Paul Ryan defenders, in response to my posts about his Ayn Randian philosophy on economics, have been giving me all kinds of “reasoning” for not having a preferential option for the poor in the budget. Catholic teaching calls for the preferential option. Ryan does not apply the preferential option for the poor in his budget. So, they argue against the preferential option to defend Ryan’s budget. Also, some point to an article at National Review wherein Paul Ryan claims to follow the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas rather than Ayn Rand.
“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.
But St. Thomas Aquinas taught about distributive justice and how, in it, we apply Jesus’ preference for the poor.
As stated above (Article 1), in distributive justice something is given to a private individual, in so far as what belongs to the whole is due to the part, and in a quantity that is proportionate to the importance of the position of that part in respect of the whole. Consequently in distributive justice a person receives all the more of the common goods, according as he holds a more prominent position in the community. This prominence in an aristocratic community is gauged according to virtue, in an oligarchy according to wealth, in a democracy according to liberty, and in various ways according to various forms of community. Hence in distributive justice the mean is observed, not according to equality between thing and thing, but according to proportion between things and persons: in such a way that even as one person surpasses another, so that which is given to one person surpasses that which is allotted to another.
Jesus says the poor are those who hold the more prominent position in the community. We do not give preference to those who have means. We give preference to those who are poor.
This appears to be a completely foreign concept to Paul Ryan and many people in the GOP base. Many of them see it as evil. And yet, it is so very simple. Distributism is a concept that only the most faithful among us (G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, et al) could embrace, I suppose. I will tell you, though, that I do not demand perfection in government. I only demand that my government not be evil. When I heard Rick Santorum talking about his economic plan, I got goosebumps thinking about how wonderful it would be for America. When I hear Paul Ryan talking about economic matters, it is just as disgusting to me as it is when I hear Barack Obama talking about economic matters. The reason is that both philosophies are, to put it simply, evil.