The National Catholic Review

Under fire for misrepresenting Catholic Social Teaching before his speach at Georgetown, Congressman Ryan aimed to debunk the "urban legend" that he is follower of Ayn Rand in an interview at The National Review.

“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.

According to TNR, "These Rand-related slams, Ryan says, are inaccurate and part of an effort on the left to paint him as a cold-hearted Objectivist."

Well, there is this Ryan Campaign video.

We report, you decide.  But do so quickly, before it's scrubbed.

So, sometime between 2009 and 2012 Congressman Ryan underwent a massive conversion from the individualism of Ayn Rand, to whatever he understands Aquinas, Benedict and Catholic Social Doctrine to mean.  (He brought solidarity into his lexicon since the Georgetown faculty letter observed that Pope Benedict argues that it must be linked with subsidarity.)

Curiously, his policies are unchanged.  Surely, a conversion of that magnitude surely would result in some difference.

Aside from scrubbing this video, will he scrub a policy or two?

Vincent Miller


Show Comments (39)

Comments (hide)

Vince Killoran | 4/28/2012 - 4:04pm
"Absolutely not true unless the principles of unionism mean coercive means to achieve its ends."

FMC espouses rugged individualism and idyllic market predicated market populism.  It does not allow for the collective voice of wage earners; it sees this as illegitimate.

But I'd love to see a quote from, say Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman, endorsing unions.
J Cosgrove | 4/28/2012 - 1:52pm
''Free market capitialists are against collective bargaining and the very principals of unionism.''

Absolutely not true unless the principles of unionism mean coercive means to achieve its ends.  If the union organization is free and remains so then free market capitalism is working.  It is when unions enters a non-free market situation that problems arise and things go bad.  To be honest on this, everyone in the economic game and that means almost everyone, tries to rig the situation in their favor and it is this that free market capitalism tries to eliminate.

The Church is reflexive about unions and fail to take into account employee economic forces that are very different today then they were 70-100 years ago in the US and also fail to recognize the very large difference between private and public unions.  No free market solutions are allowed to apply to the public sector and we are all the worse for it as public sector unions create poverty big time with their practices.  It's great for those who have the jobs but the rest of the society gets screwed.

So if the Church wants to help the poor they had better recognize their approach is outdated and is essentially mired in problems from a 100 years ago and that do not exist any more.  Mr. Sinyai who posts on this site frequently is an example of someone who distorts the union situation.  Below is a link to a post on this site that he made last year about a problem a 100 years ago.  These problems do not exist today in this country but Catholic policy seemed stuck in a world that does not exist any more.  It doesn't have to be this way but some elements won't allow it to move forward.  Till then, the Church may be on the wrong side of poverty issues, actually favoring the upper middle class over the poor.  Strange but true. 
Robert Galvin | 4/28/2012 - 1:21pm
Ryan's budget, notwithstanding its author's alleged offenses against sound Catholic social doctrine, is not even balanced, though it's an improvement over the present $1.4 trillion deficit.  Can it be just to make persons yet unborn pay back what we are spending today?
Vince Killoran | 4/28/2012 - 12:04pm
Free market capitialists are against collective bargaining and the very principals of unionism.

The Church at all levels has supported the principals and rights of unions/unionists.
J Cosgrove | 4/28/2012 - 11:58am
Mr LaBudda,

I frequently recommend a book by Jerry Muller of Catholic University on free market capitalism, ''The Mind and the Market, Capitalism in Western Thought.''  The book covers just about everything on the free market and capitalism, all the pluses, all the warts.  So when I endorse free market capitalism, it is based on knowledge  of most of its variants.  There is another stream of literature on the morality of the free market that is starting to circulate which examies the free market capitalism from a morality viewpoint.  

The evidence is overwhelming that the free market is the only moral way to proceed. What the objections to it are really objections to human nature itself which are the real source of the problems.  Human nature would exist in any form of organizing society for the distribution of goods.  Because free market capitalism is so much more effective in the distribution of goods and services it becomes for some a much more effective way to express this human nature often in the negative.  The problem is with humans, not the system.  And in fact nearly all the examples are when people game the free market system to their own benefit.  That is not to  say that some restrictions shouldn't be made but they should be done with consideration.

