Remember when…

Remember when… December 27, 2012

…people were *seriously* laboring in the comboxes of this very blog to prove that Paul Ryan was Aquinas and Ayn Rand was Aristotle and Randianism was deeply compatible with Catholic Faith if you just stood on one leg and cocked your head and squinted just so?

Scrooge an economic hero, defenders say

“I think Scrooge is clearly misunderstood and used to vilify business,” said Yaron Brook , president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, an organization named after the author whose books promoted individual rights and made the moral case for rational self-interest.

Good times. Good times.

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  • Marthe Lépine

    Very interesting… Thanks, Mark

  • The Deuce

    This is what happens when people fill the void left by the lack of God in their lives by making religious out of economic systems. Like everything else, even the best possible economic system becomes literally demonic when made into an idol.

  • Once again making me embarrassed for my Ayn Rand phase.

    Though there is a certain irony for them invoking Scrooge since he was all in favor for government solutions for the poor and not private charity.

    “At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

    “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
    “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
    “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
    “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
    “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
    “Both very busy, sir.”
    “Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

    • ivan_the_mad

      “Once again making me embarrassed for my Ayn Rand phase.” I sympathize entirely with that.

    • I don’t know that Scrooge could be said to be supportive of government efforts to relieve poverty. Since they were funded by him involuntarily through his taxes, he was just using those programs as an excuse to avoid doing anything himself. I’ve always looked upon Scrooge’s comments here as a sneering mockery of the idea that anything could be done for the poor at all.

  • ivan_the_mad

    I think it’s more than fair to say that capitalism, by means of the market, can produce as a secondary effect the material relief of the working class. The error of the capitalist ideologue, parroted in the article Mayer and in this blog by no few comboxers, is that the “can” is omitted. As Catholics we know that we must not do evil that good may come of it, and it is I think scandalous for Catholics to parrot such an idea that selfish or greedy action is just.

    • If it weren’t dime a dozen commentary to be found so many other places, I’d mark this down as a great example of how ignorance of economics make Catholics stupid.

      To say that the working class gets material relief from their capitalist activity is an insult to the working class. Material relief is what you give your neighbor when their house burns down and they need the basics until they get on their feet again. What the laborer gets for his daily toil is a contracted wage. If everything’s been done right, it’s a just wage. It is not material relief.

      Capitalism allows the working class to be reduced to three segments:
      1. The beginners: people who are getting the hang of basic work skills
      2. The timid: people who do not wish to take on the risk of waiting for the sale in order to be paid and willing to accept less for that extra security
      3. The recovering: people who have tried and failed at some economic project that’s wiped them out and are going back to the drawing board in order to regroup and try again

      There is nothing wrong with any of these segments of the population and they all deserve the dignity and justice that Christ intended. Such a world does, however, mean that a lot fewer people are going to be in the working class and those who stay in it for long are there on purpose (group 2). This is a more just society than a society where a mother stays at a job she is abused at (and hates) because of the health insurance, or one where jobs are so scarce that the market clearing price is below a just wage.

      Selfishness is not just. Greed is not just. The question is what is one to do with selfishness in society and with greed? Do you waste precious resources trying to stamp it out or do you harness it so its ill effects are channeled to minimize harm? To create societal rules that harness everybody’s efforts to the end of making a materially better off society irrespective of motivation is not the same thing as doing evil that good may come of it. The greedhead’s sin is on the greedhead. The ruler who puts that fellow on a trading floor pit instead of in ambush with a band of highwayman is not committing a sin.

      I think it scandalous for Catholics to try to drag Jesus into supporting the cause of economic illiteracy.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Once upon a time, the working class largely lacked the basic necessities, i.e. what Church teaching calls the universal destination of goods. There were developments over time in societies in which capitalism was largely the dominant economic system which contributed to some of these necessities being largely met. Hence the reference to the material relief of the working class. This application of the term is hardly novel.

        As to the rest, well, “dime a dozen commentary” is an apt description.

        • That an error is not novel does not make it right. I was going to take your word that it is not novel, though it’s new to me. Then I decided to consult Google just in case. “material relief of the working class” has a single hit while the phrase without quotes is filled with references to irrelevant sources, millions of them. In other words, the probability that you’re just making stuff up is high enough in my mind that you really should cite some sources if you don’t want me to entirely switch over to mockery.

          You’re still drawing a fairy tale of economic progress and not bothering to support your idea of economically destructive capitalism as a reason why we need to insist on that “can” instead of short handing the word out of general usage because of the overwhelming evidence that capitalism does promote progress for the working class throughout the world.

          The workers are actors in the economy. They are not lumps of clay being acted upon and upon which material relief is showered by the accident of a happily arranged system. There are, of course, economic theoreticians who subscribe to such molding ideas. I’m most familiar with the one that likes to mold new soviet men though the others I know of are similarly offensive to any sensible Catholic.

          • ivan_the_mad

            What are you even talking about now? Do you just make stuff up and put words into the mouths of others so that you can win an argument with yourself? Material relief means relieving the material needs of people and is not a novel use of the phrase, I really can’t understand your problem here, nor do I care to.

            Really, I’m not phased by a threat from a conceited Mammon cultist to mock me. And you’re very selective about the use of citations, since I can distinctly remember quoting a section of Rerum Novarum concerning just wage which you promptly ignored in favor of your own higher authority and gnosis. Why don’t you take some of your own medicine and quote the social teachings in your screeds? That’d be an edifying effort for yourself.

            • Not citing any sources.

              Not serious

              Certainly not addressing my point that you’re doing fine upstanding useful idiot work for the nasty ideologues out there who view ordinary men as clay to be molded to their will and not the crown of creation with their own independent wills and efforts that deserve to be viewed with respect. In the 20th century a hundred million died of such ideologues. Some of us still care about such things. It is a sort of vigil for the dead that we will be maintaining the rest of our lives and teaching our children to do the same.

              And now moving on to false accusations of heresy. You’re losing your head here and that’s leading you into sin. You do not know me and you clearly do not understand me. Like our normally intelligent host here, you’re currently lashing out in an unwise manner to make personal accusations unaccompanied by actual evidence and you’re hurting yourself more than anyone else.

              I do take marginally seriously your assertion that I do not quote the social teachings in my own writings. I say marginally because while the subject is sound enough, you show no evidence of understanding what is going on when I am writing here and elsewhere on Chicago Boyz (I don’t think you’re a likely customer of my think tank stuff as it’s got a fairly steep price tag and aimed at big business and governments). I generally write for a secular audience so I don’t quote them because holding up the Pope as an authority simply doesn’t work in that milieu. I work them in by covering the same ground and mentioning them when it won’t close more minds than it will open.

              I find the social teachings to be challenging, not theologically, as I accept the theology without much trouble, but rather in filtering out the atrociously out of date economics and trying to apply the correct theology to economics as we understand it today instead of economics as was popular in continental europe in the late 1800s.

              Unfortunately, you seem to be quite content to not only follow papal theology, as I am, but also insist on following with the same fidelity papal economics, an attitude which is just stupid. Nobody, not even the Pope, thinks that Peter’s seat has any special authority where it comes to the secular realm of economics. A particular Pope may or may not be wise on the subject but all papal economics pronouncements will go as out of date as anything else in the field even in the best of circumstances.

              Again moving back to those hundred million dead. We’ve learned a lot about economics while we were running those ghastly real world economics laboratory experiments in the 20th century. Some Pope needs to update the social teachings to clarify how the theology that animated Rerum Novarum should properly be applied given our improved knowledge of economics. Until then, I handle them with care to so as to avoid the two major errors I see in dealing with the social teachings at present:
              1. Ignoring the sound theology because of the errors in economics
              2. Ignoring the errors in economics because the theology is sound.

              • ivan_the_mad

                Blah blah blah, more of your usual cafeteria Catholicism twaddle. I like how you’ve the authority to decide which parts of the encyclicals are and aren’t obsolete.

                • North West

                  If the encyclicals say “2 and 2 are five” or “objects will fall up”, then I believe the authority TM Lutus has appealed to is a thing called “reality”. Which… well i thought prudence was supposed to encourage acceptance of it. Remember, economics is a positive field, NOT a normative one.

