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Text Box: Vol.5,Issue 13
Text Box: July 2, 2012

American Political Commentary

Veritas Veneratio Virtus


I. W. Parkins

Front Page

 Links to Articles and Items of Interest

· Alyene Senger on “Too Many Broken Promises in Obama Care”

· Dan McLaughlin-“The Supreme Court’s Disappointing Tax Ruling”

· WSJ Editorial on “A Vast New Taxing Power”

· Daniel Henninger on “The President That Time Forgot”

· Holman W. Jenkins on “ObamaCare...Upheld and Doomed”

· Julia Shaw on “What’s the Limit on Congress’s Power to Tax?”

· Mike Smithson UK Telegraph:

             “President Obama Has Lost His Grip on Younger Voters

Obama Care and the Supreme Court

Or a more proper term is “Obama Doesn’t Care”



My Analysis

By Ivan W. Parkins


Invited by, I assume the First Amendment and, now, the Supreme Court, I will try a shot of my own at the Health Care controversy.


First, I characterize the decision of the Supremes (6/28/12) as reducible to: “Do not expect us to decide the outcome of your damned partisan dilemma.”


So, what really is our damned partisan dilemma?  I contend that it is the present, and perhaps ultimate, face of a radical partisan shift-- since at least the election of 1968. The positions and nature of our major political parties are now very different than they were before that time.  Democrats had been predominant as the supporters of international leadership and military strength in addition to active, but moderate, advances of welfare for “the demos.”  In 1968 they divided, allowing victory to a Republican President.  Behind that shift were the nation’s two greatest public information systems, the rapidly growing mass media, especially television, plus public education by an increasingly centralized and unionized teaching profession.


With media help, and in a quite sudden change for so great a party, the Democrats became the chief advocates of leaving international order to the United Nations. They withdrew hastily from Southeast Asia. (That retreat was at a cost, in the massacres of our former Asian allies, approximately equal to the human cost of earlier warfare.)  Meanwhile, Democrats were making domestic policy increasingly a matter of attracting greater partisan loyalty from increasing millions of economically and socially challenged Americans, and immigrants. To facilitate that, they chose a more European style of welfare.


Perhaps the best summarization of this is an increase of blindness among Democrats to POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY and an adoption, especially by that party, of a more radical DEMOCRATIC approach to constitutionalism.


For Democrats, a ruling elite would build a cohesive, that is well-indoctrinated and fed, mass following, and through them would dominate many, especially the less closely attended and policed, elections; for example, those of U.S. Representatives.  Where more public attention was focused, and more Americans turned out to vote, i.e. The Presidency, the Democrat appeal was less effective.  But, more and stronger Republican Presidents were nearly always handicapped, especially in their domestic leadership by Democrat control of at least the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, weak Democrat Presidents could usually claim some accomplishments of leadership, due to the support of majorities in Congress.


Please allow me: the above developments were not, I believe and hope, the product of any particular conspiracy or cabal. They are simply what has been allowed to “grow’’ out of lesser visions and party planning.

                                                                                                      Ivan Parkins, 7/1/12




A reprint from May, 2011, Vol. 4, Issue 9


By Ivan W. Parkins                  


             The idea that raising income tax rates will increase revenue is naïve to a point that borders on insanity.  The problem is that it assumes people will act in the same way when the tax on their economic activity is increased.  That has some validity for small changes in tax rates, and for persons who have little choice of behavior.  For most, especially those who are most prosperous, the idea is incompatible with individual freedom.

             Low income earners, especially those most burdened by limited abilities and by family needs, live pretty much hand to mouth.  They spend what income they have almost immediately for food, housing, etc.  Mostly, we exempt them from income taxes.

             Those of average or middle incomes have wider choices.  They are more “picky” about what they eat and wear.  They are also the bulk of market for housing, cars, electronic devices etc.  They can absorb some income tax, but increasing it significantly will cut consumption, and employment.

             A significant minority of professionals and middle managers earn salaries in six figures, and enjoy wider choices.  If self employed, they can take longer weekends, vacations, or earlier retirement when faced with tax rates that make greater work efforts unrewarding.

             The very rich are hardest for the tax collector to catch.  They can invest abroad, or assume citizenship elsewhere.  They can invest in things that government subsidizes heavily.  They can donate a famous piece of art to a public museum with the provision that they may keep it in their home for a while.  Raw land can be a great investment for those able to wait many years to collect on it.  And, plentiful money helps in subsidizing the campaigns of politicians who will help to protect one’s personal interests.

             The idea that free people will, for any significant period, perform and earn the same while taxed differently is so naïve as to border on insanity.  Actually, there is sound evidence, both here and abroad, the reduction of tax rates where rates are already high produces more economic activity and greater revenue.  A Democrat President, Kennedy, demonstrated that half a century ago.

