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Walter Hudson

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words and co-hosts the weekly podcast Liberty Tree Radio. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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Imagine No Taxes

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On Tax Day, I dared to wonder what happiness I might pursue with the money I earn but never see. I asked readers to join me in the exercise and imagine what they might do with the money they lost to taxes last year. Reader Mike Mahoney added this insightful comment:

I would probably wind up spending it on protection, roads, litigation services. If one looks at tax receipts and the portion of the budget that is enumerated as a power to do things in the constitution you’ll note a similarity. The rest is all done on borrowed money. So, if I didn’t pay taxes I would still pay.

Mike lands a fair point. Government certainly provides a value. In the absence of particular government services, we would need to pursue alternatives, thus incurring expense.

Of course, in that case, we could choose to pay as we saw fit, and would benefit from the cost and quality controls of the market. Whether we would pay as much for the same services under a private model is an open question. (I think it safe to bet we’d pay significantly less.) However, we know the percentage of our income spent on such services would decrease as we earned more, instead of increasing as it does today. Market-driven prices are rarely progressive.

You don’t pay more for groceries or fuel just because you earn more. So why should you pay more for the services provided by government, particularly if you prove less likely to use them?

An unspoken assumption which may inform Mike’s comment is that a world without taxes means anarchy. But that’s not necessarily the case. Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute here briefly explains how government could raise revenue without coercive taxation:

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Imagine the effect such an arrangement would have upon our incentives to produce and improve the lives of ourselves and others through trade. The sky would be the limit.

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Battling for the Conservative Soul

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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See Part I here

See Part II here

On today’s Fightin Words podcast: What Is “The Right” Anyway?: Part III, concluding a discussion with PJ Media associate editor David Swindle on the distinctions within the right-wing coalition. Can we sort out our differences? If so, how?

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(10:32 minutes long; 10.11 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Anarchists Among Us

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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See Part I here

On today’s Fightin Words podcast: What Is “The Right” Anyway?: Part II, continuing a discussion with PJ Media associate editor David Swindle on the importance of accurately navigating ideological territory, we consider whether anarchy is “right-wing?”

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(14:37 minutes long; 14.03 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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What Is ‘The Right’ Anyway?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
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Lots of different views here. So what makes them all “right-wing?”

On today’s Fightin Words podcast: A discussion with PJ Media associate editor David Swindle on the use of “the Right” as a political identifier. Who are we talking about? Who is and is not part of “the Right?”

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(14:15 minutes long; 13.68 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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The Danger of Utopia

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Sunday’s murderous shootings in Kansas City have been labelled hate crimes. What makes an offense a hate crime? Should government seek to end racism by prosecuting it?

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(16:04 minutes long; 15.42 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Tax Day: What If You Didn’t Have to Pay?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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As the father of a young family, I have taken a fanatical interest in my household finances. Curious whether I could squeeze more juice out of our budgetary lemon, I took a look at our monthly expenses as a percentage of our take-home income.

To my astonishment, I found that 84% of our take-home income goes to essential expenses. By “essential,” I mean items which cannot be cancelled or reduced. These are things like rent, fuel, insurance, and groceries. We already minimize these expenses as much as possible.

To my further astonishment, I found that all of the elective expenses in our monthly budget, things like Netflix, hosting my websites, and maintaining a subscription to Star Wars: The Old Republic, total up to a mere 3% of my take-home income. If I really cut to the bone and went without my entertainments and hobbies, I would hardly save enough to speak of. This proves problematic, because I have outstanding liabilities which must eventually be met, not to mention things which I would like to save for – including stuff like retirement.

I hold down three jobs. My wife has two. So we’re not exactly slacking. Be that as it may, I figure we need to conjure up a way to bring home a certain amount more per month in order to advance beyond treading water to actually getting somewhere.

As it turns out, I already earn more than I figure I need. The only problem is that I don’t get to keep it. It gets confiscated before I ever see it and sent to state and federal government.

If I could actually use what I rightfully earned last year, I would be able to pay off every outstanding bill. I would be able to replace my aging laptop with a decent machine that could get me through the next five years. And I would have enough left over to put a serious dent in my auto or student loans.

How about you? What could you do with the money you lost to government last year? What happiness could you pursue? What values could you secure? Leave a comment below.