The Jesuits are living in a world of a 100 years ago in their attitudes.  They are living in the world of the Jungle and similar treaties on the horrors of capitalism.  They do not realize that the problem is not with the free market but with human nature itself and distortions of the free market.   Laws have been made to prevent some of the harsher aspects of human nature.  What most who criticize the free market don't realize is that their job is essentially done but like any movement they continue on anyway to force economic activity into some other vision which will be much inferior.  This is not to say that we shouldn't be very conscious of potential abuses but we have instead in a constant litany of supposed abuses which really are attempts to move the laws to someone's advantage over someone else.

When the free market steps into something truly dysfunctional, then it makes good sense to be cautious.  That is the conservative way.  But what we have seen is social engineering and in many obvious cases has been disasterous.  One is the war on poverty which has given us inner cities like Detroit and the problems of other inner cities.  The other was the housing intervention of the 1990's to provide high risk, low income people with loans by removing essentially any mortgage restrictions.  These provisions were then made available to anyone and the result is we now have a national crisis because of this.  We have also passed a massive bill on financial activity which favors a select few over others and who knows where the health care legislation will lead us.  The track record has not been good.

By the way there are other far more serious problems out there that will cause much worse problems in the near future.  We have opened a very diverse pandora's box that is now slowly spreading and will reach flash points soon.  As a famous entertainer once said, ''You a'int seen nothing yet.''

The Catholic Church should be in the forefront of our problems but the letter from the Georgetwon faculty shows they are living in a past that really never existed and definitely does not exist today.  In their arrogance and ignorance they are slandering the good name of someone who wants to solve the problem.  There were 10 people with SJ after their name in the letter signers.  I suggest they form a confession circle and tell their confessions to each other and then as pentance renounce their letter.  That would be a real breakthrough.
Tim O'Leary | 4/28/2012 - 11:49am
Vince #32
Ryan doesn’t mention Unions in his budget. But, since you brought them up, I would like to recall their dubious and checkered history in the USA. On the positive side: collective bargaining for wages and benefits in the early-mid 20th century; on the negative side: support of communists & socialists, organized crime & Jimmy Hoffa, racism & discrimination, support of abortion & gay marriage, worker intimidation & opposition to secret ballot voting, etc., etc.). Today, they “represent” only 12% US workers (peak was 30% in 1950s) and their main function now is supporting Democrat politicians and government-paid workers, not workers in the much larger private sector, and certainly not workers who are committed Catholics. Apart from their opposition to all proposals to control the growth of government, they are more of a side-show on the wage negotiations and the US economy. I don’t remember the last time they actually supported the teaching of the Catholic Church on any moral issue. They are far from the ideal of the Polish Solidarity movement. So, a principle can be good but the practice evil.
Tim O'Leary | 4/28/2012 - 11:48am
Shayne #31
The phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats” was first made famous by JFK in the 1960s, when he was advocating for tax reductions to strengthen the economy (Reagan was a Democrat until 1962!).
Your first point confuses or at least conflates the teaching of a principle & practice on faith and morals with prudential teaching that is tailored for different times and circumstances, where most of economic policy resides. There never was a time, and never will be, when, for example, abortion will be a good, or where the Eucharist will not be the Real Presence of Christ. The Church typically makes definitive ex cathedra declarations on the latter, as when Pope JP II spoke on the theological impossibility of women priests. On the other hand, running temporary deficits might be the wisest in times of war, but is immoral at most times and certainly when there is no viable path to correct the deficit and pay back the debt. Likewise, unions can be a force for good when workers are oppressed and an obstacle to reforms at other times.
The problem many of us have with the current administration is their abject irresponsibility in budget matters and the demagoguing of those like Ryan who are trying to prevent turning the next generation into paupers. President Obama promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. But he has had 4 years of trillion-dollar deficits. His proposed 2013 budget adds another $11 trillion to the debt and never balances. Every single Democrat in the House voted against it! (Mar-21 vote was 0-414). Same thing happened in May 2011 (0-97 senators voted against his 2012 budget (0-97). He also rejected the reforms by his own Bowles-Simpson Committee. For those readers who still have an open mind, please read the details of Ryan’s proposal here:
Vince Killoran | 4/27/2012 - 11:08pm
Some amazing contortions going on here to get Ryan to fit Catholic economic teachings.

