Life - Liberty - Property


Storyboarding homework! My take on a sequence from Ayn Rand’s Anthem.

Know what you want in life and go after it. I worship individuals for their highest possibilities as individuals. And I loathe humanity for its failure to live up to these possibilities.
Ayn Rand, on a 1936 publicity form for We the Living

This is exactly what happened.


This is exactly what happened.

Notes: Federalist Paper #14


Title: Objections to the Proposed Constitution From Extent of Territory Answered
Author: James Madison (Publius)
Date: November 30, 1787

Volume: 1 - The Union
General topic: The Importance of unity to security
Specific Topic: How a republic can work in a big country

Paraphrased outline:

  • We have now outlined how unity will protect against foreign threats, keep domestic peace, guard commerce, prevent a military state and subvert factions.
  • Yet some still argue that unity isn’t possible, because the country is too big to be governed by a single Constitution.
  • But this argument comes from thinking that democracies and republics have the same limitations. The reality is that, while democracies must remain small to function, republics can be large because they use representation.
  • The confusion comes from European monarchists who have never seen republics like the ancient Greeks and Romans’. But we now have the opportunity to reintroduce representative government to human history.
  • The major limit of democracy is that the people have to travel to a central point to voice their input. And some say the same limit exists for a republic, because the representatives still have to travel to a central point, which disconnects them from the constituents they represent. 
  • But our colonial representatives have already been representing the constituents of the 13 colonies - and in an area about the size of Germany or Poland.
  • There are also other reasons a representative republic will work for us…
  • The federal government will not replace the state governments. It will be limited, and the state governments will retain their authority.
  • The Constitution will also be applicable to any new states that are created as our territory expands west.
  • Travel and communication between the states will only get better.
  • Union will balance our benefits. Those states closest to the heart of the Union will receive the most immediate benefits from it, but those furthest will receive a greater benefit from the protection union can provide against the dangers of the frontier.
  • Let “good sense,” rather than fear and error, drive your thinking about these things. Don’t listen to those who suggest we cannot live in unity or should not be a republic.
  • If we learn from others and from the past while also relying on our own knowledge and experience, we will set a great example for the rest of the world. This is the attitude that won our Revolution after all.

Big Idea:

  • Representation will allow a republic to function across an expansive country. The Constitution will apply to everyone, but the states will still be allowed to govern themselves. We should give Unity a chance.

Favorite lines:

  • “The general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited… The subordinate governments…will retain their due authority and activity.”
  • “Never suffer difficulties, however formidable in appearance or however fashionable the error on which they may be founded, to drive you into the gloomy and perilous scene into which the advocates of disunity would conduct you.”
  • “…the mutual guardians of their mutual happiness…”
  • “The kindred blood which flows in the veins of American Citizens, the mingled blood which they have shed in defense of their sacred rights, consecrate their Union and excite horror at the idea of their becoming aliens, rivals, enemies.”
  • “Is it not the glory of the people of America that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?”
  • “To this manly spirit posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example, of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theater in favor of private rights and public happiness.”

Personal thoughts:

  • I appreciate that Madison gives us an overview of what’s been covered so far before he changes subjects.
  • …And I appreciate that he leaves out Hamilton’s dubious “revenue” argument.
  • Madison assumes that pure democracy is impossible—and it certainly was in his time. But is that still the case today when we have the internet to connect us across distances? (Of course, the possibility still wouldn’t stop democracy from being a tyranny of the majority.)
  • I like that Madison assures that the federal government’s “jurisdiction is limited” and that the states will retain the ability to govern themselves. It seems like we’ve moved away from that.
  • Madison doesn’t specify whether improved travel and communication between the states will be the result of private industry for government programs. Since he lists it as a reason for union, I’m going to guess he means government programs.
  • I’m a little disappointed that Madison ends this piece with poetic, emotional rhetoric. …But it’s still better than Hamilton’s.

[Full Text]


Seizure of indigenous land, 1776-1887
James what are you feelings about the Gaza/Israel situation? On one hand I understand that Israel had to defend itself against terrorists but what about the innocents in Palestine getting caught in the crossfire?


PS. And what is the Biblical/Christian view? Do we support Israel no matter what?

Hi Anon,

This is a great question.

But before I answer, let me say that Christians can disagree on this topic and still be Christians. It’s not an essential belief of the faith, so it’s not something we need to divide over.

But since you asked for my opinion, I’ll tell you honestly.

A short history of Israel and Palestine

In AD 70, Rome attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. This forced the Jewish people to scatter across the globe in what is known as “The Diaspora.”

Over the centuries, many other nations fought for control of the Promised Land. The Crusades are the best-known example, but most recently it was controlled by a “British Mandate”.

Meanwhile, the Jewish people established themselves in other countries—especially in Europe. And though they assimilated well into these other cultures, they also preserved their Jewish heritage and religion.

But following the anti-Semitic horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, the world decided the Jewish people needed their own country again. So, in May of 1948 the United Nations set up the new political state of Israel.

The only problem was that the land wasn’t exactly empty. Palestinian people were already settled there. And they had lived there for generations with homes, families, farms and businesses.

In order for the new Israeli state to be established, the Palestinian people had to be forced out. And that’s exactly what happened. Israel and the UN removed the Palestinians from their homes and forced them into refugee camps and settlements in Gaza.

Ever since then, the Palestinians have been fighting back, the Israelis have been defending themselves …and both sides have committed horrible atrocities against each other.

(Check out what Biblical Scholar N.T. Wright has to say about it here) 

Why Some Christians Support Israel

So that’s the context of the situation. But the more important question you ask is about how Christians should respond. Do we support Israel no matter what?

