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Dear D: You ask, “… is it really worth all the trouble for me to play the university’s games and get a degree?”

My friend Tom Woods has asked me to respond to this letter of yours. First, let me say that I share your admiration for Tom. If there were a Tom Woods fan club, I’d join, with alacrity. I, too, have learned, and greatly so, from him.

Now to answer your question.

Is it worth it? It all depends upon your goal, and your taste for risk. If want to be a college professor and have a low taste for risk, then it is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE that  you play the academic game: get your bacheolor’s degree, and then the phd.

You will not be able to get a job teaching at a university without a phd. Yes, you will have a hard row to hoe at your present university. I imagine that none of your econ professors have even heard of Austrian economics; on the rare occasion they have, either they think it has something to do with the economics of that country in Europe, or they hate and revile it, dismissing it as a cult. But, the glass is always half full. There is benefit in learning mainstream economics. If you want to criticize it from an Austrian point of view, you must, first, learn it. (Also, I suggest you stay in the Austrian closet for as long as you can bear it; most neoclassical profs will not be tickled pink hearing devastating critiques of their views from the praxeological perspective.) Happily, though, now, you can get your phd in economic with a strong Austrian flavor at several universities. When you get to that stage, do get back to me for further suggestions.

On the other hand, if you have a high taste for risk, and want to earn a living as an Austrian economist (not as a university professor!), you could quit school right now, and try to do so. I don’t recommend that at all. It will be a long uphill struggle (not that getting a phd is a piece of cake). You might have to support yourself as a waitor, or barrista, as do many would-be actors, while you continue writing from an Autrian point of view and try to pick up some consultancies, or via a blog, like Tom. I really, really recommend against this course of action.

Also, do not turn up your nose at “biotech or astronomy.” My undergrad degree, at Brooklyn College, also had a liberal arts program. I was forced to take physics, chemistry, biology, history, literature, etc., etc. Tom Woods is not a narrow economist. His interest range widely over history (his phd), economics of course, but also, philosophy, politics, law, science, etc. Tom’s and my mentor, Murray Rothbard, was if anything, even more wide ranging. There was scarcely a field about which Murray was ignorant.

If you find this response insufficient, please feel free to get back to me. Also, you may want to peruse this material:

July 24-30, 2011 Auburn, AL, Mises University; Debate with Gary North on higher education; http://mises.org/events/110;http://media.mises.org/mp3/MU2011/10_MisesU_20110726_Block.mp3http://media.mises.org/mp3/MU2011/27_MisesU_20110727_Block.mp3;http://media.mises.org/mp3/MU2011/16_MisesU_20110726_Block-North_Debate.mp3; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/93031.html; http://www.garynorth.com/public/9121.cfm

Block, Walter E. 2008. “Attention Students: Should You Get Your Ph.D. and Become a Professor?” June 28; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block104.html (contra Gary North)

Block, Walter E. 2012. “Contra Gary North,” June 1; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/113384.html

Block, Walter E. 2012. “Contra Gary North,” June 1; (normative-positive; grad school) https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/contra-gary-north/

Careers in Austrian Economics

From: Thomas Woods [mailto:tom@tomwoods.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, May 22, 2019 12:36 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Fwd: Is it worth it?

Walter, perhaps this would make good blog post?





Is it worth it?


Dear Tom,

I have recently stumbled upon your podcast and have inevitably fallen into the Austrian Economics rabbit hole. I visit the Mises Institute page daily and listen to your podcast as often as I’m allowed the time to do so along with other libertarian/austrian voices. The knowledge I’ve gained from all of you has changed my life more than any other education I recall having received. I’m now passionate about austrian economics and libertarianism and will even be attempting to start my own podcast with my brother because I believe these things so deeply.

I’m really writing to you though because I’m in great need of advice. I’m currently (and unfortunately) a college student at my local university, XYZ University. I want to study economics but because I simply cannot afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to somewhere like George Mason University, I’m stuck with my state colleges that obviously do not teach proper economics. I feel as though I’m stuck because I want to have a career as an austrian economist but am lead to believe that the only way I can get a career is by following the nonsensical college education system that requires me to take general education courses like “careers in biotech” or “astronomy” or whatever thing that has absolutely no relevance to what I desire to study.


My question is: Is it possible for me to get to where you are without having to waste my time playing the game of college education or is it really worth all the trouble for me to play the university’s games and get a degree? I am member of your liberty classroom and have been trying to study there and love it, but because I have to focus on college assignments and a part-time job I’m left with little time to actually do so. Even if it were the case that I was able to get all the education out of your program, I don’t think businesses or employers would really care that much about it because they don’t see it as an established university.

