26 November 2010

89. The Conscience of a Conservative

The Conscience of a Conservative - Senator Barry Goldwater

This book was first published in 1960. My copy was printed in 1964. I guess it was sitting in someone’s garage or attic. It stank of mildew and caused my nose to twitch as I was reading it. While my wife was driving and I was reading, I fanned the book toward her. She sneezed and had to open the windows to keep from choking. Despite the mold issue, this is probably the one book I have read where a politician stated his position on issues where I feel like I am in agreement with just about everything. Why can’t this Goldwater guy be around today?

I think I will just post a bunch of quotes from the book. I found them to be very interesting. Yes, this was written FIFTY years ago. So what. The principles and reasoning Senator Goldwater professed then still apply today. He, just like I am today, was critical of liberal policy, but was also dissatisfied with the Republican party.

The chapters in this book covered “The Conscience of a Conservative”, “The Perils of Power”, “States’ Rights”, “And Civil Rights”, “Freedom for the Farmer”, “Freedom for Labor”, “Taxes and Spending”, “The Welfare State”, “Some Notes on Education”, and “The Soviet Menace”. Looking at those chapters and knowing this man is conservative will probably give you a good idea where he stands already…but why does he take that stand? That is what I discovered while reading this book. Not just that I agree, but that it makes perfect sense when he explains the reasoning.

I was having a problem liking Barry Goldwater before reading this book. The reason? I had heard that he stood against the desegregation of schools during the Civil Rights movement. He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That he was a racist. Well, after reading this book I think that is a bunch of manipulative political hooey and that I was lied to. (I later found that LBJ had run ads in the north saying Goldwater was a KKK member...a flat out lie...but it worked)

Why did he not push for desegregation as a Senator from Arizona? Because he did not believe the federal government had a right to shove it’s will down the throats of the states and that the people in the states would take care of these problems within their own borders in their own time…as free people! Well, that sure is a far cry from an old white guy saying he thinks black folks are inferior and would “dirty” the white children in desegregated schools. So I no longer think Barry Goldwater hates black people. That is good.

Goldwater was Conservative Republican with libertarian viewpoints. He butted heads with many in the GOP later in his career because his libertarian views conflicted with those of the religious right wing.

I also found this quote attributed to Mr. Goldwater. I found it interesting that decades later we are still having the same argument. 
"You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight."

Anyway…here are some quotes from the book:

The Conscience of a Conservative

“The root difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals of today is that the Conservatives take account of the whole man, while the Liberals tend to look only at the material side of man’s nature. The Conservative believes the man is, in part, an economic, an animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires. What is more, these needs and desires reflect the superior side of man’s nature, and thus take precedence over his economic wants. Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy. Liberal’s on the other hand, -in the name of concern for “human beings”- regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society. They are, moreover, in a hurry. So that their characteristic approach is to harness the society’s political and economic forces into a collective effort to compel “progress.” In this approach, I believe they fight against nature.”

“…each member of the species is a unique creature. Man’s most sacred possessions his individual soul – which has an immortal side, but also a mortal one. The mortal side establishes his absolute differentness from every other human being. Only a philosophy that takes into account the essential differences between men, and, accordingly, makes provision for developing the different potentialities of each man can claim to be in accord with Nature. …to regard man as part of an undifferentiated mass is to consign him to ultimate slavery.”

“The Conservative has learned that the economic and spiritual aspects of man’s nature are inextricably intertwined. He cannot be economically free, or even economically efficient, if he is enslaved politically; conversely, man’s political freedom is illusory if he is dependent for his economic needs on the State.”

“The Conservative realizes that man’s development, in both it’s spiritual and material aspects, is not something that can be directed by outside forces. Every man, for his individual good and for the good of society, is responsible for his own development. The choices that govern his life are choices that he must make; they cannot be made by any other human being, or by a collectivity of human beings. If the Conservative is less anxious than his Liberal brethren to increase Social Security “benefits,” it is because he is more anxious than his Liberal brethren that people be free throughout their lives to spend their earnings when and as they see fit.”

