Tag Archives: nick gillespie

Reason Magazine’s rightly praises Milton Friedman but makes foolish claim along the way

I must say that I have lots of respect for Reason Magazine and for their admiration of Milton Friedman. However, I do disagree with one phrase below. At the end of this post I will tell you what sentence it is.

Uploaded by on Jul 28, 2011

There’s no way to appreciate fully the contributions of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006), who would have turned 99 years old this weekend, to the growth of libertarian ideas and a free society.

This is the man, after all, who introduced the concept of school vouchers, documented the role of government monopolies on money in creating inflation, provided the intellectual arguments that ended the military draft in America, co-founded the Mont Pelerin Society, and so much more. In popular books such as Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose, written with his wife and longtime collaborator Rose, he masterfully drew a through-line between economic freedom and political and cultural freedom.

Yet his ultimate contribution to freedom and liberty is found less in any of the specific argument he made and more in the ways he made them. Friedman provided an all-too-rare example of a public intellectual who was scrupulously honest, forthright, and fair in every debate he entered. Whether he was duking it out with fellow Nobel Prize winners and other high-profile economists or making the case for the morality of capitalism with TV hosts such as Phil Donahue and angry students, he always argued in good faith, admitted when he was wrong, and enlarged the circle of debate.

Long after some of his technical points and social insights have been superseded, that commitment to relentless inquiry and search for truth wherever it takes us will survive.

Milton Friedman gave us something much better than revealed truth: He showed us the process by which we might continue to indefinitely learn about our world and the human condition. In this sense, the Friedman Century is far from over; indeed, it’s just getting started.

Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Produced and edited by Jim Epstein, with help from Jack Gillespie.

About 2.30 minutes.

For Reason’s coverage of and interviews with Milton Friedman over the years, go here now.


Here are the words that I take exception to: “Milton Friedman gave us something much better than revealed truth: He showed us the process by which we might continue to indefinitely learn about our world and the human condition.”

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am an evangelical christian. The fact is that we can’t possess ultimate answers apart from the reference point of the infinite personal God himself. Without this “revealed knowledge” then we are left in a hopeless case that gives us no chance at having any lasting meaning to our lives. 

I had the chance to correspond with Carl Sagan in the last year of his life. Sagan insisted that  prophecies from the Old Testiment were too vague but I have have not found that to be the case. (Also the evidence from archaeology backs up the historicity of the Bible.) Carl Sagan could not rid himself of the “mannishness of man.” Those who have read Francis Schaeffer’s many books know exactly what I am talking about. We are made in God’s image and we are living in God’s world. Therefore, we can not totally suppress the objective truths of our unique humanity. In my letter of Jan 10, 1996 to Dr. Sagan, I really camped out on this point a long time because I had read Sagan’s  book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors  and in it  Sagan attempts to  totally debunk the idea that we are any way special. However, what does Dr. Sagan have Dr. Arroway say at the end of the movie Contact when she is testifying before Congress about the alien that  communicated with her? See if you can pick out the one illogical word in her statement: “I was given a vision how tiny, insignificant, rare and precious we all are. We belong to something that is greater than ourselves and none of us are alone.” 

Dr Sagan deep down knows that we are special so he could not avoid putting the word “precious” in there. Schaeffer said unbelievers are put in a place of tension when they have to live in the world that God has made because deep down they know they are special because God has put that knowledge in their hearts.We are not the result of survival of the fittest and headed back to the dirt forevermore. This is what Schaeffer calls “taking the roof off” of the unbeliever’s worldview and showing the inconsistency that exists. 

In several of my letters I quoted this passage below:

Romans 1:17-22 (Amplified Bible)

17For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.(A)

    18For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

    19For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

    20For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],(B)

    21Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [a]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

    22Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].


Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical flow of Truth & History (intro)

Uploaded by on Oct 3, 2010


Some wise words below I got off the internet:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Infinite-Personal God: Thoughts from Francis Schaeffer’s Escape from Reason


Perhaps you are familiar with the indie band Arcade Fire. Their most recent album is entitled Neon Bible. The songs on Neon Bible certainly reflect something of the Bible itself in so far as it raises some of life’s biggest questions. Some of these questions are about fear, faith, love and disappointment. On the album is an update version of their song “No Cars Go” in which we hear the eerie tone of the line “Don’t know where we are goin.’ The line gives the listener the sense that there is no certainty to what our end is. This captures much of what I think indie music captures about our fragmented culture where the greatest questions are asked, but with very few answers.Because we live in a postmodern culture where many are not afraid to ask honest questions about life, the concept of faith is quite popular. Francis Schaeffer’s work and his book Escape from Reason have made a tremendous contribution to an understanding of Christian faith in this type of cultural context. In Escape from Reason, Schaeffer is clear in pointing out that the Bible reveals that God is both infinite and personal.He is the infinite-personal God whom created all things out of nothing and therefore the creation is finite or limited. Only God alone is the infinite Creator, the Creator without limitations. On the side of infinity, Schaeffer points out that, humans are “as separated from God as is the machine.” (pg. 26)On the side of human personality, Schaeffer is clear that humans, being made in the image of God, were made to have a personal relationship with God. Schaeffer states, “On the side of personality you are related to God. You are not infinite but finite; nevertheless, you are truly personal; you are created in the image of the personal God who exists.” (pg. 26-27)

As Schaeffer fleshes this idea out in Escape from Reason, he presents a clear Biblical view of human persons. About the Biblical view of the whole of a human being, Schaeffer states,

“It is not a Platonic view. The soul is not more important than the body. God made the whole man and the whole man is important. The doctrine of the biblical resurrection of the dead is not an old-fashioned thing. It tells us that God loves the whole man and the whole man is important. The biblical teaching, therefore, opposes the Platonic, which makes the soul (“the upper”) very important and leaves the body (“the lower”) with little importance at all. The biblical view opposes the humanistic position where the body and autonomous mind of man become important, and grace becomes very unimportant.”(pg. 28)

God made the whole human being and cares about the whole human being.Schaeffer goes on to point out the importance of understanding historically the philosophical schools that have help to shape where we are today. He points out that in Western philosophy, from the rise of Greek philosophy until now, the commonly held belief that the hope of finding complete answers which would encompass all of thought and life would come through rationalism plus rationality rather than rationality and faith in the God of the Bible. In his book Death in the City Schaeffer states,

The Bible puts its religious teaching in a historic setting. It is quite the opposite of the new theology and existential thought, quite the opposite of the twentieth century’s reduction of religion to the “spiritual” and the subjective. Scripture relates true religion to space-time history which may be expressed in normal literary form. And that is important, because our generation takes the word religion and everything religious and turns it into something psychological or sociological…a holy and loving God really exists, and He works into the significant history which exists” (Death in the City, pg. 17)

The philosophical thought during the time of Kant and Rousseau in the late 1700’s was a time of fighting for freedom. The freedom that was sought after was an autonomous freedom in which human freedom would have no restraint or limitations. The quest for this kind of freedom took place during a time when Western philosophy was rationalistic, rational, and sought to find a unified field of knowledge.Rationalism as Schaeffer puts it in Escape from Reason is “man begins absolutely and totally from himself, gathers the information concerning the particulars and formulates the universals.” (pg. 34) The term “rational” on the other hand has no relationship to “rationalism.” This term “rational” is the act in which “man’s aspirations for the validity of reason are well founded.” In other words, if something is true the opposite is not true. Schaeffer states,

The basic position of man in rebellion against God is that man is at the centre of the universe, that he is autonomous – here lies his rebellion. Man will keep his rationalism and his rebellion, his insistence on total autonomy or partially autonomous areas, even if it means he must give up his rationality.”(pg. 42)

