Ivan W. Parkins

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About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

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Editors Note:

Dr. Parkins’s Grandson, Breton W. Hinkle, passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 14, 2009.  He leaves his wife Jen, parents Ray and Susan Hinkle, sister, Gretchen Hinkle, Richard and Kathy Bourque, Father and Mother in law, brother in laws Kevin and Brian and sister in law, Kelly.  He was a graduate of Michigan State University.  Bret was a United States Marine and had faithfully served his country with honor and distinction.   He will be terribly missed  by family and friends.  He was loved by all who knew him.  He was  buried with military honors in Holland, MI.   See Bret’s life story at http://www.lifestorynet.com/memories/45526/ 

ONE HUNDRED DAYS OLDER AND WHAT HAVE WE GOT?

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     Apparently, the panic is subsiding, as panics do.  Did TARP and the subsequent actions of our government help?  Perhaps: it is not the kind of thing for which there is a clear and factual answer.  The usual answers are ideologically based, and apply facts selected ideologically.  They are just another example of politics of the less constructive and more dangerous kind.

 

     What were the roots of the panic?  One, the tap root I think, was the ideological view that poverty, and more especially the lack of a family home, resulted mainly from the undue severity of financial institutions’ judgments regarding whom to trust with their depositors’ money.  To remedy that, a “liberal” Democrat Congress and President enacted the Communities Reinvestment Act of 1977.    Encouraged by a growing economy, increasingly lax lending practices were promoted by Executive pressures on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the Clinton Administration.

 

     One small matter that was neglected was that in the booming economy additional capital was needed by financial institutions if they were to continue lending money.  Increasingly they relied upon home mortgages, long a stable form of commercial paper, as capital to back their lending. Meanwhile, ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) were being issued and rising house prices were encouraging ever more speculative forms of finance.  What was finally achieved was little more than a sophisticated form of counterfeiting.

 

     Hopefully, we can now pay the piper by surviving through a painfully slow, but growing, economy.

 

     More regulation?  Actually, a poor quality of regulation, plus political leadership that failed to heed the best regulatory advice, provided us with much of the problem.

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  PARTISANSHIP AND REAL CHANGE

 

 

   Since WWII, which of our major parties has had the greatest opportunity to provide us with sound long-term economic, social, and immigration policies?  Keep in mind creating sound long-term policies requires the cooperation of Presidents and Congresses.

 

   Since WWII:

 

     Even the least favored of five Democrat Presidents had, Clinton in 1993-4, two years with larger partisan majorities in both Houses of Congress than the most favored Republican President, Bush in 2005-6.

 

     Also, while all Democrat Presidents had opportunities to work with Congresses in which both Houses were controlled by their own party, Eisenhower’s very slim majority in 1953-4 was the only Republican advantage other than Bush’s.

 

     Two of the Democrats, Johnson and Carter, had huge majorities in both Houses of Congress, larger than any majorities enjoyed by a Republican President, ever in our history.

 

     Shouldn’t those facts enter into our calculations of how to achieve real change? July/08

 

  SO, WHAT’S AHEAD?

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     President Obama faces and exceptionally difficult dilemma.  If he has the political acumen and foresight to comprehend the situation ahead, he must jettison a large portion of the political elements that have put him into the Presidency.  They are his “toxic assets.” 

 

     David Sanger’s new book THE INHERITANCE, is a clue to one such “asset.”  Both Sanger’s book and his employer, THE NEW YORK TIMES, epitomize much of Obama’s support, and burden.  Sanger warns that Obama must not be Bush.  To that I would add three things.  First, in one sense it may be impossible for him to become Bush; his most vital supporters will not permit it.  Second, he may soon suspect that he is becoming Bush; Presidents of all stripes are, today, celebrities.  And celebrities are, largely, media creations.  They serve the media as means of finding easy and cheap stories that will attract enough audience to justify the sale of advertising space or time.  Any presidential slip of tongue or self-contradiction, real or imagined, is likely to be sufficient for a story; quiet and efficient conduct in office is not.  My third observation is that most of our media have, for several decades, been obviously biased on behalf of “liberal” Democrats.  And, Obama must hope that they will continue to be so.

 

     What is my evidence to support that third item?  What is more news worthy than a massive genocide—still continuing after several decades?  And what, if not bias, would prevent media that are not restricted by government, from assuring that nearly all of the public is aware of that story and some of its implications.

 

     Apart from the economic crisis that we now hope is bottoming out, our new President has unprecedented hurdles to clear if he is to accomplish real change, and a far greater abyss to face if he turns away.

 

     Imagine if you can, a group of American trial lawyers linking with African plaintiffs, and their cases tried in world courts, whose jurisdiction would be upheld by our Judiciary.  How much of America might then be owned by remote African tribesmen?  Would that not make for a “more just world”?

 

    But trial lawyers and quasi-religious environmentalists are only a few of the political elements closest to Obama.  He, apparently, will not be able to extend, perhaps even to preserve, charter schools and other independent schooling from the grasp of our nationally unionized system.

