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From: J
Sent: Saturday, April 27, 2019 8:33 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Question

Dr. Block, My name is J, I was watching your wonderful speech at the Mississippi libertarian party convention on Facebook live stream today

(https://www.facebook.com/MSLibertarianGal/videos/295923901329672/)

and I wanted desperately to ask so many questions, unfortunately I was unable to attend. However, given that you gave your email address for everyone in attendance to ask you a question if they were not able to, I was hoping that even though I was not in direct attendance that you would be willing to answer just one question I would have asked if I were there in person.

That question is, what are your thoughts on Friedman’s negative income tax plan as a temporary replacement for welfare?

Once again, I really enjoyed watching and listening to you today and want you to know that I have read privatization of roads and highways and I absolutely loved it.

Thank you. Sincerely, J

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2019 6:12 PM
To: J
Subject: RE: Question

Dear Jonathan:

Thanks for your kind comment.

As an anarchist, I oppose all taxes. They are compulsory levies. Compulsory payments are robbery.

I oppose this specifically, since it is a transfer of wealth from rich to poor, and coming from a person widely known as a libertarian, it impugns our entire movement. Whenever we take money from rich Peter and give it to poor Paul, we discourage both of them from earning income, being productive.

Here are some critiques of Milton Friedman’s “negative income tax.” I am greatly disappointed that Friedman, who is widely known as a libertarian, should favor such a policy.

https://mises.org/library/fallacies-negative-income-tax

https://mises.org/library/friedmans-mistake

https://mises.org/wire/universal-basic-income-costs-more-you-think

https://mises.org/library/1040-plunder

https://mises.org/wire/forget-guaranteed-income-%E2%80%94-governments-should-stop-destroying-income-first

https://mises.org/library/dead-zone-implicit-marginal-tax-rate

Best regards,

Walter

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12:38 pm on August 19, 2019

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From: P
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2019 10:56 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Brain Scans for Government Officials

Hi Walter,

With all the talk about murder and attempted murder,  my thoughts naturally turned to those most prolific murderers in  government who are immune from  prosecution. As PET Scans of the brain can detect psychopathy, maybe a  medical organization could scan individuals such as prospective generals and candidates for congress and cabinet.  That could be a way to screen out some of the most dangerous people, to somewhat lessen the damage done by government. What do you think? In Liberty, P

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Friday, April 26, 2019 9:25 AM
To: P
Subject: RE: Brain Scans for Government Officials

Dear P:

I think the free will position is correct. In my view, we can overcome what our pet scans say. Thus, I don’t think too much of this scheme.

Here are some readings on this:

Block, 2015; O’Connor, 1995, 2000; Ekstrom, 2018; Palmer, 2014; Taylor, 1966;  Van Inwagen, 1983 ;Van Schoedlandt, et al, 2016;

Block, Walter E. 2015. “Free will, determinism, libertarianism and Austrian economics” Dialogue, Issue 3, p.1; http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/110798998/free-will-determinism-libertarianism-austrian-economics;

Ekstrom, Laura. 2018. Agency And Responsibility: Essays On The Metaphysics Of Freedom, Routledge.

O’Connor, Timothy. 1995. Agents, Causes, and Events: Essays on Indeterminism and Free Will. Oxford University Press

O’Connor, Timothy. 2000. Persons and Causes: The Metaphysics of Free Will. Oxford University Press

Palmer, David, ed. 2014.  Libertarian Free Will: Contemporary Debates. Oxford University Press

Taylor, Richard. 1966. Action and Purpose. Prentice Hall

Van Inwagen, Peter. 1983. An Essay on Free Will. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Van Schoelandt, Chad, Ivan Jankovic and Walter E. Block. 2016. “Rejoinder on Free Will, Determinism, Libertarianism and Austrian Economics.” Dialogue, Issue 2; http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/title.asp?lang=en&title=565; http://141.164.71.80/exchange/walterblock/Inbox/RE:%20Rejoinder%20on%20Free%20Will,%20Determinism,%20Libertarianism%20and%20Austrian%20Economics.EML/1_multipart_xF8FF_2_p565__DialogueBook2eng2016_81_95.pdf/C58EA28C-18C0-4a97-9AF2-036E93DDAFB3/p565__DialogueBook2eng2016_81_95.pdf?attach=1;

http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/title.asp?title=565;

http://www.academia.edu/27719232/Rejoinder_on_Free_Will_Determinism_Libertarianism_and_Austrian_Economics

Best regards,

Walter

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12:36 pm on August 19, 2019

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Should We Trade With Dictators, Slave Owners, Nazis, etc.?

