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Air Pollution

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2018 11:09 PM
Subject: RE: A tort case

Dear Dr Block, I am T from Hungary, a regular contributor to the Hungarian HVG’s (Heti Világgazdaság, World Economy Weekly) libertarian-leaning “Kapitalizmus” (Capitaism) blog (kapitalizmus.hvg.hu) primarily on ethics and political philosophy. I am planning to write a short blog post on pollution and evironmentalism from a natural law libertarian perspective. I would dare to ask a question to you.

Once in one of your lectures you have mentioned a tort case – if I remember correctly – from the 1830s in which a laundress was the injured party and an industrial plant was the tortfeasor. The laundress sued the plant because it’s smokestack sooted the drying clothes in the backyard of the laundress. The court ruled that the smoke from the plant is the property of the industrialist so it has nothing to do in the backyard of a laundress and obliged the factory to pay for the pollution. You have also mentioned that later the case was overruled by legislation that prevented it from becoming a precedent.

Could you please refresh my memory and tell me some details of both the case and the statute? Thank you very much indeed for your troubles. I am looking forward for your kind reply. Best wishes, T

Dear T: Look here:

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;
https://mises.org/library/law-property-rights-and-air-pollution-0 (This, in my opinion, is THE best essay ever written on environmentalism).

Horwitz, Morton J. 1977. The Transformation of American Law: 1780-1860, Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Best regards,



2:21 pm on July 10, 2018

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Dear M: I’m not sure I fully understand this either, but, let me take a hack at it. Praxeologists claim that it is apodictic, necessarily true, that if the minimum wage is imposed, or, increased, workers whose marginal revenue product is less that the level stated by law, assuming profit maximization, then, ceteris paribus, they will become unemployed. So, suppose the minimum wage law is raised to $20/hour, and no increased unemployment occurs. Then, the Misesian praxeological law about the minimum wage will have failed, according to this person. I would say, in sharp contrast, that this economic law is still valid, it is praxeological, and that perhaps ceteris wasn’t paribus, or, the unemployment statistics are at fault. I hope this helps.

From: M
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2018 7:41 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Mises methodology

Dear Dr Block,

I understand if you likely don’t have time for this but I frequent a very active Facebook site entitled ‘Ancap vs Ancom Debate Group’.

A poster, I assume sympathetic to Ancoms, has posted criticisms of Mises’ methodology – the most significant of which is the following:

“Of course his [Mises] axioms are disputable and his reasoning less than rigorous, but we need only attack his absurd methodology to bring his entire house of cards to the ground.

That’s why even Neoclassical economists ignore Mises, though they might agree with his conclusions; his methodology is entirely discredited.

“Praxeology is a theoretical and systematic, not a historical, science. Its scope is human action as such, irrespective of all environmental, accidental, and individual circumstances of the concrete acts. Its cognition is purely formal and general without reference to the material content and the particular features of the actual case. It aims at knowledge valid for all instances in which the conditions exactly correspond to those implied in its assumptions and inferences. Its statements and propositions are not derived from experience. They are… a priori. They are not subject to verification and falsification on the ground of experience and facts. They are both logically and temporally antecedent to any comprehension of historical facts.”
(Mises, L. 2008. Human Action: A Treatise on Economics. The Scholar’s Edition. Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala.: 32).

What we have here is a goal post. All that is necessary to move the entire field of praxeology, is a single indispensable assumption of Mises’ praxeology that is derived from a posteriori experience, and the entire field of praxeology is shifted from the merely conceptual apriori world, into the world that dips its toe into the real a posteriori world, wherein praxeology is open to a posteriori falsification, where praxeology immediately fails as it’s tenants are not testable.

If Mises were to have enlisted a single indispensable a posteriori claim into his praxeology, his entire chain of reasoning is opened to a posteriori critique and must be independently tested empirically, wherein Mises whole edifice fails.

