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/ 

Letters To the Editor:


U.S.NEWS, 2/21/94


Good News on Race:  Thanks for John Leo’s excellent column “A Sunny Side on Race” (January 24).  Unfortunately, the charge of racism has become one of the instruments by which a new elite asserts its intellectual and moral superiority over traditional America. Burgeoning numbers of “liberally educated” persons, plus advances in communication, have provided opportunities for the new elite to contend for power with old elites and popular majorities.  Until that contest is resolved, the common decency of most Americans is unlikely to prevail.  “Ordinary politics,” in racial and other important matters, is not an option.



JOURNAL, 7/21/2000


     Mr. Owen’s piece contrasts with a less publicized story that is well supported by statistics.  Suicide and homicide rates among young American civilians rose sharply in the 1960s and ’70s.  That increase alone cost more lives than did combat in Vietnam.  The total of youthful homicides and suicides in those two decades was about three times our fatalities in military combat.


           A Review of Mark Levin’s New Book


By Ivan W. Parkins


      Mark Levin’s book, by the title above, page 2 says: “Conservatism is a way of understanding life, society, and governance.”  I agree—sort of.  He may not like my addition.  I would add that: Liberalism, also, is a way of understanding life, society, and governance.


      After reading the rest of his book, I believe that we agree about much more, particularly the facts concerning current political issues.  But I dislike most issues being referred to as conservative or liberal; we need closer attention to real effects upon this nation’s interests and identity.  It goes back about fifty years, to when I had a fresh doctorate and taught at Jacksonville University.  I, myself, was becoming an issue in local politics, as a liberal.  Having received an honor from my colleagues, I was to address a convocation of the University.


       The title that I chose was “An Intellectual Basis for Conservatism.”  I prepared carefully, and that changed my outlook.  Among authorities, then popular, there was little agreement about the meaning of conservatism.  My conclusion was that both conservatism and liberalism should be defined by their functions in relation to experience, i.e. by their emphasis upon preserving the best of the past or extending experience where needed.  From that, it follows that they may supplement one another more than they conflict.


      Levin’s primary dichotomy is liberty and tyranny.  Unfortunately, too much of our public discussion of issues has drifted from thoughtful examination of empirical facts to quite abstract ideological arguments, arguments that, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once noted, do not decide concrete cases. 


      Levin does give generous attention to some concrete matters, including the Ban on DDT.  I am aware of nothing more pertinent or more challenging to the quality of our political system than that. Surely, this President, some of whose ancestral ties to Africa are more recent than those of most of us, can appreciate this one especially urgent human need.  We should end as rapidly as possible what is probably the most deadly and bizarre plague ever imposed by one human group upon others.  We should end the Ban on DDT, with its horrific consequences for those who live in areas prone to infestation by insects bearing malaria.


     Much of Levin’s book is devoted to summaries of such empirical challenges.  I found little of that with which I would disagree.  I especially appreciate and recommend pages 68-73 dealing with how our financial crisis developed.  His Conservative Manifesto at the end is a bit too ideological for me.  I am more concerned with how our partisan politics and constitutional power structure could be reshaped to serve the nation better.



A Review of William Tucker’s Book


By Ivan W. Parkins


     TERRESTRIAL ENERGY by William Tucker is the best thing that I have read on the energy topic.  Tucker first got my attention a couple of decades ago with an article attacking, as excessive, the national scare over AIDES, especially the idea that it was an imminent threat to nearly everybody.  The government, at that time, was contributing to the scare; a couple of years later most official statements on the subject resembled Tucker’s.  I strongly suspect, and hope, that within a few years something similar will occur regarding this nation’s “energy crisis.”


     Tucker distinguishes three types of energy: solar, fossil, and terrestrial.  Solar includes stored water, dams, an ancient technology.  The sun is also the source of wind as well as electricity from solar generating panels.  And it produces the organisms that we harvest to burn directly or convert into other fuel.  The renewable energy sources are not highly concentrated, and making them more so can be expensive in both money and energy.  Wind and sun panels fluctuate severely in their outputs.


     A more concentrated form of energy is available from fossil sources, sun energy of long ago transformed by time and geological forces.  Coal, oil, and natural gas are limited, and coal, the least limited in supply, is the most dirty.  They are up to fifty times as concentrated as the solar energies.  Coal is this country’s largest source of energy for generating electricity.  Electricity is a means of transporting and applying energy, not a source of energy.


