Ryan, Rand, and the Catholic Angle UPDATED

Even though I misspent about a decade calling myself a Libertarian and paying party dues, I was never suckered in by that nasty old witch Ayn Rand and her cult of personality. Objectivism is a philosophy for college students and people who don’t have kids. A modest sense of enlightened self-interest is not necessarily an evil when it’s part of a more well-rounded philosophy, but it when it’s neither modest nor enlightened, it has no role in civilization. And when it is the sum total of one’s outlook on the world, it becomes downright dangerous. I wrote a bit about the end-point for this view of the world in my review of Bioshock. Since I returned to the Church, I’ve come to more fully appreciate that Objectivism/Libertarianism and Catholicism cannot coexist. (Politically, I now consider myself a Distributist.)

Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan for his VP unleashed a wave of vitriol, misinformation, and ready-made memes from the left, much of it focused on his alleged worship of Rand. Since noise pollution can actually have an effect on people’s perceptions, this kind of propaganda is a very real concern. If enough Facebook friends and Twits share cleverly-made memes suggesting that Ryan wants to end Medicare (a lie), cut food stamps (another lie), and sacrifice your children in a ritual to Moloch in order to exalt his Wall Street paymasters (probably a lie), you eventually get some impression that this is an unpleasant fellow who needs to be stopped by any means necessary.

Part of this stems from the emotional and creepily-quasi-religious element that’s developed around the Democratic party in general and Obama in particular. It’s a simple fact that more Democrats identify strongly with their party than Republicans. It becomes bound up in the liberal self-image, in which they see themselves caring very deeply about people while the other side cares not at all. The idea that people can care equally and differ on approaches and solutions seems lost on many of them. Although there are obviously exceptions (most notably among the more unhinged members of the anti-Obama faction), for the most part conservatives think liberals are misguided, while liberals think conservatives are evil.

I don’t really have a dog in that fight, since my place on the political spectrum (classical conservative: think Russell Kirk, Belloc, Eliot, Chesterton) isn’t represented at all. The left’s fealty to the suffocating state and their tendency to approach every problem with the magical healing power of massive amounts of extorted tax dollars is no more grounded in concern for the human family than the right’s passion for military adventurism and fealty to Wall Street oligarchs. If you proudly and without hesitation identify yourself with either of our major political parties, I think a little less of you. Sorry, but there it is. You may well side with one or the other because their goals and values appear to be closer to your own among a limited roster of options, but to claim membership in one of these disgusting and corrupt institutions is absurd. They are both merely representatives of a moneyed elite: a Ruling Class drunk on their own power. They need to be smashed, not encouraged.

All of this brings us back to Rand and Ryan. The image of Ryan that’s being nurtured by the left–fed by talking points from the Obama campaign and grotesque propaganda efforts from various PACs–is that he’s some kind of fire-breathing Objectivist monster looking to snatch food from children’s mouths and sell it in order to gild the toilets at Goldman Sachs.

For example, if you’re a member of “Catholics” United, you’re treated to this nauseting bit of casual slander and raw mendacity:

Propaganda for Soros-funded PAC “Catholics” United

I have problems with the Ryan budget, but they’re in the details, not in the big picture. And, say what you will about it, at least it’s reality-based, unlike the catastrophic fiscal policy of the Obama administration. We will spend years digging out of the hole dug by Obama, and while Ryan’s budget does not get us out of that hole (he still runs a deficit, albeit half of that run by the president) at least it doesn’t dig us in any deeper.

The left can shout all it wants about how Ryan is gutting Medicare, but under Obama’s plan Medicare is dead in a decade, unable to be funded any further. We’re heading for another crash (possibly driven by the popping of an “education bubble,” when all that student debt comes crashing down), and we’re not going to address it by printing money (the Obama solution) or borrowing it (ditto) or confiscating it and letting the government spend it (ditto). Money removed from the private sector in the form of taxation is lost money: it’s not capable of generating wealth or growth. Some of this is necessary to maintain society and the social safety net, but we’ve long since passed that point of expenditure.