I appreciate all that you do and the knowledge you continue to spread.


The post Advice on Economic Careers appeared first on LewRockwell.

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My Debate With Dr. Adrian Moore of Reason On How Radical We Libertarians Should Be

(I usually keep my correspondents anonymous, but I asked him about this and he had no objection to me sharing his identity. I corrected a few spelling mistakes; otherwise, what appears below is the full exchange. I thank Mike Rozeff for impressing upon me the importance of keeping these letters in the correct order, so that people do not have to read “from the bottom up.”) I think this is a good illustration of the difference between people associated with the Mises Institute (I cannot of course speak for this organization) and a typical “Beltway” libertarian organization

He started off this debate-conversation with:

Letter 1:

From: Adrian Moore [mailto:adrian.moore@e.reason.org
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2019 10:02 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Dealing with marijuana impaired driving as marijuana is legalized


My wife is a former narcotics officer and Drug Recognition Expert instructor. She has seen a great many drivers much too high to be behind the wheel, but also many drivers with marijuana in their system but who were not impaired at the time they were driving.

As states legalize marijuana for medical or adult recreational use, it is important that we ensure that we don’t see an increase in driving while high, nor punish drivers who are not high but have marijuana in their system.  

In a new report A Common Sense Approach to Marijuana-Impaired Driving I team up with my wife to lay out how states can tackle this challenge. As parents we don’t want to see more driving while high, but don’t think responsible marijuana use should be punished any more than responsible drinking.

In the study we talk about what states are already doing, the challenges of a toxicology based per-se standard like the 0.08 blood alcohol level for drunk driving, and how to make more and better use of effective Drug Recognition Expert officers and field sobriety evaluations. We also discuss how to improve the transparency, accountability and fairness of these tests and impaired driving enforcement to protect everyone involved.

We hope this study will help decision makers in your state. Please share this information with anyone you know who can use it. And if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.


Dr. Adrian Moore

Vice President, Reason Foundation

Letter 2:

On Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 3:01 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

Dear Adrian:

Why not privatize the roads, and let free enterprise deal with this challenge?

Block, Walter E. 2009. The Privatization of Roads and Highways: Human and Economic Factors; Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute; http://www.amazon.com/Privatization-Roads-And-Highways-Factors/dp/1279887303/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336605800&sr=1-1; available for free here: http://mises.org/books/roads_web.pdfhttp://mises.org/daily/3416http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/radical_privatization.pdf; audio: http://store.mises.org/Privatization-of-Roads-and-Highways-Audiobook-P11005.aspxhttp://www.audible.com/pd/Business/The-Privatization-of-Roads-and-Highways-Audiobook/B0167IT18K?tag=misesinsti-20http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bf16b152ccc444bdbbcc229e4&id=6cbc90577b&e=54244ea97d


Best regards,


Letter 3:

From: Adrian Moore [mailto:adriantmoore@gmail.com
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2019 9:54 AM
To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: Re: Dealing with marijuana impaired driving as marijuana is legalized

Walter, as I think you know we have been advocating privatizing the roads for over 30 years in countless studies and several books. This study is not about that, but a different topic.

Imagine we have succeeded in privatizing the roads, and you own a nice set of them.  No one is going to pay you to use your product if you allow anyone to drive on it regardless of how drunk or high they or. Or whatever speed or vehicle.  If you want to provide a product–roads–that customers will use, it has to be a reasonably safe one.  Unfortunately for now the government still owns the roads, so the rules to make them safe are laws.  In that setting, how do we make rules for enforcing against actual, measurable, impaired driving, while not punishing people who may use pot but are not impaired. That is what our study is all about.

Letter 4:

On Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 4:51 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

Dear Adrian:

I appreciate your point. However, I’m not in sympathy with your study. Why not? It is too much like being a (Milton Friedmanian – Bob Poolean) efficiency expert for the state. The government is evil. The way I see things, it is highly problematic for a libertarian such as yourself to offer these people suggestions for running their enterprises more effectively.

