Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Holy Mother State"

Paul Ryan recently gave a speech at Georgetown attempting to explain his moral justification for the federal budgets he has proposed. His appearance there was vigorously protested and his proposals condemned by some who seem to believe that the application of Christian morality to public policy can only result in the expansion of government programs. In a column last weekend William McGurn argues that those condemning Ryan refuse to concede "that conservative Republicans advancing market-oriented answers are as serious about their moral case as liberal Democrats are about theirs," and that those who disagree with them —"...those who believe otherwise—i.e., those who argue that you best help the poor by breaking down barriers to ownership and opportunity—are not simply mistaken. They are selfish and uncaring."

From the column:
Paul Ryan shocked the gentle souls at Georgetown University when he traveled up to their campus last Thursday and said: "We believe that Social Security legislation, now billed as a great victory for the poor and for the worker, is a great defeat for Christianity. It is an acceptance of the idea of force and compulsion." The Wisconsin Republican went on to lament that "we in our generation have more and more come to consider the state as bountiful Uncle Sam," and that citizens justify what they get from the state by saying, "We got it coming to us."

Sure sounds like Mr. Ryan was channeling Ayn Rand.

Except for one thing. The words are not Mr. Ryan's. They come from a 1945 column by Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker, in which she complained about how state intervention limits personal freedom and responsibility. Day's skepticism about government was reflected in her nickname for it: "Holy Mother State."

How far we have traveled since then. As the protests surrounding Mr. Ryan's appearance confirm, the Catholic left long ago jettisoned any worries about the size or scope of government (except for national defense). So the Sermon on the Mount now becomes a call for a single-payer system of universal health insurance. ....

Let's be clear. Dorothy Day would never have embraced Paul Ryan. Still, she had a sense that has been completely lost among religious liberals today: an appreciation for the high price we all pay, poor as well as rich, when we rely on government to be our neighbor's keeper. [more]
McGurn: Paul Ryan's Cross to Bear - WSJ.com
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