And thus we come to a key part of Ryan’s outlook that will never get a fair hearing, partly because it’s complex and nuanced, and partly because it doesn’t fit the false narrative create by the elites. Ryan repeatedly states that his perspective on economics is shaped by his Catholicism. Catholic social teaching turns on two points: solidarity (the need to aid and uplift the poor) and subsidiarity (the fact that a problem should be addressed by the smallest practical political entity: the one closest to the problem being addressed).

This is not the way he is being portrayed by the media and the left (but I repeat myself). Yes, he’s admitted that Rand was a formative influence and that her emphasis on “individualism versus collectivism” remains important, but the image of him as doctrinaire Randian shouting “every man for himself!” is misleading.  When inquiring into someone’s beliefs, it’s a good idea to listen to what he says. Here’s Ryan addressing the question quite clearly (emphasis added):

“I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed them,” Ryan says. “They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School and Milton Friedman,” a subject he eventually studied as an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. “But it’s a big stretch to suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist.”

I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

Anything anyone else says about his beliefs needs to be considered against that statement. (And by the way: Yay for a politician who correctly and casually uses the word “epistemology.”) You think he’s lying? Prove it. The burden is on you. He said what he believes. Unless someone has a proven track record of bald-face lies, their statements about their own beliefs should be the final word. Simple charity demands that.

Ryan defended both his budget and his Catholic principles in an article for the National Catholic Register (disclosure: I write for the Register). It doesn’t get much more clear than this:

The debt is weighing on job creation today, closing off the most promising avenues for the poor to rise. As a result, more and more of society’s most vulnerable remain mired in public-assistance programs whose outdated structures often act as a trap that hinders upward mobility. And this economic stagnation and growing dependence fuels the growing national debt — a vicious cycle that calls for bold reforms equal to the challenge.

We cannot continue to ignore this problem. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has rightly termed this attitude “living in untruth … at the expense of future generations.” In approaching this problem as a lay Catholic in public life, I have found it useful to apply the twin principles of solidarity (recognition of the common ties that unite all human beings in equal dignity) and subsidiarity (respect for the relationships between individuals and intermediate social groups such as families, businesses, schools, local communities and state governments).

When applied in equal measure, these principles complete and balance each other. But when one is applied exclusively, the result can be harmful. For example, in a misapplication of solidarity, politicians in both parties expanded big government for decades. These policies have had dismal results. One out of every six people in the United States is now living below the poverty level — the largest number of poor people on record.

We need a better approach to restore the balance, and the House-passed budget offers one by reintroducing subsidiarity, which the Holy Father has called “the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state.” Our budget builds on the successful welfare reforms of the 1990s, using federal subsidium to empower state and local governments, communities and individuals — those closest to the problems of society. Our budget promotes opportunity and upward mobility by strengthening job-training programs to help those who have fallen on hard times.

Our budget ends welfare for those who don’t need it, but strengthens welfare programs for those who do. Government safety-net programs have been stretched to the breaking point in recent years, failing the very citizens who need help the most. When solidarity and subsidiarity are in balance, civil society is revitalized, not displaced. We rightly pride ourselves on looking out for one another — and government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasn’t worked.

There’s far more, and I urge you to read every bit of it. He’s already said–repeatedly–that he welcomes disputes and disagreements on the details of his budget, and that he’s open to discussing any points. He wants to get into that discussion and start working out solutions, and has an obvious mastery of the data. The current administration, however, has rebuffed his overtures. Rather than discussing the details, they’ve rejected them out of hand, and both sides are playing politics with the issue. In the long run, the Republicans are helped politically by Obama’s failures, and the Democrats are helped politically by maintaining their false narrative of Evil Republicans Who Just Don’t Care.

I don’t have any illusion that Ryan is part of a real solution to the disease affecting the body politic. He’s voted time and again for things I find repellent (TARP, the GM bailout, war) and is a Washington insider. He remains part of the problem because he’s part of a system that is horribly broken and dysfunctional. However, he seems like a reasonable person, not an ideologue.