From: W
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2019 4:27 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Help w/ the N.A.P. on moral gray areas

Hello,

My name is W. I’m a college student who’s interested in libertarianism, more specifically voluntaryism. I found this email address on www.walterblock.com.

I have a question on the topic of consumer responsibility. Is it a N.A.P. violation, or an act of aggression, for a person to buy cotton that was picked by slaves in the early 19th century? Along the same lines, say a group of humans were involuntarily enslaved and butchered like cattle. Would it be a N.A.P. violation to buy human meat at a grocery store or restaurant? I apologize for graphic details. I don’t mean to be obscene.  If you can answer this question, I’d greatly appreciate it. I am a big fan of your work. I watch your lectures, and I also read your book Defending the Undefendable.

Best regards, W

Dear W:

Your question/challenge is a variant on the issue of whether we should trade with Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union (I LOVE your examples, though especially the slavery – cannibalism one). I think logic alone requires that we do trade with these dictators (or purchase slave made cotton goods, or buy human flesh, assuming cannibalism is not a crime). Why?

Due to the slippery slope. If I say we shouldn’t interact with any of these evil people, what about the US govt? The latter kills, enslaves, innocent people, too (although no cannibalism, at least not yet). If we can’t buy things, interact with, trade with, the bad guys mentioned above, that means we can’t do so with the US state either. So, no travelling on the roads, no going to public schools, parks, museums, no eating food (the government subsidizes agriculture). Our only option is to become a hermit or commit suicide. Yet, libertarianism is not a death pact.

So far, I’ve given a deontological analysis. I feel secure in that, even given the difficulty of the challenges you raise. Now, let’s consider pragmatism, utilitarianism, again from a libertarian point of view. Will trading with Cuba, Venezuela, N. Korea, the USSR, etc., other bad countries, help or hurt the victims of these evil people. Here, I am less sure, since it is an empirical issue. But, I think, on net, we help the victims of Cuban communism by trading with their evil govt more than we hurt these victims by strengthening their govt.

I’ve written a lot on the deontological question, also see below.

On trading with bad guys:

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;  http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf

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; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block86.html

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; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block150.html

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

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9:17 pm on August 16, 2019

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Is Voting Only For Fools? No.

From: G
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2019 7:08 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Voting

Good morning Dr. Block,

I will have to respectfully disagree with your stance on voting. Although, if there could be an exception, Ron Paul would qualify. The problem with voting is that it is in and if itself an acceptance of the political system, and as so, requires one who votes to accept the outcome, regardless of the “winner.” This fact I think negates any justification. As I recall, you made this same argument during Trump’s election, and many  have done the same, saying that voting for the lesser of evils is warranted. I have said many times that voting is a fool’s game, as regardless of the  outcome, the same rotten underlying system is still in place with its  “majority” (actually minority) rule mentality. Anytime one can vote for  another to have power over others, then corruption is imminent. That is why  a peaceful anarchical system is better. As a realist, I do fully realize the current impossibility of this kind of  system due to centuries of brainwashing common citizens to believe the  idiocy of democracy, but we are talking in the abstract. If no one voted however, no one would be elected, and that would make a much  better world.

Respectfully, G

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2019 8:01 AM
To: G
Subject: RE: Voting

Dear G:

The claim that “voting is a fool’s game” is not incompatible with my view  that it is compatible with libertarianism. I think that prostitution,  addictive drugs, etc. are also fool’s games, but they do not violate the  NAP. Neither does voting. This is the best thing I have ever read on voting:

Spooner, Lysander. 1966[1870]. No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority and A Letter to Thomas F. Bayard, Larkspur, Colorado: Rampart College; http://jim.com/treason.htm

Best regards,

Walter

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9:15 pm on August 16, 2019

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Is It Compatible With Libertarianism To Keep A Nuclear Weapon In Your Basement In A Big City? No.

From: Χ
Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2019 8:02 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Your thoughts on an article about your views on nuclear weapon laws.

Dear Dr. Block

I was wondering what your thoughts would be about this article critiquing your views that weapons of mass destruction should be banned according to the NAP.

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2019 7:17 PM
To: Χ
Cc: Matthew Block
Subject: RE: Your thoughts on an article about your views on nuclear weapon laws.

