However, except for the constitutional limitation of two successive terms for the U.S. Presidency, there are no federal term limits. The concept of federal term limits for at least the U.S. Congress should be re-considered for several reasons. The first reason is in honor and recognition of the concept of “citizen politician.” The Founders did not anticipate politics as a career choice. Instead, they had hoped to design a truly participatory and representative democracy. Second, it is not obvious that additional years “as a politician” enhances one’s expertise, wisdom, objectivity, competence, or forthrightness in his or her voting. Thirdly, regular and frequent changes in the U.S. Congress are more for the first time in our nation’s history our country is “both blessed and burdened by the simultaneous presence of four generations…—in 1900 (there were) two generations; in 1960, three generations; in 2015, four generations.” Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (All Volumes) (2018-2019) p. 15. Thus, the periodic change and the age composition of our U.S. Congress should, to a degree, be assured via the use of term limits. Lastly, term limits could lessen the tortuous (and dangerous) influence of lobbyists. Lobbyists will not disappear as a profession, but because the legislative tenures of Congressmen and Congresswomen will be shortened, lobbyists will at least be retained more for their subject expertise rather than their legislative connections.
Idea:      Limit terms in the U.S. Congress to, for example, two terms in the House and one-term in the U.S. Senate.
Implementation Comments: Any statutory changes are, to varying degrees, disruptive. Thus, because (and in order recognize that) the adoption of term limits could greatly impact the careers of fine younger men and women who have already planned on politics as a “career” and who may have already invested years into positioning themselves to run for U.S. Congress, it may be acceptable – even advisable – to provide that term limits will only affect candidates under the age of X, e.g. age 45 years. Such exemption may also lessen the resistance of current members of Congress to adopting and accepting term limits. While this is a substantial exemption, it is useful to remember how quickly time flies by – it has been 50 years since the U.S. first landed on the Moon; 39 and 27 years,  respectively, since Reagan and Clinton were elected President; and 18 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Thus, even if term limits were adopted with this exemption, term limits would be “universal” and apply to everyone soon enough.
Source: Already well-known concept.

Idea No. 3

 – The Media –

Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits

Background: Major financial settlements and judicial awards and fines of corporations and other business entities are reported almost every day in the media – The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on the evening and in the Internet news. Oftentimes, in the case of settlements, the payor party is not required to admit any wrongdoing. Instead, it is expressly stated that the payor party “admits no wrongdoing,” and that the settlement was reached (“merely”) in order to bring “conclusion” to a matter. At first blush, many of these settlement amounts and imposed awards and fines seem to be very substantial — $25.0MM, $147.0MM, etc. However, without balance sheet perspective, dollar amounts – and especially large corporate dollar amounts — can be very deceiving. (See Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 59, “The Challenge of Perspective and the Burden of (So Many) Numbers,” https://www.mackwborgen.com/blog/  , June 16, 2015). What may seem like a large settlement may, in reality, be a chump-change corporate payoff.   For example, hypothetically, if Wells Fargo Bank settled its false-accounts dispute for a settlement sum of $350,000,000, such sum would seem substantial. However, such a settlement would represent a mere 5.7% of the bank’s 2019 reported net income of $6,100,000,000. Such entire sum could be entirely paid by Wells Fargo Bank with its net profits from a mere 20 days based upon last year’s reported net income.
Idea: In reporting corporate financial settlements, awards, and fines, the media — as a matter of routine practice — should identify the amount to be so paid both in actual dollars and as a percentage of the corporation’s net annual profits. The referenced net annual profits could be those reported for the prior year or, preferably, the average net annual profits for the last three years could be used.
Implementation Comments: This type of reporting cannot (and should not) be legally mandated. Furthermore, it will never be perfect (i) because of the corporation’s use of subsidiaries and affiliates and (ii) because such net annual profits may only be available for the about 4,000 reporting public companies in the U.S. Nevertheless, such companies represent a great portion of the U.S. economy and, in some instances, net profit data with respect to even private companies may be available.
Source: Mack W. Borgen

Added Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Abecedarian 1) Of or relating to the alphabet; 2) Arranged in alphabetical order; 3) Basic, rudimentary. Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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Many Good — And a Few Brilliant

