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Must Production Always Precede Consumption? Yes

Dear R:

You say this: “In any credit transaction we consume before we produce which is a reversal of causality.”

This is false. A correct statement would be, “When we borrow, we consume before we produce which is NOT a reversal of causality, since someone else had to first produce.” In a credit transaction, there are TWO sides. The borrower and the lender. Before the borrower can consume, the lender had to produce. So, production always comes before consumption. No exceptions.

Further, if an economy without credit were more productive, credit would be a negative on net balance. This is false. Credit allows for specialization and the division of labor. It transfers wealth, temporarily, from those who can use it less effectivley to those who can use it more effectively (if not, the lender will lose his money, and be less able to lend in the future.)


From: R
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2016 1:44 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Austrian Economics


I have a doubt in economics which I got after reading the Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand.

I would be highly obliged if you could help me with this query:-

Causality is an irreversible absolute. One cannot eat a cake before he bakes it. Therefore production is the cause and consumption is the effect. In any Credit transaction we consume before we produce which is a reversal of causality. Therefore any form of credit should not exist.

Where am I going wrong in my thinking?

Thanks and Regards


From: R
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2016 2:32 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Austrian Economics


Borrowing lets the borrower consume what the lender has produced without himself producing first.

If the borrower was not given a loan he would have to produce first and then exchange to consume. So in case of no credit the borrower would be forced to be more productive if he wanted to consume.

So basically the point that I am trying to make is that an economy without credit will be more productive because whoever wants to consume will first have to produce on his own first.

But the loan is “earned.” The lender agreed! Merely because he did not produce this wealth does not mean he didn’t earn it, or isn’t the rightful (temporary) owner of it. You didn’t produce the shoes or wrist watch you’re now wearing. You didn’t “earn” them in the sense of producing them. Instead, you traded for them with the wealth you did earn (or were given by your parents, which is also a legitimate way of earning, or owning). And the borrower traded something with the lender. The lender lent the borrower, say, $100 for one year. What did the borrower trade with him in order to obtain this $100 for one year? Why, a promisory note, obligating the borrower to pay the lender $110 in a year’s time, for example.

Basically I am trying to say one should not be allowed to consume the unearned. In case of a loan the borrower consumes the unearned first then earns and then repays.

Thanks and Regards



12:15 pm on January 14, 2019

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Suing for Fractional Reserve Banking and Embezzlement.

From: S
Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2016 3:56 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Against Fiduciary Media


I read your, Hans’ and Guido’s excellent 1998 paper entitled “Against Fiduciary Media”.  I appreciate that the issuance of fiduciary media constitutes a fraud, in that two people cannot both own the same property at the same time.  However, my question to you, which I don’t think is addressed in this paper, is this: Who could legitimately bring an action for fraud?  If the depositor knows that the bank will lend out his demand deposit and that the bank is keeping less than 100% reserves against this deposit, if the borrower from the bank also knows that the bank is doing this, if people to whom the depositor writes a check know that the bank is doing this, and if investors in the bank know that the bank is doing this, who can legitimately complain about or sue for fraud?


Dear S:

Thanks for mentioning this article of mine:

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann, with Guido Hulsmann and Walter E. Block. 1998. “Against Fiduciary Media,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 19-50, (http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae1_1_2.pdf);(http://www.qjae.org/journals/qjae/pdf/Q11_2.pdf); translated into Spanish and published as “Contra los medios fiduciaros,” Libertas, No. 30, May 1999, pp. 23-73; 2011 translation and reprint in Romanian Economic and Business Review

In my view, all those victimized for fraud can be sued for it. That is, all of those you mention. Who would be the plaintiffs? Everyone else. Who can properly sue the embezzler? All his victims. Fractional reserve banking is, in my view, akin to embezzlement.

Best regards,



1:51 am on January 14, 2019

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From: T
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 6:14 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Taking money from the Government

I enjoyed your discussion with Tom Woods. The questions I’m left with relate to once the money has been taken from the government. You made a distinction between the Marxist and Libertarian professor drawing a government pay check. Would it be okay to steal the stolen money from the Marxist but not the Libertarian, or both or neither? Perhaps embezzling from Goldman Sachs would be okay? Or do we say that once the ill-gotten gains are got back from the government, they are now legitimate? The Goldman Sachs could always say, “Yes, we made evil arguments to get the money, but we didn’t believe this stuff, and we’re really working for the demise of the system.” (Just as the person stealing from the Nazi motor-pool may have told the guard that he needed the truck to round up Jews.) What counts, the motivation, or the results of activism aimed at getting into the government purse?

Dear T:

I don’t want to say anything illegal, so I can’t answer your question with regard to the US or any other country I might ever visit. But, let’s suppose we are talking about the equivalents of the people, groups, you mention, only they are all located on Mars, or North Korea, or the USSR. Then, I would say, you have drawn the correct implications from what I wrote.

Actions are far more important than motivations in criminal law, in my view. But, motivations are also important. They distinguish between a tort (a motor vehicle accident) and a crime (someone purposefully rams his car into someone else’s car.)