Dear X:

This author makes a gigantic distinction between owning a weapon and using it. Yes, there’s a distinction, but he relies too heavily on it. One of the purposes of owning something is to use it.

According to him, it would be perfectly alright to keep an atom bomb in your basement, just to look at it, not use it, in the midst of a big city. My coauthor and I see a big problem with that:

Block, Walter E. and Matthew A. Block. 2000. “Toward a Universal Libertarian Theory of Gun (Weapon) Control,” Ethics, Place and Environment, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 289-298;

http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/theory_gun_control.pdf; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228127780_Toward_a_Universal_Libertarian_Theory_of_Gun_(Weapon)_Control_A_Spatial_and_Georgraphical_Analysis?ev=prf_pub; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228127780_Toward_a_Universal_Libertarian_Theory_of_Gun_Weapon_Control_A_Spatial_and_Georgraphical_Analysis; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/toward-a-universal-libertarian-theory-of-gun-weapon-control-a-spatial-and-geographical-analysis/

Best regards,

Walter

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6:29 pm on August 14, 2019

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From: B
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 7:39 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Free-market Automation vs. Government-Caused Automation

Dear Dr. Block,

This is not a criticism; I just want your opinion about a relevant topic today.

The topic of automation (replacement of labor with machines and computers) is becoming a central topic of discussion today, at least amongst some political circles, e.g. supporters of Andrew Yang (one of the Democrats running for president in 2020). Yang talks about how automation is destroying the poor and working class (not only economically, but socially and emotionally) and that the govt needs to step in and pay everyone a Universal Basic Income to relieve them from these pains. The underlying premise is that this move towards automation is bad but inevitable, so the govt needs to accept it and pay people who become victims of this “march of progress”. I fully understand the Austrian analysis of automation and know that it is not a per se bad thing, nor is it inevitable. However, it’s troubling to see some people who would never consider themselves socialists — or even claim to be libertarians(!) — accepting the underlying premises of Yang’s argument and would not necessarily rule out getting behind him in 2020.

I think there is an automation problem today but it’s caused by the government. Supermarkets and gas stations, for example, don’t really want to replace all their human labor with emotionless robots and computers, but they have to seriously consider doing so in order to remain profitable and competitive. The government — through taxation, laws (e.g. minimum wage), and regulations (think, law suits from employees) — has made employing human labor more expensive and risky from an economic point of view relative to automation, and this is what has caused an artificial (non-free market) boost in automation.

The problem is that we Austrians just address the issue from a per se point of view. We will say: “Automation, per se, is not bad because of X, Y, and Z.” That’s fine but the people who are affected by this artificial government-caused automation aren’t necessarily interested in the per se argument. They just call us homo economicus lovers, who only care about economic efficiency. This is a strategic error I think. Of course we need to provide the per se economic case in favor of automation, but we also need to make it clear to these people that we’re not necessarily defending all present trends of automation, or that the automation we see today is purely the result of free market forces.

It’s the same problem we have when talking about the contemporary issues of international trade. Austrians will correctly point out that the worry about trade, trade deficits, and job outsourcing today is wrongheaded, and we will lay out the pure economic case for free trade (which is 100% correct). But this leaves the impression that Austrians are claiming that the current state of international trading relations is purely the outcome of free market forces, which it is not. Again, the govt has come in with its taxation, laws, and regulations and affected the economy in a way that the free market would likely have not produced. What do you think about this? Do you distinguish between free-market automation and automation that’s artificially boosted because of govt intervention? Kind regards, B

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Saturday, April 13, 2019 5:22 PM
To: B
Subject: RE: Free-market Automation vs. Government-Caused Automation

Dear B:

Automation, per se, is not bad? No. Automation, per se, is not good, it is excellent! When the car beat out the horse and buggy, there were plenty of people who lost their jobs in the latter industry. This was excellent, not merely good. We know this praxeologically, since whenever anyone purchased an automobile, two people gained in the ex ante sense. QED. End of story. From a non praxeological point of view, think of the lives lost, and the people never born, were we nowadays forced to rely on horses and buggies for transportation.

The fallacy behind the worry of many people over robotics, etc., is that they think there is only so much work that needs to be done. If they only realized that our demands for goods and services are indefinitely large, they would be far less concerned about the “danger” of new technology.

I suggest such people reread Hazlitt’s Economics in one lesson.