                  As this paper has shown, Catholic social teaching is based at its root on a series of unproven assumptions regarding the operation of the market and the determination of wage rates. The Church indeed claims infallibility in matters of faith and morals — and the present writer, in fact, believes strongly in that claim — but not in secular disciplines. The moral injunctions that comprise Catholic social teaching are based, at root, on economic misconceptions and factual error. Polemical assertion is not proof, and it should be obvious that no binding moral obligation can derive from unproven and indeed manifestly faulty premises.
                  Tom Woods

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    Sorry, but I don’t equate Tom Woods with the magisterium.

                    • North West

                      I was under the impression that even the magisterium itself didn’t equate itself with experts in secular and relevant fields. Or is your above reply what you give to anyone who tells you things you don’t like?

                      “Ivan, you have cancer.”
                      “I’m sorry, doctor, I don’t equate you with the magisterium.”
                      etc for math, physics, biology…

                • If you are incapable of distinguishing between the legitimate magesterium which is teaching on faith and morals and the pseudo-magesterium of teachings based on scientific theories that didn’t pan out over the subsequent century, I can only pray that you will find a spiritual guide you trust who understands the difference and explains it to you so you do not continue to fall in error. I realize that I am not that person. Please take this thread to someone knowledgeable you trust so whoever that person is can address the issue in whatever way they see fit.

                  You are leading people astray with your approach and feeding ammunition to those who would attack our Church. Your false accusations against me do not bother me so much but I do hope you get the proper definition of the magesterium worked out, especially its limiting rule. You’re hurting yourself by your misapplication of the concept because it is causing you to make false accusations.

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    Please, cite magisterial authority that declares which parts of the encyclicals are obsolete and which aren’t. Because magisterial authority you ain’t.

                    • The authority doesn’t work that way. It never has. Go find someone you trust to lay out what is legitimately part of the magesterium, what is subject to prudential judgment and what is infallibly taught.

                      What I am saying is that some portion of the encyclicals (the economics parts) that have always been subject to prudential judgment, have grown so obviously at variance to the state of the art in the academic field that the variance is holding back the acceptance of the perfectly valid theology. This makes the field ripe for update because parts of the encyclicals are effectively obsolete. You seem to be holding the economics as infallible teaching which is something that has to be declared and it hasn’t been declared.

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    “You are leading people astray with your approach” Really? I’m not the one making vague unspecific claims that some parts of the encyclicals should be heeded and others ignored because I’m placing primacy on my economic ideology. Usurping the teaching authority of the Church is called heresy.

                    • What part of my saying (repeatedly) that the theology is perfectly good did not get through to you? All the theological points should be heeded. What needs to change is how we implement them. The theology of an economic proposition has to be implemented via economic action. If you get the economics right, the action will be right. If you get the theology right but the economics wrong, the action implementing the theology will have defects depending on how wrong the economics is. You can end up hurting people with the best of intentions and if the negative consequences are things like opportunity costs or a lack of available money to finance projects in a distant country, you can keep on making that error for a long time.

              • ivan_the_mad

                To be quite honest, I don’t give a damn where else you write. I’m addressing you here in the comboxes of a Catholic blog, not on your wonky website. So you needn’t worry about me, quote away from the encyclicals to try to support your ideology.

                • Here’s where we differ, I think. I do give a damn about you and how you live your life and the experiences you bring with you to my encounter with you. I may not entirely understand them, coming from a different set of life experiences but I am not indifferent to them.

                  Unfortunately your manifest ignorance of what the magesterium is and is not makes our conversation difficult. We can’t seem to get past the preliminaries to the points that really should be the topic of conversation among laymen, filling in the gaps in the magesterium to a better understanding of how we should live our economic lives.

                  The prudential judgment of what is the correct dividing line between wealth creating market based resource allocations and charity based resource allocations is a subtle point that, so far as I can tell, no Pope has seen fit to fill in and make a rule about. But you can’t even start that conversation until you get past the 19th century economics of Rerum Novarum which simply have not proven to be entirely accurate even for that time and certainly are insufficient in a world that has had several major revolutions in economic circumstances hit since then.

                  Abundance economics isn’t covered since the Internet revolution that made abundance economics a practical field outside of historical study of NW American potlatch societies and other esoterica hadn’t happened in 1890. But the Internet revolution isn’t covered since the preceding several computer revolutions hadn’t happened yet either. Then there’s the whole practical lab experiment of the communist years which the Popes did dimly perceive as wrong but certainly not in the data driven way that we understand it today.

                  If you showed yourself the least bit capable of layering on all that subsequent economic knowledge on top of Rerum Novarum to bring it up to date, it would be worth discussing the encyclical with you because there’s nothing wrong with the theology. It’s just applied to an economic world that wasn’t described very accurately at the time (the data revolution hadn’t happened yet either so it’s certainly understandable why) and certainly doesn’t describe economics today.

                  I currently have no reliable way to do that economics update to the social encyclicals in a way that leads to more light than heat. That’s frustrating for me and a fairly big reason why I’m even here having these conversations.

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    Yet more logorrhea. Yes, the world changes. No, Church teaching is not obsolete. It develops, it does not expire.

                    • The last Church geocentrist expired a long time ago. Someday the last Church socialist will too.

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    “I do give a damn about you and how you live your life and the experiences you bring with you to my encounter with you.” Horse manure. You’ve been keen on labeling me ignorant and illiterate, and I’ve yet to see any queries regarding that sort of thing.

                    • Keep on telling me what I think. Of course you know better than me my own opinion.

              • ivan_the_mad

                “Some Pope needs to update the social teachings to clarify how the theology that animated Rerum Novarum should properly be applied given our improved knowledge of economics.” You do know that there have been encyclicals since Rerum Novarum, yes? Try reading those instead of writing screeds.

                • Yes, and they do seem to improve over time as the Vatican seems to be aware of the problem. They still, unfortunately, seem to be over-influenced by Italian economic thought. What would you say is the most recent relevant encyclical?

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    So if it is not American economic influence, it must be inferior?

                    • Italian economics as it is lived in Italy is filled with dishonesty and lies. Tax evasion, disregard of the rule of law, ridiculous rules and regulations, it is a miracle that the place doesn’t collapse and a good bet that we’re in an end game where it will collapse in the medium term.

                      I do not recall saying that America is the be all and end all of good economic thought. America is a great country in my opinion. That status does not mean that it has to get dragged in to every conversation.

        • Ted Seeber

          And then, once met, the top capitalists began to charge interest to access them, and did away with the usury laws, thus keeping the poor alive but stealing all hope of actually moving to a better life.

      • Dan C

        “The greedhead’s sin is on the greedhead.”

        Not true. In catholic moral philosophy and most Eastern philosophies as well as many Native American moral philosophies, we note that one’s moral actions impact the community. In each of these moral analyses spanning the globe, one notes that the community is damaged through error or sin (depending on the verbage of the moral analysis) and the most-oft cited vice is greed.

        The exclusively “self-hurting” sin does not exist. Greed damages the community, greed damages the faith, greed damages the faithful. Greed is a sin that is most often condemned in the Gospels.

        Conservative thinkers like Robert George, who can’t stop talking about the morally didactic nature of the law, have given the greatest boon to folks who desire to guide the community away from promoting greed, as this society does. Biblical customs are built to guide man from greed and such prohibitions are noted from the Pentateuch forward.

        It is a Protestant view of sin and vice that allows such a thing as an exclusively “self-hurting” sin. Such does not exist, and modern Christians who embrace such, sound often less Christian than those more alien moral philosophies from India or Asia.

        • If you do not subscribe to the idea that you pay for your own sins, I really can’t help you. We are obligated to help our neighbors both materially and to avoid sin but their choice to be greedy instead of adopting a perfectly reasonable enlightened self-interest against better advice from me and other neighbors does not stain our souls.