Here are some of my publications on this issue:

Block, 1972, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009A, 2009B, 2010, 2011A, 2011B, 2011C, 2011D, 2012, 2016; Block and Arakaky, 2008, Block and Barnett, 2008, D’Amico and Block, 2007

Block, Walter E. 1972. “The Polish Ham Question.” The Libertarian Forum. June-July, Vol. 4, No. 6-7, p. 5; http://www.mises.org/journals/lf/1972/1972_06-07.pdf; http://mises.org/daily/4054; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block143.html

Block, Walter E. 2002. “Accepting Government Subsidies,” Fraser Forum, February, p. 27; http://oldfraser.lexi.net/publications/forum/2002/02/section_13.html

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Radical Libertarianism: Applying Libertarian Principles to Dealing with the Unjust Government, Part I” Reason Papers, Vol. 27, Fall, pp. 117-133;

Block, Walter E. 2006. “Radical Libertarianism: Applying Libertarian Principles to Dealing with the Unjust Government, Part II” Reason Papers, Vol. 28, Spring, pp. 85-109; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf; http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf; http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/28/rp_28_7.pdf; (death penalty justified, net taxpayer, ruling class analysis p. 87)

Block, Walter E. 2007. “Ron Paul and Matching Funds,” October 1;

Block, Walter E. 2008. “Replies to readers” September 23;
https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block108.html (libertarians hypocrites for using public school?)

Block, Walter E. 2009A. “Libertarian punishment theory: working for, and donating to, the state” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 1; http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/17-libertarian-punishment-theory-working-for-and-donating-to-the-state/

Block, Walter E. 2009B. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Guilt and Punishment for the Crime of Statism” in Hulsmann, Jorg Guido and Stephan Kinsella, eds., Property, Freedom and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, pp. 137-148; http://mises.org/books/hulsmann-kinsella_property-freedom-society-2009.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2010. “You are a rotten kid (rent control and libertarianism),” February 27;

Block, Walter E. 2011A. “It’s Ayn Rand Bashing Time, Once Again.” February 18; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block172.html
Block, Walter E. 2011B. “May a Libertarian Take Money From the Government?” March 11; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block175.html; https://www.lewrockwell.com/2011/03/walter-e-block/may-a-libertarian-take-money-from-the-government/
Block, Walter E. 2011C. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Guilt and Punishment for the Crime of Statism,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 22; pp. 665-675; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_33.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2011D. “Hoppe, Kinsella and Rothbard II on Immigration: A Critique.” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 593–623; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_29.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2016. “Is It Compatible With Libertarianism to be a Banker? Yes!” September 29; https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/compatible-libertarianism-banker-yes/

Block, Walter E. and Chris Arakaky. 2008. “Taking Government Money for Grad School?” May 23; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block100.html

Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166 June; http://www2.units.it/~etica/; http://www2.units.it/~etica/2008_1/BLOCKBARNETT.pdf

D’Amico, Dan and Walter E. Block. 2007. “A Legal and Economic Analysis of Graffiti” Humanomics Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 29-38; http://www.mises.org/journals/scholar/damico.pdf; http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContainer.do?containerType=Issue&containerId=24713; http://ssrn.com/abstract=1008525

This book of mine might be of interest to you:

Block, Walter E. 2012. Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty. Ishi Press; http://www.amazon.com/dp/4871873234;
http://www.amazon.com/Paul-President-2012-Liberty-ebook/dp/B0085IEQB8/; http://www.dailypaul.com/232336/new-book-on-ron-paul-by-walter-block;
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0085IEQB8#reader_4871873234; http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/product.aspx?ISBN=4871873234;
http://runronpaul.com/economy/why-do-economists-say-that-ron-paul-would-be-the-best-president-for-the-economy/; http://bastiat.mises.org/2012/06/defending-the-defendable/;


8:22 pm on January 12, 2019

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Dear Folks: read from the bottom up.

Dear I:

I agree with Murray Rothbard. The parent has no obligation to feed the child or to keep him alive. I admit this sounds horrid. But, does the parent have an obligation to notify others of that decision? Bring the baby to the orphanage or hospital? I argue that he does, and that this does not comprise a positive obligation:

Kinsella, Stephan. 2007. “The Blockean Proviso.” September 11;
http://archive.mises.org/7127/the-blockean-proviso/; http://blog.mises.org/?p=007127

Block’s Proviso: http://blog.mises.org/?p=007127

Block, Walter E. 2016. “Forestalling, positive obligations and the Lockean and Blockian provisos: Rejoinder to Stephan Kinsella.” Ekonomia Wroclaw Economic Review. http://ekon.sjol.eu/category/22-3-2016-529

Best regards,


From: I
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 7:04 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: RE: Question on Libertarianism


The thing about parents having a right not feed their children comes from Murray Rothbard’s book “The Ethics of Liberty”, page 100, where he writes:

Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive.

