The Thing that Used to be Conservatism vs…

Reagan’s first Budget Director. Here is David Stockman talking about Paul Ryan’s fairy tale budget plan. This would be the Ryan whose budget received a round drubbing from the bishops a few months back as failing the “basic moral test” of protecting the most vulnerable.

Remember: Ryan’s budget is a brilliant Aquinas-like purification of Randian thought, not a capitulation to some of the worst in Rand and a surrender of Catholic teaching on the common good to a truly dreadful human tradition. Besides, the only thing that matters is that he is anti-abortion. That is, we are to understand, the same thing as prolife. And prolife is the same thing as orthodox. And so the bishops are wrong, and so is Stockman and, as one of my readers so eloquently summed things up, “Time to get on board.” I have to vote for a candidate who spent years supporting abortion and only “changed his position” at the exact moment it became politically expedient to do so. I am to support him, even when he compelled Catholic hospitals to dispense the morning after pill, just like the HHS mandate. I am to support him when he is indifferent to gay marriage and is telling the Boy Scouts to admit homosexuals. I am to support him when he uses support for torture as a surefire applause line. I am to support him when he is very excited about plunging us into fresh wars in the service of Empire. All because Ryan is allegedly Really Truly Deeply Catholic. Or at least prolife. Or at least anti-abortion.

I can, as I say, see an argument for the Sucks Less position.  But this rubbish about Really Truly Awesomely Aquinas-like Ryan is induced Tina Fey intensity eyerolls. The more I see what party spirit does to make people sacrifice significant portions of the Tradition in order to win, the more convinced I am of the pernicious effect it has on Catholics. We *consistently* wind up ransacking the Tradition for the bits that fit the party agenda and we *consistently* wind up denouncing those who insist on paying attention to the fulness of the Tradition as “perfectionists”. Indeed, we consistently wind up denouncing those who just want to avoid supporting grave intrinsic evil as “perfectionists”.

Nope. Done with that.

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  • Leo Leone

    You know, Mark, I wonder what you would ever do with political power. And don’t tell me you don’t want it. From the way you talk about politics, you’d *love* it. So tell me, if you were the interior minister of a Catholic nation, would you arrest anybody who even dared to read Ayn Rand, let alone agree with even one of her ideas? And what would you do once you arrested them? How long would you encarcerate them? Would you even torture them — you, the almighty anti-torture advocate — to get them to recant?

    After all, it’s not like Catholics haven’t behaved that way before, hmm?

    No, Mark, you’re not so pure that you can’t turn into Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. Just look at the way you treat people on your own blog — let alone try to put everyone in an ideological straight jacket of your own design.

    • Mark Shea

      Hysterical much?

      • DTMcCameron

        That was about as much fun as your obsequious robots.

        • oh boy, obsequious robots! now where can I get me some of those?

    • Ted Seeber

      I’m not Mark and I don’t play him on TV. But yes, if I was dictator, I would limit *all* atheist authors to either the fiction shelves or to Approved Atheist Studies in Universities, with a requirement of psychological testing for acceptance into the program and limited to philosophical, political, and theological majors. That goes for economists on both the left and the right as well; Rand and Marx are not good food for lower IQ minds.

      • Blog Goliard

        “Rand and Marx are not good food for lower IQ minds”

        Actually, where both of them are at their most dangerous is when they are encountered by rather bright, but not yet mature, minds.

        In most cases, youngsters should be discouraged from reading either until they are upperclassmen in college.

    • Gary Keith Chesterton

      If I were dictator, yes, I too would ban Rand, much along the same lines as Ted Seeber. I would also ban tattoos, except for sailors and Marines.

      • Dan C

        Please ban tattoos! Please!

  • From Ryan’s bishop, to whom Ryan took his budget proposal:

    “Thus, it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryan’s specific budget prescription to address the best means we spoke of. Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission. But, as I’ve said, Vice Presidential Candidate Ryan is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above. Of that I have no doubt. (I mention this matter in obedience to Church Law regarding one’s right to a good reputation.)”

    Stick to other lines of argument, Mr. Shea. The budget may not be perfect, and you may disagree on the application of certain principles of Catholic Social Teaching, but it’s unreasonable and borderline slander to believe that he didn’t really try. Things like the budget are at least points of reasonable prudential judgment.

    Things like gay marriage, abortion, warmongering, torture, et al., aren’t. That’s why my vote is going against Obama. (Tentatively, therefore, … Republican.)

    • Didn’t you used to be Catholic and Loving It? What ever happened to that?

      • Well, “Enjoying It.” Do you enjoy being Catholic anymore, Mark?

      • Catholic and Enjoying It, yes. Shill-for-an-Increasingly-Disastrous-Republican-Party and Enjoying It, not so much.

        • Well, the overall tone of the blog has been shill polemic for as long as I’ve been reading, which is an admittedly short time. When was the last time Mr. Shea seemed to enjoy something?

          Go back two days and you find the bad prose contest, I guess — but that’s not the sort of thing that pops out at you. That seems more like exception than rule.

          • The tone of this blog is anything but shill. Shrill, perhaps, but not shill. 😉

            But your point is valid. I keep having friends and family who know I read Mark tell me how off-putting his tone is. I don’t find it off-putting, somehow, but maybe I’m a minority.

            • Arnold

              I agree that Mark’s tone has become way off-putting when it comes to politics and public policy issues. he comes across at times as arrogant and know-it-all. I am also getting tired of the constant incessant use of several cliched phrases as shorthand for his opinions, such as the way overworked reference to “Caesar.” I wish he would try to come up with some new ones, clever wordsmith that he is.

              • Mark Shea

                Caesar is shorthand for “the state”.

                • DTMcCameron

                  I happen to love the calling of worldly power, in particular it’s condensed, centralized, personalized and subtly (sometimes less so) apotheosized form, by the name of Caesar.