Because the stakes are so high in this election, I will almost certainly be voting for Romney-Ryan, albeit reluctantly. I really don’t believe we can survive four more years of Obama. In any case, as a Catholic I could never vote for him due to his unnecessary and provocative attacks on the Church with the HHS mandate, and his full-throated support (not tolerance: support) for abortion.

Catholics who try to wave this away need to look long and hard at what they really believe. There are many solutions offered by both the left and the right to the problems of poverty and want in America. (Only a mindless zealot believes the right is completely unconcerned for the poor and disadvantaged.) All those airy pronouncements about the poor, however, mean nothing without life itself. One side believes there are various ways to lift up those in need, but that the most vulnerable of all (the unborn) need to be protected. The other side believes there’s only one way to lift up those in need, and doesn’t worry itself too much about the most vulnerable of all. In this horrible political system of ours, with both sides almost indistinguishable on issues of military adventurism, it really does come down to that.

UPDATED: Mark Shea is unpersuaded. Fair enough, but I’m willing to take the man at his word. Unlike Shea, I was a Libertarian (and an agnostic and an anti-Catholic ex-Catholic gnostic what-have-you) at one point, and I’m sure all kinds of daffy quotes can be summoned to convict me. (In my early 20s, I wrote a horrifying piece about the transubstantiation that will certainly cost me a few thousand years of rolling boulders uphill in purgatory.)

I get no sense from Ryan that he’s some kind of slippery snake oil salesman trying to put one over on the rubes by embracing … St. Thomas Aquinas? Ayn Rand is hot right now, and has plenty of Tea Party appeal. Catholics? Meh. Not so hot.

For many years Rand stood as a strong voice for limited government. She was also anti-human, anti-religious, and contemptuous of those very people Christians are called upon to love the most: the weak and the poor. Consider her a nasty-tasting ipecac for the poisoned body politic, forcing it to vomit out the creeping statism of the post-New Deal era. As The Prophet said: “The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.”

And Mark is certainly aware that Ron Paul (whom we both like) has never even made an effort to disavow Ayn Rand. A person’s intellectual and moral development is a complex thing. I embraced and rejected a great deal of Gnosticism, Jungianism, paganism, Buddhism, Taoism, New Age spirituality, and more on the way to becoming who I am at 44, but all of those false paths informed who I am and how I think as a completely orthodox Catholic. I’m willing to cut Ryan a great deal of slack on this one.

UPDATED II: Glenn Greenwald offers a dissent from the left.

I know I only said this once, and some people tend to scan overlong posts like this, but let me just say again: my vote for Romney-Ryan  will be a reluctant one. I disagree with a great deal from both of them, and as I pointed out (which Greenwald also points out) Ryan has a lot of crappy votes for big government and military intervention to his name. When all is said and done, however, I know for a fact what to expect from 4 more years of Obama: horrible economic policy, stupid foreign policy, anti-life and anti-religion policy, and general creepiness. At least Ryan is making a pleasing noise about debt reduction and life issues, which is more than can be said for the Amateur-in-Chief.

To get back to the original question that prompted this hideously long wad of text: Is Paul Ryan an Objectivist or a doctrinaire Randian? I’m satisfied the answer is no.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • victor

    Well said!

  • robin

    Sound, thoughtful, well reasoned, well articulated arguments, to be sure. But as a hopefully not unworthy representative of my gender, I would like to add one more point as to why half the population should be voting for the Ryan/Romney ticket. Thank you.

  • elGaucho

    Good article, one thing that bothered me about Objectivism was that if you disagreed with it, Objectivism states you must be either weak, evil, or worst, religious. Notice how it is the same with liberal politics. So being objective in the proper sense must not be a part of modern politics. I am there with you when you say the system is broken and the type of conservative philosophy that Eliot and Chesterton and Belloc and let me add Burke, were fond of would be the solution. But like the Objectivist who argues one way without a firm ground to stand on, I don’t think the left is entirely based on a lie, I think they enjoy wanting to have enemies to punish (capitalists and the religious) and they enjoy thinking about the future without these things and no reasoning can get them to give those things up.

