Paul Ryan & The Kemp GOP

Several months ago, a spy among the social justice Catholics told me that Catholic (and other Christian) anti-poverty groups have become aware that the Obama Administration is not interested in the poor, and they've begun to be interested in Paul Ryan -- not that they trust him fully (yet) -- they're too liberal to believe a conservative could care-- but they've noticed Ryan listens to them and is interested in helping the poor. 

Here's a piece on Ryan's quiet-'til-now outreach to impoverished communities. It's of a piece with the conversation among black Conservatives below. 50 years after we launched the War on Poverty, there's more poverty than ever --Poverty Won. So if we genuinely care about human flourishing, shouldn't we be looking for different solutions?

Which reminds me I've been meaning to post Ryan's commencement address at Benedictine College (that's the video, here's the text), Free Enterprise, Faith & the Common Good,  in which among other things he lays out his understanding of Catholic social teaching and what it means to have solidarity with the poor.

After dispensing with the pleasantries and congratulations necessary for a commencement address, he made a serious speech -- one targeted at the kids, but with a different take on social teaching than the one being offered by their teachers, many of whom protested Ryan's presence on campus. Here's the wind-up:

As Catholics, we’re meant to be in the world, not of the world. We’re meant to take up the vocation God has given us—and to do it well. Several years ago, I decided my vocation was public service. So today I want to talk to you about my faith—and my attempt to live up to it. I want to answer this question: How does a Catholic public servant apply Catholic social teaching?
There are different ways to answer this question. Today, I want to talk about two: Our support for free enterprise and for strong communities. Now, Good Catholics can disagree. And we do. That’s the difficulty—and the beauty—of our faith. On some issues, the teaching is very clear. For instance, we must always protect the sanctity of life.
But on other issues, there’s a broad arc of prudential judgment. And there’s room for everybody. So I’m not going to stand here and vanquish some straw men erected for my position. I’m going to take on the straw men erected against my position. In short, I hope to make the moral case for free enterprise. In this effort, I speak only for myself. And I ask only for your consideration.
He starts with simple definitions of solidarity and subsidiarity, the twin poles of the Church's social teaching: 
After I was elected to Congress, I began to wrestle with many issues—both as a representative and as a Catholic. And as I wrestled with my views, I noticed two themes in my beliefs—both of which come from Catholic social teaching: solidarity and subsidiarity. They might sound a little intimidating. But they’re actually quite simple.
Solidarity is the belief that we’re all in this together. So we must be good to one another. We must be generous with our love—and withhold it from no one. And when we write the laws of our nation, we must never lose sight of our primary purpose: the common good.
Subsidiarity is like federalism. It’s the belief that every part of our country adds to the whole. But for the whole to benefit, every part must be free to do its work—on its own terms. Yes, government must do some things. But it can’t do everything. So it shouldn’t assume other people’s roles. And it shouldn’t tell them how to do their work. The people closest to the problem are the most likely to solve it—because they know the community best.
We see this principle in the First Amendment. Religious communities do great things in our country. They care for the poor, the hungry, and the sick. And they do this work in their own unique way—guided their by conscience and their beliefs. That’s why I strongly support measures to protect religious liberty. I believe Catholic institutions—like colleges, hospitals, and social agencies—should be free to do their work according to their moral standards. It’s essential to our society. And it’s essential to subsidiarity.

Then he starts to get to the meat of the moral case for free markets. 
Pope Francis calls “the tyranny of relativism” “the spiritual poverty of our time.” And it afflicts rich countries worst of all, including our own. To truly help the poor, we have to help the “whole” person—not just the material needs, but the spiritual ones too. The fact is, government can’t give this help—because the law is blind. It treats everyone the same. And though we’re all equal, we’re not all the same. We have different needs.
Only people can meet these needs. And though most people who serve in government are hardworking, they can do only so much. They can’t give us the personal attention we need. So we need to look for people outside of government. And we will find them in our communities—in our churches and schools, in our nonprofits and neighborhoods, in our friends and families. Academics like to call these things “mediating institutions.” But in the end, they’re just people—people working together.
And government must not push them out. It must not crowd out society. Instead, it must support them. It must allow these groups to address to our needs. It must expand the space for society. And one of the best examples of such a partnership is the free-enterprise system.
Free enterprise is an example of that second principle: subsidiarity. It allows each person to contribute to society. It allows them to discover their talents and to pursue their dreams—because when they do, they add to the common good. They create jobs. They save lives. They feed people. They add to the store of knowledge. And most importantly, free enterprise gives us the resources to care for ourselves—and for others. It helps to ease human suffering.
What about greed? 
The critics say nothing good comes from commerce. They think it’s all pinstripes and no principle. Sure, free enterprise makes more stuff, they argue. But it relies on “greed”—on people pursuing their self-interest. And isn’t the love of money the root of all evil…or something to that effect?
Look, many people want the chance to get ahead. And to get ahead in a free economy, they must serve the needs of society. At some level, we all ask ourselves, “How can I make ends meet?” But the successful ask a better question: “What’s something people need?” Voluntary exchange is an act of good faith. It gives the buyer a good in exchange for something of equal value. It creates a culture of personal responsibility and good will. To attract customers, you must be trustworthy. To attract workers, you must treat them with dignity.
Free enterprise helps the workers themselves—because work gives people more than a paycheck. It gives them a sense of pride—a sense of purpose. It makes them a part of their communities. And when we share our gifts with other people, we show solidarity with each other. If farmers didn’t harvest, people would go hungry. If doctors and nurses didn’t practice, the sick would go untreated. We don’t think of ourselves as greedy—even though we take part in the economy. And we shouldn’t—because we’re working to help our families. We’re helping to put food on the table, to pay for our education, to save for retirement.
Yes, we must guard against greed. But greed will always be with us. Our job is to limit its power. Free enterprise doesn’t reward greed. It rewards value—because competition checks greed. And there’s no greater opportunity for greed than government cronyism. Greed knows how to exploit the pages of regulations. It knows how to navigate the halls of power. So if we’re concerned about greed, we shouldn’t give it more opportunities to grow.
 Read the whole thing.