The selection of Catholic Paul Ryan as running mate to Mormon Mitt Romney has done more than create the G.O.P.’s first non-Protestant presidential ticket, it has dramatically altered the Romney campaign’s cautious course and highlighted the importance of the Catholic vote to Romney strategists. Having lost that crucial demographic by a significant margin to Candidate Obama in 2008 (53 to 46 percent), Republicans perceive that the Catholic vote is at play this cycle because of general disappointment with Obama and the rippling negativity generated by his administration’s frequent antler-locking with U.S. bishops. A Romney ad immediately following the Ryan announcement drew attention to the Catholic connection by directly accusing the president of engaging in a war on religion and including, one presumes, the unapproved use of an image of Pope John Paul II, even quoting his famous "Be not afraid."

The telegenic Catholic from Wisconsin does come with some cumbersome Ayn Randian baggage he has already tried, somewhat ineffectually, to drop off, but his pro-life, limited government and anti-gay marriage positions will attract Catholic conservatives while the Romney camp may be betting that his faith, charisma and the bishops’ persistent religious liberty complaints will turn the heads of waffling center-left Catholics. Persuading U.S.C.C.B. President Cardinal Tim Dolan to leave the Big Apple for the big G.O.P. party in Tampa is the latest, logical extension of Romney’s Catholic strategy. (See Michael Sean Winter's interesting take on this at NCR.)


One presumes the Obama camp has noted this line of attack, given the fragility of their lead over the G.O.P. team, but so far there has been little indication that the president’s re-election strategists have decided upon a meaningful response aimed at preserving support among Catholic Dems and wooing Catholic independents. A dramatic move now, say retreating on the administration’s overreach on the H.H.S. contraception mandate, may go far in taking the steam out of the Catholic incursion planned by Romney’s team. Clearly Romney's team is betting it will not take much poaching of Catholic votes in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio to put Romney-Ryan over the top. Obama’s strategic capitulation over contraception in health care last winter, throwing Catholic progressives under the bus to appease his pro-choice supporters, is beginning to look like a poor political calculation.

The Ryan choice provoked some notable commentary, including a jaw-dropper in the Wall Street Journal that was the target of a full-Gallicho (a neologism I am promoting meaning “sardonic take down”). The WSJ piece was also ably picked apart by Jana Bennet at Catholic Moral Theology.

On the other side of the pew Deal Hudson has some free advice to Romney’s handlers about how best to capitalize on their Catholic candidate. And Andrew Sullivan offered a devastating critique of Ryan’s adolescent Libertarian idealism and unhappy weakness for the perennially discredited supply side economics while unthreading the cultural impulses straining against his Catholicism. Closer to home, our Kerry Weber explored some Ryan-ish themes right here.

Perhaps most remarkable of the online commentary during Ryan-palooza were two apologias for the Janesville, Wis., construction scion delivered by two U.S. bishops which appear to undermine the authority of U.S. bishops’ committee statements.

Taking great pains to describe his apparent endorsement of Ryan as, well, not an endorsement, a somewhat unconvincing path followed by Cardinal Dolan in explaining his decision to appear in Tampa, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila defended Ryan’s attempt to deploy Catholic social teaching as a justification for cutting back on government social services, including food stamps, TANF, “reforming” Medicare, etc. The archbishop used the homey analogy of a too-indulgent father spoiling his children thus leaving them ill-prepared for life in the real world, concluding, “Governing by sentimental affection can impede the hard choices required by compassion—by real love.”

Lamenting the “insidious” criticism Ryan has received, the archbishop says, “Ryan is a Catholic and a fiscal conservative. [Some, remembering his support of Bushian profligacy, may take exception to that observation]. His fiscal perspective has been roundly condemned as being somehow anti-Catholic—even by a few American bishops.” Indeed Ryan’s budget proposals have been roundly criticized on behalf of all the U.S. bishops by Bishops Pate, Hubbard and Blaire. It is interesting that in this instance the archbishop appears to endorse Ryan’s previous suggestion, in dismissing the criticism of his proposals by “some bishops,” that Bishops Blaire, Hubbard, et al only speak for themselves, not the U.S. Bishops conference. A conference spokesperson was forced to clarify that when committee chairs issue statements or write to Congress on such matters they are standing in for the entire body.

Ryan was also strongly supported by his hometown bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, who adds violations of the right to private property, “government-coerced secularism” and socialism to the list of intrinsic evils right-minded Catholics should be on the lookout for come November.

Now, according to the letter of the law, in these statements neither bishop has issued a definitive express endorsement of the Romney-Ryan ticket that would jeopardize the church’s tax-exempt status, but they make it pretty clear that a vote for the other partly Catholic team would be pretty much unthinkable.

Morlino’s comments in particular on private property and socialism touch on hair-trigger memes in perpetual circulation in G.O.P and right wing circles. He adds for good measure: “A Catholic conscience can never take exception to the prohibition of actions which are intrinsically evil. Nor may a conscience well-formed by reason or the Catholic faith ever choose to vote for someone who clearly, consistently, persistently promotes that which is intrinsically evil.”

But that’s not exactly what the church teaches regarding the requirements of Catholics in participating in the political arena through voting. The bishop’s statements seem to undermine instruction included in Faithful Citizenship on prudential judgments and Pope Benedict’s (then Cardinal Ratzinger) clarification on the issue. Benedict wrote in 2004: "A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

The letters also provide some spiritual cover for a regular Ryan theme: that the best way to demonstrate a preferential option for the poor is to do as little for them as possible in the richest nation on earth. According to this line of reasoning, the working or non-working poor under the Obama regime are choosing this status because of all the federal goodies they are receiving like food stamps, Medicaid, housing and heating support. This idea can surely only be persuasive among people who have never had the misfortune to have to get by on things like food stamps or unemployment benefits and it persists somehow in the face of the flat reality that public aid rolls, i.e., unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc., have surely been increasing since 2008, not because Obama came into office, but because of a market meltdown and resulting economic dislocation on a scale unseen since the Great Depression. There are more hungry children qualifying for food stamps not because of the nature of the man in the White House, but because of the drastic nature of the collapse of the economy.