  • http://barryhudock.wordpress.com/ Barry

    Two things. First of all, it’s not at all clear that Paul Ryan was using the word “epistomology” correctly in the comments you quote. Consider what he has said publicly about Ayn Rand: “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” and “Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism and, to me, this is what matters most.”

    So, anthropology, economics, morality — take your pick. But not epistomology (at least not without some careful verbal gymnastics).

    Second, it’s also not clear that Ryan was being honest in his comments about his Thomas Aquinas conversion. After all, a conversion (and a drastic one) is exactly what it would be if he suddenly rejected Rand’s view of personhood, society, and government in favor of Thomas’s. And yet his public policy positions have not shifted in the least, much less made the drastic lurch such a conversion would call for.

    Much more likely, I think, is that he realized what a problem his Rand cheerleading would become and realized he needed to begin mopping up the mess.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Epistemology is a theory of knowing or, more loosely, a way of understanding, which is what he was describing.

    The other part of your comment falls into the presumptions I warned against–assuming someone is a liar–and will be ignored.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    A defining element of modern radical leftism is the need for perpetual unrest in order to justify radical solutions, so they always need an enemy. Neoconservatism is prone to the same problem, I might add: looking for a foreign enemy to define the proper role and power and the state.

  • jaaayyyzzzeee

    OK, Paul Ryan now claims he’s re-thunk his youthful infatuation with Ms. Ayn Rand (anagram, ironically: And Ryan); nevertheless his budget proposals pretty much emulate the philsophy she articulated here, in Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World:

    “Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal.”

  • David, Chicago

    Yeah. Let’s vote for the guy who made money from disposing of aborted babies:
    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/07/romney-led-bains-investment-firm-disposed-aborted-fetuses/54097/ and whose running mate’s economic policies will undoubtedly cause more abortions in this country. Sounds like a plan. http://ncronline.org/news/politics/which-presidential-candidate-truly-pro-life

  • victor

    Yikes. NecroOnline should have just called that article “Which Catholic Newspaper Has to Tie Themselves Into Sophistic Pretzels in order to Try And Assuade Their Feelings of Guilt for the Poor Decisions They Made Four Years Ago?”

    “Which color is Green? Give up? It’s Purple! Why? Because Blue and so also therefore Orange!” Do I get my degree in Canon Law now, Mr. Cafardi?

  • Kat

    You do know that the waste company only started disposing of aborted babies after Romney left Bain…right? You also know that contrary to the popular meme, abortions go down during Republican administrations…right? No, then do a bit of research before slandarously opening your mouth.

    Partisan hackery is lame, and you, David, are a partisan hack. You do realize you are exemplifying the douchebaggery cited in paragraph 3, right?

  • Harry

    I don’t know much about the guy, but the Rand thing creeps me out. I’m open to Catholics drawing inspiration from people who in other aspects are opposed to the Church- for example, Marx had some insights into the class issues of a modern society. You’d have to be mad not to admit that he grasped something of the problem. It’s just that while Marx had some kind of moral outlook (he at the very least saw poverty as a problem that needed solving) Rand just seems to be ME against everyone else-or at least that’s my impression of her.
    I’ve read the Communist Manifesto but I doubt I’ll try to get through Atlas Shrugged. If someone could link to an essay or something breaking down her positions, that’d be cool.
    But anyway, what do we know about his pro-life record? Has be been consistent?

  • http://pontifexlibris.blogspot.com JoAnna

    I haven’t seen enough of Ryan to give a comprehensive diagnosis of his Ayn Rand influence/attitude, but as a relatively young person, I do resonate with some of the Ryan soundbites about Randian literature that have been kicked around lately. I don’t find the clip featured in Mark Shea’s recent post to be all that problematic. Here Ryan isn’t proselytizing in attempts to make his audience into a new army of Dagny Taggarts, but rightly points out that the novel makes an important statement about capitalism. I read Atlas Shrugged in college and was fascinated by it-and at the same time found its underlying philosophy deeply frightening. But one cannot deny that Rand was a skilled novelist-despite the flaws of objectivism, it is deeply seductive, and Rand’s prose only makes it more so. With the librarian’s caution to only read things which one is morally prepared for, I would highly recommend Atlas Shrugged as a tool for digging into economic and political thinking, but not as a propaganda tool. Every book poses its own danger, but its consumption alone-and even periodic fascination or infatuation-does not necessarily a disciple make.

