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Oct. 28, 2009

Contact Monsignor Bernard McGarty at 608-796-3788 or bomcgarty@viterbo.edu

 GREED AND THE ECONOMIC MELTDOWN SUBJECT OF NOV. 23 TALK

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Greed as the cause of the highly publicized economic meltdown will be the subject of Msgr. Bernard McGarty’s Monday, Nov. 23 lecture which contrasts the influence of St. Francis of Assisi with that of author and philosopher Ayn Rand and one of her loyal followers Alan Greenspan, the former chair of the federal reserve.

The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.

According to McGarty, Rand, who died in 1982, advocated the uninhibited power of the ego and the right of the individual to pursue economic interests without government regulation. A Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter, she is known for her best-selling novels and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Rand’s philosophy is evident in two bestsellers, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged.

An atheist, Rand once said, “The cross is the symbol of torture. I prefer the dollar sign, the symbol of free trade.”

McGarty indicated that Greenspan was greatly influenced by the works of Rand and the two were social as well as professional acquaintances.

During Greenspan’s 18-year tenure on the Federal Reserve, the economy skyrocketed and institutions operated in a largely unregulated marketplace. Now, the recent financial turmoil has many searching for the cause.

“The crisis in the U.S. and world economic system may be traced to Rand’s economic philosophy which espouses no government regulation and defies greed,” McGarty said. “Greenspan was a follower of that philosophy and was a crucial player in the near economic collapse.”

McGarty argues that a closer look at the life of St. Francis of Assisi could offer a balancing philosophy to that of Rand and Greenspan. St. Francis, who died in 1226, surrendered his material goods for a life of poverty and service to the poor and suffering.

“Rand and St. Francis are polar opposites in their philosophies and actions and that’s what makes them so relevant in these times,” McGarty said. “The thinking of both individuals is pertinent. Each has followers and the contrasting ideas are what are at stake in our economy today.”

McGarty holds the title of Visiting Scholar in Ecumenical Studies at Viterbo and has given previous lectures on Catholic relations with Jewish, Orthodox, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Islamic faith traditions as well as other topics pertaining to spiritual and contemporary issues.

 

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