Ryan, and his episcopal supporters, seem to endorse the belief that the best way out of our current economic crisis is to get government, its regulatory authority and minimal social supports, out of the way and allow the free market to work its magic, ignoring the plain fact that it was the free market and a too-indulgent federal regulatory regime which got us into this mess in the first place. And under a parade of popes over the last century and a half and including the current papacy, the church has expressed deep reservations about an over-reliance on market forces and the market’s inhuman and inhumane tendencies.

Bishop Aquila likewise endorses Ryan’s persistent suggestion that the U.S. is lurching toward Greece and Spain unless something is done immediately about the federal budget deficit. It is fair to wonder if the Archbishop Aquila were as concerned with paternally living within our means when the nation first dug deeply into the hole with overspending on defense by Reagan, Bush the elder and Bush the younger. He writes: “Paul Ryan is concerned that America will soon be bankrupt, and  so we must make hard choices.  If he is right, and we ignore the message  because the consequences seem compassionless, our sentimental affections may  cripple the ones our Lord loves the most—our  children.”

Of course many have pointed out that Ryan is, in fact, not right about the state of the U.S. fiscal crisis, that wholesale social service cuts are not only unwarranted but counterproductive and that in fact the best course of action in the short term is to get the economy moving again with more federal stimulus to avoid the austerity/recession trap now being experienced by Greece, Spain and Great Britain. Ryan's plans, which bishops Aquila and Morlino pretend they lack the expertise to judge themselves, offer even more generous tax cuts for the rich and more bloating for the defense budget in the belief that upper class indulgence will somehow revive the economy (haven’t we been doing that for decades as the middle class continued to languish?)

But beyond the likelihood of Ryan’s proposals simply not working as he imagines they will is the troubling spectacle of Catholic bishops even entertaining the idea that a tough-love cutting off of the poor was the “best thing” for them, that in fact the United States did not suffer from a lack of solidarity and compassion but from an overindulgence in it. That perspective is wrong on the facts, just compare the level of U.S. social supports and outcomes with virtually any O.E.C.D. peer, and surely represents some kind of a failure in a Christian imagination, which might dictate running the risk of overindulging the vulnerable during periods of deep economic uncertainty. Surely, as the U.S.C.C.B. and Catholic teaching persistently have pointed out, their cry for assistance should be attended to with a tenderness at least as deeply felt and expressed as that reserved for defense contractors, tax accountants or Wall Street lobbyists.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
james belna
6 years 7 months ago
I don't know what Kevin Clarke is worried about. I am sure that Obama will easily carry the pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage, pro-HHS Mandate, pro-welfare state Catholic demographic - unless, of course, they are out of a job, or tired of paying $4 for a gallon of gas, or concerned about trillion-dollar deficits destroying their children's future.
Amy Ho-Ohn
6 years 7 months ago
I honestly do not think flip-flopping on the HHS mandate is going to help Obama. This is not an argument about whether the HHS mandate is a good thing or a bad thing; it's just estimating the electoral math.

Most women I know like the mandate more than they fear it. Here is a homey analogy for why: It's kind of like when your five-year-old nephew comes home from kindergarten and gives you a frog-shaped ash tray he made in art class. Maybe you don't like frogs and maybe you don't smoke but it's still nice to know he was thinking about you. If he asks you to give it back, so he can give it to his stepmother, who doesn't even remember when his birthday is, OK, you'll give it back. But you're definitely going to feel a little less enthusiastic about going to his soccer game that weekend. If it's raining, you might just send a polite excuse and skip it.

If Obama throws the mandate under the bus, a lot of women, including Catholic women, including Catholic women who are beyond the birth-controlling age, are going to be kind of annoyed. If he throws it under the bus to pander to the not overwhelmingly gynephilic USCCB, that could lose him more votes than it gets him. Anybody who is against birth control is against legal abortion; they're not going to vote for him in any case.

And unlike the bishies, the Jesuits and the editorial staffs of "America" and its imitators, Obama actually knows, respects and works with female people all day every day. So he's not likely to dump the HHS mandate.

But if the point is just to ostentatiously agree with the bishops about something as a demonstration of loyalty, heck, go for it. I'm sure their gratitude will be copious.
Crystal Watson
6 years 7 months ago
Obama has actually gotten a lot done.  To see what he's accomplished for the environment, you can watch this short video from the Sierra Club  .....  http://youtu.be/qWrEz-1v1g
Tim O'Leary
6 years 7 months ago
Michael #7
I know Paul Ryan differed from Simpson-Bowles. That's why he has his own plan. The point is that Obama has been negligent in coming up with any attempt at dealing with the pending bankruptcy of the country, all the while he is attacking corporations in Wall Street for driving their companies to insolvency.

It's not really surprising that, in his first ever executive job in his life, he would prove insufficiently adept at management. He made many naive promises (closing Guantanamo, stopping renditions, government transparency, etc.), and just shrugged it off when he failed.

Crystal, Obama's team have certainly made many regulations in the environmental area, mostly increasing the delays, costs and obstacles to businesses. But, that doesn't necessarily translate into a cleaner environment, certainly not in the near term, while it guarantees job losses right now (such as the Keystone pipeline indecision). Also, remember all the indecision during the BP oil spill?
Stanley Kopacz
6 years 7 months ago
A Rombot-Ryan win, and I think that is more likely than not, will probably seal the environmental doom of the United States and the world.  Disaster capitalism relies on keeping the masses in a constant state of anxiety and economic insecurity, unable to see long term solutions to their problems, unable to even see the long term problems. A Rombot-Ryan presidency will be able to sell off resources on public lands for a song and leave them despoiled, with the public picking up the externalities.  We need the money, so sell drilling rights to the Kochs et. al for pennies on the dollar.  A Rombot-Ryan presidency will stack the Supreme Court so thoroughly in the favor of corporate interests, that we will have completely turned a corner similar to when Rome went from republic to empire.
Jim McCrea
6 years 7 months ago
Way too many Catholics are easily led.  They have been conditioned since leaving the womb to listen to church authority.  Critical thinking is not one of the cardinal virtues of the Catholic sheeple.  Witness comment #1 above.  If you really think that $4.00 gasoline is bad, don't leave the warm cocoon of the US of A. 
J Cosgrove
6 years 7 months ago
A few comments:

1. Here is a video by Erskine Bowles about a year ago that praises Paul Ryan and his approach to the budget.  Bowles calls him serious, honest and sincere.  Later in the talk (not on this video) he says he does not agree with everything Ryan recommends but generally praises his approach.


