My Main Concern about Ryan is Not About Ryan

It’s about the sort of stuff many Catholics do to support Ryan. I have no reason to doubt Ryan is a pious Catholic. I take him at his word that he is prolife. I think he quite sincere about individualism and his love for country and so forth. I don’t think he is a bad man. I simply don’t believe his attempts to dishonestly deny instead of repent his zeal for Ayn Rand. Nor do I think it healthy at all that this denial is the meme that Catholic pro-Romney media and bloggers are now laboring to propagate. And that has everything to do with my point that what one’s vote mostly does is not change the outcome of an election, but the soul of the voter.

What I’m concerned about is that, as Catholics start going to bat for this team, the tendency is not to stick to reality. Reality is the perfectly respectable sentiment of many conservatives who, recall, fought the nomination of Romney tooth and nail and whose reason for voting for this ticket is, “Hey, we’re voting for these guys because Obama is a menace and Romney/Ryan don’t suck as much” or, in the inimitable words of A Conservative Blog for Peace: “Better a jerk who doesn’t care about you than one who hates you.” I can totally respect that. So can most people.

The problem comes in when we encounter the brute political fact that “We suck less” is not a very inspiring sentiment and political campaigns require fire in the belly. So when you are a conviction-free Plastic Android who inspires nobody, you pick a running mate who is young, sexy, and thrilling to the base, full of good solid ideological zeal, but not so much zeal that he will make you look bad. Just enough zeal and sex-appeal so that members of the base can say to those reluctant to buy the Presidential candidate’s manifestly phony imitations of interest in your concern, “What?! You *dare* question the New Young Hotness when that Monster is on the other ticket? I’m starting to think you’ve jumped the shark! Whose side are you *really* on? Brothers and sisters! Are you going to listen to fussy perfectionists who actually want some assurance that the President cares about the unborn, euthanasia, gay marriage and other things you care about? How can you, when he now has this person on the ticket who makes pleasing culture war noises?” It’s what McCain did with Palin and it’s what the current zero charisma dude is doing with the new Veep. Politically, it’s a very sound strategy when you have a main candidate who cannot connect with the base and who is, in fact, deeply distrusted by the base.

The trouble is that because the whole point of this strategy is to galvanize feeling and only secondarily to appeals to minds, we find that, in the rush to galvanize the base, there is a huge push from the Manufacturers of Received Wisdom to actually start repeating and believing the banana oil about the dynamic charismatic Veep. So, as we saw, in 2008, the conservative media did a massive job of selling Palin as qualified for an office when in fact she was a dreadful choice.

Now we are getting the same process and people are being asked to believe not merely “sucks less”, but are instead we are getting told what a deeply Catholic thinker Ryan is.

No. He’s not. He’s a Catholic, much like Biden, who is animated largely by human traditions that sometimes overlap with the Faith, and who uses his Faith as a tool for getting out the vote, not for evaluating or (God forbid!) criticizing the human tradition that largely occupies his thoughts.

Yes. Largely occupies his thoughts.

Here’s some reality: Ryan is on record–repeatedly–telling us what matters to him most and who it was he owes the greatest intellectual and political debt to:

“Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and that, to me, is what matters most.”

And:

“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.”

Let’s be clear about what that means since Rand’s “fantastic” “explanation” of the morality of individualism that, for Ryan, is what matters most is not “Individual responsibility is good” (you can get that from the Catechism or a Horatio Alger story) but Selfishness is good and Christian charity is the gravest sin you can commit. I’m not claiming Ryan has internalized that message completely, but that only means that Ryan is not a good reader of Rand. That is most certainly the explanation she, in fact, offers of both the morality of capitalism and of individualism. She takes a hook that constitutes pure pride and the rejection of all love of God and Man (“I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.“–a veritable Credo of Antichrist) and wraps it up in a tasty bit of bacon that looks and tastes like conservative hostility to the Nanny State. And it is that message Ryan has dedicated years of his adult life to spreading with his evangelism for Atlas Shrugged. And because fiction enters the bloodstream more readily than lectures he has, indeed, partly internalized her worldview since he cheerily divides the human race into Makers and Takers (of which more in a moment).

For him to suddenly claim, in April, that his huge enthusiasm for Rand is an “urban legend” and then lay blame for any belief to the contrary at the feet of liberal enemies is exactly the same as Obama suddenly pretending that years of sitting at the feet of Jeremiah Wright indicates nothing at all about his intellectual formation and is a falsehood ginned up by conservatives. I have exactly the same amount of faith in both claims.

It’s one thing to repent. It’s another to deny. If Ryan and his dutiful messengers in the righty media were saying, “I was young and dumb. Sorry” it would be one thing. But Ryan is pretending she was not his primary influence and blaming others for taking him at his word.

Some people are now scrambling to turn Ryan into another Aquinas by claiming that he just takes the good parts from Rand but ignores what is false as Aquinas mined Aristotle and Averroes but subordinated their ideas to the Tradition.

The problem is, I’m not seeing the evidence of that. Just because a Catholic says “I’m Catholic’ while drawing on human tradition does not automatically make him Aquinas. Often it just makes him a deeply confused syncretist. The crazy nuns also draw on human tradition when they host Barbara Marx Hubbard to spout her New Age babble. And they too make passing mention of other Catholic ideas. Shall I credit them as deeply Catholic thinkers too?

The real test is: “Does a Catholic thinker firmly, consistently, and faithfully subordinate the beloved human tradition to the Church’s teaching or does he try to pick and choose from the Church’s teaching and fit it to the beloved human tradition that is his or her primary interest?” Just this past October Ryan was eagerly dividing the human race into Rand’s Manichaean classes of Makers and Takers. One does not detect in that a careful reading of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, nor of the Beatitudes and Woes “Blessed are you poor. Woe to you who are rich” nor of the Church’s preferential option for the poor. But it is flawless Galtian dogma.

Put the shoe on a different foot for a moment. Pelosi claims to be seriously Catholic and looks to enemy of God Margaret Sanger as one of her principal guides. She then cites Augustine in order to argue for abortion and tells us she supports gay “marriage” because of her Catholic faith (something something conscience something). Ryan deploys the word “subsidiarity” to sound all Catholicky but then the real energy goes into Manichaean analyses of the population as neatly divided between Makers and Takers. Similarly, his zealous support for Bush’s pre-emptive war paid no attention whatever to the Church’s actual teaching that pre-emptive war is not in the Catechism, but it did owe a lot to Pelosi’s “something something conscience something something” method of exegeting the Tradition.

But he’s not an atheist like Rand! True. Neither is Pelosi or Biden. Nor are the nutty nuns. Nonetheless, I’m not sold that any of them are entirely clear on Aquinas’ conviction that the human tradition is always subordinate to Sacred Tradition.

Bottom line: Catholics on both the left and the right need to return to being formed by the Tradition, not continue the folly of supporting pols who use the Tradition as a fig leaf for what they really care about and devote their energies to. As this campaign proceeds, I urge you to pay attention to how often conservative Catholic opinion formers in the media depart from reality (Reality=”We are voting GOP because, dreadful as this ticket it, it doesn’t suck as bad as Obama”) and how often they try to get you to subordinate the teaching of the Church to the merely human traditions advocated by the candidates. (Lefties will do it too, of course, calling on Biden’s Catholic bleats as evidence that Obama is not making war on the Church.) You’ll be surprised at how often it happens. And it is right there that the mischief is done, because Catholics wind up, in their rah-rahing for the Home Team, placing the human tradition of the party first and the actual teaching of the Church winds up being strip-mined for what is useful (“Subsidiarity!” cries the Corporatist Right. “Conscience!” cries the Pelvic Left) while that which is not useful gets ignored and those who remind us of that get called “perfectionists”. It winds up being the exact opposite of Aquinas’ method. Beware those who subordinate the Faith to any human tradition. As Paul says, “See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:8-10)

And the irony? In the end, the Vice Presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit. The real vote here is for Romney and Ryan’s sole function is to gin up emotional enthusiasm for that, since Romney inspires none. Races are won by inflaming the hearts of men, not by people tepidly saying, “I guess he’s not as bad as Obama.” So passions are currently running high for Ryan and against my critique of Ryan’s intellectual fealty to the enemy of God Ayn Rand, not because I’ve said anything false about Ryan’s dubious denials of Rand’s influence, but because I threaten unit cohesion at a critical moment of trying to solidify Catholics behind the real candidate, Romney: a man who supported abortion for years, who forced Catholics to prescribe abortifacients, who is utterly indifferent to gay “marriage” and who only altered his public persona when it was politically expedient to do so–all while having fundraisers but a matter of weeks ago at the home of the guy who markets the morning after pill.

Vote for Romney/Ryan if you feel you must as the lesser of two evils. But don’t, pray, start accusing me of supporting Obama or wanting babies to die because I will not drink Romney’s Kool-Aid or pretend that Ryan’s zeal for Rand is exactly the same thing as Aquinas quoting Aristotle. My concern is what it always has been: that the main thing your vote does is not change the outcome of the election, but change you.

  • Kirt Higdon

    Excellent analysis!

  • John H

    We get it. Ryan is pious but still not Catholic enough for you, because he reads and appreciates a Pagan philosopher. What Catholic in his right mind would do such a thing?

    • Andy, Bad Person

      So, you didn’t read it, did you?

    • Mark Shea

      You… didn’t read the whole piece, did you?

      • John H.

        You didn’t read all of Ryan’s quote, did you?

        • Mark Shea

          Yeah. I did. And it doesn’t particularly matter.

          • John H.

            Yes, it does, you quoted him out of context. If you did it in ignorance, I’ll understand. But if you left off the second half to make a straw man, then you have unjustly attacked his character.

        • Ted Seeber

          Do you have a verifiable quote by Ryan that quotes Rerum Novarum instead of Atlas Shrugged? And is seriously positive about the role of labor in capitalism?

          • John H.

            Do you have a quote from him that denies Catholic Social Teaching? The burden of proof is not on me. I’m not the one who attacked his character.

            • Ted Seeber

              Yes, removing WIC from his budget. The most pro-life welfare program there is, the one that has probably saved more children from abortion than the Right to Life Movement, and he zeroed it out. It was then that I realized that no, the Republicans *really* do not understand the economics put forth in Caritas In Veritate- for who is more dependent upon the charity of others and the largess of other people than a child between conception and age 5? Seeing that felt like a stab in the back of the pro-life movement by the party that is supposed to be pro-life!

              So now, put up, please. Find me *something* by Ryan that says that his economics are more influenced by Catholicism than by Atheism. ANYTHING WILL DO! I want a reason to vote for R&R, not just a reason to vote against Obama.

              • John H.

                Right, Ryan removed WIC to kill children. This is going to take some amazing acrobatics to prove. Sorry, I’m not buying that cutting WIC, given the existence of welfare in general, means that Ryan would have been responsible for killing one single child. This example is just ridiculous and you know it. My family was on WIC and we didn’t qualify for welfare. There is still a safety net without it. Is it a good thing, yes. Does striking it from a budget kill children, no. If a person is willing to kill his child, because he can’t feed him, and doesn’t want to give him up for adoption, then no government program can save that child. Try again. Furthermore, I don’t have to prove Ryan right, because I’m not attacking him. You have to prove him wrong, and this just doesn’t cut it. Budget cuts do not equal anti-Catholicism. It may not be prudent. It may not be the way the Church would like to do things, but it is not intrinsically evil, especially when there are other programs in place to help those in need.

                • http://www.wwend.com Richard Simpkins

                  “Ryan removed WIC to kill children.”

                  No, no. He didn’t do it IN ORDER to kill children. He did it to reduce the cost of government, without a thought as to what it would do to children. There’s a difference. Even pro-abortion advocates don’t do what they do because they take joy in killing children. It’s just that they discount it, like Ryan has discounted the impact of zeroing out WIC.

                  • Joe

                    Is it the government’s job to administer charity or welfare? As long as you’re talking ideologies, the concept that charity is best administered donor to recipient, directly, than by the path of taxpayer (donor) to tax collector to bureaucracy to recipient organization to recipient.

              • JD

                Because we all know WIC is the only, and I mean only way to help impoverished children. And we know Christ said “whatsoever your government does for the least of my people, it does unto me.” Oh wait, maybe He wants US to feed the hungry, not just delegate every Christian responsibility to Big Government while we put up our feet.

                And please don’t tell me this is a pro-life program. Most WIC offices have a bowl full of condoms sitting out like a candy dish for the moms. And it’s priority #1 for WIC to get those teenage girls on the pill, you know so we don’t have more poor kids. Pro-life my eye.

              • Susan Peterson

                I seriously doubt if WIC ever saved one child from abortion!
                No one who “couldn’t afford a baby” would be able to afford one because of WIC. And most people who have abortions don’t do it because of a lack of money, certainly not for a lack of money that WIC could remedy. They might do it because they don’t have the money to pay for a nanny for the baby while they continue to attend college!
                WIC does give out some nice vouchers for peanut butter and cheese, and I think that is a good thing. I appreciated the nutritious food I got through WIC when I was pregnant and nursing. On the other hand, they are the largest purchasers of baby formula in the country, while pretending to encourage breast feeding. When there is an utterly free way to feed your baby I don’t thing the government needs to subsidize the formula industry! Especially since breast fed babies are so much healthier, needing far fewer sick visits to the doctor, and by far fewer hospitalizations. So, I’d say WIC is a mixed bag. And to say they save babies from abortion strikes me as absurd.

            • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

              He supported the Iraq war which violated just war doctrine and resulted in the deaths of anywhere from 500,000 to 1.2 million Iraqi civilians. That one act alone puts enough blood on his hands that I will never support him or take him seriously as a “Catholic” politician unless he publicly acknowledges that what he did was wrong and asks for forgiveness from both the American and Iraqi people – and even then I would still keep a cautious eye on him every step of the way.

              • JD

                Sorry Christian, you’re not entitled to your own facts. Wikileaks reports 66,081 civilian deaths and the AP reports 110,600. Not small numbers, but 1.2 million, c’mon, don’t be ridiculous.

                As far as the Just War doctrine, unfortunately it’s application is a prudential judgment.

                • Mark Shea

                  Perfect illustration of my point!

                  • peggy

                    BTW, I believe the quote is a half a pitcher of warm spit and credit goes to John Nance Garner.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Reality=”We are voting GOP because, dreadful as this ticket it, it doesn’t suck as bad as Obama”

    This. I get this reasoning. On some level, I even agree with it. It just doesn’t convince me anymore. But I certainly respect it.

    However, can we conservatives stop doing something that’s really embarassing? Can we stop pretending to be excited about Romney? I mean, really. It’s humiliating. No one really believes it. You want Romney because an Obama repeat would be disastrous? I get that. Let’s say it that way and run with it. When I see people defending him to the point where they prefer him as a candidate, though, I think they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.

    • David Davies

      Excited about Romney? Nah. Excited about crushing the Dems? Oh yeah.

    • http://catholiccinephile.wordpress.com/ Evan

      Andy, I completely agree with you. Back in December I told family and friends that I would never vote for Romney for any reason whatsoever. The problem is every time Obama opens his mouth, I become more eager to see him lose, and at the rate Obama’s going, by this November I *shudder* might even be relatively excited about Romney in comparison.

  • John H

    Who are you talking to Andy? I have no intention of voting for Romney. I just didn’t realize we as Catholics were forbidden from dabbling in Pagan philosophy. I also didn’t realize that Ryan needed both Bishop Morlino’s approval (which he has) and Mr. Shea’s before we can be sure he’s Catholic enough and not a closet atheist.

    • jacobus

      It’s one thing to dabble in pagan philosophy of people like Aristotle, who never had access to the Gospel.

      Quite another to dabble in the philosophy of people like Rand, who explicitly rejected the Gospel.

      • John H.

        Ok, how about Avicenna, he explicitly rejected the Gospel and Aquinas used his philosophy. What about Kant? John Paul II employed his philosophy without poisoning the Catholic Faith, yet Kant most certainly rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to be a Catholic or a Christian to make useful observations about economic policies.

        • Mark Shea

          Feel free to detail Rand’s “policy recommendations” and the way in which these recommendations improve on, supplement, add to, or correct the teaching of the Church in such way as to advance the cause of the gospel.

          Sorry, but this whole “Ryan as Aquinas/Rand as Aristotle” thing is really silly and is only given momentum the desperate need to force everybody on board the Romney train. In any other moment in history, sensible people would just acknowledge that looking to her for insight into the Catholic tradition is like looking to Larry Flynt for insight into Catholic teaching on sexuality.

          • John H.

            I don’t have to detail Rand’s useful observations, because I haven’t claimed here as my model of economic policy. But you do have to detail Ryan’s poisoned positions which disagree with the Catholic Faith. No one here is claiming Rand is a model of Catholic charity. You are claiming Ryan is infected by Objectivist Individualism, so prove it. What do you know about him that his bishop doesn’t? You are the one who made the claim, now back it up with a quote that’s not out of context.

            • Irenist

              How long would the quote need to be before you would consider it to be “in context”? Give Mark a goalpost that won’t move, please.

    • Ted Seeber

      I would prefer Pagan Philosophy to the Atheist Philosophies of Rand, Mises, Haeyk, Friedman, Marx, Keynes, and Krugman. To me, all of these are promoting the same philosophy of “Some pigs are more equal than other pigs”, to paraphrase Orwell.

      • Irenist

        Rand, and Marx are rather worse than Hayek, Friedman, Keynes and Krugman. Mises is somewhere in the middle. And Adam Smith (whom you did not mention) was the best of all–he actually wrote a book on “Moral Sentiments” as well as “Wealth of Nations.” Ah, for those days…

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Who are you talking to Andy?

      I addressed it to “we conservatives.” I was talking to us as conservatives.

  • Nate

    My wife, the smart one, works in a field where numbers and prices and data and economic recommendations for countries around the world are thrown around and analyzed and crunched and debated. I asked her what she thought of Ryan.

    “Eh,” she said. “He’s a policy wonk. Policy wonks always sound smarter than they are. But how smart can he be if he likes Rand?”

    As per usual, I’m going with my wife here.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      40 years it’s been established that all conservatives and all Republicans are by default not smart. Many, including Democrats, seemed to concede that Ryan is not in that grouping. Yet I wondered: you just can’t keep a good narrative down. Somewhere, somehow, someone will have to figure out a way of saying ‘he only looks smart.’ This seems to be a good approach.