Mises enlisted such indispensable a posteriori assumptions, and therefore Mises entire theoretical framework can be dismissed and condemned to the trash heap of ideology.”

Although I am aware that Austrian economics holds that proper methodology bases itself on a priori axioms and their logical implications I am far from a trained Austrian economist and thus feel at a disadvantage in responding to the above criticism. I frankly don’t understand the significance of the references to “a posteriori” experiences that supposedly invalidate Mises. She never cited any a posteriori assumptions by Mises but alleges he did rely on them and in doing so invalidates his “entire theoretical framework”.

Are her a posteriori criticisms credible and/or any suggestions as to a proper Austrian response?



4:57 pm on July 8, 2018

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Legally Obliged to Purchase the Car? No.

From: R
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 10:09 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: contract

Hi Walter, I looked at a new car today, negotiated a price for a trade-in, and signed some contractual papers that said I’ll pay $X for the deal, but I didn’t take the car, and I didn’t pay him. The deal was I’d pick up the car the next day. When I got home in my old car, I thought a bit and decided I’d rather not make the deal. Am I obligated to buy it–I did sign an agreement? The dealership spent hours arranging all the documents. Best wishes, R

Dear R: I think you are morally obligated to buy the car. However, I don’t say that qua libertarian, since libertarianism is not concerned with morality, only with just law. I don’t think you are legally obligated to do so, at least not under Rothbardian libertarian law, to which I subscribe. You are not legally obligated to do so, until money, collateral, has changed hands, which has not yet occurred. Rather, your signature amounts to a promise to buy the car, a moral obligation, but not a legal one. You are legally obliged not to steal. So, for example, if you drive the dealer’s car off the lot and your check bounces, or, you pay him but he refuses to turn over the automobile, then there is a violation of property rights, e.g., theft. Best regards, Walter


4:50 pm on July 7, 2018

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From: R
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2018 3:05 PM
To: walter block

Walter: I have one question: the following is, I think, a fair summary of Hoppe’s argument (one accepted by both you and Murray).

Argumentation ethics argues the non-aggression principle is a presupposition of argumentation and so cannot be rationally denied in discourse.

while it is certainly better than evoking natural rights, which are a total myth that cannot be demonstrated to exist, why do you think it provides a foundation for libertarianism? it seems to me that at best, it says that NAP can’t be rejected in discourse. but can’t one be a libertarian without engaging in discourse about it. e.g. you could just live your life as a libertarian (which is what i do, as best i can) and simply not discuss it at all (personally, i prefer to discuss theoretical physics) in which case it’s necessary to provide another justification for libertarians (i justify it – to myself of course, since i don’t discuss it – as being most compatible with my psychological disposition). that has been perfectly adequate to me. R

Dear R: I regard my friend Hans Hoppe as one of the most gifted libertarian theoreticians not only now actively writing, but in all of recorded history. In my view, his argumentation ethics is one of the many jewels in his crown. I not only think it provides a foundation for libertarianism, I think it provides the very best foundation for libertarianism now available to us, thanks to him.

You are quite right that one can be “a libertarian without engaging in discourse about it…” All one need do is live according to the non aggression principle. However, Hans demonstrates that the only way to JUSTIFY a philosophical principle is through discourse. And that therefore those who argue against libertarianism engage in a performative contradiction, since arguing implies adherence to the NAP.