Yes, the minimum wage law increases the rate of technological change, and this is to be regretted. But, not because automation is to be feared. Rather, this is just one more drawback of this pernicious legislation, in addition to unemployment for unskilled workers: we misallocate resources toward excessive capital formation, and away from where it is needed more.

The fear of automation springs from what is sometimes called the Lump of Labor Fallacy: there is only so much work to be done, and if machines do more of it, there will be less left for human beings to do.

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6:11 pm on August 14, 2019

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Employee Stock Ownership Plans; Analyzed Separately From an Austrian and Libertarian Perspective

Letter 1

From: R
Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2019 4:27 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Re: Your mention of ESOPs

Dear Professor Block,

Recently saw your response to Dwight Murphey (I know, it’s an old piece).

Block, Walter E. 1999. “Controversy: Do Market Economies Allocate Resources Optimally? A Response to Murphey,” The Journal of Markets and Morality, Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall, pp. 279-289;http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Controversy%3A+do+market+economies+allocate+resources+optimally%3F+A…-a0186433142http://www.marketsandmorality.com/index.php/mandm/search

Block, Walter E. 1999. Controversy: Do Market Economies Allocate Resources Optimally? Another Response to Murphey,” The Journal of Markets and Morality, Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall, pp. 297-306; http://www.marketsandmorality.com/index.php/mandm/article/view/634/624 ;

Had something of a quibble, regarding your mention of Employee Stock Ownership Plans.

I’ve read through von Mises’ piece “Observations on the Cooperative Movement” a few times, and really don’t really see how a polemic about cooperatives (largely focusing on agricultural purchasing/marketing coops, to boot) has any bearing on industrial firms with broad-based stock ownership plans for their employees. Most ESOPs own only a minority of company stock, and the trustee is often appointed by the company. There isn’t very much room for meaningful “workers’ control,” especially if we’re talking about a “public” corporation. This also rules out “stakeholder theory,” since we are dealing with legitimate stockholders.

Neither do I see how private ownership of equity is “socialist,” in the Austrian sense (i.e. state/public ownership of the means of production). If your argument is that ESOPs being pushed by state legislation is unconscionable, that’s a valid concern that I’ve seen from other libertarians. With regards to those others, one in particular was Timothy Terrell’s piece on the LvMI website, specifically regarding Louis Kelso’s “Binary Economics” theory; he actually professed no problem with the ESOP in particular, but criticized the idea of the state mandating broader stock ownership via inflationary lending policies (and from what I hear from others in the employee ownership “business,” Binary Economics isn’t really something they have much interest in).

Just wanted to share my thoughts, as someone who does take classical liberal points seriously, and has learned quite a bit from Austrian School writings, but also supports voluntary broad-based employee ownership.

Best, R

Letter 2

On Tue, Apr 2, 2019 at 5:32 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

Dear R:

Thanks for your comment

Esops are fine, when not pushed by government. I only object to government pushing them, or “nudging” them, not esops themselves. That is my view as a libertarian. As an Austrian economist, I note that employees have higher time preferences than investors, on average. When employers institute esops, the workers try to sell their shares, so as to be able to spend the money sooner, rather than later. The point is, esops don’t usually arise so as to maximize profits. Rather, they are a result of ideologues who want workers to own shares of stock in corporations. Best regards, Walter

Letter 3

From: R

Sent: Monday, April 08, 2019 9:51 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Your mention of ESOPs

Thanks for the reply, and sorry for my late response.

Hypothetically, in your opinion, would a greater voluntary widespread use such plans (wherein a minority of shares/percentage of a certain firm’s stock is held in trust as a workforce benefit) be “bad” for the economy? I recall von Mises, regarding syndicalism, saying perpetual full worker ownership would necessitate (to paraphrase) “productive goods being withdrawn from the market.” Would this be a similar case with ESOPs (though ESOP companies can be bought out, along with their trust stock).

Letter 4

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

Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:23 AM

To: R

Subject: RE: Your mention of ESOPs

Dear Reza:

As long as they are fully voluntary, the level of esops has no effect on the economy. It would be similar to the allocation of resources to apples and oranges: it would not matter if this were 25-75, 50-50 or even 0-100, either way. Ditto for corporations vis a vis partnerships vis a vis single proprietorships.

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4:14 pm on August 13, 2019

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Why Have The Jesuits Changed Their Philosophy?

A Loyola Student of mine asks for my comments on his classroom presentation.