In an article in Mises Daily Stephan Kinsella wrote:

Finally, and to me most decisive: the libertarian could argue that the parent has various positive obligations to his or her children, such as the obligation to feed, shelter, educate, etc. The idea here is that libertarianism does not oppose “positive rights”; it simply insists that they be voluntarily incurred. One way to do this is by contract; another is by trespassing against someone’s property. Now, if you pass by a drowning man in a lake you have no enforceable (legal) obligation to try to rescue him; but if you push someone in a lake you have a positive obligation to try to rescue him. If you don’t you could be liable for homicide. Likewise, if your voluntary actions bring into being an infant with natural needs for shelter, food, care, it is akin to throwing someone into a lake. In both cases you create a situation where another human is in dire need of help and without which he will die. By creating this situation of need you incur an obligation to provide for those needs. And surely this set of positive obligations would encompass the obligation to manumit the child at a certain point. This last argument is, to my mind, the most attractive, but it is also probably the least likely to be accepted by most libertarians, who generally seem opposed to positive obligations, even if they are incurred as the result of one’s actions. Rothbard, for example, puts forward several objections to such an approach.

Doris Gordon proposed the same thing here.

I also saw a paper in which you addressed this problem and there you say that when someone abandons something, they must first let other people know, and the chance that nobody will adopt a child that is being abandoned is very low.

However the core of the problem, namely that sometimes the non-aggression principle can cause innocent people to die, is still not completely solved. Because all that Kinsella and Gordon have said, is that if one person puts another in a situation where he needs to be helped, he is obligated to help him. So if A takes B for boat ride, he cannot just through him off the boat. Because A willingly let him on. But if B hides in a closet in A’s boat, A would have a right to through him off – even in the middle of the Atlantic where he will certainly die. This is because A did not willingly let him on, and he is not obligated to let B use his property (his boat). So my question is, how is this moral?

Thank you very much,

—- On Mon, 15 Feb 2016 21:57:25 -0500 Walter Block


8:30 pm on January 8, 2019

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An Interesting Discussion About Property Rights, Homesteading and the Blockian Proviso

Read from the bottom up, so as to get the gist of this.

Dear G:

I congratulate you on your logic, your willingness to rigorously attempt take your argument wherever it logically leads to. However, I regard your conclusion as a reductio ad absurdum. I don’t agree with the logic you emply either. “Might makes right” can certainly determine who possesses property, but, not who the rightful owner is. The libertarian is concerned with the latter, not the former. I also disagree with the concept of “embordering.” I place a fence around a 10 square mile plot of land. I don’t think I own all the internal acreage since I didn’t homestead any of it. Also, in my view, Stephan Kinsella was kind enough to call this the “Blockian Proviso,” this is an illicit format for homesteading, since the person who does this (assume no helicopters, bridges, tunnels, world-class pole vaulters, etc.) controls land he has not homesteaded.

I’ve written about this here:

Block, Walter E. 2016. “Forestalling, positive obligations and the Lockean and Blockian provisos: Rejoinder to Stephan Kinsella.” Ekonomia Wroclaw Economic Review. http://ekon.sjol.eu/category/22-3-2016-529

Best regards,


From: G
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2016 12:51 PM
To: Walter Block
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

I was reacting to your “might does not make right” point. If there were a very wealthy person who had the “might”, meaning the resources, to effectively police the entire globe minus the small other plot, and before he acted the globe was virgin land, then I am arguing he could homestead the entire globe by using his resources to deny others access to the globe (without his consent) through use of a fence, helicopters circling overhead with guards using megaphones to yell “Get out of here”, laser beams covering the property that send out pain if crossed, etc. Sure, he is using force or threats, but if the land was virgin first, then he put all of this in place, I would say he has legitimately homesteaded the globe and is entitled to use this force or threats to keep people from trespassing.

From: Walter Block [mailto:walterblock@business.loyno.edu]
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2016 12:40 PM
To: G
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

Dear G:

Your point is correct, but I don’t see its relevance.

Best regards,


Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2016 11:37 AM
To: Walter Block
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

Might can make right in the context of self-defense of one’s body and legitimate property. I can point a gun at someone who trespasses on my property but is unarmed.

And the “might” to control the virgin globe minus that small plot would have to be unheard of wealth to afford to police every square inch of the globe effectively – sort of like the U.S. military!

From: Walter Block [mailto:walterblock@business.loyno.edu]
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2016 12:26 PM
To: G
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

You would too be able to evidence effective control of that large a portion of land if you were very strong. But, might does not make right.

From: G
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2016 11:24 AM
To: Walter Block
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights


I don’t think a literal definition of “mixing one’s labor with the land” makes sense. There has to be something more. Under that basis, if I build a two inch-wide fence around a (small) plot of virgin land, electrify it, and post outward-facing signs saying “Keep out” (in other words, there is no doubt I am only trying to homestead the small portion of land enclosed by the fence, not the rest of the globe), I would only have homesteaded the two-inch border of the land with which I “mixed my labor” when I constructed the fence, i.e., not even the interior small portion.

Per Hoppe, I think the more important and more general concept is to use your labor or legitimately-acquired other resources to objectively evidence effective control of something that was previously unowned. The larger the claim made the harder it will be to evidence effective control.