      • Irenist

        I think Ryan is pretty bright. So are lots of Republicans. Terrible ideas about taxation and welfare spending, though.

    • Alexander S. Anderson

      I wish I could just “like” this, like on facebook. Although, the Irenist does have a point, and unfortunately Rand’s stupidity has enslaved the minds of many otherwise intelligent people over the years.

  • Chris M

    Besides the Ryan quotes praising Rand, do we have anything showing his utilization of Objectivist philosophy in lawmaking or voting record? I’ve seen lots of vague accusations towards the “Ryan Budget”, but I haven’t seen anything substantive yet showing exactly what it is about his work that shows that Maker/Taker dichotomy.

    • Ted Seeber

      I would like to see the opposite- does he have any history of REJECTING Objectivist philosophy, even recent history (more recent than the Ryan Budget) that shows he takes the Papal Economic Philosophical Encyclicals into account?

      • http://thetroglodyte.com/ Scott W (thetrog)

        Here’s an easily documented area where he outright rejects Objectivism and its presupposition that there exists in reality such a being as a potential human. Per the SBA List:

        Congressman Ryan has voted consistently for pro-life legislation, including limits on late-term abortion, regulations against transporting minors across state lines for abortion and for an end to taxpayer funding of abortion, thus earning a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee. While in the U.S. House, Rep. Ryan has co-sponsored numerous pro-life bills including the D.C. Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and the Protect Life Act.

  • Eva M. H.

    So I’ve read your and other comments about Ryan for the better part of a year now and I’d like to comment on a distinction you may be missing.

    I have also read, and enjoyed Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I am also a dearly devoted lover of Jesus Christ and His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Bride.

    I’ve also seen videos and other writings of Rand that make me sick.

    But here’s the distinction… I don’t have an academic understanding of Rand or Atlas Shrugged that leads me to see all the apparent horrors that you see. I didn’t feel tempted to abandon my faith, or to devalue life. And knowing what I know now about Rand, I may not recommend A.S. to others any longer, but I think there can be a surface level appreciation (as in not academic or one involving scholarly study of the author and the text) for the work without demonizing those that read it.

    But since I’ve recommended this book to others in the past, I tend to take your comments toward Ryan for myself. I might just as well have said the same lines Ryan has said about the book at one time. I’m sure as you look at it, I’ve let Satan get a foothold on my soul for even thinking about reading the book. But I wish you’d consider that others may not have been so invested in the biography of the author or the broader understanding of the philosophy underneath as you. Yet may not have had evil intentions, nor known that reading this book and recommending it to others is such a tragic mistake in ones life.

    Sure, I may just be a simpleton who the Lord saved from the horrors of A.S. as you see them. But to me, when I read your comments against Ryan here, I just can’t take it seriously. My experience leads me to think on Ryan more charitably.

    I don’t know enough about politics or psychology to know if Ryan is the best guy for the job. I’m not trying to convince you about his character. I’m just trying to show that there might be a more charitable alternative to the scarlet letter you’ve sewn to his chest. Maybe he’s more like me. Maybe he didn’t see what’s so sinister and now knows better.

    I wonder if you’d think the same thing about The Lord of the Rings or the Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe, had Tolkein and Lewis been adversaries of life and faith but written the same text. I’m sure there are plenty of pagan influences one might see in either of those works, should the authors biographies included other personal beliefs.

    But what do you think? Am I way off the mark here? Does everyone who enjoys a book need to study the author and text thoroughly before recommending it to others? Could it ever be the case that one just doesn’t see the sinister philosophy you see? And maybe after learning of such, stops recommending the work?

    • CK

      “But here’s the distinction… I don’t have an academic understanding of Rand or Atlas Shrugged that leads me to see all the apparent horrors that you see. I didn’t feel tempted to abandon my faith, or to devalue life.”

      Nevertheless, such fiction is dangerous to the soul. Just because you were able to resist the book’s temptations, does not mean that it is not dangerous to other souls. The list of banned books remains for good reason.

    • Gary S

      Very well said, Eva. My experience of reading Rand years ago, then growing in my knowledge of Catholic social doctrine, resonates with yours. And kudos to the comment above about responsible Catholics “dabbling in pagan thought.” As my great teacher often said, “You haven’t truly refuted an error until you’ve liberated the truth it contains.”
      I’m voting against the horror that is Obama/Biden by voting for the only electable conservative. (H/T to WFB.) I agree with Mark’s reservations about Romney. But for orthodox believers the choice this election is a no-brainer. Given the forecasted closeness of the race, any protest vote for a third party candidate (be it Gary Johnson or whomever) is effectively a vote for Obama. Ryan publicly stated that if he must be “branded” by a philosophy to overlay his thinking, it’s Aquinas and not Rand. I take him at his word. I appreciate Mark’s warning about the likely future passions of a Romney administration, but believe his fears about Ryan overheated.

      • Dan C

        Rand has little intersection with CST.

        • http://backoftheworld.com Ryan M.

          Agreed. In order to arrive at Rand having a sizable intersection with CST, you have to do some serious gymnastics with Rerum Novarum, and then just ignore the next 100 years of encyclicals…

      • Irenist

        “I’m voting against the horror that is Obama/Biden by voting for the only electable conservative.”
        I disagree with, but respect this sentiment.

    • Cinlef

      But what do you think? Am I way off the mark here? Does everyone who enjoys a book need to study the author and text thoroughly before recommending it to others? Could it ever be the case that one just doesn’t see the sinister philosophy you see? And maybe after learning of such, stops recommending the work?

      __________________________________________________

      With respect I think that while your position is in general a good one you are off the mark at least in the case of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

      It is possible to enjoy a piece of art or a work of fiction without approving of or indeed knowing anything about its creator.

      However the thing about Ayn Rand is that her novels were written with the explicit intent of illustrating and explaining and advocating for her evil philosophy.

      Is it possible to read the novel and enjoy it without embracing her philosophy? Certainly but then the novel isn;t having its intended effect and you are in essence misreading it.

      The Chronicles of Narnia provide a good example, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is pretty explicit Christian allegory, certainly an atheist could read and enjoy the novel while remaining unaware of its Christian undertones, or noticing them but dismissing them. But that still amounts to a misreading or a misunderstanding of the text

  • B. Medina

    Great job, Mark!
    I think you hit the nail on the head.

    In the end, all of this wailing an gnashing of teeth or Ryan will be pointless. If Romney wins the election, what good will Ryan’s catholic faith be? It will be Romney that the signs bills into law or veto them, not Ryan. It will be Romney that is commander in chief to the military, not Ryan. It will be Romney that appoints his cabinet and supreme court nominees, not Ryan…….Why all the excitement over Ryan again? LOL

    • Sam Schmitt

      Because we all know Cheney had absolutely NO influence on George W. Bush …

  • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com/ Florentius

    Just about perfect, Mark. Very well said.

  • John H.

    Let’s see the rest of this infamous quote Mark so loves to post from Ryan:

    And Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism. And this to me is what matters the most: it is not enough to say that President Obama’s taxes are too big or that the health care plan does not work, or this or that policy reason. It is the morality of what is occurring right now; and how it offends the morality of individuals working for their own free will, to produce, to achieve, to succeed that is under attack.

    What, so you mean this wasn’t about what matters most in his life? It was about what matters most in economic policy concerning taxes? Good job proof texting Mark. I’m sure if I scoured your copious amount of writing I would find a similar quote and we could all claim that you are in love with this or that atheist, pagan, communist, etc.

    The second quote speaks for itself, but I like your spin on it. For you he is saying that he does all he does in because of Rand. He is simply stating he got into “politics” because of her. I know, how horrible. It would be like Aquinas saying he got into philosophy because of Aristotle. How can we possible trust such clear closet pagans and atheists?

    Your attacks on Ryan’s character are disgusting Mark. Attack his position. Attack his budget. Attack his fitness regime, or preference to homeschool, but please stop attacking his character.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      But that’s not how Aquinas got into philosophy. At all. In fact, had he gotten into philosophy on such a basis, I daresay his work would never have gotten off the ground. I also would not likely trust him.

      In fact, you picked a bad example all around.

      • John H.

        I’m not saying Aristotle was the reason, I’m asking a rhetorical question. So your response to this is, if a Christian gets into a field of study because he likes the work of a non-Christian in that study, his work in that field is suspect?

    • Ted Seeber

      I don’t understand how the rest of that paragraph is supposed to make it better. It seems to me to be a huge violation of the principle of solidarity, which is utterly missing from Libertarian Objectivist Philosophy.

      If this is his POSITION as well as his CHARACTER, then you just gave me a reason to vote third party.

      • John H.

        I’m not telling anyone to vote for him or Romney. There’s a lot of bad reading comprehension here. Nor am I saying I agree with Ryan’s position here. What I am saying is that it was taken out of context. Mark gave the impression that Rand is Ryans muse, the reason he does everything he does. Ryan didn’t say that. I am also saying that from the quotes provided, he does not seem to contradict Catholic Social Teaching. You do have the right to retain the fruits of your labor without the fear that it will be taken away from you, and given to those who do not need or deserve it (e.g. Millionaires who receive unemployment, Union Bosses, Wall Street Bailouts, etc.)

        • Ted Seeber

          But that quote- in the context you’ve given it- seems to be a HUGE violation of Catholic Social Teaching, especially in light of his budget which *did* take away resources from people who need it (particularly human beings between conception and age 5) to give to those who claim to have earned it (tax breaks for billionaires).

          Under CST, just because profits are the fruit of your labor (and in fact, I have to say that investment income is NOT the fruit of the labor of the investor, but the fruit of the labor of the employees of the company he invested in) isn’t a good enough reason to tell a pregnant woman that she should have an abortion rather than a jar of peanut butter a week.

          • John H.

            You are again making a straw man here. Ryan didn’t make budget cuts to kill children. The short paragraph here in no way contradicts Catholic Social Teaching. The only way it can is if you read into it your straw man version of Ryan. Saying this is like saying the Pope kills children because he doesn’t buy their parents peanut butter, even though he can. You should condemn the Pope too with this logic. It’s just so ridiculous. It also means that you should be condemned for not giving every superfluous dollar you make to feed children peanut butter. Really? That’s what Christ wants of everyone? We all have to follow the evangelical counsels now? No one can go to heaven without giving away all of his money and property to feed the poor? I’m pretty sure that’s not in agreement with Catholic Social Teaching. If you can name one child in this nation who starved as a result of not receiving government benefits, because he was ineligible to do so, I’d be happy to change my tune. I’m just not buying it. We’re the fattest nation in the world. Food is cheap here, and those who can’t afford it qualify for assistance to get it. You’re going to have to try harder than this.

          • Richard Johnson

            I think this is the clincher. Words are cheap, especially in this modern age. Actions, however, reliably mark the true nature of an individual. In 2008 we were told consistently in the conservative blogosphere that the actions of Obama (attending a “black-liberation” church all those years, associating with various domestic terrorists, etc.) effectively negated any kind of explanation or denial he offered later on. His actions were the standard by which he should be judged.

            Comes now the young Ryan and his budget document. Mark, Ted, and others point out that it proposes to cut funding from programs that line up well with the Church’s social teachings. But in this case we are to somehow overlook Ryan’s actions and accept his words, his belated explanations, that his heart really is in the right place.

            Are we to do this because, unlike Obama, he is Catholic? Are we to do this because, unlike Obama, he is a Republican? Or are we to do this simply because the Tribe must prevail, no matter the cost?

            • Mr Michael Moon

              I daresay, Mr Johnson, you have hit the proverbial nail on its very head!

              • Irenist

                Oh, man, was that awesome. Well played, sir.

            • Tim

              I’m not Catholic, but please tell me where in the Bible or in Catholic teaching where caring for the poor is the responsibility of the government. I’m of the understanding that this is the responsibility of individuals and the church. Am I missing something (can’t recall any statement from Christ where he commanded the government to take care of the poor).

              • Irenist

                You might not understand this b/c you’re not Catholic, but we are not a sola scriptura denomination. We also look to Sacred Tradition to inform our faith. What we are debating is the application of Papal social justice encyclicals, not the application of a particular verse of the New Testament.

                • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

                  The big question should not be “do Ryan’s words on the ‘morality of capitalism’ contradict Catholic teaching?” but “are his ideas actually informed and based on the Gospel and Catholic social teaching?” I would like the see Ryan mention them once and a while. Or give some sign that he understands them. I actually expect this of a Catholic politician, almost always in vain. Mark is right. Their first loyalty is to the party.

              • gina

                Tim- Catholics do not believe that it is the Governments responsibility to take care of the poor . The only way this could happen is to take from one individual to give to the collective or another. The encyclicals have all condemned socialism in any form. some catholics are confused with church teachings on social justice.The church is concerned with social justice in that it is the citizens responsibility (not big gov.)to care for the poor and suffering. This may include some help from government policies, but again the responsibility is on the citizens. You are correct, this teaching is also biblical. “Love thy neighbor….the parable of the old woman and the coin..etc..
                Some Catholics also believe that because Pope Benedict talked about ‘the gift” in Caritas in Veritate , that he meant government welfare, Cardinal Turkson clarified that “in Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict described the concept of “gift” as a way to understand God’s love for men and women in his gift of life and his gift of Jesus.

            • John H.

              Ok, but I’m not Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly. I don’t buy their brand of politics or rhetoric about Jeremiah Wright. I daresay I can’t stand much of what comes out of their mouths or those like them. So I’m not sure how this comment is a response to what I said. In fact, I don’t think I ever in my life criticized Obama’s policies based on his choice of church. His actions speak loud enough for that. On the other hand, what has Ryan done that is so offensive to the Catholic Faith?

              • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

                Can we put also an end to all these wild mis-characterizations of the principle of
                subsidiarity? The word” subsidiarity” is based on the Latin word subsidium – help, support, promotion, development. It says that social entities participating in aid or social promotion each have their spheres, one as it were, tucked inside another – the first social cell, the family, is surrounded by others of ever-widening influence, local communities, other local bodies and charities, followed by the state government and national government, for example. The rule for their interaction is that the higher body should aid the lower ones, but never absorb their functions or take from them what they can do for themselves. Hence, as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says:

                “In this way, intermediate social entities can properly perform the functions that fall to them without being required to hand them over unjustly to other social entities of a higher level, by which they would end up being absorbed and substituted, in the end seeing themselves denied their dignity and essential place.
                Subsidiarity, understood in the positive sense as economic, institutional or juridical assistance offered to lesser social entities, entails a corresponding series of negative implications that require the State to refrain from anything that would de facto restrict the existential space of the smaller essential cells of society. Their initiative, freedom and responsibility must not be supplanted.” CSC par. 186. (emphasis in original).

                Subsidiarity means no government aid programs EVER? Hardly. The Church asks us to respect a just hierarchy of means. But higher entities (such as governments) aiding lower ones (such as families) is the actual positive meaning of subsidiarity. The reason it works so beautifully is that it gives free rein for help, but puts the breaks on usurpation of rights, particularly that of the family, the first, most important and oldest building block of society, which existed before any government and has prior rights to it.

                Pope Leo XIII gave a marvelous explication in Rerum Novarum (1891):

                13. . . .”If the citizens, if the families on entering into association and fellowship [in civil society or government], were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire.
                14. The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error. True, if a family finds itself in exceeding distress, utterly deprived of the counsel of friends, and without any prospect of extricating itself, it is right that extreme necessity be met by public aid, since each family is a part of the commonwealth.”

                Note that Pope Leo didn’t treat public assistance programs as “charity,” which is exercised by individuals, but as part of the natural rights of the family as part of the commonwealth, part of the social pact, if you will.

                Catholic social justice teaching has always revolved around the twin poles of justice and charity. But because it of necessity has so much to do with the details of human life and rights in civil society, it seems right that it should be called “social justice” rather than “social charity.” Nevertheless, every bit of it is based on the Gospel.

                But do read the Compendium. Here’s the link. You no longer have any excuse.

                http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

                • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

                  Oops, I meant to post this comment down below, not here. . .

                  I will add that of course, it’s true that John Paul II and other Popes have stressed the dangers of the welfare “nanny” state as hampering the initiative of individuals in many ways. But the Church always tries to strike a sane balance between not enough and too much in this regard. Our political parties, on the other hand, are the dangerous extremes on both ends.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Good for you, Ted. That’s almost what I was about to say about the last part of the quote. I do find it rather troubling, in fact, and it still seems too close to what I know of Ayn Rand’s “philosophy”.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    I don’t see anything particularly wrong with reading Ayn Rand. “… when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them…” But please don’t tell me there’s no poison there. Rand’s views are not just pagan. Many pagan philosophers taught great truths that affirm and lead the way to the Truth found in Christ. Rand’s views are downright ANTI-Christian. That’s not saying you can’t enjoy her skills as a storyteller (though I myself have never seen them). Just please don’t serve up the poison and tell me it is fine wine. It ain’t.

    And it does make me very suspicious that many of the views she espoused seem to inform much of Paul Ryan’s economic philosophy.

    • John H.

      The only people saying there is no poison in Rand are the people misconstruing what others here are saying. Of course Rand has issues, issues that aren’t compatible with a Catholic worldview. But so does Aristotle, Avicenna, Plato, etc, and yet saints throughout history managed to read and incorporate their words without infecting their profession of the faith.

      • Irenist

        Rand is more comparable to Marx than Aristotle: an economic monomaniac obsessed with class war–in his case against the rich, in hers against the poor. A Catholic can read either Rand or Marx with appropriate caution, but probably shouldn’t go into politics primarily inspired by either.

        • Mr Michael Moon

          Hear hear Irenist! Bravo!

  • Sam Schmitt

    Rand doesn’t just have “issues” with Christianity; the centerpiece of her thinking is diametrically opposed to the centerpiece of Christ’s teaching.

    • John H.

      Right, just like Aristotle, a PAGAN, is diametrically apposed to the centerpiece of Catholic theology. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about philosophy and politics from him.

      • Dan C

        Or they can be deadly in error.

      • jacobus

        Aristotle never rejected the Gospel.

        Rand did.

        • John H.

          According to Romans 1:20, Pagans can indeed reject the Gospel. I’m not claiming Aristotle did, because I can’t read his soul. But you certainly can’t claim he didn’t, because we don’t honor him as a Saint. And so what if she rejected the Gospel? How does that make all of her work useless? Did Ghandi not have anything useful to say? Do all people who reject the Gospel become useless as far as economics is concerned?

          • Ted Seeber

            Aristotle didn’t reject the Gospel because it was never preached to him. He was a “virtuous pagan” who lived centuries before Christ.