From: C
Sent: Monday, April 08, 2019 10:27 AM
To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: Paper Comments

Doc,

Would you mind sending me your comments on my presentation?

Thanks, C

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Monday, April 08, 2019 10:19 AM
To: C
Subject: RE: Paper Comments

Dear C:

The early Jesuits, along with the Dominicans, set up the political – economic School of Salamanca, a precursor to the Austrian School of economics. They were very free enterprise. For the Salamancans, including the Jesuits, the just price was the market price, the just rate of interest was the market rate of interest, they favored free trade, etc.

The modern Jesuits, with but a few exceptions, are 180 degrees different. Why?

Here’s one speculation:

Fleming, Chris, David Rigamer and Walter E. Block. 2012. “The Jesuits: from Markets to Marxism; from Property Protection to Social Progressivism” Romanian Economic and Business Review; Vol. 7, No. 2; pp. 7-22; http://www.rebe.rau.ro/RePEc/rau/journl/SU12/REBE-SU12-A1.pdf

Also of interest:

Morse, J. B. 2018. “Walter Block Sets Loyola Diversity Officer Straight on Jesuit Values.”http://thelibertariancatholic.com/walter-block-sets-loyola-diversity-officer-straight-on-jesuit-values/

Best regards, Walter

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5:11 pm on August 12, 2019

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What It Means To Be A Libertarian; Who Should Be Included In This Honorific?

This series started out when several readers of this blog questioned whether or no one of our most prestigious libertarian leaders, Judge Andrew Napolitano, was even a libertarian himself.

However, this thread has now at least partially morphed into a discussion of who should be called a libertarian; what are the criteria for inclusion? Murray Rothbard and I are both big tent libertarians. We both include in this honorific many people other than those who espouse the most strict, pure version of libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism. Murray once told me in this regard, “Every dog gets one bite.” I suppose I’m even more of a “big tenter” than Mr. Libertarian in that I allow several bites. Hey, I include Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek in our group of freedom supporters, and they were guilty of far more than one deviation from the straight and narrow of the NAP and private property ultimately based on homesteading.

Here is a series of letters on this topic, along with my responses:

Letter 1:

From: R

Sent: Monday, July 29, 2019 6:29 AM

To: Walter Block

Subject: Are There Any Flaws In The Free Enterprise System? Yes. – LRC Blog

Are There Any Flaws In The Free Enterprise System? Yes.

Dear Walter:

You say this: “some people like pornography, prostitution, sado-masochism, addictive drugs, suicide, heavy gambling, etc. The market will indeed get them that. I happen to personally believe that all these things are problematic (but still should be legal). I regard this as a flaw in the system of laissez faire capitalism.  The market is like a gun or a knife or a hammer: can be used for both good and bad purposes.”

Here is my reaction:

Why do you think that a system that permits activities that you don’t approve of (why you doin’t approve of them is another matter. why is it okay to rent out your body for physical labor except when if labor involves sex?) is flawed? is any system that does not cater to you personally flawed (eg., that does not provide you with a sufficiently high salary for teaching economics)?. that shouldn’t be the basis for judging any system. if it is, then only a system in everything is to your liking is not flawed.

Dear R:

I believe that rap music, very spicy food, soccer, eating eel, physical pain, the ideas of democracy, political correctness, ,the music of Shostakovich, John Cage, are also “flawed.” Why? I don’t like them. Can’t I also speak out as a non-thin libertarian? Qua thin libertarian I am only required to maintain that these activities, ideas, foodstuffs, music, none of which necessarily, per se, violate the NAP, should be legal. I am not required to say that they are not flawed.

Best regards,

Walter

Letter 2

From: G

Sent: Sunday, August 11, 2019 8:25 AM

To: wblock@loyno.edu

Subject: Libertarian?

Good morning Walter,

I had a very prominent and well-known libertarian this past week tell me that taxation is voluntary. This exposes a major problem with the “Big tent” concept and very broad definition of the term libertarian. Freedom and taxation are mortal enemies, as all taxation is nothing more than theft by extreme force, and is anathema to liberty.

My best … G

Dear G:

I’m a big tent libertarian. I include in this honorific more people than most. But, I do draw the line somewhere. I would have great difficulty in including anyone who believes taxes are voluntary as a libertarian.

