While growing up, I had the good fortune to live in two consecutive homes that were each a block away from their town’s respective libraries. From fourth grade through junior high, I had easy access to books, tapes, videos, and even video games available for check out. I spent a lot of time in the library, browsing and grazing, checking out volumes piled higher than I could ever read in the time allotted.
Among those many books were the Star Wars novels of Timothy Zahn. Now known as “the Thrawn trilogy,” they began with 1991′s Heir to the Empire. Set several years after Return of the Jedi, the Thrawn trilogy continued the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo as they fought the remnant of a collapsing Empire and confronted a new disturbance in the Force.
Zahn’s novels triggered an explosion of new Star Wars fiction spanning books, comics, video games, and more. In 1996, collaborators went so far as to develop a “movie without the movie” called Shadows of the Empire. The idea was to create merchandise around a story as if promoting a film. There was a Shadows novel, a video game, and even a fully orchestrated soundtrack for a film which was never actually produced. The story connected the events of The Empire Strikes Back with Return of the Jedi.
In later years, the timeline of this Expanded Universe became jam packed with stories detailing the fates of “the Big Three” along with their friends and offspring. Jacen and Jaina Solo, twin children of Han and Leia, joined their brother Anakin and their nephew Ben Skywalker on perilous and transformative adventures which spanned several stories across many mediums.
So when Disney acquired the Star Wars brand in 2012 and announced plans to produce Episodes VII, VIII, and IX set in a time period well covered by the Expanded Universe, obvious questions emerged. How would they work around the existing stories? How would they present the offspring of Luke, Han, and Leia? How would they tell consequential new stories without trampling upon established lore?
Lucasfilm has finally provided an answer, and it comes in the form of a soft-reboot. Precedent can be found (perhaps not coincidentally) in J.J. Abrams previous major sci-fi refurbish – Star Trek.
With Trek, Abrams and his writing team devised a way to have their cake and eat it too. They used the plot devices of time-travel and parallel universes to effectively reset the Star Trek universe, enabling future stories to take creative new directions without adhering religiously to established canon.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: By what magic do actions which would incriminate an individual or private group suddenly become legitimate when performed by government? Taxation. Eminent domain. Mandates. Regulations. What makes any of it okay?
In the above clip, Star Trek superstar William Shatner tells Jesse Ventura that Hilary Clinton could bring people together as president of the United States “so that something could be accomplished.” Shatner claims that the “fundamentalists on both ends are not where it’s at.” Instead, he points to the mushy middle of “compromise,” heralding Clinton as the leader who can get us there.
There’s a reason why the rhetoric of compromise reigns among those favoring increased government control of individual lives. If the goal is to increase control, any compromise between increasing it a lot and not increasing it at all will resolve in increasing it some. If the goal is raising taxes, any compromise between raising them a lot or not raising them at all will result in a raising them some. If the goal is increased spending… you get the point.
Obamacare emerged as a compromise between the “fundamentalist” Left, as Shatner might refer to them, and a conviction against socialized healthcare. Instead of single payer, which the radical Left would have preferred, we got a mixed system of profound cronyism designed to morally and financially bankrupt the healthcare industry as a step toward single payer. Yay for compromise! Funny how one side gets what they want, just to a lesser extent or at a slower rate.
How about it? Is Shatner right? Should compromise for the sake of accomplishing something be our goal? Or have we reached a point beyond which compromise is reasonable?
Side note: how would Kirk vote?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: An interview with Minnesota State House candidate Matthew Kowalski on his unique approach to policy. Instead of an “issues page,” his campaign website highlights “THE issue.” Which overarching concern eclipses all others?
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: The Supreme Court recently upheld a Michigan law banning the practice of affirmative action in public universities. The dissenting opinion authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor reveals a twisted worldview which seeks “equal protection” through racial discrimination.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn engaged host Larry King on a recent episode of Politicking, answering questions regarding Obamacare and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Her answers were strong, but missed an opportunity to dispute false premises. Republicans must dare to be truly different.
On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Presenting to a Tea Party group in Minnesota, Minority Liberty Alliance president Walter Hudson explains why every human being can rightfully claim minority status.
Editor’s Note: A goal for weekends this year has been to start highlighting and promoting some of PJ Lifestyle’s tremendously talented writers. See this collection here of our Top 50 List Articles of 2013 to get a broad overview.
Now we’re going to begin focusing more on individual writers. The first in this series is my friend Walter Hudson, a gifted jack-of-all-trades writer-podcaster-political-activist-culture-warrior who continually challenges and inspires me. I included five of Walter’s list articles in the top 50 list but there are many more pieces of his in other styles and mediums those who are new to his work should read. In addition to these five I’ll select five more that showcase some of his core themes for volume one of his greatest hits collection. But to get started, I invite you to check out these installments of Walter’s addictive podcast that were featured the past two weeks at PJ Lifestyle.
Get caught up each weekend on the podcasts you may have missed as these expanding compilations grow when new episodes are recorded and released. Over the coming weeks Walter is going to continue to build on and explore these and more themes in his own monologues and in dialogues with more guests. If you have any feedback or ideas for subjects you’d like Walter to explore please leave your suggestions in the comments.
- Dave Swindle
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:
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.
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?
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?”
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?”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
“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.
Another Fort Hood shooting where trained military personnel were unarmed and ordered to hide like children. What’s wrong with this picture?
(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.)
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?