Here is a bibliography on this issue:

Hoppe’s “argumentation ethic” defense of libertarian rights was first published, to my knowledge, in three articles in 1988: “On the Ultimate Justification of the Ethics of Private Property,” Liberty (September 1988); “The Justice of Economic Efficiency,” Austrian Economics Newsletter (Winter 1988); and a longer piece, “From the Economics of Laissez Faire to the Ethics of Libertarianism,” in: Walter E. Block & Llewellyn H. Rockwell, eds., Man, Economy, and Liberty: Essays in Honor of Murray N. Rothbard (Mises Institute, 1988). These were included as chapters 10, 9, and 8, respectively, of Hoppe’s book The Economics and Ethics of Private Property (Kluwer, 1993). The most definitive elaboration of Hoppe’s theory is found in “The Ethical Justification of Capitalism and Why Socialism Is Morally Indefensible,” chapter 7 of his monumental A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism (Kluwer 1989; more info; hereinafter referred to as TSC ). This chapter is similar to the 1988 chapter in Man, Economy, and Liberty. These and other materials are available at Hoppe’s website.
Hoppe, 1988A, 1988B, 1988C, 1988D, 1993, 1995

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988A. “On the Ultimate Justification of the Ethics of Private Property,” Liberty, September

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988B. “The Justice of Economic Efficiency,” Austrian Economics Newsletter. Winter

Hoppe, Hans Hermann. 1988C. “From the Economics of Laissez Faire to the Ethics of Libertarianism,” in: Walter E. Block & Llewellyn H. Rockwell, eds., Man, Economy, and Liberty: Essays in Honor of Murray N. Rothbard. Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute.

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1988D. “Utilitarians and Randians vs Reason.” Liberty (November): 53–54; http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1993. The Economics and Ethics of Private Property. Studies in Political Economy and Philosophy, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 204-207

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1995. Economic Science and the Austrian Method. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute; http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pes1.asp;
http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pfe3.asp; http://mises.org/pdf/esam.pdf

These were included as chapters 10, 9, and 8, respectively, of Hoppe’s book The Economics and Ethics of Private Property (Kluwer, 1993). The most definitive elaboration of Hoppe’s theory is found in “The Ethical Justification of Capitalism and Why Socialism Is Morally Indefensible,” chapter 7 of his monumental A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism (Kluwer 1989; more info; hereinafter referred to as TSC ). This chapter is similar to the 1988 chapter in Man, Economy, and Liberty. These and other materials are available at Hoppe’s website.

supporters of Hoppe’s argumentation ethics::

Block, 2004, 2011; Gordon, 1988; Kinsella, 1996, 2002, 2009, 2015; Meng, 2002; Rothbard, 1988, Van Dun, 2009.

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Are Alienability and the Apriori of Argument Logically Incompatible?” Dialogue, Vol. 1, No. 1; http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/2004/256gord6.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2011. “Rejoinder to Murphy and Callahan on Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 631–639;

Eabrasu, Marian. 2009. “A Reply to the Current Critiques Formulated Against Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics,” Libertarian Papers. Vol. I, No. 1;

Gordon, David. 1988. “Radical & Quasi-Kantian.” Liberty (November): 46–47; http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Kinsella, N. Stephan. 1996. “New Rationalist Directions in Libertarian Rights Theory.” Journal of Libertarian Studies 12 (12): 323–38.

Kinsella, N. Stephan N. 2009. “Revisiting Argumentation Ethics.” March 13;

Kinsella, N. Stephan. 2002 [2011]. “Defending Argumentation Ethics: Reply to Murphy & Callahan,” Anti-state.com, Sept. 19 [July 2]; http://www.anti-state.com/article.php?article_id=312

Kinsella, N. Stephan N. 2011. “Argumentation Ethics and Liberty: A Concise Guide.” May 27;

Kinsella, N. Stephan N. 2015. “Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics and Its Critics.” August 11;

Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics and Its Critics

(If you read only one of these entries, read this one.)

Meng, Jude Chua Soo. 2002. “Hopp(e)ing Onto New Ground: A Rothbardian Proposal for Thomistic Natural Law as the Basis for Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Praxeological Defense of Private Property.” Working paper, http://www.mises.org/journals/scholar/meng.pdf

Rothbard, Murray. 1988. “Beyond Is and Ought.” Liberty (November): 44–45; http://mises.org/daily/4629/Beyond-Is-and-Ought; http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Van Dun, Frank. 2009. “Argumentation Ethics and The Philosophy of Freedom.” Libertarian Papers, No. 19; http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/19-van-dun-argumentation-ethics/

critics of Hoppe’s argumentation ethics::

Friedman, 1988; Long, 2004; Murphy and Callahan, 2006; Steele, 1988; Yeager, 1988.