2.  The free market has not caused the current ''Great Recession.''  Government intervention into the housing market is the primary cause.  It started in the early to mid 1990's with the relaxing of mortgage requirements which essentially changed the Supply/Demand curves for housing.  All of sudden the Demand side increased because of the lax rules which led to 1) rising housing prices and 2) a building boom.  The main culprit was Fannie Mae and a lot of political supporters in Washington.  But there were many others including financial institutions, foreign investors, housing interests etc who saw huge amounts of money changing hands because of this relaxation of the mortgage requirements and saw an easy way to get a small percentage cut which added up to very large sums.  And they saw an esssential backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the US government which led them to think that there was no way these investments would be allowed to fail.

When housing prices collapsed in late 2006/early 2007 the country was left with a glut of houses and no one to buy them.  Also a large percentage of current home owners were under water, a condition the country never saw before and this also suppressed demand for housing and anything associated with it such as repairs or appliances.  Without the relaxation of mortgage requirements there would not have been so many bad investments to go south, no financial crisis in 2008, few if any underwater homes, and much fewer layoffs since 2008.  And to be honest, there would have been less growth in GDP during the 1996-2007 period due to the housing boom.

Thus, a traditional stimulus of the housing market by low interest rates by the Fed since 2008 can not work in this unique environment.  The large infusion of money into our economy has done little in the US but has also wrecked havoc over seas.  The dollar is the currency of choice for international transactions and the world was flooded with dollars which were not being used in the US and caused lots of currency fluctuations. 

3. The Ryan budget does not make drastic cuts for the poor.  This distortion that the Ryan budget makes large cuts is being bandied about for political reasons and frequently on this site.  It does reduce some of the expenditures which have more than doubled from just a few years ago.  The Democratic controlled Congress, starting just after the 2006 elections, more than doubled expenditures for welfare related items and Ryan's plan reduces these a small amount based on an optimistic view of the future that will not need all these expenditures but which are still about 60-80% higher than a few years ago.  For that he is being called some amazing things by Catholics. 

So I take a payment to the poor that most think is ok, double it and then reduce it by 10% and the new level is now starving the poor, a sign of no concern for the unfortunate and many other horrilbe things.  Ryan's funding for the poor are at a much higher level than what Bill Clinton funded them.  So should we boo him every time he speaks up now.  Keep that in mind when thinking about the Ryan budget.

4. Every time Obama says that we should not go back to the things that have failed he is really pointing to the policies that he himself advocates and not what Bush or other Republican did.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the main culprits in the housing fiasco and guess who was the main beneficiary of their political contributions and a big supporter of their policies.  Yes, since Obama has been in national office he was their biggest recipient of their support till they were essentially cut off in late 2008.  When Obama first was introduced to the Black Caucus in early 2005 it was the head of Fannie Mae that ran the ceremony.  And this man has now been indicted for fraud.  Imagine the rhetoric we would see if the man who introduced George Bush or Mitt Romney to Washington was under indictment for fraud or their close friend and fund raiser was also now in jail for fraud or their closest adviser was a slum lord in Chicago who supervised run down housing for the poor.  Imagine what the press would be saying.

If one wants to discuss any of these in a rational way, that would be welcomed.  That way we can understand just what is the basis for how we all think on this and just what we believe and how grounded in facts each one's beliefs are.  A cordial but substantive discussion would be welcome and is part of my remembrance of discussions we had at my Jesuit college.  Contentious often but you were allowed to present your point of view with out being vilified.  One had to be able to defend what you presented then.  That is how they wanted your thinking to evolve.
Tim Carey
6 years 7 months ago
I think many Catholics will take the Bishop's predictable endorsement of everything Paul Ryan with the grain of salt that many of the Bishops facilitated and covered up the molestation of children but are still more concerned about consentural sex between adults than unconsentual sex with a minor.  They don't speak from the moral high ground.

And we can ask the Sisters how important corporal works of mercy are to the Bishops.
6 years 7 months ago
"The conflict is between all religious people and very powerful secular  groups who are now in control of the Democratic party. "

