Romney’s VP pick Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand and “the morality of individualism”

While Rep. Paul Ryan is trying now to distance himself from his long-time devotion to the teachings of Ayn Rand, there is plenty of documentation to prove it, as Mark Shea said in May. At issue is not whether he had some extreme views in his youth. Nor is it a question of whether someone in the political sphere can change their mind. I detest how any change of heart is attacked as flip-flopping. But what I am looking at here are the core values that guide the person. In 2009, Ryan said, in his own congressional campaign video available here, unless they take it down:

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.

In case you haven’t read Ayn Rand, here is her “morality of capitalism”: survival of the fittest and radical individualism. In Rand’s world, groups are always weak. Leaders of groups are always manipulators. And religion, specifically, is held up as a foolish enterprise designed to pacify people, so they don’t shine out as the glorious individuals they could be. There is not one shred, not one hint, of people being authentically motivated by serving others or the common good. It couldn’t be more starkly presented than in The Fountainhead, where the Enemy is a religiously-minded person, someone who almost entered the ministry but shied away even from that level of personal excellence, whose goal in life is to sabotage individual greatness. The hero, in contrast, is an arrogant, truly despicable genius, who is driven only by personal achievement, stepping on other men and in one case date-raping a woman (though Rand defended the portrayal saying it was clear she wanted it.)

I read The Fountainhead long ago out of curiosity because some friends had pointed to it as a major influence. I was horrified throughout. I was horrified at the celebration of aggressive dominance and at the ridiculing of faith. While there were flashes of insight here and there into some of the pitfalls of collectivism, overall the book is a celebration of amorality. Or, to be more precise, as 19th century occultist Alistair Crowley said: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

The anti-religion fiscal conservatives have been quiet for a few generations, but I know them well. My dad was one. He believed in science, progress and individual achievement, and hated communism and religion equally. His work was on the predecessors of magnet schools, a wonderful endeavor but fitting with his belief in enabling individual achievement. (These programs gave a laudable opportunity to those kids in an inner city school with the aptitude to excel, but left behind the average and below-average kids.)

I think it’s wonderful that Ryan now cites teachers within his Catholic faith as influences. But the fact remains that Rand’s anti-community radically individualistic philosophy seems to remain at the base of his policies. There’s one thing Catholic conservative Paul Ryan does if nothing else: he unites the U.S. bishops and nuns in opposition.

In choosing Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate and calling him the “intellectual leader” of the Republican Party, Mitt Romney has:

  • doubled down on the 1%, encouraging the fiscal conservative side which wasn’t going to vote for Obama anyway while turning off politically aware centrists to whom Ryan has been the figurehead of the slash-the-safety-net crowd;
  • moved the debate from the potentially winnable attack on the Affordable Care Act to an assault on Social Security and Medicare;
  • completed his ticket with someone else many Christians don’t even consider Christian;
  • chosen a Catholic whose budget has been denounced by the U.S. bishops as unchristian.

Seems like the worst of all worlds: push centrists further away, don’t gain many conservatives, and possibly lose even more Catholics. I realize that for fiscal conservatives Ryan is a bit of a hero for how bold his proposals have been, but only insiders have even heard his name. Most Americans will be introduced to him by the press as an attacker of entitlements.

So, either this signals that Romney himself will also be taking a much harder line on economic conservatism going forward, which would in fact draw a strong contrast by putting Romney firmly with those who want to roll back not just health care but the whole safety net, or he’s hoping that putting Ryan on the ticket will placate conservatives, allowing him to tack centrist. Either way, I don’t think this will help him in total numbers.

Ayn Rand was not anti-religious in the popular form of “spiritual but not religious”; she believed that any impulse to care about other people was either weak or disingenuous. Her version of economics and all of life celebrated only individual dominance as the driving force. I don’t think Paul Ryan — who says he got into politics because of reading Rand — believes this, but he like a large portion of the conservative movement has not resolved the inherent disconnect between their pure free market policies, based on this invisible hand mentality, and their professed religious values. In embracing Ayn Rand so wholeheartedly while insisting he’s also a devout Christian, Paul Ryan embodies this disconnect.