            Rand, on the other hand, got preached a false gospel (Marxism) at the point of a gun, and ended by throwing out the baby with the bathwater and *Rejecting God and Morality* in favor of a philosophy of Englightened Selfishness.

            To some Greeks contemporary to Christ, it probably seemed that Christ was preaching from Aristotle (or at least, Plato)- the Jewish Messiah myth interpreted as a “Kingdom of God” certainly does have overtones of Plato’s Philosopher King in The Republic.

            I can’t imagine placing Rand before Marx, let alone before Christ- and saying that Christ was mimicking Rand.

      • Mark S (not for Shea)

        Sorry, John, but you’re wrong. Aristotle was ignorant of Christ, but his philosophy was not “diametrically opposed” as you put it. Aristotle certainly had his errors, to be sure. Quite a lot of them. But they were errors made by a smart man trying to figure out the world without the light of Christ or the Law. He hit the mark sometimes. He missed the mark sometimes. (And when he missed, he usually missed by a mile or more.)

        Rand enthusiastically rejects and opposes the Gospel. There is a huge difference. You aren’t even comparing apples and oranges. You’re comparing apples and manure.

        • Cinlef

          Since it bears repeating, the central tenet of Rand’s philosophy is that caritas is immoral. A more anti-Christian philosophy than that is literally impossible

        • John H.

          Ok, so we can’t learn from anyone who rejects the Gospel in any fashion and becomes hostile to it. I wonder if any person in the history of the Catholic faith has used the work of a philosopher, who was antagonistic to Christianity, to further our understanding of the world. Oh, I don’t know, maybe someone like John Paul II. He employed the philosophy of Kant, despite Kants rejection of Christianity. Looks like you can reject the Gospel and still contribute useful observations to the world.

          • Sam Schmitt

            If all Ryan did was read Rand and try to learn something from her (while ultimately rejecting her teaching), that would be one thing. But we don’t see JPII saying “And Immanuel Kant, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of human action” or some such. Everyone agrees that we can learn from non-Christian and even anti-Christian philosophers. What we don’t want to do is make their philosophy, in so far as it’s anti-Christian (as Rand’s is) the basis for our understanding of things.

            • John H.

              Nor did Ryan of Rand. He spoke specifically about an economic model, not individual human action. He didn’t say “I really like her views on charity.” Or “She does a great job explaining the evil that is religion.” What am I missing here? He is speaking of the practicality and usefulness of capitalism. I’m a distributist at heart, but I also recognize that capitalism can be a just system if regulated properly. No system is perfect, because we as humans aren’t perfect. But there is alos no Catholic model of economics. We embrace many models and theories as compatible with the faith, when they are informed by the faith. How is Ryan contradicting the faith?

          • Irenist

            “Looks like you can reject the Gospel and still contribute useful observations to the world.”

            Sure. Einstein and Newton were both fine physicists; neither was Catholic.
            The problem isn’t that Rand wasn’t Catholic: it’s that she was a lousy economist, a worse writer, and a still worse human being. If someone told me they went into politics out of admiration for Lyndon LaRouche, my response wouldn’t be focused on the fact that LaRouche (AFAIK) isn’t Catholic, but on the fact that he is a pernicious crank. And *that* is the problem with Rand: she was not, as she thought, a deep thinker like Aristotle, but instead a pernicious crank.

            • Mr Michael Moon

              Once again, Irenist, bravo!

            • Marthe Lépine

              In fact, I did not know Rand until Mark posted links to some interviews with her (most of my early learning of Classics and philosophy was through French intellectuals). However, as I listened to her in those interviews, my first reaction was that she was a fool! I just cannot understand how she became so prominent in the US – she just did not make any sense at all as I listened to her. But maybe that’s just me…

        • http://denythecat.blogspot.com Brian Sullivan

          “There is a huge difference. You aren’t even comparing apples and oranges. You’re comparing apples and manure.” This just made my quotes box on Facebook.”

  • rebecca

    For your sake, I hope you are right. Otherwise you have been bearing false witness.

    • Mr Michael Moon

      If only people were so concerned about false witness against those other Catholics we do not care for. Biden, Pelosi and such. If they be my guys, exercise all niceties and politics and if they not, burn them at the stake and let God do with them what He will. Personally I’m a fan of good burning at the stake, but the times have changed and I must be content with indicting men with their own heretical words, whether their convictions be elephantine or asinine.

  • David

    Let’s not forgot though Mark, some Catholics *enthusiastically* support Romney and Ryan. Catholic Vote recently posted that exact word, and are now asking for funds to make it happen. I guess that position bothers me the most. I can get viewing this ticket as the lesser of two evils, because that is what it is (it still sucks) but to enthusiastically support two obvious chickenhawks is beyond my understanding. Like I said in a previous post, I don’t care if Ryan read Ayn Rand. I do care that he and Romney will likely bring our country and our troops (our friends, neighbors, and children) into a new war, and he supports detaining American citizens without trial. The irony is that my Ayn Rand loving friends are staunchly opposed to those things.

    • Ted Seeber

      The trouble is, War isn’t a differentiating point between the parties right now. *BOTH* the Republicans and the Democrats carry with their current platform the threat of a one-sided civil war in which the Ruling Class starts eliminating people they don’t like.

      I’m slowly coming around to the point of view that I’d rather see the Drones attack the AFL-CIO than the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception ( analogy here- I’m not sure what the targets or hardware or method will actually be), but I don’t think we can avoid the attack altogether.

    • gina

      David- Obama has been the biggest supporter of abortion and you are worried about a war? War is the result of sin…guess we are long over due for a war.

  • Dan C

    My entertainment is the loving tributes provided one atheistic economic philosopher who promotes class war by Catholic conservatives while another atheistic economic philosopher who promotes class war (Marx) gives conservatives the vapors because he is atheistic and promotes class war.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    Here’s my thing. All of this requires taking the worst possible interpretation of Ryan’s motives and purposes and reasons. For me? I can imagine a person being very complex, and perhaps saying something and then qualifying it later and not just because he is another liar or corrupt politician. He may well have said Rand was the influence behind his economic ambitions, he may even have been a fan, but as others built the ‘Ryan eats babies’ narrative, using his quotes against him, and building on the assumption that to quote Rand is the equivalent of quoting Mein Kampf, he could also try to qualify his feelings. I’m sure I would.

    I’ve not heard him say ‘I never heard of Ayn Rand’, I’ve heard him add to what was said, saying that he disagreed as well and never meant Rand was the end all to everything in his life as some critics have attempted to say. I admit I don’t know that much about Ryan. All I know is that he is the one, contrary to Nate’s wife’s appraisal, that everyone says is very intelligent, he is the one that holds his own in interviews, he is the one who proposed a budget that was condemned by the Bishops for going too far, and by Ron Paul for not going far enough, and he’s the fellow who likes to push little old ladies in wheelchairs over cliffs. Beyond that, I’ve not paid much attention until now.

    From what I can tell, the decision to pick him was a risky one, as it is well known that he eats babies and kills grannies. I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone say it was due to sex appeal. It seems to be that he has swords and battle axes where Romney has limp noodles. He breaks the ‘conservatives are idiots’ mold that Sarah Palin helped advance in 2008 and that has hung around the neck of the GOP for decades. And he’s not afraid to go after the President on his own terms. That’s probably why.

    From what I can tell, again assuming the most favorable interpretation in lieu of evidence for assuming otherwise, it seems that he was influenced by Rand, at least on the economic side. But apparently, there were other things that motivated him in life, including the sudden death of his father when he was sixteen. Which suggests that a person may be more than a few quotes taken from news stories. And if he tries to restate and put into perspective his admiration for Rand, I can accept that without assuming the worst. Not unless I have evidence that Ryan is a liar, and should not be trusted in things he says.

  • Andy

    A philosophy is a set of values – the values that describe how a person can/will/should live. Objectivism (from Wikipedia) Objectivism’s central tenets are that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (or rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans’ metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.
    Far different then Aristotle’s philosophy, far different than what the church teaches. I think of Anthem, and this quote “I am done with the monster of “We,” the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.” and then this “This god, this one word:”I.” If Ayn Rand was the reason Mr. Ryan got into politics then I am troubled, yet he, Mr. Ryan has said this – it is not an “urban myth”. I agree with Mark that a repudiation of this idea – the “godhood of I and the serfdom of we is needed. To wrap subsidiarity around this idea is reprehensible and does not show an understanding of what the church teaches. If nothing else this action ignores, actually rejects what else the church teaches – solidarity.
    I do not care if Mr. Ryan is a devotee of Ayn Rand – I read her in my youth and like many I was attracted for a while to her objectivism. I moved away from it when I began to recognize that we is what the church teaches – you know the whole body of Christ idea. What bothers me is that he seems to be trying to reconcile in some fashion Objectivism with Catholic teaching. That is most troubling – especially when considering his “Takers and Makers” speech. I guess since I work people who want to teach individuals with severe and profound disabilities and also work with their families that I must be the ultimate taker, because the folks I work with and the folks the teachers I help train to work with will offer nothing to the makers.

  • victor

    I think any comparison between Ryan and Biden is grossly unfair to Ryan. Biden has never been on Raymond Arroyo’s show, for one thing.

    • Mr Michael Moon

      Pardon me, but are you serious or are you working on a piece for The Onion?

      • Irenist

        I bet an Onion article about Raymond Arroyo would be pretty funny.

  • Gam Samgee

    Mark,
    Just about everything in your analysis is spot on, but I think you’re making too much out of the fact that Ryan said some nice things about Ayn Rand. It just doesn’t follow that he’s an Ayn Rand zealot and you haven’t proven that. That seems to be the point where most people bristle against what you’ve written, which is unfortunate since most of it is the plain truth that should be carefully heeded. Regarding your point that Ryan is less than perfect (he’s a big government, corporatist, interventionist to the max) can be made in numerous other ways without harping too much on the Ayn Rand connection. If you were to be a bit more comprehensive in explaining Ryan’s shortcomings I think you’d get more agreement and understanding from your readers. God bless.

  • Melanie

    2.5 more months of this? Of Mark throwing up straw men – villages – to puff himself up as some lone voice of Authentic Catholicism in the midst of all the compromisers?

    No thanks. I shudder.

    How about this: There are numerous Catholics out here who will be voting for the RR ticket simply because they believe that a horrendous, sinking economy and Obama’s economic policies are bad for everyone – especially the poor (because the rich are always protected), that Obamacare is a disaster, especially for the poor and working class as medical care becomes more difficult to provide and find, and that the RR tickets provides good ideas and good plans for dealing with those issues *and* is far more prolife than Obama-Biden *and* no more pro-war, and probably less.

    You can keep “worrying” about whatever you like, but…who cares? I don’t know a single soul who is viewing this or any election through a salvific lens.

  • Cephas

    Mark, we get it: the VP is not the big cheese. But “He’s a Catholic, much like Biden, who is animated largely by human traditions that sometimes overlap with the Faith, and who uses his Faith as a tool for getting out the vote, not for evaluating or (God forbid!) criticizing the human tradition that largely occupies his thoughts” is insulting all Catholics. I’m not sure Biden uses his Faith as a tool either. He’s thoroughly and completely wrong about a realistic hierarchy of values in the real world and in the Church, but does that mean he’s a tool? Ryan has consistently voted to be thoroughly pro-life. Should we pass that off as a serendipity? He advocates personal responsibility over government coerced giving. Has this matter of prudence become Church dogma now the same way the right to life is? It would seem you’re equivocating judgments of kind, not degree.

  • John H.

    The irony with Mark Shea is that he has the clarity to recognize that Harry Potter fans are not all susceptible to becoming witches, but he can’t recognize that Paul Ryan can read Rand without becoming an evangelist for objectivism. And you’re right Melanie, Mark is a champion of straw men fighting. (Distort my opponent’s view, attack the distortion, avoid any dialogue concerning my own oversights, and move onto a different issue.) All the while he has besmirched the name of a fellow Catholic, and lumped him, of all people, with Biden and Pelosi. Right. I’m sure Ryan’s budget cuts equate to stabbing scissors into the necks of the unborn. He’s clearly a CINO just like them.

    • http://backoftheworld.com Ryan M.

      If you find Mark’s opinions to be so egregiously bad, then why are you here? Go find a good book to read.

      • John H.

        Hey, look, another straw man prize fighting champion. Um, I never said I consider his opinions to be egregiously bad. In fact, this is only the second time I have taken serious issue with him in several years. The first time he apologized (given that instance of oversight on his part was incredibly egregious). I in general appreciate Mark’s criticism of torture apologists, liars for Jesus, warmongers, abortionists, and other blatantly immoral positions espoused by our fellow Catholics. At the same time, when he’s wrong, he’s wrong. Given this is a semi-public forum, Mark has given his audience permission to call him on his mistakes. It’s called dialogue, and it is useful. I’m not going to agree with Mark 100%, because he’s not God. Mark knows that. If you can’t recognize that, then maybe you are the one who needs to find a good book to read.

        • Irenist

          Apparently, the one who needs to find a good book to read is Paul Ryan!
          (I’m hear all night folks. Try the veal.)

          • John H.

            Yeah, Mark’s calumny is really funny. Ha ha ha, let’s all laugh at a guy tearing down another guy, and a fellow Catholic at that. Hey, let’s pat each other on the back for it while we’re at it and not in any way address the legitimate criticisms of our position. You guys are all so smart. I’m so glad we have you to tell us if we’re Catholic enough. Who needs Bishop Morlino’s approval. Why didn’t Ryan share his budget with you, and Mark, and Ted? What was he thinking bringing it to his bishop? What a complete non-Catholic. I’m so glad we have you to take the words of others out-of-context in order to read into them our own perverted view of their position. Hooray for charity. We know Ryan doesn’t have it, but by golly, our actions sure show we do. Hypocrites.

            • Irenist

              I actually find Ryan rather endearing; I think he’s a decent guy who erroneously, but honestly believes that Rand = subsidiarity = good for the poor, and I don’t really bear him any grudge for his rather standard-politician-ish half-truths about Rand now that the association with her has become a liability. I think he’s a principled guy; I think he’s a stand-up guy on life issues despite the flack he’s getting from the murderers at the Planned Parenthood PAC. He’s got a “black Irish” complexion that reminds me of lots of my relatives. I like him. I disagree with him; but I like him.

              But Rand, like Marx, was a zealous but dangerously misguided dupe of the Enemy, as C.S. Lewis might say. I have no compunction in attacking her vile influence anywhere I find it. I’m not in this thread to bash Ryan. I’m in it to bash the Randian war on solidarity with the poor. I attack Rand from a position of sympathy with Chesterton:
              “I begin with a little girl’s hair. That I know is a good thing at any rate. Whatever else is evil, the pride of a good mother in the beauty of her daughter is good. It is one of those adamantine tendernesses which are the touchstones of every age and race. If other things are against it, other things must go down. If landlords and laws and sciences are against it, landlords and laws and sciences must go down. With the red hair of one she-urchin in the gutter I will set fire to all modern civilization.

              Because a girl should have long hair, she should have clean hair; because she should have clean hair, she should not have an unclean home; because she should not have an unclean home, she should have a free and leisured mother; because she should have a free mother, she should not have an usurious landlord; because there should not be an usurious landlord, there should be a redistribution of property; because there should be a redistribution of property, there shall be a revolution.

              That little urchin with the gold-red hair, whom I have just watched toddling past my house, she shall not be lopped and lamed and altered; her hair shall not be cut short like a convict’s; no, all the kingdoms of the earth shall be hacked about and mutilated to suit her. She is the human and sacred image; all around her the social fabric shall sway and split and fall; the pillars of society shall be shaken, and the roofs of ages come rushing down, and not one hair of her head shall be harmed.”

              – What’s Wrong with the World (1910).

              • John H.

                This quote sums up my beef with you, Mark, and he lot “I think he’s a decent guy who erroneously, but honestly believes that Rand = subsidiarity.” Prove it. And by that I don’t mean say he wants to cut taxes. Cutting taxes is not intrinsically evil. You’re going to have to do better than that. The claim is made that he is unCatholic in his thinking. He accepts Rands views of selfishness. Prove it. I don’t agree with Ryan, I don’t have to. I’m not trying to get you or anyone else here to like him, Rand, or Romney. I am trying to get you, Mark, and the others to recognize that if you are going to call someone a liar, quote him out of context, criticize his beliefs, and claim he is not thinking as a Catholic, then you had better back it up. So far, no evidence has been provided to prove this. And the fact that the best you can do is speak of a tax cut, and an entitlement cut just shows that you had nothing to begin with. So you have to go find it now. And the fact that you have to dig up dirt on him to prove Mark is right, shows that Mark was uncharitable in how he spoke of Ryan. Ryan is a person. He should be treated, especially by us Catholics, with the dignity due to a fellow human being. That has not been shown here by his loudest detractors. Shameful really.

                • Irenist

                  Well, I care very little whether Ryan was lying, and honestly I’m not that interested in that part of Mark’s post–he’s a far more rigorous Thomist in his rejection of fibbing than I have yet mustered the courage to be.

                  But I will say that when Catholics don the toga candida, they rightfully invite scrutiny by the electorate. My family in Massachusetts is as bad as Biden and Pelosi on life issues. My family in Texas is as bad as Ryan on social justice. But none of them are running for public office, so I don’t bore us all at holidays arguing with them about it. Politicians are different. When Biden and Pelosi endorse the murder of the unborn, or when Ryan endorses the further immiseration of the widow and the orphan, it is a scandal that cries to Heaven. The sins of kings and princes against the people are fit topic for public comment.

                  • John H.

                    Fine, criticize his positions. Explain how they are unCatholic. But you’re going to have to do better than say he wants to cut taxes and entitlements. You are going to have to prove that by doing so he is unjustly depriving widows and orphans. And I don’t mean you can just say, “well, I think he is, it seems to follow” You are going to have to prove it in fact with examples. And whether he is a public figure or not, you still owe him the basic dignity of a human being and not call him a liar, say he is unCatholic in his thinking, or say he is using his Catholic Faith to further his political career. You, Mark, Ted, and the lot owe him that much. If you are so into justice and charity, try showing some to Ryan.