Posted by Mack W. Borgen September 30th, 2019

Blog No. 105
October 1, 2019

Many Good – And a Few Brilliant  

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 

Like all governments and all peoples, America and Americans have a lot of problems. But we have a lot of great ideas as well. 
Every day new ideas — sometimes great ideas percolate up.
But too many of them are lost amidst the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, and our highly complex society creates numerous barriers to idea development, implementation, and refinement.
Some ideas are merely blocked or compromised due to naysayers, caution, and timidity. Some ideas are frustrated by legal barriers or concerns about risks and liabilities. Some ideas are burdened – and then buried — by the tedium of endless study and evaluation. And some ideas succumb to the relentless, project-deflecting search for reliable funding.
As a result, great ideas and noble efforts to often become abandoned or lost in the news.
And then there is the last category of lost ideas – those which have the mere life-span of a good conversation. Certainly some of the most creative ideas (and, admittedly, some of the stupidest ideas) arrive late at night — just before closing time. They are scribbled on cocktail napkins. Maybe they shared with a few friends. But then, they are left on the bar, toasted with a last round of drinks – only to be quickly discarded and forgotten in the morning. 
But there is another story contained in the Idea Blogs which are here described.
In the course of my research over these last now 12 years, I have been surprised, indeed overwhelmed, by the number of creative ideas which have been already offered up by the American people. Many of them are good. A few of them are brilliant.
I confess to the embarrassment of my own surprise. I should have known that despite the anger of our headlines and the acrimonious nature of contemporary America, many Americans were still working together to address the problems of American life — albeit oftentimes in small groups or within narrowly-defined communities. In a dream world, it would be greatly helpful if ideas did not become politicized and did not, in the process, become the province of one political party or the other. But that is for another day. That may be too much for which to ask. Yet.
The proverbial good news is that here are a lot of ideas already “out there.” The proverbial bad news is that America does not have the luxury of much time. As a nation, we can no longer afford to have good people with good ideas work in isolation. We can no longer permit good ideas to remain unknown or under- reported. Thus, the concept of this series of blogs — The Ideas Blogs

The Many Sources of New Ideas

The sheer volume of new ideas also may subtly remind us of the many sources of new ideas.
Remember — there are about 327,200,000 Americans, 27,000,000 corporations and employers, 275,000 large cities, 13,500 school districts, and 3,100 counties, parishes, and boroughs. In addition, there are thousands of universities and colleges, legislative bodies, public and quasi-governmental agencies and departments, think tanks, interest groups, religious congregations, social clubs and organizations, charities, business trade groups and associations, commissions, and study groups. Each of these is a source of new ideas, and in addition to all of the foregoing, the ideas (and experiences) of other countries will be added. 

The Many Types of New Ideas

The ideas which will be summarily presented in these Ideas Blogs over the next year will vary greatly. They will encompass a wide range of issues.
Some of the ideas are amazingly creative. Others are disarmingly simple. Some will be, admittedly, a bit technical and complicated. Some address defined aspects of our nation’s life such as our economy, our tax policies, securities regulation, and even our judiciary and legal system.
Some of the ideas relate to the media and our political process. They address how we can make changes to encourage (and reward) a stronger sense of ethics and public responsibility within the media and within politics. Other ideas address the problems inherent in our system of political elections and the methodologies of our campaign financing. Some of the ideas relate to our families, our children, and our communities such as ideas about teaching the meaning of education, the importance of life skills, and the tools and even skills of injecting more reason and civility into our American conversation.
And no matter what the subject, nearly all of the ideas will be fraught with the curse potential for unforeseen consequences. But some of these ideas may be worth our time.
Some are old ideas worthy of our reconsideration, but most are awaiting implementation or have as yet only been tried on a small scale or in a defined locale.
A few of the ideas are grandiose in nature — like President Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to put a man on the moon or President Reagan’s 1987 challenged to Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Big ideas; big results. However, with only a few exceptions; this author respectfully suggests that big ideas are not what this country now needs.
Instead, we need smaller ideas. And lots of them. We need to take small steps. And lots of them. Thus, most of the ideas relate to matters close to home. With that in mind, many of the ideas are narrow in scope or reach and are sometimes even community-tailored or community-specific. But, collectively, they may help to change America. Slowly.