This gives President Obama the opportunity to revisit the discussion of whether it is more consistent with Christian values to protect free markets or to help those in need. When framed starkly like that, it’s a loser for the Republicans. The presence of Paul Ryan on the ticket make it that stark. For those interested in drawing out moral issues in the presidential race, this just made things a lot more interesting.

About Phil Fox Rose

Phil Fox Rose is a writer, editor and content lead based in New York. He is coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of New York, helping promote centering prayer, which has been his contemplative practice for nearly 20 years. Raised atheist by ex-Mormons, Phil has journeyed through Quakerism, deep ecology, Buddhism and Catholicism. Now he's a congregant, worship leader, cook and chair of the leadership team at St. Lydia's, an awesome dinner church in Brooklyn, NY, and spends as much time in nature as possible. Phil has been a political party leader, videographer, tech journalist, punk roadie, software designer, sheepherder, stockbroker and downtempo radio DJ. A common thread is the process of learning about stuff, figuring it out and then sharing that understanding with others. Follow Phil by RSS feed, email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  • Jack Cunningham

    Wow. You managed to use every liberal prism to look at this through. As a faithful, practicing Catholic, I applaud Governor Romney’s choice. Paul Ryan has a written, well documented and earnest plan to deal the economic crisis this country is in. The truth is tough, the medicine will be tougher.

    You and the occupy people are going to have to get over the idea that this is the fault of the 1% and that they alone will pay to fix it. We have many demons in this economy, corporate payoffs are just one, which by the way pale in comparison to entitlement spending. As a charitable Catholic, I believe in the community caring for itself as was the practice prior to the war on poverty. Americans and Catholics are the most giving people on the face of the earth and we will take care of those who need. I’m not worried about the Federal Government grafting being reformed.

    Paul Ryan, a practicing Catholic, appreciating the success of capitalism expressed by Ayn Rand is much less offensive to me than the self proclaimed Catholics who have no problem defying the Church and supporting the killing of innocent children.

    • Phil Fox Rose

      Jack, thanks for your comment. I have no idea what you think was liberal in what I said, unless you mean rejecting Rand. You seem to be arguing with a different article. I said nothing about what caused our financial situation or how to solve it. In the first half I was speaking specifically to Paul Ryan’s “appreciating the success of capitalism expressed by Ayn Rand” as you put it. I want nothing to do with Ayn Rand’s amoral radically individualistic expression of capitalism. The fact that Ryan appreciates it concerns me. That’s not a liberal view. In the second half, I was simply handicapping the decision to pick him. Whatever you think of entitlement reform, it’s a fact that bringing it front and center may hurt the Republican ticket’s chances.

      • Gayle Benner

        Perhaps the “liberal” label was in reference to your reference to “the 1%” – a label you used into your handicapping, which is used by those who generally support a liberal agenda. Using liberal buzz words will quickly lead your reader to believe you espouse a liberal agenda, just as using conservative buzzwords will lead one to believe you are a conservative. Is there anyplace a conversation can occur where labels and buzzwords are not used?

        What saddens me most is the following statement you make:
        “In choosing Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate and calling him the “intellectual leader” of the Republican Party, Mitt Romney has:

        completed his ticket with someone else many Christians don’t even consider Christian . . . ”
        I will grant you that you say “many Christians don’t even consider Christian,” but the implication in your handicapping is that you, personally, question Paul Ryan’s Christianity. Are you really judging whether another person is a “Christian” or do you believe you have substantiated and are simply reporting on the beliefs of “many other Christians?” Do they deserve to be given the label of “Christians” if they judge another person’s Christianity? There will be Christians who vote the Romney/Ryan ticket, Christians who will vote for the Obama/Biden ticket (Mr. Biden seeming to be the only one of the four who has avoided an attack on his religion), and Christians who won’t vote for either of those two tickets. Labels, labels, labels….