"But Paul Ryan wants all these things. The argument I have with you is that you equate these good things with anti-market economics, whereas the only hope we have of providing these goods is to end the massive Obama debt."

Ryan may "want" all these things  but the direct criticism of free market capitalism in the various documents puts his perspective (and means to achieving them) at odds with Catholic thinking on the economy.  Consider the Church's very strong support for collective bargaining and labor unions: not exactly the stuff of "free market capitalism."

Shayne LaBudda | 4/27/2012 - 8:06pm
If the heirarchy is to be taken with a grain of salt because their thinking is out of date(#26, JRC), would the same caution not be worthy on their other seemingly out of date pronouncements?

Free market capitalism can come in an infinite number of shapes, sizes, and flavors.  The US has a very modified version methinks.  We have regulations, we have limits, etc.  I don't know that anyone is recommending the wholesale discarding of capitalism, but just like everything else, we seek to refine or mold it as we go.  The economy is not static, the amount of our wealth and its distribution is not static, so the efforts to alleviate 21st century poverty or need is accordingly fluid and in need of changing attention as well.  I can't buy the argument that today's poor have it so much better than the poor of yesterday, and I suspect those in the throes of today's poverty will outrightly reject such an argument. 

The greed of human nature is a fairly constant factor, and one that is forever seeking redress.  Today's system is queered to favor the wealthy and powerful, probably much as it was in previous generations.  Rather than accept that fact and say that's the best we can do, I will continue to argue (as are many of the respondents here in one way or another) that the system by which the common good benefits or is improved by the creation of wealth has a measure of unfairness to it.  I see no benefit to parsing Paul Ryan's words.  He's probably a well-intentioned guy, saw some credibility to be gained by invoking Ayn Rand, then when he also sought gain by relating his religion, he found the corner he'd painted himself into.  Sure, he's making an effort, while trying to subtantiate it in one direction then another, but really, we can do better. 

Whenever someone tries to sanctify unfettered free market capitalism as the cure to society's ills, I think of Reagan's "a rising tide lifts all boats."  Not so helpful to those moored to harbor with a short chain.  People need help.
Liam Richardson | 4/27/2012 - 3:36pm
Translation of Ryan's attempt to finesse here: he wants to be considered as a candidate for Mitt Romney's VP, and realized that his encomium to Rand was an Achilles heel.
Tim O'Leary | 4/27/2012 - 3:36pm
Vince #25.

It is important to know the categorical bias before one falls for a conclusion that the Church has “firmly rejected the free market.” Your comment is unsubstantiated by the context or the full body of Church teaching. Furthermore, most economic judgments are prudential rather than principled, meaning that committed Catholics can disagree and still be fully Catholic (unlike fixed teaching on abortion, gay marriage, divorce, women priests, etc). Of course I can find many passages in papal and other sources lauding the good effects of free markets and criticizing the bad effects of all the collectivist alternatives. And the popes have ruled out ''third ways.'' So, we are left with some form of free market capitalism, within the right regulatory environment. Again, Paul Ryan is trying to make our current system more efficient. It is a modest reformation rather than a radical change (see how long it takes to fully balance the budget). There will still be welfare for those who really need it. There will still be taxes and the rich will pay the lion’s share as they do now, but with less loopholes or incentives to avoid them. So, to try to exclude Ryan’s budget as non-Catholic is a form of intolerant economic fundamentalism.