With this quest for autonomy, humans began to view reality in which there is a large gap between nature and universals. Schaeffer states,

“The hope of a connecting link between two spheres has completely disappeared. There is a complete dichotomy between the upper and lower storeys. The line between the upper and lower storeys has become a concrete horizontal, ten thousand feet thick, with highly-charged barbed-wire fixed in the concrete…Below the line there is rationality and logic. The upper storey becomes the non-logical and the non-rational.”(pg. 46)

With this dichotomy, on the basis of reason human have no meaning, purpose, or significance. On the basis of the non-rational and non-reasonable humans obtain a sense of optimism. But from this worldview humans are left with the need to take a leap of faith because they cannot rationally search for God.

Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (1)

The search for significance is intrinsic to who we are as people made in the image of God. Humans made in the image of God cannot live as though they are insignificant. But humans cannot live in the lower storey and find adequate answers concerning meaning, purpose, and significance. Yet as Schaeffer states, “in our day, the sphere of faith is placed in the non-rational and non-logical as opposed to the rational and logical.” (pg. 75)

Schaeffer points out some consequences of pitting faith against rationality. First, if we separate the upper storey or the world of universals from nature there is no way of establishing a relationship between the upper storey and everyday life in regard to morality. Schaeffer states, “You cannot have real morals in the real world after you have made this separation.” (pg. 80) The second consequence is that the separation creates no adequate basis for law. God revealed something real in the common world of life. Third, the separation, “throws away the answer to the problem of evil.” Schaeffer states,

“the True Christian position is that, in space and time and history, there was an unprogrammed man who made a choice, and actually rebelled against God…without Christianity’s answer that God made a significant man in a significant history with evil being the result of Satan’s and then man’s historic space-time revolt, there is no answer but to accept Baudelaire’s answer [‘If there is a God, He is the devil’] with tears. Once the historic Christian answer is put away, all we can do is to leap upstairs and say that against all reason God is good.”(pg. 81)

Without Christianity’s answer to the problem of evil what we have left is an irrational leap of faith.Christianity thoroughly provides an answer, but rationalism must be renounced and rationality embraced. Christianity provides a world and life view with a unified answer. Schaeffer states,

“On the side of infinity…we are separated from God entirely, but on the side of personality we are made in the image of God. So God can speak and tell us about Himself—not exhaustively, but truly. (We could not, after all, know anything exhaustively as finite creatures.) Then He has told us about things in the finite created realm, too. He has told us true things about the cosmos and history. Thus, we are not adrift.” (pg. 83)

I do recognize now that doubt is real and that doubt’s role is significant in our lives and yet at a fundamental level we have answers to our cry, “Don’t know where were goin.” Although we cannot have ultimate answers without something revealed about God and God indeed is made known in the person of Jesus Christ. The person and work of Christ is communicated to us in the story that the Bible tells. It is the story of the infinite-personal God drawing near because he cares. God cares about the whole of a human being. There is not an area of our life that he does not care about and there is not an area of our life that is autonomous. The Bible says first that there is an infinite-personal God who created all things. Because he created all things the universe begins as personal. Because it is personal the longings of love and communication are intrinsic to all of humanity.God has also always existed and has created all things. Not only has God created all things, but created them outside of himself. Because he created all things outside of himself the world is objectively real and therefore there is a true history and a true me. Schaeffer states,

“If the intrinsically personal origin of the universe is rejected, what alternative outlook can anyone have? It must be said emphatically that there is no final answer except that man is a product of the impersonal, plus time, plus chance.” (pg. 87)

Humanism or rationalism says that humans can built bridges to ultimate answers apart from anyone else, apart from an infinite-personal God. But this is impossible given that humans are finite. Humans cannot point to anything with ultimate certainty. Regarding human quests for answers Schaeffer states,

“beginning only from himself autonomously, it is quite obvious that, being finite, he can never reach any absolute answer. This would be true if only on the basis of the fact that he is finite; but to this must be added the Fall, the fact of his rebellion.” (pg. 89)