Thus, as per part of the original discussion in this thread, the reason building that fence cannot be an effective homesteading of the globe minus the small plot is that I would not be able to evidence effective control of that large a portion of land.


From: Walter Block [mailto:walterblock@business.loyno.edu]
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2016 12:05 PM
To: G
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

Dear G:

I disagree. In order to (initially, for virgin land) own something, you have to mix your labor with it. You have to homestead it. The owner of B did not do this,.

Let me try this on you. I put a fence around one acre of virgin land. According to you, I own that land, even though I never touched any of it. But, a circular fence enclosing one acre of land also encircles the entire globe, minus that one acre. Would you be so rash as to say I now own the entire planet (minus that one acre)?

Best regards,


From: G
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2016 8:27 PM
To: Walter Block
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights


My argument was that if the owner of B land effectively controls A land then he has homesteaded it. Per Hoppe, someone who has the objectively identifiable most direct link to a previously unowned asset has homesteaded it. If someone controls unowned land, doesn’t he satisfy this test?

I’m sorry, but given I have a full-time job I can’t write a scholarly rejoinder, so I guess I’ll just keep watching this space!


From: Walter Block [mailto:walterblock@business.loyno.edu]
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2016 4:12 PM
To: G
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

Dear G:

With forestalling, the owner of B land controls A land without having homesteaded the latter. That is contrary to deontological principles.

Dear K:

This article has been accepted for publication:

Block, Walter E. Forthcoming. “Forestalling, positive obligations and the Lockean and Blockian provisos: Rejoinder to Stephan Kinsella.” Ekonomia Wroclaw Economic Review

So, it is now your turn if you want to write a rejoinder. G, ditto.

Best regards,


From: G
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2016 9:38 PM
To: Walter Block
Cc: K
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights


Having read your forthcoming piece, I have to say I’m much more sympathetic to K’s views as you articulate them in your paper.

You place a lot of emphasis on “the libertarian ideal that all of the earth’s surface should come under private ownership.” I haven’t seen that libertarian ideal developed from first principles before: it seems neither just nor unjust for less than 100% of the world to be privately owned. There is no justice in the percentage; it is merely an arithmetic measure.

Further, it seems to me that to argue thus against forestalling is to argue consequentially: if we allow forestalling, we may not achieve our ideal percentage, ergo, forestalling is illegitimate.

And, if there is one, isn’t the “libertarian ideal” to minimize conflict over scarce resources, rather than privatize 100% of the earth (as nice as that might be)? You can certainly achieve the former without the latter.

Further, when you say that there is “yet another principle of libertarian homesteading: that no one may control land he himself has not homesteaded”, that sounds tautological. If you control (previously unowned) land, haven’t you thereby homesteaded it? Isn’t it like saying “No one may be a bachelor unless he has not married”?

I don’t see where in the Rothbardian formulation of property rights acquisition the “easement based on need” arises. The easement is not arising from homesteading unowned land (when C dies, why does his land necessarily become unowned?) , nor from voluntary transfer, and the forestalling party B has not committed any wrong against the trapped party A’s body or property, so there is no claim for restitution. I would argue, instead, that if B effectively controls the forestalled land, he has homesteaded it (if it were unowned).

As to the parent who refuses to feed her baby, I don’t think we need to rely on “invalid positive obligations” to save the baby. It is consistent with libertarianism for voluntarily assumed positive obligations to exist. To wit, if a parent brings a child into this world then she is voluntarily assuming the positive obligation to care for that child until the child can do so itself. This is the principle that if you voluntarily put someone in a situation of danger, you assume the positive obligation to rectify things. If, in breach of this obligation, the mother is derelict, one could argue that anyone else who comes along and is willing to voluntarily assume the positive obligation of care can act legitimately to take the baby, on the grounds that the baby would ratify this act if it were of decision-making age (the boundaries of this principle in any private legal system would need to be developed from the ground up by local courts).

Anyway, very interesting stuff. I look forward to K’s rejoinder article.


From: Walter Block [mailto:walterblock@business.loyno.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:39 AM
To: K, G
Subject: RE: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

Dear G:

K and I disagree on homesteading borders:

Block, Walter E. Forthcoming. “Forestalling, positive obligations and the Lockean and Blockian provisos.” Ekonomia Wroclaw Economic Review

Dear K:

It is now your turn.

Best regards,


—–Original Message—–
From: K
Sent: Tue 8/16/2016 10:19 PM
Cc: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

On Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 8:16 PM, G wrote:


On the land homesteading, very well, I accept your examples make some good
points. However, Walter’s original answer was a flat “no” to homesteading
a large area of land by fencing it. I think that could be sufficient in
some cases: for instance, if I construct an electric fence with signs on
the outside saying “Keep Out”. Do I have to do more?

I don’t know. And I agree, that if, as a practical matter, you control an
access area that prevents people from homesteading the middle, or getting
to it, it’s similar to homesteading the middle. I guess. Because ultimately
property ownership doesn’t mean the right to control it means the right to
exclude others from using.