          If you merely wish to say that the consequence of sin goes beyond the individual, I would reply of course. But what are you supposed to do about it? I suggest a system of harm reduction that at least reduces the negative consequences when proclaiming the gospel doesn’t succeed (which I hope we both agree should be plan A). While a society of saints can make any system work, we generally don’t have that luxury. Let us not adopt a system that spreads the consequences of sin any further than absolutely necessary.

          • Ted Seeber

            We do pay for our own sins. Unfortunately, we ALSO pay for the sins of those around us, at least on a temporal scale.

            • While I may pay for the sins of others they do not stain my soul. The sin is not on me. I keep hoping that this is just a problem of presentation of concepts and not a problem of theology. Group guilt vs individual guilt is a major issue in the West. That’s what I am getting at. Sin is individual, even as the consequences frequently are not.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Placing labourers into three iron-bound categories, each with a pejorative name, betrays your bias against them.

        – “Beginners” are amateurs, denigrating their skill or lack thereof.
        – “Recovering” labourers? Like an addict in the recovery stage?
        – The “Timid” are not men but mice.

        The “Timid” is the worst category. Many people are happy to be where they are. They enjoy their jobs and their job in turn enables them to enjoy their life. There is nothing low or mean about such status. But in your eyes, would that we would all be entrepreneurs! They who scale the rocky crags of the business world and turn to see the tiny specks of labourers so far below, unskilled, unable, or simply too afraid to climb.

        Why label them as such? Why the creeping arrogance? Every person is a child of God and shall be treated with the dignity and respect so inherent. Why not dignity? Why not positive categories? Perhaps such terms as “the aspirant,” “the happy,” and “the undaunted” would do. That doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

        What bothers me is this adulation of entrepreneurs, as if they are superior in all ways to the labouring class. This rather subtle hagiography of entrepreneurs encourages the idolization of economic success, which is quite the opposite of righteous Christian living.

        One final point: If everyone is an entrepreneur, then there’s no one to labour for them, right?

        • Objectively, insisting on being paid early is a strategy that trades off risk for reward. The one paid in advance of the sale takes the least risk as he is paid whether there is a sale or not. The lowest reward is due that person because they’re offloading risk to their team members. You don’t do that sort of thing unless you’re constitutionally incapable of bearing the risk, don’t have money to sit around and wait for the sale to be made, or are utterly new to the economic game and are still working through the rules. Can you give me a fourth motivation? You haven’t, even though it would be an excellent way to spike my argument.

          You’ve also neglected to ask (perhaps even to yourself) whether I myself am paid in advance of sales and which category I fit into. I have fit in all three categories at one time or another and am not insulted by any of them. I am currently in category 3. My wife is currently straddling categories 2 and 3. These categories aren’t descriptions of some “other”, but of ourselves. If there’s any jest being made it’s unconscious self-deprecation.

          I did not intend any insult and I tend to think you’re bringing that aggrieved sense with you. Another word for timid is meek, a term I considered using but didn’t want to bring in the whole “meek shall inherit the earth” text so I picked timid as an alternate.

          Let me give you an example that may illustrate what I’m going on about regarding the melting of the labor category. Salesmen can be placed on salary, on draw plus commission, or on pure commission. Of the three, the pure commission salesman is the only one who is not labor. Though he does the same tasks, he is paid only after the sale and his compensation is much higher, if he’s any good at the job and actually makes his numbers. The salaried salesman takes no risk and gets paid least. For the same work, you gravitate towards the highest pay unless uncertainty bothers you at which point you opt for other arrangements, which one of the two depending on how much it bothers you.

          Labor isn’t a set of tasks or a subordinate position. It is a payment arrangement. A CEO paid straight salary regardless of results above a minimum job specification would be labor in all important aspects.

  • I clicked on the link, and those sound bites wouldn’t be out of place in an Onion article lampooning Objectivism. You know it’s time to hang it up when you’re doing your own self-parody.

  • Out of curiosity, did Paul Ryan, who figures so prominently in the set up for the linked article, have anything at all to do with the linked article? I mean, does Ryan hold to this view? Do those who defended Ryan hold to the idea that Ryan holds to this view? Just curious how that name popped up, instead of simply ‘defenders of Ayn Rand…’ Not everyone who supported Ryan seemed to agree with Ryan on everything, so just curious.

    • Mark Shea

      It’s not really complicated. Ryan was an remains a Rand evangelist. This is the crap Rand stood for and Ryan defenders knew it when they spouted that BS about him as Aquinas. The attempt to distance him from this crap is even funnier. Why not just own the fact that Randian Catholics were trying to square the circle?

      • But why Ryan? It could easily be those fanatical followers of Ron Paul just the same. Sure, both had their fare share, but why focus on something some crackpot says about how cool Scrooge was, link it to the more radical Randian circles, isolate it to Paul Ryan’s supporters only, and then punt? It seems there just so many bigger fish in the ocean.

        • ivan_the_mad

          Ryan’s Catholic, Paul isn’t. Simple as that.

          • Arguing who is worse, Ryan or Paul is one thing. I’m fine with saying that someone who is a Catholic like Ryan should be held to higher standards than someone like Ron Paul or Rush Limbaugh, who aren’t Catholic. But we’re talking about those who supported them, who defended them so to speak.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Indeed, we are talking about the people who supported the Catholic Ryan, not the people who supported the not Catholic Paul. The Catholic followers of the Catholic Ryan who said some of the very things in the linked article in defense of the Catholic Ryan. The original post now restated, QED I guess.

              • John C

                I didn’t vote for the “Catholic Ryan”, even though I am a Catholic. I voted for Ryan the Congressman who had a serious plan to fix the deficit. I don’t care if he likes Ayn Rand. I like a few things she’s written, particularly an interesting essay on “psychologizing”. Doesn’t make me a “Randian”.

                • ivan_the_mad

                  Good for you, I guess?

                • Will

                  I have seen analysis that indicated that his plan would not fix the deficit.

                  • North West

                    Then there’s issue with him as a politician and the effectiveness of his ideas, not as a Catholic or the state of his soul.

              • So it’s bad to support a Catholic who supports something so bad, but it’s OK to support a non-Catholic who supports something so bad?

                • ivan_the_mad

                  Sorry, you’ve completely lost me.

                  • North West

                    oh for… ok, let’s use a silly example to help you understand.

                    Say the popes declared that juggling was a sin (why? doesn’t matter, this is a silly example).

                    You have two politicians. One is a Catholic who was caught juggling on camera. The other is a non-Catholic (let’s say… Buddhist) caught juggling on camera.

                    Dave G is asking why it is a bad thing to support the juggling Catholic politician but an ok thing to support the juggling Buddhist politician.

        • Richard Johnson

          Paul Ryan embraced the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and made no bones about it in the years prior to running for VP. That is supporters *still* try to spin this amazes me.

          “(3: 21) It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are. I always go back to, you know, Francisco d’Anconia’s speech (at Bill Taggart’s wedding) on money when I think about monetary policy. And then I go to the 64-page John Galt speech, you know, on the radio at the end, and go back to a lot of other things that she did, to try and make sure that I can check my premises so that I know that what I’m believing and doing and advancing are square with the key principles of individualism…

          (6:53) Is this an easy fight? Absolutely not…But if we’re going to actually win this we need to make sure that we’re solid on premises, that our principles are well-defended, and if we want to go and articulately defend these principles and what they mean to our society, what they mean for the trends that we set internationally, we have to go back to Ayn Rand. Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works. “

          • Yeah. And? So there were some who took Ryan at his word. Others didn’t. Ryan was Catholic. Ron Paul wasn’t. Both looked to Ayn Rand at some point in their lives, and both have tremendous faith in the free market and capitalism (Paul being the only primary candidate to come to Mitt Romney’s defense when it came to his belief in letting the market work things out). There you are. The supporters of both had to reconcile that one way or another.

        • Michael

          Because Ron Paul is a Rothbardian, not an Randian. While Murray Rothbard brings with him his own baggage he never had the pretensions of an Ayn Rand. He never preached selfishness as a virtue.

          • I don’t know that Paul Ryan supports selfishness as a virtue any more than Ron Paul does.