I also have no objection to the quote you finish with. I agree with it completely. I believe in a preferential option for the poor (just not a preferential option for the state). I rank needs over wants, I want clean air and water, etc. etc. But Paul Ryan wants all these things. The argument I have with you is that you equate these good things with anti-market economics, whereas the only hope we have of providing these goods is to end the massive Obama debt.
J Cosgrove | 4/27/2012 - 3:16pm
The condundrum for many of the Church pronouncements comes when the only economic system that can provide for the poor is free market capitalism.  A lot of their thinking lies in the 19th century thought but we now have a 100 years more of data and experience.  In the last 200 years the average daily income has risen about 16 times where free market capitalism has been made part of the social system.  This is what Deirdre McCloskey calls the ''Great Fact.''  And this does not take into account the sciences and technology that enable us to reach the world and essentially lets anyone anywhere learn anything and is now spreading medical breakthroughs all around the world.  Where free market capitalism is resisted the daily income rate is much lower and conditions are much harsher.

Free market capitalism is not about trading butter and eggs for clothes which has gone on for centuries, it is mainly about continually adding value to the things of trade through human ingenuity and effort.  Because of this, the typical person under free market capitalism possess more than any king, sultan, or emperor of even 100 years ago.  The only thing these kings, sultans and emperors had was the power to command or enslave people.  They had vast palaces built by slave labor or serfs but no medicine, electricity, amenities and their education was no better than a typical grade school kid in the US today.

So if anyone proposes a system other then free market capitalism, they are not only advocating the oppression of the poor but the creation of poor and ignorance.  To claim that free market capitalism does not distribute the goods of the world is absurd.  The distribution of goods in the world had always been limited before the last 200 years to a select few.  What free market capitalism has done since then was make the goods available to everyone.  Because it isn't perfect or instantaneous, people misplace where the problem lies.  It lies not with the system but with human nature which has not changed since the beginning.

Paul Ryan wants that system to go on but some think they know better and the results are rarely for the good.  As I said above witness the current housing crisis which caused an employment crisis.  This was due to people who thought they knew better.
Vince Killoran | 4/27/2012 - 2:03pm
Oh, the author is is a liberal so he can't be trusted. . . I forgot about that!

Here's Pope Benedict writing on the market and the state: It is “the political community” which has responsibility for directing economic activity towards the common good [36]. Grave imbalances are produced, he writes, “when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution” [36].

And, good luck finding an endorsement of "free market capitalism" in P. JP II's assertion that

"The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; production to meet social needs over production for military purposes. "
Liam Richardson | 4/27/2012 - 3:38pm
And Rand herself would have been the first to insist that her atheism and economic views were warp and weft of her tapestry; there's no safe culling from her.
Tim O'Leary | 4/27/2012 - 11:26am
Vince (#18)
Your claim that the last two popes firmly rejected free market capitalism is a gross distortion of the article you linked to, which itself is a very liberal (Fr. Kammer, SJ) gloss on the papal writings. But, to use the same quote Fr. Kammer used on the question from Pope JP II’s Centesimus Annus (#42) on whether capitalism is the only system left after the failure of communism:
“The answer is obviously complex. If by capitalism is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a business economy, market economy, or simply free economy. But if by capitalism is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.”
The obvious interpretation that takes the 2 propositions together is that the the pope endorsed a “free economy” as long as it has a strong juridical framework. Nothing in Paul Ryan’s budget proposal changes that. What is under discussion or dispute is what juridical or regulatory laws help and hurt. Ryan wants a simpler tax system that will increase efficiency, reduce tax-dodging and result in more revenue from the rich. He wants to keep welfare for the poor and stop it for the non-poor. He wants to increase incentives for employers and investors to create jobs. (See: The Georgetown academics, who are loosely “Catholic” on many social issues, are trying to expel Ryan’s ideas from Catholic discussion without offering any alternatives. It will not work this time. The debt is too great to ignore.
Robert Galvin | 4/27/2012 - 8:17am
America hammers Republican for failing to understand Catholic social teaching as fully as Jesuits while remaining unconcerned about Democrats who depend on support of abortion industry for election.  Ho hum.
Helen Smith | 4/27/2012 - 7:59am
Dave Pasinki:

I don't want to demonize Ayn Rand either but we could make that point that she was not a very good person and not one to be admired.  By the way, when asked about the pronunciation of her name, Ayn, it is said that she told people that it rhymes with “mine.”  Also, people forget that Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, 1986-2006 (when he retired!) was a member of Ayn Rand’s inner circle in the 1950s and was influenced by her philosophy. Some economists have laid a good deal of blame for the financial crisis in 2008 on him.