     Terrestrial energy comes from the earth itself, not from the sun.  A small portion of it is available already from hot springs and other seepage.  Some may be added by drilling.  But radioactivity from minerals is by far the most promising.  It can be over a million times as concentrated as fossil energy.  Tucker’s illustration is an account of his visit to both coal and nuclear generating plants not far from Cincinnati.  The coal plant was refueled by 110 railcar trains arriving one each day.  The nuclear plant required one truckload of fuel rods every eighteen months.  One plant was filthy, the other very clean.  Of course the fuel rods were dangerous to handle, the workers were required to wear gloves.


     Tucker makes a strong case that we have no practical choice other than nuclear generation of electricity if we wish to maintain our economy and reduce air pollution.  Wind and solar panels can help with a few special needs, especially solar with peak load problems on hot summer days.  They have very little base load capability. 


      He notes that France generates 80% of its electricity from nuclear facilities, and stores its waste from several decades in one room.  France recycles waste, and even some of the remains from that are valuable as a source of medical and other industrial radiation technologies.  We once had a recycling facility, we shut it down.  We get our nuclear medicines from Canada.


     Tucker is not that blunt, but I will be:  Damn America’s panicky, unscientific, and economically destructive energy politics!

Conservatism and



By Ivan W. Parkins


From my conclusion of a debate with

Fulton Lewis III, 2/14/62, Jacksonville, FL:


The American political tradition has been interpreted by many historians as essentially a liberal tradition.  Our forefathers were largely responsible for introducing to the world such revolutionary political practices as the written constitution and universal manhood suffrage.  In the field of foreign relations, the rights of neutrals and the form of international organizations such as the U.N. are largely American products.  But such American leaders as John Adams and James Madison were very well read in political history.  While they helped to introduce great innovations, they also clung to much of past experience.  The political careers of Adams and Madison illustrate, I believe, that liberalism and conservatism need not be hostile attitudes, but may complement one another even within a single personality.


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Liberalism and conservatism may be given many meanings in different time and circumstances.  I contend that the definitions which make the most sense over a long period of time and in a variety of circumstances are these functional definitions, upon which I have based my case and which I wish now to repeat.  The function of conservatism is to identify and preserve the best of past experiences; the function of the liberalism is to extend experience.  Without in any way denouncing or renouncing true conservatism, I claim to be a liberal.


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As between a genuine conservatism, seeking to preserve valuable experience, and a genuine liberalism, concerned with extending experience in instances where experience had proven to be inadequate, there may exist large areas of agreement.  Also, careful study of history and honest reporting of contemporary experiences provide bases for extending agreement.

Masters of Verbal Communication


From a column in The Daily Times-News, 5/29/70:


By Ivan W. Parkins


    What we see about us is the rise of those people whose life-work and human energies are expressed not in material products but in words.  Professors, journalists, clergymen, and others of the articulate professions are joining to assert their common interests, not as men, but as the masters of verbal communication.  In claiming primacy for their own special interests, they attempt to subordinate those men whose interests lie in the mastery of property, arms, ballots, etc.


    The attack upon mere property as inferior to human values has as its counterpart the claim that words are an extension of the person himself.  We must not permit the establishment of doctrines which make one particular kind of work, uniquely, the prop of our humanity.  It is from just such doctrines that gross injustices develop.


     Actually, human beings express themselves in works of many kinds.  Civilization is largely an accumulation of those works through time.  And each civilized society preserves bits of the life-work of innumerable men, its citizens.  In and through civilized society men find a larger and a longer life.  Their patriotism is, ultimately, a kind of self-defense.  The enemies of society are threats to the life-work of its citizens.


     Human societies have many facets, and most of them contribute to the well-being of the whole.  Their gravest problem is not that they give dignity to men of varied talents, but that they sometimes recognize too few.  Those who would shape a society into a pedestal for one product of human endeavor—be it property, arms, ballots, words, or something else—they are the real barbarians.


     No kind of work, or means of expression, is sufficient unto itself to sustain the human character of man, and all works are valuable in proportion as they contribute to the enlargement and preservation of the total human endeavor.


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     Today, after almost forty years, I would add that words are probably man’s most valuable tool.  But, little value is in the word itself; most is in the meaning that it conveys.  And, too many words that relate poorly with the more tangible aspects of experience are a sign of trouble.  I.W.Parkins 40609