      • Yes Mark, it’s not very complicated. You’re tarring Ryan with a view that you actually have no evidence that he espouses. The long series of posts you have on this subject pretty clearly demonstrate that you’re indifferent to the truth on this matter.

        It is objectively true that economic actions raise living standards more than charity. This is why Jesus didn’t say that we should stop working and all just live on alms as an economic system. The fact that this is true does not justify the Randian position, though the Randians like to pretend otherwise.

        Ayn Rand created a philosophical system, some parts of which are interesting and other parts of which are objectionable. That’s pretty much par for the course of any non-explicitly Catholic philosophical system. If you hold Aristotle to the same standard as you are doing here with Rand, you would condemn the Church for its generous treatment of him. Few people have the guts to do that, mostly because it is a very foolish thing to do.

        It is simply true that capitalist action creates the most bread of all economic systems. The disagreement here is whether man lives by bread alone. In other words, the assertions here are regarding Rand’s non-economic assertions, the ones that are much harder to reconcile with the Church.

        There is a simple test separates out those who are whole hog Randian from those who are seeking an unabashed form of philosophically coherent capitalism (which I believe includes Rep. Ryan). Ask whether the person condemns someone who, from their own pocket, drops a dollar in a poor box. The true Randian will condemn it for exactly the reasons laid out in the article. The libertarian will not. The Catholic who likes Rand’s economics will not.

        There is nothing wrong with a Catholic violently disagreeing with propaganda against taking your own money to donate to the poor. But there is something very wrong with condemning people who don’t actually believe in the belief being condemned. In fact, it is a sin. It is important for the sake of your own soul to make sure that the objects of your condemnation actually hold the position you are condemning them for.

        • Dan C

          “But there is something very wrong with condemning people who don’t actually believe in the belief being condemned.”

          Such is not a universalizable comment. I can certainly condemn those who do not believe that abortion or murder is immoral. In fact, we do so all the time. Functionally, at least for murder, we incarcerate such folks. Some are eager to execute such individuals.

          That is a wishy-washy comment often condemned when liberals use the “let’s all get along” line.

          • You can condemn people in the abstract but there is nothing abstract about the words “Paul Ryan”. That’s the problem with this article, how it personally goes after a Catholic without doing the necessary legwork that any just examination would require. It condemns a person by associating views to that person without bothering to check whether those views actually belong to that person. This is wrong. This is not the first time that this is happening. It is something that Catholics should not be doing.

            • Dan C

              The tone for Paul Ryan is softer than any condemnation for Obama.

              The rejection in this posting is clearly against Paul Ryan’s deficient philosophy and theology. Such is distinctly permitted in routine discourse.

              • So your fallback defense of Mark is that it’s sin lite? His unjust condemnation of Ryan isn’t as full throated as his just condemnation of Obama is supposed to make anything at all better? When Ryan sins (and he quite probably does as being both saint and politician is beyond my understanding) he should be condemned, but only when he actually sins. For that matter, the exact same attitude should be applied to Obama.

            • moreana

              well said tmlutas thank you for your intelligent commentary.

            • Said it better than I said it. The article could have said ‘a demonstration of why supporters of Ayn Rand go over the line’, or something like it. But to toss out Ryan’s name, and then lump in some vague way those who voted for or supported Ryan, seemed more of a swipe than a statement. The same swipes were made at Ron Paul, which Mark took issue with, and probably rightly so. But the whole thing could have been accomplished without ever mentioning Ryan, or anyone who supported him, and it would have been a stronger post.

              • Yes, it would have. It would also have saved me a small amount of time. I don’t agree with the Randroids in their condemnation of private acts of charity. It’s a monoculture attitude that is as inbred and stupid as most other monocultures.

  • Will

    The recent PBS series, “The Men Who Built America,” indicated, after creating huge monopolies, that both Rockefeller and Carnegie donated huge sums to various charities towards the ends of their lives.

    • Dan C

      Carnegie created the series of local public libraries throughout the country that now devotees of the economic right want to unfund while praising his name.


      • I would much rather figure out how to decouple the local library from political funding than not. This is because I see a great crisis that’s going to hit everybody and I believe that such funding is likely to be *unreliable*. I’d rather see an investment fund created to fund the thing, something like a land-grant college, though not necessarily using land income. That would actually be more durable.

        • Dan C

          Our “crisis” is a self-determined event as the planet homogenizes work conditions in the globalization of labor. Some will win. Americans without sophisticated skills that will persist and keep them employed over decades will lose and lose dramatically.

          The public library is thepatrimonial justice due to citizens who still are supporting the society that allows the sinfully wealthy to continue self-aggrandizement.

          • Dan C

            Such is not “political” funding but funding from the community. use of the term “political” is a clever PR trick used to poison the funding a community provides to its libraries and its caretakers.

            • If you live, as I do, in a community that is over-leveraged and depending far too heavily on really cheap municipal bond money, you would likely have a different attitude. Just as an example, the UK went from 10% to 15% interest in one day when George Soros broke the pound and forced the UK out of the ECM. When our foolishness finally catches up to us, I expect at least as large a magnitude of swing on our interest rates. Currently, my municipality gets money for a bit over 1%. If we were to have to refinance at 6% or greater, we’d be sunk and municipal library funding would predictably be eviscerated. The library board and the friends of the library non-profit, would be left to struggle to keep the lights on with a far lower public contribution. This is the future I see happening unpredictably in the future but very quickly, like an avalanche, when the final stone goes on the stack. It would be nice if enough people saw ahead far enough to move the library out from under the path of ruin to cushion the inevitable blow to come. I am not optimistic.

          • If you really thought that, you would advocate a different funding model, much more reliant on library boards and non-profits guilting contributions out of the rich to make these institutions not dependent on the politicians.

    • Patrick

      Haha! “Now that you’ve got black lungs and dead children from working in the coal mines, here’s a library card. Enjoy the latest Dan Brown novel!”

      I’m kidding, but it’s a funny thought.

  • Clare Krishan

    I do think some spoofs are a little OTT, for example here
    the moral-hazard narrative (Randian givers vs takers, producers vs freeloaders) isn’t about physical quandries, it’s about metaphysical ones – that no subjective theory of commerce, absent an objective theory of the dignity of human life, can properly answer (whether socialist central planning or capitalist free enterprise). ALL is gift and we have squandered it mightily these past decades, I fear our chit is past due!

  • Dan C

    I would say that the George Bailey vs. Mr. Potter conflict would cue some interesting discussions on the right too. I know plenty of folks who HATE the movie and George Bailey. All are economic conservatives.

    • Economic conservatives like the thief, Potter over George Bailey who never stole a dime but used persuasion to voluntarily adjust contracts when an economic wave threatened his town?

      • Dan C

        You bet. Economic conservatives are about the world of Mr. Potter, and not the “rabble” who do most of the living, working, bill-paying and dying. We had an election just recently in which this was one of the elements of the discussion-how much rabble can be dismissed? The whole “home ownership makes people better citizens” aspect has been lost, and the harsh market must determine such privileges as home ownership. Mr. Potter’s policies, comments, and philosophies rule the economics of the planet.

        • Peggy R

          Really? Most conservatives are middle to working class people with families and who give in one or more ways to charity–not the arts, but to aid the poor, sick, unwed mothers, their churches, etc. Mr. Potter is a caricature. It made the movie more interesting to have a villain. Come back to the real world.

          Scrooge was fictional as well. He may or may not have typified the rising capitalist of the 19th C. It was and remains fashionable to depict businessmen as evil men ruled only by the dollar signs in his eyes. Are we that simple minded here?

        • I suspect that when you say economic conservative you have a much more royalist view than anything resembling the modern conservative movement. Such people do exist and regularly fight for the soul of the Republican party. They are generally called “country club Republicans” and not economic conservatives.

          • Peggy R

            Country clubbers are economic conservatives of course. Many a working man and woman are economically and socially conservative, even if not high income earners. They do not feel like the tools of their employers. And some are small business owners, often contractors that do labor. The tea party events were not populated with blue bloods by any means. One need not be a country club GOPer to be a free marketeer. The middle/working class who marry and provide for their own children are not fans of the largesse of government.

