Paul Ryan: Thomist or Randian?

By Sibley, Angus | National Catholic Reporter, September 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Paul Ryan: Thomist or Randian?


Sibley, Angus, National Catholic Reporter


Paul Ryan, Republican candidate for vice president, claims to be an orthodox Catholic whose thinking owes more to St. Thomas Aquinas than to Ayn Rand. But this story seems barely more credible than Dagny Taggart's 80-car freight train in Atlas Shrugged that thundered through mountainous terrain from Cheyenne, Wyo., to Wyatt Junction, Colo., at an average speed of 100 miles per hour.

In fact, many of Ryan's ideas and policies appear to be directly at odds with Catholic teaching.

Consider his latest budget proposals. Ryan wants to cut the top federal income tax rate from its current 35 percent (on incomes above $388,350) to 25 percent. Yet he plans scarcely any tax reduction for the least affluent households, those with incomes below $30,000, though they would suffer from cuts in public services. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center calls this "an effort to have low-and middle-class households bear the entire burden of closing the fiscal gap and bear the costs of financing an additional tax cut for high income households." Ryan says he would mitigate this effect by scrapping various tax exemptions, but he hasn't specified them. How does this square with Pope John XXIII's statement that tax burdens should "be proportioned to the capacity of the people contributing"?

Experts reckon that inequalities in America have widened to levels not seen since the early 1900s, but Ryan seems to want them wider still. Back in 1931, Pope Pius XI denounced "the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless." American poverty may be less extreme now than then, but a study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that in 2004 the poorest 20 percent of Americans had "negative wealth" (more debts than assets). That was before the subprime disaster.

Ryan's willingness to see the superrich still richer can only be justified on the anarcho-capitalist principle that "taxation is theft," which reflects the libertarian belief that one has absolute, unlimited rights to whatever assets one lawfully acquires. But the church explicitly teaches that property rights are not absolute. Hear Pope John Paul "The right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone." Or St. Thomas: "Man ought to own external things not as his own, but as common, so that ... he is ready to communicate them to others in their need."

Under the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978, the Federal Reserve has a dual mandate, to target price stability (minimal inflation) and full employment. But for strict free-marketers, stable prices take absolute priority over stable livelihoods, because inflation may distort the efficient working of the sacrosanct market. So, in 2008, Ryan tried and failed to repeal the full employment provisions of Humphrey-Hawkins. But the church's Compendium of Social Doctrine states that full employment "remains a mandatory objective for every economic system orientated towards justice and the common good," citing John Paul II: "A society in which ... economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, 'cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace.'"

Ryan's proposals castigate the Obama administration for "reckless spending on uncompetitive alternatives" for energy sources and for imposing "costly fuel-economy standards" on General Motors and Chrysler. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Paul Ryan: Thomist or Randian?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.