David Pasinski | 4/27/2012 - 7:31am
I don't know how anyone viewing Ryan's video could say that it was not a hymn to the person and philosophy of Ayn Rand. I am not out to demonize her, but to say that she espoused a "rugged individualism" is a moderate statement that seems impossible to deny! And to say that that does not represent the bulk and thrust of caatholic social teaching is likewise a fair appraisal in my mind.
 Of course the Church has not renounced capialism, but as Vince pointed out, you don't need to read deeply in scholastic or contemporary Catholilc thought to see her philosophy at odds - and Ryan's initial espousal of it, whatever his current position - clearly endorses her approach.
Tom Maher | 4/27/2012 - 1:15am
The Church rejects capitalism?  Since when?  And what would be the economic substitue for capitalism which is so prevasive all over the world?  Marxist socialism that failed so massively at the end of the 20th century?  What do we do go ask the faculty of Georgetown University for their economic theory mixed and confussed with theology that is neith good theology or sound economics. 

One of the agrieved Georgetown faculty members was on Fox News tonight expalining his encoherent ideas about what how to form the United States Budget that was better than the Ryan budget without any foundation in economics or reality.  It was not impressive.  How does one talk about a budget without knowing about our dire fiancial siduation in the country is facing where among other things the current national debt is more than 100% of our Gross Domestic Product?  How do you philosiphize an the nation out of all the economic messes the nation is in without bring bankrupting the country?  Yet the Georgetown faculty does not acknowledge any problem when everyone else is saying we are in the niddle of the the second worst recession since the geat depression.   Major social progams such as Social Security and Medicare are headed for bankruptcy.  The faculty member reply were void of economic understanding.  It is a disgrace to attack Ryan's  without having making any sense of what a viable U.S. budget should be. The faculty member was morializing for morializing sake.  The Georgetown faculty are not making any moral or economic sense with their crticism of Ryan's budget. 
Vince Killoran | 4/27/2012 - 12:05am
I'm sorry Cosgrove but, even in looking at the last two popes, leaving aside bishops and lay Catholics on the matter, there is a firm rejection of free marker capitalism.  Please see
J Cosgrove | 4/26/2012 - 11:52pm
''The short answer is ''yes''-there is plenty in this short sentence that is against the Catholic tradition and teaching, i.e., the reach of capitalism and the faulty ''morality'' of individualism.

The short answer is no.  There is nothing against Catholic teaching in that statement.  Free market capitalism is the most moral way to organize social and economic activity unless one wants to create more poor and sustain that condition.  And all my education in Catholic schools for 16 years was focused on developing the person to be what they could be by teaching us and challenging us to think for ourselves and inspiring us to contribute in our own unique way.  That is what education is about. 

Each of us individually has to make it to God and Catholic education was a way to lead one there.  We are not saved as part of a heard or any form of collective which ends up demeaning the individual who individually was created in the image of God.  Individualism does not mean that one does not recognize others or does not cares for others.  It means we are all different and it is important for each of us to find ways of expressing that uniqueness or our individualism.

Here is the link to Paul Ryan's speech today:

and here is the letter sent to him by Georgetown.  This site should discuss just what are the actual numbers in Ryan's budget before using the hyperbole similar to what is contained in this letter and on previous OP's on this site.
Vince Killoran | 4/26/2012 - 11:03pm
So much anger at a faculty letter!  I well remember the letter from Notre Dame faculty protesting President Obama's appearance and honorary degree. I guess it the "arrogance" of which Robert writes was not in evidence then.

I'm not certain exactly how much of Rand's views the Wisconsin representative embraces.  I suspect he doesn't endorse her Objectivist perspective but, rather, like many free market devotees likes her libertarian views.  She wasn't much of a systematic thinker in any case. Given how quickly people who spoke or wrote favorably about some aspect of Marx's understanding of history and capitalism we should be careful about slapping labels on public figures.

But this line that J.R. Cosgrove(#8) transcribed from the video caught my eye: Ayn Rand more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most.  Cosgrove then asks, "Is there anything in here that is against Catholic social teaching?"