Friedman, David. 1988. “The Trouble with Hoppe: Some Brief Comments on Hoppe’s Justification of the Private Property Ethic.” Liberty, 2.2, November, 53–54.; http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/On_Hoppe.html; http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Long, Roderick. 2004. “The Hoppriori Argument.” May 17;

Murphy, Robert P. and Gene Callahan. 2006. “Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics: A Critique.” The Journal of Libertarian Studies. Vol. 20, No. 2, Spring, pp. 53-64; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/20_2/20_2_3.pdf

Steele, David Ramsay. 1988. “One Muddle After Another.” Liberty (November): 45–46; http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Yeager, Leland. 1988. “Raw Assertions.” Liberty (November): 45–46; http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1988.pdf

Also see this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentation_ethics


12:18 pm on June 16, 2018

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What’s the Best Way to Promote Liberty?

What’s the Best Way to Promote Liberty?
From: J
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2018 12:31 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Article for your critique

Good morning, I am passing on an article a friend of mine, and cohost of my radio show Patriots Lament, posted today, if you care to or have time, I would appreciate your comments/critique of it. Thanks.


Dear J: I disagree with this view, one that Leonard Read offered too. I think we need do more than live good personal lives in order to promote liberty. Who are the two people who converted more people to libertarianism than anyone else? Which two stood head and shoulders over all others in promoting liberty – at least in terms of mass conversions? They are of course Ron Paul and Ayn Rand. The former has lead an exemplary personal life. The latter, not so much, at least not in traditional terms. If the best way to promote liberty were by living a good personal life, then Ayn Rand could never be mentioned in this regard. (Of course, Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises promoted liberty quite a bit too, but not, mainly, through mass conversions. Their contribution was in other directions).


6:57 pm on June 14, 2018

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Cesar Chavez saves workers from being poisoned. He’s a hero? Part II

From: S
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:22 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Caesar Chavez

Though your analysis of B’s question is consistent with principle and logical, it seems to me there is another possibility—the spraying of the field while workers are present could indeed be a tort, but one that the farmer can get away with because he knows the workers will not or cannot take him to court over it. In other words, the workers do not consent contractually to the spraying, but they acquiesce in it for reasons of their own, just as subjects in a State acquiesce in its various oppressions, because they believe themselves unable to prevent them, and likely to be more greviously harmed if they try.

I don’t think one can know in a specific case which alternative applies without careful investigation, and every case could be different. But that is what juries are for. In a free society it would be much easier for the farm workers to take the employer to court, and the jury would be well instructed in its rights and responsibilities (and even more so if the jury is itself professional).. S

Dear S: If this were a one shot deal, and/or if the workers were not notified beforehand that poison would be dropped on them, then, I think you have a good point. However, it was my understanding from B (see below) that this was an ongoing process. That being the case, I find it difficult to see how any lawsuit on the part of the employees against the employer would not be frivolous, at least so considered in a libertarian court. For part I of this exchange, go here: Block, Walter E. 2018. “Cesar Chavez saves workers from being poisoned. He’s a hero?” June 12; https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/cesar-chavez-saves-workers-from-being-poisoned-hes-a-hero/; Reprinted: https://sangabrieltutor.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/did-cesar-chavez-save-workers-from-being-poisoned/


6:08 pm on June 13, 2018

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Cesar Chavez Saves Workers From Being Poisoned. He’s a Hero?

Cesar Chavez saves workers from being poisoned. He’s a hero?

From: B
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2018 12:37 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Migrant farm workers

Dear Prof. Block,

Recently, I had an interesting encounter which I would like you to help me assess in light of our common views on libertarianism.

