10 Nov – Wash DC – CUA – Conference on Economic Freedom – Fishwrap’s Michael Sean Winters ATTACKS!

I saw this at the site of Catholic University of America:

Conference on Religious and Economic Liberty

The Acton Institute and The Catholic University of America School of Business and Economics will hold a conference on “The Relationship between Religious and Economic Liberty in an Age of Expanding Government,” and examine the important and complex relationship between religious liberty and other freedoms, particularly economic freedom.

In recent years, religious liberty in America and abroad has undergone varying degrees of challenges. In much of the West, actions by the government have made it more difficult for Christians and other believers to practice their faith, which includes not only the right to worship but also to exercise political, civil, and economic freedoms.

In “The Relationship between Religious and Economic Liberty in an Age of Expanding Government” speakers will examine how the Christian conception of religious liberty limits the state’s exercise of power, the manner in which the expansion of economic freedom creates new opportunities and challenges for believers, and how social welfare policies can inhibit or facilitate religious freedom.

WHO: Cardinal Robert Sarah (Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’),
Russell Hittinger (The Catholic University of America)
Michael Novak (Author and former Ambassador)
Jay W. Richards (The Catholic University of America).

WHAT: Panel Discussion: The Relationship between Religious and Economic Liberty in an Age of Expanding Government

WHEN: Monday, November 10, 2014
12 p.m.-5 p.m. (includes lunch and reception)

WHERE: Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, Great Room
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave NE
Washington, D.C.
This is the second conference in an international series of five on “One and Indivisible? The Relationship Between Religious and Economic Freedom.”

For more information or to request accommodations for disabilities, contact Beatriz Lopez in the school of business at lopezbe@cua.edu.

MEDIA: To attend the event, media should contact the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600 or cua-public-affairs@cua.edu.

Sounds like a good conference.  I’d like to go.

Now let’s see what the National Schismatic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters has to say about the event!

Michael Sean Winters specializes in irrational demonizing of those with whom he disagrees. His present instance of high dudgeon is aimed at Catholic University of America. What is CUA’s sin? CUA has dared to host a conference in which speakers associated with Acton Institute are to be involved!

Imagine! The nerve!

A while back, Winters helped to organize at CUA a conference which aimed to smear free-marketers (Acton Institute) as boogeyman “libertarians”. I was told that, even though the liberal media made much of MSW’s conference, fewer than 40 people showed up. The basic thrust of MSW’s conference: anyone who believes in a free-market is a “libertarian”. There doesn’t seem to be much more nuance than that. Just accept that “libertarian” is “bad” and that anyone not onside with big government, etc., is, without any other qualification, a “libertarian”.

One of MSW’s speakers was, by the way, the union activist – some might suggest thug – Richard Trumka. He was welcomed by Winters at his own CUA event, but, apparently, the involvement of speakers associated with Acton Institute at someone else’s event is simply too much to be borne.

In his attempt to shame CUA and to smear the event, MSW resorts to a seriously low-blow and intellectually dishonest tactic. He questions how CUA could team up with Acton, given that Acton’s Fr. Robert Sirico – and I am not making this up – “makes the case that John Galt, the hero of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is really a Christ-figure.”

For liberals, you see, Ayn Rand is invoked in the same way as the creature under the bed or Hannibal at the gates is raised to frighten impressionable children. “Ayn Rand!?!” Thus follows the fluttering of hands, the sinking upon the fainting couch while men stand by with deep frowns and good boys and girls draw their covers up about their ears.

Keep in mind that if you are a liberal who believes in redistribution of wealth and a nanny state, it is okay that you have ever in your life, probably your youth, read Ayn Rand. But if you believe in a free market and just enough government to foster economic freedom in a virtuous society, if you have even looked at the cover of a book by Ayn Rand, even if you were only a stupid eighteen-year old, you are solemnly to be condemned with bell, book and candle… and fan fluttering.

I invite you, dear reader, to go read for yourself what Fr. Sirico wrote about Ayn Rand. Here are a few amuse-bouches:

“Rand was a nasty personality… She is indeed frequently adolescent… She was not as clear a thinker as she thought herself to be (her arguments in favor of abortion are among the weakest on the market). Indeed, in her writings and public appearances she almost seemed to relish the offense she gave for her strident, brash, and relentless defense of reason, human freedom, and laissez-faire capitalism. If she ever suffered a fool gladly—if she ever suffered a fool at all—one would be hard pressed to find any record of it. She was the antithesis of Mother Teresa, and would have bragged about it. I disagree profoundly with Rand; her attenuated definition of faith as unreason and her notion of sacrifice as wholly lacking dignity are unrecognizable to a Christian. Even her economics are better spelled out in Mises or Hayek. Her esthetic philosophy is paper thin and idiosyncratic; her malevolence toward children and the vulnerable is exceedingly distasteful. For these and many more reasons, people who reverence Western Civilization must reject Rand.”

I wouldn’t call that an endorsement of Ayn Rand. That apart, Sirico describes what is patently obvious to anyone who read Atlas Shrugged even at a stupid-eighteen: Rand herself intended John Galt to come off as a Christ-figure.

You see, Winter’s sense of personal liberal moral superiority and his animus for Acton and for Fr. Sirico, are such that he feels himself free completely to distort what Sirico actually wrote about the figure of John Galt in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Sirico was trying to understand what Rand was up to without approving of what she did.  HERE

MSW is frantically trying to paint anyone who believes in a free market as being a “libertarian”, which is tantamount to being a black-marketer in fighting-dogs. Anyone who thinks that massive government regulation and that redistribution of wealth are not actually cures for poverty are smeared with a shameful scarlet L.

Like every liberal – for whom freedom means only that you are free to agree with him – Winters seems not to be able to stand that Acton should have an equal voice in the discussion about what economic and religious freedom means.

LAST WORD: I hope that anyone in the D.C. area will make the effort to go to the conference and to bring friends. Let there be a huge turnout.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gratias says:

    The left is feeling their oats because of Pope Francisus’ economic program in Joy of the Gospel.

    54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.

  2. Mike says:

    Mr. Winters, now apparently fully unhinged, urgently needs our prayers. (By the way, did he have anything favorable to say when CUA gave an award and a soapbox to Cardinal Kasper this past week?)

  3. Gratias says:

    Pope Franciscus then went on to explain his economics further in an interview with La Stampa, reproduced by Father Z:

    I didn’t speak from a technical point of view, I sought to present a snapshot [una fotografia] of what is going on. The only specific passage was on “trickle-down” theories, [le teorie della “ricaduta favorevole”] according to which every economic growth, favored by the free market, results in producing on its own [di per sé] a greater equity and social inclusion in the world. There was the promise that when the glass was full, it would be transferred over and the poor would benefit from it. Instead what happens when it is full to the brim, the glass magically grows, and thus nothing comes forth for the poor.

  4. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Will those guys be “venomous”? I’ll be they’ll be “venomous”. They probably have a lot of “venom”. http://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2013/05/08/michael_sean_winters_snakebit_scribe.html

  5. Gerard Plourde says:

    The description of the conference is quite promising. By addressing the promise and limitations of economic freedom and also of government’s role it seeks to explore the real and complex issues that lie at the heart of the challenge of living as a responsible Catholic Christian in a diverse and free society. The truth is that there are no easy answers and that, as St. Paul reminds us, the good that we intend is often thwarted by the imperfection we possess as a result of Adam’s transgression. We only exacerbate that weakness when we give in to the temptation of treating those with a different point of view as straw men instead of jointly exploring the issues at hand and working to find common ground to benefit all.

  6. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    So Catholics have to shun Ayn Rand but, of course, have to make their peace with some of Karl Marx’s ideas?

    For an unforgetable 15 minutes that you will reasure, Google “Mozart was a Red,” the short, satirical play written by the late economist Murray Rothbard. The play, which makes fun of an Ayn Rand-like figure and her tiny group of sycophants, was publicly performed exactly one and recorded on videotape.

  7. Imrahil says:

    In fairness, let’s add that while distorting Fr Sirico’s views is of course off the mark, I wouldn’t agree that Ayn Rand presents John Galt as a Christ figure.

    She presents him, and I mean that explicitly and in her own opinion, not in mine or Fr Sirico’s or whomever, as an anti-Christ figure, and endorses him as such.

    You could argue that Antichrist is by definition a false Christ-figure, but then again if we hear the word “Christ-figure”, we instinctively think of C. S. Lewis’ lion or the “partitioned” Christ-figures of Tolkien (in which sense we say that Gandalf, Aragorn, Samwise etc. are partially Christ-figures). Now John Galt is no such thing, nor was he intended by Ayn Rand to be such thing. He was intended as her heroic figure to fight down Christianity (which according to her is intrinsically connected to sentimentalism and depropriating the rich*) and this time with a victory.

    [* She is, of course, mistaken. Nevertheless, if we make the thought experiment and do away the sentimentalism and totally the urge to depropriate the rich, there’s enough in actual Christianity, in actual demands of the Christian virtues charity, friendliness, mercy and the like, that Ayn Rand would still try to fight it down to the last cartridge.]

    I don’t deny that, as Fr Sirico says, there is a thirst for God in anyone. Yet still, it’s important too that we know who, on this Earth, our enemies are, and Ayn Rand, God have mercy on her soul, certainly is among them.

    So, if he means Christ as I think he does when he says, “One can only pray that in the infinite mercy of the God in whom she did not believe, that Rand in the end may actually have found out who John Galt really is”, I think him mistaken.

    I think it should be put thus: “One can only pray that in the infinite mercy of God, Rand may actually have found out – introduced into Heaven, perhaps, with a kind word by Gilbert Keith Chesterton whom she so cruelly fictionallily murdered off in Atlas Shrugged – that she may have found out, there, who He really is whom she had John Galt fight against”.

  8. JPK says:

    In light of the fact that the federal government now redistributes in excess $4 trillion of our national wealth, and regulates everything from Cadbury chocolate eggs to the amount of water used to flush toilets, suffice it to say we no longer live in a society of radically “free markets” (if that was ever the case). In an age where almost all national economies and markets are tightly regulated, highly taxes, and where the redistribution of wealth is the norm, I’m not sure exactly how our Catholic socialists can complain.

    After-all, if it is old fashioned metrics like employment, income distribution, and wage scale that concerns our socialists, their critique of currently economic performances cannot possibly come from the Left; for they’ve gotten virtually everything they demanded over the decades (generous public pensions and retiree health care; generous public health care (in the form of both Medicare and ObamaCare); generous unemployment and disability insurance; Aid for Dependent Children in the form of WIC payments; generous food allowances via SNAP; heavy taxation of corporate incomes; heavy taxation of capital gains; the regulation of our agriculture and energy industries; direct federal subsidies in public education and college student loans; heavy regulation of finance credit, banking and mortgages; federal and state assistance in banking, loans, and mortgages for minorities; and an entire slew of income taxes and fees for those earning more than $350,000 (the so-called 1%, but more accurately the top 10% of earners).

    We’ve gotten exactly what the Socialists and Progressives desired. Of course, there is the Law of Unintended Consequences. The income gap since 2008 has only gotten wider between the top 1% and the lower 50%. But, what is truly surprising is that the 10 wealthiest zip codes and area codes are also the most Progressive in this nation. Today’s most ardent socialists are also the wealthiest. Those who earn their incomes off of capital gains via Wall St are today’s socialists. Ironic.

  9. Jackie L says:

    There are some intelligent liberals out there, however Winters does not fall into this category. For example Winters thought an apology from Princeton Professor Robert George would be appropriate after George referred to President Obama as the most pro-abortion President in history and Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court:

    “It would stand to reason, however, that the most pro-abortion president in history would select the most pro-abortion candidate for the Court. In this case, Obama did not do so. Kagan’s views on abortion are opaque, although it is foolish to think she does not share the general liberal judicial stance in favor of Roe. But she is no Diane Wood. If Obama had chosen Wood, whose devotion to abortion on demand is well known and well documented, perhaps there might be something to Professor George’s characterization. But, he did not choose Wood. Don’t hold your breathe waiting for Professor George to correct or even amend his charge, even though it would be the principled thing to do. ”

    We see Winters defend Obama because he nominated to the Supreme Court a woman who he admits will reliably vote pro-abortion, instead of a different woman who would vote the same way, but is “more devoted”. Logic would tell any college student taking a freshman logic course that to be the “most pro-abortion president in history” you have to be more pro-abortion then every other President, there is no other benchmark.

    This is the incoherence we see on the occasion Winters will engage others or debate ideas, so normally, and more now then ever, he simply demonizes opponents.

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