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. 

Front Page

  ANOTHER BANK OF THE UNITED STATES?

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     The first Bank of The United States was created by Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton with President Washington’s blessing.  Although it was controversial at the time, it earned a large and very constructive place in our history.  To it is due much of the credit for enabling a heavily indebted and poorly united, assemblage of people and states to become one financially sound and economically viable country.

    

     Now, something similar may be both needed and possible.  A Mortgage Bank of The United States, with assets consisting initially of many of those already held by Fanny and Freddie, should be created for the purpose of acquiring, probably at a fixed maximum (90%?) of face value, “toxic” mortgages issued within a fixed time period.  Such mortgages are now endangering our financial system, and those of some foreign countries that have purchased financial instruments here.

     

     If such a bank is to succeed, it should have an unusual degree of independence, answering directly to the President.  Legally, within its limited field, it should be above the innumerable rules set by other federal, state and local agencies.  It should however be cognizant of, and as cooperative as practicable with, such rules.

     

     The Mortgage Bank’s field would be the acquisitions, management, and disposal of mortgages on residences and small enterprises.  It should be empowered to protect its properties, including policing and the pursuit and prosecution of persons abusing or misappropriating same.

     

     The life of such a bank should be fixed at a specific period, perhaps ten years, and changed only be renewed legislation.  Meanwhile, any interference by Members of Congress, i.e. less than a majority of both Houses, should be specifically forbidden.

     

     In disposing of mortgages, or of the property that they represent, some special regard for original mortgagees or occupants may be appropriate.

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 REIGN OF THE EMPEROR

By Ivan W. Parkins

(a book review)

 

     If The United States has ever had an emperor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was almost certainly it.  TRAITOR TO HIS CLASS is the title of H. W. Brand’s book on FDR.  It is a formidable 800plus pages, but mostly very readable and sometimes even charming.  Author Brands includes quite a lot of conversations and comments of the persons most involved, documented unobtrusively at the end.

    

     There are small and relatively trivial incidents.  As a young Assistant Secretary of Woodrow Wilson’s Navy, Roosevelt was an advocate of more battleships, and he hammered the first bolt into the keel of the USS Arizona, BB39. (It is now a memorial at Pearl Harbor.)  A little later he piloted the destroyer commanded by Lt. William Halsey through a narrow and dangerous channel near Campobello, handling that large and unfamiliar vessel with surprising skill.  He also had a significant part in promoting the North Sea mine barrage of WWI.

 

      Brands offers an extensive account of  FDR’s polio affliction and treatment, plus details of Louis Howe’s role in guiding both Franklin and Eleanor toward maintaining and advancing their promising political futures.

 

     The review of New Deal policies and their mixed results is likely to seem a bit repetitive to readers already familiar with the period. It began to look as though this “emperor” had few cloths, but another chapter was about to begin. I found quite a lot of new, to me, detail regarding FDR’s efforts to persuade isolationist Americans of the need for us to prepare for, and to enter, WWII.  In that he was a conspirator with Winston Churchill.

 

     The Japanese brought a sudden and sharp solution to Roosevelt’s how-to-enter-the-war dilemma by attacking Pearl Harbor. Although the blow to our battle fleet was devastating, it left our damaged ships where they could be most easily repaired.  We were already supplying Britain and others with food and weapons.  The Great Depression was fast disappearing.

 

      FDR’s relationship with Churchill became exceptionally close and cordial.  That of the two of them with Stalin was neither.  At first Stalin, his country in gravest danger, was suspicious that the Western allies would let the Soviet Union be destroyed before making any major effort against Hitler.  Brands notes the change of Stalin’s attitude after we landed in Sicily.  What he fails to explain is that in July, 1943, the Soviet armed forces won what was arguably the greatest battle in all of history, at Kursk several hundred miles south of Moscow.  Few Americans seem to be aware of it, but in both manpower and weapons the Kursk battle was five to ten times as large as the Bulge conflict which we fought nearly a year an a half later.  Following the Soviet victory at Kursk, most Nazi efforts were defensive.

 

     Of this “emperor” Winston Churchill said, “He is the truest friend; he has the farthest vision; he is the greatest man I’ve ever known.”  I.W.Parkins 12609

                      FOR UNITY AND HOPE

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     The huge, spectacular, and exceptionally civil transfer of the Presidency from George Bush to Barack Obama should boost America’s self confidence.

 

      I am especially impressed by our new President’s efforts to initiate an inclusive administration.  He, like his predecessor, seems to share with a very large portion of his countrymen, past and present, a deep regard for Christianity in its most human and tolerant forms.

 

     My reservations about President Obama’s and our future rest less upon his character than upon some of the constituency and institutions that are now his to lead.  In the 1950s and 1960s we morphed from a society divided mainly by legal devices based upon race into one increasingly divided by partisanship and special political action groups.  Some of the latter are quite other-worldly in their approaches.  Indeed a large and militant element of our society shun “old time religion,” and often they favor a quite similar personal faith and devotion to environmentalism, pacifism, or some other “advanced” belief. To many of our earthly problems, including those with obvious mundane causes and effects, their approaches have quite inadequate empirical basis.

 

      Among major environmental actions and reactions is the ban on DDT in 1972, condemning millions of the world’s poorest people to renewed plagues of insect borne diseases and deaths.  Apparently, one blessing of doing work that soars above minor practicalities is not having to say that you are sorry, even for accidental genocide.

 

     In 1979 a nuclear unit at Three Mile Island suffered a melt-down.  There were no serious casualties, but such “dangerous” facilities were judged by many Americans to be unacceptable, even if no equivalent power source was more safe. 

 

     In 1989 a large oil spill at Valdez, Alaska, caused extensive, mostly temporary, damage.  That led some to claim that it was better to buy oil from other countries, at great cost to our economy, than to risk further spills. My WORLD ALMANAC, 2008, lists eight Record Oil Spills, all of them in tons and occurring before 1989.  By far the largest Notable Spill, including that at Valdez and listed in gallons, was an act of sabotage by Iraqi forces in Kuwait at the time of the Gulf War.

 

     Let us do what we know how to do carefully, and let us invest substantially, both our money and our hope but not great faith, in advances of technology.  I.W.Parkins 12709

Brief items:

 

Election Results

 

A lack of much news reporting the extent of the projected presidential landslide of 2008 has puzzled me.  Apparently, the reason is that the actual vote was less than a landslide.  Obama did of course win, but with 52.9% of the total vote.  That is the most for any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson, but less than Nixon’s 60.7% in 1972, Reagan’s 58.8% in 1984, or G.H.W.Bush’s 53.4% in 1988.  Most of Obama’s margin came from increased turnout and percentages of Black and Hispanic voters.  His partisan advantage in Congress is slimmer than Carter’s was, but larger than any Republican President has enjoyed since the 1920s.

 

 

National ID System

 

One of the most overdue and practical reforms available, a reform that should contribute to transparency in elections, immigration, and financial transactions, also reduce identity thefts, and contribute to security against both domestic and foreign predators is a single national identity system and data bank.  Privacy?  Whose privacy, for doing what?

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