            • You may define your words as you please but be aware that you are papering over some significant differences, differences that usually lead to the use of different words between the free marketers and the country clubbers. The battles between movement conservatives like Goldwater and Reagan and the “eastern establishment” of country club Republicans have been going on for decades and are, perhaps, the biggest fault line inside the GOP coalition. The country clubbers are *not* free marketers. They are the biggest source of corporatists in the entire party.

              I think your labeling stems from a common confusion. Conservatism in the european sense is royalist. Economically it is courtiers vying for advantage from the king. Conservatism in the american sense is the conservation of the liberal revolution of 1776. Not all of the tories left for Canada after 1783 and we’ve grown a few of our own since then but this is not what most people think of when they talk about economic conservatism.

              • Peggy R

                I am not confused. I am fully aware that the blue bloods are social liberals and despise the social conservatives and that that is a major fault line in the GOP. I am aware that the high end crowd is not free marketeer, but pro-corporate. I lobbied for large corporations in DC.

                • I apologize for my own confusion. In my experience you’re a rarity in placing the blue blood corporatists and the free marketeers in the same bin. I really don’t see the use of it, except to tar one with the other.

                  Were you generally a defensive lobbyist trying to stop the corporatist efforts of other companies or were you an offensive lobbyist trying to get your own paymaster’s economic playing field preferences enshrined into law to the detriment of his competitors? Or did you do a little of column A and a little of column B?

                  • Peggy R

                    No worries. No need for apologies. Perhaps my language was not too clear late at night. A little of it all. The corporatists of course are not Friedmanites except when it suits their needs. They’re happy to have us say why something that suits their interests is market-based. Our consulting firm’s motto was that competition is better than regulation. Clients, however, would often choose the path of least resistance fearing a worse outcome. We can see that deeply in the Obamacare concessions by insurers and other medical industry players. I am in utilities.

                    • You possibly might be interested in Wikistrat. Google TMLutas and you should be able to find my contact information.

  • Peggy R

    Ayn Rand wasn’t about capitalism. She was about radical individualism, where no one cares for any one else and each man was his own god. The extreme collectivism and forced “mutual support” of communism so damaged her that any idea of one man helping another willingly of his own accord was not conceivable to her. It was repulsive to her.

    Her ideas on the evils of government collectivism are instructive and worth exploring…as we approach the initial phases of Obamacare and its taxes being imposed upon us.

    Rand messed with my head in certain regards, but the issues of the role of government are not unique to her and she made good points on that.

    If you want to understand the relationship among economic, political and religious freedoms, Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” is a great place to start. I don’t agree with all he said, but the basic principles of those liberties being tied together are true. We can see them being thwarted in the HHS mandate. Businesses owned by Christians or others who object to the mandate are not allowed either the economic or religious liberty to operate their businesses according to their beliefs. Why should any business be compelled to provide a certain set of insurance coverage?

  • Suburbanbanshee

    Sane people read Rand’s theories as being about self-reliance, etc., and ultimately about helping people for good reasons instead of being emotionally blackmailed into it. They get a happy fuzzy out of the defiant Rand novel world, and they don’t take certain things about it as literal.

    The problem is that Rand and her Randians were/are not sane people, and that’s not how they take it at all. I found this out a long time ago when I entered a Rand essay contest for high schoolers, and got back a savage ideological condemnation in detail of my essay about how The Fountainhead teaches true charity and love for all humankind. Because they really really wanted me to know that it didn’t.

    I think Ryan takes it in a sane way. I think most people do. Sadly, it’s not a sane theory at base.

    • Dan C

      It is not clear that Christianity necessarily values “self-reliance.” The “charitably dependent” are still loved. The voluntarily poor are morally virtuous. Those who live in community, with the start of community’s like Benedict of Nursia’s, start some of the practical experiments in Christian living tied to its spirituality.

      Hence the start of the criticism of Rand.

      • The norm is that we work and sustain ourselves as much as we reasonably can. This does not get us more love. It is merely our obligation. The voluntarily poor are not morally virtuous. The religious who devote their time to prayer and fasting in preference to labor for money as much as possible are morally virtuous. It is their prayer and their love of God that make them virtuous, not the mere fact that they have an empty purse. The Neil Stephenson book The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer features a society called the drummers who are voluntarily poor. There is no moral virtue in them. They are a sex cult who pass calculating nanomachines for biologically sustained distributed computing through bodily fluids. Really hard problems lead to excessive heat generation and immolation for the calculation focus.

  • Melia

    Pepperidge Farm remembers.

    • Peggy R

      I googled…got it!

  • JDH

    Moving beyond the serious discussion of Objectivism for a moment, is it even possible for a fictional character, born of the imagination in order to illustrate a principle of basic morality, to be “misunderstood,” in the sense that he was really a better guy than many suppose? I mean, he’s FICTIONAL, right? He only exists as Dickens intended him to exist! Could a person (except in a spirit of humor) defend Sauron or the Big, Bad Wolf and be taken seriously by anyone?

    • I give you An Apologia for Melkor and Sauron

      Yes, you can find anything on the Internet.

      To your larger point, there is quite a large body of work that holds that the author does not, in fact, have the final word on what his creation means. Without this concept the vast majority of the doctoral dissertations in literature written over the past several decades would collapse.

      • JDH

        Yes, obviously, nuances of characters and relationships can be studied at greater depth than even the author intended when he/she created the work. My point was that it is a huge stretch (except in something like a parody) to claim that a clear villain in a straightforward morality tale is really the hero. Now that I think more about it, my claim was probably too strong. In Rand’s work for instance, she portrays selfish, religion-hating, atheist materialists as heroes and (caricatured) altruists as villains. I would certainly argue the other way. So, anyway, move along everyone, nothing to see here!

        • Yes it is a huge stretch. But as I said above, you can find anything on the Internet. This is of a piece with libertarian literature on heroin legalization, an exercise in pushing things to the limit because some people just like to do that sort of thing.

  • Observer

    Mark et al,

    Randian is a re-action to comunism and socializm, as I’ve gathered. Her identity in a culture really belongs to Mr. Scrooge. When govt over-taxes the very rich for all so-called public wants (i.e. work houses and prisons), you have the solutions of the state for charity being forced and required out of Scrooge.

    In many respects, paradoxically speaking, the story of Charles Dicken’s is in defence of Scrooge. But, not in a Randian manner. Three spirits from Christmas Past, Present, and Future visit him. Also, he is visited by his old partner, too. Appeals are being made upon Scrooge’s soul by his partner and the spirits on the Eve before Christmas. Immediately as the story unfolds upon Scrooge coming home on the night before Christmas, he has the reality of hell being revealed right away when his partner appears tormented for the life he led. He begins to realize life has meaning.

    As a side note, I will make an admission, I’ve never read the story, but have seen the play and the movie. In the play, I started to realize – or better than that, I began to arrive at another place, in the story, where I couldn’t help but think of the parable where the man who had everything and didn’t help a man outside of his home. When he passed away (as Scrooge’s partner did), he appealed to Abraham to send someone to tell his family of the ordeal of falling into hell for not loving one’s neighbor to the fullest extent as God called and asked men to do and be. Abraham had stated if they will not listen to Moses or the prophets, they won’t listen to whomever he sends (I’m recalling the story without overlooking the entire reading.) And, I think Scrooge’s partner appears in the parallel to the man in the parable pleading for someone to be sent to his own family.

    The charity is really in the story as the manner of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”, and more so in the parable which Christ tells of the man who didn’t help the man outside of his home – even the dogs licked his wounds. Perhaps the dogs, I might add, are people like the Good Samaritan who saw someone on the roadside and ensured he was properly taken cared for.

    In a world where people want individualism and not the respect and charity due and owed to each person according to the dignity God gave them, you have the qualifications of the state for taking care of public wants that Randian defenders of Scrooge are really defensive in saying, “Yes, yes, yes! You are right the poor need taken care of. I’ve already given my share. Aren’t the prisons and work houses working?” And that is their defense, the state has taken care of it – never-the-less through their tax dollars -, and as such, they don’t need to give anymore. They are really defenders of the state handling public wants and now wash their hands clean through their tax dollars. And that is what sane ordinary and loving people do not do.