In fact this may be what motivates Walter’s opposition to doing this donut
thing! — see e.g.

Your point about not sufficiently policing it suggests you can abandon by
being passive, as opposed to abandonment requiring actual intent. But what
if your desired use is just to own some vacant land next to your house to
ensure you have no neighbors. It would look like you’re not actively using
it, or profiting from it, but is that sufficient to constitute abandonment?

“look like” is the key, I think. If you see them doing it, you can warn
them or something. That is public and conspicuous. That’s one reason the
civil law distinguishes between these cases– for example if I see someone
squatting and confront them, and agree to give them (say) a 50 year
lease–then they are not ‘tolling’ the statute of limitations/acuqisitive
prescription because they are holding it “under color of title” or whatevr
the doctrine is called. They are doing it ostensibly with my permission.
bUt if they refuse to sign the lease and insist they own it, and use it in
open defiance of my demands, and I never take physical or legal action to
oust them, then after a cetain time (say, 30 years) we would say, their
title is good–so I have effectively abandoned it.

And, of course, your comments about what might be abandonment must assume
some initial homesteading — by building the fence? — since you cannot
abandon what you don’t first own.

this is too complicated to discuss here–I think you don’t need actual
homesteading or even actual ownership to base your claim on–precisely
because onwership disputes are always between 2 or more real peoplel, so
the law just makes A and B trce title back to a “common ancestor” C. THen
it figures out who has the better claim “since C”. It doesn’t matter if C
actually can trace his title back to Adam. but agian this is too
complicated to explain here. But I think in many ways the law gets it
rihgt, but it’s complicated and the nuances and solutions like thes are not
well known to people trying to deduce things from scratch. armchair
theorizing can be perilous!


On Aug 16, 2016, at 12:21 PM, K

On Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 9:10 PM, G

Walter and K:

As to the apple, don’t you have to first argue (absent contract) that
keeping the apple is appropriate compensation for the trespass (that is, is
not excessive compensation for the trivial trespass)? If by accident I
drop a very valuable diamond over the fence, can you say keeping the
diamond is appropriate compensation for the trivial trespass? If my dog
runs into your yard for a minute, can you keep my dog? Your argument
(Walter) seems to suggest “yes” to both of these hypotheticals. This is
the Venus fly trap theory of compensation. And, Walter, since you advocate
that our bodies can be alienated (I know K disagrees), if I trespass
on your land can you seize and own my body?

I agree /w G here.

As to the land homesteading, I don’t understand what your argument is.
If constructing a fence is not sufficient, how can you ever homestead land,
since you won’t “touch” all of it? What percentage do you have to
“touch”? Are we back in Locke’s “mixing labor with land” regime? If I
lasso a horse in the wild, have I only homesteaded its neck, since I won’t
have touched all of it? Am I misinterpreting Hoppe’s embordering
concept? Surely putting up a fence creates an objective, direct link.

It’s not always sufficient, in the cases you are imaginging, IMO. For one
thing, the surface of the earth is not really flat, it’s spherical, so a
circular fence encloses the “inside” as well as the “outside.” Or imagine
building a fence on the equator–does this mean you now own teh en tire
earth? Or you build a small circular fence at the north pole–does this
mean you have homesteaded the entire planet? Etc. I think there are limits
to how much you can homestead. This ties in with Rothbard’s “relevant
technological unit” and with practical concerns too. For one thing if you
homestead a million acres somewhere, then unless you are actualy actively
using and policing it, and thus profiting from most of it, you won’t have
hte resources to regularly patrol it and kick off squatters. It’s expensive
to own land, to maintain it. So if you don’t, you will tacitly be
consenting to the use by the squatters and after some time you wll be
considered to have abandoned it and the current owners will have
re-homesteaded it. This is called acquisitive prescription in the civil
law and I think it is a concept that makes rough sense from a libertarian
perspective. I agree w/ Nozick (?) that if you dump a can of tomato soup
into the ocean that means you lose ownership of the soup, instead of
homesteading the whole ocean.

What am I missing? If you fence 10 square feet but don’t touch any of
it (you fence from the outside), have you not homesteaded that small parcel
of land? Maybe you’ve homesteaded only the land outside the fence on which
you walked!


On Aug 15, 2016, at 8:48 PM, Walter Block <walterblock@business.loyno.edu


Dear K and G:

Please allow me to introduce the two of you to each other. Whenever I
come across libertarian issues of which I’m not entirely sure, K is
one of the primary people I consult with.

K and I agree on #7. If you homestead the perimeter of a big
circle, you don’t own the entire circle. You only own what you actually
homestead. And, if the circle has a large amount of land in it, you didn’t
even touch most of it.

As to #1, K you’re discussing what implicit contracts might well
arise, and I agree with you. But, suppose there are no implicit contracts,
for any reason. In my view, if an adult (kids complicate matters) hits his
ball onto my property, I’m now the rightful owner of it, I think. Ditto for
an apple dropping onto my property. It would be nice if I returned both,
but supererogatory. The ball, and the apple are in effect trespassing onto
my property.