        • Phil Fox Rose

          Gayle, I was definitely positively not questioning Paul Ryan’s Christianity. I already responded to a comment which has now disappeared (so my response has too) as follows:

          Personally I think saying anyone who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ is not a Christian because of some additional test is wrong, and I think it’s offensive. I was making a simple observation: the Republican ticket is made up of a Mormon and a Catholic. Many Christians think that Mormons aren’t Christians. Whether this would hurt Romney had been discussed for months. Rather than balancing with an evangelical or other Protestant, he picked a Catholic running mate. Some evangelicals think Catholics aren’t Christians. Nearly all of those people are in the Republican Party base. It’s a bullet point on the list of things to consider about how this will play out. That’s all I was saying.

          For the record, as you can see in my About page bio, my extended family is Mormon and I’m confirmed Catholic, some of the rest are evangelicals. I think we’re all wonderful faithful Christians.

          • Gayle Benner

            As do I. Speaking as a Lutheran, I would like to think we got over being afraid of a Catholic in the White House back in 1960, but alas, sadly, one’s chosen faith denomination (Catholic, Lutheran, Mormon, Baptist…) is used by many as a means to cast a dark shadow over a candidate. Regardless, of what book he’s read or what author he’s lauded, Paul Ryan has put forth more particulars that voters can use to judge his politics that have Messrs. Obama, Biden and Romney combined. It’s too bad we can’t discuss those particulars instead. Ryan’s a Catholic. Biden’s a Catholic, Romney is Mormon. I don’t know what President Obama professes to be and I don’t care. In any event Harry Reid is Mormon, so wouldn’t it be nice if all “good Christian”voters would ignore the label and look at the politics.

  • Michael Welch

    Just like Paul Ryan I can appreciate how Ayn Rand stripped Capitalism down to its most basic elements but personally reject her description of religion. Her description does fit how an amoral atheist would approach capitalism.
    Overall people do not work to better their fellow man, but to improve their economic situation. This doesn’t mean that the two can’t come together but the true nature of Capitalism is ammoral. It is still the best system for meeting the material needs of humanity, but it has no heart. That’s why religion and the morality within it are so important.
    Government is less efficient at performing charity than the private sector. Catholic Charities helps more people per dollar than the best government program. Christ commanded us to take care of the poor and I believe that was meant on an individual level. If I organize a charity run by private donations I am fulfilling that promise as are the people who freely donate. I think people who believe just paying taxes (or worse demanding other people pay more taxes) in order to fund government social programs fulfils this obligation are going to be shocked on Judgement Day.

    When Christ commanded us take care of the poor He didn’t start by saying,”First, gather ye taxes…”

    • Phil Fox Rose

      Michael, thanks for your comment. I agree that capitalism is amoral so we need other ways of inserting humanity and heart into the equation. My concern that this piece addresses is that Ayn Rand rejects that. She celebrates the amoral individualism at the core of capitalism. She rejects any concern for one’s fellow man, any motivation of people other than greed or pride. I agree that those who think paying their taxes fulfills their obligation to care for those in need are wrong, though I do not presume to judge the fate of their immortal souls as you are happy to do. But it’s not one or the other. Do you really think if the government got out of the social safety net business, that private charity would do everything necessary to fill the gap? I’d love to be wrong but I don’t think any evidence that supports that.

      • http://www.treehenge.org Themon the Bard

        I’d like to hear any evidence of that as well. Here’s a simple fact: Social Security costs approximately 15% of the wage income of every worker in the United States (up to the cap of $106K income). That’s mostly paying for old-age benefits — everything from groceries to nursing home care. There isn’t much to cut, there, unless you want to start throwing old people out into the street where they can starve or freeze.

