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Period 8 Goldwater
If the American government were to abide by the rules and restrictions of Goldwater, our country would be strictly Conservative and never stray from the Constitution. However, does such governing best suit the overall needs of our nation? Are Goldwater's thoughts leading America to a bright future? (By Simone C.)
"I feel certain that Conservatism is through unless Conservatives can demonstrate and communicate the difference between being concerned with these problems and believing that the federal government is the proper agent for their solution." (65)
Article posted September 18, 2012 at 11:59 AM •
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In Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater demonstrates his deep trust in the Constitution as a true conservative. He argues that much of today’s government needs to be reevaluated in terms of the Constitution. One point that Goldwater strongly argued against was welfarism. He believed that initially welfarism has a “...strong emotional appeal to many voters...” but the consequences felt later outweigh the benefits (66). According to Goldwater, welfare should be a private concern and funded by those fortunate enough to give. In the seminar, Hannah felt that Goldwater made a convincing argument. She also believed that wealthy Americans would donate what they could to a privatized charity instead of paying into welfare. I also have faith that many wealthy Americans would donate what they could to the less fortunate and be able to fund private charities. However, not enough of these rich Americans would donate in order to raise enough funds for those who are suffering. This is especially true in a tough economy. When 1 in 6 Americans are in poverty today, the small percentage of wealthy Americans who have an excess of money to give will not be able to help all of these people. Plus, it is unrealistic to believe that all wealthy citizens would even want to donate. How much faith, exactly, should we have in humanity? Truthfully I know a large number of these people would greedily keep all their income without thinking about those in need. As Nicki said, Goldwater has many great ideas, but some “are unfortunately unrealistic in today’s society.” Although Goldwater’s ideas on welfarism are unrealistic, he does have important ideas about education that would benefit the nation today. As Chris pointed out, Goldwater’s belief that education should be handled on a local level is critical to note. Federal aid is not the way to reform and improve education. How can a national government of such an immense country know how to solve the issues going on in thousands of school districts? Each district has different needs. Federal aid to education simply spends a tremendous amount of money of quantitative solutions, calling for more teachers, schools, and equipment. Goldwater says that the issue should rather be thought of in qualitative terms. As Barry himself writes, “There is no place where the deficiencies in the content of an educational system can be better understood than locally where a community has the opportunity to view and judge the product of its own school system” (78). Lastly, I also agree with Goldwater’s thoughts on taxation in America. Goldwater argues that a man’s income and money are both his property. Referencing the Constitution, he states that “One of the foremost precepts of the natural law is a man’s right to the possession and use of his property” (54). Of course, taxation is necessary in order to have a civil, functioning society designed for the greater good. We all need things that taxes fund like police officers and fire stations, but the government does not have an unlimited claim to however much money it “needs” from its citizens. Taxes should take the same percentage of money from everyone because the government, as Goldwater argues, has only an equal claim of each man’s wealth. Many people in the seminar, like Wyatt and Rama, argued that a person should be taxed differently based on their income level so that the lower class can get a break and the upper class can fill the gap. However, I believe that Goldwater is correct in his belief that a citizen should have the right to his earnings and not be punished for success. Overall, Goldwater presents many conservative views that actually could benefit the country today, but some are too outdated and unrealistic to be put into effect in the US.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 09:31 PM by
Goldwater, being a hardcore conservative, strongly believes in as little government interference as possible. He believes that when government starts to influence and take control, individuals’ rights would therefore be violated. Now, I agree with Conner in the idea of the United States having a constitution that is over 220 years old. Although it is the world’s oldest functioning constitution, I really believe that it is truly outdated. Our founding fathers’ constitution may have worked at the time but in 2012, there are too many flaws that barely apply or can be interpreted differently today. Another topic that I see is getting a lot of attention is what the rich Americans do with their money. It really comes down to whether that individual is willing to donate their money to charity. Are men naturally good hearted or selfish? In an economy in the shape it is now, people will tend to keep their money because they will put themselves first. Whether or not the rich Americans are donating their money to charities, they still pay more tax money so many can make the argument that they are the backbone of our nation. With that being said, the tax code is currently a mess and something to that magnitude cannot be fixed in a short period of time. I also completely agree with Kellen when he said “classical conservatism is dead.” Goldwater has good ideas but now, his ideas are just unrealistic. There definitely needs to be government input but only to a certain extent. If the government gets too involved then there is just one big bureaucratic nightmare. You may start to lose connections with local communities. For example if all the public schools were run by Washington D.C., some needs would not be met. If a school had a large population of immigrants, how would those guidelines cater to schools like those? Don’t get me wrong, government is crucial to America moving forward but too much government just causes trouble. Think about it, would you like to receive your medical care from a government agency run like the DMV or the post office? A huge bureaucracy of people that will never lose their jobs only encourages laziness and a lack of motivation. Unfortunately, Goldwater’s ideas would work in theory but not in practice.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 07:22 PM by