    Sadly, though, as long as charity is slowly reduced to being a mere faculty and no more belonging in the home, you will have the case made for a Randian philosophy which no person can hold to living out the First Commandment. Since people are being terribly pressed against and pushed between choosing survival versus morality (that is right in the manner love, mercy, and justice), you have a rift now being further created to develop the specimen which Ayn Rand (and Scrooge) lived under and are justified for acting the way they had. People like Ayn Rand and Scrooge need Christian charity as the three spirits from Christmas’s past, present, and future; they don’t need charity robbed from them and having their hands tied behind their backs to do nothing for their neighbor. Or, by doing so, you really are justifying their actions and attitude.

    • Dan C

      I like the comment from “bear” below.

      And you entirely warp a Christmas Carol into an anti-entitlement treatise in which Randians are supporting government solutions to poverty.

      I am thinking you are not thinking with the Church on this, a Church which is no enemy of the State. Now…if one wants to depart from that reality, fine. But acknowledge one as being experimental and outside routine Catholic hrought on the relationship of the State and the individual.

      The family and the home is the beginning of charity that extends immediately, not lastly, not “when I have taken care of my clan,” but immediately to the enemy, the alien, and the undeserving as the parable of the Good Samaritan suggests. For the Good Samaritan immediately cared for the man who was all that in his culture. Comments like “charity starts at home” have a pedigree of clan-centered service that does not extend beyond one’s home or family. Such is not Christian.

      Randian philosophy exists not in reaction to anything, but as a paradigmatic expression of free market capitalism, the pure, crystalline consequence of worshipping that diety, The Invisible Hand. It is the individual capitalist’s perfected philosophy.

      • Peggy R

        Dan C: I don’t have particular comments on all that you have said. But, to say that Rand’s philosophies are NOT a reaction to anything is absurd. She is directly affected by the dictatorship of communism. Unlike Solzhenitsyn (spelling?) she did not come to the realization that God was forgotten and needed to be recalled. Reading about life in the Soviet Union and in its gulags, it was clear that every man was for himself and suspicious of his neighbors in order to survive. There were no moral bounds to what any one had to do to stay alive and out of prison. I can see where Rand did not shake this attitude.

        While I agree she was probably a capitalist, she was primarily an individualist, a radical one at that. I have studied economics at graduate levels and worked for years. I never have been presented with Rand as a primary or secondary source for economic philosophy. Her work is hardly in any canon of economic thought.

        On some other points: Interestingly, most corporate CEOs are not only socially liberal and don’t want to bother with moral matters, they are mostly socialist. David Horowitz, former child of the Left, tried in vain to get major corporate CEOs to participate in some conservative events. Hell, no. They were socialists, many openly told him. They don’t believe in capitalism. They already have theirs. They want to close the door to others’ success I guess.

        –I don’t like Dickens much, but his novels were of course a reaction to the industrial revolution and the negative consequences to the rights of men. Karl Marx was a bit upset about those things too.
        –If Paul Ryan is such a Randian, why does he go to mass and participate in Catholicism? WHy is he pro-life?
        –Modern technology is what requires large amounts of capital to purchase machines that produce large outputs for large markets. Shall we throw out modern technology? Would you all sleep better beside your fireplaces this cold winter night? Enjoy your walks to the outhouse at night. No more internet or blog chats. Read a good book by candle light.

        • Marthe Lépine

          I fully agree that modern technology requires large amounts of capital. However, it seems that too often, such capital, after being used to purchase machines, etc., takes a life of its own to join a “dance” of national and international financial transactions through the purchase and sale of various financial instruments, transactions that have nothing to do with producing outputs for large markets, but rather look to be much like a monstrous casino where fortunes are made and lost through gambling-like speculations. That’s where it seems that greed fully takes over.

          • Actually, the current tide is swinging the other way towards decentralization, making things less expensive, and massively increasing the use of technology in common hands. The centralization/decentralization tech pendulum keeps going back and forth. If you miss the change in direction, it’s not a tragedy but it will make your analysis less accurate.

        • Andy

          Paul Ryan as a Randian – going ot mass and being pro-life or at least antiabortion. Same reason that Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden go to mass- they believe n the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Yet Pelosi and Biden are derided and attacked as cafeteria Catholics and giving scandal to the church, but Ryan – ah his stands are prudential. Read the Social Encyclicals and see how his Randian beliefs which he admitted to when he said that it was Rand who lead him to public device are giving scandal.

          • Peggy R

            Yeah, those monetary policy views of Ryan’s inspired by a fictional character are definitely on par with aborting unborn babies.

            Yeah, I can see that, if I think about it enough….thinking…thinking….

            • Andy

              If they are inspired by a fictional creation why tout them as the reason for going into public service? I know your thinking will take you to Galt’s Gully where you and PR will be happy – by the way your question was not about aborting babies it was about his faith – I am not questioning his faith – I did not question his faith – I stated that he believed as do others in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist – but when you are wrapped up in a fiction as you seem to be you miss the statements of those who don’t see that fiction as appropriate. I hope you thinking, thinking thinking gets you somewhere, but I doubt it will.

      • ‘Comments like “charity starts at home” have a pedigree of clan-centered service that does not extend beyond one’s home or family. Such is not Christian.’

        “And whoever does not provide for relatives and especially family members has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Tim 5:8

        • Peggy R

          I tend to side with charity starting in the home as well, but not as a point of selfishness, but of meeting one’s primary duties. A friend’s mother left her family in the midwest (husband and 4 sons), when the youngest turned 18, to get involved in what she thought were very important social justice works in DC. She died of cancer living not far from me. I went to the DC memorial where her friends and associates all praised her good work for this and that (liberal of course) cause. I was so angry for her sons. Not one mention of her raising such fine men or being a wife. It was as if her husband and sons were ancillary at best in her life. Her husband, a protestant minister, refused to give her a divorce. Good on him.

  • I can never really get into Rand. I have no sympathy or interest in the opinions of anyone who believed the greatest problem of the twentieth century was a profound lack of radical selfishness.

  • Elmwood

    While people generally know that the catholic faith is opposed to abortion and gay marriage, they don’t realize that the church is equally critical of communism and GOP style capitalism. I doubt Paul Ryan ever read a social encyclical of the church, and if he did, he likely thought it was too utopian to be taken seriously and that the church doesn’t know economics.

    And of course there are those that should know better but continue to support a seriously flawed economic system. Case in point, the Acton Institute. Didn’t GKC say that Conservatives (GOP) prevent mistakes from being corrected.

    “We have had enough of the old men and the money-counters!” “Up the Bowman, and down with Moneybags”

    • Peggy R

      I guess you can read Ryan’s speech at Gtown earlier in 2012 and judge for yourself.

      He has not proposed eliminating the “social safety nets” but limiting them to those most in need. You don’t think there’s any budgetary reason to reduce such spending at all?

      If we don’t curtail spending on all fronts, we will end up in a place where there’s nothing available to provide to any body, not even the neediest.

      Actually, I dare say that the biggest budget problem is caused by the fact that 40% of American babies are born out of wedlock. While maybe not all of these babies are born to lower income women, a huge chunk of them likely are. When men do not take responsibility for the children they help create, there is quite a burden on the public.
      The GOP can’t correct mistakes b/c they’re utterly inept.

      • Andy

        It is not just a spending problem it is an income problem. To separate the two is a travesty.

        • North West

          The US debt is greater than the world’s entire economy.

          Yes on some level I guess it is an “income problem” (we currently can’t trade with any Ferengi or anything), but since we can’t do anything more about that, the only option left is to cut spending.

        • Peggy R

          So, we should keep spending and keep raising taxes? That’s an effective policy? Draining money from the citizenry’s pockets, taking away their ability to provide for themselves, making them thus dependent upon the state, increasingly funded by the few (evil of course) “rich” people, who will get fed up and hide their funds or reduce their earnings or leave the country….? The whole thing becomes more and more untenable over time….Can’t you see?