Best regards,


Letter 5

From: Adrian Moore [mailto:adriantmoore@gmail.com
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2019 6:25 PM
To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: Re: Dealing with marijuana impaired driving as marijuana is legalized

Walter, you choose to advocate and wait for the revolution. I chose to advocate for the revolution and meanwhile work on incremental progress. Not to make the government more efficient unless that is a side effect of making it less intrusive on our liberties. The two things often go together, though not always.   The government currently dramatically impinges on our liberties in their efforts to manage the roads they own and operate. If, while working to privatize roads, I can also help move to rules and enforcement that are more fair and respectful of liberty, I will seize the opportunity to do so.  I’d argue that our two approaches are complementary and you need both to achieve real progress towards liberty.  We share the same goals, and I do not criticize your approach, but respect it while also choosing my own approach based on my theory of social change. I wish you would do the same.

Letter 6

Dear Adrian:

I follow Murray Rothbard on this. He, too, like you (and me) “advised” the government. But, he (and I) limited himself to “advising” the government to lower taxes, pull troops back home, deregulate, end the fed, get rid of CAFÉ, socialized medicine, etc. all areas where there is a clear and unambiguous move in the direction of freedom.

However, libertarians associated with Reason, Cato, etc., do WAY more than that. They advise govt entities not to disband, lower taxes, but, rather to set up voucher plans, telling the fed to raise or lower interest rates instead of disbanding, Bob Poole often advises govt to do this or that on the roads, etc. Don’t you see a difference in kind?

Lookit, take peak load pricing for roads. It is one thing to write, as I often do, that this is a good system, and would be implemented most likely, by private road owners. If the govt buys my book and does this, my conscience is clear. But if I testified to govt, telling them they should implement this system (especially without also telling them to privatize all roads, but even with doing so) I’d feel I’d compromised my principles.

Yes, we share the same libertarian principles, the same goals, as you say. You’re correct in saying you do not criticize your approach, but respect it. But, why does it then logically follow that I must not criticize your approach, but respect it? Is it not even logically possible that I am correct in this and you are not? Moreover, I’m criticizing your approach respectfully. I’m not calling you all vicious names. I’m not saying you all are not libertarians. You are. But, I’m offering what I consider to be constructive criticism.

Consider this debate I had with Milton Friedman. I was respectful to him. I don’t think he was, to me:

Block, Walter E. and Milton Friedman. 2006. “Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter Block and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek).” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3, Summer, pp. 61-80; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/20_3/20_3_4.pdf;https://mises.org/system/tdf/20_3_4.pdf?file=1&type=document

Best regards,



2:50 pm on May 22, 2019

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From: N
Sent: Saturday, February 09, 2019 8:23 AM
To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: Just how universal are property rights?

Hello Professor Block,

After listening to your episode of the Tom Woods Show, I was reminded of an interesting question that came up in a debate with one of my lefty friends.  What brought up this memory was the statement that we libertarians are humanists, which I agree with.

My friend is a vegan, one of those “meat is murder” types.  One day while we were debating property rights he asked a question that I found very thought provoking, “if property rights are so universal, then why don’t animals have property rights?”

I had a few responses, but none of them felt air tight to me at the time.  At first I said that animals don’t act in the praxeological sense, their behavior isn’t purposeful it is instinctual.  Animals don’t require ownership over means because they don’t operate in the means/end framework.  Afterwards I thought through some examples where animals seem to act with purpose, when birds gather sticks to build a nest or when dogs obey a command in order to receive a treat.

Another answer I gave is that it is impossible to communicate with animals to establish property ownership.  It seems impossible to exchange a title of ownership with an animal.  But who knows what the future will bring in terms of animal communication.  There is of course the ape who was taught sign language.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on this question, and would very much appreciate any further reading on the subject.

On another note, Space Capitalism sounds like an absolutely fascinating book.  I have added it to my ever expanding list of libertarian books to read, and I look forward to getting a copy!

Thank you, N

From: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Sent: Saturday, February 9, 2019 11:31 AM

To: N

Subject: RE: Just how universal are property rights?

Dear N:

Thanks for your kind words about my book on Space Capitalism.

When John kills Joe, the former is guilty of murder of the latter. When the lion kills the zebra, the former is NOT guilty of murder of the latter. Why not? 

This is because animals don’t have rights. Read Murray Rothbard on this in the ethics of liberty. Rights and responsibilities go together. Animals have neither.

I hope you enjoy that entire book of Murray’s, and, especially, in view of your question, that one chapter.

Best regards,



1:22 am on May 21, 2019

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From: S

Sent: Monday, May 20, 2019 10:35 AM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Secession and self determination

Hello Prof. Block,

You and I had talked last year at Mises U regarding the topic of secession and self determination and where I could find more information on it and more reading material on the subject. I apologize for delay in emailing you. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what I could read or where I could look for more information on this subject? I appreciate your time and I hope this finds you well. Thank you. S, XYZ University

Dear S: Here is a list of readings on secession.

Adams, 2000; Baldwin, 2015; Block, 2002A, 2002B, 2007; Denson, 1997; DiLorenzo, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2015; Durr, 2018; Fedako, 2013; Gordon, 1998; Hulsmann, 2003; Hummel, 1996; Kreptul, 2003; McGee, 1994A, 1994B; McMaken, 2018; Rosenberg, 1972; Rockwell, 2015; Rothbard, 1967; Stromberg, 1979; Thies, 2009; Thornton, 1994; Thornton and Ekelund, 2004; Williams, 2015.

Adams, Charles. 2000. When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield

Baldwin, Chuck. 2015. “The Confederate Flag Needs To Be Raised, Not Lowered.” July 9; http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/109/ID/3336/The-Confederate-Flag-Needs-To-Be-Raised-Not-Lowered.aspx

Block, Walter E. 2002A. “A Libertarian Theory of Secession and Slavery,” June 10; https://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block15.html;


Block, Walter E. 2002B. “Secession,” July 9; https://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block18.html; reprinted:http://www.secessionist.us/secessionist_no8.htmhttp://www.southernnationalist.org/secession_block.htm

Block, Walter E. 2007. “Secession,” Dialogue. No. 4; pp. 1-14;  http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/2007/4.07.WB.pdfDenson, John V., ed. 1997. The Costs of War: America’s Pyrrhic Victories. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers

DiLorenzo, Thomas. 1998.  “The Great Centralizer; Abraham Lincoln and the War between the States,” The Independent Review. Vol. 3, No.2, Fall, pp. 243-271; https://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_03_2_dilorenzo.pdf

DiLorenzo, Thomas. 2002. The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, New York, NY: Random House

DiLorenzo, Thomas. 2006. “Happy Secession Day.” https://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo103.html

DiLorenzo, Thomas. 2007. Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe. Crown Forum.

DiLorenzo, Thomas. 2015. “The Next Target of the Black Lives Matter Movement.” November 24;https://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/11/thomas-dilorenzo/next-target-blacklivesmatter/

Durr, David. 2018. “Civic anarchism: The Spectre of Secession; What’s haunting Europe?.” February 17; https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/02/no_author/civic-anarchism-the-spectre-of-secession/

Fedako, Jim. 2013. “Secession and the Bonds of Peace and Prosperity.” January 2;


Gordon, David, ed. 1998. Secession, State and Liberty New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers

Hülsmann, Jörg Guido. 2003. “Secession and the Production of Defense.” Hoppe, Hans-Hermann, ed. 2003. The Myth of National Defense: Essays on the Theory and History of Security Production. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute, pp. 369-414;


Hummel, Jeffrey Rogers. 1996. Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War. Chicago: Open Court.

Kreptul, Andrei. 2003. “The Constitutional Right of Secession in Political Theory and History.” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4, Fall, pp. 30-100; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/17_4/17_4_3.pd

McGee, Robert W. 1994A. “Secession Reconsidered,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, Fall, pp. 11-33; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/11_1/11_1_2.pd

McGee, Robert W. 1994B. “Secession as a Tool for Limiting the Growth of State and Municipal Government and Making it More Responsive: A Constitutional Proposal.” Western State University Law Review. 21. Spring

McMaken, Ryan. 2018. “Secession Is Going Mainstream.” March 29; https://mises.org/wire/secession-going-mainstream

Rockwell, Lew. 2015. “The Libertarian Principle of Secession.” March 10;


Rosenberg, John S. 1972. “Toward A New Civil War Revisionism” in Gerald N. Grob and George Athan Bilias, eds., Interpretations of American History, I (New York: The Free Press, 1972), 459-479.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1967. “The Principle of Secession Defended.”  Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph (Pine Tree Column), October 3.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1997.  “Just War” in Denson, John V., ed. The Costs of War: America’s Pyrrhic Victories. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers

Stromberg, Joseph. 1979. “The War for Southern Independence: A Radical Libertarian Perspective,” Journal of Libertarian StudiesVol. 3, No. 1, pp. 31-54

Thies, Clifford. 2009. “Secession is in our future.” http://mises.org/story/3427

Thoreau, Henry David. 1849. Walden and Civil Disobedience

Thornton, Mark. 1994. “Looking Forward (To Secession): Renewing a vision of independence and self-government.” Vital Speeches of the Day. Vol XL, No. 14, May 1, pp. 440-443

Thornton, Mark and Robert B. Ekelund. 2004. Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources.