        If you want to shift that over the religious charity, you somehow need to a) get every wage-earning person into a church, b) get every one of those parishioners to contribute a tithe-and-a-half.

        How many of your parishes really collect a full tithe of their members’ income? Seriously?

        Note that this is a tithe-and-a-half ON TOP OF what they are already giving for church administration and existing charities. I don’t think that makes any sense at all.

        • Gayle Benner

          Religious charity happens at many levels and much of it is not supported by tithing. For example, many hospitals are ministries of some denomination or another. In my city, other than the University hospital, one will be treated at a hospital that is a part of a huge Baptist ministry or one that is a part of a huge Catholic ministry. Tending to the poor is another huge ministry of the Catholic Church. Lutherans also have a substantial ministry that is directed toward the poor and yet another that is directed toward world relief. Education is another example of a huge ministry of many denominations. Countless colleges and universities were started as a result of some church’s ministry. In many cases those ministries are much more efficient in delivering services than the government ever can be. Every dollar contributed to the Lutheran World Relief Fund that wass designated for Haiti following the disaster there was and still is spent in/for Haiti – none goes to overhead or other expenses. Those amounts are paid by the ELCA. Those who are delivering services and goods to the Haitians are there with boots on the ground directing funds to where they need to be. I doubt our government can make the same claim. All charity, whether it is from the government or a ministry is dependent on capitalism. The contributions/taxes must come from someplace. Social Security and Medicare worked when there were more people paying into them than were drawing from them. Now the opposite is true. We, as a nation, cannot sustain that. It’s simple math – and I don’t care how much you tax those in the highest brackets. Those taxes do not pay for Social Security and Medicare – or at least they’re not supposed to.

          I can easily reconcile Paul Ryan’s faith with how he wants to restructure Social Security and Medicare. If we, as a society, want this government-sponsored safety net, then Paul Ryan, like all of our politicians, has a duty to keep it viable. – for everyone it’s supposed to benefit. I don’t believe that duty is driven by religion. Rather it is driven by the fiduciary-like relationship that should exist between a politician and his or her constituents. The bonus for Paul Ryan is that by fulfilling his fiduciary-like duties in keeping Social Security and Medicare viable, he will bolster the charity his religion seemingly requires.

      • http://pathos Karin Simon

        I had thought I was the only one bringing up Ayn Rand with regard to Paul Ryan. Then I read a post on my facebook page today from a Belgian journalist I know who brought up the mention of Ayn Rand with regard to Paul Ryan and then when I saw your post, I thought, syncronicity. Important. I am very suspicious of anyone who is a “follower”. Or who is not an independent thinker. In my assessment. I simply say, follow the talk. Its possibily true, as Ryan gets older, grows, and matures, he may see his own landscape changing or evolving. But I think we no longer are living in an either/or reality, but all of the above. life can change in the twinkling of an eye as it did in Germany in 1933.

  • Kat

    Very well put. I too read The Fountainhead and didn’t care for its treatment of religion and seeming over-glorification of man. However, ultimately I have an even larger apprehension about big government (currently reading In the Garden of Beasts—Hitler was definitely thanks to big government, as was Stalin and current China, full of human rights abuses. Power corrupts.) The assumptions behind the wisdom of higher taxes (and that’s not just on the fabled 1% as billed by this administration, but on the middle class as well) is that the government firstly knows how to use that money for the good of all people, and secondly will do that. Those are two huge assumptions
    A bad economy does no one any good, but least of all the poor. A bad economy is what we currently have, and like it or not the road out of it isn’t pretty. We need diligent people to do the boring grunt work of that tedious job. We don’t need the sheen, cool, glamor and hip of the ultimately ineffective (no matter how well they can slow-jam the news). Ryan has shown that he can do that grunt work.
    Further, unlike Pelosi and Biden, he is actually a practicing Catholic who is pro-life. He supports the conscience clause, and being in the healthcare industry that means a lot to me (eg he agrees that I should not be forced to participate in abortions or anything that I have an objection to on moral grounds). As a practicing Catholic I have more in common with Ryan than I do with such high-profile Catholics as Pelosi and Biden.
    I believe in and contribute to private charities., many of them Catholic. I was surprised when our priest came out strongly in favor of higher taxes from the pulpit. Higher taxes will definitely result in less ability of the people to put their money consciously into a charity of their choice. In essence, we will cede more money to the government thereby lessening the money that goes to Catholic charities that we KNOW work. We will have to blindly trust that elected officials will do good by the people, when in fact politicians are hamstrung by special interests, their big donors and their own weaknesses. Power is safest when it resides in the people/individual rather than in an all-powerful government. Especially an all-powerful government such as Mr. Obama’s that increasingly ignores the voice of the faithful and revels in the secular worldview.

