With his new-found high profile, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is now on the “oft-mentioned list” of potential vice presidential candidates. Not coincidentally, he also finds himself trying to defend brutal cuts in services to the poor and others in need that he has proposed in his “Path to Prosperity” budget.
So, in an interview published Thursday in National Review, Ryan made it a point to dismiss as “urban myth” the notion that he draws inspiration and guidance from Ayn Rand, the libertarian philosopher-queen who celebrates the self over all else and who dismisses the very notion of a social contract.
Ryan was pretty explicit:
“I reject her philosophy. 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. Don’t give me Ayn Rand.”
I find urban myths a fascinating phenomenon. For example, you could write a book about all the urban myths that have popped up about Barack Obama, from the “whitey tape” and the birth certificate to “see India on $200 million a day.” If you try to trace them back to their source, as you would trace a creek back to its source, you often find yourself peering into a dark, dank swamp of fear and fabrication.
So which vile soul started this urban myth about Ryan’s supposed affection for Ayn Rand? I think I have found a clue:
And then there’s this:
“I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well… I try to make my interns read it.”
“Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and that, to me, is what matters most.”
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”
That’s all Paul Ryan, folks.
Now, as to this Thomas Aquinas fellow to whom Ryan suddenly and conveniently pledges such allegiance. If the budget chairman truly has begun to study the works of St. Thomas, such as his 13th century classic Summa Theologica, that’s great. He will have much to gain from the experience.
Regarding this alleged “urban myth,” for example, Aquinas might remind Ryan that “A lie is evil … it is unnatural and undue for anyone to signify by words something that is not in his mind.”
And as to that budget?
“Man should not consider his material possession his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need.”
I can’t wait to see such lessons reflected in Ryan’s politics, can you?
– Jay Bookman