The short answer is "yes"-there is plenty in this short sentence that is against the Catholic tradition and teaching, i.e., the reach of capitalism and the faulty "morality" of individualism.
Robert Wilhelm | 4/26/2012 - 9:42pm
The faculty letter slamming Paul Ryan was dishonest and uncharitable.  First the arrogance of all these professors who imply that they do not follow any philosopher but solely Our Lord.  Really? You have no philsophers who inspire you?  You teach only the pure Gospel revealed to you directly by Our Lord?  I don't particularly like Ayn Rand, but Paul Ryan is not a philsopher and whether or not she has influenced him on some level is irrelevant.  What you did was smear Ryan by essentially saying his Lord is Mammon.  Further, you imply subsidiarity can only be interpreted through a Liberal perspective.  Come on, Hoyas, no more specious ''theology'' to push the Obama line. And please, no more condenscending remarks like your poisonous last line to Congressman Ryan. - Sincerely from one conservative and libertarian Catholic theologian.
Anonymous | 4/26/2012 - 6:52pm
Vincent Miller's blog post has no intellectual merit.  It is a hatchet job that makes me embarissed to say that I a product of Jesuit education.

The insulting remark about "scrubbing the video"?  Sure all of those nasty, GOP, wealthy, right-winger, racist, religious fundamentalist, bible thumping, Republicans do things like that.

I have been reading America Magazine for decades.  I have followed this blog for the a contrary opinion.  I find this post to be insulting.
J Cosgrove | 4/26/2012 - 6:45pm
''viewing the entire video with its emphasis on the individualism that, to my mind, characterizes her philosophy that he celebrates, is a direct contrast to my understanding of the social compact approach of Catholic teaching.''

That is an absurd characterization.  There is nothing in Ryan's words that is against any Church teaching especially given it is the Ryan approach that leads to less poverty and a more fulfillment of one's life.  Is the Church proposing that individuals not use their free will, to produce things of value, to succeed, control their destiny.  Are you suggesting that we be organized into some collectiveness such as in the middle ages when everyone had their place and their lives were essentially determined by the birth status and local nobility?

Mr. Miller mischaracterized Mr. Ryan substantially.  That is obvious.  He owes the readers here an apology.  Let's not try to defend the indefensible.
Joshua DeCuir | 4/26/2012 - 6:33pm
I think the full quote Ryan makes in the National Reivew Article:

"“I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed them,” Ryan says. “They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School and Milton Friedman,” a subject he eventually studied as an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. “But it’s a big stretch to suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist.”
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says."
Patrick Molloy | 4/26/2012 - 5:22pm
Did Obama change his outlook or policies in any way when he rejected Reverend Wright, or was that a merely cosmetic change?  

Where is the post:  Obama renounces Wright - - policies unchanged
Joshua DeCuir | 4/26/2012 - 4:43pm
America blogger calls Ryan a liar - Still a cold-hearted Republican.
J Cosgrove | 4/26/2012 - 4:17pm
Here is what Ryan said.  It is short.  The video is about a minute long:

''It's that kind of thinking, that kind of writing,  that is sorely needed right now. I would think that right now a lot of people would observe that we are living in an Ayn Rand novel metaphorically speaking.  More to the point is this.  The issue that is under assault, the attack on democratic capitalism, on individualism and freedom in America, is an attack on the moral foundation of America.

In Ayn Rand more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most.  It is not enough to say that President Obama's taxes are too big, or the health care plan  does not work for this or that policy reason.  It is the morality of what is occurring right now and how it offends the morality of individuals working toward their own free will to produce, to achieve, to succeed that is under attack.  And is that which I think Ayn Rand would be commenting on which we need that kind of comment more and more than ever. ''

Is there anything in here that is against Catholic social teaching.  After all it is this type of thinking that alleviated the plight of the poor more than any other effort in the history of mankind.  Is Catholic social teaching against helping the poor and providing them an education, a livelihood and an opportunitty to express themselves during their lives.  If it is I somehow missed that in my Catholic education.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 4/26/2012 - 2:57pm
The meme I associate Ayn Rand with (besides unreadable prose) is the idea that we should not provide assistance to poor people because it's bad for them to be assisted.