Williams, Walter E. 2015. “Historical Ignorance.” July 13; https://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/07/walter-e-williams/the-war-of-1861/




All the petitions can be found here- https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions/all/0/2/0/

To sign my home state Texas’ petition to secede, is here- http://t.co/RLaavGCC


5:20 pm on May 20, 2019

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Trading With The Enemy, Part II

Previously, I wrote on this blog about trading with the enemy.

It has just come to my attention that the master himself, Mr. Libertarian, Murray N. Rothbard, had a while ago addressed this topic.

Need I say more? Murray, as per usual, has nailed this issue. I greatly regret I was unaware of Murray’s take on this matter when I wrote about it. Otherwise, I surely would have mentioned it, initially, as I am now doing.


4:30 am on May 20, 2019

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Evictionism, The Libertarian Position on Abortion (at least in my opinion)

From: S
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2019 7:55 AM
To: ‘Walter Block’ <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: Post-Eviction


Let’s assume that a libertarian society adopts your eviction policy relating to abortion.  What happens post-eviction?  Is anyone legally responsible for caring for the evicted fetus?

In particular, I find persuasive Stephan Kinsella’s argument that one voluntarily assumes positive obligations if one puts another in a dangerous situation.  If so, hasn’t some combination of the mother and the medical staff placed the evicted fetus in a dangerous situation?  Must some or all of them be obliged to care for the fetus?  If the mother, then what’s the point of evicting the fetus (she might as well have given regular birth to the fetus)?  If the medical staff, then will they want to undertake evictions if that obliges them to care for the fetuses, which would involve use of scarce resources?  Perhaps charitable organizations will arise to fund this care, but does that let the mother and the medical staff off the hook?  Since a fair number of evicted fetuses will die until medical technology advances, how will blame be apportioned by libertarian courts for the death of each fetus?


Dear S:

Economics joke: The economist was asked, “How’s your wife?” Came the answer: “Compared to what?”

Dangerous? Compared to what? Compared to not existing? In my view, that’s even more dangerous. So, giving birth implies LESS danger.

How’s about the baby who results from rape? The mother didn’t put the baby “in danger.” The rapist father did.

There are no positive obligations in libertarianism. If and only if no one on the planet wants to care for this new baby, then he will die. But this is extremely unlikely.

Best regards,



4:36 pm on May 19, 2019

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From: J
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2019 9:23 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Fwd: Loud Noise At The Traffic Light

Does the loud (and often obscene) music emanating from the vehicle next to you at a traffic light violate the NAP? Thank you for your thoughts on this matter.


Dear J:

In the libertarian society, the road owner would decide policy on this.

Block, Walter E. 2009. The Privatization of Roads and Highways: Human and Economic Factors; Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute; http://www.amazon.com/Privatization-Roads-And-Highways-Factors/dp/1279887303/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336605800&sr=1-1; available for free here: http://mises.org/books/roads_web.pdf; http://mises.org/daily/3416; http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/radical_privatization.pdf; audio: http://store.mises.org/Privatization-of-Roads-and-Highways-Audiobook-P11005.aspx; http://www.audible.com/pd/Business/The-Privatization-of-Roads-and-Highways-Audiobook/B0167IT18K?tag=misesinsti-20; http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bf16b152ccc444bdbbcc229e4&id=6cbc90577b&e=54244ea97d


Here is the best thing ever written on pollution in general, and noise pollution in particular:

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


Insofar as obscenity thrust in the face of people who are appalled by it is concerned, I am now working on Defending the Undefendable III the third in my series of these books. In it, I devote an entire chapter to the Front Lawn Fornicator and what to do about him. Hint: private property rights to the rescue, condo associations will prevent this. We do not need any more than the (very thin) libertarian non-aggression principle and private property rights. We certainly do not need to impose conservative culture on anyone in order to deal with this problem as some right wing thick libertarians maintain.

Best regards,



11:31 am on May 19, 2019

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Trading With The Enemy During Wartime?

From: N

Sent: Saturday, May 18, 2019 9:48 AM

To: walter block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Wartime

Hi, Walter.

Hope you are enjoying summer break.


