Thursday, September 09, 2004

On "private" property

“But whom do I treat unjustly,” you say, ”by keeping what is my own?” Tell me, what is your own? What did you bring into this life? From where did you receive it? It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all in common—this is what the rich do. They seize common goods before others have the opportunity, then claim them as their own by right of preemption. For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich and no one would be poor.

--St. Basil the Great, "I Will Tear Down my Barns..."

St. Basil is extraordinarily clear here: everything is common, belonging to everyone, but those who are quicker or stronger or just plain low-down meaner end up with the preponderance of goods.

(For a great list of other quotes from the Church Fathers on social matters and other "traditional values," see


d.x. said...

private property makes america awesome.

Sampson said...

Dear Nighthawk,

Maybe you'd like to clarify what you mean by "awesome."

Would that be "awesome" as in, "Dude, it's totally awesome that we have the best medical care in the world, but a quarter of our population can't afford it"?

Or maybe you meant something like, "Wow, what an awesome country where one percent of the population possesses more than 90% of the rest of us put together."

Or perhaps you just meant "awesome" in the archaic sense of the word: "something to be afraid of." In which case, I concur.

Stacy said...

"we have the best medical care in the world, but a quarter of our population can't afford it"

What would you have us to do? Socialized healthcare like Canada? I spoke with a friend about this. He's an Orthodox,Syrian doctor who works here in the U.S. His recommendation? Never get sick or hurt in Canada. If you do cross the border before you get help.

Sampson said...

Dear Stacy,

"Cross the border before you get help" works, I suppose, if you have plenty of money to pay for it. But if you don't have health insurance in the US, crossing the border into Canada wouldn't be such a bad idea either. That's why thousands of people every year, mostly senior citizens, cross the border into Canada to buy prescription drugs they can't afford in the US. And its also why many American citizens cross the border into Canada and even into Mexico to get medical procedures done that they can't afford here. I know: when we were young and poor and had no health insurance, my wife had to go to Mexico to get a root canal operation we couldn't afford to pay for in the US.

But to answer your question: no, I don't think we need socialized medicine like Canada. I think it's a red herring and a copout when people suggest that if the US goes to socialized medicine, it will necessarily look like the system in Canada or France or Greece or Russia.

We are a great country. We have made some of the greatest advances in science and medicine the world has ever seen. We put a man on the moon. And I have no doubt that if we put our minds to it, we can provide appropriate health care to all of our citizens. We don't have to follow European or other models. I am convinced that if we put our minds to it, we can create our own model, a uniquely American model of socialized medicine, something for the rest of the world to imitate, and not vice-versa.


Galahad said...

Firstly I want to thank you for bringing this qoute here. It's not easy these days to find a different perspective. And I want to tell you that there are social democratic countries in which social healthcare really works good. (I don't think that in Canada it can be so bad, after the last Human Development Index Canada is on 4 and the USA is on 12 ) Like in Finland, a welfare state from Northern Europe. A Washington Post team went there to see how everything is and they wrote quite a few articles. One article which talks about the health care is here: All the archives can be found here: