Paul Ryan debunks the myth that he’s an Ayn Rand disciple

This urban legend has been kicking around the internet for many months and it’s shaping liberal Catholic opposition to Paul Ryan’s budget reforms.

The rumor is that Paul Ryan is an “Ayn Rand devotee” as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote. Rand was an atheist author who wrote books like Atlas Shrugged and The Virtue of Selfishness.

Father Thomas Reese has portrayed Paul Ryan as a believer in Ayn Rand-style “Social Darwinism” in order to attack his budget reforms.

Paul Ryan told National Review that he rejects her philosophy:

“I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed them,” Ryan says. “They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School and Milton Friedman,” a subject he eventually studied as an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. “But it’s a big stretch to suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist.”

“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

I earnestly hope that Father Reese and others will now stopping pushing this urban legend now that Paul Ryan has categorically rejected it. Trying to paint Paul Ryan as a bloodthirsty capitalist with no mercy or compassion for the poor might be effective propaganda, but we as Catholics have a responsibility to not bear false witness.



  • John

    What does he have to say about his speech at

    • Martlet

      Absolutely John. He too seems to be an etch-a-sketch.

  • Patrick Crosby

    If Ryan is not an Ayn follower, why does the Ryan Budget read as though he were? There is a new Amazon ebook called The New Feudalism: Romney, Ryan, and Ayn Rand This book makes that case. Most significantly for purposes here, the book makes the assertion Ayn Rand was opposed to virtually everything Jesus Christ is reported to have said. That may warrant some discussion. Can you be a Catholic and at the same time advocate taking away health care for the elderly, as Ryan clearly does? Or is he not doing that? You good people tell me.

  • mickey mental

    you got it right, sean. bravo.

  • Sean

    Oh, he said it? Well that just makes it true! Case closed!

    Never mind that he was the keynote speaker at the Atlas Society and proclaimed that Rand is the reason that he entered public service, that he checks his policy decisions against Randian writings such as Galt’s speech (which is actually a very explicit 70-page guide to the “atheist philosophy” that Ryan supposedly rejects), and that he makes her books required reading in his office.

    Don’t believe me? Roll tape:

    I fully support the right of anybody to follower whomever they want, but when you’re on tape proudly declaring that your worldview is most shaped by someone and later declare that influence to be an “urban legend”, that’s what we call a lie.



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