• • • Bad Influence
Commonweal Atheism |Capitalism |Egoism |Individualism |Paul Ryan | [Paul Ryan] has been well served by media coverage contrasting his allegedly Catholic-infused policies with Vice President Joe Biden’s strained attempts to reconcile his prochoice politics with church teaching. But before long, the same press corps that had portrayed Ryan as a no-nonsense deficit hawk began reporting his long-standing avowal of the works of Ayn Rand as the touchstone for his political life. In 2005, Ryan told a crowd of Rand devotees that he looks to Rand’s writing to make sure his policies “square with the key principles of individualism.” And in a 2009 video he praised her for upholding “the morality of individualism” as “what matters most.” One might detect the influence of Rand’s individualism in Ryan’s 2011 description of the social safety net as a “hammock” that fosters “dependency.” Rand, an atheist, considered charity a sign of weakness. Ryan’s Randian views—notably his budget plan’s drastic cuts to food stamps, which now aid 46 million—did not sit well with many Catholics.