Words cannot describe how tired I am of that codswallop. Both parties are in the hands of very powerful secular groups. Unless oil, defense contractitng and insurance have all become the corporal works of mercy, the people who run the Republican party (as opposed to those whom they let run for office) are as powerful and secular as the groups that run the Democratic Party. In fact, many of the same people are in both groups, and I'm not. Mr.Maher may think he is, but it's very unlikely. You can cheer the Christians or you can cheer the lions, but the emperor always wins.
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
I just wanted to make a few remarks in response to post # 14, which put much of the blame for the 2008 financial crisis and "great recession" on the Community Reinvestment Act and Fannie Mae.
I would maintain that the crisis was caused by the domination of Libertarian thinking in the GOP over the past three decades.  At this point, one might even say it's actually Objectivist thinking, as manifested primarily through the biggest doer of harm of all, Ayn Rand's acolyte Alan Greenspan.  After all the damage Greenspan did, the LAST thing we need is another Rand acolyte in the person of Paul Ryan.
In blaming Alan Greenspan I would first put it in two words, and then in two other words. "Easy credit" and the "Greenspan Put." 
It's pretty hard to put the blame all the way back on the CRA when it functioned pretty well for a decade or so before Greenspan became the Fed Chairman. The CRA is a pretty conservative idea, actually. It makes perfectly good sense for banks to work with people in order to encourage home ownership over renting or from being wards of the state under Section 8. When people own their own homes they take better care of their properties, and they take more interest and pride in their neighborhoods, thereby reducing blight and crime. The main point of the act was to prevent redlining in certain neighborhoods, and that is the way it worked for a long time. The point was not to encourage predatory loans or to take crappy loans and securitize them, cut them up into tranches, collateralize them, and unload them on unsuspecting investors.
As for Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, they were too full of business school brats who were too much like the guys who worked in the investment banks. I admit that, but it was really the other private houses that drove the securitization and collateralization of these things, even to the point of creating some of them just so that they could bet * against * them. Instead of just mentioning Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, why not mention Countrywide, Saloman Bros, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG and Goldman? How about the credit rating agencies? Lehman's CEO Dick Fuld said that his exposure to Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac was minimal... 
The main problem with Greenspan, though, was this - His favorite tool was to keep on slashing interest rates, which would in turn start to fuel speculative bubbles. He would continue to cut or to keep those rates low, even while the economy was running strong. He never knew when to take away the punch bowl. Never wanted to put a damper on the party. Eventually he would see the danger he was creating, but when he ratcheted the rates back up, it was always too late, and he would cause the bubble to burst. He never learned this lesson... He did this over and over again, with the Savings and Loan crisis, the Asian crisis, the Dot-Com tech stock bubble, the Long Term Capital Management crisis, and finally the housing bubble. 
The "Greenspan Put" was a term used on the Street to refer to the fact that they knew Greenspan would always backstop them; he would always cut the Fed Funds rate and inject funds into the system in order to protect their assets. In addition to that, he did everything in his power at the Fed to fight regulation or to get rid of it wherever he could. He squashed Brooksley Born when she very sensibly raised the alarm around derivatives, and urged regulation upon them. 
He was driven in this by his Libertarian ideology, which led him to believe that by getting the government out of the way, by freeing these "creative and productive" people from the shackles of regulation, that they would always act in their rational self-interest. He was wrong. He even eventually came to realize that he was wrong, although he tried to backpedal on that too. 
In 2008, however, he admitted, 
“I made a mistake in presuming that the self- interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms. I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works. I was shocked because I’ve been going for forty years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”
Thanks, Al, for admitting what sensible people already knew.  I guess it's the closest to an apology that we will ever get from you.
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
Not only is the Libertarian philosophy of the likes of Alan Greenspan and Paul Ryan obnoxious, selfish, and the antithesis of Christianity, it's ignorant of human nature and harmfully utopian as well.
We are in a deep crisis that can be blamed on both major parties, but in the brand of Libertarianism currently in vogue in the GOP, I see no prospects of meaningful reform.

Libertarians describe the wholesale failure of our regulatory agencies as if it was an inevitable consequence - as if it is the predictable and inevitable result of governmental lethargy and entropy. I would maintain that the chumminess between the regulators and the regulated was no accident. It was deliberate, and the Libertarian ethos contributed towards it. In fact, it drove it.
I believe it is a truism that if you put people in charge of government who hate government, you are going to get bad government. 
This is how you get hackdom. This is how you get Arabian horse dealers in charge of FEMA, union busters appointed as the Secretary of Labor, a revolving door between the big investment banks and the SEC, Minerals Management regulators being set up with call girls instead of checking on oil rigs, and the same kind of sharks on the make from schools like Harvard and Wharton working at Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac as at Goldman Sachs and Citibank. 
In their commitment towards deregulation and the pursuit of privatization wherever it can be brought to bear, I don't see how the Libertarians will help. Do you really want to know how to make a government service expensive? Privatize it. Whenever you privatize something that must endure and cannot be allowed to fail, you make it more expensive.

In their fawning over big business; in their obsequiesness to it, Libertarians don't have what it takes to stand up to concentrated corporate power. If they get their way, and their answer is nothing more than slash and burn austerity, and the wealthiest and most powerful among us aren't going to be asked to make any sacrifice at all, then we will eventually have the French Revolution.
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
...and David Smith is correct in #22.  The religious right has no real power in the GOP.  It is in the hands of Objectivist Libertarians.  Religous rhetoric is merely used to maintain excitement over culture war wedge issues election cycle after election cycle in perpetuity (the Libertarians know they don't have enough votes to win on their own). 
You can very happily be pro-choice in the Republican party, or indifferently agnostic about it like Ronald Reagan and Poppy Bush were, but if you commit the heresy of questioning Grover Norquist's shibboleths on taxes, you are toast. You become persona non grata in the GOP.
Tim O'Leary
6 years 7 months ago
I presume your guilt-by-association looney tunes contends that Ryan is an atheistic pro-abortionist who can also be hated for being a right-wing pro-life zealot, who also simultaneously loves and hates the Fed. The Ryan-palooza title at the top is finally justified.
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
"I presume your guilt-by-association looney tunes contends that Ryan is an atheistic pro-abortionist who can also be hated for being a right-wing pro-life zealot, who also simultaneously loves and hates the Fed."

No, not at all.  That is where militiant secularists have a problem with him. It's not my problem with him.  Ryan's Pro-Life stance is about the only positive thing that can be said about his views. 

He's a rather muddled thinker, though, and has a head full of irreconcilable contradictions.  It's sort of like his unrequited live for the band Rage Against the Machine.  He listens, but only hears what he wants to hear and rationalizes away the rest.  If I give him the best possible benefit of a doubt, in the case of both Ayn Rand and Rage Against the Machine, he's like a High School kid who likes the sound, but misses the main point of the message.