Best regards,

Walter

Letter 3

—–Original Message—–

From: D

Sent: Friday, August 09, 2019 10:00 PM

To: wblock@loyno edu

Subject: Judge Napolitano

I, along with you, consider Judge Napolitano to be an excellent libertarian, and, moreover, he was perhaps the single most influential voice on my own journey from Reaganite to anarcho-capitalist. His show Freedom Watch is what first exposed me to a great many libertarian thinkers and ideas, and I devoured his books — Constitutional Chaos remains a favorite of mine. That 2010 speech you linked previously was really pivotal for me, and I remember sharing it with everybody I knew.

The Judge has his flaws and failings — as do we all — but I can attest directly to the fact that he has led at least one person to the “one true faith.” And let’s face it: that’s more people than most of us ever truly reach.

Dear D:

Thanks for your support on this. Andrew is one of the most important people in the libertarian movement.

Letter 4

From: M

Sent: Friday, August 09, 2019 9:00 AM

To: wblock@loyno.edu

Subject: The Judge

Dear Professor Block –

For context, I don’t particularly subscribe to any ideology but I do find that the most convenient political labels for my point of view are libertarian bordering on anarchist. In short, I root for the secessionists.

As an almost twenty year reader of lewrockwell.org and, on occasion, mises.org I am familiar with your work and generally sense you’re a smart academic, which is far from redundant.

Given my opinion on your intelligence, I find it hard to believe you entirely missed the point on your ongoing series: “The judge is a really swell guy”. The original letter was really about a guy voicing his disgust with the judge. His tangent on being a “real libertarian” was just his lame way of presenting the fact. But you’re smart. You know that.

You can have  “Judge Andrew Napolitano is an Excellent Libertarian” Part M and it won’t change that most of us “libertarians” can’t stand him. This is the second time I’ve reached about this guy after to watching him post blog after blog of “Russiagate” bullshit. First time was to Lew. I’m a busy guy and it ain’t my business what you guys put on your sites. In fact its only the second time in the twenty years of reading LRC I’ve ever bothered at all. (The first time was about the joyless Laurence Vance – life of the party I’m sure)

Whether the judge is or isn’t a libertarian or “anarcho-capitalist” or whatever big-brain terms you conjure is beside the point. The point is: he’s a XYZ. A former agent of the state who has, along with bat-shit crazy left wingers, corporate media, Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, et al., signed up for the anti-Trump brigade.

It ain’t hyperbole: there’s a war on. Like it or not (and I don’t fucking like it) you gotta pick sides. Does my side suck? On a lot of things: yes. But it beats the hell out of the alternative. Especially as the rats like Scarborough, Bill Kristol and George Will are shook out. The judge has chosen. He’ll find no quarter or rest with me, libertarian or not. There are more important things than ideology.

Now you know my opinion.

Cheers,

M

Dear M:

You say, “most of us ‘libertarians’ can’t stand” Judge Napolitano. Did you see the reaction of the attendees of the Mises University in a previous iteration of this series on him? He was greeted with a gigantic roar of approval and a standing ovation. If there were a popularity contest conducted on the part of libertarians, he’d rank, certainly, in the top half dozen, probably in the top three.

I only respond to polite letters. Your XYZ was not polite. Don’t do that in future, or, I won’t respond to you. By the way, my friend Laurence Vance is one of my favorite authors on LewRockwell.com. Joyless? No. Passionate? Knowledgeable? Magnificent? Yes!

Letter 5

—–Original Message—–

From: R

Sent: Friday, August 09, 2019 12:15 AM

To: Walter Block

Cc:

Subject: “Judge Andrew Napolitano is an Excellent Libertarian, Part III” by Dr. Walter E. Block (Aug. 7)

Walter,

You’re intriguing discussion about “who is a Libertarian” had me thinking of other prominent people you did not mention. What category (A-D) would you place Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, or John F. Kennedy?

My estimation of those three presidents:  Jefferson, B; Madison C; Kennedy D.

I believe Jefferson told Madison he approved of the newfangled Constitution, but I sincerely believe he had some doubts about it being enforced by honest courts and judges, and secretly wanted to continue (with modest tweaks) the Articles of Confederation (Mar. 1, 1781-Mar. 4, 1789), that had allowed States to issue unlimited amounts of fiat money and fight trade wars with other States (ex., NY vs. NJ).