             Of course, more severe tax collection measures can, for a while, increase the amounts collected.  But very much of that negates what popular sovereignty was designed to correct.See Pat Toomey’s article on the debt ceiling



From an earlier issue in 2011

By Ivan W. Parkins


     Should the Supreme Court of the United States adhere strictly to an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, or may the Court adapt constitutional language to historical trends?

     If one compares closely what was probably the greatest Supreme Court decision of the twentieth century, Brown v. Board of Education, cited in some arguments for a more “liberal” approach, I believe that he will see that the Warren Court’s holding differed little from Justice Brown’s holding in1896 regarding the Constitution.  Brown said that the Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment, requires “absolutely equal treatment” of the races in public facilities.  The difference between the two was not on the constitutional language but on what, in fact, is equal treatment.  The old decision was that separate facilities could be equal; the newer decision is that they are not equal. Even if the words of law are seen to be unchanging, the facts to which they apply may change.

     The growth and mobility of our population and industry have certainly changed.  John Marshall’s original holding in Gibbons v. Ogden that “commerce among the states” meant that commerce that affects more states than one seems logical enough.  But, facts are certainly changing when mortgages that are issued by private banks under state laws become “toxic” and disruptive to national and world-wide finance.  Actually, many of those mortgages were granted by banks under federal pressure to extend credit to previously unqualified applicants.

     The Supreme Court’s great decisions on racial equality (1950s) and on equal legislative districting (a few years later) did represent some extensions of its authority.  However, they were also major advances in popular sovereignty that the Congress had, for decades, failed to act upon.  And they soon received the approval of most of the public.  In those cases, I believe that the Court honored the most basic of our constitutional principals, popular sovereignty.

     There is good historical ground for believing that major Supreme Court decisions of the period prior to World War II, when they conflicted sharply with actions of the elective branches, were soon overcome by popular politics.  Apparently, that is now less true.  One of the baldest evidences more recent thinking is the statement of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall that he was only doing what the people would do if they knew what he knew. I remarked to my class in Constitutional Law at the time that the reasoning was remarkably similar to some by Fuhrer Adolph Hitler.

      Increasingly, we are faced with “entitlements” that alter the capacity of newly elected Congresses to make policy and with judicial references to foreign political entities as authoritative.  Such things are good reasons to fear that an articulate minority of Americans, strongly entrenched in the information media and some times successful in elections, will work with the Judiciary to limit the effectiveness of our Constitution’s most fundamental principal.  That principal is popular sovereignty.

     The current Supreme Court nominee has expressed her admiration of the Justice for whom she clerked, Thurgood Marshall.  Marshall was certainly a great advocate, and significantly responsible for our ending racial segregation, but his performance on the Supreme Court raises question of whether he made a real transition from advocate to jurist.


From an earlier issue in 2009

By Ivan W. Parkins

     The need to choose a successor to Justice Souter makes especially pertinent, again, the question of a proper role for Supreme Court Justices.  And, how that question is answered   may evoke another question, i.e. why should Justices serve for life? 

         President Thomas Jefferson and his Anti-Federalist/ Democratic Republicans were long frustrated by the fact that President Adams’ last-minute appointee, John Marshall, sat as Chief Justice for over thirty years.  The Court under Marshall’s leadership interpreted the Constitution as authorization for a vigorous national government.

     Was that federal government too vigorous?  Remember that it took more than seventy years plus a bloody Civil War and Constitutional Amendments to decide the slavery issue.  And, even then, it took another century to make racial equality a vigorous American policy.  Also, the Constitution itself provides, in Article V, means for its own amendment.

     Formal amendment of the Constitution is difficult and time consuming.  Do we really want changes in the form of our government and liberties to be the products of one brief popular majority?  Actually, unpopular Supreme Court decisions have often been changed in time as new Justices have been appointed to the Court.

     John Marshall sat through about two months of lectures on the law at William and Mary College.  Topics were arranged alphabetically, and Marshall attended until somewhere in the “Ls”.  He then apprenticed in a law office.  He was later elected to Congress and served in the Department of State.  Today, Justices are usually products of a four year college program plus three in an elite law school. Prior to WWII their predecessors were largely corporation lawyers, and often reflected that background.  Now, they come mostly from educational backgrounds, bureaucracies, and experiences that are very similar to those of leaders of the political action groups who press cases before them. How effective are they likely to be at reigning in excesses of the new information elite? 

     Should the role of Supreme Court Justice be one of deciding cases according to the rules as they were at the time of the dispute?  Or should it include looking for new rules as a means of deciding old conflicts?  And, if the latter, why appoint them for life?  Life time appointments for rule makers is almost the definition of