We are not only finite and limited, but by nature our own quest for true significance and meaning takes place in autonomous rebellion against the God who is there.But we have hope. The Bible states clearly that humans are made in the image of this infinite-personal God and this gives us a starting point at which to seek for ultimate answers.The Bible says even as lost and broken as we are, seeking to live life apart from the life source, the image of God is still exhibited in humans. We are not like from machines or plants as beautiful as they might be, because we are personal. But how can we seek the infinite-personal God if we ourselves are finite humans?We cannot possess ultimate answers apart from the reference point of the infinite God himself. The humanist or rationalist puts himself at the center of the universe in order to seek ultimate meaning and answers. Schaeffer says this persons “insists on being autonomous with only the knowledge he can gather, and has ended up finding himself quite meaningless.” (pg. 90) The knowledge we can gather is limited and if it comes only from within we have no hope for ultimate answers regarding meaning and life.

Christianity does provide a worldview in which to wrestle with ultimate questions in not simply a theoretical way, but in a personal way. Schaeffer states,

“Christianity is a system which is composed of a set of ideas which can be discussed. By ‘system’ we do not mean a scholastic abstraction, nevertheless we do not shrink from using the word. The Bible does not set out unrelated thoughts. The system it sets forth has a beginning and moves from that beginning in a non-contradictory way. The beginning is the existence of the infinite-personal God as Creator of all else. Christianity is not just a vague set of incommunicable experiences, based on a totally unverifiable ‘leap in the dark.’ Neither conversion (the beginning of the Christian life) nor spirituality (the growth) should be such a leap. Both are firmly related to the God who is there and the knowledge He has given us – and both involve the whole man.”

I would add that the Bible is not just a system, but also a story. It is a story where God is the ultimate actor and also the one who has written the script. It is a story that reveals that the infinite-personal God is there and has drawn near to his people with a passionate pursuit. He is infinite and he is personal. As finite persons we can have hope that God has drawn personally near in the person of Jesus in whom the whole story points to. Jesus is also the one who grants us the privilege of being included in this great story as well. Jesus through his death and resurrection from death provides a way to live personally with this infinite-personal God. Our response to his grace in drawing near ought to be acknowledging our rebellion as we have insistence on being autonomous. The meaningful life comes through acknowledging our dependence on the God who is there and in Jesus Christ as The Way, The Truth, and The Life.The story continues to move forward unfolding toward a day when lost people from all nations will have their story included in the great story of God’s personal restoration of his people and the world. The story unfolds until one day we will know fully the God who is there. No longer must we live out our own story without a script. No longer must we live out our own story by the line, “Don’t no where were goin!”

Posted by Mark Peach at 10:31 AM


Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (2)


Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (Part 4)

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (Part 4)

Governor Rick Perry got in trouble for calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme and I totally agree with that. This is a series of articles that look at this issue.

Trains, Pensions, and Economic Freedom

by Timothy B. Lee

This article appeared on Forbes.com on August 17, 2011.

recently had the pleasure of reading The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America. The authors are Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, the former and current editors (respectively) of Reason magazine. They follow in the footsteps of Brink “liberaltarian” Lindsey, whose 2007 book The Age of Abundance portrayed libertarianism as the ideology of the sensible center in American politics, equally immune to the left’s enthusiasm for big government and the right’s enthusiasm for theocracy. The basic thrust of the Reasoneditors’ book is that the growing fraction of American voters who identify themselves as independents are really libertarians—at least in temperament if not explicit self-identification—and that what they want first and foremost is for the government to leave them alone.

This is the kind of book you’d expect the editors of a libertarian magazine to write, and they do a good job. The book has three sections. The middle section is the longest, and also the best. It tells some fun stories about ways the world has gotten freer over the last few decades. It tells how Czechoslovakia’s underground (and illegal) music scene inspired dissident Vaclav Havel and hastened the fall of communism. It explains how cartel-busting deregulation in the Carter era made air travel more affordable and beer more delicious. And it tells how the Internet is knocking traditional media off its pedestal.