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Making Racism Impotent

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel, appearing with Candy Crowley on CNN, says significant elements of the Republican base “are animated by racism.” Rather than argue which party proves more racist, let’s consider which policies lend racism its power.

A just society punishes actions which violate individual rights, like Sunday’s ghastly shootings at Jewish community centers in Kansas City. An unjust society allows, endorses, or even perpetrates violations of rights, as Nazi Germany did. Rather than a world without racism, a utopian ideal futilely sought after through the police of thought, we should seek public policy which condemns any action which violates rights, regardless of its motivation.

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(10:02 minutes long; 9.64 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Feminist Says Actress Kirsten Dunst Too ‘Dumb’ to Have an Opinion on Gender

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
Kirsten Dunst Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

“You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s how relationships work.”

Last week saw a feminist uproar over comments made by actress Kirsten Dunst in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK. Expressing her personal opinion that men and women have distinct roles within relationships, and that she prefers to live accordingly, Dunst provoked the ire of many proclaimed champions of woman’s rights. US Weekly reports:

The 31-year-old cover girl has a more traditional view when it comes to relationships between men and women.

“I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued,” she told the magazine. “We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mom created.”

“Kirsten Dunst is not paid to write gender theory so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that she’s kind of dumb about it,” Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan wrote.

Gender theory? All Dunst did was express her personal preference. Since when did personal preferences become subject to expert review?

An appeal to authority and ad hominem notwithstanding, Ryan’s response betrays the real objective of her so-called “feminism.” Rather than protect the right of each woman to pursue her individually conceived values, the Jezebel brand of feminism seeks to subjugate women under “gender theory,” whether they individually assent to it or not.

Dunst expressed what makes her happy. But “feminists” like Ryan don’t want women like Dunst to be happy. They’d rather drag their fellow women through a cultural inquisition, hoping to extract the false confession that a man’s love and provision prove somehow exploitative.

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Don’t Fear the Future

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Terminator

On today’s Fightin Words podcast: PJ Media’s Bonnie Ramthun joins the program to discuss her recent piece “The Rise of the Robot Employee.” As the Left moves to raise the minimum wage, robots become less expensive than human workers.

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(12:53 minutes long; 12.37 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Love and Altruism Prove Opposite

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Sunday, I offered the provocative theological claim that Altruism Has No Place in Christianity. I referenced the biblical teaching of pastor and theologian John Piper, who advances a notion of Christian hedonism summed up in the declaration that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

My colleague Susan L.M. Goldberg approached my claim with reservations. She concluded:

The question of whether or not altruism holds a place in religious life is dependent upon how one defines the structure of their faith: as a business arrangement or a personal relationship. The argument Walter poses is a good one in terms of the welfare state in America. I agree with him that socialist policies should not be promoted as altruistic acts of a benevolent big government. As far as altruism goes in relation to faith, I also agree that God prepares an individual for His purpose in their life and rewards them for their faith. I do, however, question Walter’s contextualizing our personal relationship with God into a business transaction. Before we hasten to view our personal faith in that light, we should bear in mind that the failure of the welfare state was preceded by the transformation of our houses of worship into social halls dedicated to fulfilling our own very non-altruistic needs.

Susan makes a distinction which I reject. Whether business or personal in nature, all relationships prove transactional. Certainly it is possible for people to act altruistically in their relationships. But altruism proves the exception to the transactional rule, and undermines the relational bond.

In my previous piece, I cited the example of a husband buying a bouquet of his wife’s favorite flower with money he would rather spend on something else. That’s altruism, doing something for someone else at the expense of your values. Not only would the husband harbor bitterness from his sacrifice. If his wife learned how he felt about the purchase, she would despise him for it. Why?

We have heard it said that “it’s the thought that counts” when gifts are given. What thought are we referring to? In the case of a bouquet bought for a wife, the thought might be, “I love you and want you to have this symbol of my affection far more than I want the money and time it took to acquire it.” In other words, the wife wants the husband to feel satisfied by her enjoyment of the flowers he bought. It’s transactional. Everyone is better off.

The same applies in our personal relationship to God. 2 Corinthians 9:7 reads:

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

If God wanted altruistic worshipers, He would not care whether they were reluctant or not.

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Is Jeb Bush Right on Immigration?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On today’s Fightin Words podcast: The former Florida governor and would-be successor to the Bush presidential dynasty made an odd play over the weekend, calling illegal immigration “an act of love.” Does he know something most Republicans don’t?