It's not uncommon for Libertarians to do this, because what is at the core of their philosophy is so utopian and unrealistic.  It can explain things like why Ron Paul can rip into Alan Greenspan for not wnting to go back to the Gold Standard, but in Greenspan's mind, he was doing something even better than ending the Fed.  He was using his power to give Wall Street exactly what they wanted in an idealized envrionment.
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
Ron Paul and Alan Greenspan discuss the Fed, one Libertarian to another...
Ron Paul asked Alan Greenspan, how he thought about the Austrian School of Economics, which Ludwig von Mises had taught until old age. Alan Greenspan answered that he still highly estimated this economic school and that he would not renounce in any way from his 1967 essay. Many teachings of the “Austrians” had been totally included in the current economic science. 

Ron Paul continued to ask him whether the gold standard or money covered by goods should be reconsidered. Greenspan answered as follows: “So that the question is: Would there be any advantage, at this particular stage, to return to the gold standard? And the answer is: I don’t think so, because we’re acting as though we were there. […] So I think central banking, I believe, has learned the dangers of fiat money, and I think as a consequence of that we’ve behaved as though there are, indeed, real reserves underneath this system.”
Ron Paul heavily contradicts Alan Greenspan in this point: “As for his claim that central bankers were behaving as if on a gold standard, the record of the 1990s indicates otherwise, and the result is the catastrophe that began in 2008.” Elsewhere Ron Paul is even clearer: “Greenspan became a monetary tyrant who sowed the seeds of the greatest financial bubble in all of history.” 
 Source: http://www.currentconcerns.ch/index.php?id=1178
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
Erskine Bowles... OK.  We should be interested in what Erskine Bowles thinks of Paul Ryan because....?

All right, to Mr. Bowles' credit, he did come up with a rather sensible plan in collaboration with Alan Simpson, but let's recall that it was resisted mightily by Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and all the other young turks in the Tea Party who are constantly pushing that Austrian School stuff. 

I'm not exactly sure where I failed to be cordial in my critique of post # 14.  I made no ad hominem attack on Mr. Cosgrove.  I outlined a detailed case of why the CRA was not to blame for the 2008 crisis, and why Alan Greenspan, a self-described Libertarian, was largely to blame.  I also showed that Ron Paul happens to agree with me...  In any case, if we are going to refer to anyone who believes that activist government can have any positive role to play at all in society as a "do gooder," I'm not seeing how we are going to have an enlightened, cordial discussion.  If you, JR, like Ludwig von Mises, happen to think that Friedrich Hayek was anathema for being too interventionist in his views, well, your position is too extreme to really have a meaningful dialogue with.

Mises thinks Hayek was anathema for his interventionism? He's anathema to me too, but for a different reason.  Unlike the other Libertarian atheist hero Ayn Rand, Hayek actually apostasized from the Catholic faith when he became an atheist.
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
JR, look, you don't need to even re-read Ayn Rand's works.  All you have to do is watch again her 1959 interview with Mike Wallace, in which she blames the Judeo-Christian tradition for our societal preference for altruism, which, in her view, is not only impractical, but actually evil.  You can also listen to her say that love of your fellow man cannot be put above love of oneself, and that the vast majority of men do not deserve to be loved.  Is that remotely Christian or is it anti-Christian??

Now, if you in your deepest level of conscience feel like there is no contradiction for you to worry about in regard to Randianism and your Catholic faith, well, good luck to you, but I think a fair and impartial observer would say that you might have a lot of self-examination to do.

Chile is your libertarian success story?  Really?  Well, they aren't doing that badly now, but a lot of that libertarianism has been tempered and diluted over the years.  When Milton Friedman and the Chicago boys descended on the place during the Pinochet dictatorship, it was a basket-case.  A total nightmare.

As to Russia's 90s oligarchy, that is exactly the point.  That is what libertarianism always does best, from America's Gilded Age to the Cowboy Capitalism of Yeltsin's Russia.  It builds oligarchies.  Russia in 1991 was considered the perfect laboratory for Jeffrey Sachs and the IMF to start somewhere from scratch, and test out their "shock therapy" ideas, based upon the Austrian School of economics.  Argentina went through the same kind pain with IMF-mandated policies, and one of the latest victims was Ireland, left nearly prostrate from their own libertarian-fueld real estate bubble.  At least the middle class in Ireland are aware of who worked them over, unlike the brain-addled sheep in the USA who watch FOX and idolize the people who keep tucking it to them.

Yes, capitalism is the best system, but it needs to be regulated capitalism.  Roosevelt saved the capitalists from their own excesses, thus saving the country from tyranny. The golden age of American prosperity was during the time when we had our strongest middle class, built upon home-grown industry, strong unions, and sensible regulations on business, including the banning of derivatives, capitalization requirements, and the separation of commercial and investment banking. 
Crystal Watson
6 years 7 months ago
Actually, Jesuits do work with women a lot.

But, I do agree with Amy about women and Obama - I think most of us will want to vote for him rather than the republicans.
Joshua DeCuir
6 years 7 months ago
"One presumes the Obama camp has noted this line of attack, given the fragility of their lead over the G.O.P. team, but so far there has been little indication that the president’s re-election strategists have decided upon a meaningful response aimed at preserving support among Catholic Dems and wooing Catholic independents."

Maybe they figure the relentless scare pieces on Ryan run by Commonweal, NCR, and this publication are doing a good enough job for them, so they need not waste the money.
Tim O'Leary
6 years 7 months ago
There is an incredible lack of responsibility being shown by the anti-Ryan Catholics with respect to the crisis we are in. The very people that tell us the hierarchy have no clue in financial management (see OP Aug 20) want the same hierarchy to weigh in against the only serious approach to fixing the problem that is still on the table (the President having ignored his own Simpson Bowles proposal).

Increasing taxes and regulations at this time on employers/investors can only result in more unemployment. Increased borrowing from abroad (if there is any money left anywhere) and letting our debt grow to junk status will result in inflation and magnify the misery index (inflation + unemployment), which is the worst thing that could be done to hurt the poor. Ryan is taking the crisis seriously and, while we can quibble with the details, at least he is serious about dealing with the greatest threat to the poor and vulnerable - the out-of-control debt!