          And yes with a weak economy, increasingly strangled by regulations, to raise taxes will not increase the federal revenues–maybe at first, but then people will pull back and adjust. It’s not just evil rich people who do that. The middle class and any one working do and will seek to minimize their tax burden–legally and illegally. (Don’t you tip in cash at restaurants to help the waitresses minimize their reported tips?)

          • Out of curiosity, why is tipping in cash at restaurants to help the waitresses minimize their reported tips not a sin?

            • It is not a sin under an unjust, illegitimate government that should be resisted until it falls. In a legitimate government, it would be.

            • North West

              I won’t speak for Catholics, but from what I’ve read and heard about how the IRS treats waitresses, it strikes me as very unfair and unjust. So I would assume some would consider cash tipping a form of civil disobedience.

            • Peggy R

              Is it a sin if you shop in a neighboring state and don’t report your purchases and sales tax paid to your state? Aren’t we supposed to pay that tax to our state too? Some states are very sensitive about this, but it’s very hard to police, so they don’t.

              I thought we Catholics were into doing “social justice” to help the less fortunate. Recall, as O-care gears up many restaurant staff will work reduced hours so the restaurants don’t have to insure them. HHS says 30 hour is fulltime for insurance.

              • “Is it a sin if you shop in a neighboring state and don’t report your purchases and sales tax paid to your state?”

                It seems to me that it’s a sin to intentionally break a just law, either directly or via formal cooperation (and we formally cooperate with a waitress in underreporting her earnings when we leave cash in order for her to underreport).

                So in cases like not paying tax on out-of-state purchases, or underreporting your income, we’d have to argue that it’s unintentional, or that the law is unjust, or that it isn’t broken.

                The idea that income tax rates are unjust because they haven’t been adjusted to account for the fewer hours people work due to Obamacare is not one that had occurred to me previously.

                • Peggy R

                  *I don’t know if the new Ocare policies make the tax rates unjust, but Ocare increases the injustices to restaurant and retail workers, limiting their income opportunities. It keeps them down and dependent upon government. They may have to now work multiple jobs when they had not before.

                  *Of course many people leave cash tips because they have cash or don’t operate on credit in general, not necessarily to help the wait staff. What the wait staff does is their business. A manager may or may not tightly monitor cash tips. Taxing tips offends many people’s sensibilities and its regulation has picked up only in the past 20-30 years. The tip is something extra, not wages, it’s personal from the customer. I understand some restaurants reduce hourly wages so that with estimated/average tips a wait staff would earn the local minimum wage. I don’t know for sure, but it was something I heard years ago.

                  • Dan C

                    Minimum wage for “tipped employees” is often about 50% of the federal minimum wage.

                    • Peggy R

                      Thanks. I have a hard time seeing that as “just” treatment by the IRS and minimum wage laws.

                • The government is unjust when it piles on laws, rules, and regulations to the point that an honest person cannot conceivably know the law, or comply with it. We have long passed that point in the US.

      • Marthe Lépine

        People keep harping on those 40% of births out of wedlock… Would you rather that those babies be aborted? Probably most of the babies that pro-life campaigns manage to save from abortion will end up being “illegitimate” babies. Please be consistent.

        • Peggy R

          Isn’t our first preference that people be married before they reproduce? And that men remain responsible for the children they help create? Illegitimacy has not be solved by abortion or birth control availability. In fact, both abortions and unwed births have continually increased. There is utter cultural breakdown in marriage and sexual morals, with much thanks to feminism. It is costing society in many spiritual, moral and material ways.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Agreed, it is preferable that people be married before they reproduce. However, because of feminism, particularly, there are thousands of people who see it otherwise. Of course they need conversion. But in order to save children from abortion, it seems that we should meet the mothers where they are and accept that they have been brought up and educated by people who did not share our views. With our support, material as well as moral, and our example we could then come back to the faith and straighten their lives. But if we keep the attitude that considers these women as sinners first, we will probably not manage to reach them deeply.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Sorry… “We could help them come back to the faitn…”

        • It is a false choice between single motherhood and abortion. The actual choices are several and generally well known.
          1. birth inside a family with mother and father monogamous
          2. birth inside a family with mother and father in a cornucopia of various relationships either from the beginning or moved to later on
          3. birth inside a family with mother and no live father
          4. birth inside a family with mother and essentially no father due to abandonment
          5. birth to a mother who gives a child up for adoption whether on purpose (placement at an orphanage or via surrogacy arrangement) or accidentally (abandonment and rescue).
          6. abortion

          1 is best, 3 is not quite as good but doesn’t seem to have too many bad effects, and things go downhill from there with 5 generally being the best of the remaining four and 6 being dead last. The common sense desire is to have what is best for the child among the practical options available to the child.

          • Marthe Lépine

            You missed the point. I was commenting on those 40% of births to unmarried women – most of whom presumably do not really know any better. I fully agree that the ideal situation is birth within a family with a mother and father. But unfortunately in our times it is not always the case, and for an unmarried mother the choice IS between giving birth and abortion.Even if the child is going to be given up for adoption, the birth will still be considered as part of those 40% of illegitimate births. Adoption is not a third choice, it is the next choice after having chosen to give birth instead of aborting.

            • Please name one real circumstance where giving birth is an option (ie not ectopic pregnancies) that adoption is not an option as well. If you exclude an option, you are engaging in argument shaping to win a point and not truly searching for the truth.

              • Right after I hit reply, I realized I was being an idiot. It happens. Point withdrawn.

                I disagree that adoption is not a third choice. Right now giving birth is weighted with the economic consequences of having to care for a child. This is largely what makes giving birth inconvenient. Those poor women who choose abortion are not often seriously considering adoption.

  • deiseach

    But even from a Randian viewpoint, Scrooge is not a wealth-maker or productive. He doesn’t manufacture anything; from what I can make out, he’s basically a loan-shark (he and Marley lend at ruinous rates of interest, foreclose, and sell off the assets).

    I don’t see him as the typical visionary creative Rand hero. Why, he doesn’t even have an adulterous love affair in the book!

  • Elmwood

    Paul Ryan was at one time talking about cutting Social Security benefits and also leaving defense spending at current levels. We currently spend more on defense spending than the top 10 defense spending countries combined. How is this remotely conservative let alone catholic? This is GOP garbage that Paul Ryan believed in. Spending too much on the defense is inherently evil. Spending too much on social security and health care is at worst imprudent.

    • Bill

      Spending too much on anything other than supporting something like abortion is morally neutral.

      I agree that he is inconsistent though.

      • Bill

        Now if he’s spending money on indiscriminate drone attacks on innocents, that is also inherently evil.

        But spending money on, say a missile defense shield, is arguably virtuous.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Of course buying guns is morally neutral, even if you don’t leave enough in the family budget to feed your children.

          • North West

            If you have a gun… can’t you go hunt something to feed your children?

          • Bill

            NOBODY IS SAYING THAT. Of course starving your family to buy guns is wrong, if the guns aren’t used to hunt. Watch the ignoratio elenchi

            It’s putting value judgements on things that both the Left and the Right do all the time.

    • Peggy R

      Certainly the US defense budget is bloated and can be cut, but if you read that constitution thingy that guides our nation it does have defense as a primary activity of our federal government, so it should dominate our federal spending. We are bigger than most other nations and have taken on responsibilities that the rest of the world is quite ambivalent about–as are we Americans. Other nations have such a degree of public dependence as well as government ownership of industry, that of course those type of expenditures dominate their national spending. Unlike most other nations, American government power and activities are more distributed among state and local governments–though that has been eroded extensively of course and power has been amassed in DC over several decades.

      • Elmwood

        Bloated is an understatement. It’s disgustingly huge. The catholic church teaches that spending inordinate amounts of money on national defense is inherently evil. Actually, we may spend more that the top 13 other top spending countries combined!

        CCC 2315: “Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations; 111 it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.”

        It doesn’t matter what the constitution says. We have an offensive military rather than one for national defense. As such, it is evil and Paul Ryan would rather take money from the middle classes (social security and medicare/medicaid) and spend it on new types of weapons. This is evil.