The #1 reason I have to add Kennedy was because he REFUSED to place armies in, or make (a possible nuclear!) war at least FIVE different times, when goaded or repeatedly provoked by the Military (or CIA). They were: Laos (1961), Cuba (Bay of Pigs, 1961), West Berlin (Wall, 1961-63), Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962), and S. Vietnam (1963), with his Oct. 11, 1963 National Security Action Memorandum #263, proposing the removal of the first 1,000 (of the 16,500) Army ADVISERS by the end of 1963, with most gone by 1965, and no regular army units or U.S. Marines (as LBJ did on Mar. 8, 1965).

He could be tough when needed (Cuban Missile Crisis) in demanding removal of the missiles, but his diplomatic “back channel” communication with the Soviets, helped avert a nuclear holocaust that would have killed at least 40 million Americans, and almost that many Russians in the first hours of an exchange.

As Randolph Bourne exquisitely stated it: “War is the health of the State.” (1918)

The cherry-on-top was Kennedy’s magnificent “Peace Speech” at American University (June 10, 1963) morally stating the case for peaceful co-existence with the U.S.S.R., and praising their citizens achievements and advancements in many areas of life, and bravery in war, but still condemning their economic and judicial systems with its brutal regressive nature.

“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. …Confident and unafraid, we must labor on–not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace.” –President John F. Kennedy (June 10, 1963)

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfkamericanuniversityaddress.html

Plus, Kennedy was magnificent in refusing to create a “Great Society” as LBJ later did, with disastrous results.

As a LIFE member of the NRA, Kennedy was never in favor of restricting law-abiding citizens in owning guns, and the crime rates in his years were very low compared to the turbulent and violent decades after.

Kennedy also proposed the wonderful tax cut that was passed after his death (1964, in his honor), that was the key in reviving the economy for the remainder of the 1960s and early 1970s, with strong growth rates that had previously been anemic along with high unemployment. The top rate was reduced from an oppressive 91% to 70%, with corresponding rate cuts in the lower brackets.

It was reported he was worried about the budget spending actually going over–get this, $100 BILLION ($106.8 BILLION; 1962 Fiscal Year on June 30 * ), the last Democratic president to have that mindset! Now, the Government spends over $4.52 TRILLION yearly, an astounding growth in government that was never contemplated by Kennedy, as he believed more in free markets, than most of his socialist or wild-spending contemporaries in both major political parties.

* https://www.usgovernmentspending.com/fed_spending_1962USbn

“The free market is not only a more efficient decision maker than even the wisest central planning body, but even more important, the free market keeps economic power widely dispersed.” –John F. Kennedy (reported by Jacob G. Hornberger)

The only reason that I believe he is not considered a libertarian today, is the wrong-headed view that he favored War in South Vietnam, and was socially considered a “liberal” (civil rights–deploying armies to enforce the court’s orders in Alabama and Mississippi in their schools, as Eisenhower did in Arkansas, 1957), but contrasted with today’s Democrats, he would decidedly be considered very conservative, as he was in economic and his hands-off approach to crime (guns), leaving that to the States, as obeyed by the 10th Amendment–a clear distinction between those who want more centralization vs. decentralization and devolving of political power to the States.

Please let me know how you would categorize Jefferson, Madison, and Kennedy, and why you disagree (if you do), with my reasoning.

Best always,

R

Dear R:

I find it very difficult to consider slave owners as libertarians. This one “bite,” in my view, precludes them from being considered libertarians. Yes, Jefferson, Madison, and also Kennedy did some very good things, but we’ve got to draw the line somewhere. I don’t think Kennedy had a libertarian bone in his body.

Lookit, right now, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard support an excellent Ron Paulian foreign policy. Are they therefore libertarians? To ask this is to answer it. Of course not. If they were, the word “libertarian” would be stretched to the breaking point. Yes, Tulsi and Bernie are libertarian, but only on foreign policy. On nothing else.

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4:03 pm on August 11, 2019

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Advice for Newly Married Men

Congratulations. Here’s my advice to all newly married men.

You’re in charge of all the important family decisions. Environmental policy, the UN, should we ban plastics, who should be the next president? What about free trade? What should our policy toward Russia be?

Your wife is in charge of all the unimportant decisions. Where to live. How the both of you should dress. How many kids to have.  What restaurant to eat at? Who does which chores. Any and all other such unimportant decision.

I’ve been with my wife for almost 50 years. So far, this advice has worked for me.

Also, whenever you get into an argument with her, make sure you get in the last word. Well, actually, the last two words. And what are they, pray tell? They are these: “Yes, dear.”

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8:31 am on August 11, 2019

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