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(17:05 minutes long; 16.4 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Who Owns Compassion in Politics?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Today’s Fightin Words podcast: The Left lays claim to compassion in the political discourse. What happens when we test that claim against their policy prescriptions?

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(9:02 minutes long; 8.67 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Christianity’s Contribution to Progressive Politics

Monday, April 7th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Welcoming new listeners from PJ Media, we consider the effect of Christian-themed altruism on political discourse. Does acting for others require sacrificing your values?

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(14:29 minutes long; 13.9 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Altruism Has No Place in Christianity

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
Do you regard the gifts you give as loss?

Do you regard the gifts you give as loss?

“It is better to give than to receive.” How often have we heard that? The motto of the altruist, this would-be-proverb exhorts us to act for others at our expense. Among the vast culture of Christendom, altruism has been adopted as a tenant of the faith by many if not most believers. Churchgoers are encouraged to give sacrificially, which generally gets interpreted as giving until it hurts.

Yet careful examination of scripture suggests that altruism has no place in the Christian life. Consider this from pastor and theologian John Piper:

After my message to the Liberty University student body [in September of 2013], a perceptive student asked this clarifying question: So you don’t believe that altruistic acts are possible or desirable?

I asked for his definition of altruism so that I could answer what he was really asking. He said, “Doing a good deed for others with no view to any reward.” I answered: that’s right, whether or not it’s possible, I don’t think it’s desirable, because it’s not what the Bible teaches us to do; and it’s not what people experience as genuine love. Because it isn’t genuine love.

What does Piper mean by that? Consider that the phrase “it is better to give than to receive” does not actually appear in scripture. Instead, Acts 20:35 reads:

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

More blessed for who? The Contemporary English Version translates it this way. “More blessings come from giving than from receiving.” The New Life Version among others translates it another way. “We are more happy when we give than when we receive.” Christ, according to Paul, tells us we are better off helping the weak than being among the weak who require help.

That presents a far more precise application than the vague notion that “it’s better to give than to receive.” From an earthly perspective, giving requires abundance above and beyond our requirements for survival. We must have before we can give, and we must get before we can have. From a heavenly perspective, helping the weak in the name of Christ proves an act of obedient worship which draws us deeper into joyful relationship with Him. There’s nothing altruistic about that. You cannot lose upon securing an infinite value.

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‘Shelter In Place’ or Lay Down and Die?

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Another Fort Hood shooting where trained military personnel were unarmed and ordered to hide like children. What’s wrong with this picture?

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(10:27 minutes long; 10 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive.)

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Mozilla CEO Resignation: Why Campaign Finance Should Be Anonymous

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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By now, you may have read that a technology company head has been forced to resign on account of his support of traditional marriage. Yahoo News reports:

Mozilla Chief Executive Brendan Eich has stepped down, the company said on Thursday, after an online dating service urged a boycott of the company’s web browser because of a donation Eich made to opponents of gay marriage.

The software company came under fire for appointing Eich as CEO last month. In 2008, he gave money to oppose the legalization of gay marriage in California, a hot-button issue especially at a company that boasts about its policy of inclusiveness and diversity.

The boycott and subsequent response from Mozilla stand as examples of free association. Private entities have the right to condemn and disassociate from expression they find offensive. However, the story behind the story is how mandatory disclosure of campaign contributions like that made by Eich violates his rights, and those of countless others.

Consider why we have secret ballots. Why have labor unions and their surrogates fought so hard for card check? Knowing how someone votes enables opponents to retaliate. As Eich’s situation demonstrates, so too do the mandatory reporting requirements of campaign finance law.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that there should be no limits upon “how much money people can donate in total in one election season.” The Court properly recognized campaign contributions as expressions of free speech and exercises of free association. That recognition suggests that any limitation upon campaign finance violates individual rights.

The income tax has fostered a culture which regards how much someone makes, and how they spend it, as public business. Morally, such matters should remain private. Campaign finance law banning anonymous contributions chills speech in the same way public ballots would. When compelled to disclose campaign contributions, people cannot act freely upon their conscience. Donors must consider possible retaliation from parties who would not otherwise be privy to their beliefs or associations. Privacy emerges as a derivative of property and free association. Mandatory disclosure violates both, and thus violates privacy.

But campaign contributions affect public policy, you say. So how can they be private?