The final third of the book, called “operationalize it, baby!” (yes, with an exclamation point), takes a curious turn. The opening chapter, called “we are so out of money,” makes two major points: government spends a lot of money on trains, and government spends a lot of money on benefits for public employees.

Timothy B. Lee is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. He covers tech policy for Ars Technica and blogs at Forbes.com.

More by Timothy B. Lee

At this point, a lot of readers must be scratching their heads. Aside from that section on airline deregulation, the first two-thirds of the book doesn’t say anything about transportation policy. Nor is the book a treatise on public pensions. So in what sense do these complaints about government spending “operationalize” the book’s previous arguments about the value of individual liberty?

Of course, I’m playing dumb here. I’m familiar enough with libertarian theory to know what the connection is supposed to be: the government spending more money on transportation infrastructure and the government telling you what kind of beer you can drink are both infringements of economic freedom. This line of reasoning is rooted in the work of hard-core libertarians like Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand, for whom all taxation was theft. (Rothbard was an anarchist, Rand had some confused ideas about financing government non-coercively)

If all taxation is theft, then the government subsidizing trains is as much an infringement on your freedom as the government banning small breweries. The problem is that Gillespie and Welch insist they’re not that kind of libertarians. In their epilogue, they write that they “went to public schools for all or part of our educations (as do/will our kids), walked without a second’s hesitation on public sidewalks, and are still not averse to calling tax-funded fire departments.” Evidently, they believe there are at least some kinds of public services that should be provided with tax revenues.

But if the government is going to provide fire departments and public sidewalks, then presumably it’s going to have to hire some employees. And those employees will probably expect some health care and retirement benefits. To be sure, there’s a need to reform public pensions, but this is a basically technocratic question that has little to do with economic freedom as such.

As for trains, not only does the subject have no obvious connection to economic freedom, but Gillespie and Welch don’t make a very compelling case that trains are particularly prone to mismanagement and boondoggles. To be sure, there have been a lot of wasteful train projects, but it’s easy to find examples of mismanaged projects involving other modes of transportation, all of which are also heavily regulated and subsidized by the government. The problem is that large bureaucracies are inefficient, not that there’s something uniquely bad about rail transportation.

More to the point, one of the big reasons train-based transit tends to perform poorly is that the government systematically discourages the kind of high-density development patterns that make trains economically viable. Trains are an efficient and popular mode of transportation in cities like New York, Philadelphia, and DC because there’s a critical mass of people within walking distance of each stop. But today, rules about minimum parking, setbacks, maximum building heights, and so forth effectively make it illegal to build neighborhoods like the high-density parts of Northeastern cities. Repeal those rules and wait a couple of decades, and some of these train boondoggles might start to make more sense.

In any event, the perennial argument between people who like trains and people who like cars has about as much to do with individual liberty as the Yankees-vs-Red Socks feud. Decisions about which modes of transportation the government should subsidize, and how, involve boring trade-offs between costs and benefits. There’s no reason libertarians, as such, should have a dog in the fight.

This isn’t really Gillespie and Welch’s fault. There are lots of libertarians who (like Friedman and Hayek) support more government than the night-watchman state, but who haven’t given a ton of thought to what that actually entails. The result tends to be haphazard advocacy of cutting whatever government spending is most visible at any particular point in time. This approach often has unintended consequences. For example, Matt Yglesias points out that efforts to reduce the federal government’s headcount has led to huge windfall profits for federal contractors. Good fiscal policy requires not only cutting wasteful spending (and to be sure there’s a lot to cut) but also making sure that those cuts don’t hinder the performance of the worthwhile government activities that remain. Thinking about government spending as a question of economic liberty can be more a hindrance than a help to that effort.