A lot of Christians would say yes, and their reasons tend to fall into three categories:

  • Some believe Israel is politically important, because it is the only democracy in the Middle East (and therefore the United States’ best ally there).

  • Some believe Israel is historically important, because it has a role to play in the End Times.

  • And some believe Israel is spiritually important, because the Israelites are the Biblical People of God.

The Bible never tells us that Christians should support democracy. In fact, it doesn’t give us a lot of political direction one way or the other. So Christians can support Israel for being a democracy if they want to, they just can’t argue that their reasons for doing so are Biblical.

The Bible has more to say about the End Times, and people like to dissect and debate the prophesies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation …but I try to avoid these discussions.

For one thing, the details of the End Times are not an issue of essential doctrine, so it’s not worth getting into arguments over. Yet some Christians become obsessed with this topic to the point that they neglect our true calling.

For another thing, no one is ever going to figure out the End Times before they happen anyway. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus will come back for us, God will finally defeat evil, creation will be renewed ….and no one will see it coming. Beyond that, the Bible is pretty vague. So any speculation about details—like whether or not Israel will play a role—are pretty meaningless to me.

God’s People

This leaves the spiritual reason some Christians support Israel: The Israelites are the Biblical People of God. And while I have a lot more respect for this argument, I don’t necessarily agree with it.

Because the Bible has always defined God’s people as people of faith.

This definition applies in the Old Testament. Some people who weren’t biologically Jewish were included with God’s People because they had faith—people like Rahab and Ruth. Other people who were biologically Jewish were excluded because they didn’t have faith—people like King Saul and King Ahab. And God’s Old Covenant with the Israelites even defined His relationship with them in terms of their faithfulness.

This definition also applies in the New Testament. Any Gentiles who had faith were welcomed as God’s people. And Jesus taught that any Jewish people who rejected Him would also be rejected by God. Paul even wrote that the People of God weren’t necessarily Abraham’s biological descendants, but the descendants of God’s promise to Abraham—a promise that was fulfilled in Jesus.

So the People of God have always been those people who have put their faith in God through Jesus. It’s not about race or nationality, it’s about faith.

This means the current nation of Israel isn’t necessarily the People of God, and we Christians have no Biblical obligation to support it or its government.

I Support Peace

Back to Israel and Palestine—At this point, both sides have legitimate reasons to be upset. The Israelis have now lived in the land for a couple generations and consider it to be their home. And the Palestinians have been displaced by the Israelis for a couple generations and still want justice.

But both groups have reacted to this tension with increasing violence. There have been so many raids, kidnappings, bombings and civilian deaths over the past six decades that neither side can be considered blameless against the other. And the best efforts of outside governments—which caused this whole mess in the first place—haven’t been able to end the warfare.

At the moment, Hamas, a Palestinian authority/terrorist group, has been firing missiles into Israel, and Israel has been firing missiles back. It’s not the first time it has happened, and it probably won’t be the last.

But that’s what we get when governments try to fix the world by force.

No matter what, I can only support peace. So as long as both sides insist on using indiscriminate violence against each other, neither will have my support - but both sides will have my prayers for protection.

As I said at the beginning, Christians can disagree on this topic. So I’m not interested in debating it with anyone who disagrees with me. You asked for my opinion, and I gave it. Feel free to take it or leave it.

But I hope it was helpful.

Peace, love and Jesus,

Notes: Federalist Paper #13


Title: Advantage of the Union in Respect to Economy in Government
Author: Alexander Hamilton (Publius)
Date: November 28, 1787

Volume: 1 - The Union
General topic: The Importance of unity to security
Specific Topic: How union creates a bigger pool of government money

Paraphrased outline:

  • We should consider the economy as well as revenue, because it will also affect how much money the government is able to tax.
  • If the states are united, all taxes go to the same government. But if they are divided, that money will be split up and each confederacy will see only a part of it.
  • Most people who advocate for confederacies envision three: One composed of the four northern states, one composed of the four middle states, and one composed of the five southern states. Each would be bigger than Great Britain.
  • Any region that size could only be governed by a government at least as comprehensive as the one proposed by the Constitutional Convention, so we might as well do with the proposed one.
  • We can also expect that separate confederacies would form alliances according to their own economic interests. Coastal states will want to strengthen themselves through international trade, while more inland states will want to strengthen themselves on the frontiers.
  • Unity will allow us to protect ourselves from foreign economic competition, regulate and tax domestic trade and combine all revenue from the people into one pool of funds.

Big Idea:

  • Unity will bring government revenue into one pool rather than dividing it up among several confederacies.

Favorite lines:

  • “The money saved from one object may be usefully applied to another.”
  • “The thirteen states will be able to support a national government better than one half, or one third, or any number less than the whole.”

Personal thoughts:

  • Hamilton laments that under certain economies “there will be so much less to be drawn from the pockets of the people.” I am amazed that he got away with saying things like that to the people.
  • Hamilton mentions “civil lists” several times. I wish he would define what he means by that term.
  • While talking about the economy, Hamilton suggests we give the government the “authority required to direct the passions of so large a society to the public good.” Again I hear hints at socialism.
  • Here, Hamilton concludes and summarizes how unity will serve the government’s financial needs. But this argument would only useful for selling unity to other political leaders — It certainly isn’t appropriate when trying to convince the average citizen.

[Full Text]

Pearls Before Swine (6-16-14)

Pearls Before Swine (6-16-14)


We watch our own people more closely than we watch any other population in the world.
NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who this week explained that the NSA collects most of its data about Americans in America — not people in other countries, as the agency has led us to believe. (via hipsterlibertarian)