Voting affects public policy too. So when are we getting rid of secret ballots?

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Jar Jar Binks Confirmed for Episode VII

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
Return of the Chaos

Return of the Chaos

Director J.J. Abrams promised a new hope for the Star Wars franchise when tapped to continue the saga in next year’s Episode VII. That hope may have just faded like the cryptic spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Producers today announced that wayward Gungan klutz Jar Jar Binks will return to the series, playing “a significant role” in the 2015 release. This from the official Star Wars website:

Disney and Lucasfilm are excited to announce that Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by J.J. Abrams, will welcome the return of children’s favorite Jar Jar Binks…

“We think there’s more story to tell,” said Abrams. “His arc was never fully resolved in [Revenge of the Sith]. Every other major character either died, went into exile, or otherwise positioned for their role in the original trilogy.”

Since Jar Jar did not appear in George Lucas’ original films, the creative team behind Episode VII felt that an opportunity presented to reprise the character in a new setting.

“We understand that for many older fans who experienced the prequels in adulthood, Jar Jar wasn’t the most popular character,” confessed executive producer Kathleen Kennedy. “But kids liked him. They really did. And these films have always been directed primarily at a younger audience.”

Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who returns to the series with a pedigree penning The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, indicated that Jar Jar won’t be precisely the same Gungan we remember. “It’s been 50 years since last we saw him. Even a creature like Jar Jar matures in that amount of time. He has the same heart, but a little more grace and wisdom.”

So what do you think? Has the new trilogy just jumped the sarlacc?

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5 Ideas You Need to Escape Poverty

Sunday, March 30th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

 Editor’s Note: This article was first published in in January of 2013 as “5 Ideas You Need to Rise From Poverty to the Middle Class.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

It was like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy emerges from the grey remains of her dislocated home into an exotic world of color. That was how I felt at twelve years of age upon my arrival in Minnesota.

Home up to that point had been the dank flat malaise of inner-ring suburban Detroit. In many ways, the Motor City evoked Dorothy’s Kansas. Everything was built on the grid system, many right angles, old houses of stone and brick. It was tangibly dull, colors muted by wear and grime. Winters were especially bleak. An amalgam of overcast, endless concrete and dirt-ridden snow drowned the world in grey. By comparison, the big skies and rolling hills of the Mississippi valley seemed a storybook paradise.

That first trip to Minnesota was made in order to spend time with my father. He had been maintaining an apartment in the Twin Cities while starting a new position with Northwest Airlines. We were to scout out potential homes in anticipation of transplanting the rest of the family, my mother and two sisters. It was perhaps the most visceral manifestation of upward mobility in our family’s history, chasing opportunity across the country.

It was the culmination of my father’s economic journey, which had its beginnings in poverty. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about my father’s childhood aside from the scraps I’ve managed to glean from remarks thrown here and there. I know enough, however, to understand that my father’s rise to the middle class beat the odds — which were stacked against him from the start.

Many years later, I continue to benefit from the choices Dad made. Now the father of my own young family, I stand atop his shoulders looking to grab the next rung. From that position, I realize that some of the essential concepts my father applied are still relevant to me today. As I seek to renew the momentum my father achieved, I reflect upon where he began and how he got to where he did. There are valuable lessons there.

First, it’s important to understand the goal. When we consider the quest for upward mobility, what is our measure of success? In a 2011 piece for Time magazine, assistant managing editor Rana Foroohar makes a crucial distinction:

You can argue about what kind of mobility really matters. Many conservatives, for example, would be inclined to focus on absolute mobility, which means the extent to which people are better off than their parents were at the same age. That’s a measure that focuses mostly on how much economic growth has occurred, and by that measure, the U.S. does fine. Two-thirds of 40-year-old Americans live in households with larger incomes, adjusted for inflation, than their parents had at the same age (though the gains are smaller than they were in the previous generation).

But just as we don’t feel grateful to have indoor plumbing or multichannel digital cable television, we don’t necessarily feel grateful that we earn more than our parents did. That’s because we don’t peg ourselves to our parents; we peg ourselves to the Joneses. Behavioral economics tells us that our sense of well-being is tied not to the past but to how we are doing compared with our peers. Relative mobility matters. By that standard, we aren’t doing very well at all. Having the right parents increases your chances of ending up middle to upper middle class by a factor of three or four.