Goldwater, throughout his book “The Conscience of a Conservative,” advocates for less government influence in the lives of American citizens based off his claim that the federal government “enacts programs that are not authorized by its delegated powers.” (56) However, nothing in the Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution where these powers are found would indicate that the government does not have the right to enact programs such as welfare. One argument that Goldwater makes is that current government welfare programs should be privatized. Even though he pushes for this principle, he admits that private charities and organizations would not nearly have enough funds to cover the costly price of general welfare. This leads to the main argument discussed in the seminar of whether or not the rich would willingly donate portions of their wealth to fund these private organizations. In a perfect world, this may be the case, but as Dylan pointed out, we do not live in that world. Instead, we are in the midst of the largest economic depression since the Great Depression ravaged the livelihood of Americans over 80 years ago. Thus, it is very unlikely for the wealthy to make a contribution to private organizations to benefit the poor and the middle class. I agree with Cara in the sense that should the wealthy give some of their riches to the middle and lower classes, the two classes would be less likely to, for instance, pursue a job or work very hard to raise their economic status because they know they can be bailed out by the rich. The current state of the economy has promoted a Hobbes like society where the rich adopt the notion that “in their natural state humans are inherently selfish, and they will kill before being killed.” I agree with Brett when he that should welfare be privatized, it would depend on the rich to succeed. This in turn would force the poor to rely on the rich for their welfare, and would condemn them to a life of poverty without opportunity. This would not reflect an American ideal because after all, America is “the land of opportunity,” so I think Goldwater’s strict conservative ideas are misguided. The solution to end this economic depression should be to stimulate the middle class and create jobs for them. In order to do this there would be more government control, which for many is unlikeable because they invested a great sum of their money in the government’s hands, only to see it go to waste. However, government is the most effective vehicle for citizens to rely upon for economic support, and thus in order to function well in society, Americans must pay their fair share to better the community as a whole.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 03:11 PM by
Goldwater’s philosophy, if pursued correctly, would benefit America in the long run. He is concerned with maximizing the individual’s freedom. Although his strategy might negatively affect the economy at first, eventually it will improve not only the quality of life, but also the liberties Americans so desperately desire. In Russia, a once communist nation, instead of gradually privatizing and forming a democracy, they did it all at once knowing they would suffer for a period of time. This is more effective than a gradual transition because the economy struggling for an extended period of time is worse than being really bad for a short duration and achieving democracy quicker. If America gave it's citizens more freedom, at first the lower class would suffer but eventually we would adapt to the new system and people would make sacrifices to better the nation’s well being. This is better than the government guaranteeing lower class success because conservatives care more that it will be our choice to help the economy rather than the system we have now, where the government tells us how to spend roughly third of our money. As Goldwater said, Liberals often ask, “Have you no sense of social obligation? […] Are you against human welfare?” It’s not that conservatives are against helping the less fortunate; they are against the over-bearing government taking the money we earned and spending it how they wish. Being concerned with problems such as people out of work, sick people who lack Medicare, the elderly and disabled, does not mean that the federal government is the only solution. Privatizing welfare, as Goldwater suggests, would benefit the nation. There are enough people that vote for government welfare that, if there was a private, well run system that did this in place of the federal government, it would have sufficient funding from all of those people, and then some.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 02:17 PM by