No rational person can maintain that we should not provide assistance to poor people because it is a cause of the national debt crisis. National programs which provide assistance to the poor are about 5% of the budget. (It is true that Medicaid is a substantial expense. But everybody knows health care is expensive.) The budget is being busted by middle-class entitlement programs, not programs for the poor.

Aware of this and that middle-class people vote, some of the less-irrational welfare-bashers have been talking up the theory that providing people with food, shelter, transportation, adult education and things like that are bad for them.

I admit I barely managed to plough through that excruciating bore "The Fountainhead" but isn't this a Randian doctrine? (Can anybody find it in St. Thomas A?) I think I remember this being a common theme in all those incredibly long-winded didactic speeches the pretentiously modernistic architect and his pathologically bad-tempered adulteress made at each other. Or maybe I just dreamed it. I sure did fall asleep a lot trying to read that consummate piece of garbage.

I think Ryan figures almost anything can be attributed to Aquinas, because of his vast erudition, just as almost anything can be attributed to Ayn Rand because nobody who ever read one of her books will ever voluntarily look into it again.
J Cosgrove | 4/26/2012 - 2:45pm
I watched the video.  It is in sync with what I believe and my understanding of Catholic Church dogma after 16 years of Catholic education.  Hurray for Paul Ryan because free market capitalism is the most moral way of running a large society that exists and that is what he saying in this video.  Anyone who says differently is distorting what Mr. Ryan is saying.

Mr. Miller owes us all an apology for the distortions he is implying in his OP.  In no way did Ryan endorse all of Ayn Rand's philosophy, only her take on free market capitalism which is the most moral way to run any large society.  This is not the first time that Mr. Miller has distorted the views of Paul Ryan.  His post on subsidiarity was also a distortion.  I have to ask why does a Catholic theologian do such a thing?
Tim O'Leary | 4/26/2012 - 2:28pm
I looked at the video and, while short (69 secs), it does confirm that Paul Ryan thought highly of some of Ayn Rand's analysis in 2009. That doesn’t mean he endorsed her remedies, and certainly not her atheism or Objectivism. In any case, since we now have a fuller, more explicit and more contemporary account of what Ryan believes (I recommend that each reader who sees the video also reads the full article at NRO linked above), people of good will and some degree of reasonable tolerance (i.e. without partisan blindfolds) should be able to take him at his word and then critique his solutions more objectively. I have to say that Ryan’s use of the term subsidiarity does reflect the meaning in the Catechism (CCC), where it is mentioned 4 times.

1883 defines the principle as ''a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.''
1885 emphasizes that “the principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention.”
1894 explicitly warns against the state “neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.”
And 2209 emphasizes the dangers of the state and community organizations usurping the rights and responsibilities of the family.
Many liberal Catholics say they believe in a “preferential option for the poor” but they default into a “preferential option for the state”. It is worse than unjust to have the state subsume the work of our intermediary organizations. It doesn’t work. It institutionalizes poverty, generation after generation. And the unsustainable deficit (in the $trillions!!!) puts our children in endless debt and poverty. Ryan mostly advocates slowing down (not removing) the growth of the current programs while replacing them with more efficient privatized solutions. He also wants to simplify the tax system so the rich end up paying more taxes. President Obama’s own Erskine Bowles commission argued for the same thing.
james belna | 4/26/2012 - 1:03pm
In what sense - other than Vincent Miller's personal fantasies - is Rep Ryan ''under fire'' for his speech at Georgetown? There were a maybe a dozen protesters who held up a sign for a rather pathetic photo-op (google it and see for yourself), compared to a full house of interested and engaged students who respectfully listened to Ryan's very substantive speech and asked intelligent questions afterwards. That should come as no surprise. Unlike tenured Georgetown faculty members, these students are compelled to confront the reality that they are living in - and will be picking up the tab for - the brokest nation in the history of the world. 
Terrence Tilley | 4/26/2012 - 12:08pm
Ryan's endorsement of Rand in the video is nigh-unto absolute. Vince Miller is entirely correct: if he has had such a conversion, it has had no significant effect on his policies and practices.