  • Micha Elyi

    Interesting quote of Ayn Rand’s you’ve got there, jaaayyyzzzeee.

    By the way, if I owe the dime then giving it cannot be an act of charity, right? For even the pagans expect to pay what they owe just as pagans love their friends (Matthew 5:46-47).

  • Micha Elyi

    [Marx] at the very least saw poverty as a problem that needed solving…
    –Harry

    Not so fast. Like many well off people in his day, Marx romanticized the rural poor. In contrast, he did not like the poor, their communities, nor their workplaces in the urban areas in which Marx preferred to live. You could rightly label Marx a proto-NIMBY. He didn’t think too hard about the question of why the rural poor were migrating in such numbers to the cities despite the conditions of the urban poor.

    Rand just seems to be ME against everyone else-or at least that’s my impression of her.

    I’m happy to inform you that your “impression” of Rand is wrong. In my experience with other folks who share your misimpression, a confusion of the power of the dollar* with the power of the whip is the root of such misimpressions. You may have noticed that Jesus endured the whip during His passion but nobody laid gold at his feet. Think about it.

    * For Ayn Rand, the dollar often serves as a metaphor for productivity, trade, and the freedom to pursue them. The whip serves as a metaphor for coercion, theft, and slavery.

  • David R

    Ryan’s budget has the federeal government digging a hole only a tad shallower than Obama. Neither one addresses the ENORMOUS deficit and debt to any appreciable degree. To believe otherwise is naive; it only takes a moment of research to see it.

    IThe “don’t vote for that bastard or the worse bastard will win” is a self-fulfilling prophecy that you perpetuate by believing and complying. It doesn’t bear any marks of truth besides what you choose to give it. You are personally responsible for it, and I refuse to participate because it is the most destructive attitude in American politics today.

    And if there is a modicum of justice remaining in the federal government, then R-money will be denied the possibility of running as a result of his illegal foreign fund-raising.

  • Harry

    Your point about Marx romanticizing the poor is well taken. I often wondered what would have happened if Marx had actually met a member of the working class from say, Wales or rural France- devout, patriotic people who were far indeed from Marx’s view of them.
    Still though, I think Marxism can be viewed as a kind of heretical strain of Christianity. The poor and outcasts are the Chosen People, Marx is the prophet and History becomes The Lord who delivers them from their bondage. There’s a reason that misguided South American Catholics became infatuated by it- there are several points of reference that Christianity and Marxism find common ground on, in a weird way (though it should always be remembered any attempted synthesis of the two will always leave one or the other badly mauled, if not totally destroyed in the process).
    My problem with Rand is that it starts with the premise (or seems to) that the individual is the most important thing, rather than the community. And that selflessness is incompatible with this view of life. I don’t really see a way in, as a Catholic, to explore this system. No common ground, if you follow me. If you could provide me with some info to elucidate Objectivism, that would be great.
    I don’t understand your bit about Gold not being laid at the feet of Jesus. Could you explain?

  • http://barryhudock.wordpress.com/ Barry

    As I pointed out and as Mark Shea demonstrates well in the link you provide, questioning the sincerity of Paul Ryan’s conversion to Thomism is not at all an unwarranted and empty “presumption” of his being a “liar.” Dismissing it under the premise that it is is facile.

    And as for epistemology’s place in the discussion, it’s pretty clearly far from central to the matter at hand.

  • Nick

    Whoa. I didn’t peg you for a distributist at all, but now that you’ve out and said it (in a post that I’ve read, at least; I’ve only read maybe half a dozen of yours) that’s pretty awesome. You can bet I’ll be reading your blog regularly from here on out.

