One concern of those who drafted the Constitution of the United States was that representatives should not have such small constituencies that the office would fail to attract able candidates.  Even so, Chairman of the Convention, George Washington, called for a minimum constituency of 30,000 instead of the already approved 40,000.  This was his only suggestion regarding details of the Constitution and it was adopted. 

           THE FEDERALIST, No. 51 states that “dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government.” No. 52 adds “… it is particularly essential that ..” the representative “… have an immediate dependence on and an intimate sympathy with the people.”

           Now, with the congressional districts having average populations of about  690,000, and with only 524,160 minutes in a year, we face a very different situation.  All Representatives, whatever their origins, become members of the upper class by virtue of their salaries and perks alone.  The long sessions and  increasing details of their involvement in nearly all matters of government, keep their minds and bodies within the confines of the “Beltway” most of the time.  National journalists, pollsters, lobbyists, and congressional staff members, along with legislative “earmarks,” get them reelected.  Meanwhile, it is literally impossible for them to allot one minute of their time per year to each constituent. 

           Our representatives should be much more numerous; they should spend most of their working time in their districts; and they should have infrequent, but authoritative votes on major public issues.  In order to add that to the Constitution, I suggest the following:     Proposed Amendment Page 2

Ivan  Parkins

DISASSEMBLE THE HOUSE

By Ivan W. Parkins PhD.

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©Ivan W. Parkins 2008,  All articles, text, web pages property of Ivan W. Parkins.  Use of any material requires permission of the author and can be obtained by contacting info@americanpoliticalcommentary.com

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  Archive 2008  Archive 2009

Page 2,  Disassemble the House

Page 3, RE-RUNS

Page 4, Book Reviews

 

Liberalism, an Aversion to Facts

 

For more than two decades I believed myself to be a “liberal”, but that was four decades ago.  Now, the ideas and aversion to facts, of many people who claim to be liberals seem not to have changed in those four decades.  In 1971, I clipped from my newspaper a cartoon by Bill Mauldin, of WWII fame.  It represented President Nixon as overseeing a huge flow of funds into Indo-China and promising some petty support for social programs.  Using budget figures from standard references, I discovered that the Kennedy/Johnson Administrations had a higher average rate of military expenditures and lower social spending than Nixon’s most recent year at the time.  

I wrote a letter to Newsweek magazine in Feb. 1977, in response to Lester Thurow’s column (2/14/77).  Here are some excerpts.

 

    “Lester Thurow’s column may serve better to illustrate than it does to explain the

    reasons for our lagging productivity.”

“Productivity is frequently, and meaningfully, related to the quantity

and quality  of machinery which a workman uses.  Since 1950, the

U.S. has lagged behind the principal  democracies of Europe, and far

behind Japan, in the portion of its product which it has reinvested in

new plants and machinery.  At the same time, and while our military

expenditures were declining, we have more than doubled the portion

of GNP which we invested in education.”

 

      “Blaming moneyed and military elites for America’s economic and social problems

      would have appealed to me two or three decades ago.  Today, it is far too popular,

      and too carelessly done.”

 

About a year later, I wrote a letter to the editor, U.S. News & World Report (1/16/78) in response to Professor Thurow.

      

      “Professor Thurow says, “While no one is against investment in physical assets,

      we also need to invest more heavily in skills, education and other things that build 

      earning capacity in the future.”  Is he really talking about the United States?”

 

In 2008, the evidence and my views have not changed greatly.  Recently, I noticed that one of America’s oldest great fortunes had been liquidated, for many millions.  I estimated that it was about 250 times as large as I expect my estate to be.  I also checked and found, as I had expected, that the largest recent fortune, earned by a person much younger than I is about 400 times as great as the older one was. 

Soaking the rich with taxation makes more sense as hate and revenge than it does as economic policy.

As long as voters believe “economic facts” quoted by celebrities without checking them against THE STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES or another reliable reference, our economy and our country will suffer.