Does looking at this issue from the perspective where people are total
strangers change your analysis of it?

Best regards,


—–Original Message—–
From: K

Sent: Sun 8/14/2016 8:40 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: FW: Homesteading and Private Property Rights

Hmm. I think I agree with him on 1. I think I agree wtih you on 7. As for
1, the case seems analogous to me to the baseball. If I accidentally toss
baseball into your yard, does that mean you own it now? I don’t see how
that’s automatically teh answer. Especially if we assume community norms
indicate tacit consent by property owners for such minor uses–so that
not even trespass to drop an apple or baseball into your yard. If you have
a laden apple tree hanging over my yard I suppose I could warn you that
apples that fall are considered trespass and bounty, and to demand that
cut back your tree, and if you don’t do so, then you forfeit any apples
that fall onto my demesne. However most people would not do this. But my
view is: some custom would emerge, over time, in a given region. If A’s
tree overhangs B’s estate Blackacre and drops fruit onto blackacre–who
owns the fruit? I would imagine that if the amount is trivial, no one
cares. If B eats it, A is in no position to complain. If A asks politely
for permission to come collect his fruit, maybe B charges a rent or a
favor, and everyone is happy. I imagine something would be worked out. But
whichever way the law develops, as a default–in A’s, or B’s, favor–then
contractual institutions would arise in response thereto–Coasian style
(not that I want to endorse Coase).

On Sun, Aug 14, 2016 at 2:00 PM, Walter Block <
walterblock@business.loyno.edu wrote:

Dear K:

Was I wrong on this? How do you answer the kid’s baseball challenge?

Best regards,


—–Original Message—–
From: G
Sent: Sun 8/14/2016 8:58 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Homesteading and Private Property Rights


I want to push back on two of your responses to “EP”:

1) If I had an apple tree on my property and an apple fell down to my
neighbor’s property who has property of the apple?

<< neighbor

If I own the apple tree then I own its apples unless I (a) voluntarily
transfer them, (b) abandon them, or (c) violate someone’s rights and the
proportional remedy principle allows someone else to rightfully claim
the apples. In this case neither (a) nor (b) would apply since both
require a manifestation of intent to transfer or abandon, as the case may be, and
the tree accidentally dropping an apple cannot be a manifestation of my
intent. If you are relying on (c) I would argue that there has been no
intentional violation of my neighbor’s rights, and thus he cannot use
Kinsella’s estoppel principle for restitution/punishment; and there has
been no actual damage caused so why would the neighbor have any remedy?

Are you claiming that if a kid playing baseball in his backyard
accidentally hits his ball into the neighbor’s yard (without causing any
damage) the neighbor can refuse to give the ball back?

7) What does someone have to do to own property by homesteading. if I
built a fence around a 10000 square mile aria I wouldn’t own all that land or
would I?

<< no

Why “no”? Per Hoppe’s “embordering” concept I have taken purposeful
action with my legitimately-owned resources to objectively separate this
(assumed previously unowned) land from all other land and I have the
most direct link to this land of anyone. If your answer is “no”, then it
must be “no” for any size area, even 10 square feet. If fencing unowned land
does not amount to effective homesteading, what would?



9:11 pm on January 7, 2019

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From: D
Sent: Saturday, February 27, 2016 9:08 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Are there any free market statisticians on the planet?

Please introduce me to any that you know, via email

Dear D:

Here is some empirical work on the Austrian business cycle (I suppose their authors thus qualify as “free market statisticians”):

“Austrian business cycle theory: Empirical evidence” by Bismans and Mougeot, in the Review of Austrian Economics. http://www.citeulike.org/article/4152750

Butos, 1993; Carilli and Dempster, unpublished, forthcoming; Cochran, Yetter and Glahe, 2004; Cochran, 2011; Gallaway and Vedder, 1992; Hughes, 1997; Keeler, 2001; Montgomery, 2006; Mulligan, 2002, 2005, 2006; Murphy, 2009; Murphy, Barnett and Block, 2010, 2012; Powell, 2002; Wainhouse, 1984; Young, 2005

Butos, William N. 1993. “The Recession of 1990 and Austrian Business Cycle Theory: An Empirical Perspective,” Critical Review, 7:2/3, 277-306; http://emp.trincoll.edu/~butos/.

Carilli, Anthony M., Gregory M. Dempster and Henrik Rasmussen. Unpublished. “Is Austrian Business Cycle Theory Still Relevant?”

Carilli, Anthony M., Gregory M. Dempster and Henrik Rasmussen.
“Is the Austrian Business Cycle Theory Still Relevant?” is forthcoming in the RAE and available here: http://www.springerlink.com/content/gkm76137828r4167/

Cochran, John P. 2011. “Hayek and the 21st Century Boom-Bust and Recession-Recovery” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, vol. 14, no. 3 (Fall): 261-285.

Cochran, John P., Yetter, Noah, and Glahe, Fred R. 2004. “Capital-Based Macroeconomics: Boom and Bust in Japan and the U.S.” Indian Journal of Economics and Business, vol. 3, no. 1, 1-16.

