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Ryan and Ayn

Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice-president, admires novelist Ayn Rand so much that he mandates all his employees and interns to read her two most famous books, "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."

In an interview a few years ago, he (Ryan) stated that "The reason I got involved in public service, if I had to credit one thinker, it would be Ayn Rand."

Since joining the Romney team, I notice that his love for his favorite author has waned somewhat because, no doubt, somebody advised him that praising a woman who described herself as an "atheistic materialist" would not go down well with the so-called Christian base of his party.

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Ayn Rand's political philosophy centers on the glorification of the individual. She advocated a completely laissez-faire system, with almost no regulation to hamper capitalists as they accumulate wealth. Tough luck on schools and other public services!

In her Darwinian dog-eat-dog version of a healthy society, the poor are viewed as weaklings who are destined to be left behind.

Mr. Ryan's people left Ireland when it was devastated by successive famines in the middle of the 19th century. It is surely ironic that the laissez-faire political philosophy, which Ryan so admires, was the prevailing policy of the British government at the time.

It said that, according to laissez-faire thinking, it could not interfere with the capitalist structures that allowed hundreds of thousands to starve while food was being exported to England and elsewhere.

Congressman Ryan also proclaimed in an interview that his political beliefs are greatly influenced by his Catholic faith. According to Catholic social teaching, the central moral consideration in political decisions must be whether any budget proposal, or law, meets the test of what Catholic theologians call "the common good."

There is also a more recent official Catholic commitment to "a preferential option for the poor."

People may argue that Ayn Rand's philosophy and the Ryan Budget, which benefits the rich and weakens programs for the poor, represent the best way forward for the country.

However, to say that the glorification of wealth and the further marginalization of poor people somehow comports with Catholic social teaching, or indeed any religious or moral sensibility, is a lie.

Gerry O'Shea

Yonkers, NY