Although Goldwater has numerous convincing arguments regarding conservatism, his extreme welfare ideas would not thrive in the country today. Throughout A Conscience of Conservative, Goldwater advocates for less government intervention and to “preserve and extend freedom,” and therefore, limiting the government’s power. Consequently, with limited government, Goldwater dislikes the involvement of the federal government in promoting the welfare of others. Optimistically, he wishes “individuals, and families, by churches, private hospitals, religious service organizations, community charities and other institutions that have been established for this purpose” promote welfare (69). However, because the promotion of welfare is expensive and costly, high taxes are “the biggest obstacle to fund raising by private charities” (69). As Goldwater admits, private charities and organizations will not be able to help everyone in need because of a lack of resources and funds. Although I applaud Goldwater’s confident faith in society, and I agree with several of his arguments throughout his book, Dylan said, “we do not live in a perfect world,” and in today’s economy, well-off people are less likely and inclined to donate money to charities or private organizations. Idealistically, as Goldwater hopes, the local and state governments would become more involved with local issues regarding welfare because he firmly believes that the federal government “enacts programs that are not authorized by its delegated powers” (56). While I agree with many of Goldwater’s ideas, they are unfortunately unrealistic in today’s society. Although Goldwater’s arguments for a limited government are idealistic, I do not see them as realistic in today’s world.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 01:06 PM by
Mr. Goldwater is, from my perspective, one of the many people who foolishly believe we can follow and abide by exactly what the constitution states. I'm all for the basic principles and pillars our founding fathers laid down, but are we honestly to believe that the environment and society our nation's fathers lived in is even remotely close to the one we're living in now? That document that Mr. Goldwater says we ought to live by was created over 220 YEARS AGO. Yes we've made amendments but I just don't think that even the most basic of constitutional elements can be put into effect in modern times because we live in a completely different world. The Constitution is extraordinarily vague, and our politicians interpret and bend its’ meaning to their own political gain. For example when it comes to gun control, many who believe that we should all deserve to hold a weapon at all times immediately point towards the Second Amendment. The amendment states that “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. Those who are anti-gun control believe this amendment singlehandedly verifies why they should be allowed to hold a weapon. Now when analyzing this statement however, we note that the word “militia” is used. Webster’s Dictionary defines a militia as “a body of citizens enrolled for military service” under this definition a common citizen would not have the right to hold a weapon. Another flaw in this is that the founding fathers could have no way of knowing the technology and advancements we have made in our weaponry and arms manufacturing so the Flintlock Rifle they were toting around back then seems like a child’s toy in comparison to what many people believe they should be allowed to keep in their homes. This is just one of many cases where our politicians manipulate the text for their own cause only fueling an even bigger standstill on our political stage. Goldwater wants us to follow an ancient doctrine that is too vague and outdated to be applied in modern times. Like Kellen I believe that “classical Conservatism is dead”, and the beliefs Goldwater preached for so many years are just too extreme for an entire nation to be governed by.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 01:04 PM by
Relying on the rich in order to save the economy should not be in the best interest in the American government. The wealthy will not drop their standard of living in order to send more money to the government in an attempt to bring this nation out of debt. Like Brett, I also disagree with Hannah that relying on the upper class to bail the lower class out will not work. Nobody in their right mind would donate most of their money to allow the middle and lower classes to save more of their own, as they had to work hard for that money while others may just sit at home and are being bailed out by the rich. Another problem with todays’ society is that the economy is failing, turning citizens against the government because they had put their trust in the government only to watch their money be wasted and the government fall to shambles. Although the quote mentioned above on page sixty-five may lead to believe that Conservatism is failing, in reality it is not. It appears so since citizens have less faith in the government with the economic turmoil occurring. Goldwater believes that our country would become strictly Conservative and never stray from the Constitution if the government was to follow every rule and regulation, but this strays from the truth. Nobody in government follows every single rule, which is why there is always so much scrutiny on elected officials because we believe that they should be the perfect role models, but in fact they are humans just like us. I also agree with Dylan that “relying on the government is the only way we can properly function as a society and make sure that each individual contributes his or her fair share for the betterment of the community.” This is a powerful quotation by Dylan as it really shows what the government and economy really need to succeed.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM by