                    • Irenist

                      “You are going to have to prove it in fact with examples.”
                      Like, specific widows and orphans? The guy wants to gut funding for the entire social safety net. “It seems to follow” really does seem to be adequate here. As a prudential conservative, I think the burden of proof is on the radical who wants to gut a safety net that has been around for decades to demonstrate why the wisdom of our forefathers (well, my forefathers, anyway, I don’t know how old anyone else on this thread is) who enacted Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect the poor and aged is suddenly to be dispensed with. If you don’t know why there’s a gate in the road, said Chesterton, don’t tear it down.
                      *
                      “And whether he is a public figure or not, you still owe him the basic dignity of a human being and not call him a liar,”
                      Even if he’s…lying? It’s pretty small beer by politico-fibbing standards, but it is a fib.
                      *
                      ” say he is unCatholic in his thinking, ”
                      Well, he’s a lot more Catholic in his thinking about abortion than Joe Biden. But his understanding of the social justice doctrines is flawed, at least as demonstrated by his public pronouncements, votes, and policy proposals. I’m not saying he hates the Pope or something.
                      *
                      “using his Catholic Faith to further his political career.”
                      I don’t think he’s ONLY Catholic to further his political career, but he’d be nuts NOT to try to get some advantage from being part of a swing demographic. I would if I was him. Play the hand you’re dealt.
                      *
                      “If you are so into justice and charity, try showing some to Ryan.”
                      Look, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE his pro-life voting record. What more do you want from me, John H.? A poster of Ryan in my bedroom? I disagree with the guy about taxes and spending as seen through the lens of the social justice encyclicals, but I don’t hate the guy or anything. He’d probably think I’m wrong, too. That’s okay. It’s a philosophical/theological disagreement, not a march of pitchforks to his castle.

                  • gina

                    Irenist-what encyclicals are you referring to? No pope has ever endorsed big. government social welfare or socialism whatever you care to call it.

                  • gina

                    Irenist- His mom is on medicare.

                    • Susan Peterson

                      Everybody over 65 is on Medicare-it’s required. Once you are 65, Medicare is your primary insurance.

      • Marthe Lépine

        This is a good point!

        • Marthe Lépine

          Sorry – I meant this to follow someone’s suggestion that those who so object to what Mark happens to write in his own blog should just “go and find a good book to read”. I did not realize how many other replies would appear ahead of this one.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    “…he can’t recognize that Paul Ryan can read Rand without becoming an evangelist for objectivism.”

    You’re missing the point.

    It’s perfectly possible for Paul Ryan to read Rand while rejecting her objectivism. The problem is that all evidence points to the contrary. Read his speeches. Look at his economic views. Read his budget. They reek of the “every man for himself” objectivism.

    • John H.

      No, the evidence does not point to the contrary, at least not according to his Bishop. But I suppose he now needs your approval too before giving a speech, crafting a budget, and framing his economic views. You’re missing the point. Mark has proof-texted Ryan, leaving off critical contextual information from the first quote cited. Then he conveniently refuses to point out that the second quote refers to “polotics” not his entire purpose for being. Mark Shea has done a good job attacking a straw man here. Unfortunately, in doing so, he also attacked Ryan’s character without a shred of evidence to back it up. Do you not see an issue with equating Ryan with Biden and Pelosi? Do you not see in issue with quoting him out of context?

      • Irenist

        Look, I admire (a lot) Ryan’s consistent pro-life votes. But can you seriously tell me with a straight face that a record of voting for tax cuts for the wealthiest and the defunding of the social safety net somehow embodies Catholic Social Teaching? Seriously?

        • John H.

          Voting for tax cuts for the wealthiest? You mean people making $250K a year? Do you know what kind of tax rate they pay with those tax cuts? And do you know how many of those people earning that kind of money own a business, and reinvest that money in their business, so they can hire more employees? Yeah, I’d say it’s fair. Is it ideal, maybe not, but it certainly isn’t unjust. Do you want to tax them out of business? Even Obama recognizes the need to extend the “tax cuts.” It’s good economics. Do you want businesses to take their business overseas? By all means, raise their taxes. Do you want businesses to lay-off employees? Raise their taxes. The easiest way to make a company solvent is to cut expenses. The most expensive cost of businesses is payroll. It is always the first to get cut. So yeah, I think it was pretty smart, very Catholic, and absolutely necessary to retain those tax cuts.

          • Irenist

            “You mean people making $250K a year?”
            Well, yeah. Median household income in this country is around $50k. If you’re struggling at at five times that, an extra 45 cents taxed from your 250,000th dollar and only that dollar isn’t the problem. Raising their taxes from 35% to 39.5% is not the socialist armageddon.
            But by all means, let’s have separate brackets for those making $1 mil., $10 mil., $100 mil., and $1 bil.+ per year and tax them at the higher rates closer to the peak of the Laffer Curve.
            *
            “Do you know what kind of tax rate they pay with those tax cuts? ”
            35% on each dollar over $250k, and less on those below $250k, due to the magic of marginal rates. Unless it’s capital gains or carried interest, in which case it’s around 15%.
            *
            “And do you know how many of those people earning that kind of money own a business, and reinvest that money in their business, so they can hire more employees?”
            Robert Reich does: ” Congress’s Joint Tax Committee estimates that in 2013 about 940,000 taxpayers would have enough business income to break through the $250,000 ceiling — and, again, they’d pay additional taxes only on dollars earned above $250,000. All told, fewer than 3 percent of small business owners would even reach the $250,000 threshold.”
            *
            “Even Obama recognizes the need to extend the “tax cuts.” It’s good economics. ”
            Given how low interest rates are now, deficit spending certainly dominates higher taxes as a strategy. But in the long term, top marginal rates must rise, or the ship of state must sink. Inequality in the U.S. is now greater than that in Imperial Rome. We either redistribute some of that income, or the American experiment in ordered liberty founders on the party interest of the moneyed.

            • John H.

              Ok, so how does Ryan’s position on this matter violate Catholic Social Teaching? Catholic Social Teaching does not have a set standard for tax brackets. The government does what it needs to do to take in the revenue it needs and distribute the social welfare the people need. If that can be done with a 10% tax rate on millionaires, so be it. If they need to pay more, that’s fine too. Either way, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with not taxing the wealthy more than 35%. What am I missing here?

              • Irenist

                US bishops: Ryan budget fails to meet ‘basic moral test’
                A day after the House Budget Committee voted 21-9 to approve a budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) renewed its criticism of the plan and urged members of the House of Representatives to “put a circle of protection” around three “essential programs.”

                The entire House is scheduled to vote on Ryan’s Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act on May 10.

                “I reiterate our strong opposition to an unfair proposal that would alter the Child Tax Credit to exclude children of hard-working, immigrant families,” wrote Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “Denying the credit to children of working poor immigrant families–the large majority of whom are American citizens–would hurt vulnerable kids, increase poverty, and would not advance the common good.”

                “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), provides vital food security to families during tough economic times,” Bishop Blaire added. “It is estimated that cuts proposed in this bill would deny assistance to two million families, and cut the benefit for everyone else. No poor family that receives food assistance would be unaffected, constituting a direct threat to their human dignity.”

                “The Social Services Block Grant is an important source of funding for programs throughout the country that serve vulnerable members of our communities–the homeless, the elderly, people with disabilities, children living in poverty, and abuse victims,” he continued. “We should prioritize programs that serve “the least of these,” not eliminate them.”

                “The Catholic bishops of the United States recognize the serious deficits our country faces, and we acknowledge that Congress must make difficult decisions about how to allocate burdens and sacrifices and balance resources and needs,” Bishop Blaire added. “However, deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility efforts must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people. The proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test.”
                Source: http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=14247

                • Irenist

                  To clarify: The whole post above is a quote.

            • Marthe Lépine

              Based on Irenist’s figures here, I would suggest that the tax cuts should be for incomes below $250,ooo/yr and that higher incomes should be taxed at higher rates. It is a myth to keep claiming that the bigger corporations are the creators of jobs. They are really consumers of labour, and as consumer products, the workers are just thrown on the garbage heap once they are no longer seen as useful. The REAL job creators are the small businesses and the self-employed people, who would, if they could afford it and if they would be helped with tax cuts, hire people because they need their help to shoulder an increasing work load, or volume of business, as their small to medium size businesses would be growing. Those jobs would be real jobs, and would be more stable because they are for local businesses that do not even afford to consider exporting the jobs to countries where the labour force is still expected to work for a pittance.

  • Brother Cadfael

    Mark,

    Thank you for a much fairer analysis of Ryan and his thought than in your previous posts. Although I still take issue with your characterization of the urban legend dismissal as “dishonest” — it was the supposed obsession and the extent of the influence that he was dismissing as urban legend, not the fact of influence — what you’ve offered above is marginally better than simply calling him a “liar,” and I’ll interpret the above as your repentance for having done so.

    One interpretative point. When I hear Ryan talk about “individualism” in Rand, I do not necessarily think he means “selfishness” even if Rand does. What I hear is “not collectivism.” Perhaps I’m being overly charitable, but that seems in context to me to be what he means.

    • Mark Shea

      As I say, he doesn’t strike me as a careful reader to have missed, you know, the absolute heart, soul, and core of all of Rand’s thought and message which she is always broadcasting 100% of the time at earsplitting volume 24/7/365. To say that she does a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism and individualism is like saying that Stalin does a fantastic job of explaining the responsibility of the state for the common good. If you stand on one foot, cock your head and squint with one eye, you can pretend that somebody who says this is just like Aquinas mining Aristotle for insights. But it’s a tough sell to those who are not drinking the GOP Kool Aid.

      • John H.

        Right, just like the heart, soul, and core of Harry Potter is witchcraft. Yet you manage to find the Christological elements in those stories. And I agree with you on that point. Rand’s Utopian world is horrific, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have practical insights that can be useful in informing economic policy. Christ himself said that the children of this world are more astute in such things than the children of light (Luke 16:8). We can learn a lot from the secular world about money. That doesn’t mean we want to worship it as the secular world does. Nor does it mean we want to refuse to help our brother in need, because the secular world sees no use for such things. Your unwillingness to recognize this is mind-numbing. But what is more problematic, is that you have assaulted Ryan’s character without giving him the benefit of the doubt, or even quoting him in context. And you have lumped him with Biden and Pelosi. Really? He’s just like them? His views are as egregious as the joyful promotion of sticking scissors into the necks of babies?

        • Mark Shea

          No. The heart, soul, and core of Harry Potter is spiritual transformation through self-sacrificial courage with the help of grace. It’s not too hard to find Christological elements in that. Rowling self-consciously writes as a Christian, (albeit one who is not fully Catholic). The heart, soul and core of Ayn Rand’s work is the exaltation of pride and the determined rejection of caritas as a grave evil. Rand self-consciously writes as a determined enemy of God. Sure she says stuff against the Nanny State. Baited hooks taste good. But her “fantastic explanation” of the morality of individidualism contains nothing that is not said much, much better by Catholic thinkers, and contains tons of poison that is directly opposed to the faith.

          You can, if you like, page through the collected works of Larry Flynt in search of that one diamond of truth (“sex is good”) in the gigantic pile of dung. But there are much easier ways. Similarly, Rand’s signal to noise ratio is lousy. I have questioned Ryan’s ridiculous claim that it is an “urban legend” that Rand is a huge and formative influence on him, because it is ridiculous. I’m happy he’s now recommending Thomas and Augustine. But no, I don’t trust him when he tried to deny instead of straightforwardly repenting his previous effusions of enthusiasm. And no, he not “just like” Biden and Pelosi. He’s prolife. Huge difference. But he’s like them in that he is primarily animated by human traditions from a human thinker and does not really examine that priority in light of the gospel. If he did, he would completely abandon and reject Rand’s division of humanity into Makers and Takers just as Pelosi and Biden would actually learn something about the Church’s teaching beyond “something something conscience something something”.

          • John H.

            I have questioned Ryan’s ridiculous claim that it is an “urban legend” that Rand is a huge and formative influence on him, because it is ridiculous.

            This is the problem. Every time Ryan speaks about Rand, per the quotes you’ve provided, it’s been in an economic setting. Yeah, that must mean she “is a huge and formative influence on him.” You quoted him out of context, a fact you still refuse to recognize. You proof-texted him to tear down a caricature of him. And, you are calling him a liar for denying the straw you and others have made of him. I of course wouldn’t look at a book written by Larry Flynt to learn about sex. But I did read a book by Jenny McCarthy about her experiences with her autistic child. Oh my, I must want to look at porn now. Ryan can read Rand, take the good in her economic policies, and build on them. It’s not that hard. Grace builds on nature. Are there better authors? Sure. But that doesn’t mean we should burn all of Rand’s books as tripe for the unwashed masses. And finally, he has the express approval of his Bishop. Who are you to question that? You really think Ryan is using his faith to further his political career as Biden and Pelosi are? What a horrible example of calumny.

            • Ted Seeber

              I hope you are NOT seriously putting forth Jenny McCarthy’s anti-autism rants inspired by scientology (Indigo Moms & Star Children) as good philosophy.

              • John H.

                No, but I am saying if you like what Jenny McCarthy has to say about Autism, that doesn’t mean you like the fact that she has no problem with sharing nude photos of herself.

                • Ted Seeber

                  Didn’t even know she had appeared in the nude. But I find her philosophies about autism to be extremely harmful, and not just to her own child, but even to neurotypical children as she spread the gospel against vaccination. In addition to that, of course, like many autistic parents who don’t realize that Autism is as much a gift as a disease, she used restrictive diets and extreme psychological torture to make her son’s behavior more acceptable to society, and then started preaching a “cure”, giving families false hope.

                • Irenist

                  Although it wouldn’t surprise me if a fair number of Rand fans DID fall for anti-vax woo, since both Rand and McCarthy peddle pseudo-erudition that makes readers feel empowered.

          • John H.

            And nope, sorry, the heart and soul of HP is witchcraft. (I’m speaking tongue in cheek here, I don’t really believe this.) You can claim you see the heart and soul as something else, but it’s still a series about witches. You can’t deny it. It’s incompatible with Catholicism. Whatever good is in it is tainted by that fact. There are better books about self-sacrifice, you don’t need to expose yourself to witchcraft to see that. Ryan says he reads Rand in a Catholic light, and you say you don’t believe him (i.e. you are calling him a liar). You claim to read HP in a Catholic light, but who are we to believe you? I give you the benefit of the doubt, yet you are not willing to do the same for Ryan, a fellow Catholic. How sad. Stop tearing your brother down.

            • Irenist

              Try this: the heart and soul of Randianism is individualism to the exclusion of other values.
              Akin to a Christian heretic, the Randian takes true insights (each individual is of infinite worth and dignity; subsidiarity is to be preferred) and decouples them from the parts of Tradition that are not in tune with the spirit of the age (solidarity; preferential option for the poor). The 60′s zeitgeist gave us wacky liberal nuns who swooned for liberation theology. The Reaganite 80′s zeitgeist gave us Catholics who think “subsidiarity” is the entirety of Catholic Social Teaching. Some of the kids in high school now will probably spend the 2020′s arguing that environmentalism or something is the raison d’etre of the Faith. Sigh.

              • John H.

                Cute, but has nothing to do with whether Ryan is infected by such hogwash or not.

                • Irenist

                  Granted; that wasn’t my point.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        I keep feeling like there’s some context I’m missing.
        Yeah, I agree Rand’s philosophy sucks as a way to live your personal life, but as government policy, it seems to be everything you’ve been demanding in a lot of your posts.
        I mean… let me see if I can put it this way:
        I know people like to paint political opponents as caricatures, but let’s be real, these people in power (whoever’s side the might be on) aren’t doing it for the evulz, but because they really believe they are helping out other people. (which CS Lewis pointed out is even worse)
        Yes, even the wars in the middle east are pitched as “helping out the common man” and I actually believe that the higher ups THINK (note the emphasis) this is helping.

        In other words, it seems like all our problems nowadays (or at least, 99% of the ones Mark complains about) are a result of the people in power trying to “help others” (usually with methods that don’t involve getting their hands dirty). Thus, it seems like the best solution for us would be to have someone in power that’s a little selfish.

        I dunno, maybe it would also help if Mark explained what he thinks an objectivist government would do. Outlaw charities? Institute professional homeless hunts? And what is the alternative that wouldn’t lead to more of what we have now?
        (speaking of which, what was Mr Shea’s feelings on Ron Paul?)

      • Peggy R

        “She” is not broadcasting anything. She’s dead.

        • Irenist

          Literary present tense:
          “Use the present tense when discussing a literary work, since the author of the work is communicating to the reader at the present time…. Similarly, use the present tense when reporting how other writers have interpreted the work you are discussing.”
          Source: http://grammar.about.com/od/il/g/literarypresentterm.htm

          • Peggy R

            She’s not broadcasting 24/7 as Mark Shea says. The public is not infected 24/7 with her views. We don’t’ hear about her works 24/7 anywhere. You’d have to do some work to find such a source.

            • Irenist

              FOX News actually does broadcast 24/7. And it’s line on taxation and welfare spending is pretty much the Randian one.

              • Peggy R

                Oh, my Lord!

                Filter would like a dissertation on this point. I don’t have one at this time….

            • Cinlef

              I believe you misunderstood. It appears from context that by 24/7/365 he meant to imply (correctly I might add) that every novel and essay written by Rand is explicitly designed to illustrate and advocate her philosophy. Not that the late Ayn Rand is literally broadcasting her philosophy

  • Koz

    Thankfully, we get the chance to vote for Willard Romney this election, a pro-life man with a pro-life running mate running on a pro-life platform associated with other pro-life politicians, activists, and voters. If the Catholic faithful, as it were, had as much credibility as the Republican party does on abortion, we could have ended legalized abortion in America a long time ago.

    • Mark Shea

      Mmmmm… kool aid!

      • Koz

        Really? I just wonder how can routinely abuse Mitt Romney for being pro-choice in 1995 when 41% or 55% or some other X% of the American Catholic faithful vote pro-choice today.

        • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

          No fear, we routinely abuse far more than X% of the American Catholic faithful, too.

    • Ted Seeber

      Why would the Republican Party want to end abortion, when it’s the only way to get people to vote for cutting taxes?

      • Cinlef

        That is the best explanation of “wedge issues” and how they are used I’ve seen in some time. Well done

    • Irenist

      Vote Bush in ’88 so he can appoint pro-life judges like David Souter!

  • Rich

    So maybe Ryan found some good ideas in Rand. He also found that she was an atheist. But, you know what, we religious people can learn a good bit from atheists. And atheists can learn a good bit from religous people.

    • Ted Seeber

      I have yet to find anything good to learn from an atheist.