                  Good to remember how little things change; how habitual the Enemy is.

            • Hah! Good catch on the typo.

              Maybe it’s time for Mark to unplug for a bit …

    • William

      I agree, I think the budget is not something you want to argue. No, it’s not perfect, but I’d take the words of his bishop to heart.

      • MarylandBill

        I always find it remarkable how often people enthusiastically agree with a bishop when the bishop agrees with them, and how often the bishop is wrong when he disagrees with them.

        Not saying that is the case here… just more of a general observation.

        • DTMcCameron

          I was shocked to see so many loudly declaring the bishops wrong. Not so much then, but upon Ryan’s nomination.

          Then was the time to argue about practicality and efficiency. To do so now is to simply wave the party flag.

          • Jamie R

            That doesn’t make sense. If it’s one guy in Congress proposing an insane budget, who cares? The house has hundreds of members, only a handful of whom have any real weight. When Ryan’s proposal is being adopted by one party, that’s a good time to talk about whether it’s a practical plan, or even whether it’s a plan, rather than just a collection of unfounded assertions.

    • Johannes

      Well said! (hard to go wrong quoting Bishop Morlino, who is a wonderful, clear-spoken man — a true shepherd, serving with humility, understanding, and love, and full of warmth and good cheer). Here is the link to his letter:

    • Ted Seeber

      I’m likely voting Republican, but if I had a chance to get Brother Ryan in a Knights Convention I’d ask him a rather pointed question about unborn babies being deserving of welfare support if their parents are unable to handle their responsibilities.

      As a consistent ethic of life guy from conception until natural death with a particular emphasis on those children conceived by the poor (since that seems to be the demographic Planned Parenthood thinks doesn’t deserve to be born), I felt downright *betrayed* by the initial Ryan budget that zeroed out welfare for pregnant women and children under the age of 5.

      • Blog Goliard

        “…zeroed out welfare for pregnant women and children under the age of 5.”

        Citation please?

        • Mr Michael Moon

          He’s referring to WIC. The Ryan Budget cuts it off.

          • Blog Goliard

            Block granting and reducing the rate of growth does not even equal a reduction in real terms. Under the Ryan budget, we’d still be spending more on anti-poverty programs than we were in the grim Dickensian world circa 1992 or 2002.

            Whether things are so much worse now that Ryan’s targets for reducing the rate of growth are unrealistic for the time being; whether the savings Ryan expects from block-granting and other reforms will prove illusory; and whether these programs have serious downsides that require serious efforts at reform…these are all legitimate points for debate, and I’m always interested to read well-informed, non-demonizing arguments on either sides of these.

            But all that’s quite far afield from what I was objecting to here. What y’all have proposed above is that Ryan would “zero out” or “cut off” SNAP and WIC. And that’s simply not true.

            I’m certain it’s not your lie–you’ve surely just been misinformed by someone–but it’s still a lie and you should stop repeating it.

            • Ted Seeber

              There is NO federal funding for SNAP or WIC in the Ryan Budget. SNAP I kind of agree with him on, but the block grants do NOT replace this money for states, which are already tapped out.

              • Blog Goliard

                In 2000, the Federal government spent $18 billion on SNAP; in 2005 it spent $33 billion. These roughly represent the bounds within which the program had operated for a long time.

                By 2010, the Great Recession had helped SNAP spending to balloon to $70 billion. The CBO baseline projection considers this $70 billion as the new normal, and thus calls for SNAP spending at an average of around $77 billion per year over the next decade.

                The Ryan budget presumes that economic recovery, combined with better efficiency and less fraud due to a reorienting of incentives and increased subsidiarity, will permit Federal expenditures to be bent down to an average of around $65 billion per year over the next decade. Yes, that’s a cut in real dollars from the recent high-water mark for this program (I apologize if my earlier statements were too categorical in stating that there would be no real cuts in year-to-year spending…that’s generally true with this budget but doesn’t hold for each individual line-item); but it’s still at least twice the level of spending of the “old normal”, and once the block-granting takes effect it’s still slated to grow each year to account for GDP and population growth and inflation.

                As for that block-granting, it’s a different way of doling out the Federal dollars, and you may very well have concerns about how well the states will be able to handle increased responsibilities for this program. But it’s still Federal expenditure on behalf of the same program.

                Anyhow, those are the numbers. You can either believe them, or keep insisting that there is “NO federal funding” for these programs that have been “zeroed out”. Your choice. You may not like the proposed changes in the level or method of funding, but that still doesn’t make your repeated statements true…and the more you persist in repeating them, the more I’m going to hold you, rather than those who may have misinformed you, responsible for lying.

                • Ted Seeber

                  ” presumes that economic recovery”

                  I find that to be an extremely bad presumption, based on what I know of current free trade currents. There is NO reason whatsoever to expect that the United States, which has now priced itself out of the world labor market and is currently suffering from a labor surplus and severe lack of demand, will be able to pull itself out of this hole at all.

                  ” Yes, that’s a cut in real dollars from the recent high-water mark for this program (I apologize if my earlier statements were too categorical in stating that there would be no real cuts in year-to-year spending…that’s generally true with this budget but doesn’t hold for each individual line-item); but it’s still at least twice the level of spending of the “old normal”, and once the block-granting takes effect it’s still slated to grow each year to account for GDP and population growth and inflation.”

                  Does absolutely NOTHING to address the fact that he’s taking away the *political point* of the *one federal program that admitted that the unborn were persons deserving of support*.

                  “As for that block-granting, it’s a different way of doling out the Federal dollars, and you may very well have concerns about how well the states will be able to handle increased responsibilities for this program. But it’s still Federal expenditure on behalf of the same program.”