The Concept of These “Idea Blogs”

– Presented with Comment or Recommendation –
In these Idea Blogs, I will present just 3-4 ideas each month. Collectively, these Idea Blogs may serve as a rough compendium of some of the best (or at least intriguing) ideas which this author came across in his research for his 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).
Most of the ideas have been culled by me from the books, speeches, articles, columns, research papers, books and blogs of others. I found that many of the best ideas were mentioned almost as throwaway parts of books and articles written on various subjects. Too often that is where these ideas seem to stay – left to die buried within the books or to expire with the shelf life of an article or the brevity of a conversation.
 By their mere inclusion in these blogs, the ideas are, in the humble opinion of this author, worthy of our consideration or, in some cases, our re-consideration. However, the ideas will be presented very summarily and with little comment.
Please keep an eye out — my first Ideas Blog will be presented within about two weeks, and as always, your thoughts and comments will be welcomed.

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Ethics Cannot Be Saved for Sunday, Family, and Friends

Posted by Mack W. Borgen September 9th, 2019

Blog No 104
September 10, 2019

 Ethics Cannot Be Saved for Sunday, Family, and Friends

DEAR READERS:
FORTHCOMING NEW BOOK. The below article was prepared in the process of writing one of next books, So Much Worse Than You Think — Corporate Crime in America, which will be released in Fall, 2020. 
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By Mack W. Borgen
Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

This article is the first in a series about the ethics, morality, and manner in which business is too often (mis-)conducted in Modern America. More specifically, these articles are about how the obligations of our nation’s businesses are too often viewed too narrowly and how our nation’s businesses – especially our nation’s large corporations – too often and too routinely mislead their customers, ignore the needs of their employees, and abuse their leverage.

In part, these articles are based upon my long career as a business and corporate attorney. In one of the later articles in this series, I will also address how attorneys too often and too coldly assist corporate clients by the nearly-routinized abuse or misapplication of legal strategies and remedies.

Not about Politics  

But first. It is early Fall, 2019. And another election cycle is spinning around us. Thus, it is necessary to expressly state that this article is not about politics. This article has no intent to endorse any candidate, ridicule any party, or promote any agenda. But still, the impact of politics in this country is too everywhere. Politics sits like a weight upon our public conversations making disclaimers such as this necessary.

Political campaigns make things even worse because during such campaigns nearly everything becomes “political.” Every remark is scrutinized for secondary meanings and through the thick fog of politics. Every facial expression is examined. Every word is dissected. There is a heightened fear that all motivations are driven by agenda.

So, the disclaimer is again made. This article is not about politics. The elections will soon enough be over. And that is good.

Then we can go back to the more simplifying, almost unifying, rallying cries of many Americans that “enough is enough” and that it is time for the politics to calm down and the election process to be shortened. But those subjects are for another day. This article is about the role and boundaries of morals and ethics.

However, since this article is about how business is too often (mis-)conducted in America, it is also appropriate to loudly acknowledge, without doubt or reservation, that many businesses are decently, honestly, and well-run.

Many Fine Businesses and Corporate Officers But Certainly Not All

Over the course of my career, it has been my honor to work with and represent many fine, wonderful, and honorable business men and women and to serve as counsel to many well-run corporations. It is comforting to believe that America, as of now and in my opinion, rightfully holds the lead on the development, production and marketing of many of the world’s products.

But over the decades there have been changes. This author observed many clients (with varying degrees of willingness and, in a few cases, with almost cynical excitement) change their behavior and business practices. Similarly, these clients consistently lowered their expectations of others – of their suppliers, their employees, their customers, and even their own partners and shareholders.

This was partly because there have been tectonic (albeit subtle) shifts in the morals and ethics of businesses. Business has always been a tough game. A lot is always on the line. Competition can be fierce. However, it is time to recognize that the business environment in this country has been changing. Slowly. Steadily. And in the wrong, long-run direction.

Apart from the tighter reading of lengthier contracts and the generalized, arms-length manner of conducting business, these tectonic shifts are routinely articulated through the use of many defensive rationalizations and dismissive retorts.