“With this view of the nature of man, it is understandable that the Conservative looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of the social order. The Conservative is the first to understand that the practice of freedom requires the establishment of order; it is impossible for one man to be free if another man is able to deny him the exercise of his freedom. But the Conservative also recognizes that the political power on which order is based is a self-aggrandizing force; that its appetite grows with eating. He knows that the utmost vigilance and care are required to keep political power within its proper bounds.”

The Perils of Power

“State power, considered in the abstract, need not restrict freedom: but absolute state power always does. The legitimate functions of government are actually conducive to freedom. Maintaining internal order, keeping foreign foes at bay, administering justice, removing obstacles to the free interchange of goods-the exercise of these powers makes it possible for men to follow their chosen pursuits with maximum freedom”

“…the corrupting influence of power, the natural tendency of men who possess some power to take unto themselves more power. The tendency leads eventually to the acquisition of all power-whether in the hands of one or many makes little difference to the freedom of those left on the outside.”

States Rights

(Speaking about another book)...Mr. Larson states“…while there is a “general presumption” in favor of States’ Rights, thanks to the Tenth Amendment, this presumption must give way whenever it appears to the federal authorities that the States are not responding satisfactorily to the “needs of the people. This is a paraphrase of his position but not, I think, an unjust one. And if this approach appears to be a high-handed way of dealing with an explicit constitutional provision, Mr. Larson justifies the argument by summoning the concept that “for every right there is a corresponding duty.” “When we speak of States Rights,” he writes, “we should never forget to add that there go with these rights the corresponding States’ responsibilities.” Therefore, he concludes, if the States fail to do their duty, they have only themselves to blame when the federal government intervenes.
          The trouble with this argument is that it treats the Constitution of the United States as a kind of handbook in political theory, to be heeded or ignored depending on how it fits the plans of contemporary federal officials. The Tenth Amendment is not “a general assumption,” but a prohibitory rule of law. The Tenth Amendment recognizes the States’ jurisdiction in certain areas. States’ Rights means that the States have a right to act or not to act, as they see fit, in the areas reserved to them. The States may have duties corresponding to these rights, but the duties are owed to the people of the States, not to the federal government. Therefore, the recourse lies not with the federal government, which is not sovereign, but with the people who are, and who have full power to take disciplinary action.”

And Civil Rights

“The intentions of the Fourteenth Amendment’s authors are perfectly clear. Consider these facts. 1. During the entire congressional debate on the Fourteenth Amendment it was never suggested by any proponent of the amendment that it would outlaw segregated schools. 2. At the same time it approved the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress established schools in Washington in Georgetown “for the sole use of…colored children.” 3. In all the debates on the amendment by the State Legislatures there was only one legislator, a man in Indiana, who thought the amendment would affect schools. 4. The great majority of the States that approved the amendment permitted or required segregated schools at the very time they approved the amendment. There is not room here for exhaustive treatment of this evidence, but the facts are well documented, and they are all we have to know about the Fourteenth Amendment’s bearing on this problem. The amendment was not intended to, and therefore it did not outlaw racially separate schools. It was not intended to, and therefore it did not, authorize any federal intervention in the field of education.
           I am therefore not impressed by the claim that the Supreme Court’s decision on school integration is the law of the land. The Constitution, and the laws “made in pursuance thereof,” are the “supreme law of the land.” The Constitution is what its authors intended it to be and said it was-not what the Supreme Court says it is. If we condone the practice of substituting our own intentions for those of the Constitution’s framers, we reject, in effect, the principle of Constitutional Government: we endorse the rule of men, not of laws.”

Freedom for Labor

The natural function of a trade union and the one which it was historically conceived is to represent those employees who want collective representation in bargaining with their employers over terms of employment. But note that this function is perverted the moment a union claims the right to represent employees who do not want representation, or conducts activities that have nothing to do with terms of employment (e.g. political activities), or tries to deal with an industry as a whole instead of with individual employers.”

“We have seen that unions perform their natural function when three conditions are observed: association with the union is voluntary; the union confines its activities to collective bargaining; the bargaining is conducted with the employer of the workers concerned.”