                  That doesn’t matter to me half as much as the fact that he’s taken the ONE federal program that admitted that the unborn were persons worthy of support, and changed it into a block grant that the states can do *anything* with, including (and I expect something like this from my own state) require any family getting food stamps to be subject to sterilization, euthanasia and abortion progroms.

        • Ted Seeber

          It’s been all over most of the economic blogsphere for quite some time. Yes, an argument is made that the Ryan Budget replaces these programs with block grants to States, but most states don’t have a bureaucracy the size of the USDA with nutrition experts to make proper recommendations in this area (WIC is VERY targeted, it’s not like normal food stamps, it requires a doctor-patient relationship for the pre-natal portion and an army of nutritionists to manage). Thus you can’t replace this program for the unborn with block grants.

          Ryan’s own statement at Georgetown is that his budget would reduce aid to those who are not worthy of aid. I want to know why this program, which I point to as an example of the Federal Government *already* recognizing the personhood and worthy welfare status of the unborn, is in his mind not worthy of preservation.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    It just doesnt make sense to talk to guys like Mark that way.

    You need votes, if not his, some like his. But you dont try to sway or persuade, you attack. This is counterproductive, so much so I assume it must be a tic.

    I think ya’ll know deep down how wrong his budget is, and thays why the knives come out when someone dares remind you.

  • Seriously, to add to what The Ubiquitous, the US Bishops did not condemn to budget. One bishop, the head of the J&P committee, condemned the budget. If you actually watched the USCCB debate about the proposed document on the economic crisis, several of his brother bishops complained about his bishop doing this, and the confusion it caused. Cardinal Dolan said about Ryans: “They’re remarkably upright, refreshing people. And he’s a great public servant.” He also said he disagreed with him on some things, but those things involve “prudential judgement” And, wow, he’s the President of the USCCB! So Mark, it is okay to disagree with Ryan’s budget. It’s okay to strongly disagree with his budget. But your branding it as some kind of Faux-Catholic budget is really overboard. You can disagree with something political, without accusing the other side of failing in their faith.

    • Andy

      If you read the letter it represents the thinking of the USCCB – not just one bishop. One bishop signed is as the frequent practice when a committee or group comes to an agreement. The fact that other bishops don’t agree with the letter does not in any way mean that it is not the what the bishops wanted. I have not read that Mark has accused Ryan of not being a good person, a good father and a good catholic., which is what his Bishop and Cdl. Dolan said. Note the prudential comment.
      From the letter
      1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
      2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.
      3. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times. And more from the letter: Congress faces a difficult task to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices,” … “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.”
      I guess having read the Ryan proposal I am missing cuts in military spending, I must have missed the need to increase revenue, I missed somewhere in his plan the need for shared sacrifice. I see nothing in his budget that represents the desires of the bishops’ letter. But I do see a reduction in support for the poor, I do see a continued elevation in military spending and I do see a continuation of non-shareed pain. I also can’t find where it balances the budget. I see nothing Catholic in the budget at all.

  • Tina Fey? Sort of brings to mind old Sarah Palin and 2008. Anyway, apparently his own bishop thinks well of Ryan, and that’s good enough for me. At least good enough that I won’t try to do more than disagree with him on some things. And I do. I think Ryan, like most of the GOP, still believes that if we just make it easier for the wealthy, they will in turn make sure the extra benefits are passed down to the little guy – something I haven’t seen in my few decades of watching. That’s my biggest problem with Ryan’s budget. I know there are some, GOP included, who had problems with it. Some Dems, of course, took it to the extreme of Ryan throwing granny off a cliff, while Ron Paul condemned it for not going far enough. But it’s something that good Catholics can disagree with, without the need to throw a fellow Catholic under the bus.

  • Scott

    Define for me what “used to be conservatism” means. You throw it about quite often on this blog yet what do you mean by it and who would fit the bill in your opinion? From the cynical way that you write, I’m quite certain you would make the case against anyone who ever called themselves a conservative past or present.

  • I think of Paul Ryan’s budget as a starting point, not as something that would be adopted as -is. There is plenty of room in it for improvement — unless, of course, someone plans on cramming it through in the dead of night the way Pelosi & Co. did with the ACA. Obama and his administration are attempting to carve the Catholic Church in half and ruin it, along with all religion, as a public force in our society. And that is not hysteria, it’s a cold assessment of the facts. I wouldn’t vote for Obama if you paid me, and heck, the Obama administration has already tried to buy my vote by promising to sterilize me for free! Yet despite this kind offer, I remain opposed.

    • And did you get a refund check from your insurance company explaining that it was a result of the ACA? I got about $21 but I can’t be bought that cheaply. 😉

      • Ted Seeber

        I didn’t, but maybe that’s because due to unemployment I have to buy my insurance on the open market and one of the specific things I look for is low profit and low dividends to stockholders.

  • Bill

    Honestly, for both the Right and the Left, the only thing that matters is politics. We’ve become a Caesaropapist people, where we want the Church to be a department of the government. The radical left is overt in their desire for this, but today’s right (for as much as they “hate government” they sure do love polItics) does the same. And people, resigned to the fact that there are only two major parties (and frankly there’s hardly any difference between the parties anyway) just clings to their home team.

    What really sucks is that the emphasis of each party’s platform is the most where each party is opposed to the Church. Republicans pay lip service to social traditionalism, but their worship is of economic conservatism and hawkishness. Democrats pay lip service to economic liberalism, but they’ll fall in line for universal tax cuts and increased defense spending because their big money donors only care about a homosexual marriage in every church and as many abortions a day as we can get. Tgeull concede those piints if the GOP won’t be all pissy about social progressivism Their focus is social modification.

    Nobody really pays more than lip service to the Church and it’s a shame.

