Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ryan's Budget; a "Moral Document?"

Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate has really stirred the political pot. While the moral factor has already staked a claim on the 2012 campaign, the Atlas Shrugged-admiring Ryan's entry has pushed it to center stage. Indications are everywhere, including at the NJ Star-Ledger, where the Left-leaning paper editorialized about A Moral Choice on the Ryan Budget:

Mitt Romney had a likability problem. Then he chose running mate Paul Ryan, best known for a budget plan so harsh that it became its own moral issue. Which leads you to wonder: What was Romney thinking?

The paper goes on to cite the American Catholic hierarchy's opposition to Ryan's “unjustified and wrong” budget, along with other religious critics. The paper concludes: "So if budgets are moral documents, as religious leaders say, this election will be a moral decision..."

It certainly will. When you look beyond the over-exited doomsday rhetoric, the real issue is not the actual restraint of the Ryan budget--which is quite modest--but the direction the budget would take. Ryan is taking a serious approach to the slowing the growth of welfare state spending. The Left can't countenance any such "heartlessness," because once Americans accept the notion that anything but need should be the standard by which spending is measured, an actual reversal of the welfare state may not be far behind. Add in Ryan's praise of Atlas Shrugged for its moral defense of capitalism, and the Left's uneasiness becomes more understandable.

I left the following comments:

Yes, the election is fundamentally about a moral choice—even though Ryan’s budget is merely a mild reduction in the rate of growth of the predatory welfare state—and it’s about time we had this debate. But it is not about assisting “needy” Americans. It is about who decides; between government-enforced “charity” vs. private choice, a fact that the statist Left whitewashes. 
The right moral choice is to get government out of charity. Every individual has a basic human right to think and act on his own judgment, to voluntarily trade with others, according to his own values, in pursuit of his own goals and happiness--including when, whom, and how much help to offer--and government should be protecting those rights. It is simply morally wrong to forcibly take money from one person against his will and give it to another. It is wrong to rob your neighbor at gunpoint, and it is wrong when government officials do it. Government officials should not be exempt from the moral law that applies to private citizens. 
As I’ve noted before, the Catholic Church has long been on record as advocating predatory welfare statism ( is Ryan’s dilemma. He laudably advocates individual rights, which contradicts the stand of the Catholic hierarchy. Nonetheless, despite Ryan’s timid budget plan, I’ll be voting for Romney/Ryan because they have brought the long-needed moral issue to the fore. Instead of debating how big the welfare state should be, it’s time to debate the moral justification for the welfare state as such. 

While the Romney ticket certainly won't challenge the welfare state as such, the mere fact that Ryan elevates the moral debate has motivated me to change from voting for Romney as a defensive "not Obama" vote to a qualified endorsement  of the Romney/Ryan ticket.

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