“Everyone is doing it.”

“We have no choice.”

“Who will ever know?”

“I’m just doing what I was told.”

“It’s my job.”

“So sue me.”

 “If we don’t do it, someone else will.”

 “In America’s lousy, overly-regulated business environment (something about which this author partly agree)s, “we have no choice but to round the truth and cut the corner.”

Note: This spurning of “choice” was comfortably and conveniently reinforced by the passionate echoing of Reagan’s 1980’s belief that ‘the government is the problem not the solution’” and furthered by Milton Friedman’s narrow, naïve, and self-serving insistence “the sole purpose of businesses was the generation of profits for its shareholders.”

“In the world’s new global economy,

we have to follow the practices of other nation’s and other economies.”

And the worst:

“If it’s legal, then it’s o.k.”

And, most embarrassingly on behalf of my profession,

“My lawyers said that it was o.k.”

These articles suggest that all of the above school yard rationalizations can be short-sighted. They can be dangerous. Collectively, they diminish all of our lives. They lessen our community. Worse, they are self-perpetuating and wrong.

Know that this author is no saint – both heaven and a couple thousand people know that. And it is oftentimes neither easy nor rewarding to do the right thing. But to the extent these rationalization are over-used and abused, they have to be viewed for what they are: Rationalizations.

It is here humbly suggested that for the betterment of all of our lives and for the necessary re-direction of our society, ethics cannot be saved for Sunday, family, and friends. You cannot be a tough, ruthless, free-market-jerk Monday through Friday, and then get absolution on the weekends by going to church, donating to charities, or even by simply being a good family man or woman.

Strangely, it is at the same time both simpler and more complicated than that.

Focus Upon the Behavior of Major Corporations

These articles will generally address the conduct of business in the United States, but they focus especially upon the conduct of the larger of the nearly 1.7MM corporate businesses as opposed to the nearly 7.4MM partnerships and S corporations or the 23.0MM sole proprietorships.[i] The reasons for this focus are multi-faceted.

First, while admittedly debatable, the “tone” of this nation’s economic environment is oftentimes led, if not set, by the larger, more market-impacting corporations as opposed to the more localized small businesses. Second, because of their size, revenues, and budgets, it is the larger corporations which routinely use the services of legal counsels and which most readily retain marketing, advertising, public relations, and damage control specialists.[ii] Similarly, it is they which most readily have the means (and the inclination) to purchase the benefits and the insulating protections afforded from the 11,586 registered lobbyists in Washington, DC. (and from their many counterparts at the local and state levels). Thirdly, and most importantly, it is the major corporations which can most readily afford and have the capacity to move ethical lines.

And before this author enters the dangerous territory of ethics and morality,  it needs to be noted, indeed under-scored, that this author is a passionate believer in capitalism – albeit sometimes “restrained capitalism.”

The Dangerous Territory of Ethics and Morality

This author knows that he is walking into the dangerous territory of ethics and morality. The subjects addressed in these articles include the context of defining business success, the evaluation of certain business practices, and some rough suggestions for the establishment of certain ethical boundaries for the conducting of business in our society. Most importantly, these subjects are discussed in the hope of restraining the misuse of leverage and, very bluntly, the sometimes knowingly wrongful assertion of certain legal rights and remedies.

However, once again, this article is not written from a place of piety. I stopped counting my mistakes many years ago. Partly, I just ran out of numbers. Over my accumulated years, I, possibly like you, have look back and see my mistakes. I remember my opportunities lost and the roads not taken. I, to, reflect upon the things not said; thoughts poorly expressed, and words poorly chosen. And on and on it goes.

But personally and for my own preservation, I have stopped counting my mistakes and started counting my blessings instead. It is not a perfect system, but sometimes it works.

But despite the fact that ethics and morality are dangerous territories for any writer, it is here suggested that ethics and morality in our private and commercial business dealings – must be elevated.