Last week I attended an accepted college student day with my daughter at the University of Wyoming. (I note as an aside that my daughter made it clear to me that she was not interested in studying economics in college, and therefore she did not follow up on your generous invitation from last year to apply to study with you at Loyola.)

At the college event, we met the parents of an accepted student from California. Both the parents (and their parents as well) had been migrant farm workers from Mexico who eventually became naturalized citizens to the United States. The parents that I met said that they had started at a young age working in California vineyards picking grapes for both domestic consumption and export. They indicated that while picking grapes, the fields were often sprayed with pesticides from the air, even as the farm workers were working in the fields. They said that many of the workers would emerge with blisters and rashes on their arms from the poisonous chemicals. They credited Cesar Chavez and California legislators with eliminating the practice of spraying fields that would expose farm workers to this hazard (and also outlawing younger children from working in the fields).

My thoughts about the child-labor aspects are probably similar to yours: it beats the alternative, starvation. And the parents that I met readily admitted that they willingly worked in the vineyards in order to earn extra cash, even as their parents disapproved of their choice. (Honestly, it sounds like a horrible job.)

However, with respect to the pesticide-spraying issue, I am having a hard time understanding how to reconcile this in light of our beliefs. I do not doubt the veracity of the story told to me by the parents.

1. From a strictly humanitarian perspective, I have a hard time understanding how a human being could consciously choose to drop poison on fields in which other humans are toiling and which would clearly cause them harm. However, you and I both know that capitalism does not ensure that there will be no bad actors in the market, but the market is the best way of weeding them out (in a manner of speaking).

2. From a legal point of view (yes, I am a lawyer), this seems to be a tort which is (was) actionable by the workers. I find it incredible that companies would expose themselves to liability by directly causing harm to their employees. (I did ask whether they were 1099 workers or W-2 employees, and they replied that they were seasonal employees of Dole.) The spraying might have been done by the farmers and not Dole, but still it seems as though there would have been a lot of legal exposure as well as bad PR for the companies.

3. The parents were clearly grateful that Chavez and California legislation intervened to change these practices, which I understand. But this is not a satisfactory result from my perspective. While I do not necessarily view this as an example of market failure, I am having a hard time thinking through how the free market could have worked to stop these objectively bad practices that caused harm to others.

Your thoughts on this would be most welcome.


Dear B: There are externalities, and internalities. In the former case, A impinges upon B’s rights, and they are not contractually related (pollution is an example of trespassing smoke particles). In the latter case, A seemingly impinges upon B’s rights, and they are indeed contractually related, and, therefore, there really is no impingement. Consider the following case. A hires B to test his new jet plane. Testing new jet planes is a perilous business. B does so, and crashes. Is A a murderer? Of course not. A and B made this contract, knowingly. B was fully aware of the dangers, and, presumably, was paid additionally to bear this extra risk. You even mention this very point: “(they) readily admitted that they willingly worked in the vineyards in order to earn extra cash.”

I infer that there must have been some reason for spreading these pesticides while the workers were present. They were paid additionally to bear the risk of disease, blisters and rashes.

So, the evil Cesar Chavez took away from these workers an option they preferred: bearing the risk of disease, blisters and rashes for a higher salary, and left them with one they did not prefer: not bearing the risk of disease, blisters and rashes and earning a lower salary.

Boxing, picking up garbage, wallowing in sewers, washing dishes are all jobs that have negative repercussions. People who engage in them earn more money than would otherwise be the case, given their skills. Labor economists sometimes call this phenomenon compensating differentials. Your pesticide example is only an extreme case of this. I hope and trust my comment is of help to you.


9:43 pm on June 12, 2018

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Dear Friends:

See below for a list of my upcoming public speeches. If you live in these cities (Las Vegas, New Orleans, Auburn Al, NYC) or are visiting them while I’m there, please consider joining me at these events.