It’s a mistake to take for granted the notion that “relative mobility matters” without asking why. As we consider some ideas for rising from poverty to the middle class, it will become apparent that improving our individual quality of life is a superior consideration to how our wealth compares with that of others.

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7 Ways Noah Turns the Bible Upside Down

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

I had no intention of seeing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, a film releasing wider this weekend “inspired by the [biblical] story of Noah.” Though initial glimpses excited me, revelations regarding Aronofsky’s stark deviations from the biblical narrative blunted my interest. Word on the street was that Aronofsky sought to recast Noah in an environmentalist mold and completely abandon key biblical themes.

Thursday night, I found myself out and about with a couple of hours to kill and decided to catch an early screening. As it turns out, everything you’ve heard about the heresy in Noah proves true. Here are 7 ways Aronofsky’s Noah upends the Bible (major spoilers):

7. Return of the Ents

Yeah, you read that right. Ents, the giant walking trees from The Lord of the Rings. What, you don’t remember those in the Bible?

Okay, these aren’t ents precisely. They are “Watchers,” fallen angels who rebelled against “the creator” (God makes no appearance in the film) by descending to Earth to help mankind. They lumber about in clumsy stone bodies as punishment for their disobedience.

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Is Income Inequality a Problem?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Here, Ayn Rand Institute executive director Yaron Brook addresses the campaign against income inequality. What are the philosophical roots of this concern?

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Fast Food Vigilante Flips Lid Over Wrong Order

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Neither PJ Media nor this author condones violence for settling commercial disputes. That said, it’s hard not to sympathize with an Oklahoma guy who decided McDonald’s served him the wrong oder for the last time. From The Smoking Gun:

A female cashier told police that a vehicle came through the drive-thru late Tuesday night and the driver picked up an order. But after discovering that the McDonald’s bag was short an item, a male passenger became upset, according to police in Chickasha, a city 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

At that point, the suspect, who was in the vehicle’s back seat, pointed a gun at the employee and warned, “Don’t make me use this” and “Don’t let it happen again.”

We may never know, but it’s fair to bet this wasn’t the first time this suspect received an errant order from the drive-thru. God knows the rest of us have. While pulling a gun certainly amounts to an overreaction, we can imagine the train of thought which led to it.

How hard is it get a food order right? It seems especially egregious nowadays with all the technology and redundancies — computerized registers with pictures on the buttons, monitors for customers to verify orders, printed receipts to reference as a final check. How do you get it wrong? How?!

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Actor Chris O’Dowd: Religion to Become as Offensive as Racism

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
Really not into that God stuff.

Really not into that God stuff.

If there’s one thing the rise of gay marriage has taught us, it’s how dramatically public opinion can shift in a short period of time. A poll of Minnesotans taken shortly after that state became the twelfth to legalize gay unions found a radical 18-point shift in opinion among respondents aged 50 to 64 in just a few months. Sixty-eight percent opposed gay marriage in February of 2013. By June, that dropped to 50%.

Recall that President Obama, radical leftist that he is, only “evolved” on the marriage issue less than two years ago. Such observations suggest that radical social ideas can rapidly become mainstream given the right circumstances.

So when actor Chris O’Dowd predicts that religion will one day be widely considered as offensive and unacceptable as racism, I don’t immediately write him off. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Irish star of films such as The Sapphires and Bridesmaids says he grew up respecting people of faith despite his atheist views, but has become “less liberal” as he ages.

Now he says religious doctrine is halting human progress and brands it “a weird cult”…

O’Dowd has told Britain’s GQ magazine: “For most of my life, I’ve been, ‘Hey, I’m not into it, but I respect your right to believe whatever you want’. But as time goes on, weirdly, I’m growing less liberal. I’m more like, ‘No, religion is ruining the world, you need to stop!’.

“There’s going to be a turning point where it’s going to be like racism. You know, ‘You’re not allowed to say that weird s**t! It’s mad! And you’re making everybody crazy!’

While we may be a long way off from such a world, with the vast majority of Americans still claiming a religious affiliation. However, it’s not hard to imagine a radical shift toward the dystopia O’Dowd predicts.

