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Front Page

In This Issue: 

Þ Little Noticed Source of Hate

Þ Congress - Democrat Party

Þ Literature  was once……

Þ Intellectuals and Society

Þ Immigration Issues

A LITTLE NOTICED SOURCE OF SUSPICION AND HATE

The intellectual left is itself the problem.

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

Why is there surprise that spokesmen of the intellectual left were quick to blame Tea Parties and Republicans for the shootings in Tucson?  Did not something similar occur also in the assassination of President Kennedy?  Most major political assassinations in America have been the work of deranged individuals, not of persons operating as agents of a large group or alternative leadership.

 

Too many on our Intellectual Left see politics in terms so comprehensive and so ideological (i.e. quasi-religious) that little room is left for random or empirical events.

INTELLECTUALS AND

SOCIETY

 

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

Thomas Sowell: black, ex-communist, ex-Marine, PHD in economics, professor, columnist, author of books on a variety of subjects, and scholar in residence of the Hoover Institution is author of INTELLECTUALS AND SOCIETY, 2009.  It is, as he says, about intellectuals not for them.

 

He first came to my attention with a popular article relating to causes of inequality of incomes among social groups.  The media emphasis of the time was upon racial discrimination.  Sowell pointed out that it was generally accepted among those informed regarding income distribution, in nearly all societies and times, that youths began work inexperienced and at low income levels.  (My wife and I had once discussed this with a guest couple over dinner.  All four of us had post-graduate degrees and were professionally employed at middle levels.  All of us had also worked for months or years at low wage, “no future,” jobs—in my case; 20 cents per hour in 1938.)  As workers acquire training and experience most earn better incomes.  Somewhere, usually in later middle-age, people reach their highest income level.

 

Of course that is typical only for large groups, individual cases may vary.  But what Sowell demonstrated was that, for groups as defined by the census, the average ages of the persons as listed in ethnic groups explained much more of income distribution in America than the loudly deplored discrimination did.

 

INTELLECTUALS AND SOCIETY, without devoting much attention to either health care or President Obama, is very much relevant to our present political situation.

Note: One implication of the above ideas is that many of those who now pass as our “intellectual progressives” are by many standards other than their own reactionaries. Instead of halting and experimental progress, they wish to substitute, in one “bold” move, their vision of the future.  Unfortunately, that vision is a hasty mix of discredited top –down, and authoritarian, management.

Congress and The

Democrat Party

From a previous published page in2009

 

Are you aware that Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat majority in the House is more than twice as large as any Republican majority that a Republican President has had since President Hoover won in 1928?  It is also just about average size for the advantages enjoyed by Democrat Presidents most of the time since 1928. And, every previous Democrat President has had support of at least one House majority larger than Pelosi’s.

 

One of the first things that Congress did after forcing President Nixon out was to vote itself a larger role in the process of budgeting –and taxation.

 

President Ford, advised by his medical experts that a very dangerous flu season was coming, approved expenditures and legal protection to assure adequate flu vaccine.

In order to do that he had to approve a bill that also included a larger expenditure for job training that he had recently vetoed.

 

President G.H.W. Bush, trying to counter Saddam Hussein’s seizure of Kuwait, was faced with Democrat resistance, not only to war, but to enacting the annual budget without substantial increases of social spending and taxes.  Bush gave up his “no new taxes” pledge, won the Gulf War, and lost his chance to be reelected.

 IMMIGRATION

 ISSUES

Views of the Left and Right

 

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

Two key areas of disagreement are standing in the way of any general settlement of America’s immigration policy.  The first is mainly an attitude of the Right; the attitude that existing law must be applied strictly.  The second is mainly an attitude of the Left; the attitude that some broad “privacy” concept protects persons from a need to identify themselves except in relatively few and specific circumstances.

 

Neither of those views is sound in my opinion.  But Democrats, who have had very large advantages in Congress for more than half a century, have also needed the doctrinaire Right as a bogeyman to assure one large part of their own following of their intellectual and moral superiority.  And, with their dominance in both education and journalism, they have had their way. Ill-enforced borders and a poorly managed immigration policy have not been disadvantageous to Democrats at election time.