  • William McHan

    Having read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and being a practicing Catholic, I can say that Objectivism’s ideals are obviously hostile to Christianity at its core. However, I trust a politician that wants to reform government spending to scale it down or correct far more than one that believes the current way is good and should be increased. I agree with Kat, if lower taxes are possible, we can give more to the poor at the community level, or to private charities.

    I’m also not sure why Catholics would jump to the conclusion that Ryan has no desire to help the poor; they’re completely capable of reasoning that by reforming government spending it could be possible to more with less. Scrutinizing what the press throws at us is a necessity today. Ryan said he is a practicing Catholic, not Objectivist. It is somewhat ironic that a faith that teaches prudence and frugality on a personal level would disown someone who has proposed our government do the same. I understand that Social Security and Medicaire, etc. are crucial to some people, but we needn’t operate under the assumption that they are being run or budgeted correctly. (And I would think cutting the defense budget wouldn’t be a bad idea either). I am aware that much of this is simply supposition on my part, but it isn’t much different than what the press does most of the time anyhow!

  • Andale Evans

    “This gives President Obama the opportunity to revisit the discussion of whether it is more consistent with Christian values to protect free markets or to help those in need.”

    Is it really a stark choice between protecting the liberties of free individuals engaging in commerce and helping people through government theft? When framed starkly like that, it’s a loser for Democrats. Additionally there is significant principled arguments to suggest that democratic policies do not help but rather hurt the poor. Interventions in the economy such as minimum wage and the welfare state have both led to greater unemployment and to a decrease in incentive for private organizations and religious institutions to engage in charitable acts. It is always advantageous for private individuals to allocate the money they wish to use for charitable means because more often then not individuals are more prudent with their own wealth then with other people’s wealth, as in the case of government.

    • Phil Fox Rose

      I totally agree that in many cases we want to have control of exactly how money is spent done as close to the local level as feasible, while also enforcing guiding principles. I also agree that the minimum wage is a job killer, though I also know it’s nearly impossible to live on the minimum wage, so that’s a tricky one. Clearly, it’s not done well; it’s just a political ball that gets tossed around by both sides. But Andale, if you call taxes “government theft” then you have to either want to roll back the income tax back to its pre-20th century levels of 0-3% and have the government do nothing but a little administrative work with no standing army and no infrastructure at all, or you are picking and choosing what government spending you justify and what is being paid for by “government theft.”

  • Andale Evans

    Additionally relevant:

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

    -(http://reason.com/blog/2012/08/13/vice-president-paul-ryan-would-not-be-vi)

    • Phil Fox Rose

      Andale, did you notice that the article in Reason you cite is written by a Randian who is frustrated that Ryan is being dishonest now — that he’s been a strong Rand supporter and is now denying it. The lead-in to the specific paragraph you quote above was, “Ryan began denying Rand earlier this year. Here’s what he said to National Review in April:”, followed by that quote.

  • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

    What conservatives love about Ayn Rand (and I loathe her and her thought and her writing) is her categorical rejection of socialism and her clear emphasis on individual responsibility. I reject socialism as well, and pretty much categorically, but will not for that reason fall into opposing errors, or errors that appear to oppose socialism but are actually like peas in a pod. I deeply suspect that Rep. Ryan embraces Rand for precisely this reason and, in his own thought, knows where to tell her to get off.

    It would be cool to see a progressive take Obama’s greatest influences so seriously.

  • Kat

    I find that while secular liberals chafe at Ayn Rand’s views of capitalism, many (obviously this doesn’t include Phil) tend to have a lot in common with her “enlightened” view on atheism. I would no more call atheists Randians for agreeing with her on atheism/humanism than I would call Ryan one for agreeing with her on free markets and capitalism. It’s natural and common for someone to agree with someone only partly, and not 100%. We see many “cafeteria Catholics”, for example, who buy into one part of our beliefs but not another. I don’t espouse that, but it’s commonplace. Everyone has a mind of their own, and that’s why our agreement, or disagreement, with someone else is rarely 100%. It’s therefore perfectly credible that he buys into Rand’s views on capitalism, but not on religion.

  • pagansister

    Romney needed a “Christian” on his ticket, as there are some who feel that Mormon’s are really NOT Christians. So he chose what could be considered by some to be the ultimate example of “Christian”, a devout Catholic. I personally wish that the faith or lack of it should not even be a consideration in the minds of voters, but it seems to have become almost as important as the “economy” to some folks. There is absolutely no religious requirement to run for the highest office in this land. How it became so darn important is beyond me.

    • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

      Religious faith is a set of beliefs. Christian faith includes beliefs about the nature of the world. Beliefs about the world – from whether there is an approaching vehicle to whether high taxes discourage work – are the basis upon which we make all our decisions. Religious faith is absolutely relevant to an election.

    • Vere15

      Sorry but St Paul of Ryan cannot serve two masters and mistresses.

      He has chosen Rand and Hickman over Jesus and the Virgin Mary

      The blood of Christ and the vinegar of Rand will never mix

  • Kelly Cowan

    Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand have divorced, he will, however, be keeping her as a mistress!
    http://youtu.be/-T_39o-cXVg

    • Vere15

      Isn’t there a Hitchcock movie about like that but with a mother-son thing with Anthony Perkins?
      I don’t mean the anti-Christian monster that is the head of the Family Research Council – the kinder gentler one in Psycho.

  • Andrew

    Ryan’s economics have more to do with laissez-faire capitalism than it does with a true sense of Catholic economic principles. While touting subsidiarity he also ignores Catholic teaching on the role of government to ensure the common good and to temper the harsh aspects of unbridled capitalism (i.e. in Rerum Novarum Pope Leo XIII said the following…“As regards the State, the interests of all, whether high or low, are equal. The members of the working classes are citizens by nature and by the same right as the rich; they are real parts, living the life which makes up, through the family, the body of the commonwealth…. therefore the public administration must duly and solicitously provide for the welfare and the comfort of the working classes; otherwise, that law of justice will be violated which ordains that each man shall have his due.”
    The Catholic approach to economic policy is balanced. Slash and burn conservatives like Ryan rework subsidiarity to exclude the responsibilities of both the private sector and government to create a fair environment that ensures the dignity of all. Ryan cherry-picks his Catholic principles. Why? Because Ryan’s economic views do not flow from the Catholic Church but rather the anti-God, libertine materialist thinker Ayn Rand.
    In my opinion, Ryan “baptizes” aspects of Rand’s philosophy to fit in with Catholic social doctrine. That being said, Rand’s anti-God, pro-abortion, anti-poor materialist philosophy cannot be redeemed. Solid Catholic philosophy professor Dr. D. Demarco describes her as one of the architects of the Culture of Death.
    I would be very wary of any politician who cites a psychopath as their inspiration; be it Hitler, Che Guevara, Marx or Ayn Rand. I like Ryan’s pro-life stance…but if Rand is his inspiration for any of his ideas (and he proudly says she is…he used to give out copies of Rand’s work as Christmas gifts) we orthodox Catholics should be very suspicious of him.
    Read Dr. Demarco’s excellent article on Rand…
    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/philosophy/ph0014.htm

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  • Sonya

    Wow. First of all, I wish i was a better writer. All of you have expressed your views, ideas and thoughts so extremely well and should be commended. With great humility, i respect every comment.