  • victor

    Dude raises chickens. How could he NOT be a distributist. ;-)

  • http://reluctantliberal.wordpress.com Reluctant Liberal

    “It’s a simple fact that more Democrats identify strongly with their party than Republicans.”
    I don’t suppose this fact has any evidentiary support? Because the last time I checked, liberals didn’t have their own unofficial official TV channel and radio station. Conservatives are more homogeneous in belief and more tied to the same organizations. Social issues conservatives are usually tied to fiscal conservatives, but the labor movement isn’t really tied at all to the green movement. The Tea Party, as far as I’m aware, has never supported a Democrat, and the Occupy Movement hasn’t really supported anyone. Where on earth did this “simple fact” come from?

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Google is your friend: More people in America identify as ideologically conservative, but more liberals identify as Democrats. This means more liberals identify with “their” party than do conservatives, which is what I was saying. One of the first links I found (I’m sure there are more): http://www.gallup.com/poll/152021/conservatives-remain-largest-ideological-group.aspx

    Seriously: you have your own blog. Do your own damn research.

    And you’re joking about liberals not having their media, right? MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, etc etc…

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  • http://reluctantliberal.wordpress.com Reluctant Liberal

    I have a question about the HHS mandate. The bishops acknowledge health care as a human right. Well, more than have of the women who take birth control do so for medical (excluding contraception as medicine in itself) reasons. My wife usually winds up in the hospital without her birth control (and not with a pregnancy). So based on the bishops’ own principles, shouldn’t those women have a right to their medicine? I get that the bishops are worried about their own rights, but shouldn’t they at least be trying to balance what they acknowledge to be other people’s rights as well?

    And this isn’t supposed to be an argument post so much as a “Hey, I’m curious what the internal consistency is here?” And I’m looking for what the bishops say, not why health care isn’t a right or anything like that. The bishops say health care is a right (as does Hilaire Belloc). That’s not up for dispute.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    You’re not just going to keep switching topics every time one of your points is soundly smacked down, are you?

    Medically necessary contraceptives are not prohibited so long as prevention of fertility is only a secondary effect.

    I’ll wait while you build a new straw man, but please try to stay on topic.

  • http://reluctantliberal.wordpress.com Reluctant Liberal

    I think all those media outlets more or less stink. And fair enough with the identify with their party thing (though I think the Democrats in Congress are spineless cowards and Obama is a war criminal). The liberal self image thing is simple bunk, though. I don’t think conservatives are evil, just misinformed. Just because a group performs an activity (identifying with a single party) doesn’t mean they all do so for the same reasons or from the same outlook.

  • http://reluctantliberal.wordpress.com Reluctant Liberal

    Excuse me for having the intellectual curiosity to be interested in more than one topic.

    And you haven’t balanced the issue at all (even ignoring how much of an obstacle trying to determine why someone wants a particular medicine would be to accessing their right). The bishops are claiming that conscience should allow any employer the right to deny any medical service they find morally objectionable. Which means that Jehovah’s Witnesses or Muslims could deny people blood transfusions (and thus a basic right). How do the bishops balance that?

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  • Rob

    For you people who can not juggle Ayn Rand’s objectivism with Catholicism, it actually very simple. You have no right to impose your religion on others.

  • AnonCollie

    So, how do you reconcile that the USCCB and 60 Prominent Catholic Theologians all condemned his budget plan as cruel and not founded on the principles of Catholicism?