    • Chris

      I’m a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. Have been since I was a teenager. Socially, fiscally, etc. And the past two years or so the scales have fallen from my eyes. Anyone who thinks the government at ANY level gives a whit about the Church is a straight-up sucker. My time ill-spent bending over backwards to justify the GOP because, well, they’re not the Democrats, has come to an end. Whether or not anyone here wants to vote for Romney is their own decision to rationalize, but for the love of Pete, let’s stop trying to justify Ryan’s “budget” or his Catholic cred. He’s influenced by Rand, fact. His campaign is in favor of abortion in cases of rape, fact. He’s a politician, in a day-and-age where you have to be a borderline sociopath to not only enter politics, but survive for two decades, fact.

      I come from a blue-blue-blue state, so my vote is already trash. I may vote for Romney as a rebuke to Obama, but I will be considering a write-in candidate for the good of my conscience. This political system is so much fecal matter, and anyone clutching to the strands of Ryan’s budget as the great moral hope of this nation is seriously deluded.

    • Peggy R

      Bill said: “Honestly, for both the Right and the Left, the only thing that matters is politics. ”

      Um, well, they are primarily POLITICAL movements, after all. Political elections are the vehicles for pursuing larger social and other views of those movements. Actually, I recently read Barry Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative” basically a collection of essays on various aspects of American political, economic and social matters, as well as the Cold War which of course was at its height at the time. It is no screed. It is a reasoned discussion of the role of government. Anyhoo, Goldwater noted that the progressives/left (whatever word you choose) are only concerned with the material. The left doesn’t care about the spiritual needs of man, for freedom, eg. It is worth a read. It’s short & only $1.99 on Kindle. No, it’s not a Catholic worldview of US public policy, but centers on our constitution and the rights of man.

      • Ted Seeber

        With how some conservatives have chosen to use their freedom, I’m becoming disenchanted with the idea that man can make moral decisions individually.

  • Bill

    They will concede these points. Damn autocorrect

  • Bill

    Water boarding is torture

  • Rusty

    Forgive me, but Ryan’s budget isn’t Romney’s budget. Team Obama would like people to believe it is, but . . . it simply isn’t. So to argue against it at this point is simply silly.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Forgive me, but the budget itself is just a list on paper or a server somewhere.

      What concerns us is not the budget, but the man who wrote it. Kinda like guns dont kill people and spoons dont cause obesity, the budget isnt the problem. Just evidence.

  • No one’s soul is saved because their taxes went to help the poor.

    Ugh. This is so not true. We are better people, even as individuals, when we live in a society – as a society – that cares for its most vulnerable and damaged. Argue, if you want, that our massive social security state is a pretty bad way of accomplishing the social task of caring for the needy and I will listen to you. But I don’t see how you can read the Bible – honestly and without the interpretive framework of the American Liberal Tradition – and conclude that there is no such thing as collective guilt, collective sin, collective vice, collective repentance, and collective virtue. It’s what American Christians get all misty-eyed about when the president goes to the National Prayer Breakfast or anything by Lincoln gets quoted. (Misty-eyed, of course, until it hits them in their wallets.)

    Don’t mistake a prudential judgment (any national government ruling over 300 million people and 50 diverse states + territories is a pretty piss-poor organization for distributing justice) for a moral absolute.

    • MarylandBill

      Jon, Yes, when we live in a society that cares for its most vulnerable. Outside of the Objectivists, I imagine there are few who would disagree with you on that basis. The question here is the means by which that goal is accomplished. Is it accomplished by many people acting together to look out for their neighbor or is it accomplished by state coercion?

      If a person is forced to pay taxes and that money is used to really help the poor (as opposed to buying their votes which is what I think often happens these days), then it merits that man who paid the taxes in no way… except perhaps through the vote he case for government.

      Personally I think $5 happily given to the poor is more meritorious than $1000 taken in taxes and then given to the poor.

      • Ed Mechmann

        Certainly more meritorious to the giver, but that’s not the point. The emphasis should be on the person who is being served. A meritorious $5 is much less helpful to the poor woman who has a couple of mouths to feed, than a $1000 grant of food aid.

        The whole idea is to use the government’s tax and spend power to pool our resources and spread the cost around the entire population. That way, the individual taxpayer winds up paying much less than $5, and far, far less than $1000; they may even have enough left over to give $5 directly to a charity. It is also a better solution for the poor person who doesn’t have to go out and find 200 meritorious $5 donors, but can just put in one application at the social services department for $1000 to feed her kids.

        That’s how solidarity works, which should be a partner to the subsidiarity that so many of our fellow conservatives like to talk about.

      • “Personally I think $5 happily given to the poor is more meritorious than $1000 taken in taxes and then given to the poor.”

        How meritorious is happily paying $1000 in taxes to be given to the poor?

      • PW

        The problem is that our society (well, not just ours — greed is a human condition as is rationalizing it) would be quite content to just give $2 to the poor and that $1003 for something they find more appealing (all the while complaining that the poor are morally repugnant, responsible for their own lack of material blessings, and too much of a burden). Not all charitable organizations are directed at taking care of the vulnerable within our society (the local symphony is a lovely thing, and you can support it with charitable donations — but it is not feeding the poor nor treating the sick) — and that’s if you can get people past the notion of it being their money (which it is) and they can use it any way they want to. Objectivism helps people to rationalize such thinking.
        If people with money set the conditions for people without to have to rely on welfare, then complain about people being on welfare (and thus looting the former’s money) — well, that is perhaps the problem as well. And to give the nutty old devil her due, even Rand thought that a worker should be paid to the last penny for their labor and that the banks should be honest and in the black to the last penny…which many on the right who are so enamoured of Rand conveniently seem to overlook, as Catholic doctrine is oftentimes conveniently overlooked, and heck even the so-called Marxists often conveniently overlook the parts of socialism that don’t support their status as the “important pigs”.