What is your (libertarian) view of the responsibility of business during wartime?

Is it ok to trade with the “enemy” understood in terms of two sovereign nations engaged in a shooting war?

Have you written anything on this?

Best wishes, N

Dear N:

I have not published anything on this before. Thanks for the opportunity to think out loud about this. Here’s my take on this matter:

Suppose Country A and B are having a war with each other. One of them, A, is in the right, the other B, is in the wrong. This is necessarily true. One country has to be at least more right than the other. If it were an exact tie, if they were in effect both in the right, innocent, then they’d by definition, negotiate; seek the binding advice of a disinterested third party. They wouldn’t be in a shooting war.

Trading with the enemy is helping the enemy. Trade is always mutually beneficial, at least for the trading partners, in the ex ante sens. So, my take on this is that it would be alright, it would be virtuous, it would be acceptable, it would be compatible with libertarian doctrine, for a business firm in bad country B, to be a traitor to the evil cause of evil country B, and thus help A. But this would not hold the other way around. It would be evil for a business firm in good country A to aid and abet to evil machinations of bad country B.

Thanks for assuming that my view would be a (libertarian) view


4:07 pm on May 18, 2019

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Can Free Enterprise Build Roads and Highways, Power Lines? Yes!

Dear H:

If I had to summarize your note to me, below, it would be, free enterprise is great, but, we need government to build the roads, and other long, thin things such as power lines.

I wrestle with the challenge to economic freedom you mention in these two publications:

Block, Walter E. 2012. “Long thin things.” September 3;


Block, Walter E. 2009. The Privatization of Roads and Highways: Human and Economic Factors; Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute; http://www.amazon.com/Privatization-Roads-And-Highways-Factors/dp/1279887303/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336605800&sr=1-1;

available for free here: http://mises.org/books/roads_web.pdf;








Best regards,


—–Original Message—–

From: H

Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2019 8:46 PM

To: wblock@loyno.edu

Subject: RE: Privatize Everything

Dear Prof. Block:

Although I generally oppose government intervention in the so-called “free market” (if such even exists) I do not see how one can avoid the usual solution of a regulated monopoly in cases where land is a scarce resource.

To wit:

Exhibit A. I live in Corona, CA , which is at the eastern terminus of Santa Ana Canyon:


California SR 91 is one of the most congested transportation corridors in the U.S., if not the world.

Needless to say, there is a limited amount of real estate through the canyon which can be devoted to transportation.

At one time, there was a “private consortium” which secured access rights to build a toll road on the median of existing SR 91.

They went broke, and the state took over the toll lanes:


Needless to say, any attempt to build a “competing route” through Santa Ana Canyon would founder on the shortage of land.

In the vernacular, “There ain’t no other place to build a road.”

All of the available real estate is taken, so far as  I can see.

Exhibit B:

So Cal Edison, our local electric power utility, has erected power poles in the alley behind my residence, which support the electric power lines from which I receive electricity for various purpose, to include powering the information processing device on which I am writing this message.*

It should be obvious, to even the most casual observer, that any would be “competitor” to SCE would need to obstruct the public right of way in order to construct a ‘”parallel, “competitive” electrical distribution network.

Given, let us say. 10 of these would-be “competitors,” the public right of way (the alley) would become impassable, because the “competing” power line would have to be constructed parallel to the existing power poles and lines.

This will not work.

Your comments will be appreciated.

*Yesterday, we had an “unscheduled power outage,” evidently due to winter storms. SCE was kind enough to inform me, via email, that my power was out.

Um, yeah, my power is out, therefore my local network is down , therefore I am unable to receive email…. Say what???

Bit of humor to receive their email this AM.:(

Cheers, H


2:31 pm on May 15, 2019

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(Read from the bottom up)

Dear J:

Some blacks have low IQs, some have very high IQs (Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell)

ON AVERAGE, Orientals have the highest IQs, whites are intermediate, and blacks have the lowest IQs. This is pretty well established through lots of research, empirical data. It is not politically correct to even say this, let alone attribute anything else to this fact, but I’m not PC. In my view, if we want to help African-Americans, and I do, we cannot at the outset ignore relevant facts.

I also think that ON AVERAGE, men are taller and heavier than women, even though there are plenty of women who are taller and heavier than some short, skinny men. This is pretty well established through lots of research, empirical data. Does saying this make me a sexist? If so, I embrace that description.

