Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2017 10:19 AM
Subject: Involuntary Commitments blog on Lewrockwell
Professor Block, I wanted to thank you for your recent post on lewrockwell about Involuntary Commitments (https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/involuntary-commitments/). Yours is the first post that I’ve seen in all these years that addresses what I’ve seen as a real weakness in the libertarian community. I’ve had enough interactions with people to know that many people need help to pull themselves up. Whether it’s because of mental illness, trauma’s suffered, circumstance, an unlucky turn, you name it, life isn’t easy. Life is hard and some people get crushed underneath it. I suppose I’ve reached a point where the further away the government we’re talking about the more strict libertarian I am, but the closer to home we’re talking about the more pragmatic I become. Welfare at the federal level versus the local city or town level are two completely different things. I’ve seen too many people beaten down by the government school system, or the drug war, or poverty, or abuse, (and yes, as you mention much of this would be alleviated by a more libertarian system) that if some of my local tax dollars goes to fund a local abused woman’s shelter, or a local foodbank for the homeless, or a reading program at the local library to help children, yeah, I can get behind that. I think that where Libertarians shine brightly is in understanding the big picture, the core principles that drive big problems. But sometimes I also think that after years (or decades) of seeing all the horrible things that government has done, it becomes easy for libertarians to stick their nose up at the world (and the people suffering in it) and subtly confuse their deep understanding of what ails the country with genuine compassion. Your comments were the first I’ve seen that broaches this topic. Sincerely, the 80% Libertarian. C
Dear C: Without government, the poor would be much better off. The state takes half the GDP and wastes most of it. They use a lot of their “share” of our production to regulate us, and make us even less efficient. Even so, charitable giving is generous. Without the statists, it would be much higher. I don’t think we need fear for the plight of the helpless in the free society. Nor am I a big fan of federalism; let the cities and states solve problems, not the federal government. The state is the state is the state; it is evil at any and all levels. Yes, other things equal, we libertarians expect better from local than central governments, but this is not always the case. President Reagan once threatened NYC with dire consequences for their local rent control ordinances. I favored him over them in that episode. Hopefully, this experience will now raise you to 81% libertarian, or more.
Readings. On federalism: Block, Walter E. and Stephan Kinsella. 5/24/05. “Federalism.”
On charity, poverty:
Anderson, G., 1987; Anderson M., 1978; Beito, 2000; Block, 2001, 2011; Brown, 1987; Delery and Block, 2006; Elder, 2016; Hazlitt, 1969; Higgs, 1995; Knight, Simpson and Block, 2015; LaBletta and Block, 1999; Moscatello, McAndrews and Block, 2015; Murray, 1984, 2006; Niskanen, 2006; Olasky, 1992; Piven and Cloward, 1993; Richman, 2001; Rothbard, 1996, 1998; Sowell, 2014; Tucker, 1984; Williams, 2014. For a critique of Murray, 2006, see Gordon, 2006.
Anderson, Gary M. 1987. “Welfare Programs in the Rent Seeking Society,” Southern Economic Journal, 54: 377-386
Anderson, Martin. 1978. Welfare: The Political Economy of Welfare Reform in the United States, Stanford: Hoover Institution
Beito, David. 2000. From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State. Chapel Hill, NC: University
of North Carolina Press.
Block, Walter E. 2001. “Transfers in Kind: Why They Can be Efficient and Nonpaternalistic – Comment,” International Journal of Value-Based Management, pp. 191-199; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/transfers_in_kind.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2011. “Toward a libertarian theory of charitable donations.”
Economics, Management, and Financial Markets. Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 9-28; http://www.addletonacademicpublishers.com/abstracts/economics-management-and-financial-markets/volume-64-2011/toward-a-libertarian-theory-of-charitable-donations-to-criminals-governments.html; http://www.addletonacademicpublishers.com/component/option,com_sectionex/Itemid,103/id,23/view,category/#catid143
Brown, Arnold. 1987. “The Shadow Side of Affluence: The Welfare System and the Welfare of the Needy,” Fraser Forum, October.
Delery, Jeanette and Walter E. Block. 2006. “Corporate Welfare,” Markets and Morality; Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall, pp. 337-346; http://www.acton.org/publicat/m_and_m/new/index.php?mm_id=6; http://www.acton.org/publicat/m_and_m/new/article.php?article=37; http://www.acton.org/publicat/m_and_m/pdf/9277645.pdf
Elder, Larry. 2016. “Black fathers matter.” June 13;
Gordon, David. 2006. “A Man, A Plan, A Flop.” Mises Daily. April 24;
Hazlitt, Henry. 1969. Man vs. the Welfare State. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House.
Higgs, Robert. 1995. “The Myth of ‘Failed’ Policies.” The Free Market. June. Vol. 13, No. 6. http://www.mises.org/freemarket_detail.asp?control=239&sortorder=articledate
Knight, Victoria*, David Simpson*, and Walter E. Block. 2015. “Welfare: The Negative Societal Effects.” Acta Economica et Turistica. Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 77-93; http://188.8.131.52/exchange/walterblock/Inbox/Re:%20%20_x003F_Welfare:%20The%20Negative%20Societal%20Effects._x003F_%20Acta%20Economica%20et%20Turistica-2.EML/1_multipart_xF8FF_2_AET%20Vol%201%20No%201.pdf/C58EA28C-18C0-4a97-9AF2-036E93DDAFB3/AET%20Vol%201%20No%201.pdf?attach=1; http://hrcak.srce.hr/index.php?show=toc&id_broj=12165; http://hrcak.srce.hr/index.php?show=clanak&id_clanak_jezik=221911
LaBletta, Nicole and Walter E. Block. 1999. “The Restoration of the American Dream: A Case for Abolishing Welfare,” Humanomics, Vol. 15, No 4, pp. 55-65
Moscatello, Rick, Megan McAndrews* and Walter E. Block. 2015. “Satisfied with Poverty: An Argument for Ending Welfare.” Journal of Leadership and Management; Vol. 3, No. 5, http://leadership.net.pl/index.php/JLM/article/view/75; reprinted in Leadership and Management: Emerging, Contemporary, and Unorthodox Perspectives, Szpaderski, Adam and Christopher P. Neck, editors
Murray, Charles. 1984. Losing Ground: American Social Policy from 1950 to 1980, New York: Basic Books
Murray, Charles. 2006. In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State. Washington, D.C.: The AEI Press
Niskanen, William. 2006. ‘Build a Wall around the Welfare State, Not around the Country,’ Cato Policy Report. September/October;
Olasky, Marvin. 1992. The Tragedy of American Compassion, Chicago: Regnery Gateway.
Piven, Frances Fox and Richard Cloward. 1993. Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, New York City, NY: Vintage.
Richman, Sheldon. 2001. Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State. Future of Freedom Foundation
Rothbard, Murray N. 1996. “Origins of the Welfare State in America,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2, Fall, pp. 193-230
Rothbard, Murray N. 1998 . “Welfare and the Welfare State.” In The Ethics of Liberty, Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, pp. 160-193; http://www.mises.org/rothbard/ethics/ethics.asp
Sowell, Thomas.2014. “Welfare does not work.” http://www.targetliberty.com/2014/11/thomas-sowell-welfare-does-not-work.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TargetLiberty+%28Target+Liberty%29
Tucker, William. 1984. “Black Family Agonistes,” The American Spectator, July, pp. 14-17.
Williams, Walter E. 2014. “Black People Duped.” March 4;
Walter Williams documentary: http://www.suffernofoolsfilm.com/preview.php
1:11 pm on June 11, 2017 Email Walter E. Block
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