      • Ted Seeber

        Solidarity also counts for something. When we form a *local* government with our neighbors to care for the poor, I think at that level we can still accomplish charity through government.

        But I disagree with you about the reason we give welfare. I don’t believe we give welfare to help the poor or to buy their votes- most of them are working in jobs where they will not have time to vote anyway. I believe our current federal government gives welfare to the poor solely to prevent the poor from banding together and using their idle time to attack the government and the rich.

        As long as we have the “floor” of the safety net, the communists will get no traction here. As soon as that safety net goes away, however, we will see the great cities east of the Mississippi burn. And that would not be a good outcome in ANYBODY’s theories.

  • Not all the Bishops agreed with that drubbing, and Ryan did go over the plan with his Bishop who said Catholic moral teaching was not violated. And I’m fairly certain Ryan did say that he wants to sit down to discuss and reform his budget with Republicans and Democrats (maybe I’m recalling incorrectly). I really don’t think Ryan’s budget is a problem; maybe some small details could better reflect solidarity and subsidarity, but I do not believe that is a grave moral issue. My concern with Ryan is his unabashed love for the Patriot Act and his aggressive stance on Middle East relations.
    And regarding Romney: he also forced Catholic adoption centers to close down if they refused to place children with gay couples.

  • bhponto

    Apparently Mr. Shea’s standards are a lot higher than Cardinal Dolan’s and Bishop Morlino (Paul Ryan’s Bishop), both of whom really seem to like Mr. Ryan. Glad we have Mark looking out for us.

    • Chris

      Well you can rest easy now. Romney-Ryan released a statement last night declaring they are in favor of abortion for victims of rape. That pretty much ends the “Ryan is a good Catholic” meme.

      Wonder what Bishop Morlino thinks now…

      • That must have hurt for you to point that out. No doubt you were hoping that they would make the grade so that you could give them your support. Maybe you should email Bishop Morlino and slap some sense into that boy. I say this because I could almost see the glee in your response.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Do me next, Padre Pio!!!

          • I’m sorry, you seem to have me confused with Padre Pio. I’m not.

          • Do me next, Padre Pio!!!

            Hilarious! Thumbs up to you, sir.

  • Chris

    No glee. Just facts. You do realize the consequences of Roe v. Wade with that stance, don’t you? You do realize the idea of “personhood” of the unborn is moot now, don’t you? Because you can’t be worthy of abortion as the product of rape, but not as the product of a one-night stand. We can’t argue that the product of rape is not a human being, but the product of a loving marriage is.

    If you’re okay with their stance for the sake of a few extra coins in your pocket, that’s for you to work out with God. And I suspect Bishop Morlino is equally disappointed, having stuck his neck out there for Ryan. If one comment from a Congressmen could generate a statement against the unborn, dial down our pro-life expectations for Romney SCOTUS nominees accordingly.

    • Truth be told, I’m at pains to think of what candidate we have or have had that would take the Catholic line. Most Protestants follow the line of ‘for life of mother’ and often (though not always) in cases of rape. Those rape cases can be qualified, and I’ve heard some say it must be within the immediate aftermath. But I really am at loss to find any candidates in the US (or heck, in most other countries) where there simply is no reason ever permitted period. So if that’s the final, unwavering point, then there’s nobody to vote for.

      • Chris

        I think that’s the conclusion I’ve come to, and it’s not a good feeling. I know the obvious superlative of evil that Obama represents. I just refuse to continue getting hoodwinked by politicians taking the name “Catholic” in vain, then sticking a shiv in our backs.

        Like I mentioned above, my vote is useless anyway in Illinois. The last line of defense is conscience in these parts… Swing state voters will feel differently.

        As I understand it, the only caveat for rape is emergency contraception, and within a time frame that precludes accidentally killing an embryo.

      • Peggy R

        I was dismayed by Romney’s statement as well, not really unexpected. I do think it is probably in line with most protestants/evangelicals’ views–well, except Todd Akin. I haven’t figured out why rape and abortion are federal matters that Akin needed to be asked about it. Conservatives need to be smarter about this stuff. We don’t have to compromise, but saying such odd things is not helpful, to say the least. Santorum would get ticked about all the gotcha obsessive questions to him about abortion, gay “marriage.” He’s not ashamed of what he believes, but he wanted to talk economics and many other public policy matters as well.

      • Ted Seeber

        Yes, for a committed CATHOLIC Consistent Ethic of Life standpoint, for which the only cause of abortion is cesarean triage in the emergency room (and even then, in some rare cases, it’s the mother’s life that is given up as being unsavable, not the child’s), there is no political party that is for that level of protection of human life. Or at least, I haven’t found one yet. Closest two seem to be The Constitution Party and The Rent Is Too Damn High Party- but both have their own anti-life planks (the Constitution Party is for defensive war beyond our borders, and The Rent Is Too Damn High Party is for a race to the bottom of the gay marriage slippery slope in which “A man should be able to marry a shoe”).

        • Yeah, if someone could point me to a party or candidate that fell into line with Catholic teaching on the subject, I would certainly listen.

  • The Deuce

    So apparently the moral thing to do is to let Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare programs in general collapse catastrophically under their debts, along with the nation’s health care system, leaving the poor and elderly suddenly without care that these programs have made them dependent upon, while simultaneously making the rest of the nation poor and needy through the destruction of the nation’s currency that this would cause. Doing *anything whatsoever* to prevent this outcome, even extremely minimal gradual things like Ryan’s plan calls for, is immoral.

    You know, I’m a proponent of tough love myself, but damn, those bishops are even harsh for me!

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      We didn’t have a fiscal “crisis” until the rich stopped paying taxes and we plunged into two unfunded wars. But no, we can’t actually address the root cause of the problem. Let’s just hurt the poor. Surely that’s the moral thing to do.

