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


Tort reform and Simple Tax Credit for

Insurance, Best Options

By Ivan W. Parkins


     If health care is to be a constitutional “entitlement” it, and other social entitlements, should be limited, as the “safety net” simile implies.  The circus performers’ safety nets are simple devices to preserve bodies and lives.  They make it possible for individuals to continue.  Comfort, dignity, and more advanced achievements will vary with the individual’s own efforts; it is unrealistic to guarantee them.


     One simple and modest tax credit or grant, available to all Americans, and adequate to purchase insurance covering most common emergencies and illnesses, is needed.  Several practical administrative hurdles stand in its way.  One is the lack of a single reliable identification device for all individuals.  Another is a plethora of state laws specifying what health insurance must include.  Congress has adequate authority to resolve both of those impediments.


      Regarding rarer health problems and those resulting from the individual’s own indulgences, any single centralized authority is at a disadvantage where cases vary widely from one to another.  The nation may provide for health and medical research, and for controls of poisons and epidemics.  It may also aid lesser governments and private agencies that are dealing with unique problems. It should avoid most varied services.


     Most urgently, and relating to health care costs, the distortion of tort proceedings into “jackpot justice” should be crushed, and made costly for those who participate in it.  Real injuries should be compensated on an actual loss basis, if specific negligence is demonstrated.  The legal process should not be a game of chance for predatory and dishonest individuals.


Or are you ready to protect the Constitution?

By Ivan W. Parkins


     In the past half century Americans have experienced growing conflict between the “mainstream” mass media and popular chief executives.  Both are key elements in our political system, and both claim to speak for most of us. 


     The clearest evidence of our problem is the fact that the three Presidents (one Democrat and two Republicans) who won the greatest popular pluralities plus record majorities of the votes cast were either driven from the office that they had recently won or sorely harassed in their conduct of it.  That would be less startling if it were not for the additional fact that all three were especially well known to the public before their elections.  All had been on America’s political stage for decades, and their landslide victories were all returns to this nation’s top office.


     Meanwhile, the branch of our government that is supposed to be closest to the people has been, during the same half century, almost totally a one-party stronghold.  Republicans have had only brief and very narrow partisan advantages there.  In the House of Representatives two major impeachment proceedings were launched against Presidents.  The first forced out President Nixon soon after his record-setting popular plurality; the second left in office President Clinton, the third President (all Democrats) in our history of popular elections to gain that office twice without a popular majority either time.  And, both impeachment procedures were soon after denounced as improper by the Chief Investigating Counsels (Democrats both) who the House Committee on the Judiciary had chosen to pursue them.


     We now have in the House of Representatives (again) a large Democrat majority, led this time by a Speaker who is clearly intent upon ramming through measures of dubious popularity, likely high cost, and very uncertain practical benefit.  President Obama, a solid popular, but not a landslide, winner was virtually unknown to Americans until a couple of years before the election.  No other President in recent times has had so little public exposure or political experience prior to his election.


     Meanwhile, old "mainstream" media have dominated our political scene for the past half century.  And, they are substantially responsible for shaping it.  Now, they are clearly losing ground to newer elements with much less of a Democrat fixation.  For some doctrinaire and extreme parts of our polity, a key part of the Democrat Party, and one to which President Obama owes much of his limited experience, this is a "do now or never" moment.  If  they can force through enough "entitlements" and other legal measures that suggest constitutional rights of the types that favor their supporters, they may be able to elect Presidents, and to dominate American politics for generations.


     If more moderate and traditional elements among Americans do not want to fare far worse than they have in the past half century, now is time for them to unite in support of a few moderate and traditional goals.  Special and sectarian interests of the Right have already been out maneuvered by those of the Left; for the short-term at least, they should be willing to compromise.  This is the time for Americans who want to enhance America’s record of progress as a constitutional democracy to unite against those who seek radical “corrections” of the shortcomings that they choose to identify and to exaggerate.


Liberty (freedom) is a responsibility of it’s Citizens.

 Are you ready to defend it?  If not, it will disappear.


By Ivan W. Parkins


     We, and all of mankind, face an especially complex, but potentially fruitful, problem.  It is how much freedom? And it is especially, what freedoms for whom?


     Individuals are not, never were, and can be only briefly (as they die off), totally free.  Especially as numbers of humans have grown, we have compromised individual freedoms socially to enhance freedoms from natural hazards, and to make our lives more fruitful.


     That, for the most part, has been a gain.  Our more remote ancestors were much less free than we are.  But it was not due primarily to social rules or to other humans.  The first hominids faced natural hazards, as does every sparse and, in some respects, weak species.  By joint efforts and particularly by the cultivating and sharing of our unique mental and communications capacities, we have extended our freedom from many of nature's  hazards and become dominant among Earth's creatures.  The price of that is, and will continue to be, some restrictions of individual freedoms in the interest of communal security against hazards that can easily crush individuals or small communities.


     The principle is a simple one.  Its specific applications are increasingly numerous and complex.  The survival and advance of mankind has been, and can be, long lasting and grand.  The survival of most individuals can be made more likely and more self-satisfying, but only as individuals participate within a larger context.


     To this point in history, the most effective large unit of human cooperation has been the nation state, and organized as a constitutional democracy.  As Americans, we enjoy membership in a particularly successful one.  If we fail to support it thoughtfully and with our lives, we are likely to see that much of what we have valued as our freedom will disappear.


My Tea Party

And Russell Kirk

Ruminations from my past.,

By Ivan W. Parkins

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     Shortly before I retired from college teaching, about thirty years ago, a nationally known political scientist who had retired to a community near here was invited to give a series of lectures at our institution. 


      Our department had not extended that invitation, but the subject of a tea in recognition of Russell Kirk came up in a regular departmental meeting.  Favorable sentiment was obviously minimal, but after a brief discussion our chairman said that apparently most thought that “it was the thing to do.”  (Professor Kirk, though better known than any of us, was “a conservative.”) One professor replied “can’t we have a vote?”  The tea was held.


      My own retirement, after fifteen years in the department, was acknowledged more warmly than I had anticipated.  I was given a pair of fine fishing rods, built by a colleague who had also been a fishing companion.  My almost total separation (I live about a mile away.) has been largely my choice.  At one of the few events that I did attend I was greeted by the person who had called for the vote, that person had become a dean.

In This Issue:

Our Constitutional Democracy

       -Healthcare, a constitution right?

       -The Constitutional Challenge

       -Freedom, it’s responsibilities

Other Notes:


     Richard Beeman, in his PLAIN, HONEST, MEN, page 29, says “In Madison’s conception, governments were designed not to embody virtue and the public good, but, rather to mediate among the various interests in society, and in the process, to allow public good to be served.”


     It appears to me that Beeman is correct in his interpretation of Madison, and that Madison was correct in that interpretation of government’s role.