 

Ivan Parkins- February 24, 2008

COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE

 X 2

 

Comprehensive has two meanings with regard to health care.  The one most often addressed is a comprehensive system of paying for care.  Who pays, and how?  Must all join?  Will terms of payment be sufficient to attract the necessary professional and other care-givers?  Those are the easier questions.

 

Some of the more difficult questions are what is comprehensive care?  Immediate treatment of serious accidents, and to control communicable diseases would seem to be obvious.  But, who will have how  much authority to authorize cosmetic surgeries?  When , if any, limits should there be for individuals whose habits are the chief cause of their illnesses?  Are sex-changes to be included for all applicants? 

 

One likely outcome of a single-payer system (nationalized health care) is some reduction of incentive for the care-givers, and consequent shortage of services available.  The actual comprehensiveness of services available to an individual may be determined by waiting lists.  Ten-month lists for maternity services, or a few days for an infected appendix, can solve some problems, and save money too!

I. W. Parkins 3/2008

 

 

 

 

 WARS AND THEIR COSTS

 

The America that I have known will one day be remembered for its military achievements, especially for how effectively we managed costs to ourselves.

World War II was, in many respects, the greatest and most costly in world history.  America entered late, suffered over 400,000 fatalities, spent almost 40% of its gross product for three years, and emerged one of the victors.  We were then able to nourish the recovery of many other combatants, both allies and enemies.  Because we entered the war from depressed economic conditions, much of the economic cost was absorbed by the full employment of recently-idle labor and industrial capacities.

A decade later, America again was at war, in Korea.  That cost us nearly 40,000 lives, and at the peak, 13% of our gross product.  It prevented a totalitarian conquest of South Korea, a nation now free, friendly and prosperous.

In Vietnam, after expending over 50,000 lives and product at a rate that approached 10%, we withdrew.  That choice was a political one, not a military defeat.  There, the subsequent cost in lives to our former allies was more horrendous than anything that we ourselves have suffered.  The high cost to America’s political unity and social order is still evident.

For most of the last half of the twentieth century we were engaged in a cold war with the Soviet Union.  Except that the wars in both Korea and Vietnam were related to our contest with the Soviets, the cold war was nearly fatality free.  It did, however, require us to maintain high military outlays.  We prospered in spite of those expenditures; the Soviets were unable to keep pace and their system collapsed.

Now, we are at war with radical Islamists.  They declared it; they attacked us at home; they vow to destroy us.  Our military costs, in lives and in treasure, are moderate when compared to those during most of my lifetime.  Our response remains incomplete.

The graph to the right , by the Office of Management and Budget, demonstrates that in the 1990’s a very large part of the Clinton Administration’s savings came from national defense.  Those savings have made the war in Iraq more expensive than it might have been had an earlier level of military, and intelligence, spending been maintained.

If you look at similar graphs for the period of the Vietnam War, you will find that, at it’s most expensive around Tet, 1968, military spending rose only slightly above the previous decade of Cold War spending.  Much of  national defense costs are for maintaining, training, and improving the readiness capabilities of our forces, whether at home in peace or abroad in some limited conflict.  Especially, in the earlier battles of WWII we paid in extra lives for our lack of readiness.  The old saying that, “if you want peace, you should prepare for war” has merit.  The Swiss and Swedes have done well at it, but only recently.   During WWII our Navy relied heavily upon the 20mm and 40mm machineguns of Swiss Oilercon and Swedish Bofors armament companies.  Both the Swiss and Swedes had violent histories in earlier centuries; both maintained high states of preparedness; and both avoided active involvement in WWII.  The United States is far too large a player in the world to expect such easy choices.

I.W. Parkins

 I owe an apology to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, from which I took the "War on the Cheap" graph.  I misinterpreted the Journal's attribution to OMB; that was for dates and GDP figures only. The graph belongs to the Journal.

 

 

And the WALL STREET JOURNAL