      • The Deuce

        The rich didn’t stop paying taxes, and this crisis was building long before Afghanistan and Iraq. Even now, while our war spending doesn’t help, it is miniscule compared to our debts from entitlement programs.

  • The Deuce

    Btw, David Stockman is right on. However, it makes no sense to simultaneously attack Ryan’s budget from his angle while simultaneously attacking it for the (opposite) reasons some bishops have. A credible debt-reducing budget that actually addressed the problems he names would have those same bishops screaming bloody murder.

  • MarylandBill

    Here is what bothers me about Ryan and Objectivism (I am not saying I cannot be convinced, but this specifically bothers me). He (if I remember correctly) specifically claims that Rand laid out a moral defense of capitalism that he found very persuasive. The problem is that Rand’s ideas on morality are based on three principles, Atheism, Materialism and Selfishness. I find it hard to believe that any moral argument built on any of those principles could stand in light of a Christian World View that rejects all of those principles as being moral.

  • R. Howell

    How moral is it to have no budget at all and just continue borrowing and spending on a path that will obviously bankrupt the country? How well will the elderly, poor and sick be cared for when the federal government collapses under its weight of debt? Ryan is the only person in Washington with a serious plan to even try to keep the country solvent. As of now, he wins the moral argument by default.

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      That’s right! Our county is on the verge of fiscal collapse, so we have no choice but to declare war on the poor, the sick, and the old. They’ve sucked off society’s teat far too long anyway. I mean we HAVE to make cuts somewhere. Otherwise, all those poor millionaires and multi-national corporations might not rake in more wealth than some third world nations. They might actually have to pay their just share in taxes, and we can’t have that.

      • Blog Goliard

        In 1980, the top 10% of households earned 30.6% of all income, and paid 40.0% of all Federal taxes. Whereas the lowest quintile earned 5.7% of all income and paid 2.0% of all Federal taxes.

        In 2005, the top 10% earned 40.9% of income, and bore 54.7% of the total Federal tax burden; the lowest quintile earned 4.0% of income and paid 0.8% of taxes.

        (Numbers are from the CBO.)

        Clearly, income inequality is getting worse; no argument about that. But this mythical world of yours where our country is going broke because we’re letting all the fatcats off the hook? Doesn’t exist. The rich are paying a higher proportion compared to their income, and the poor a lower proportion, than they used to.

        Maybe the proportions are still not progressive enough for your satisfaction. Fine. Then please enlighten us as to what precise percentage of the Federal tax burden would constitute the “just share in taxes” for the top 10% to pay, if they earned (as in 2005) 40.9% of the income. (Be sure to show your work.)

        (Do be aware, however, that even if you chose to confiscate every last dime of the top 10%’s income, that would still not even come close to closing our long-term budget deficit.)

        • Ted Seeber

          “The rich paying a higher porportion compared to income”

          In comparison to what year?

          This is a pro-trickle blog post, but it shows that the top marginal tax rate is WELL BELOW the tax rates in the 1940s and 1950s that funded WWII and pulled this country out of a depression, and created the modern middle class.

          If we want the middle class back we’re going to need to start MAJOR manufacturing of consumer goods to sell at subsidized prices in Islamic countries- and to do that, we’re going to need to see a return to 95% to marginal tax rates.

          • Blog Goliard

            @Ted: With respect, I don’t think you grasped the point of the article, or the charts contained therein.

            The topic at hand is whether the rich are paying their fair share. In answering that question, marginal income tax rates are not very relevant. Particularly not compared to the proportionate share of the total Federal tax burden, which I provided.

            Maybe it would help if we converted the percentages into imaginary dollar amounts. Take the CBO statistics I cited above; and let’s imagine that in both 1980 and 2005, the total sum of all personal income in America was $100,000,000; while the total amount of Federal taxes paid by all Americans was ten percent of that, or $10,000,000.

            In 1980, then, the top 10% of households earned $30,600,000, and paid $4,000,000 in Federal taxes. The lowest quintile earned $5,700,000, and paid $200,000 in taxes.

            In 2005, the top 10% earned $40,900,000, and paid $5,470,000 in taxes. This is a higher share of the tax burden and a higher percentage of their total income, even though the top marginal income tax rates were lower.

            The bottom quintile in 2005 earned $4,000,000, and paid $80,000 in taxes. The drop in their earnings over this period is unfortunate and even just plain wrong; but at least their tax burden–as a total dollar amount and as a percentage of their income–is much lighter. (You’re looking for those much-demagogued “tax cuts for the rich” that evil and greedy Republicans kept pushing in recent decades, and that are going to bankrupt the country? There they are!)

            • Ted Seeber

              I guess what really matters is that I have a different definition of what taxes are for than you do. The federal government can easily fund itself with no taxes at all by merely nationalizing the FED (taking it away from the banks that currently run it) and printing money for all needs and wants- and have the only way to get “new” money into the economy be by having a government contract.

              Therefore the income tax is about something else entirely than “funding” the federal government. To me, the income tax, like interest rate controls from the FED, is primarily about *fighting inflation* and *keeping a reasonable spread* between minimum and maximum income.

              That’s why it is a progressive tax in the first place. If it was merely about “fair share of the bill” then the obvious method would be to take the federal budget in October, divide by 300 million, and send everybody an equal bill to be paid by April 15th.

              • Blog Goliard

                “The federal government can easily fund itself with no taxes at all by merely nationalizing the FED (taking it away from the banks that currently run it) and printing money for all needs and wants…”

                Ever heard of a place called Zimbabwe?

