Influential Catholics—many of them supporters of Barack Obama—are advancing a proposition that may have the result of sullying the reputations of Catholic conservatives and those Catholics arguing for a robust market economy.
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” in which he suggested that, without noticing it herself, Ayn Rand had made John Galt a Christ-figure.
The Catholic left dutifully reported that Sirico sees Galt as a Christ-figure, which he never did.
When the school was founded, a mere 12 months before, one of the big donors was the Charles Koch Foundation. Almost immediately 50 professors wrote a letter to CUA president John Garvey and Andrew Abela suggesting that a grant was inappropriate in light of Catholic Social Teaching.
Charles Koch gave a million and entrepreneur Tim Busch gave $500,000 in order to “support research into the role principled entrepreneurship can and should play in improving society’s well being.” In the CUA press release, the University said the Charles Koch Foundation “supports research and higher education programs aimed at improving understanding of how economic freedom advances human well being.” Freedom advances human freedom? The charges against the Kochs were they supported Governor Scott Walker in his fight to free public sector employees from having to join the union, that the Kochs support those who question global warming, and that they opposed expansion of Medicaid in some of the states.
Except some of what these people call libertarianism, isn’t.
This proposition got at least a partial airing out last Summer at a conference called “The Catholic Case Against Libertarians” hosted in the lovely offices of Bread for the Poor, offices far larger and far nicer than the poor pro-life group that I run and most others that I know.
He went after “self-professed Catholics” who had dared to challenge some of the Pope’s economic pronouncements.
One expected more from him, who is greatly admired by Catholic conservatives, than his repeated suggestion that Catholic conservatives are “radical libertarians” and therefore not “true Catholics.” He said such as these are fine with families living in the streets, Third World children suffering from malaria and HIV/AIDS, and indigent elderly with curable diseases. Stephen Schneck, who runs the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America, gave among the most interesting talks, tracing libertarian ideas from Barnard de Mandevile’s 1704 poem to the French Revolution to the Scottish Enlightenment to Civil War America and down to the present day. He took the detour through history to demonstrate “that I do understand libertarianism: its roots and its branches.” And he ended his historical tour back with Ayn Rand and John Galt.
The line began with libertarianism and went straight to political conservatives and to free marketeers. Boudway also said, “Show me a country that has surrendered its politics to the dictates of the market, and I will show you a culture where personal attachments of every kind are less secure than they once were and where the poor and every other vulnerable population are at most an afterthought.” To that I would say, yes please, show me that country.
“Most Catholic defenders of laissez-fair ideology describe themselves as conservative.” But even they know such an ideology is really the “great disrupter, its gales of creative destruction sweeping away traditions, institutions, and communities that stand in its way.” Where no others did, Boudway had the courage to name names. John Di Iulio of the University of Pennsylvania gave perhaps the most disappointing talk.
That is the thing that occurred to some of us that day and subsequently.