Classical conservatism is truly dead. Modern conservitives have failed to shift the focus of debates away from the issues themselves and whether or not the government should control these issues. As Brett said it may be impossible to leave issues of welfare to the upper class alone. Self interest is felt long before generosity, and when someone of wealth is standing in the car dealership they are not thinking of how much good this money could do if it went to the poor. However, Goldwater is not advocating abolishing welfare. He only seeks to remove it as a program of the central government. Goldwater knows that a one organization cannot serve the entire population of the United States without becoming large enough to restrict rights. Goldwater doesn’t want to remove these institutions; he just believes that “federal government is the proper agent for their solution”. Rather they should be left to more local forms of government. Can’t local government provide a more accurate assessment of the needs of their people? However, this classical conservative position has been masked by many thinkers who identify themselves as conservatives yet fail to argue this point. Many people see the republicans as against issues such as Obama care and welfare, because they have stopped protesting governments involvement and instead started protesting the issues themselves.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM by
Obviously,Goldwater aggressively promotes a privatized economic system, but we don't live in a perfect world. History has proven that personal independence is crucial to a functioning democracy, but there are limits to this notion. I happen to side with Hobbes when it comes to man in the state of nature. Humans are innately programmed to put themselves first and do whatever it takes to survive and thrive. Of course there are people out there who utilize their wealth for the benefit of others but unfortunately that is not the status quo. I commend some people's faith in human nature, yet it is a naive vantage point. A strictly conservative nation, where each individual is left to their own devices, does not correlate with a properly functioning government. I feel that this system would inevitably lead to a dystopia; a place where selfishness is fostered and constant competition forces the people to fend for themselves and only themselves. Obviously the converse, a totalitarian system would create equal turmoil, but the systems that Goldwater avidly opposed are not intended to infringe on our freedoms. Goldwater strove to follow his interpretation of the constitution as if it was gospel, but ignored the fact that the constitution was riddled with flaws, and was intended by the founders to have a far shorter half-life than it has. Proponents of religion argue that it is essential to have a a system that provides a moral compass. The same argument could be made for the government. It all boils down to doing the right thing even if it may not be entirely by choice. One may not be on welfare and may be strictly opposed to taxation, but many conservatives forget that there is no "I" in team. and any functioning system is greater than the sum of its parts. Brett was accurate in his statement that "Goldwater's strict conservative ideals would be condemning Americans in poverty to a life with no opportunity for improvement." It is easy to scoff at the idea of relying on the government when you're only concern is where to build your third home, but for others, relying on the government is the only way to put food on the table. I know that people will still argue for privatization and trust in the upper echelon of the financial spectrum, but even today we don't see widespread philanthropy. In a world where me often comes before we, relying on the government is the only way we can properly function as a society and make sure that each individual contributes his or her fair share for the betterment of the community.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 12:19 PM by
Although Goldwater makes several valid arguments throughout the course of Conscience of a Conservative, his radical conservative ideas regarding welfare are not rational and would not “best suit the overall needs of our nation.” During the discussion about this topic Hannah adamantly supported Goldwater’s ideals. She claimed that with the privatization of charity and welfare, wealthy Americans would gladly reach into their wallets in order to donate and support those who were less fortunate. This blind trust in the goodness and generosity of the upper class is troubling. Is it smart to put complete trust in the wealthy to help those who need financial aid? In my experience a surplus of money sparks greediness, not large donations to private charities. Goldwater’s intense Conservative stance, in this instance, would leave those below the poverty line in deep financial trouble with no real hope of escaping. The wealthy simply would not donate a sufficient amount of money. Eric aptly commented, during the discussion, on this inevitable greed by stating, “The rich don’t need the extra car when people can use this money to feed their family.” Several political philosophers such as Rousseau share in Goldwater’s belief that people are inherently generous and “noble.” However Rousseau’s tragedy of the commons comes into play heavily when discussing this conservative policy. There must be a government that can guide citizens to act responsibly. Turning welfare over to blind trust in the wealthy is the root of the “war of all against all.” Instead of fostering nationalism it would create widespread greed and isolation. In this case, Goldwater’s strict conservative ideals would be condemning Americans in poverty to a life with no opportunity for improvement.
Comment Posted on September 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM by
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Mr. Schels was born in 1967 in Westwood, New Jersey, and grew up in River Vale, New Jersey. He read history, law and American Studies at Rutgers and Columbia Universities. After practicing law for 7 years as a civil trial attorney, he went through Connecticut's Alternate Route for Teacher Certification, and has been teaching since 1999. He lives in Trumbull with his wife, Marcia and two children, Tyler, 17 and Kaitlyn, 12. Hobbies include reading, cooking, gardening, tennis, music (classical trumpet) and crossword puzzles. Also - big Yankee fan!