All Might Be “Fair in Love and War”

But “Anything Goes” Cannot Be the Standard of American Business

 – Even in Our Darwinian Economy –  

Anyone who has read Carlos Baker’s biography[iii] of Ernest Hemingway knows that Hemingway was no prince. And he certainly was no St Peter. But in his later years, he was interviewed by a young reporter from the Kansas City Star. The young reporter asked Hemingway what his definition of “ethics and morality” was. After a long pause (and probably a few more glasses of wine), Hemingway said that he didn’t really have a definition of “ethics or morality.” But he said the closest he could come to a definition was that if he felt good after he did something, it was probably moral. If he felt bad, it was probably immoral.

And I suggest that even by that low definitional standard of ethics and morality, American society generally and many American corporations specifically are not doing well.

It will be a long, long way forward to a more ethical and moral society, but at a certain point we have to start unlocking our doors. As a society, we cannot long subsist on a diet of “Amber Alerts” and “stranger danger.” We cannot sit for hours trying to reach a human voice when we call the 1-800-Customer-Service line. We cannot endure sleeping at airports due to wrongly cancelled flights. We cannot have our health insurance claims routinely denied by the insurance companies because they know that only a small percentage will be appealed. We cannot spend our nights toiling over the fine print in our contracts. We cannot sign our lives away by God-knows-what-it-says “Click To Agree” terms and conditions. We cannot tolerate vaping companies marketing innocent-sounding Candy Crash, Watermelon, and Razzleberry nicotine to our children. We cannot allow drug companies to peddle drugs to our country through the mechanisms of thinly-veiled bribery schemes with our doctors. We cannot allow banks to bury service charges or open accounts in our name.  And on and on.

Furthermore, wrongdoing, even if technically lawful, must be called out. It must be loudly and consequentially condemned. Conversely, “good doing,” especially if not legally required, must be advertised, communicated, and commended.

The salvation of a supposed contract or a de facto “agreement,” sometimes should not be enough.

Even Contracts and Legal Codes Are Not Enough

Every law student, on or about day one, is taught that an oral contract is not worth the paper it is not written upon.

Every law student, on or about day two, is latined-up with the concept that caveat emptor (or “buyer-beware”) is the bedrock of all of our buys and sells and, basically, all contractual dealings in our life.

And I am a lawyer. I respect the need for written contracts. I know the importance of memorializing the details of our agreements. I appreciate the sobering significance of one’s signing upon the proverbially dotted-line. Over the years, I have even published articles on the importance of “boilerplate” provisions in contracts.

But even in our papered-up, buyer-beware, “as-is,” click-here-to-agree, no refunds, dog-eat-dog, Darwinian economy, capitalism needs restraints. And the cold legal codes of our many jurisdictions are not enough for us to live in a decent and fair society.

“Unfettered capitalism” has been rejected since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. “Unfettered capitalism” was feared even before Upton Sinclair, Ida Turbell, Frank Norris and the other muckrakers of the Progressive Era (1890-1920). The needs for the protection of the American workers were known long before the rise of the union movement in the late 19th and early 20th Century and before the formation of protective agencies such as OSHA in 1970. The paralleling needs for the protection of individuals, consumers, families, communities, and our environment are too numerous to name, but they have been known for decades as well.

But even with all of the laws, rules, and regulations (and I readily admit that there are too many of them) which supposedly define the minimum parameters of our business, employer, consumer behavior and inter-actions, legal codes (e.g. federal, state, and local) cannot be the sole basis for defining behavior. They should not even be the primary bases for defining behavior. They, at best, can serve as socially-defined minimum standards of behavior. They, at best, can define the baseline requirements for our societal interactions.

Why? Because our communities need more. Daily living needs more. Again, ethics and morality cannot be defined by our laws. Thus, it is one’s social duty to try to live within the admittedly hazy boundaries of ethical and moral behavior. And even in the context of our business dealings, ethics cannot be reached by one’s mere compliance with technical legalities; by the filing of necessary papers and reports; or by cold compliance with the fine-print portions of documents, contracts, and rules and regulations. It crosses my mind why United States Chief Justice Earl Warren shocked the world when, in the midst of oral arguments before the Court, he would routinely ask “but is it fair.”  Possibly you and I understood what he was getting at. The parties before his court too often and too sadly did not even understand the relevance of his question.

Stated again, ethics and morality cannot be saved for Sundays, family and friends. America has gone a long ways down its road, but the relentless divergence between our personal and familial ethics and our business ethics can no longer be tolerated. Like our echoing voices of our grandmothers, staying out of jail is not enough. Behavior matters.

Similarly, ethics and morality cannot be written off with a “nothing personal” remark. “It’s just business” cannot be allowed to whitewash inflicted pain. That line might have sounded good in Scorseses’ Goodfellas, but it does not work in our real lives.

In a community, even in our large national social and business community, ethics and morality are ideally required of every citizen. Ethics and morality have to be served up regularly and routinely. And ethics and morality should not be allowed to be monetized or supplanted by the mere making of (tax-deductible) charitable contributions. Charitable giving is are wonderful, but it is not enough. Think of it this way — rarely does even a large tip justify the loud and obnoxious behavior of a patron or assuage the feelings of an offended waiter.

So where does all of this go?

So what does all of this mean?

Simply put, the sad truth is that the world is tough place. But it would be good, and now I believe it is at a point of necessity, for handshakes to, once again, mean something. It would be good if one’s word would more often be viewed as sacrosanct. It would be good if corporations conducted their business and marketed their products (and in some instances even their prices) based upon ethics and morality rather than (mere) legal compliance.

America is not New Guinea. It is our behavior, not our physical environment, which is turning America into a jungle.

We Thought It Was Just a Movie Line

When we first heard Michael Douglas proclaim, in his role as Gordon Gecko in Oliver Stone’s 1987 movie Wall Street, that “greed is good,” we thought that it was merely, or at least mostly, a movie line. Few of us even then, mid-way through the boom-boom 1980s, thought it would become the over-arching ethos of our society. Heck, the movie also starred Charlie Sheen. Were we really supposed to take it all seriously? Were we really supposed to adopt this line as our mantra for conducting business; as our manner of conducting our lives?.

I suggest no.

It doesn’t help that ethics and morality can be so complicated. But, complicated or not, they are too often the missing ingredients in our communities and in the conducting of our nation’s businesses. Again, they are too blithely dismissed. They are too regularly ignored. Instead, lies are told. Rules are bent. And worst of all, too little is expected.

And so some of the articles which will be forthcoming over the next months will address many, more specific aspects of these issues. The articles will be humbly offered for your patient consideration. Examples of just a few of such future topics are as follows:

The Broader Obligations of Businesses.

The Obligations of Corporations. What are the too-often-neglected obligations of businesses towards this country, its peoples, its customers, and its employees?

The Dangers of Two Personas. Is it possible for a society to long survive when an individual can embody two personas — one for work and business and one for Sundays, family, and friends?

The Politicization of Our Courts. How is it that we have devolved from the famous “but is it fair” questioning of the Earl Warren Supreme Court (1953-1969) to the politicized, 6-3, 5-4 baseball scoring of our current Supreme Court? Why does every reporter feel a need to identify a judge as a “Bush-, or an Obama-, or a Trump- appointee?  It didn’t used to be that way.

The Ethical Obligations of Attorneys and The Abuse of Legal “Tools.”  What are the socially ethical obligations of attorneys as they craft documents, advise clients, and file or defend lawsuits?  What have been the real impacts of attorneys and businesses too readily using certain legal “tools” such as the threat of litigation or the filing of bankruptcy as mere mechanisms of leverage? Obviously attorneys seem not to live by the “do no harm” ethos of doctors, but should there not be some stronger ethical boundaries beyond the rampant demands of our clients? Are there and should there be moral limitations?

A Matter of Choice. Most importantly, is it not a matter of our choice as to whether we would rather drift further into our Darwinian economic jungle as opposed to enjoying a national and more civil(ized) community? Tolerance and individualism are powerful component of American life. They have a rightful place. But so does leadership – by example or otherwise.

 Closing

– Maybe We Can Agree and Some Cautious Reasons for Optimism –

As noted above, this author certainly has no corner on the truth. Never had it. Never claimed it. But maybe we can agree that we don’t need to be right in order to be concerned. Maybe we can agree that it is time to step back and reflect – “to stand still until we really see.”

And though there are reasons for concern, there are also reasons for optimism — because we can do better.