                • Ted Seeber

                  Yes, and thus my point that the income tax is more about fighting inflation (which the other method would create) than it is about actually funding anything at all.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          You didn’t compare their tax burdens as percentages of their income, you compared their proportions of income to one another, and you compared their proportion of taxes, but you never compared the proportions of each groups income versus its own tax burden.

          Just because they pay a larger portion of the tax revenues doesnt for a moment imply ANYTHING about their tax burden as a proportion of their income stream.

          This is just dishonest.

          • Blog Goliard

            Just because you can’t understand either what I wrote or basic mathematics, that doesn’t make me dishonest.

            Accusing me of being dishonest here, however, might just make you a troll.

  • Jim

    What do you make of this press release from Romneyland that the Romney-Ryan ticket is not aooposed to abortion in cases of rape…… that unborn child not a human life?

    • Ted Seeber

      Because if the unborn child WAS a human life, then the standard of not punishing the child for the father’s crime would apply.

  • Blog Goliard

    Mark is right to inveigh against the tribalists who will not countenance any criticism of their side and its heroes.

    But that doesn’t mean we should credit that opposing crowd–present in both parties, but far more prominent among Republicans–who love nothing more than shooting at their own side. Sometimes it’s because they’ve internalized a lot of the lefty worldview and are thus eager to demonstrate that they are good people and thus not like Those Other Republicans; sometimes it’s just out of vanity and cussedness.

    Stockman was one of these snakes in the grass in the Reagan years, and remains one now. I’d find someone else to critique Ryan’s budget plans. (Not least because he has improved his proposals significantly over time in response to the better critiques.)

  • John H.

    Mark, you’re not big on posting things in context lately. I especially like your remark that “the bishops” have issued a statement condemning Paul Ryan’s budget as failing a “basic moral test.” Well, in actuality that was not the bishops, but A bishop, singular. I know Catholic Culture likes to blow things out of proportion, and it’s fun to go along with them at times, but here is the actual statement of Bishop Blaire of Stockton, CA:

    Meanwhile you have Ryan’s Ordinary, Bishop Morlino, affirming the morality of Ryan’s budget. Archbishop Aquila has done the same.

    I just don’t get you Mark. Here you have Ryan’s Ordinary approving of him, and you ignore it. But when a bishop from another diocese says he’s wrong, well I guess that means ALL the bishops think that. You certainly don’t use this logic when assessing the claims of certain “visionaries.” Why with Ryan? I’m not going to say your a closet communist, a liberal shill, or anything such thing because in principle I agree with you. Government should shell out for those in need. But this budget hardly represents an example of an intrinsically immoral law. Just because one bishop says so, doesn’t make it so. You’re apparent oversight of the facts in this instance is alarming to say the least. It does scream of a bias, a “they’re all the same, even Ryan, I know he is because he has an “R” after his name. See, See, a letter from the Bishops [sic]”. I can’t stand the republican warmonger, torture-loving, big brother building establishment any more than you can. But this budget issue hardly compares, and yet it seems to be all you hang your “no” on concerning Ryan himself. What’s the deal? Morlino, Aquila, and Blaire seem to disagree on this. None of them is infallible. What makes you any different? Who gave you the authority to proclaim Blaire’s position the infallible one among them?

    • Andy

      Bishop Blaire is writing for the Bishops Conference not himself. It was the committee of which he is head that wrote the letter and that the bishops approved of – not a unanimous vote I am sure. Please read in his letter where he says bishops plural. Bishop Morlino and Aquila are speaking for themselves, which is different. Bishop Morlino did not affirm the morality of Ryan’s budget, he said Catholics can disagree about Ryan’s budget – a far cry from approval as he says no bishop or priest can approve. He spells out intrinsic vs. non-intrinsic evils.

      • John H.

        Perhaps you should read all the way to the very end of it and see who signed it, A BISHOP, not bishops. Bishops who are heads of committees often speak for their fellow-bishops. Morlino and Aquila clearly disagree though. And regarding Morlino, it is not a far cry to say he approves of the morality of it by clearly spelling out that it is not intrinsically evil, but a matter of prudential judgment. The mind-blowing thing to me is that Mark really hates Ryan this much, yet he has no hard evidence to back up his claims. He continues to speak of Ryan’s budget as intrinsically evil, and yet his own Ordinary says it is not. Mark is being duplicitous in his assessment of Ryan. And I’m sorry, saying the “bishops” are opposed to Ryan’s budjet is just not true. Saying Ryan’s budget is intrinsically immoral is just not true. It really is up for debate. Others on this blog have pointed out the very same things Morlino and Aquila have, and Mark jumps down their throats for calling what is “intrinsically evil” a matter of prudential judgment. Why is Mark not jumping down Aquila’s throat, or Morlino’s? Well, because he doesn’t have a leg to stand on and he knows it. It’s much more fun to use his blog as a bully pulpit to tear down a fellow Catholic, call him a liar, say he supports intrinsically immoral budget cuts (what a stupid claim), and shout down anyone who disagrees with him as consequentialists. It’s disgraceful.

        • Andy

          The bishop that signed did so as the Chair of the committee that drafted the letter. He used USCCB letterhead – it begins “On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we wish to address the moral and human dimensions of the federal budget”. I have a read the letter and found it most insightful – the bishops picked on other parts of CST. Common practice is for a chair of a committee to sign for the entire body, if the body approves. Morlino and Aquila used their own letterhead and are thus speaking for themselves – big difference. Saying that something is not an intrinsic evil does not make moral. It merely means that it is not essentially opposed to the will of God by its existence – it means that there is no grey. Not being an intrinsic evil does not mean that an act is not evil.

          • John H.

            Ok, so how many bishops were behind this letter besides Bishop Blaire? Can you name them? Which dioceses do they have jurisdiction over? Are they more or less infallible than Morlino and Aquila? Which ones should we believe? Oh, I know, Mark will tell us. He is the new infallible arbiter of all things Catholic in US politics. Forget Morlino and Aquila, Shea is the new Church. All hail Shea, the arbiter of American Catholic truth.