Taxes and Spending

“It has been the fashion in recent years to disparage “property rights” –to associate them with greed and materialism. This attack on property rights is actually an attack on freedom. It is another instance of the modern failure to take into account the whole man. How can a man be truly free if he is denied the means to exercise freedom? How can he be free if the fruits of his labor are not his to dispose of, but are treated, instead, as part of a common pool of public wealth? Property and freedom are inseparable: to the extent that government takes the one in the form of taxes, it intrudes on the other.”

“The size of the government’s rightful claim-that is, the total amount in may take in taxes-will be determined by how we define the “legitimate functions of government.” With regard to the federal government, The Constitution is the proper standard of legitimacy: its “legitimate” powers, as we have seen are those the Constitution has delegated to it. Therefore, if we adhere to the Constitution, the federal government’s total tax bill will be the cost of exercising such of its delegated powers as our representatives deem necessary in the national interest. But, conversely, when the federal government enacts programs that are not authorized by its delegated powers, the taxes needed to pay for such programs exceed the government’s rightful claim on our wealth.”

“The government must begin to withdraw from a whole series of programs that are outside its constitutional mandate-from social welfare programs, education, public power, agriculture, public housing, urban renewal and all the other activities that can be better performed by lower levels of government or by private institutions or by individuals. I do not suggest the federal government drop all of these programs overnight. But I do suggest that we establish, by law, a rigid timetable for a staged withdrawal.”

“By reducing taxes and spending we will not only return to the individual the means with which he can assert his freedom and dignity, but also guarantee to the nation the economic strength that will always be its ultimate defense against foreign foes.”

The Welfare State

“The currently favored instrument of collectivization is the Welfare State. The collectivists have not abandoned their ultimate goal-to subordinate the individual to the State- but their strategy has changed. They have learned that Socialism can be achieved through Welfarism quite as well as through Nationalization. They understand that private property can be confiscated as effectively by taxation as by expropriating it. They understand that the individual can be put at the mercy of the State-not only by making the State his employer-but by divesting him of the means to provide for his personal needs and by giving the State the responsibility of caring for those needs from cradle to grave. Moreover, they have discovered-and here is the critical point-that Welfarism is much more compatible with the political process of a democratic society. Nationalization ran into popular opposition, but the collectivists feel sure the Welfare State can be erected by the simple expedient of buying votes with promises of “free” hospitalization, “free” retirement pay and so on…”

Some Notes on Education

“I agree with lobbyists for federal school aid that education is one of the great problems of our day. I am afraid, however, that their views and mine regarding the nature of the problem are many miles apart. They tend to see the problem in quantitative terms-not enough schools, not enough teachers, not enough equipment. I think it has to do with quality: How good are the schools we have? Their solution is to spend more money. Mine is to raise standards. Their recourse is to the federal government. Mine is to the local public school board, the private school, the individual citizen-as far away from the federal government as one can possibly go.”

“What the White House conferees were saying in 1955, and what proponents of federal aid to education have been saying ever since, is that because a few States have not seen fit to take care of their school needs, it is incumbent upon the federal government to take up the slack. My view is that if State X possesses the wealth to educate its children adequately, but has failed to utilize its wealth for that purpose, it is up to the people of State X to take remedial action through their local and state governments. The federal government has neither the right nor the duty to intervene.”

“The truth, of course, is that the federal government has no funds except those it extracts from taxpayers who reside in the various States. The money that the federal government pays to State X for education has been taken from the citizens of State X in federal taxes and comes back to them, minus the Washington brokerage fee.”

“…federal aid to education inevitably means federal control of education.”

“Subscribing to the egalitarian notion that every child must have the same education, we have neglected to provide an educational system which will tax the talents and stir the ambitions of our best students and which will thus insure us the kind of leaders we will need in the future.”

The Soviet Menace

“The American government does not have the right, much less the obligation, to try and promote the economic and social welfare of foreign peoples. Of course, all of us are interested in combating poverty and disease wherever it exists. But the Constitution does not empower our government to undertake that job in foreign countries, no matter how worthwhile it might be. Therefore, except as it can be shown to promote America’s national interests, the Foreign Aid program is unconstitutional.”

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