  • bill bannon

    Ryan’s cutting back on the Fed part of Medicaid…Medicaid…can severely affect most combox commentors in the immediate future and beyond IF they are sick in old age unless they have saved up the 50K per year that a nursing home costs.. Two thirds of those presently in nursing homes are paid for by Medicaid which is jointly the Fed and state funds. By Ryan cutting back on the Fed’s part of Medicaid $800 billion in the next ten years, the state becomes more of the payer but a shortcoming of subsidiarity is that tax payers can easily flee the state which raises taxes to makeup for the Fed cutback. There are seven states with no income tax. So states will not make up the difference. Ryan thus is making the Fed smaller but an economically vulnerable state bigger. I think he will thus kill old people but so incrementally that it will be untraceable to his door.
    He himself married a millionaire 13 years ago who then inherited more millions when her mom died. He and
    she can pay for a nursing home for both of them should they need it. All you Ryan fans must then save an extra million for your old age. That in turn will make Catholic families smaller because of this new old age disaster scenario. The US will become one child China without the US having to use a police force to enforce it. Our old age reality will enforce it instead of police enforcing it.

  • victor

    The USCCB is not an infallible magisterium. And Prominent Catholic Theologians are neither infallible nor authoritative. In short: they can be wrong about things, especially matters unrelated to doctrine, such as those of politics and economics.

    That’s how I reconcile it.

  • Siara Delyn

    Paul Ryan: “I grew up on Ayn Rand… that’s what I tell people. [It} taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are. It inspired me so much that it's required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff"

    Ayn Rand quotes: "[Faith] is a sign of a psychological weakness . . . I regard it as evil to place your emotions, your desire, above the evidence of what your mind knows. That’s what you’re doing with the idea of God.”

    “I don’t approve of religion.

    “You couldn’t really understand it because there is no way in which you could justify, nobody has ever given a reason why man should be his brothers’ keeper, and you have every example, and you see examples around you of men perishing by their attempt to be their brothers’ keeper.”

    “Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man’s power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. The purpose of man’s life is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.”

  • T. B.

    Add to that the “catholic” theologians are rarely Catholic.
    The Bishops are another story.

  • http://wdmt.blogspot.com/ Mike

    Once again a hearty “bravo”. I see that Ryan released his tax returns. $13k or 4% last year. Dismal. Of course, that’s better than Biden’s $5k or 1.2%. If these guys are claiming that Catholic teaching informs their actions (in Biden’s case he claims Catholic social teaching), why isn’t this reflected in their personal lives?

  • jerry lynch

    As far as I understand, and that is limited (informed by the media’ “economic experts” and not having dissected the Ryan Budget myself), there is to be 137 billion slashed from food stamps and the voucher system proposed will end Medicare “as we know it,” where increasing medical costs will effectively remove the safety net. Without increased taxes, a subject it seems you have carefully avoided, there will be no money to sustain any assistance to the poor or maintain a central govenment. You do not see cutting all this spending and no increase in taxes for the rich (the latter point you seem to have carefully avoide), effectively having only the poor pay to get us out the hole, as wrong?
    As to the media, each side sees it as evil. Democrat or Republican will say “the media” as if it is a unified force of deceit and specious favoritism. This is also true of people in the media, such as MSNBC and Fox News. Strange. Fox News is part of the media, so are the Rupert Murdock holdings, and their portrayal of Ryan is favorable.
    Ryan decried stimulus and said it didn’t work, while requesting it three times under Obama and boasting of the good HE did for his state in the creation of jobs and economic growth with that money.
    Also I find the “conversion” to Thomas and renunciation of Rand based on the sudden shocking discovery of her atheism disingenuous. Atheism is fundamental to all she wrote, both directly and the implied. It is like being shocked to learn that Thomas was a Catholic. (“Ryan repeatedly states that his perspective on economics is shaped by his Catholicism.” You forgot to add “recently” to this sentence.)
    As to the dysfunctional system, AMEN!
    I am asking a question here: doesn’t this all out privatization push for everything fall under objectivism?
    The bias is sadly pronounced, as is the prejudice against Obama. With a do-nothing legislative body and the huge hole dug by Bush, what do you expect of the president? And please do not try to make it the Democrats who are obstructionists. Mitch stated from Day One of Obama’s presidency: their primary purpose is to make him a one term president.
    And demonizing? Listen to what the Tea Party says about Democratic members of congress. Look at the crazy attacks on the president. Admitting, it appears reluctantly, that Ryan is also part of the disease, does not balance your attacks.


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