Obama has shown over the last four years that he is a reasonably nice guy but he is way in over his head. He cannot govern. He cannot get anything substantial done. He fiddles in the White House, plays around the edges, blames everyone else (Bush, Europe, China, Wall Street, the rich, the weather), but he has failed in his essential task of turning around the economy. Not even a budget. Time for a new leader. Then, if the new leader shows the same incompetency, he should be thrown out in 4 years.

Crystal Watson
6 years 7 months ago
Sorry - here's the vireo's url ....
Crystal Watson
6 years 7 months ago
Argh! Maybe this will work  ....  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWrEz-1v1g

Anyway, the title of the video is

"Sierra Club Endorses President Obama"
ed gleason
6 years 7 months ago
Ryan is right about the lurching... "Ryan’s persistent suggestion that the U.S. is lurching toward Greece and Spain"
What he doesn't have a clue about is that in Greece Italy and Spain their problem is the non collecting of taxes from the elite. Say hello to Cayman Islands and running mate  Romney.
J Cosgrove
6 years 7 months ago
''I'm not exactly sure where I failed to be cordial''

I was not talking about you personally.  I was talking about anyone who has a negative comment about Ryan personally.  It is one thing to disagree with his positions but quite another to make negative aspersions to him personally.  It is widespread on this site amongst the authors and the commenters.  Ryan does not dratically reduce the budgets for the poor, nor starve them or anything like that.  As evidenced by someone on the other side politically, he is serious and competetent in what he is doing. 

Ayn Rand is a very complex person and to ascribe one liking one aspect of a person to acceptance of everything that person recommends is a very obvious logical fallacy.  To give an example, I like some aspects of Rand but think any atheist is intellectually bankrupt and do not subscribe to her objectivist ideas though I can understand how they are appealing especially if there were nothing but the material world.  Freedom is the source of a lot of good in our history so ideas that support that resonate a lot with people who don't buy into the rest.  It is similar to many who find Marx's ideas to be instructive and used judiciously.  It doesn't mean they ascribe to his very strong atheistic ideology.  I personally happen to find Marx's economic ideas of no validity and to be avoided because they are very dysfunctional and not because of his atheism.

As far as Hayek is concerned, what does his belief in God have to do with anything?  He is considered an agnostic.  Here is a comment about him by some who have studied him personally'

''Abstract: We discuss the influence of a Christian worldview on the work of F.A.Hayek. A classical liberal, Hayek spent his life defining and defending a standard of liberty that, while distinct from its Christian counterpart, nonetheless dependedupon the creation and continuance of a moral society to uphold it. In fact, muchof the Hayekian framework relies upon Christian presuppositions. Similar to Christianity, Hayek supported both a high and low view of man, but his ideas were rooted in orthodoxy as well as evolution. Though Hayek was a self-professedagnostic, we show that his treatment of individual liberty was more consistent with a Judeo-Christian worldview than with that of his naturalist peers and postmodernist successors''


''I made no ad hominem attack on Mr. Cosgrove''

I didn't say you did and for that I am appreciative.  Lots of others here are not so considerate as you have been.
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
JR, not to get bogged down in dueling blockquotes, but the very same article points out...

It would be idle even to suggest that the Hayekian framework of
analysis mimics Christian orthodoxy. For the most part, Hayek wrote as
though the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not exist. In Hayek’s
adult life, he did not participate in worship services, confess a Christian
creed, or take the sacraments. His philosophy of classical liberalism
stressed the importance of liberty. But Hayek ascribed a different meaning
to liberty than do the Christian scriptures. Hayek understood freedom to
be the “state in which a man is not subject to coercion by the arbitrary will
of another or others” Biblical freedom, on the other hand,
can be understood as being set free from the curse and destructiveness of
human sinfulness.

...and there lies the nub of the problem. Why this is not a difficulty for you to grapple with, I have no idea.  Hayek and the others in the Austrian School see freedom in a fundamentally non-Christian way; a negative freedom.  A freedom that merely means being free of coercion, to be able to do anything you want.  This flies in the face of Catholicism's positive view of freedom.  Baptized in Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin.  You can live in the spirit rather than the flesh.  You live in this freedom of the spirit not to let sin abound, or to do whatever you want, but in freedom to serve.  Freedom to "do good" as you rather dismissively put it earlier.  Freedom to do justice.

I urge you not to be so cavalier about separating the messages from the messengers.  Why are you so quick to believe that the atheism of these messengers doesn't contribute in the largest possible degree towards their conclusions and worldviews?  Are you so comfortable looking only at what you see as the pragmatic effects of their policies that the atheism of this pantheon of economists doesn't bother you?  It doesn't give you pause at all?

This is a Catholic blog addressing Catholic concerns, not the Wall Street Journal op ed page.  People on the traditional, orthodox end of the spectrum have been quick to criticize liberation theology due to the fact that it often borrows from Marxist dialectic and are quick to dimiss it based upon that very basis alone.  Fair enough. Why then should the work of atheistic libertarians get a pass, particularly when their track record in producing positive economic results haven't been much good either (witness Russia and several Latin American and Eastern European countries following strictly laissez-faire libertarian policies in the 1990s).

Years ago, the CDF offered an "Instruction on Certain Aspects of Liberation Theology,' which stated among other things...

Concepts uncritically borrowed from Marxist ideology and recourse to theses of a biblical hermeneutic marked by rationalism are at the basis of the new interpretation which is corrupting whatever was authentic in the generous initial commitment on behalf of the poor.

Let us recall the fact that atheism and the denial of the human person, his liberty and rights, are at the core of the Marxist theory. This theory, then, contains errors which directly threaten the truths of the faith regarding the eternal destiny of individual persons. Moreover, to attempt to integrate into theology an analysis whose criterion of interpretation depends on this atheistic conception is to involve oneself in terrible contradictions. 

There you go...  The exact same critique applies to the atheistic theories of Rand and Hayek.

