Many Good — And a Few Brilliant

By 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    


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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