Gallaway, Lowell, and Vedder, Richard. 1992. Out of Work: Unemployment and Government in 20th Century America. New York: Holmes and Meier

Hughes, Arthur M. 1997. “The Recession of 1990: An Austrian Explanation.” Review of Austrian Economics 10(1): 107–123.

Keeler, James P. 2001. Empirical Evidence on the Austrian Business Cycle Theory.” Review of Austrian Economics. Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 331-351

Montgomery, Michael R. 2006. “Austrian Persistence? Capital-based Business Cycle Theory and the Dynamics of Investment Spending.” Review of Austrian Economics 19(1): 17-45.

Mulligan, Robert. 2002. “A Hayekian Analysis of the Term Structure of Production,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 5(2): 17-33

Mulligan, Robert.2005. “The Austrian Business Cycle: a Vector Error-correction Model with Commercial and Industrial Loans,” Journal of Private Enterprise Fall, 22(1): 51-91

Mulligan, Robert. 2006. “An Empirical Examination of Austrian Business Cycle Theory,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 9(2): 69-93

Murphy, Robert P., William Barnett II and Walter E. Block. 2010. “Testing Austrian Business Cycle Theory? A Rejoinder to Andrew T. Young” Journal of Business and Economic Perspectives, Vol. XXXVII, No. 2, Fall/Winter, pp. 14-28; http://www.academia.edu/1359870/Testing_Austrian_Business_Cycle_Theory_A_Rejoinder_to_Andrew_T._Young

Murphy, Robert P., William Barnett II and Walter E. Block. 2012. “Testing Austrian Business Cycle Theory? A Second Rejoinder to Andrew Young.” Romanian Economic and Business Review; Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 7-20; http://ideas.repec.org/a/rau/journl/v7y2012i3p7-20.html

Murphy, Robert P. 2009. Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal, Regnery

Powell, Benjamin. 2002. “Explaining Japan’s recession,” the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer): 35–50; http://mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae5_2_3.pdf

Wainhouse, Charles E. 1984. “Empirical Evidence for Hayek’s Theory of Economic Fluctuations,” in Barry N. Siegel, ed. Money in Crisis: the Federal Reserve, the Economy, and Monetary Reform. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Co., pp. 37-71.

Young, Andrew T. 2005. “Reallocating labor to initiate changes in capital structures: Hayek revisited.” Economics Letters. Vol. 89, No. 3, pp. 275-282

Young, Andrew.

Best regards,



2:54 pm on January 5, 2019

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From: N
Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2016 8:17 PM
To: walter block
Subject: The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility

The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility: Each successive unit of a good grants its owner less utility than the previous unit.

Counter Example: I have a bike missing it’s two tires, surely the first tire I buy would grant me less utility than the second.

Did I go wrong? If so then where? N

Dear N:

For most economic issues, the proper unit is one apple, or one chicken. For shoes, it is two shoes, or a pair, at least usually. With regard to bike tires, the proper unit is two of them, also. Ditto for cars: four.

I suggest you read this:

Rothbard, Murray N. 1982. “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution,” Cato Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring; reprinted in Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, Walter E. Block , ed., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1990, pp. 233-279; http://mises.org/story/2120; http://www.mises.org/rothbard/lawproperty.pdf;

and search for “technological unit.” Not only will this help solve your problem, it is also the very best essay ever written on environmental economics.


7:27 pm on January 4, 2019

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Centralism Versus Decentralism? Neither, For The Libertarian

From: J
Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2016 4:06 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Jim Crow & States’ rights

Do you believe that the repeal of state-forced segregation (not the illegalisation of private discrimination, of course) in the American South should’ve been handled at the state level, instead of in Washington? In other words, should certain been allowed to retain such laws of forced segregation if they wished, as their right as sovereign states?

Dear J:

I am neither a federalist nor an anti federalist. I don’t favor the states of the feds, nor the reverse. I’m a libertarian. So, I pick and choose on the basis of the specific issue. For example, when President Reagan threatened the NYC mayor that unless he got rid of rent control, the federal govt would withhold funds from NYC, I favored the federal govt vis a vis the city government. On the other hand, when the federal governemnt is in the wrong vis a vis the states, I favor the latter. For example, the feds should not own land in the 50 states. But, out of context, if I didn’t know the specific issue, I incline toward decentralization; states prefereed to the feds.
On the segregation issue, I don’t think govt has a right to impose this. So, regarding southern state segregation, I favored the federal govt that wanted to stop this. On the other hand, suppose the fed govt wanted to impose state segregation on a state. Then, and only then would I support the “sovereign” states, not because they are sovereign (for the anarcho capitalist libertarian, only the individual is sovereign) but because, then, they would be more closely promoting justice.
Best regards,



2:23 pm on January 4, 2019

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Murder, Attempted Murder? Part II

The other day, I attempted to answer a philosophical, legal, puzzle from a libertarian perspective (as is my wont). See here for this attempt: https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/murder-attempted-murder-i-need-help-on-this-one/. This concerned poisoned water, and who was the murderer.