    There are views of great concern over Ryan’s appreciation of Rand’s raw, stripped down views of capitalism in fictional literature, but very little concern over President Obama’s affiliation with real life individuals from Bill Ayers to Rev. Jeremiah Wright and other controversial influences spanning a lifetime. These people have professed divisiveness and judgement in community instead of a way to get back on track.

    Ryan’s influence by Ayn Rand provides perspective, and I believe nothing more. Our country will not be able to fiscally sustain the current social support system let alone expand it at this time or in the very near future. Everyone will lose. There will be insolvency. We need to take a hard, albeit very ugly, look at the system. We need leadership that has the courage to explore and bring all sides together with selfless ideas.

    Ryan’s plan does not put those in jeopardy of losing their current support (i.e. current seniors) but instead prepares for support for future seniors. There is no way these future seniors will be able to have the same support going forward. Something must be done and it will not be an overnight fix. We must prepare citizens now for their future. We absolutely know current systems can not last. That is fact.

    I am not afraid and I believe with a new inclusive leadership we can succeed with a fiscally and morally responsible solution, over time, to benefit the whole. I believe communities will once again lead and come together to help those who can’t help themselves while we collectively try to get our national fiscal house in order. We will once again be called together to rebuild the local community barn burned down by federal complacency. We are called to build relationships with one another. What better way than to help with time, effort and financial support directly in our own local communities? It’s not about writing a check to a faceless IRS agency. It’s about connecting with our neighbor in need.

  • Courtney

    I’m a Catholic and a huge fan of Atlas Shrugged, which at its core spoke of individual freedom and pursuing self-interest. If an individual derives happiness from serving others, then he is pursuing his self-interest, and it is within his right to do good. To mandate someone to do good, with either their tax money or by policy, is evil. You cannot legislate charity, it must be done willingly. So when Ryan says he embraces Rand’s views on capitalism, what’s the problem? He didn’t say he embraces her stance on abortion, or religion, but capitalism. Everyone wants to pursue their own self-interest, which should not be mistaken for selfishness. The Catholic Church went wrong by aligning itself with FDR’s New Deal policies, which took money from tax payers in order to redistribute. I fear, Tony, that you may be agreeing with FDR, that people should be mandated to be charitable.

    • Sonya

      Courtney — you’ve said it all for me, so much better than me (see post above yours)! I’m not for mandated charity but willing charity. God gave us free will so we could choose to do good. I believe we have, can and will continue to do even more with more freedom of where our own funds and time go.

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  • victor g. cruz

    I am not well versed in theology, economy or Ayn Rand but, whether we like or not, there are people out there who will always need help from the government.

  • Steve

    In my opinion Paul Ryan’s ideas, if put into practice, could really give the U.S. economy a boost it needs right now. I have been following the U.S. presidential campaign from Canada and I have to say the Romney/Ryan ticket seems to be a better choice not only for the U.S. but for my country as well. Most Canadians were disappointed when President Obama didn’t approve the Keystone pipeline project and thus destroyed a promising prospect on the way to the economic recovery in both countries. More importantly, the interconnection between Canada and the U.S. is benefical not only for our national economy as a whole but also for the economic development in Canada’s regions which could best be seen when the recovery in the U.S. motor vehicle market positively influenced Toronto’s leading automotive industry. However, I’m afraid that Obama’s decisions could threaten such positive economic development and worsen the relationship between Canada and the U.S.

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