While "subsidiarity" is an important notion in Catholic Social Thought, the nuances are important. It deals not with what a unit SHOULD do, but with what a unit does. If the family does not take care of the children, then a local authority is to step in. Of course, the family has the right and duty to care for children, but if they do not do so, then subsidiarity implies that the "next level" has the duty and responsibility to take care of the children.

The fact of the matter is that charity in housing, feeding, and giving health care to the needy has failed. Larger institutions need to take this over,. Just as states failed to give some citizens equal rights in the era of Jim Crow, subsidiarity required the federal government to take over.

The issue is not wone of theory, it is one of prudential judgment. The question is not whether the government - local, state, or federal - must act or set policy or intervene. The question is when they must do so. And Ryan simply misses that point in his articulation of his ideology which has gone unchangec despite his alleged conversion.
J Cosgrove | 4/27/2012 - 10:10am
Ms. Marie,

You are absolutely right that Alan Greenspan was an admirer of Ayn Rand.  Though it some times hard to separate her economic ideas from her philosophical ideas since her economic ideas do not depend anyway on her atheism.  So one can espouse certain aspects of someone's ideas but not all.  You are also right that Greenspan contributed substantially to the housing bubble by lowering interest rates.  However, there is a long list of people who are ahead of him in culpability.

Number one on the list is Jim Jones and not far behind him is Bill Clinton followed by Henry Cisneros and Andrew Cuomo.  You could throw in Paul Sarbanes too because he got the whole thing started by complaining about discrimination in home financing based on bogus data.  They had a host of enablers but these are the prime movers.  And who is Jim Jones.  He was the head of Fannie Mae when the housing fiasco started and it started in the early 1990's.  He, Clinton and the HUD people changed the way mortgage requirements were assessed.  The rest is history and not pretty.

And by the way when Barack Obama was introduced to the Black Caucus in Congress it was Fannie Mae sponsoring him.  And Obama was the largest recipient of Fannie Mae donations of any politician.  And it was Jim Jones who was chosen by Obama to head his vice president search till it became too embarrassing for him to keep him.  So when Obama says it was all Bush's fault, it is the Big Lie.  Obama had more to do with the financial crisis than Bush.  Maybe if they all paid attention to Ayn Rand we wouldn't be in our problem today.  But then you would have had all the liberals complaining about the rugged individualists not allowing the poor to have their homes.

Oh, the man from Fannie Mae who presided over Obama's introduction in Congress to the Black Caucus.  His name is Daniel Mudd and he has been indicted for fraud for his time at Fannie Mae.  Can you imagine what the press would be doing with that if it was a Republican?  But we have poor Paul Ryan with his cheapo 48% increase in the budget over 10 years and he is villified.
David Pasinski | 4/26/2012 - 5:52pm
I will be curious to see how his comments were received today at Georgetown and his own explanation. Using the word "prevarication" was intentional in referring to his statement that he had never espoused Ayn Rand. I can't imagine what else you would call this.

As far as the congruence or opposition to Catholic social teaching, viewing the entire video with its emphasis on the individualism that, to my mind, characterizes her philosophy that he celebrates, is a direct contrast to my understanding of the social compact approach of Catholic teaching.

The reference to Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright was never characterized as the same nor am I aware that he so endorsed his thought and therefore did not need to formally reject any more than he did in his most extremist positions.
David Pasinski | 4/26/2012 - 11:52am
I encourage all to view this video. It is as strong a personal endorsement of Ayn Rand as a person and philosopher s one can imagine. To think that he has somehow reframed or repudiated that in the past couple years and yet comes to same moral conclusions shows either the extent of self-deception possible or the magnicent trust in being able to obfuscate with newspeak.  I hope this will remain on Facebook as a wiitness to the prevarication, delusion, and conclusions that are far distant from Catholic social teaching.
Liam Richardson | 4/27/2012 - 3:38pm
And Rand herself would have been the first to insist that her atheism and economic views were warp and weft of her tapestry; there's no safe culling from her.