In this essay, I called for help, since I didn’t think I had nailed it. I received two very insightful responses, from S (he says both X and Y are the murderers) and P (he says X is the murderer). See these responses below. I agree with S, both X and Y are guilty, but, for different reasons. S’s reason is that there really is no relevant difference between actual and attempted murder. I cannot see my way clear to agreeing with that. I see a gigantic difference, from the vantage point of libertarian punishment theory, between someone who tries and fails to murder someone else, and someone who succeeds in this evil deed. Yes, they both had equal mens rea, guilty intent, bad motive, but one succeeded in this, and the other failed.

Why, then, to I think both X and Y are guilty of murder? I think so because suppose both of them were in league with each other. They conspired, together, to murder the innocent victim, and, yet, each of them would be charged, if found, only with attempted, not actual, murder. We libertarians can’t allow them to get away with that! True, we can posit they each acted alone. But, intriguing, challenging, questions call for desperate responses. The point is, if they acted in concert, clearly, both are murderers, neither is merely an attempted murderer. If they did not, still, in baseball, the tie goes to the runner. Here, I think the “tie” (or better yet, the irrelevancy) should go to the Draconian end of the spectrum. Hang ’em both high, X and Y, say I!

Again, I don’t quite think I’ve nailed this one. All I can do is the best I can, in the hope that my (and S and P’s) attempt(s) will call forth an even better answer.

Isn’t this a great way to start off the new year!!!???!!!!

From: S
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2019 7:51 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: RE: Murder? Attempted murder?

Dear Walter,

You listed these options:

X guilty of murder, Y guilty of attempted murder
Y guilty of murder, X guilty of attempted murder
X and Y both guilty of attempted murder

I speculate that Solomon in his wisdom would instead pronounce them both guilty of murder. For what is the moral difference between successful and unsuccessful attempts? Both X and Y intentionally took (normally) adequate steps to ensure the victim’s death – only by fluke did X’s attempt fail, yet he was still murderous in his heart (as Christ condemned). Both X and Y desired the victim’s death, and were willing to arrange it by their own hands, thus both ought to be punished accordingly.

The distinction between attempted murder and actual murder is a legal one (and, obviously, a practical one). How various legalists would assess the case, though, I wouldn’t dare to speculate.



From: P
Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2019 10:37 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Poisoned Water Problem

Hi Walter,

Regarding the poisoned water, before Y appeared on the scene X had already sealed your fate, barring some supposedly highly unlikely intervention by man or nature (I won’t mention any god, as you are an atheist). Therefore if someone needs to be charged with murder, it should be X. Y should be charged with attempted murder, since Y’s action did not affect the ultimate outcome (your death).

BTW it was a pleasure meeting you at the Mises Circle in Seattle a couple of years ago, even though you seemed to not like my comment that philosophy makes my teeth hurt (that is not strictly true – I agree with many other libertarians that lack of a coherent philosophy is a serious failing of many “conservatives”). I just find theoretical mathematics to be less “slippery” to grasp than abstract philosophy.

In Liberty,



2:28 pm on January 3, 2019

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Murder? Attempted Murder? I Need Help On This One

From: A
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 11:55 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Murder question

Dear Walter,
A friend asked me this question. Any ideas?

Suppose you are traveling through the desert with just enough water to get to the other side. X wants to kill you and poisons your water in the middle of the night. A few minutes later, Y, who also wants to kill you, dumps the water, not knowing it was poisoned. You then die of dehydration. Who gets charged with murder?
Thanks a lot! A

Dear A:

X is guilty of attempted murder. He tried to murder you, but failed. You didn’t drink the poisoned water, due to Y’s act. Had you drunk it, X would have been guilty of murder. Y is guilty of murder. He poured out your water. Of course, had you drunk it, than, as I said, X would have been guilty of murder. On the other hand, Y did “save” you from drinking poisoned water, even though it was not an attempt to help you. So, he was also guilty of attempted murder? No. You’re dead. We can’t have two attempted murderers, X and Y, and no actual murder. Someone’s gotta be guilty of murder. I vote for Y.

An economist was once asked, “How’s you wife?” Came the answer, “Compared to what.” Your question is really a difficult one. If it were easy, you wouldn’t be asking me about it. So, I vote for Y, as murderer, even though it is not clear that he is in fact, actually a murderer. There is a strong case for calling Y, also, merely an attempted murderer. But, that would leave us with two attempted murderers, X and Y, and no actual murderer, which I think is highly problematic. So, my first vote is for Y as murderer. If, somehow, God got into this and rejected my analysis, I’d then vote for both X and Y as murderers, even though, a strong case can be made for considering not only Y, but also X, as merely attempted murderers.

Sorry, I can’t do better on this. I wish I could. But, the best way to deal with difficult challenges, I find, is to do the best you can, and hope that what you write will help someone else come up with a better answer. Maybe, without my imperfect attempt, this other person would not be able to definitively answer the question, and with it, he can. So, my attempt, imperfect as it is, will still be of help in getting that proverbial one millionth of an inch closer to the Truth.


7:20 pm on January 2, 2019

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