A few weeks ago “Don Blickhan” published the following letter in our Quincy paper. I am quite sure he is “Father Donald Blickhan,” recently retired as chaplain at the Illinois Veterans Home. He was chaplain at Fort Benning, Georgia back in the 1990s when I was going to the School of the Americas protest there, and he published a letter attacking the SOA protest movement.
He is also a former student of mine. I taught him in high school. Within the last two years he has twice asked me to take his place for Sunday Masses at the Veterans Home.
printed August 8, 2019
To the Herald-Whig:
Socialism is based on the illusion of a utopia, an imaginary state of things or place where everything is perfect. There is not, nor has there ever been a perfect place.
But socialists nevertheless passionately pursue that goal. But in so doing they cause great harm to the social order.
Socialism is fundamentally immoral because it depends on theft to achieve its ends. Socialists propose taking money from one group and giving it to others. It holds that the end justifies the means.
But theft always involves a disrespect for the person who is thereby violated and is therefore profoundly divisive of society. It sets people against one another.
A good number of our current political candidates are socialists. They believe that their programs will make America a better place. And that sounds so nice. They propose a “free” college education, socialized medicine, open borders, and many other idealistic schemes that sadly will only bankrupt our country.
It is a popular sentiment in the country today because it is so seductive. It is seen as an easy way to solve our country’s challenges. The only problem is that a utopia is a goal that can never be attained. And the more it fails, the more a society disintegrates as those in power multiply their efforts to attain the impossible. It becomes a fanatical pursuit.
Every nation that has gone down that route has been destroyed. Have you noticed what has happened to Venezuela and Cuba?
printed August 22, 2019
To the Herald-Whig:
Don Blickhan’s letter (August 8, 2019) contains a number of statements that I challenge.
He says that socialism is immoral because it takes money from one group and gives it to others, which he says is theft. All taxation is theft. It is theft when we tax ourselves to pay police, firefighters, school teachers, and Medicare recipients, and to build highways and airports.
We should do as much as possible without government intervention, but when we cannot get something done by private efforts, we should use government authority to do it. Governments exist to support life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
There are almost no societies in the world today that are either totally capitalist or totally socialist. All countries have a mixture of private enterprise and government intervention. How much government intervention is necessary needs to be determined by reasoned political discussion.
Blickhan presents as absurd several ideas proposed by some current political candidates: "'free' college education, socialized medicine, and open borders."
We have free elementary and secondary education. It is not absurd to debate whether we should have free college education.
“Socialized medicine” was the term used to oppose Medicare when it was being proposed in the 1960's. While Medicare is no more perfect than any other human enterprise, not many of us over 65 want it to go away.
We should not be looking at “open borders” as a horror to be feared. Jews and Christians welcome strangers and aliens. Immigrants seeking asylum are people who have fallen among robbers, and we do not pass them by.
Furthermore, our country has thrived because we have welcomed immigrants. Our openness has provided us with some of the most creative and productive people in our economy. Our gain is other countries’ loss. Immigration is helping to mitigate the problem caused by our low birth rate: fewer and fewer young workers supporting more and more aging retirees.
Blickhan does not mention the most important issue we face: climate change. Science is warning us that really drastic changes in our lifestyles will be required if the earth is to be livable fifty years from now. Drastic changes will require government action.