My next article on this subject will focus upon the broader obligations of businesses and the meaning, the sometimes dangerous consequences of the current five-word mantra of American business life – “A deal is a deal. “

FOOTNOTES:

[i]     TaxFoundation.org and US Census Bureau.

[ii]     This is most frequently done by such major corporations either individually or through membership and participation in corporate or industry lobbying organizations.

[iii]    Baker, Carlos, Hemingway: a Life Story (1969).

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“Three Chords and the Truth” – The Amazing Ken Burns Does It Again

Posted by Mack W. Borgen August 21st, 2019

Blog No 103 
August 22, 2019 

“Three Chords and the Truth”  

 The Magic of Ken Burns’s Upcoming Documentary about Country Music

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/

   Mack W. Borgen 

In multiple blogs over the last year, I have been presenting the best song lyrics of Modern America because it is this author’s belief that lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America. They roll around in our heads for decades. Almost unconsciously, every day we honor the words of America’s songwriters who said something in that perfect, poetic, or clever way.
In 2001, the amazingly talented Ken Burns presented a 10-episode documentary entitled Jazz, and now Burns will soon be releasing a documentary about Country Music. It is scheduled to premier on PBS on September 15, 2019.
Burns (B: 1953, Brooklyn, NY) is one of America’s foremost historical documentarians and, as stated in Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw’s recent article in Time magazine (August 26, 2019, p. 50) Burns is “(a)rguably the most influential interpreter of American history of the past three decades.”
In his documentaries, Burns presents an eclectic array of many aspects of America history through his brilliant use of pictures, music, script, videos, and voiceovers. Ken Burns’ works includes the following (listed chronologically):
Brooklyn Bridge (1981)
The Statue of Liberty (1985)
The Civil War (9 Episodes) (1990)
Baseball (9 Episodes) (1994) (Updated with The Tenth Inning in 2010, with Lynn Novak)
Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (1997)
Jazz (10 Episodes) (2001)
The War (7 Episodes) (2007)
The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (6 Episodes) (2009)
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (7 Episodes) (2014)
The Vietnam War (with Lynn Novick) (10 Episodes) (2017).
And now, Ken Burns is getting ready to present his Country Music – “three chords and the truth.”
But first, a few words about country music.
Some Americans still naively (and wrongly) believe that country music is the mere province of cowboys and rednecks. But it is much more. Country music has been expanding its reach and growing in popularity for decades. As stated in Meacham and McGraw’s article, Burns “makes it gracefully and implicitly clear that country music reflects not just red America but blue America too.”
In keeping with my presentation of the best songs lyrics of all times – and in my humble honor of Burns’ efforts —  I have set forth below a few excerpts of some of the country songs which will be included in Burns’ latest documentary.
Thus, here is Part 10 of my assembled list — done over the last nine years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America.  For an explanation about the background of this Best Lyrics project, see below.

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The Best Lyrics of Modern America

– A Sampling of Country Music – 

Folsom Prison Blues (1953) (First Live Recording, Folsom Prison, CA – 1968) (Johnny Cash) (B: 1932, Kingsland, AK – D: 2003, Nashville, TN).

 “I hear the train a comin’

It’s rolling round the bend

And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when

But I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on …

When I was just a baby my mama told me, Son

Always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns

But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die

When I hear the whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry.”

Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (1966) (Loretta Lynn) (B: 1932, Butcher Hollow, KY).

“Well you thought I’d be waiting up

When you came home last night

You’d been out with all the guys

And you ended up half tight

But liquor and love that just don’t mix

Leave a bottle or me behind.

. . .  

And don’t come home a-drinkin’

With lovin’ on your mind …

Just stay out there on the town

And see what you can find

Cuz if you want that kind of love

Well you don’t need none of mine ….”

What Is Truth (1970) (Johnny Cash) (B: 1932, Kingsland, AK – D: 2003, Nashville, TN). Author’s Note: This song was sung by Cash to President Nixon and his guests at the White House in 1970. Nixon had asked Cash to sing Guy Drake’s welfare-recipient-demeaning Welfare Cadillac, but instead Cash, who was at this point ambivalent about the Vietnam War, used this opportunity to sing this anti-war ballad.   

 The old man turned off the radio

 Said, ‘Where did all the old songs go?’