 

Amnesty is a well established legal device for clearing matters that are too numerous, complex, and socially divisive for settlement by ordinary legal procedures.  Several Presidents, beginning with Washington, have used it, and sometimes to clear cases involving use of arms against the United States.  It should be used now to clear, on generous terms, the large majority of immigration cases, and to facilitate law enforcement in the remainder.

 

To facilitate more effective enforcement of immigration law, as well as many other aspects of law and security; this country should have one national identification device that applies to all persons and is required for voting, claiming public benefits, and numerous other purposes.

If you pay well, they’ll supply it!  America’s drug problem does not begin in Mexico.  Mexico is as much a victim as a culprit in this matter.

Literature

The Custodian of the Culture?

From earlier work of mine: The burgeoning of communication and of education in the contemporary West has destroyed the virtual monopoly of culture and diluted the intellectual status that literary people once enjoyed.

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

It is an accepted tenet of art history that photography, by the superior quality of its overt representation, drove painting into abstruse and recondite styles.  An analogous but less obvious and complete instance of technological displacement has now occurred in relation to literature.

 

Until quite recently, difficulties of travel and communication, plus the homogeneity of most local communities, limited the experience of most men to a very narrow world.  Literature provided the chief escape from provincial limitations.  Whether the subject matter was physical environment, social custom, or individual variety in human character, the man who was not narrow in his views was likely to be heavily dependent upon literary works for his enlightenment.  Thus, in a very real sense, literary people held in their talents of discernment and description the keys to culture, and familiarity with literature was an essential attribute of nearly every really sophisticated man.

 

The burgeoning of communication and of education in the contemporary West has destroyed the virtual monopoly of culture and diluted the intellectual status that literary people once enjoyed.  Travel, public schooling, life in polyglot cities, popular journalism, and broadcasting have added so many opportunities for even the average citizen to extend his experience that literature has ceased to be the chief custodian of culture.  . . . .

 

Just as photography displaced much of painting and left it to experiment with pretentious techniques, obscure patterns, and bizarre effects, the developments we have cited deprive literature of a major portion of its previous informative function, and leave it only a shrinking realm of

 “esoterica” in which to contend for primacy as an extension of experience.

INTELLECTUALS AND SOCIETY

NOTE: The following series of articles are about the intellectual left

and their  philosophy within a variety of different topics.  Editor

NOTE: The following “Letter to the Editor” appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 1997, and is a part of an ongoing illustration of the “Dividing of America” series of articles published over the last 40 years.  Also, a part of page 8, Dividing America– Editor

 

Fearing the Future

 

By Ivan Parkins

 

    To John Tierney’s  excellent discussion, “Futurephobia”, the Times, Dec. 29, I would add two points of interpretation and one possible conclusion.

   First, intellectuals, especially the more literary types, have experienced in the 20th Century a technological displacement similar to that which the advent of photography

visited upon painters a few decades earlier.  Until quite recently, most of humanity had little contact with the world beyond those communities in which they lived.  With few exceptions, literacy and a literate minority held the keys to knowledge of the larger world.  But, in this century, public education, easy travel and population mobility, plus television and other burgeoning communication technologies, are depriving the literary intelligentsia of much of their once exclusive status-even as they gain wider audiences for their ideas.

    Second, the revolution in communication has encouraged in many people what I call a sophomoric illusion.  When first made aware of a world in which there are numerous unfamiliar hazards, we are all prone to believe that the world is becoming more dangerous.  Further study will usually help us to recognize that it is our vision and not the larger world that has changed most precipitously.  But many of our literary and opinion leaders encourage more passionate reactions rather than more careful inquiries.

    Why is phobia regarding the future so widespread?  Does not a literary-intellectual minority have a selfish interest in promoting fear of the real world, a world in which knowledge is increasingly available, and from a widening variety of sources?