Rick Spyker
6 years 7 months ago
I'm amazed at the inability of liberals to ever argue a position without resorting to straw men and half-truths.  For example: ''the best way to demonstrate a preferential option for the poor is to do as little for them as possible in the richest nation on earth.'' Now you know darn well that Ryan has never advocated doing as little for the poor as possible, and yet you dishonestly attribute this sentiment to him. And then there's this gem: ''many have pointed out that Ryan is, in fact, not right about the state of the U.S. fiscal crisis, that wholesale social service cuts are not only unwarranted but counterproductive and that in fact the best course of action in the short term is to get the economy moving again with more federal stimulus.'' Who are these ''many'' and aren't there also ''many'' who argue just the opposite and see the European countries' profligate spending on massive welfare states as the cause of their current problems? Look, I understand you liberals are losing at the moment and you're desperate to justify your voting for the most radical pro-abortion president in history, while still somehow claiming to be good Catholics. But if you're completely unable to make your case honestly, don't you think it's time you considered that maybe you're just dead wrong?
William Lindsey
6 years 7 months ago
"Well, I see our regular commentators are reliably unpleasant, but the below is a real stand out . . . . Yeah. No women work here (this will come as a surprise to female staffers) and the Jesuits barely know or acknowledge any women, certainly not women religious, and America is well known for its tradition of ostentatiously agreeing with the bishops, particularly on this religious liberty thingee."

And yet, which I click the "About Us" link here and then click "Editors," "Columnists," and "Board," I discover on the page of editors the names of 4 women (and 9 men).

Under the tab "Columnists," I see 2 women's names (7 men).  Under "Board," I notice find 3 women and 6 men.

I think Ms. Ho-Ohn has a point.

And I tend to agree with her that flip-flopping on the HHS guidelines will only alienate many Catholic voters who never did buy into the perfervid (and false) rhetoric about attacks on religious freedom or the absurd spin about the guidelines by influential members of the Catholic commentariat allied with the bishops, who seem not to recognize how out of touch they are with many fellow Catholics when it comes to these issues.  Even as they claim to represent "the" Catholic voice about these matters . . . .

And who lack the good grace to admit they're wrong when they clearly are wrong. 
Tom Maher
6 years 7 months ago
Kevin Clarke is only now beginning to be dimly aware of the enormous poitical implications and cosequences of President Obama's decision to insist on the HHS regulation mandate without religious exemption despte the Church known strong objection during an election year.  But Mr. Clarke just has no idea of the full extent, meaning and impact of the President's decision back last February that are now beginning to take effect will have on the elction this Novemeber.  Oh yes the President calulated decision to politiicize health care and deliberately pit religious interests against  secular interests will be made known to all this election.  

Better late than never Mr. Clarke observes "Obama’s strategic capitulation over contraception in health care last winter, throwing Catholic progressives under the bus to appease his pro-choice supporters, is beginning to look like a poor political calculation."  

Mr. Clarke miisrepresents who was impacted and who was "appeased".   The conflict is between all religious people and very powerful secular  groups who are now in control of the Democratic party.  In particulare the promoting of abortion-on-demand as a government funded haealth care right, something that a super majority of American's are strongly oppossed to is now a politcal goal within most of the Democratic party.  It is possible for the first time this Septemeber the Democratic party will offer a platform that will include making abortion-on-demand another health care requirement.

Mr. Clarke fails to recognize the deterioration of religious interests of the Church to antagonistic secular influences of the Obama adminsitration.   

Mr. Clarke is very mistaken to think that this deliberate decision and its direction and impact can be undone.  Mr. Clarke is failing to comprhend that the Presdient right before our eyes is trasnsforming the Democratic party to exclude Cahtolics religious interests in favor of powerful secular interests hostile to all religions. 
ed gleason
6 years 7 months ago
Jim Belna#1 .. $4.00 gas.? In 1955 a quarter [silver] would buy a gallon. The same silver quarter will still buy a $4.00 gallon. study economics again.  
Colleen Baker
6 years 7 months ago
The really obscene part of the Ryan budget is the lack of cuts in the corporate entitlement program called DEFENSE.
Tim O'Leary
6 years 7 months ago
I thought it was the Libertarians (like Ron Paul) who wanted to end the Fed? But, I think we have long left the land of reasonableness with all this talk of slimey oligarchs, Cayman Island accounts, Ayn Rand ideology and now the ''Libertarian boogey-man.''. Must we look out for the black helicopters next?

As regards the Cayman Islands and other foreign investments (like a plasma TV or a Toyota), how many reading this blog have any retirement pensions in money funds, and are certain those money funds have no foreign investments? What about the Kerry's, the Kennedy's, the Pelosi's and the Feinsteins? Why didn't the liberal democrats abandon the rich John Kerry and the even worse John Edwards in 2004? This line of criticism is all so hypocritical.

You can tell that the critics of Paul Ryan are desperate to avoid the simple idea of living within the country's means and have grasped onto the Ayn Rand psychosis as a hammer to hit any Republican now. Why is it so outlandish to want to 1 ) have a budget, and 2) balance it? We cannot go on living beyond our means forever. Herb Stein's Law is that ''something that cannot go on forever, will eventually end.''

Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
Nice try, Tim, but the black helicopters and the goverment purchase of hollow-point ammo are examples of Libertarian paranioas, not anybody else's.  Sorry, but Ryan's obsession with that atheistic sociopath Ayn Rand is real.  He made that crank's novels required reading for his staff.  Now he's backpedaling furiously because Catholics have called him out on it.  He can't hide from it.  It's too well-documented.
Jeffrey Connors
6 years 7 months ago
No, we can't keep on living beyond our means forever.  Ross Perot was screaming about it back in '92.  Eight years later, despite all expectations to the contrary, we were running surpluses.  Then, a GOP presidency and supply-side economics came back...

Balance the budget and live within our means?  Sure. Fine, but if this country's overpaid executive class thinks they can pull up the drawbridges and be spared from having to bear any of the burden for it themselves, they are very much mistaken.
Tom Maher
6 years 7 months ago
Tom Blackburn # 21

You badly muddled the meaning of my comments and your comments are widely out of bounds to the topic being discussed.  Try to focus on the topic and issues actually being discussed rather than react to an isolated word or phrase. 