Blacks are more given to sickle cell anemia; Jews to Tay-Sachs disease. Suppose there were a medical researcher who refused to acknowledge this claim, also based on lots of research, empirical data. We wouldn’t think too much of him as a medical researcher; we wouldn’t think he’d be successful in curing either disease. Similarly, for a social scientist who ignores research in IQ. We wouldn’t think too much of him as a social scientist; we wouldn’t think he’d be successful in helping the downtrodden.

It is my policy to publicly blog all such communication, keeping my correspondant totally anonymous. Bob has a similar policy, I think

Best regards,


From: J

Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2019 11:40 AM

To: ‘Walter Block’ <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: RE: Spurious correlations

So you think that blacks are dumb?


From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]

Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2019 6:02 PM

To: J


Subject: RE: Spurious correlations

Racism of this sort is what (social) science is all about

Walter E. Block

From: J

Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2019 8:46 PM



Subject: RE: Spurious correlations

Now this is Racism.

While I agree that Political Correctness is junk, so is summing up any “race” – judging any individual by race or the race itself.   The  bell shaped curves , at their worst, show – clearly – that 1/3 of the supposedly “inferior” race is smarter than 1/2 of the supposedly “smarter” race. At the end points, A person of any race can be the smartest or dumbest. Then there are the “tests” and sampling methods – all questionable.

This is why it is  dumb  to judge people by race. This is why dumb, good ol’ boys of every race and nationality are racists – they want someone to look down on – to feel superior since they know they are not!

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, [white] or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”   J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, pp.51-52




Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2019 3:43 AM



Subject: Re: Spurious correlations

Hi M,

The page is an embarrassment to those supporting your view.

There is this on the page :

“Height is correlated with intelligence.”

There go Ashkenazy Jews.

From Quora:

“Jews are everywhere from 1 to 3 cm. shorter than the Gentiles.”

Your referenced page also says:

“The predictive validity of g is most conspicuous in the domain of scholastic performance.”

It could thus be very easily argued that “the domain of scholastic performance” conspicuousness points to what Taleb charges: It measures the ability of exam-takers, paper shufflers, obedient IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots).

The Wikipedia page you reference also includes:

“Critics of g have contended that an emphasis on g is misplaced and entails a devaluation of other important abilities, as well as supporting an unrealistic reified view of human intelligence.”

” Some critics have gone so far as to argue that g ‘…is to the psychometricians what Huygens’ ether was to early physicists: a nonentity taken as an article of faith instead of one in need of verification by real data.’”

” John Horn argued that g factors are meaningless because they are not invariant across test batteries, maintaining that correlations between different ability measures arise because it is difficult to define a human action that depends on just one ability.”

“Both Deary et al. (1996).[58] and Tucker-Drob (2009)[59] have pointed out, dividing the continuous distribution of intelligence into an arbitrary number of discrete ability groups is less than ideal for examining (SLODR).”

“Some researchers have warned the existence of statistical artifacts related to measures of job performance and GCA test scores. For example, Viswesvaran, Ones and Schmidt (1996)[84] argued that is quite impossible to obtain perfect measures of job performance without incurring in any methodological error. Moreover, studies on GCA and job performance are always susceptible to range restriction, because data is gathered mostly from current employees, neglecting those that were not hired. Hence, sample comes from employees who successfully passed hiring process, including measures of GCA.[85]”

“One criticism that has been made of studies that identify g with working memory is that “we do not advance understanding by showing that one mysterious concept is linked to another.”

“Raymond Cattell, a student of Charles Spearman’s, rejected the unitary g factor model and divided g into two broad, relatively independent domains: fluid intelligence (Gf) and crystallized intelligence (Gc). Gf is conceptualized as a capacity to figure out novel problems, and it is best assessed with tests with little cultural or scholastic content, such as Raven’s matrices. Gc can be thought of as consolidated knowledge, reflecting the skills and information that an individual acquires and retains throughout his or her life. Gc is dependent on education and other forms of acculturation, and it is best assessed with tests that emphasize scholastic and cultural knowledge.[2][45][127] Gf can be thought to primarily consist of current reasoning and problem solving capabilities, while Gc reflects the outcome of previously executed cognitive processes…Cattell, together with John Horn, later expanded the Gf-Gc model to include a number of other broad abilities, such as Gq (quantitative reasoning) and Gv (visual-spatial reasoning). While all the broad ability factors in the extended Gf-Gc model are positively correlated and thus would enable the extraction of a higher order g factor, Cattell and Horn maintained that it would be erroneous to posit that a general factor underlies these broad abilities. They argued that g factors computed from different test batteries are not invariant and would give different values of g, and that the correlations among tests arise because it is difficult to test just one ability at a time.”