I never thought there could be an actual debate as a libertarian gathering concerning Murray Rothbard’s overwhelmingly excellent and magnificent contribution to our philosophy (it is not for nothing that he is properly known as “Mr. Libertarian), but, evidently, I thought wrong.

Another note: my friend Tim Moen, leader of the LP of Canada, has threatened to “spank” me in our debate.

1. Libertarian Party Annual Convention: June 30-July 3; New Orleans

Several talks. One introducing this new book of mine:

Nelson, Peter Lothian and Walter E. Block. Forthcoming, 2018. Space capitalism: the case for privatizing space travel and colonization. Palgrave Macmillan

Debate with my friend Tim Moen, leader of the Canadian LP: Would spanking children be illegal in the libertarian society?

For more information:

2. Freedom Fest: July 11-14; Las Vegas

Several presentations including: “Tough libertarian challenges: anarchism, immigration, abortion.”

Book signing for my Defending the Undefendable series: I, II and III, forthcoming

I’ll be on these two panels:

FREEDOMFESTSCHRIFT Murray Rothbard, Pro and Con
Hunter Hastings • Walter Block • Mark Skousen • Jeffrey Tucker

How High Is High? Does Marijuana Legalization Go Far Enough?
Jason Stapleton • Walter Block • Craig Bowden • Rebecca Gasca • Zoltan Istvan • Jeffrey Tucker

For more information: www.freedomfest.com; www.freedomfest.com/speakers/

3. Mises University: July 15-21, Auburn, Alabama

Fake Economic News.
The Case for Privatization – of Everything.
Ask Me Anything!

For more information: https://mises.org/events/mises-university-2018

4. Libertarian Scholars’ Conference, October 20, New York City

My topics:
Why the anti market bias of literature, novels, movies, plays?
The evil of political correctness

For more information:
October 20, 2018. Libertarian Scholars’ Conference. King’s College, 56 Broadway, NYC; https://mises.org/events/libertarian-scholars-conference; https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=https://www.mises.org/events/libertarian-scholars-conference&c=E,1,ZeVviP3X0lf5_B7R980TunurGGK5AVm7lDtaSlvUQieTNZDBHbulLSw_KMZ6elHQPmX3xkmnOfL4Wa1I5hqOqci7cH-hxwmgCVuNc1sNYLr8ssZtFg,,&typo=1


6:14 pm on June 11, 2018

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Property Abandonment
From: E
Sent: Monday, May 28, 2018 11:53 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: homesteading question

Hi Walter,

Someone asked me a question, claiming it seems silly that someone would have the right to claim a parcel of land, work it, and then abandon it – and yet it would remain theirs for eternity – presumably this would be potential wealth taken out of the stock available means for future generations or others to develop for their best use value.

I know you have dealt with this in the past I’m just having trouble finding the best source. If it isn’t too terribly inconvenient would you point me in the right direction… to the right essay(s) or books on this. Best, E

Dear E: I hope this will be helpful:

Block, 2004, 2015; Block and Nelson, 2015; Kinsella, 2003, 2009A, 2009B, 2009C, 2011; Long, 1993

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Libertarianism, Positive Obligations and Property Abandonment: Children’s Rights,” International Journal of Social Economics; Vol. 31, No. 3, pp 275-286; http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContainer.do?containerType=Issue&containerId=18709; http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block-children.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2015. “Expiration of private property rights.” The Journal of Philosophical Economics. Vol. VIII, Issue 2, Spring; http://www.jpe.ro/?id=revista&p=410;

Block, Walter E. and Peter Lothian Nelson. 2015. Water Capitalism: The Case for Privatizing Oceans, Rivers, Lakes, and Aquifers. New York City, N.Y.: Lexington Books; Rowman and Littlefield; https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498518802/Water-Capitalism-The-Case-for-Privatizing-Oceans-Rivers-Lakes-and-Aquifers. https://mises.org/library/case-privatizing-oceans-and-rivers