 ‘Kids sure play funny music these days!

They play it in the strangest ways

Said: ‘It looks to me like they’ve all gone wild.

It was peaceful back when I was a child.

Well, man, could it be that the girls and boys

Are trying to be heard above your noise?

And the lonely voice of youth cries

‘What is truth?’

 

A little boy of three sitting on the floor

Looks up and says ‘Daddy, what is war?’

‘Son, that’s when people fight and die.’

The little boy of three says, ‘Daddy, why?’

A young man of seventeen in Sunday school

Being taught the Golden Rule

And by the time another year has gone around

It may be his turn to lay his life down.

Can you blame the voice of truth for asking

“What is truth?” 

Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way (1975) (Waylon Jennings) (B: 1937, Littlefield, TX – D: 2002, Chandler, AZ).

 “Lord it’s the same old tune, fiddle and guitar

Where do we take it from here?

Rhinestone suits and new shiny cars

It’s been the same way for years

We need to change …

Ten years on the road, making one night stand,

Speeding my young life away

Tell me one more time just so I’ll understand

Are you sure Hank done it this way? ….”

Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American) (2002) (Toby Keith) (B: 1961, Clinton, OK).

“American Girls and American Guys

We’ll always stand up and salute

We’ll always recognize

When we see Old Glory Flying

There’s a lot of men dead

So we can sleep in peace at night

When we lay down our head.

… 

Now this nation that I love

Has fallen under attack

A mighty sucker punch came flyin’ in

From somewhere in the back

Soon as we could see it clearly

Through our big black eye

Man, we lit up your world

Like the 4th of July.

 . . .

Heh, Uncle Sam,

Put your name at the top of his list

And the Statue of Liberty

Started shakin’ her fist

And the eagle will fly

And there’s gonna be hell

When you hear Mother Freedom

Start ringin’ her bell.

And it’ll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you

Oh, brought to you Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.”

  Old Town Road (2016) (Lil Nas X) (B: 1999, Lithia Springs, GA).

”Ridin’ on a tractor

Lean all in my bladder

Cheated on my baby

You can go and ask her

My life is a movie

Bull ridin’ and boobies

Cowboy hat from Gucci

Wrangler on my booty.

. . .  

Can’t nobody tell me nothin’

You can’t tell me nothin’…

I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road

I’m gonna ride ‘til I can’t no more….”

. . . . . . . 

Explanation and Background of Mack W. Borgen’s 
“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs
Song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America. The lyrics of our favorite songs roll around in our heads for decades. Almost unconsciously, every day we honor the words of America’s songwriters who said something in that perfect, poetic, or clever way.
About nine years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America. I spent much of the initial year assembling, sorting, and selecting those “memorable” song lyrics to be included in my books.
However, I eventually decided that it was necessary to exclude song lyrics from my books. This was done in deference to the needs of book brevity and in bowing recognition to the unavoidable subjectivity of making such selections. But it was also done because most songs are almost definitionally “intra-generational” in that they remain the separate and proud province of each generation. They are a part of each generation’s formative and collective memory – but not beyond that.
Nevertheless, as a result of that year of research, I assembled a relatively massive collection of what may be, by some measures of broad consensus, the greatest song lyrics of Modern America.
I have decided to start presenting them here for your remembrance and enjoyment. I confess that this is partly triggered by the fact that I have already done the fun, but painstaking, work of such assemblage. However, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that America needs – maybe now more than ever — to reach back and enjoy something or, as best said in 1967 by the Beatles in their song A Day in the Life” — “I read the news today, oh boy.”
Thus, starting on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Lyrics of Modern America.

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You Are Invited – Mack W. Borgen on Dr. Elizabeth Stewart Radio Show – Third Interview

Posted by Mack W. Borgen July 4th, 2019

July 5, 2019

Author Mack W. Borgen

. . . You Are Invited . . . 

Another Radio Interview

with Mack W. Borgen

His Latest Books

and

His New Presentation of

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America

 — 

The Dr. Elizabeth Stewart Radio Show

Today, Friday, July 5, 2019

10:00 AM

KZSB AM 1290

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Dead Serious and Lighthearted

The Memorable Words of Modern America

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