        • Peggy R

          I’d like to think we could discuss CC 2315 on its merits w/o comparing defense spending, a legitimate function of the federal government, to social welfare spending, not an intended function of the federal government. States are the appropriate govt level for social welfare spending. Such a more local approach even is compatible with the Catholic idea of subsidiarity.

          • Elmwood

            Peggy, I’m looking at Paul Ryan through the “lens” of our faith. Whether the state or federal government is best suited to provide for a social saftey net is a debatable subject where good catholics can disagree. The church doesn’t say one way or another but the church does say that spending enormous sums of money on weapons is inherently evil. Somehow, Paul Ryan ignores this common sense teaching.

        • The US is the very first world military hegemon that has not created a global balancing coalition to bring it down. It has, however, by its very existence as the military hegemon, eliminated great power war as a practical matter. If the US recedes from its hegemon role, great power competition will become more military and wars will predictably increase in numbers.

          No Catholic wants wars for national glory to increase in number.

          CCC 2315 does not address this peculiar geopolitical state. It’s talking about something else, a great power making a military bid for supremacy and launching an arms race.

          The US does not patrol the Malacca straits for pirates because of US national self-defense needs require that. But it is not a violation of CCC 2315 for it to expend significant sums to do so because it has kept Japan from rearming to do it and probably saved us an asian war or two in the process. What is exhorbitant for a global military hegemon is different than for a great power because the two legitimate military roles are different. Measuring a hegemon by great power standards is a false application of CCC 2315.

  • Observer

    The truth is the world is full of savage men as the Vikings were before us. You have to, as a sad statement of the fall, defend your land, home, and family. Welfair of the state does not establish independence in protecting one’s home, family, and self from an intruder. Merely feeding your family while highway robbers and wicked men attack your home and family does not mean social welfair, since you must have justice (as God had angels lead Lot and his family out of Sodom and Gommorah.) And since justice means to restore, protect, preserve, and save, mere welfair as the state see’s it, falls outside of social justice when the moral welfair and wellbeing of people are thrown out the window.

    So, as the fiscal divide is made between defending your country, home, and family from intruders (as the Vikings were intruders of many homelands and countries) and [between] the moral welfair and sanctity of life at home, you don’t get morally responsbile men from either side. Rather, you have to go back to the very beginning of elementary moral responsibility and re-establish what was lost. Namely, one’s ability to safely defend his home and family without outside interference to the moral safegaurd and natural law that is an attribute given to each person’s as a gift of existence in the image and likeness of God, his Creator (which God is love.)

    The counterfeit dilemma made between feeding one’s family at the expense of the moral welfair of them through giving up the proper edification of laws to protect one’s home and family (which includes the state’s responsibility in defending our land and country, and defending, safeguarding, and protecting life once conceived in a child’s mother’s womb) is not normal (it’s quite perverse and insane.)

    Take a look back into Charles Dicken’s story “A Christmas Carol.” The warped and twisted expression of what to do with charity existed in two ways. First (in both quotations of Mr. Scrooge), “you celebrate Christmas in your own way; and I will celebrate in mine.” – here’s your Randian invididualism. And Second, “Are there no rooms in the prisons? Is there not work in the work houses?” – here’s the work of comunism. And, as a sad statement of humanity’s fall, that is the result of the state using such severity in the use of taxation giving the man no worth to his given ability and dignity which God had given him to love and treat his neighbor with care. So, as a last result before the fate of death might be met on him, he was visited by his partner and the Spirits of Christmas from Past, Present, and Future.

    God’s love is what saved Scrooge (hence, Christmas, as in “A Christmas Carol” – a resounding theme through the whole story) and not the state. The moral welfair and safeguard of the family was not in the prison institutions nor the work houses (a truly sick, evil, warped, wicked, cruel, and deprived fascination with charity.) Rather, a man being able to love as an act of moral courage and responsibility in loving his own neighbor (Bob Crachit) is what’s most necessary; not a hard pressed man under the pressures of so-called welfair being taxed out of him as a requirement as highway robbers, the troll under the bridge (Billy Goat Gruff), and wicked men who do nothing for the wellbeing of someone’s soul – was a failure of the state and led to the demise of society, Scrooge, his partner, and Bob Crachit’s family.

    God loves all men so that they may be saved. And that is the story of Scrooge being haunted with spirits similar to the haunting vision of which, in similarity, is as an imperfect act of contrition as the prodigal son had when he couldn’t imagine total separation and alienation from his father (he remembered how well the workers were treated and lived – similarily as Scrooge had recounted the past, and seen in the present, how well, even under poverty, his nephew and Crachit’s family had been given so much warmth and love – presented by aide of the spirits – even to the point of the grave depicting in many respects a sad departure as the prodigial son saw if his father’s love did not exist. So too, with Scrooge, God allowed the haunting spirits to assist in saving his soul in seeing what total alientation and separation would be like if not without the regard on how the poor and working class were treated and lived by His (God’s) providence. The truth was quite clearly that Scrooge was in more moral poverty because he did not have the joys and love of people to share, who were sheltered in God’s un-breakable love. In fact, if you take another look again at Scrooge’s life, he had to be so resourceful with one coal (that doesn’t sound like someone who has a lot) to save money and on costs. Even another reflection of the Gospel, you have a man, in Charles Dicken’s story, in a dark, cold, and dank house with a bed wrapped in curtains and blankets as Martha and Mary’s brother had been in a dark and very likely dank grave having been pronounced dead wrapped up in cloth – at the time which Christ called him out from his grave – as God through those three spririts worked to call Scrooge from his bedside grave.

    Thanks be to God for the story of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” He (Charles Dickens) kept Christ in Christmas. And so should you. Merry Christmas!

  • TMLutas,

    You had my interest until I read the words ‘ChicagoBoyz’. At that point, I just skipped right to the end, bypassing Ivan’s doughty debating, to ask one question – just what on God’s Earth does the rational management of scarcity expressed in accounting terms (Alain de Besancon’s very neat description of the toxic cocktail we call ‘economics’, being one-third quackery, one third pseudo science and one third false and profane religion) have to do with God’s providence? With being able to say the words ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ with any kind of conviction?

    I have read a lot of economics in my time – even trawled my way through Keynes’s ‘General Theory’; hard work, but worth it for being able reading the bits JMK intended to be comprehensible. In terms of their comparative power and durability, at absolutely no point do the revelations of Adam Smith (who, it must never be forgotten, never passed Economics 101) ever approach the revelations of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Love your neighbour as you love yourself trumps the enlightened pursuit of self-interest every time. Dickens was of much the same mind, which is why he put that notorious phase coined by Malthus, ‘surplus population’, into the mouth of Scrooge, at a time when the concept that a portion of the population was indeed surplus was the prevaling intellectual view.

    This is just my view, but economics has absolutely nothing to offer Catholics. If you believe that God will provide you with your daily bread, and pray for it, then although dealing with people who really do believe Smith’s eyewash and all the oceans of eyewash that have flowed in its wake can still be a pain in the behind then He will provide you with your daily bread; which will very probably be more than you need, thus providing you with the grace to be able to perform charity.

    Happy New Year.

    • North West

      Then why care for the poor? Can’t they get their daily bread just as easily as any believer? Or why study medicine? I guess doctors have nothing to provide Catholics and in fact interfere with praying for healing with conviction, eh?

      Sounds less Catholic and more Christian Scientist (or Calvinist) to me.

  • Elmwood

    You might have to dumb it down for me. I only read at about a 7th grade level. If I understand you right, you’re saying that it’s OK for the US to spend vast resources on weapons because we are the world police keeping a “Pax America”.

    Here is what John XXIII says in Pacem in Terris:
    109… “We are deeply distressed to see the enormous stocks of armaments that have been, and continue to be, manufactured in the economically more developed countries. This policy is involving a vast outlay of intellectual and material resources, with the result that the people of these countries are saddled with a great burden, while other countries lack the help they need for their economic and social development .”

    I don’t see how this statement by John XXIII isn’t relavent to the particular situation we find ourselves in with a trillion dollar deficit and defense expenditures more than the top 13 other countries combined.