I am clearly not talking about all secular intersts in the Democratic party but secular interest in control of the Democratic party that are also in conflict with religion such as the Catholic church.  Tne Demoratic party now has a strong publically identified itself as a secular pro-abortion party and not at all a pro-life religious party.  The pro-abortion factions are clearly now totally in control of the Democratic party even though as many as one-third of all Democrats are pro-life.  The 2012 Democratic party platform call for a radical pro-abortion stand for abortion on demand which is not representative of the attitude or beiliefs of a majority of Americans.  Fully ten speakers at the Democratic party will promote the institution of abortion while for the second decade no pro-life speakers will be allowed.  This lopsided non-represetation of pro-life religious interests will be a powerful campaign issue even in state such as Massachusetts where in 2010 Scott Brown defeated radical pro-abortion Democrat Martha Coakley to become a U.S. Senator.  In 2012 most "toss-up"  states do have majority or even super majority pro-life representataion that disapporve of pro-abortion policies of the Democratic party.

President Obama's unusual but deliberate decision to appease the controlling pro-abortion element of the Democratic party could very well cost him the election.  Obama's appeasement of pro-abortion factions in disregard of the majority's religious convictions will be a powerful issue held against President Obama in the 2012 presidential campaign.
J Cosgrove
6 years 7 months ago
A couple things

I shouldn't repeat a link but it seems appropriate given Mr. Connor's comments.  The first is on what Erskine Bowles thinks of Paul Ryan.  And it has nothing to do with abortion.  The second is from a favorite of the authors here on who might replace Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury.  Sort of destroys the meme.



Libertarians and those who favor the Austrian school of economics are very much against the Fed.  They look at it an unwarranted intervention into the economy similar to government intervention and distorts the pricing mechanism.  So where does that put Alan Greenspan (the evil Randian admirer and Fed manipulator), Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich van Hayek.  The Libertarians think Ryan is too big government but one in the right direction from what the Democrats are doing.  After all 3.5 trillion is hardly the end of big government.    And by the way a lot of the Mises crowd thinks Hayek is anathema because Hayek saw a role for government in lots of way including providing a safety net.  Hayek was against things that distorted pricing which housing policy, the Fed, such things as stimulus programs etc do.  They always has unintended consequences which the do gooders never see.  And by the way do gooders can appear at various points on the economic spectrum.  One of the great do gooders of all time was Teddy Roosevelt.

Maybe some cordial discussion on all this might lead somewhere enlightening.
J Cosgrove
6 years 7 months ago
This is not the place to get into a long philosophical discussion of what freedom mean.  But

There you go...  The exact same critique applies to the atheistic theories of Rand and Hayek.''

No, it doesn't.  There is nothing in Hayek's or Ryan's ideas that are anti-Catholic when it comes to religion even if they personally did not accept them.  I fail to see any.  Hayek and Rand's concept of freedom would allow anyone to accept another definition of freedom.  They are not in conflict.  Marx on the other hand is an authoritarian system that does not accept other ideologies and would not accept any doctrines of the Catholic Church as having any legitimacy.

I fail to see how the atheism of Rand or the agnosticism of Hayek or anything they advocate in terms of economics would preclude me from making the choices one believe is best for myself and others I am responsible for.   So there is no way I accept your interpretation but given the nature of the society we live in, you are welcome to proffer it.  I don't think it holds up to any analysis based on facts.

''Fair enough. Why then should the work of atheistic libertarians get a pass, particularly when their track record in producing positive economic results haven't been much good either (witness Russia and several Latin American and Eastern European countries following strictly laissez-faire libertarian policies in the 1990s).''

This so far from true.  I do not think you understand what free markets mean.  The only place that comes close to that in South America is Chile and they are doing all right there.  I have been there and witnessed it.  Russia, laissez-faire?  I do not think so.  I believe you are confused with oligarchies which control the means of production which is not laissez-faire.  The free market is one where both members of the exchange enter it freely and there is no coercion to either in any form brought on by the other.  The so called Wild West is not laissez faire or free markets.  It often substitutes one oppressive member of an exchange for an older one.  It is not one of equal freedom.  Which by the way is the most moral form of exchange and the philosophy of Hayek and does not contradict any Catholic Church document I know of.

One can point to the amazing achievements of the free market. Just in the US, the productivity of our society is about 25 times greater than what it was 200 years ago, mainly due to people having the freedom to innovate and the willingness of the citizentry to accept these innovations.  Our citizens have the most advanced society in history because they have allowed and supported others to innovate and where appropriate chose which ones to use.
Tom Maher
6 years 7 months ago
JR Cosgrove # 37

Ryan is winning over the American public as a person and as a highly credible and capable economic policy maker.  It is now three weeks since Romney chose Ryan to be his vice president nominee and Paul Ryan and his ideas are rapidly becoming much better known nationally.  So far the polls show as you might expect that Ryan and his ideas are regarded highly favorably by a majority of the public. 

It may be time for everyone to be more serious and respectful of Paul Ryan's views on the nation's economy. 


The latest from america

Join Kirsten Powers, CNN analyst and USA Today columnist, and Rev. James Martin, S.J., Editor at Large of America Media and New York Times best-selling author, for a live show celebrating the 100th episode of Jesuitical.
America Media EventsApril 24, 2019
Prayers for Our Lady. Photo by Melissa Vida.
The air was still thick with smoke and the ash burnt the eyes of the onlookers, who were relieved to see the cathedral still standing. For many Catholics, the coincidence of the blaze occurring at the start of Holy Week speaks of the greater mysteries of Easter.
Melissa VidaApril 19, 2019
"Hillary and Clinton"
In Hnath’s play, Hillary has put all her bets on competence, while Bill unsurprisingly presses her to show more humanity.
Rob Weinert-KendtApril 19, 2019
The day before this issue went to press, we watched on our newsroom monitors the devastating fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris.
Matt Malone, S.J.April 19, 2019