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Thomas Leith

Joined: Nov. 8, 2011

Bio:

Tom is a lifelong Catholic but something of a revert. He had been annoyed when he was young about his inability to get a coherent story about the Church and had (rashly) decided that it must not be worth looking further into. But through the influence of his father and a priest he looked again. Instead of reading commentary written by others about the Church, he decided to see what the Church had to say about itself, and started reading encyclicals. Through this, he experienced the Church as a “truth-telling thing” as he puts it. In 2000, he was invited to the board of Credo of the Catholic Laity (http://credostlouis.org), and serves as Secretary and Webmaster. He has a special interest in the Church’s social teachings, and in the great Catholic (and Merely Christian) authors of the 20th century, especially GK Chesterton.


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Re: Mark Shea jumps the shark on Paul Ryan

Sep. 4 at 9:53am | see this comment in context

They do have control -- they just refuse to use it.

It's like saying that parents who impose a curfew on their 12 year old are authoritarian.

The 12 year olds think the parents are authoritarian, and devotees of Rand & Rothbard are a lot like 12 year olds. You will find I think that they're also the most likely to use the term "statist". They think it makes them sound smarter than the rubes who scream "socialist", the more common over-broad term we throw about like a stone. At least the more consistent of the Rand/Rothbard devotees also rail against "statist" inventions like copyrights, patents and corporations. They get subsidiarity more or less right by drastically circumscribing the state -- if the state exists only to suppress violence and enforce contracts, literally everything else is done by not-the-state. Voila! Subsidiarity. But they deny that the state has a role in actively promoting or protecting the common good beyond this. Few of them are Randian Objectivists though, Deo gratias. Most don't think almsgiving evil, only that the state has no business doing it, or ordering anyone to do it.

Re: Mark Shea jumps the shark on Paul Ryan

Sep. 3 at 9:35pm | see this comment in context

Romney has shown he'll say whatever will get him elected, and he's at the top of the ticket. Ryan seems to have taken some trouble lately to distance himself from Rand, but I've told you why I don't quite believe that he's on board with Catholic Social Teaching. Maybe he is -- I hope so -- but he'll have to show me by opposing something the Club for Growth cares about. I shall trust not in a vice prince.

Among other things, Pope Leo called for state regulation of business hours. See Rerum Novarum, around paragraph 40. Maybe you have an especially narrow definition of "statist" but for most people who use the term, this qualifies. When one comes to understand the context of the remarks on this subject by all the the last seven Popes, they're all "statists" on the normal understanding of the word: they all want a strong juridicial framework for commerce that protects the weak and limits the strong. They allow that some laws are better administered closer to the behavior they're meant to control, but they all rely in the end on the coercive authority of the state. Period.

Re: Mark Shea jumps the shark on Paul Ryan

Sep. 3 at 12:38pm | see this comment in context

@Jules -- vocabulary mostly. I'll allow that he may have been pandering to his audience.

@Katie -- I don't believe him. His immediate "but that's not an encyclical" as if only encyclicals carry any weight at all, and then his complete stumble when told that it WAS an encyclical I think is telling. His makers & takers thing says if you're smart you have the opportunity to get very rich, if not you have the opportunity to work in China for Foxconn, and if you're somewhere in between you have the opportunity to buy a gadget made by slaves. Maybe he's read the Compendium but I do not think he's internalized it. And Pope Leo was a "statist".

I did not say Ryan is only marginaly better in a moral sense than Obama is -- I said the Romney-Ryan ticket is only marginally better. The Republicans aren't going to do anything about abortion either. The electorate are being sliced and diced using the techniques of scientific marketing to come up with "bundles" like your local cable TV company has that'll get the most votes. With both political parties, it is about power for the "makers", not about human dignity.

Re: Mark Shea jumps the shark on Paul Ryan

Sep. 2 at 8:29pm | see this comment in context

Without defending him, I'm suspicious as Mark Shea is of Ryan's professed conversion from Rand/Rothbard style economics. If this here speech had been given (say) 10 years ago, the "in my youth" thing would be more believable. But ten years ago Ayn Rand was "required reading" for his staff. If it had been five years ago, it would be easier to believe he'd come to see the errors of Rand & Rothbard in light of Catholic Social Teaching, independent of (further) political ambition. But it was only this past October -- less than a year ago and to the Heritage Foundation to boot. I'm not saying he bought into Rand's Objectivism as a philosophy of life, but as a philosophy of government...

Check the Q & A. The speech itself is less Libertarian, but his unguarded comments...

  • Hayek's Fatal Conceit at the beginning, within 1 minute
  • At 5:07 he forgets to add "and send the manufacturing jobs to China"
  • Non-Answer at 16:36 about Caritas in Veritate
  • Ayn Rand's Makers & Takers at 18:29 straight out of Atlas Shrugged

The R-squared ticket is marginally better than the available alternative, but...

Re: I Won't 'Learn Those Dam* Prayers'

Dec. 9 at 12:40pm | see this comment in context

See how integrated philosophy is? We go from translation styles to politics through a short chain of ideas...

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