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August 22, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Paul Ryan, China

http://www.jewishjournal.com/letters_to_the_editor/article/letters_to_the_editor_paul_ryan_china_20120822

Parsing Paul Ryan

I read with interest my friend David Suissa’s celebration of Paul Ryan (“Ryan’s Courage,” Aug. 17).

As to economics, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said that the Ryan plan proposes a revenue loss due to tax cuts — most benefiting the top 1 percent — of $4.3 trillion over the next decade. His proposal for cuts are $1.7 trillion and contains no plans to balance the budget before 2030 if all his optimistic assumptions come to fruition.

As to Jewish values, it must be said that the Jewish measure of justice is how we treat the widow and the orphan, the stranger and the poor, the elderly and the infirm, the hungry and the ill. Our task is to comfort the afflicted, not to comfort the comfortable. On that, dear David, you were silent.

Furthermore, as Ayn Rand would be the first to admit, her values are antithetical to Judaism. If Ryan is indeed, as he proclaims himself to be, a follower of Ayn Rand — except for her atheism — anyone who upholds Jewish values should be mindful.

Michael Berenbaum
via e-mail

David Suissa’s column on Paul Ryan hits it on the head. This is a big-issues election and Paul Ryan has the courage to be the “adult in the room.” There is a major financial crisis in our government and it’s due to overspending on entitlements. To save Medicare and Social Security for the younger generation, Romney/Ryan are speaking out. The status quo can’t survive. We’re borrowing too much money and not living within our means. This country needs help and we need leaders who are willing to be “adults,” courageous and tell us the truth. Let’s respond with a big discussion of these issues and find a solution.

David Schechter
Los Angeles

In advocating a “Jewish values” vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket, David Suissa ignores the centrality of President Obama’s environmental policies to Israel’s survival. By advancing alternatives to oil such as wind and other renewables, Obama guts the financial base of Israel’s enemies. While Romney and Ryan would keep us dependent on fossil fuels, the president is committed to Israel’s — and our — energy security.

Peter L. Reich
Professor of Law and Director
Environmental Law Program
Whittier Law School

I enjoyed Rob Eshman’s column on Paul Ryan’s admiration for the ideas of Ayn Rand (Rand … Rosenbaum?” Aug. 17), but it leaves out some essential issues that are very important to understanding both of them.

There are three problems with Ayn Rand’s economic philosophy. The first is that her books are an attempt to take the attributes of selfishness and greed and transform them from moral negatives into moral positives. That may be appropriate for an atheist like Rand, but it is not an appropriate philosophy for an ostensibly religious man like Ryan.

Second, Rand fails to understand human nature when she believes that the crooks and the bad guys in the economic world will regulate themselves.

Third, Rand fails to recognize the necessity for government to regulate in order to protect the public interest from the “natural ingenuity and drive of individuals” who would put our economic system at risk. 

If Ayn Rand were alive today, she would be shocked to learn that her ideas have something in common with communism: both are flawed theories that failed the test of reality. And conservatives like Paul Ryan who foolishly continue to insist that deregulation works are as ridiculous as communists who, after the collapse of communism, would continue to insist that communism works. Paul Ryan has learned a lot of nonsense from Rand’s fiction, but he has learned nothing from the real world.

Michael Asher
Valley Village


In Support of the Rabbi

While using the discretionary fund to support pro-Israel candidates is not allowed, it was done with the best of intentions (“Rabbi’s Use of Discretionary Funds Spurs New Policies,” Aug. 17). Furthermore, this mistake is not a representation of Rabbi Isaac Jeret’s character. As our rabbi, he was there for many congregants in their time of need and still made time to support the broader Jewish community.

Leslie Gold
Rancho Palos Verdes


Not So Free in China

As I read the glowing account of David Myers’ experience teaching at the Glazer Institute of Jewish Studies in Nanjing (“The Jews of Kaifeng,” Aug. 17), I wondered if he taught one of the key concepts of Judaism: freedom. Maimonides taught that “freedom of will is given to everyone.”

I can only hope that Mr. Myers’ excitement about the growth of Jewish studies was tempered by the fact that this is taking place in a nation that holds thousands in forced labor camps, arrests those who criticize the regime, sells weapons to rogue nations like Iran, and denies religious freedom to groups such as the Falun Gong.

I felt that Mr. Myers’ account should have been in a human rights context. To applaud the increase in Jewish studies without this shows a lack of understanding of core Jewish values.

Mark Elinson
via e-mail

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