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2003. “A libertarian theory of contract: title transfer, binding promises, and inalienability” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2, Spring, pp. 11–37; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_2.pdf; http://mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_2.pdf

Kinsella, Stephan. 2009A. “A Critique of Mutualist Occupancy.” August 2;
http://www.stephankinsella.com/2009/08/a-critique-of-mutualist-occupancy/; http://blog.mises.org/10386/a-critique-of-mutualist-occupancy/

Kinsella, Stephan. 2009B. “Left-Libertarians on Rothbardian Abandonment.” August 22;

Left-Libertarians on Rothbardian Abandonment

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2009C. “Homesteading, Abandonment, and Unowned Land in the Civil Law.” May 22; http://blog.mises.org/10004/homesteading-abandonment-and-unowned-land-in-the-civil-law/

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2011. “The relation between the non-aggression principle and property rights: a response to Division by Zer0.” October 4;

Long, Roderick T. 1993. “Abortion, Abandonment, and Positive Rights: The Limits of Compulsory Altruism,” Social Philosophy and Policy vol. 10 no.1, Winter, pp. 166-191; http://praxeology.net/RTL-Abortion.htm


8:55 pm on June 10, 2018

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Here is a series of back and for letters between me and a correspondent who questions the case for unilateral free trade.

Letter 1

From: J
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2018 9:41 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Tariffs

Walter: Excuse me for my ignorance, but how does our ending all tariffs, fix the inequities imposed by foreign companies on our products? regards, J

Letter 2

Dear J:

There are two guys sitting in a row boat. One of them shoots a hole in the floor of it. That’s the Chinese tariff. Should the other guy, the US, shoot a second hole in the boat? Will that help? No. See below for the case for a unilateral declaration of free trade with all nations, regardless of their own protectionist policies.

Block, Walter E. 2018. “Open Letter to Ph.D. Economists on Tariffs,” April 29; https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/open-letter-to-ph-d-economists-on-tariffs/

Block, Walter E. 2018. “Open Letter to Ph.D. Economists on Tariffs, Part II.” April 29; https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/open-letter-to-ph-d-economists-on-tariffs-part-ii/

Please read the first of these essays of mine. What to do? End all tariffs, period; the Friedman position. In my view, they are a rights violation, and, also, uneconomical.

Best regards,


Letter 3

From: J
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2018 6:32 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Tariffs

Walter: I applaud your interest in our country’ policies (e.g. here). My humble suggestion (as a scientist and citizen) is that you phrase your letter in a constructive manner. In other words, spell out what to do, not what you are against. The fact is that certain US industries are being disadvantaged by some foreign countries (e.g. China) giving politically favored treatment to their foreign counterparts. The tariff idea is an attempt (imperfect as it is) to put some balance into the situation. Indeed, there are some adverse consequences to a tariff — but there are also adverse consequences to doing nothing. My suggestion is that your letter focus on suggesting acceptable alternative ways of addressing the current inequities. regards, j, physicist

Letter 4:

From: J
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2018 10:05 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Tariffs
I perfectly well understand that the second person shooting a hole in the boat, will not help. I also understand that not doing anything about the first hole in the boat will lead to a disaster too. That is my point. You are saying what is a wrong response to an existing hole.
However, I don’t see a focus on a solution that will assure us that the first hole will be immediately fixed. Again, maybe I’m simply clueless.
regards, j physicist

Letter 5:

Dear J:
The only way to fix the first (Chinese) hole in the boat is to declare war on it and all other protectionist countries; conquer them, and then remove their tariffs. In that way, they can’t shoot any holes in any boats. I don’t recommend this. Of course, the US is a protectionist country too. So, I return to my initial stance: let the US, and indeed all other countries, unilaterally declare full free trade with every other nation.
Best regards,


9:15 pm on May 8, 2018

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