      • Irenist

        There are some very good popular science books by atheists, and a ton of very enjoyable science fiction. Although Gibbon and Hume weren’t *quite* atheists, they were close; Gibbon wrote a very readable (if not always accurate) history of Rome, of course, and Hume wrote a very readable (if not always accurate) history of England.

        • John H.

          My goodness, Gibbon’s history of Rome accurate? Like the proposition that it’s fall was primarily due to the Church? Neat. I hope you weren’t infected by this. How could you possibly find accuracy in his work without accepting the central proposition that the Church was the problem? You’ll have to prove to me that your aren’t anti-ecclesial. And even if you tell me you aren’t, how am I to believe you when you make the claim that Gibbon is accurate. How can we ever possibly trust anything you say about history again?

          • Irenist

            “Gibbon wrote a very readable (IF NOT ALWAYS ACCURATE) history of Rome[.]”

            Is that clearer now?

            • John H.

              Nope, sorry. You must be a closet anti-ecclesiastic. Following in Mark’s thinking it surely couldn’t be possible to fathom how you could appreciate the readability of Gibbon without being infected by his views concerning the Church. I’m not sure Mark should believe what you say until you repent of it. You must repent. And we won’t accept you saying you don’t agree with Gibbon, even if you confirm your views with your Bishop. Saying he is inaccurate is not enough. You have to get Mark’s approval before one can consider you to be truly, truly Catholic, and not simply using your faith to further your blogger commenter career.

              • Irenist

                But, uh, I don’t think I’ve ever made any statements that Gibbon “inspired me” to enter my chosen career. If I had built a career on my praise and advocacy for “Gibbonian” economics, a sudden opportune claim by me that it was an “urban legend” that I’d ever liked Gibbon would be…suspicious. Mark’s not claiming to be the Pope, or running an Inquisition. He’s just pointing out the peccadilloes of princes.

              • Cinlef

                Again no one is saying you that reading Rand (or frankly anything else) automatically means you believe/support everything you just read.

                Nor is it being argued that one cannot admire aspects of a thinker/artist/author’s work without agreeing with it in part or in its entirety.

                What is being argued are three points

                Firstly that Rep Paul Ryan by his own admission admired and was heavily influenced by Rand’s thought.

                Secondly that this is a serious problem because Rand’s philosophy is utterly diabolically evil as it is has as its central premise that caritas is evil. (Which amounts to saying among other equally crazy/evil things that Christs willingness to die for humanity is evil.)

                Thirdly that as a consequence Paul Ryan’s unwillingness to distance himself clearly and unambiguously from Randian Objectivism is a serious problem

                ____________________________________________
                It seems to me your objection is largely with the first point which is all well and good but stop attacking the straw man that defending the first proposition requires one to defend a proposition along the lines of “Everyone who reads anything must automatically endorse the beliefs of the book/author in their entirety.

      • Peggy R

        Nat Hentoff is a great pro life atheist. An odd duck, but there he is.

  • Marie

    Thanks John H! I agree…. Mark has finally come up with his own argument against Harry Potter. LOL

  • Mark Gordon

    Brilliant, Mark, and dead on. When you choose the lesser of two evils you still get evil. Don’t choose evil.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      So you are saying that the Bishops shouldn’t have said that was an option?

      • Ted Seeber

        Only some of the Bishops. Archbishop Lori, at the Knights of Columbus National Convention said that Catholic’s CANNOT VOTE FOR EVIL.

        http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/313468/baltimore-archbishop-catholic-voters-cant-vote-candidate-who-stands-intrinsic-evil-kat

        • Irenist

          Although I dislike the “Gekko/Galt 2012″ ticket (h/t Krugman), I think it’s only fair to Catholic G.O.P. supporters to point out that while Ryan’s views are an epic fail on the prudent application of Catholic Social Teaching, they aren’t *intrinsic* evil like, e.g., Biden’s views on abortion.

          • Peggy R

            “epic fail”? By the constitution and the Catholic idea of subsidiarity, the federal government ought spend no money on social welfare services. This is within the purview of the states. How do you argue that we keep spending the same amounts or more when we are more than flat broke–federal and state govts? There are plenty of people living off public aid who could care for themselves and their children. Plenty of fraud too.

            In my state, IL, about 40%–FORTY PERCENT–of babies have been born out of wedlock for each of the last few years. can you imagine the impact of that on the state budget? We need couples to marry. STAT. Men need to be compelled to fund the birth and raising of their children they help create. Geraldo Rivera recently said that all birth certificates must have a father identified on them. (Does he mean that for children of lesbians, too?!!)

            • Irenist

              “By the constitution and the Catholic idea of subsidiarity, the federal government ought spend no money on social welfare services. This is within the purview of the states.”
              First of all, that only Mormons think the Constitution is divinely inspired; not Catholics.
              Second, the Constitution gives Congress the power to tax and spend for the general welfare. You may feel that having that spending occur at the federal level is imprudent, but if the feds were to tax all income at 99% and then use it to cut welfare checks, that would be entirely constitutional. It would also be stupid, and get the politicians responsible voted out on their ears. But lots of stupid policy ideas are constitutional; we have to block them using the ballot box, not Supreme Court lawsuits. (E.g., getting involved with WWI was, IMHO, pretty stupid, but Wilson secured entirely constitutional Congressional declarations of war on the Germans and Austro-Hungarians. Stupid but constitutional stuff happens a lot.)
              Third, the U.S. is not broke. Our rich people are undertaxed, our national debt is denominated in dollars, much of our national debt is owed to the Federal Reserve Bank and is only an accounting fiction, and foreign investors are so eager to buy Treasuries that the interest rates are zero (or less–really, look it up) when the feds take out a loan right now.
              Fourth, while you are right that there is some welfare fraud and much abandonment of babies by fathers, neither of these is morally relevant to the question of whether actually poor people should get aid.
              Fifth, there is 8% unemployment right now. That means that no matter how hard people work to get jobs, they’re only outcompeting some other unemployed person for a job. But shuffling the names of who is unemployed doesn’t change the underlying 8% figure. So do we let those people starve, or help them?

              • Peggy R

                1. So, b/c the constitution is not some holy sacred document we should throw it out and say to hell with it? Who says that? I was presenting 2 good reasons for lack of federal action on social welfare matters. I wasn’t expressing some supernatural faith in our constitution.

                2. The “general welfare” clause is a risky basis for wealth shuffling. When does it end? As no man is an island, we could be bound to do or prohibited from doing all kinds of activities–or fund them–because another person is affected. FDR stacked his courts to get us to accept federal action on these fronts. We all take it for granted today. I don’t dispute that stupid, but constitutional occurs on a daily, nay, hourly, basis at our federal and state capitals.
                3. The US and state governments ARE broke. The govt should only take a de minimis portion of a man’s income and property to function. That govt wants so much a share is a testament to the unreasonable size and reach of government. We have lost much freedom in the process. The only people “undertaxed” are those who don’t pay taxes.
                4. We don’t have unlimited funds to continue to take care of every one relying on public aid of some sort. We do have to care more for our own elder parents and take responsibility for the children we create. We put our lives and freedom in danger by relying on the State to do these personal things. We DO have to limit eligibility for public aid or there will come a day when nothing’s left for any one.
                5. I think the economy will start to pick up when it is very apparent that O will lose. It’s been tight since McCain fell in the polls in ’08. While I don’t always oppose fiscal stimulus, O’s was bad as it only focused on state budgets, not on broad economic growth. I am more of a Friedmanite I am a regulatory economist and believe that the nickel and dime regulation of businesses of all sizes, farms, even garage sales, has added to the choking of economic activity. 6. People can get jobs when we quit strangling employers and provide some stability. Unemployment for almost 2 years is not a solution. Neither are food stamps. Abandon crazy regulations; provide a broad-based stimulus for something other than teachers and roads. And get rid of Ocare. Then these people can care better for themselves and their families.
                Gotta go. Have meetings at the public and Catholic schools tonight…how to be in 2 places at once????

                • Irenist

                  “1. So, b/c the constitution is not some holy sacred document we should throw it out and say to hell with it? Who says that? I was presenting 2 good reasons for lack of federal action on social welfare matters. I wasn’t expressing some supernatural faith in our constitution.”
                  Glad to hear it. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
                  *
                  2. “2. The “general welfare” clause is a risky basis for wealth shuffling. When does it end? As no man is an island, we could be bound to do or prohibited from doing all kinds of activities–or fund them–because another person is affected.”
                  I think you’re thinking more of the Wickard v. Filburn “aggregate effects test” that dramatically over-expanded the Commerce Power. I’m thinking more of the Taxing and Spending Powers. I actually agree with you about the Commerce Power.
                  *
                  “FDR stacked his courts to get us to accept federal action on these fronts.”
                  If you’ll allow this former history major a pedantic quibble, it’s more that he threatened to pack the Court, and then “the Switch in Time Saved Nine”; he backed off from expanding the Court when one of the justices blinked. One of the many (along with, e.g., the Mussolini-esque N.R.A. Blue Eagle iconography and the Japanese internment camps) disturbingly authoritarian episodes in the FDR Administration.

                • Irenist

                  “3. The US and state governments ARE broke.”
                  State govt.’s generally have to balance under the states’ constitutions. As for the feds, they are indebted, but not “broke.” The payables keep coming in and the receivables (all denominated in money the Federal Reserve can print) keep getting paid.
                  *
                  “The govt should only take a de minimis portion of a man’s income and property to function.”
                  Not necessarily. We have a duty to aid the poor, just as we have a duty to serve in the military if drafted. The government is within its rights to call us to that duty.
                  *
                  “That govt wants so much a share is a testament to the unreasonable size and reach of government.”
                  Not really. There is a fair amount of bloat in the federal budget (particularly at the Pentagon), but the bulk of it is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, all of which are legitimate expressions of solidarity.
                  *
                  “We have lost much freedom in the process.”
                  Money isn’t freedom. Freedom is freedom. The USA-PATRIOT Act under both Bush the Younger and Obama has lost us far more freedom than any tax hike.
                  *
                  “The only people “undertaxed” are those who don’t pay taxes.”"
                  Everyone pays taxes. Even the unemployed pay sales taxes.

                • Irenist

                  “4. We don’t have unlimited funds to continue to take care of every one relying on public aid of some sort.”
                  Unlimited? No. But adequate to the task. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security take up less than half the federal budget. Income taxes take up around half of federal receipts. As costs rise for those programs, income taxes can be raised progressively. We are far from the peak of the Laffer curve.
                  *
                  “We do have to care more for our own elder parents and take responsibility for the children we create.”
                  Subsidiarity counsels that we do, and our culture would be healthier if we did. I agree with that. But we don’t “have to.” We are a wealthy First World nation. We can afford to feed the hungry and heal the sick. Really.
                  *
                  “We put our lives and freedom in danger by relying on the State to do these personal things.”
                  I don’t agree with that, although I think a culture wherein these functions were gradually transitioned over from the State to subsidiaristic actors like K of C insurance would be far healthier. But it’s not going to happen overnight.
                  *
                  “We DO have to limit eligibility for public aid or there will come a day when nothing’s left for any one.”
                  Actually, something like the Alaska Permanent fund could just pay everyone a minimum basic income with no means testing at all. We waste a lot of money hiring bureacrats to means test SSI, TANF, SNAP, and Medicaid. Basic income grants along the lines of Milton Friedman’s Negative Income Tax proposal would be more efficient. Heck, people could spend them with those subsidiaristic actors like the K of C or their local Catholic hospital!

                • Irenist

                  “5. I think the economy will start to pick up when it is very apparent that O will lose.”
                  Right now, O is ahead in the polls. But we’ll see. I just wish they could both lose.
                  *
                  “It’s been tight since McCain fell in the polls in ’08.”
                  IMHO, you’re mixing up cause and effect there.
                  *
                  “While I don’t always oppose fiscal stimulus, O’s was bad as it only focused on state budgets, not on broad economic growth.”
                  Well, the continuation of the Bush tax cuts, the payroll tax cuts, and the unemployment extension were all pretty broad-based. And people do live in states. Presumably teachers and firemen have just as much of a multiplier effect to their spending as anyone else. After all, most of the layoffs under O have been in the post-2010 government layoffs, yes?
                  *
                  ” I am more of a Friedmanite”
                  Well, bless your heart. So what do you think of his Negative Income Tax idea? Between that and his monetarism, I really wish more folks on the left read him. Such a brilliant man.
                  *
                  ” I am a regulatory economist and believe that the nickel and dime regulation of businesses of all sizes, farms, even garage sales, has added to the choking of economic activity.”
                  I quite agree with you on that; we are an over-licensed people. Where else on Earth must there be cosmetology colleges, for pity’s sake? I also think the A.M.A.’s consistent cartel-like blocking of wider use of nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants through regulation is a major driver of healthcare costs in this country. What do you think?
                  *
                  “6. People can get jobs when we quit strangling employers and provide some stability.”
                  I don’t think the data bear out the hypothesis that regulatory uncertainty is driving the recession. I think it’s driven by a fall off in aggregate demand due to the burst of the housing bubble. The most efficient way to boost aggregate demand is pretty much to hand out money to poor people: that’s where the biggest multiplier effect is.
                  *
                  “Unemployment for almost 2 years is not a solution. Neither are food stamps.”
                  The first is a symptom of aggregate demand short fall. The second is a triage treatment of that symptom, so children don’t starve to death while we wait for people to remember that Keynes existed.
                  *
                  “Abandon crazy regulations;”
                  Well, sure. But that’s a long-term idea and always a good one. But it’s not a “now more than ever” idea that’s mission-relevant to boosting aggregate demand in the near to medium term, which is what we need at the moment.
                  *
                  “provide a broad-based stimulus for something other than teachers and roads.”
                  O barely had the votes for the $800 billion of stimulus he got.
                  *
                  “And get rid of Ocare. Then these people can care better for themselves and their families.”
                  Ocare is basically the Heritage Foundation plan for health insurance that the Dole/Kemp ticket endorsed in opposition to Hilarycare. It was a good, middle of the road plan then, and it still is now. (Well, minus the tyrannical contraception mandate, anyway.)
                  *
                  “Gotta go.”
                  Okay. Have a lovely evening. Pleasure combox-chatting with you.
                  *
                  “Have meetings at the public and Catholic schools tonight…how to be in 2 places at once????”
                  Bilocation is probably a bigger problem for people like you that are very involved in their communities. If you ever figure out how to do, do tell the Shea minions first….

                  • Peggy R

                    Patronize much, Irene? These boxes get vary narrow. Line by line=challenging.
                    1. That our nation is so deeply in debt, and at unreasonable percentages and levels, ought to be an indicator of “broke-ness” of the federal govt. Borrowing to some reasonable degree is fine of course. Do you think we’re ever going to see sensible interest rates with the level of debt our govt and other nations have?
                    2. It IS a problem that welfare state expenditures take up almost half the federal budget. It is not constitutional activity of the feds. But, what do you care, eh?
                    3. It is reasonable that, as a percent of total, defense dominates federal spending. Whether such spending is efficient and moral are different Qs.
                    4. Yes, aggregate demand dropped after the housing bubble burst. People are not incented to find work, however, with unemployment or other checks coming in. The economy would recover sooner with a broader based stimulus that didn’t simply prop up state budgets and retirement plans.
                    5. Several surveys of businesses have shown that businesses remain concerned about the “uncertainty” which I think, even from financial managers I talked to, is code-word for the regulations, Ocare, pollution taxes, etc. I think the “uncertainty” will go away when the threat of ever annoying regulations goes away. Businesses and the market were tightening up in the weeks before the ’08 election, when it was clear McCain was an economic idiot and O with his many regulatory ideas would win.
                    6. I am not nor ever have been a Heritage Foundation member. I don’t take responsibility for their positions. States have primary regulatory power and screwed up medical insurance for decades. No competitive markets, no choices, while loading up minimum coverage, increasing costs of insurance and retail med svcs. I used to buy into selling/trading pollution rights, but I see today what an economic drain and overall scam it is.
                    7. By “broad-based” I was not referring to “bipartisan” or a large dollar amount stimulus, but something with broad reach over several sectors of the economy. Such a stimulus would have boosted aggregate demand better. The economic scope of the stimulus was pretty narrow and ideological/politically intended.

                    • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

                      Peggy, I wrote something above that I intended from you, but I posted it in the wrong place. At any rate, I wanted to address your serious mis-characterization of Catholic social teaching. It’s very long, probably the longest post here, so I don’t think you’ll have trouble finding it. At any rate, see Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, par. 186 in particular on the definition of subsidiarity.
                      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

                    • Peggy R

                      Lori,

                      I have made no assertions of Catholic social teaching except that we ought to consider subsidiarity. I guess shame on me for not couching my commentary in reference to CST. Oh, well.

                      Thank you for the information.

                    • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

                      Peggy, I hope you see this, I don’t know where it will be put. I was trying to say that you gave an incorrect definition of subsidiarity (which is all right, most people do). You wrote ” By the constitution and the Catholic idea of subsidiarity, the federal government ought spend no money on social welfare services.” Look at my long post or at the link for the correct definition. Subsidiarity simply describes the hierarchy of means by which assistance is given. Nowhere does it shut out the federal government from providing social assistance programs.