            • Mark Shea

              Don’t be silly.

  • Anne

    I am so encouraged to see this, thank you. Fellow Catholics are often angered by my obstinant insistence to follow Church Teaching instead of towing the party lines. I make it clear that it is Church Teaching and not my opinion, but it makes no difference. It’s a very lonely desert. Thank you for some refreshment.

  • Peggy R

    The problem with the safety nets and budget is that the scope of services/products subsidized by government keeps expanding. No, we shouldn’t hold people down to indecent living conditions, of course. But we shouldn’t subsidize McMansions either. The minimum keeps going up. Then we say, well, we’re taking care of families below $X, but then those above $X, struggle too b/c they’re not “rich” but not eligible for programs. So, we say let’s take care of them, too. $X soon becomes 2*$X. How does it end? How do we set limits? Is it really hurting the “poorest of the poor” if we put limits back at $X?

    • Ted Seeber

      Here’s a strange idea I once had.

      Inflation is possible only in a country with a wide separation between the lowest earner and the highest earner. It is driven not by the amount of money the lowest earners (who, by default, only have barely enough to survive, even with subsidies, and who spend ALL their income on the material First-Level Maslow needs that anybody of our species needs to survive) but rather by the income of the highest earners (who have the money to spend more on goods and thus, drive the demand side of supply/demand pricing). For the purposes of this argument, credit counts as income, for when loans are cheap and borrowing against the future is easy, there is more money to spend on demand for the highest income earners.

      That’s the reason that one effective way to combat inflation is to raise interest rates. But it also points to a second way we could be combating inflation- higher top marginal tax rate to reduce the earnings of the very rich to be closer, though still not the same, as the very poor. With the middle class somewhere in between.

      This recommendation is not new by any means- Plato considered it in The Republic, it was pretty common to have wage controls among the medieval guilds, and of course the Communists were stupid enough to err in completely the other direction and make their wage scale so flat as to destroy all motivation to do a good job.

  • Like PW says, lets give the devil his due. One of the problems with the modern welfare state (I’m talking the huge federal bureaucracy, etc, etc, etc) is that what people need is not a “handout” per se but justice. People need justice, and justice does not always mean a handout. Sometimes it means a kick in the ass.

    • PW

      And sometimes the “kick in the ass” needs to be on the other end: there are many businesses that have no compunctions with cutting their workers’ hours (at which point the minimum wage means nothing, and they scream about that too) while blithely telling them that they can now afford (heh, gotta love it) to put their families on welfare programs.
      Of course these same people are often staunch Republicans who love to join in the castigating of the poor as looters and moochers; of course these same people have no problems with the prices of the goods and services they and their peers sell going higher and higher (thus creating a situation where fewer and fewer people can meet their basic needs…without some form of welfare assistance).

  • Mark R

    Fairy budget plan? All candidate talk for executive office is fairy talk because it will never resemble in execution what it had represented in theory. There are plenty of intervening circumstances, one large one especially — a legislature which mediates, cuts off and adds elements to the executive agenda. This isn’t an absolute monarchy and we cannot remotely expect candidate rhetoric to result in predictable results.

  • Matthew

    You say that Paul Ryan’s budget received a “drubbing from the bishops”. It certainly did NOT. This is the problem with having an episcopal bureacracy like the USCCB. The various committees have NO AUTHORITY whatsoever. Any comments they issue carry NO magisterial weight at all. Remember the fiasco of Always Our Children? Issued without the approval of ANY BISHOP and yet because it was released by the USCCB it was perceived as a Church document. In a nutshell the Ryan budget was criticized by a bunch of liberal laymen who have no authority to speak about the teaching of the Church.

    • Mark Shea

      My apologies. The USCCB *praised* the budget for failing a basic moral test.

  • Observer

    He simply knows how and does deliver a budget. All the bishop seems to suggest is he (Ryan) is able to actually deliver a budget for what it is meant for (not funding aborshun nor any other non-govt unrelated area being the mis-use of revenues which would present a disorder had any part of it went directly against the basic essential moral grounds of Church teaching. You could give him a gold-star for simply returning congress on the basics of 101-budget-making. So, yes, Ryan does know how to produce a budget and guiding (and steering) the direction for what it is for.

    Here’s the catch, though. His budget could and can present a problematic situation which would veer fairly close to and actually touch upon a particular moral disorder. That is, if he will reduce expenses for social-wellfare programs and-at-the-same-time produce a bigger size of govt in defense and justice, then he would be really freeing up the budget into another area (and not necessarily decreasing size – and power – of govt.) Further, when the wellfare programs are simply dragged up from the bottom of the feet of people who are dependent on those systems with no landing pad to fall on, then you do render a malicious and drastic budget process. And, as a result, you still of have a moral issue how the budget will be put into place with no regard to the Church’s teaching you are your brother’s keeper.

  • Anne

    Hmmm….. Mark, what is your reaction to ++Aquila saying that criticism of Ryan’s plan is unfounded? It seems that there is disagreement among our leadership concerning his plan. Anyone know where we can get the actual plan in writing, or an unbiased summary with accurate numbers/percentages, etc?

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    I understood what you wrote. I pointed out your error.

    Oh yes, it must be my poor arithmetic. And I didnt call you dishonest, I said your statements were.

    You might wanna trim your own pink ‘fro, bro.

    • Mark Shea

      Here is an example of what I mean. Find some way to relate to people that doesn’t so frequently rely on put downs of well-intentioned people.

    • Blog Goliard

      There was no error. Take a look at my follow-up explanation. The numbers did fully reflect, and make it possible to calculate, tax burden as percentage of income.