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How 6 Green Lies Threaten To Starve Your Family

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in October of 2012 as “6 Green Lies Threatening to Starve You.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Ain’t prosperity grand? We have so much to eat in this country that we toss nearly half of it in the trash. At least that’s the finding of a recent study conducted by a prominent environmental organization. From the Los Angeles Times:

Americans are throwing out nearly every other bite of food, wasting up to 40% of the country’s supply each year – a mass of uneaten provisions worth $165 billion, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

An average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year, or 20 pounds per person per month, according to the nonprofit and nonpartisan environmental advocacy group.

Among the study’s prescriptions is a call for government “to set a target for food-waste reduction” as the European Parliament has. After resolving to reduce food waste, the body stated:

The most important problem in the future will be to tackle increased demand for food, as it will outstrip supply. We can no longer afford to stand idly by while perfectly edible food is being wasted. This is an ethical but also an economic and social problem, with huge implications for the environment.

The obvious alternative to any government “standing idly by” is its taking action. Whenever government takes action, it applies force. That is the NRDC’s ultimate prescription, to force Americans to reduce food waste. This is ironic since government action already plays a substantial role in the amount of food produced and consumed. The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards explains:

Farm subsidies damage the economy. In most industries, market prices balance supply and demand and encourage efficient production. But Congress short–circuits market mechanisms in agriculture. Farm programs cause overproduction, the overuse of marginal farmland, land price inflation and excess borrowing by farm businesses.

Force is not a morally permissible or practically effective means of guiding productive behavior. Our rejection of slavery is an acknowledgment of that truth. Yet the notion that government ought to act forcefully to prevent pollution and reduce waste remains popular. Why?

The case built by green movement organizations like the NRDC relies on a tightly wound knot of lies. These falsehoods appear in the NRDC’s mission “to safeguard the Earth, its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends,” as well as its “priority issues”:

    • Curbing global warming
    • Creating the clean energy future
    • Reviving the world’s oceans
    • Defending endangered wildlife and wild places
    • Protecting our health by preventing pollution
    • Ensuring safe and sufficient water
    • and; Fostering sustainable communities

Underlying this mission and these goals are six green lies which threaten to starve you and your family…

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You Want to Work for a Company Run Like This

Friday, March 14th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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I never thought the day would come when I got genuinely excited about business management. I do not own a business. Nor am I a manager. Be that as it may, I can’t stop thinking about the potential applications of something called “lean management.”

Have you ever trained in a new hire? If so, perhaps you’ve watched as their initial eagerness and exuberance fade into doldrum and routine upon their learning “how things are done around here.” Perhaps you advised:

No, you’re working too hard….

No, we don’t do it like that….

No, that’s not your job….

Listen, if you expect things to make sense, you’re just going to end up frustrated and disappointed. Go with the flow.

I must confess to having dispensed such advice on more than one occasion. Deep down, I have always resented it. Responding to the muted exuberance of a new hire, I recall my own lost exuberance and ask:

Why don’t things make sense around here? Why doesn’t it pay to work harder? Shouldn’t processes be as efficient as possible?

Meh, that’s above my pay grade. It’s for the managers to worry about. I’m just here for the paycheck.

Organizational structure and management style enable such fatalism and contribute to an inefficient and even antagonistic workforce. When initiative and innovation go unrewarded and even punished, the game becomes doing just enough in just the right way to stay below the radar.

Concisely introduced in the above video, lean management presents an alternative to the modern management style employed in most organizations. Instead of managerial authority, lean management concerns itself with managerial responsibility. Instead of judging performance by results, lean management judges performance by process, recognizing that properly performed processes will deliver intended results. Instead of coming up with an authoritative plan, lean management conducts experiments in a kind of scientific process utilizing feedback to constantly adjust the plan. Instead of making decisions in sterile conference rooms looking at data without context, lean management gets its hands dirty inspecting the value-creation process and asking workers about their work. Speaker Jim Womack outlines these points in greater detail in the video below.

You can begin to imagine what it might be like to work in an organization managed in this way. Exuberance and enthusiasm would suddenly become welcome and profoundly relevant. You would be encouraged to offer feedback and solicit experimental changes to processes. Your job would be safe when innovation fails, because it would be generally understood that experiments are experiments. When innovation worked, you would be rewarded and fulfilled.

The quirky genius of lean management is that it’s not even clever. It’s just the recognition of objective reality and the application of the scientific method to the craft of management. Things are what they are. Processes work how they work. And we ought to adjust our plans accordingly. It’s stupid brilliant.

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