                    • Irenist

                      “Patronize much, Irene?”
                      If you found any of my responses above patronizing, then I owe you an apology. Sorry about that.
                      (My name isn’t actually Irene, btw. I think my wife would be unhappy if it was. But I suppose as long as you don’t call me late to dinner, no worries.)
                      *
                      “These boxes get vary narrow. Line by line=challenging.”
                      Agreed!
                      *
                      “Do you think we’re ever going to see sensible interest rates with the level of debt our govt and other nations have?”
                      Hmm. I think the low interest rates we have now are pretty sensible. I may be misunderstanding your question here.
                      *
                      “2. It IS a problem that welfare state expenditures take up almost half the federal budget. It is not constitutional activity of the feds. But, what do you care, eh?”
                      I do care about the Constitution; I just don’t think Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are unconstitutional, due to my reading of Article I, section 8, which appears to differ from yours. Granting your premise that federal expenditures on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are unconstitutional, I’d be inclined to heartily agree that any percentage of the federal budget higher than zero would be too high for them
                      *
                      “3. It is reasonable that, as a percent of total, defense dominates federal spending. Whether such spending is efficient and moral are different Qs.”
                      Well, if welfare spending is assumed for argument’s sake to be unconstitutional, then I suppose defense would dominate. I think that’s still where our disagreement lies.
                      *
                      “Yes, aggregate demand dropped after the housing bubble burst. People are not incented to find work, however, with unemployment or other checks coming in. The economy would recover sooner with a broader based stimulus that didn’t simply prop up state budgets and retirement plans.”
                      I agree with you that the stimulus should’ve been broader: lots of checks for lots of poor and middle class people would’ve been the quickest way to boost demand. I disagree with you that disincentive to find work is the problem, however: hiring is well off it’s pre-crash peak; no matter how incented you are, you can’t find a job if no one is hiring. I think in a recession like this one, those unemployment checks keep people buying groceries and paying rent, thereby boosting demand. They help, rather than hinder employment.
                      *
                      “5. Several surveys of businesses have shown that businesses remain concerned about the “uncertainty” which I think, even from financial managers I talked to, is code-word for the regulations, Ocare, pollution taxes, etc. I think the “uncertainty” will go away when the threat of ever annoying regulations goes away.”
                      I agree with you that business managers *say* this is what is bothering them, but their behavior doesn’t reflect that: people are not always the best judges of their own behavior. As a largely G.O.P. constituency, business owners are motivated reasoners on this question, and appear to be misleading themselves when they answer these surveys. Their behavior reflects a slowdown in hiring that tracks falling demand.
                      *
                      ” Businesses and the market were tightening up in the weeks before the ’08 election, when it was clear McCain was an economic idiot and O with his many regulatory ideas would win.”
                      What was O-phobia and what was Lehman/subprime fallout? I’d argue for the latter as the dominant issue in the autumn of ’08.
                      *
                      “6. I am not nor ever have been a Heritage Foundation member. I don’t take responsibility for their positions.”
                      Okay.
                      “States have primary regulatory power and screwed up medical insurance for decades. No competitive markets, no choices, while loading up minimum coverage, increasing costs of insurance and retail med svcs.”
                      Every other country in the developed world is getting better health outcomes than us at lower cost, and O-care moves us closer to those models, while also covering more people. I think it’s worth at least trying.
                      *
                      ” I used to buy into selling/trading pollution rights, but I see today what an economic drain and overall scam it is.”
                      It seems to have worked well for SO2 (GHW Bush really was underrated by the left), but I’d agree that carbon trading in the EU has been a fiasco. I think a Pigovian tax on carbon might be the better way to harness market forces to cut pollution.
                      *
                      “By “broad-based” I was not referring to “bipartisan” or a large dollar amount stimulus, but something with broad reach over several sectors of the economy. Such a stimulus would have boosted aggregate demand better.”
                      Well, I’d rather have seen larger (1.5 or 2 trillion, perhaps), but I agree with you about broader.

                    • Peggy R

                      –Lori Pieper: Got it. Understood. Thanks.
                      –Irenist. My humble apologies for the “Irene.” Had no idea of your sex. I think i did it this a/m also. Getting late, smaller boxes to work with. I can’t go in order or in all detail here. Prioritize by what jumps out at me.
                      1. RE: O-care. My background is state/fed utilities regulation. I have strong conviction in a large degree of autonomy in state regs; we are a union of states. I have always as govt & private sector employee advocated for market-based reform to improve outcomes that a competitive market would yield. Cross-subsidies & other inefficiencies are to be avoided. That’s what regulation of insurance has failed at. Ocare doesn’t do it either. Several comboxes would be required to discuss viable policies to make insurance and retail med services accessible and affordable to all. CBO just aid that in 10 yrs, Ocare still won’t cover 30M people. What a waste.
                      2. Lehman failure and Paulson’s dirty dealing there were great problems. He bailed out fave firms. Paulson also colluded w/Obama during election season. He admits to conversations. Sounds very inappropriate to me. McCain flailed; detatched & uncaring O looks unflappable, though many businesses were concerned about his agenda. The market froze. (Some conspiracy-minded folks think Soros engineered the crashes…? just saying…)
                      3. I am not like some pop conservatives opposed to Keynesian stimulus in principle. But given the state of the budget, degree of debt, etc., I dont think extreme debt is justified to stimulate the economy, especially when the provisions were so narrowly focused. I am not concerned about business cycles. They happen. Govt getting in the way can tend to exacerbates economic performance problems and delay recovery, in my view.
                      4. Since the housing bubble was the result of too low interest, too many people buying above their means, I have thought that a contractionary interest rate, ie, higher rate, is due. Rates have been too low for good investment opportunities for about 10 years now. The debt of American and other govts could not tolerate an increased r, but I think it’s necessary to stimulate investment and growth. We need savings too. It would also keep people within their means of borrowing.

                    • Irenist

                      In reply to Peggy R. just above:
                      “My humble apologies for the ‘Irene.’”
                      None needed at all!
                      *
                      “My background is state/fed utilities regulation.”
                      That sounds pretty interesting. Probably way over my head, but interesting.
                      *
                      “I have strong conviction in a large degree of autonomy in state regs; we are a union of states.”
                      Subsidiarity, sure. I do wonder if there might not be a race to the bottom effect with health insurance regs, though. I don’t know what kind of experience, if any, Massachusetts is having with inbound insurance seekers.
                      *
                      “Several comboxes would be required to discuss viable policies to make insurance and retail med services accessible and affordable to all. ”
                      Understandable.
                      *
                      “CBO just aid that in 10 yrs, Ocare still won’t cover 30M people. What a waste.”
                      Agreed.
                      *
                      “Lehman failure and Paulson’s dirty dealing there were great problems.”
                      Agreed.
                      *
                      ” I am not like some pop conservatives opposed to Keynesian stimulus in principle.”
                      My apologies for taking you for one.
                      *
                      “But given the state of the budget, degree of debt, etc., I dont think extreme debt is justified to stimulate the economy, especially when the provisions were so narrowly focused.”
                      I worry more about an austerity trap where refusal to stimulate now puts us into a low growth vicious circle where debt becomes an ever larger share of GDP b/c GDP lags.
                      *
                      ” I am not concerned about business cycles. They happen. Govt getting in the way can tend to exacerbates economic performance problems and delay recovery, in my view.”
                      We might differ on some stuff, but that’s certainly a respectable view. I suspect I favor more intervention than you do. I would like to see more automatic stabilizers in place, since by the time Congress acts on anything, it’s usually already pro-cyclical.
                      “4. Since the housing bubble was the result of too low interest, too many people buying above their means, I have thought that a contractionary interest rate, ie, higher rate, is due. Rates have been too low for good investment opportunities for about 10 years now. The debt of American and other govts could not tolerate an increased r, but I think it’s necessary to stimulate investment and growth.”
                      Hmm. Well, I can see having low rates now, but sure, rates were too low during the bubble.
                      *
                      “We need savings too.”
                      Absolutely. I’d love to see the income tax replaced (after growth picks up, not now) with a more progressive consumption tax, in which savings and investment would be tax free until spent.
                      *
                      Pleasure chatting with you, Peggy R. That line in the other thread about “I’ll sleep better knowing you agree with me” was very funny.

                    • Peggy R

                      Irenist,
                      Thank you for the thoughtful reply. It has been fun. Not being a macro person, it has been challenging as well! Cheers to you as well!

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          So which Bishops do I listen to?

          • Irenist

            The one in Rome.

            • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

              So the bishops are irrelevant at this point, and only the Pope calls the shots? Odd. I heard from Catholic Apologists when I came into the Church that the Church is not some giant corporation where the Pope is CEO calling the shots beyond what anyone or anything else has to say. In fact, that’s an old Protestant interpretation of the Church. But the simple answer suggests those Catholic apologists are not nearly as right and those Protestant apologists are not nearly as wrong as I was told.

              • Irenist

                Sorry, that was more levity on my part than anything else. To a first approximation, you should follow your local diocesan bishop. If your bishop appears to be well outside the consensus of the rest of the world’s bishops in union with Rome, you may need to think deeper about the matter. But consult a confessor about that, not some dumb comboxer like me.

  • Andy

    I do not see Mr. Shea coming out and besmirching or in any way suggesting Mr. Ryan is a liar. He is saying, and I agree with him, that if Mr. Ryan is he has really moved away from his Ayn Rand acceptance and has now moved to be in line with St. Thomas, why did he say that it was an “urban myth” about his acceptance of the philosophy of Ayn Rand? If a person repents he doesn’t temporize or say “the other side is exaggerating”, he says I made a mistake and see how I was wrong.
    The USCCB wrote “Congress faces a difficult task to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices,” they write. “Just solutions, however, must require shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and fairly addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs.” Let’s see does Mr. RYan’s budget meet these questions – raising revenue -no; cutting military spending – no, asking for sacrifice from all – no, fairly addressing long-term costs of HC and retirement – no or maybe, but since the other parts are no I guess this is a no as well. They further write “The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it is the proper role of government to “make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on” (no. 1908). Poor and vulnerable people do not have powerful lobbyists to advocate their interests, but they have the most compelling needs. ”
    From Mr. Ryan “”We’re coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society and that could become very dangerous if it sets in as a permanent condition.” Ah yes Atlas Shrugging – mooches and leeches – those other people who do little for the rest of us – a very Catholic view of the world, I am sure.
    My final concern about Mr. Ryan is that like his now rejected philosopher of choice – who accepted social security and medicare, he banked the money from social security survivor benefits for college. He left college and went to work in various parts of the government as an aide to members of the House of Representatives and now as a member. And he talks about takers.
    I find both candidates at best non-appealing. I find however, Mr. Ryan’s current version of himself to be less then genuine.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      I think the point is, does Ryan need to repent at all? There seems to have been a rush to condemnation here. Ryan is guilty, case closed, and until he repents as I say he must, I won’t give him the time of day. Oh, and when Mark writes that he doesn’t “believe his attempts to dishonestly deny instead of repent his zeal for Ayn Rand”, it’s hard not to see that as Mark saying his approach to this issue is dishonest.

      • Andy

        I think that, for me, that saying it was an urban myth that he was an adherent of Ayn Rand is the problem. I do not know that I think he needs to repent – I think the word repudiate is more what I had in mind. He needs for me to demonstrate that he has indeed moved away from Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Repentance is what he needs to take up with the Lord.
        If I am condemning Mr. Ryan it is because I do not see how his budget plans squares with Catholic teaching. That could be my shortcoming in reading, I don’t know. I see more of vulture capitalism or Laisser-faire capitalism in his budget than I see anything else. I see in some of his speeches as I cited above and as have other the “makers vs. Takers” concept. For me he attempts to conflate catholic teaching with much of Ayn Rands philosophy and I troubled by that.
        I would not condemn a person because of what he or she read and believed for a time. Changing beliefs is part of maturing – but when beliefs change I expect to see behaviors change – I have not seen that in Mr. Ryan. Again I am not condemning him, I pointing out what I see. And what I see concerns me.
        And my concerns have little meaning to anyone but me – I do not intend to vote for either of the major party candidates – I see nothing appealing nor good in either set.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          Oh, I disagree with Ryan’s basic GOP premise that if we just make it easier for the wealthy to get wealthier, they’ll break with the overwhelming witness of human history and give their extra portions so that everyone benefits. The last 30 years or so should have shown that it takes other ideas than just helping the millionaire become a billionaire to ensure the future wellbeing of America.

          Nonetheless, I can certainly see Ryan trying to redefine what he meant in light of the sudden demonizing of all things Rand, coupled with the popular notion that, again, Ryan eats babies and kills grannies. Since, like most people, I’m sure Ryan actually had other influences to begin with, I wouldn’t think it’s stretching it to see him explain that the Ryan Myth of a Randian Disciple who kills Grandma might have been overstating the case.

          • Andy

            I am sure that Mr. Ryan is a good person, a good father, a good catholic or at least as good any of can be. I don’t know that it is a sudden demonizing of Ayn Rand – I think that she has always been on the rightfully on the fringes, the fact that a major political figure said that she was the reason he entered politics really amplified her fringeness ( a new word). I agree that Ryan is trying to redefine what he met, I just think he is not doing a very good job at it.
            I also take exception to the “urban myth” statement. If he thought her philosophy was a good at one time and said so – admit and move on. It was a mistake or I have matured – not the urban myth though. That just sits so badly for me, and maybe only me.
            Obviously I agree with yo about the GOP and Ryan’s basic budgetary premise – it scares me that the people we elected cannot learn from history.

            • Peggy R

              The federal government has no constitutional responsiblity for domestic programs from education to social welfare. That the federal govt collects and spends any money on those issues is quite a concession. We have these things called “states.” There are 50 of them. They can take care of these things.

              Anyway, there ain’t no money. Time to tighten our belts. Expect people to take responsibility for themselves and their families.

              • Irenist

                “The federal government has no constitutional responsiblity for domestic programs from education to social welfare.”
                So? Just because it isn’t mandatory doesn’t mean it’s forbidden.
                “We have these things called “states.” There are 50 of them. They can take care of these things.”
                No, they can’t. The states are like the nations in the eurozone. They don’t print their own money, so they can’t run countercyclical deficits in recessions to stimulate aggregate demand with tax cuts and social spending.
                “Anyway, there ain’t no money. Time to tighten our belts. Expect people to take responsibility for themselves and their families.”
                There is *plenty* of money. In the post-WWII era, the top marginal income tax rate was over 70%. Now it’s 35%. The only reason there is no money is because the wealthiest have spent the last three decades lobbying to lower there own taxes. The only people who need tighten their belts are the gluttons who eat much of the wealth despite being only a few % of the population.

                • Peggy R

                  “So?” The constitution limits federal powers to those enumerated. It is a concession that the feds collect and spend anything on social programs. It just distributes wealth among states.

                  Have you seen the latest debt data? From the feds and the states? Shall we keep borrowing? Printing $? Wealthy people are not stealing from any one else. Well, maybe some people are criminals, but the idea that a person steals from others by virtue of gaining wealth is absurd. We have had great economic growth b/c of the radical reduction in the tax rates. To raise those up, especially to such a crazy level (70%), would contract the economy greatly for every one. The top 50% of earners pay nearly all of the income taxes received by the feds. Do you know of the EITC? Do you know that people can actually profit, gain income, by filing tax forms and receiving EITC $ from the feds and states? Apparently you don’t’ have to have children to get it, I was shocked to learn. It is a direct transfer payment from taxpayers to to non-payers. Every one should have skin in the game, O says. The wealthiest do have skin in the game. The lower earners do not.

                  • Irenist

                    “The constitution limits federal powers to those enumerated.”
                    Taxing and spending for the general welfare is an *enumerated* power of Congress: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States[.]” U.S. Const., Art. I, section 8.
                    *
                    “Shall we keep borrowing? Printing $? ”
                    Yes! Particularly the former. We are in a demand-driven deflationary recession in which Milton Friedman-style monetary policy (lovely though it is–and it is, actually: Friedman is underappreciated on the left) has run out of power because the Federal Reserve has run into the zero lower bound. A textbook Keynesian deficit-financed fiscal policy is called for. And if Chicago-school freshwater economists have taken Keynes out of your textbook–well, that’s what I’m complaining about in this thread.
                    *
                    “We have had great economic growth b/c of the radical reduction in the tax rates. To raise those up, especially to such a crazy level (70%), would contract the economy greatly for every one. ”
                    I’d agree that 70% top marginal rates are perhaps too high, and tax cuts did spur growth in, e.g., the Kennedy and Reagan administrations. However, the G.H.W. Bush (an very under-appreciated POTUS, barring the Souter fiasco) tax hikes did more to set up the 1990s boom than either party will acknowledge–the Dems b/c they’d rather give the credit to Slick Willy, the G.O.P. b/c they cower before Grover Norquist and his idee fixe. Although IIRC, a recent study suggested that the peak of the Laffer Curve might be around 70% (rather than around 35% or 0% or whatever the G.O.P. is claiming as the peak of the Laffer Curve at the moment). What I think almost any non-hack economist would agree to is that 35% is nowhere near the peak of the Laffer Curve. Where do you think the Laffer Curve peaks?
                    *
                    “Do you know of the EITC? Do you know that people can actually profit, gain income, by filing tax forms and receiving EITC $ from the feds and states?”
                    Apparently you don’t’ have to have children to get it, I was shocked to learn. ”
                    From Wikipedia:
                    “For tax year 2011, the maximum EITC for a single person or a married couple filing jointly without qualifying children is $464, up from $457 in tax year 2010.”
                    That’s hardly bankrupting the Republic. Also, the EITC was put in place by conservative reformers to incentivize work. It pays out as a percentage of income, with the percentage looking like a flattened bell curve on a graph. So, no work, no income, no EITC. It’s not like it’s going (absent fraud) to the jobless.
                    *
                    “The wealthiest do have skin in the game. The lower earners do not.”
                    Under God, we all have only one skin in the game: our own. Rich people are not more human than poor people, nor more deserving of compassion.

                    “Wealthy people are not stealing from any one else. ”
                    Sure. God bless them for their success. But they’re undertaxed. They’re not bad people (except the anti-tax zealots, maybe), they’re just undertaxed.

                  • Irenist

                    Peggy R.: Sorry, I forgot this one:
                    “The top 50% of earners pay nearly all of the income taxes received by the feds.”
                    The bottom 50% pay most of the Medicare and Social Security taxes. To say nothing of sales taxes. The Fox News talking point that conflates “income taxes” with “taxes” distorts the reality that, all kinds of taxation taken together, the U.S. has a remarkably flat, regressive incidence of the overall tax burden.

                    • Peggy R

                      Every one pays medicare & SS taxes, yes capped at a certain income level. (So perhaps as a share of AGI or total household income lower income folks who do work and pay may pay a higher share of own income.) People who never worked or paid benefit from them too. It’s hardly a sop to the rich. Rick folk of course pay sales taxes, much more in flat amount and maybe even in share of household income.

                      False equivalencies. Wealthy folks do not avoid these taxes.

              • Mr Michael Moon

                Unless you’re a billionaire or the military industrial complex.

                • Peggy R

                  Don’t worry, the military budgets will be cut. There’s plenty of fat there too. A billionaire’s money is not the government’s money.

