SOME Republicans just cannot leave Ronald Reagan in peace. His image is so idolised that the man who revitalised his party and won the Cold War is in dire danger of becoming prematurely immortal. Barely does a week pass without a new campaign by the party's neo-conservative faithful to honour the Gipper in some new form. And not content with having renamed Washington's national airport after him, and put his name on the most expensive publicly funded office building in the nation's history, they have a plan literally to cast his memory in stone. A group of Congress members is putting its weight behind an initiative to carve Mr Reagan's face alongside the four ex-presidents which comprise one of America's most famous landmarks - Mount Rushmore. The lawmakers think that despite the fact he has only been out of office for a decade, Mr Reagan's accomplishments rank him alongside the four men already on the South Dakota mountainside - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. 'History has already vindicated Ronald Reagan's positions, and we should honour him appropriately for his achievements,' says Matt Salmon, one of the Congressmen trying to get a law passed to set up a non-profit organisation to raise funds to do the work. The campaign is up against a formidable opponent in the shape of the National Parks Service, which runs the monument and which has done past surveys indicating that the rock around the faces is not solid enough to stand further sculpting - also the view espoused by the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, who died in 1941 before finishing the work. The Congressmen do not trust that opinion, however, and want to carry out an independent survey of their own. Long before the Reagan proposal, past presidents tentatively nominated for Mount Rushmore have been Franklin Roosevelt and John F Kennedy. While there can be no doubting Mr Reagan's achievements, there is surely a strong argument that long before his actor's face is carved in stone, the enduring legacy of FDR merits he should go first. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the discussion is what it says about the Republican Party's priorities. Given its post-impeachment plight, it seems strange its leaders would spend so much time looking backwards instead of dreaming up strategies for victory in 2000. America is enjoying its biggest and longest boom economy in modern history, if you believe the administration's spin. It is also a nation of bankrupts. Millions of them. Some 1.44 million Americans filed for bankruptcy during the past financial year - the highest number on record, even during the Great Depression. So what's wrong with the picture? There are two factors at play. One is the estimated US$1.3 trillion (HK$10 trillion) of credit-card and similar debt owed by American consumers; the other is the amazing ease with which individuals can erase all their debts by filing for bankruptcy. It used to be that bankruptcy was the domain of companies which had reached the end of the road. Nowadays, about 70 per cent of all bankruptcies are filed under Chapter Seven, which enables Joe Public to get his creditors off his back by filling in a simple form which is rubber-stamped by a judge. Banks, shops and credit card companies believe the system is rife with fraud, and that they lose around US$40 billion a year to debtors who file for bankruptcy merely as a convenient way to avoid paying their debts. Although declaring oneself bankrupt makes it difficult to get subsequent loans, the stigma associated with bankruptcy appears to have long disappeared. The Animal House is about to be tamed. Dartmouth College, the elite Ivy League university whose fraternity party hi-jinks were so infamous in the 1970s that they provided the inspiration for the Jon Landis comedy classic, is about to turn sober. Although the vomit and beer have not flowed quite so freely in recent years as the did in the heyday of John Belushi and his peers, the college's administration thinks it is time to bring the fraternity system into the ranks of the politically correct. Students have been holding protests since the university announced it wanted all of the college's 28 fraternity and sorority houses to become mixed-sex and to start ridding themselves of drunken revelry. Faculty heads say their aim is to make Dartmouth more 'inclusive', between races and genders. Dartmouth's requests are not out of line with a conservative trend that has been rising in other university campuses in the wake of binge drinking, hazing and other excesses connected with fraternity houses. But a crackdown would hit Dartmouth harder than most colleges. While only 10 per cent of students nationwide belong to the Greek-letter societies, around half of Dartmouth's senior students join a fraternity or sorority. Female students are especially irate at suggestions that sororities, which they say provide a valuable support system for women, should become co-ed. Rather than spend their valuable time worrying about a fraternity system which has been a staple of campus life for decades, perhaps Dartmouth's governors should relax, chill out and throw a good toga party.