” Howard Gardner has developed the theory of multiple intelligences. He posits the existence of nine different and independent domains of intelligence, such as mathematical, linguistic, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, meta-cognitive, and existential intelligences, and contends that individuals who fail in some of them may excel in others.”

“Sternberg equates analytic intelligence with academic intelligence, and contrasts it with practical intelligence, defined as an ability to deal with ill-defined real-life problems.”

Can you refute these or are you just buying into a bunch of stuff you don’t understand?

On Sat, Feb 2, 2019 at 3:31 PM M> wrote:

B, To answer your question, I’m not saying a high IQ will result in a high income.

To illustrate, if we measure the IQ score of 10,000 individuals, the 1,000 with the highest IQs will probably have a higher group average income than a lower IQ group. This is not to deny that some poor people may have high IQs, since we’re looking at group averages. That IQ scores are associated with a variety of factors makes less spurious the notion of a general factor, called g, underlying intelligence.

“The practical validity of g as a predictor of educational, economic, and social outcomes is more far-ranging and universal than that of any other known psychological variable. The validity of g is greater the greater the complexity of the task.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_factor_(psychometrics)

Please read the wikipedia article for a more sophisticated analysis than I’m able to offer.

I hope I’ve answered your question adequately.

On Feb 2, 2019, at 11:01 AM, Robert  wrote:

Hi M,

You miss my point.

All the original correlations listed in the link you provided are in fact correlations as they stand.

Then you write on about your IQ correlation:

“IQ and success have been correlated on a variety of measures.”

But this is somewhat of a difficult thing to test, and what is success?

But the correlations originally listed are all much easier to test. They are correlations. They become spurious because there is no necessary relation between them and many would believe when there is a correlation there is also a necessary relation.

I believe your assertion has hidden necessary relation claims along this line of thinking.

Best example, you assert there is a correlation between IQ and income. Am I incorrect in thinking that you believe this shows that high IQ will result in high income? And you probably think that low IQ means low income prospects.

But just looking at this correlation tells us nothing. Maybe likely future income influences IQ instead of the other way around.

Or maybe there is no necessary relation at all.

I recall, Murray Rothbard in one of his taped lectures uses the example of a dumb monk that is so dumb he gets kicked out of the monastery. Wandering the streets he decides to get a cigar but cannot find a cigar stand thus he decides to open a cigar stand and makes a fortune. His point was that you don’t need a high IQ to make a high income.

I suspect the truth is very complex here, and the correlations you trot out are even more spurious in that the correlations are a lot less tight than the original list of correlations.

It’s the necessary relation correlations that are most interesting but they must be explained outside the correlation data.

Just throwing out correlations doesn’t do that—especially in the social sciences, where experiments cannot be controlled the way they can in the physical sciences. It spurious correlationism.

Further to another point I made, if a third factor is a primary driver, it doesn’t mean that other factors correlate in a necessary way.

Take the NBA, we can certainly see that NBA players are both tall and have high endorsement incomes. Does this mean that we can take any tall person put him in the NBA and he will be paid multi-millions for endorsements? Of course not, the driving necessary factor is basketball skill.

In the same way, maybe the primary driver to high income is alertness and drive. Thus, Murray’s dullard monk can have a high income if he is only alert to the cigar opportunity and the drive to open a cigar stand, whereas a lazy high IQ person won’t have a high income. High income might follow for the high IQ person if most of them have strong alertness and drive. The driving factor being the alertness and drive.

To argue just on correlation that high IQ is important to high income probably suffocates the drive of low IQ people to seek out income opportunities and is, thus, a terrible thing to argue.

On Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 9:02 PM M> wrote:

If they all covary and could be explained by a fundamental causal factor then they would not be considered spurious. For example job success, academic success, health, income, and life expectancy all are covariates of IQ scores.

Warm regards, M

On Feb 1, 2019, at 4:51 PM, Robert wrote:

But couldn’t they all be correlated by a third causal factor?

On Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 3:27 PM M


IQ and success have been correlated on a variety of measures, whereas these are have not been.

Warm regards, M

On Feb 1, 2019, at 1:58 PM, Robert wrote:

Hi M,

Why do you not include IQ and success as a possible spurious correlation?

On Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 11:18 AM M

Spurious correlations



2:05 am on May 15, 2019

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