                  • Irenist

                    Say you lived in a libertarian paradise where everyone could do what they wanted. And say that the citizens agreed to sell all the land to a mall developer. All of it. And the mall developer said, “You can work in the mall, but you have to sign a contract that says that we get 39% of your income over $250k.” Now, any libertarian can see that the mall people would be well within their rights to ask you to sign such a contract, and well within their rights to coerce (yes, I used that word libertarians hate) you with mall security guards to leave if you insisted on setting up an Orange Julius in their mall without paying your 39% fee.
                    Well, guess what. America is that mall, the American electorate are the mall owners, and the Constitution (which grants Congress the enumerated power to tax and spend for the general welfare) is that contract. So if you don’t like how we charge taxes in the mall we own, leave. If you stay, we are morally entitled to tax you at whatever rate the electorate thinks prudent. Sorry.

                    • Peggy R

                      I am no libertarian, for the record. The American electorate includes me and those billionaires. That money may not be the billionaire’s entirely. It is God’s money. But the government sure does not have a claim on it. I get to vote too on what is a prudent tax rate. I don’t have to accept the status quo without a fight.

                    • Irenist

                      “I am no libertarian, for the record.”
                      Glad to hear it.
                      *
                      “The American electorate includes me and those billionaires…. I get to vote too on what is a prudent tax rate. I don’t have to accept the status quo without a fight.”
                      Yes, and your civic engagement is laudable. If your arguments prevail in November, I will accept that, and start waiting hopefully for liberal SCOTUS justices to retire.
                      *
                      ” That money may not be the billionaire’s entirely. It is God’s money.”
                      Agreed.
                      *
                      “But the government sure does not have a claim on it.”
                      There we disagree. No billionaire flourishes without the affordances of a well-ordered commonwealth in which liberty under law and fair dealing in the marketplace are enforced. As a matter of the cardinal virtue of justice, Caesar has a claim to be paid for providing that ordered liberty without which entrepreneurship cannot flourish.

                    • Peggy R

                      Not able to go another level in on comments, Irene.
                      So, glad you approve of my non-affiliation with libertarians and some other items I posted. I shall sleep well tonight.

                  • Andy

                    According to CST, and the gospels the wealthy should give all they have and Christ. In Ryan’s budget the only cuts are for programs needed by the poor, cutting tax deductions that the other 98% use, and the tax rate on the rich. The pentagon gets more money. History shows us that reducing taxes on the 2% and going into austerity for rhevrest of us doesn’t work well. Think of the Depression.
                    On to the states CST is clear- the federal government has a role to play when the local levels can’t handle the issue – so yes there is a role according to CST and from the constitution as well – the right the federal government has to tax and spend. By the way skin in the game – an interesting idea – Willard himself and his NASCAR and Football owner freinds have how much overseas? The people with skin in the game are those in the middle class and the working poor – exactly the folks hurt by Ryan’s budget; the other folks with skin the game are the poor who rely on largess to exist k- not what Christ preached.

                  • Richard Johnson

                    Not according to the Ryan budget plan.
                    //paulryan.house.gov/uploadedfiles/pathtoprosperity2013.pdf

                    “This budget resolution ensures that the base defense budget will not be cut during wartime. The President’s defense budget request is 2.5 percent lower in real inflation-adjusted dollars than what Congress provided for this year. The House Republican budget provides level funding for defense so that the military has adequate funds to accommodate higher-than-anticipated fuel prices, to maintain training and readiness, and to keep faith with America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.

                    Over the ten-year period covered by the budget resolution, this budget restores about half of the funding cut by the President and ensures that the defense budget grows in real terms in each year – providing adequate funding to maintain a robust end-strength and to address the years of forgone equipment modernization.”

                    Doesn’t sound like cutting the defense budget is on Ryan’s agenda.

                    • Peggy R

                      The sequestering is due.

                    • Peggy R

                      P.S. You would not believe how civilian salaries and # of job openings are dropping at a local military base. A tech head hunter can’t get any one to go there for an interview.

                      It’s already happening, Ryan budget or not. I am not advocating for or against his budget per se, FYI.

              • Marthe Lépine

                Really? There ain’t no money? Well, why punish the poor for the sins of the wealthy? Because that’s what it is: Much of the debt has been incurred to fight an unjust war (or more!), but those people who benefited from all those various war contracts should be left to enjoy the fruit of their labour? Unless things have changed greatly, there are a lot of fortunes made in the weapon industry; and what about all those employment agencies for soldiers for hire (sorry – contractors)? If money has been squandered in war, why expect the littlest among your countrymen pay the penalty?

  • Peggy R

    Ryan is no pure Randian objectivist. Relax for gosh sake. (Even liberal Joan Walsh says so in her jealous screed calling Ryan to task for using his father’s SS death benefits to fund an out of state education, while she suffered at Wisconsin. Does she hate her Harvard friends this much?)

    –So if Ryan is publicly “denying” some fealty to objectivism, that is not akin to some sort of renunciation of her objectionable ideas? (per Dave G’s comment at 10:41 today)

    1. Read his speech at Georgetown. His bishop did not object. A priest friend of mine, who’s no radical free marketeer approved of his speech.
    2. He voted for TARP and auto bail-outs. If he was entirely convicted of Rand’s atheism and complete individualism, he would never have done such a thing; but one need not be a Randian to oppose those bills.
    3. I don’t think one need be an full-throated atheist-objectivist to appreciate the evils of coerced collectivism, which Rand and others experienced first hand. Rand’s views of the role of government and economics are not unreasonable views and do not require her atheism or radical individualism (as opposed to American “rugged individualism”).
    4. As for Rand’s own atheism and complete rejection of man’s common humanity, I can only think that she was so “abused” by communist ideology, mocking the idea of a god, needing to see the concrete and practical, that she could never stomach the idea of a supernatural god. It is sad. I have met myself people who lived under communism, though now enjoying western freedom, still could not grasp the idea of faith in God, found it impractical. Maybe she was responsible for overcoming this damage, but her atheism is a result of the damage communism had done to her. It is one of the costs of communism.

    • Ted Seeber

      1. I’m not even sure Georgetown is still Catholic. It certainly isn’t ultramontane, and what I’ve read of his speech there sounded like pandering to Americanism against the Popes to me.
      2. The TARP Bail outs were completely within Randroid philosophy of the government helping the Saintly Rich, because we all know the John Galt Masters of the Universe are Too Big to Fail, and if the rest of us are to have any scraps at all we must all Worship at the Altar of John Galt.
      3. Rand’s extremist individualism, like most Orwellian Revolts, goes so far as to reject governmental collectivism in favor of corporate collectivism. Every revolution ends up accepting the worst of what it was trying to fix.
      4. I agree with you that the damage to her soul comes from communism- but so does the damage to her winner-take-all philosophy. There is no discernible difference between Joseph Stalin and John Galt, from a Catholic point of view.

      • Peggy R

        1. Ryan is hardly of the same mind as Georgetown progressives. G-town was the location of the speech. It killed them to have him there. There ain’t no money to throw around. People have got to start taking responsibility for themselves and their families and quit expecting the State to do so.
        2. TARP and auto bailouts are NOT Randian, for gosh sake. Those bailouts were not libertarian or capitalist. That was corporate cronyism. So, the “Saintly Rich” and “worshipping at the Altar of John Galt” added for extra emphasis? Rand does not believe in govt help of any one. No man is to help any other man in any other way, in her view. Government help is of course the worst of all. Have you not read her works? John Galt did it on his own, with business partners who also risked, but apart from government.
        3. How does extreme individualism end up at “corporate collectivism” in your view? That makes no sense whatsoever. The latter is not much different from communism/socialism.
        4. “Winner-take-all” I don’t see that as an expression of her philosophy. I think she expects every one to go out and be winners on their own. The forced helping of others, getting nothing for oneself ever had pushed her to extreme unwillingness to express any desire to help any other person at any time. That is a great sadness. Her view is of course extreme given that history. It is allegorical, but significant.

        • Irenist

          “There ain’t no money to throw around. People have got to start taking responsibility for themselves and their families and quit expecting the State to do so.”
          35% marginal income tax rates and 15% capital gains tax rates are not iron laws of nature. The owners of Rafalca seem to have plenty of money to throw around. They just throw it at stupid stuff like Rafalca because they are undertaxed.

    • Ted Seeber

      2nd reply, and link to speech at Georgetown:
      http://dailycaller.com/2012/04/26/full-text-of-paul-ryans-remarks-at-georgetown-university/

      In which he doesn’t even address how his Prosperity Budget apparently considers the unborn to be unworthy of welfare.

      • Ben

        Being that government-mandated welfare is the antithesis of Christian charity (that’s where this article goes wrong), and that Ryan’s publicly announced intent is to restore charity into the hands of churchmembers, not letting anyone new on is a logical start. Excluding newly conceived children is a side effect, and makes perfect sense when you look at the greater goal of replacing welfare with personal charity.

        Ryan is certainly not trying to prevent personal charity toward unborn children.

    • Richard Johnson

      Whatever the reason, Rand’s own words, as published on the Ayn Rand Foundation’s website, leave little doubt where she stood with regards to religion, and abortion.

      Excerpt from “Of Living Death” in The Objectivist, October 1968:
      An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

      Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”

      From a 1964 interview in Playboy magazine:

      Playboy:
      Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything of constructive value to human life?

      Rand:
      Qua religion, no—in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy.

  • Observer

    Fact: Repubs are losing. Ryan is going to leave the seat of governor and leave the people of Wisconsin behind. The repibs have focused solely on the executive branch. And should they win, they will have a dem legislative branch to contend with and lose legislation. If repubs lose, however, there is an absolutely better chances of a repub legislation out of checks and balances of powers restricting the prez.

    • Peggy R

      Ryan is not a governor. Makes me wonder how informed your comment actually is.

    • Josh

      Wow, that was confusing. Though I’m certain Scott Walker will be relieved to know that Paul Ryan is leaving him his seat.

  • Tim

    I’m not Catholic but I’m missing something in this discussion (I’m a simple person). Where did Christ say it was the responsibility of government to take care of the poor, or how government should budget their money. I seem to recall this was a commission given to individuals and the church. Ryan’s budget recommendation, no matter what they are, don’t go against any teachings of Christ.

    • Irenist

      You might not understand this b/c you’re not Catholic, but we are not a sola scriptura denomination. We also look to Sacred Tradition to inform our faith. What we are debating is the application of Papal social justice encyclicals, not the application of a particular verse of the New Testament.

      • Tim

        Maybe that’s why I’m not Catholic (my wife is). Seem’s the ‘buck” is being passed where it doesn’t belong – government, i.e. let other’s do it. It’s a weak starting position to push the responsiblity, whether moral or otherwise, onto others, in this case governments, instead of where it rightfully belongs. Furthermore, I can’t recall Christ ever advocating to take from the “rich” and give to the “poor,” though he did instruct individuals to give of their own to the poor (it’s amazing how the Bible never condemns people for being “rich”, and alot of “rich” people are mentioned and actually glamorized). Maybe if the Church (both individually and collectively)were to get back to it’s original commission, real solutions to poverty would be achieved.

        • Irenist

          “Furthermore, I can’t recall Christ ever advocating to take from the “rich” and give to the “poor,” though he did instruct individuals to give of their own to the poor[.]”
          Right, but who is *taking* from the rich? The coins have Caesar on them; render unto Caesar. The dollars have Washington on them, and guess where they’re going? Washington. Money and markets are creatures of the State, not the state of nature. You want to make money in honest markets, you owe the State its share, as a matter of simple justice. How large a share is up to the electorate. If you don’t like the share, move to another State. Somalia is quite libertarian, I hear: there’s no State at all.
          *
          “it’s amazing how the Bible never condemns people for being “rich”, and alot of “rich” people are mentioned and actually glamorized).”
          Uh, camel…eye…needle? Lazarus and Dives? The social Darwinist Gospel of Wealth is a heresy, y’know. Try Ross Douthat’s “Bad Religion” for more on that.

      • Tim

        And I do understand that the debate regards the application of Papal social justice encyclicals. While I haven’t read the exact one(s) you’re debating, I have been married to a Catholic for almost thirty years and attend Mass weekly with my wife. I just believe it’s aimed at the wrong “application.” I would prefer the Church fulfill it’s commission and that government fulfill it’s commission. In the end, it will result in better results for all.

        • Irenist

          Okay, so you were just asking a rhetorical question to make a point. Got it.

          • Tim

            Actually, my comment goes to the root of the debate about Ryan and his budget. Many have commented about it above.

    • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

      Isn’t there plenty of Biblical support for the proposition that a community can use its common goods in ways that are just or unjust?

      • Irenist

        Yes. Much of the prophetic witness of the Old Testament is about just that.

        • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

          Anybody know of a good essay on how (or if) the community’s duty toward the widow, orphan, and alien was modified once Israel insisted on a king?

  • Rosemarie

    +J.M.J+

    Brit Hume interviewed Paul Ryan today and asked him point blank about Ayn Rand. Here’s the question and Ryan’s reply:

    “Brit Hume, FOX News: What is your view of Ayn Rand? Are you an Ayn Rand disciple?

    “Rep. Paul Ryan: No. I really enjoyed her novels, Atlas Shrugged in particular. It triggered my interest in economics. That’s where I got into studying economics. That’s why I wanted to study the whole field of economics.

    “I later in life learned about what her philosophy was, it’s called Objectivism. It’s something that I completely disagree with. It’s an atheistic philosophy. But I think what she’s done is she’s showed — she came from communism. She showed how the pitfalls of socialism can hurt the economy, can hurt people, families and individuals and that to me was very compelling novels. Which says freedom, free enterprise, liberty is so much better than totalitarianism and socialism. Those novels, I thought were interesting. But her philosophy, which is different, is something I just don’t agree with.”

    I think when Ryan insists that he rejects Rand’s “philosophy,” he is referring to Objectivism.

    • Irenist

      Well, this is an entirely unobjectionable statement from Congressman Ryan. I don’t think he was ever an Objectivist. But I don’t think that’s the problem with him either: it’s that his Randian view of economics in particular is in flat disagreement with Catholic social teaching. It’s not Rand’s atheism or abortion-cheerleading that are the problem with Ryan, it’s her division of the world into makers and takers, and her pitiless social Darwinist scorn for the latter.

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

        Not *entirely* unobjectionable. He says he really enjoyed the novels of Ayn Rand. Dare we trust someone with such a dodgy aesthetic history with political power?

        • Irenist

          His running mate liked “Battlefield Earth.” The aesthete constituency has bigger worries.

  • Bob

    There’s one thing I don’t understand. For a long time, a large number of commenters on this blog have held up Ron Paul as a viable, if not preferable candidate for president. But Ron Paul has such allegiance to the philosophy of Ayn Rand that he named his son after her. Why was Paul acceptable, but Ryan not?

    • Peggy R

      Ding! Ding! I had wondered about that!

    • Richard Johnson

      Well, it’s not true. His given name is Randal, and there was no association with Ayn Rand when he was named.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rand_Paul

    • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

      Unlike Paul Ryan, Ron Paul does not support pre-emptive wars or bailing out America’s irresponsible rich at everyone else’s expense. Ron Paul’s admitted admiration of Ayn Rand is probably the one thing I firmly dislike about him but at least he doesn’t use that fallacious philosophy towards ends categorically opposed to church teaching like Paul Ryan does.

    • Irenist

      Wow. Great, great question.
      I dislike Ron Paul’s libertarian economics as much as Ryan’s, and I think his deflationary hawkishness and gold-buggery would have cataclysmic effects on the global economy if he were elected President. As he stood no chance of being elected President, I was happy to cast a protest vote in the G.O.P. primary for him out of respect for his principled libertarian originalist voting record (even consistency in service of principles I disavow can be admirable), his excellence on pro-life questions (both abortion and torture), and his opposition to narcotics prohibition and foreign entanglements.

  • Theresa

    I see your point, but maybe in my naive little world I have a slightly different take on it. With respect to Ryan’s statements on Rand, he was speaking to a bunch of pro-Rand people and I’m more likely to credit him with trying to connect with his audience. And I think there is more than one way to view what he said. For example, I used to believe certain political ideas. I researched them. While originally they spurred me into action in one direction, those political ideas eventually changed (probably through God’s grace) and I have worked on those issues in a different direction. But I could still say those issues got me involved in the first place. Maybe this is how he sees Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Maybe it got him started in one direction, he learned more and has honestly come to a different understanding. Last I checked, this is one of the tricky things about heresy. It usually contains a nugget of truth, otherwise it wouldn’t have any appeal. And that nugget can hook somebody. But if they ultimately retain the nugget of truth and reject the fallacy, is that not a good thing?

    • Irenist

      If that’s what happens, then it’ll be great. The worry is that Rand is more like Marx than Aristotle: it’s more like a needle of truth in a haystack of cant.

  • http://www.subversiveThomism.com Dave

    I am voting for Jill Stein because I want a better country, not a worse one. Romney and Ryan (i.e. Austerity, Inc.) will work to shift wealth to the top one percent; so will Obama and Biden. Corporate government has failed; capitalism has failed. It’s time to abandon these inhumane monsters.

    • Irenist

      Jill Stein is quite pro-choice, though, right?

      • http://www.subversiveThomism.com Dave

        Yeah. Typically, though, we in the Green Party think there are bigger issues to be addressed. I don’t really take much interest in abortion as a political issue (I favor some sort of compromise where it is legal in the first trimester, probably illegal in the third, and let the states decide on the second). However, I think there are bigger issues at stake right now; namely, whether or not society even survives the tyranny of capitalism.

        • Irenist

          I think the consensus among Catholics hereabouts is that abortion is the overriding issue of our time, akin to slavery in antebellum America, so I perhaps unsurprisingly disagree with your sense that there are bigger issues to be addressed. But I don’t know that I can really convince you of that in a combox.
          So let me ask you instead, if I may: what would be the alternative to “the tyranny of capitalism”? European social democracy, or something else?

    • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

      I’d be awfully careful before making such grand statements as “capitalism has failed.” To declare it a failure is a call to an alternative economic model and the alternative to capitalism is collectivism: socialism, communism, a centrally-planned economy. “Capitalism” is a broad term that refers to any economic model based in the individual ownership of property, a non-capitalist economy in contrast finds its basis in collective ownership of property. “Capitalism” may refer to both “good” and “bad” economic models: there’s corporatism which you mention and that probably best describes the United States (it is also the worst form of capitalism, combining the worst aspects of capitalism with the worst aspects of collectivism) but there’s also a hundred other variations like the classical liberal economic model and even distributism is fundamentally capitalist even though some distributism beg to differ (in fact, I would argue that distributism is even more capitalist in nature than many other capitalist models like corporatism in that property rights are more jealously protected for everyone, whereas corporatism demands systematic government seizure of property from the non-privileged).