 

     President Obama had little part in creating most of the above problems, but many of the people who contributed most heavily in money and work to his election did play major roles in creating them.  Unless the Obama Administration makes an almost 180% turn from its present aims, the recent panic may be a small foretaste of what’s to come.

WHAT HAVE THE

  PEOPLE NOTICED?

The following article is a reprint from Feb. 2008

By Ivan W. Parkins

     Democracy rests upon an assumption that the people are well-informed.  Or as Thomas Jefferson put it, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.  Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they can be relied upon to set them right.”

     A long life of studying, teaching, observing, and writing about American government has left me with two main conclusions.  First: that the public has generally been right, and is so now in its belief that “the system” needs changing.  Second: that the public is greatly confused regarding what changes are needed.

Authoritarians may deny their people some information, but mostly they brainwash them with disinformation.  Old sayings about the pen being mightier than the sword can be misleading. Often the sword has been used first, to control most of the pens.  The pens are then used to disinform the people in ways that permit most swords to remain sheathed.  Once firmly established, authoritarians control virtually all schools, publishing, news facilities, and other sources of information.

     Today, that is becoming more difficult.  But, what if most of the pens, i.e. professional communicators, were to unite in cooperation with one another and with one political party?  That is the transformation that I believe I have witnessed in American society since World War II.  Mass communication, especially television, has invaded households to an unprecedented degree.  Schools and teachers have been nationalized by union and governmental actions.  Possible competitors such as families and churches have been harassed and legally restricted.

     The one place in our national system where information has been most extensive and public choice most informed has been presidential elections.  There, three recent Presidents, Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan won reelections by the largest popular pluralities and by three of the largest majorities in our history.  Johnson was then discouraged from seeking the additional term for which he was legally qualified. Nixon was promptly forced to resign.  Reagan survived and in many respects triumphed, but only by facing long and severe harassment.

     Since then, President Clinton has survived two terms in office, in spite of having been impeached by the House of Representatives and losing in the courts on the several challenges that he brought there.  He and his defenders claimed that it was all over a “private” sexual matter.  Congress, unwilling to face media friendly to Clinton with another election pending, left most other issues to Clinton’s own subordinates.  Even so, the House indicted, and a secure room filled with hundreds of documents showing evidence and testimony of witnesses was provided for the Senate.  No Democrat Senator signed into that room before voting to acquit.  Coincidentally, Clinton was the only President since Wilson many years earlier to win the office twice without winning a popular majority either time.  Feb/08

     Our current President, Bush, did win a popular majority in 2004, only a slim one, but better than any Democrat since Johnson. He has faced what have probably been the most voluminous and intense media attacks upon his Presidency and his person endured by any President. 

     Now, talk radio, cable television, some of the newer publications, and a few web sites offer promise that the people may become better informed.  But several decades of public brainwashing by the media have left scars that threaten democracy in America.  How can people choose a better course when they know so little about the one that we have traveled recently?

  WE HAVE A NEW

ADMINISTRATION

 

 

     President Obama has survived his first 100 days in the Presidency for which his experience had prepared him so meagerly.  Even the “empty suit” that Democrats nominated four years earlier had had more “real world” experience.  As a community organizer and advocate Obama had served effectively in one significant, but quite limited, sector of America’s public life.  He broader public service was exceptionally brief and undistinguished for a presidential candidate.

 

     For a national leader faced with economic panic, charisma, action, and hope are especially important.  Obama has excelled handsomely in all of those.  But now, as panic subsides, where do we go from here?  The Obama Administration’s approach is “Don’t waste the panic.”  To me, that appears to be nearly the opposite of what is needed.

 

     For instance, the idea that we can enhance America’s international reputation by curbing our military is likely to become one of the great historical jokes of future world history.  It will almost certainly be juxtaposed at some point to the widely known, but largely unpublicized, facts that “benevolent” America had been mainly responsible for denying a life protecting chemical to millions of the world’s poorest people, mostly blacks.  That America’s First Black President would permit the resulting genocide to continue will astound even our critics.  That carnage may already have exceeded the total fatalities that can be attributed to our military throughout American history.

 

     Of course, restraining President Obama is the fact that some of the political elements to which he is most indebted, quasi-religious people and organizations, are the prime originators and supporters of the genocide.  Is it to obscure the lethality of ill-considered “liberalism” that so many of our self designated paladins concentrate their demands for more disclosures upon our intelligence and military operations?

 

     Extreme domestic experiments, and programs initiated quickly on a grand scale without much experimental basis, plus the huge costs of new “entitlements,” are not likely to speed our economic recovery.  They may relieve some of the pent up frustrations of “liberal” political elements.

 

(Note: I place the term liberal in quotes to suggest that I think it is usually misapplied, as a designation for what are really reactionary, i.e. left-wing and ideologically based, politics.)