Ivan W. Parkins

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 Perspectives For American Society  



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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.


Two Tea Parties,

Russell Kirk’s And Mine

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:

On Health Care

       -The Turmoil of the Debate

       -Information or disinformation

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.






The problem with representation and the media is clearly made in this most recent issue for health care.


By Ivan W. Parkins


     A little application of mathematics helps to demonstrate why our Representatives have a diminished and confusing role in American politics, and why the role of the mass media has become so great.


     Allowing that ages, citizenship, and personal health or other restrictions reduce the effective populations of average congressional districts from about 670,000 to about 500,000 constituents, how many of them can a Representative contact in any “personal” way during this month of “vacation.?”


     Assuming that town meetings are limited in size to about 250 participants if they are to be at all “personal,” let the Representative hold twenty of them.  If each lasts about two hours, and the Representative participates, for an average of five minutes each, in accepting and replying to questions and follow ups, he can speak directly with 24 people, or to a little less than one in ten of those present.  In twenty such meetings he can contact a total of about 5,000 of his constituents, or one in every hundred of the total.


      Additionally, our Representative will spend forty hours of his time reading and responding to letters, phone calls, emails, etc.  It will take on average 5 minutes each to accomplish that.  Hence he can accommodate another one constituent in every thousand. With the expenditure of eighty hours, plus preparation and travel times, the Representative has had personal contact of some sort with a few more than1% of his constituents.  Some vacation!”


      The above theoretical account of a Representative who is very devoted to fulfilling the role that our Constitution assigns to him/her should help to make it clear why the mass media, their choices of the above events they will attend, and how they report on them have come to overshadow some traditional political processes.

More and more it is becoming evident that America is facing revolution .   We face changes not merely of national policies foreign and domestic., but changes also in the institutions and political means by which we are governed.



Well the answer is relatively simple.  The Media  misleads the public and misinforms our representatives.  This is purposeful and disastrous for our Republic.

By Ivan W. Parkins


          Health care touches deeply the lives of nearly all of us.  And, the present political turmoil is a reflection of much that has been neglected, for generations, in our political system.  It is a rare thing when large and diverse portions of the general public pour forth to agitate for or against the actions of government.



   The following is an article from a previously published column, Daily Times-News, 09/12/72


By Ivan W. Parkins

     Those who agitate for political reforms often presume that democratic processes, like computers, can provide numerous and nearly instantaneous decisions.  In fact the outputs of majority participation by masses of people are necessarily few in number and arrived at only slowly.  The reason is quite simple.  Even in our highly educated and mechanized society, most people have little time or energy for politics. 


     The classical example of ancient Athens, is misleading until one is aware that “citizens” were only a minority there and often enjoyed leisure provided by slaves or other non-citizens.  As noted by Aaron Wildavsky in his REVOLT AGAINST THE MASSES, it is a luxury available only for a leisure class.  Selecting representatives in well-scheduled elections, and rare protests, are about as much involvement as most Americans can afford.


     A political system in which authority of elected representatives is diminished, and the authority of public clamor is increased, will not usually be responsive to the majority of its citizens.  How this relates to the United States since the 1950s was suggested by Edward Shils in THE INTELLECTUALS AND THE POWERS,   “…intellectuals in the United States have become demonstrators, not by rational argument, but by standing in public places, by covering themselves in buttons and badges, by signing petitions and public declarations.  They have come to fill the air and the press.”


What needs to be clarified regarding the sixties and seventies of the last century, is that it was not new policy changes that need to be produced.  They also initiated major changes in how national policy in America is determined.  The newly emergent class of verbally advantaged “liberals” was assuming dominance of our political communication.


Political parties and personalities became increasingly the creations or victims of the mass media.  Older political elements found it more difficult not only to be heard on matters of policy, but also to share in the interpretation and enforcement of the constitution.