      Pope Leo XIII, in Rerum Novarum, had the following to say on capitalism:

      “Every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own.”

      “Man’s needs do not die out, but forever recur; although satisfied today, they demand fresh supplies for tomorrow. Nature accordingly must have given to man a source that is stable and remaining always with him, from which he might look to draw continual supplies. And this stable condition of things he finds solely in the earth and its fruits. There is no need to bring in the State. Man precedes the State, and possesses, prior to the formation of any State, the right of providing for the substance of his body.”

      “Private ownership is in accordance with the law of nature.”

      “They assert that it is right for private persons to have the use of the soil and its various fruits, but that it is unjust for any one to possess outright either the land on which he has built or the estate which he has brought under cultivation. But those who deny these rights do not perceive that they are defrauding man of what his own labor has produced.”

      “As effects follow their cause, so is it just and right that the results of labor should belong to those who have bestowed their labor.”

      “The laws of nature, the foundations of the division of property, and the practice of all ages has consecrated the principle of private ownership, as being pre-eminently in conformity with human nature, and as conducing in the most unmistakable manner to the peace and tranquillity of human existence.”

      “Paternal authority can be neither abolished nor absorbed by the State.”

      “Each needs the other: capital cannot do without labor, nor labor without capital. Mutual agreement results in the beauty of good order, while perpetual conflict necessarily produces confusion and savage barbarity.”

      “”It is lawful,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “for a man to hold private property; and it is also necessary for the carrying on of human existence.”"

      And here’s what he had to say on socialism:

      “the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community. ”

      “The socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and setting up a State supervision, act against natural justice, and destroy the structure of the home.”

      “The sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the levelling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation.”

      “Class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the working men are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict. So irrational and so false is this view that the direct contrary is the truth.”

      “At the present day many there are who, like the heathen of old, seek to blame and condemn the Church for such eminent charity. They would substitute in its stead a system of relief organized by the State. But no human expedients will ever make up for the devotedness and self sacrifice of Christian charity. Charity, as a virtue, pertains to the Church.”

      Corporatism has failed. Every flavor of centrally planned government around the world has failed. Capitalism remains largely untried.

      • Irenist

        I agree that capitalism has not failed; it’s brought unprecedented plenty to billions. And, indeed, any disavowal of the right to private property would deeply violate Catholic social teaching.

        But something like pure laissez faire capitalism was tried in the 19th century before being replaced with the regulatory welfarist variant of capitalism in the 20th century West in response to the Communist threat. I think the latter variant of capitalism, for all its many, many, flaws, is the best yet devised.

  • http://www.subversiveThomism.com Dave

    I know plenty of Catholics who don’t take much interest in abortion as a political issue (including myself). I know hardly any, personally, who think it is the “overriding issue of our time,” though I see Catholic pundits on TV repeat that sentence sometimes.
    There are several alternatives to 21st Century American Capitalism. Ideally, returning as much control of ownership of resources and means of production to individual citizens and laborers as possible. Currently, a disproportionate amount of resources and means of production are in the hands of a few “investors.” This kind of economy is rapidly proving itself untenable. Economically, my views are a sort of mix of Marx, Belloc, E. F. Schumacher and Keynes. The more localized the economies, the better (which is why I am so thrilled to see the Occupy movement pushing for local community gardens, self-sustenance, etc), with regulatory frameworks to protect human dignity and safety standards when inter-community trade is necessary or mutually desirable.

    • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

      I’m very interested to hear how you reconcile Belloc with the likes of Keynes and Marx. Also, if you like localized economy then you should familiarize yourself with Chesterton’s distributism (but, if you know Belloc then you probably already have). I’m also interested in how you reconcile your views that capitalism is “tyranny” and how “returning as much control of ownership of resources and means of production to individual citizens” constitutes any kind of “alternative.” You’d be replacing corporatism with another form of capitalism (which I would approve of but you seem to take a different view).

      • http://www.subversiveThomism.com Dave

        I think distributivism is probably correct. I’m not an economist by training (I am a metaphysician and ethicist), so I have to paint things in broad strokes when talking about economics.
        By capitalism I basically mean a system in which capital is typically expected to be divorced from labor. Interestingly, this would include socialism as a species of capitalism; I’m okay with that.
        I think Keynes demonstrated that there can be a legitimate place for government spending and interference in markets.

        • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

          In all my reading I have never heard of any school of economics ever define capitalism thus. In fact, most of the examples I can think of that would fall under your definition would be rejected as the very opposite of capitalism by most economists. While you may be “okay” with socialism as capitalism (since you seem to consider both tyrannical) the great minds of the last century who bitterly fought each other over the differences would be rolling in their graves over such a generalization. As for Keynes, the only people whom I’ve ever heard take him seriously were either politically motivated or ignorant. His theories provide the illusion of legitimacy to governments to do what they’ve always done anyway: steal from the masses and give to their friends through market manipulation and hyperinflation. Its Keynesian economics more than any other school of economic thought thats led us to a corporate fascist state in the first place.

          • http://www.subversiveThomism.com Dave

            “As for Keynes, the only people whom I’ve ever heard take him seriously were either politically motivated or ignorant.”
            I will only say that I know enough professional economists due to my academic connections to know, from their testimony (and they are myriad) that Keynes is pretty much the predominant school of economics. This includes even those who have strong disagreements with either part or all of his theory. Given their credentials, I can rule out the possibility that they are all just ignorant. You might just accuse them all of being “politically motivated” (whatever that means), but I am inclined to take their word for it.

            Again, I am not a professional economist by training, so I am really unable to delve into too many details of economic theories; but I am skeptical of your claims.

            • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

              Keynesianism tells government what it wants to hear so government does everything that it can to promote Keynesianism, but that doesn’t make it correct. Both Obama’s and Romney’s policies are guided by keynesian economics by the way.

  • http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/08/15/nobama-2012-a-catholic-case-for-romney/ Bonchamps

    It’s not that I disagree with anything you’ve said here. It’s just that this post itself seems self-defeating. You’re acknowledging that people want to be – in fact, need to be – fired up and enthusiastic for the not-Obama ticket to succeed. You appear to want the not-Obama ticket to succeed. And yet you are arguably going out of your way to appear somewhat neutral.

    I’m not really faulting you, since getting enthused about Romney isn’t easy. But if defeating Obama is crucial in November, and I believe it is, then we have to be willing to speak and act as if we’ve really chosen a side and stay consistent with it. I have to do this too.

    My two-cents, for all they are worth (I guess only about two literal cents): you’ve made your position clear. We know where you stand on Ryan and on the whole mess that is modern American electoral politics. You have it on the record, a hyperlink away for any future reference. Now dive into the political fight forget about it until November 6. Fight because the liberty of the Church is on the line in this election!

    • Mark Shea

      Actually, what I’m doing is going out of my way to try to use this as a teaching moment, to show how it is that party spirit makes people wind up doing the opposite of what we should be doing as Catholics. All while Ryan is being hailed as a New Aquinas mining Aristotle for insights, the reality is that the bulk of his defenders are busy mining the Tradition for one or two things (‘Prolife! Subsidiarity!”) and then completely blowing off the Tradition where it is not useful to the success of the Party.

  • RSMaxwell

    Why is it that more often than not, I in no way can see a substantive difference between Mark’s posts and those of the combox. I have been told by people who know Mark that he is a wonderful Catholic, but I don’t see that very clearly in his blog posts — whether he is attacking the left or the right. Maybe he thinks that he is the modern St. Jerome.

  • Justin

    Two things: One, in and of itself, Ryan’s firm belief in the scaling down of the welfare state is not tantamount to Ryan’s endorsement of the starvation of young children. It doesn’t really matter if some here claim that some of the programs Ryan wants cut SEEM to be in line with Catholic social teaching. As in foreign policy, there is legitimate room for Catholics of good conscience to disagree on how to best serve the poor; concocting a massive Leviathan actually hinders the distribution of goods and services to those in need as most of the money is squandered on bureaucratic costs/corruption and, because of the sheer size of federal programs, the ability to vet fraud is quite difficult (which is why Ryan support charities on a city-by-city and state levels as opposed to at the federal level). Two, I do share the concern expressed several years ago by Rick Santorum that there is an increasing intimacy within the GOP with writers such as Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises (Senator Santorum referred to the phenomenon as “the libertarianization of the Right.”). The problem with Rand and Mises is that, in their attempt to rebuke the extreme collectivism of communism, they erroneously overemphasize the primacy of the individual. As a result of this premise, society, according to Randians and Misesians, is simply a collection of atomized individuals who are a part of society only insofar as each individual consents to being a part. In essence, libertarianism is to politics and the common good as protestants are in theology: they are radically individualistic and their ideas ultimately fail to bring about the desired unity that we all seek as social beings. But, as Senator Santorum marked, this philosophy of individualism is beginning to take over the GOP and the modern Conservative movement. If one scours the expanse of literature on most right-wing websites, or spends any amount of time listening to radio personality simpletons such as Mark Levin, one will notice how deeply embedded the insidious cancer of libertarianism has become within the Conservative movement. The Right no longer speaks of natural law, or subsidiarity, or any other term found within the lexicon of the Catholic political tradition. In fact, you never even hear Christ’s name mentioned on townhall.com, for example. Please, when has a writer for the National Review or the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Board actually referenced the political thought of Aquinas, John of Salisbury or John of Paris (Or even, the unheralded Catholic political theorist Joseph de Maistre)? Rather, The Right only speaks in terms of how much those ‘filthy liberals’ are stealing ‘MY money’ to pay for something ‘I” don’t like, or, “get out of my face, state, it’s my money and I’ll keep every penny of it if I damn well please.” The closest we get to hearing solutions by many conservatives nowadays is some dogmatic belief that, if we just cut enough taxes and let the market ‘operate,’ all peoples will be fed and clothed. A 0% tax rate and the NASDAQ at 30,000…that is our panacea!!! Well, that’s just not true. It is time that the Right reacquaint themselves with the fact that the market is morally neutral and that liberty is simply a means. Both the market and the principle of liberty must be imbued with a Christian ethic and must be subjugated by a Christian moral order, otherwise, both the market and liberty will fail to be the gifts intended by God for the benefit of man. This will require that Right-wing politicians actually engage in a richly complex discussion that will traverse the peaks of faith, metaphysics and Christian anthropology (which is why, sadly, this conversation will never take place). For the modern Right, it’s all about dollars and cents, dry critiques of bureaucracy, and keeping your paws on your property. The GOP should change it’s acronym to GDP.

  • LouisG

    Mr. Shea,

    I’m a Paleo-Conservative, and therefore no big fan of Romney or Ryan. And I also try to be an orthodox Catholic, so I’m not a fan of either for theological reasons as well. But it seems the centerpiece of your article here is this:

    Let’s be clear about what that means since Rand’s “fantastic” “explanation” of the morality of individualism that, for Ryan, is what matters most is not “Individual responsibility is good” (you can get that from the Catechism or a Horatio Alger story) but Selfishness is good and Christian charity is the gravest sin you can commit. I’m not claiming Ryan has internalized that message completely, but that only means that Ryan is not a good reader of Rand.

    Honestly, I think without offering any proof of that, it’s a quasi-calumny – i.e., not a conscious one on your part, but because of some lapses in critical argument, it paints him unfairly. It’s a big leap from being a fan of Rand (which I am not even though I admire self-reliance, etc.) to thinking “Selfishness is good and Christian charity is the gravest sin you can commit.”

    Mr. Shea, can you really come to a reasonable conclusion that Ryan holds the belief you are imparting to him, albeit “not internalized,” based on what you’ve offered? I’m not sure what you’re basing this on, and you’re not real clear about it. You offer two out of context quotes which when read in context I don’t find very convincing of your position.

    You also offer a false dialectic:

    Just this past October Ryan was eagerly dividing the human race into Rand’s Manichaean classes of Makers and Takers. One does not detect in that a careful reading of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, nor of the Beatitudes and Woes “Blessed are you poor. Woe to you who are rich” nor of the Church’s preferential option for the poor.

    Being a Maker does not mean one is rich, being a Taker does not imply one is poor. Case in point: Mother Teresa was a maker, usurers are takers. Because one is at odds with “Takers” does not necessarily mean that one is at odds with the poor. In fact, I hold it is not a Catholic worldview to have such a myopic view of “makers and takers” such that one inherently ascribes them to material goods (i.e., makers have material good, takers don’t). Ironically, that’s exactly what you did when you went from “makers and takers” and applied it to him – you jumped from “makers vs takers” to “rich vs poor”. Obviously the poor are blessed not because of lack of funds, but because of lack of adherence to worldly things. Likewise the rich are not damned because of too many funds, but because of an inordinate attraction and desire for worldly things.

    Besides which, in fact, if you listen to what he said, he was describing “makers” not as the rich, but as productive members of society. Here is one of his statements on “Makers and takers”:

    http://nation.foxnews.com/paul-ryan/2012/08/03/paul-ryan-takers-vs-makers-society

    So, can you please spell out exactly why he should be labelled as holding, even subconsciously, to Randian ideas that are unCatholic. I think it’s only fair if you are going to accuse him of such, you offer more concrete facts. I have my own problems with Ryan, but I see no good argument to back up the picture you are painting of him.

  • Barbara Holt

    Dear Mr. Shea:

    Did you happen to see the interview on EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo? If not, I would suggest you check it out.

    I am a pro-life Catholic voter who will be voting for Romney/Ryan because of their positions on sanctity of innocent human life. Obama/Biden are 100% abortion (Obama supports abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy). That fact alone makes Obama/Biden unworthy of my Catholic vote. All other issues are a matter of prudential judgment.

    For the voiceless,
    Barbara Holt

    • Irenist

      “All other issues are a matter of prudential judgment.”
      With the exception of the torture issue, this is true. As someone who has been vociferously criticial of Ryan’s economics in this thread, I’m happy to add my voice to those who remind us that his errors–if errors they be–in economics are merely prudential, not matters of supporting intrinsic evil.

      • Mark Shea

        Actually, forcing Catholic hospitals to prescribe the morning after pill is not a matter of prudential judgemnt. Nor is Romney’s enthusiastic support for torture. Nor his zeal for another pre-emptive war.

    • Mark Shea

      Romney has a long track record of abortion support. He also forced Catholics to dispense the morning after pill. He is eager for another war (with Iran). He uses pro-torture rhetoric as an applause line. And Ryan is throwing his weight behind this man. These people do not reflect a Catholic position on the sanctity of human life. They are anti-abortion, not prolife. Sayin “all other issues” are a matter of prudential judgement is false.

    • PW

      I’ve been reading this blog and the comments with a lot of interest, and just this once feel the need to chime in:

      You identify as pro-life; well, good. However, what is the difference between an unborn child killed in the womb, the poor person dead from absence of some service because they feel they cannot afford it (which may or may not be true, the bottom line is they do not get the service and thus wind up dead), and the soldier shot on a battlefield in a war his/her gov’t. has called for (and by that notion the majority of a country’s people have accepted as necessary). You might say that the unborn child had no choice — but how much choice do the other two really have? I suppose the poor person could steal and thus get the service and the soldier could refuse to serve — but you wouldn’t like them to do it; you might even accuse them of being morally corrupt in choosing their lives over the common good and this would have basis in the truth — but you can see the conundrum can’t you?
      Dead is dead, no matter when, where, why or how it happens — and if a person wants to uphold one’s faith by being pro-life, one has to consider life at all its stages and forms as being a valuable and vulnerable thing. One has to vote for a gov’t. that respects life in all its stages and forms, not just one special and particular incarnation thereof or the identification of being “pro-life” loses its meaning.
      The just government is one that takes the common good of all its citizens into account (and life is the common good at its most basic level), and that is what members of a free society must demand and the faith must keep honest. If it falls down in one area and only holds up one piece with no regard to the rest (or is even encouraging a disregard of the rest) then it fails to meet the criterion.

  • JD

    “I reject her philosophy, 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…Don’t give me Ayn Rand.” Paul Ryan

    • Mark Shea

      Golly. Nobody ever pointed out *that* quote before!

      • JD

        I know, I know Mark. It doesn’t matter that he said, he’s an evil Randian psychopath. We shouldn’t presume good will or take a man at his word. If you tell us he’s unrepentant, then he’s unrepentant. Why can’t everyone just bow down and acknowledge your omniscience (and ability to read people’s souls)?

        http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ExclusiveCommentary.aspx?id=be30afd3-f228-4c23-becd-0e6f2ac0b649

        What a Randian radical .

        • Mark Shea

          Never said he was evil or a psychopath. Said was dishonest for trying to claim that it was an “urban legend” spread by his liberal enemies that Rand is a huge influence. I’ve made that clear several times. But you are here to shout that down. Don’t need another person to lie about me here. Bye!

  • Springy

    Gentlemen,

    At the end of the day, when we have all returned to our corners and congratulated ourselves on how Catholic we all are, we are still asked to pick the BEST of the Candidates AVAILABLE. Jesus is not on the ticket, nor is the pope. This has been true for every election since the founding of the country. No president who has EVER served has been as close in perspective to Catholic doctrine as we would all like. And you all KNOW that in REALITY no third party candidate has any more of a chance of getting elected than any of us do. This bickering has an evil undertone because the world depends on the freedom and health of this country and we are going to hasten its failure by nitpicking and bickering. There is no doubt that the Romney/Ryan ticket will do more to right our course – not fix all the problems because no Executive Branch can – but right our course into a safer direction – than Obama/Biden. There is no argument against the Romney/Ryan that on balance is not made insignigicant in comparison to the attacks by Obama on our Catholic Faith ALONE… not to mention how he has extended the recession, further degraded our values by advocating for gay marriage, not only supported abortion rights but even INFANTICIDE in both the Illinois legislature and the federal legislature, jeopardized our security around the world, and violated the trust of the American people. Either vote honestly for the better of the choices you have, or admit that you are not being good stewards of this GIFT of a nation God has blessed us with! Romney/Ryan is NOT the lesser of two evils but the better of two imperfect humans!

    • Mark Shea

      Translation: Shut up and vote Republican. Wanting to avoid sins worthy of the everlasting fires of hell is “perfectionism”. Party before gospel. World without end. Amen.

  • http://www.godspace3.com Tota Tua

    I would like to point out that not voting for an increase in funding is not the same as defunding. We hear this all the time in Cali regarding “cuts to school funding”. well they aren’t cuts, they are just not increases – there is a big difference. That is how I read the Ryan budget, voting AGAINST increases, not voting for decreases.