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Culture Schmulture

From: T
Sent: Sunday, December 24, 2017 11:38 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Culture

http://www.targetliberty.com/2017/12/how-left-conquered-right.html?m=1

Hello Walter: Previously you had said, “Culture Schmulture” in our High School Conference. In the early part of this video, Paul makes a strong argument for culture being important. Could you reply to the role of culture in allowing the left to encroach and grow? Thank you T

Dear T: In my view, culture is very important in determining at what level of civilization people live at, if any. I fully agree with Paul Gottfried on this important matter. I also join my friend Paul as a cultural conservative. I think that western culture is very important to defend.
My only claim when I derisively dismiss culture as “Culture Schmulture” is that culture is irrelevant to justice. In India, suttee was part of the culture; a big integral part. But, it violates the NAP, and is therefore unjust, no matter how well embedded in the culture suttee was. And it is the same with slavery. In many societies, over many historical epochs, slavery was part and parcel of the culture. Still, since it violates the NAP, it is unjust. Just because culture is an important explanatory variable (part of positive economics) does not render it relevant to justice (a matter of normative economics). Just because a certain culture is popular in a certain society does not render it just. For that determination, I as a libertarian ignore culture, popularity, common practice, and look, instead, like a good Rothbardian, at the NAP and private property rights based on homesteading.

Are you a donor to the MI or LRC? If so, I urge you to increase your level of contribution. If not, I urge you to join me and become a financial supporter. If you are willing in this way to promote Austrian economics and libertarianism, go here: https://mises.org/giving/campaigns/help-us-pack-more-powerful-punch-5

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4:21 pm on December 24, 2017

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Previously, I defended Prof. Hoppe against R’s scurrilous charge that Hoppe’s views were “repulsive,” and that one of the greatest contributors to our movement, ever, should not even be considered a libertarian: https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/defense-prof-hoppe/

I copied this interchange to my friend Hans, and this was his partial response:

“and please note the very first words of the quote: ‘in a covenant … you would also expel people from a nudist beach if they insist on wearing bathing suits.’”

This is exceedingly important. Yes, Hans is happy to stand by, even to support, normal straight traditional people removing from their midst “the advocates (I would add what Hoppe would surely consider a friendly amendment: “and practitioners”) of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism will have to be physically removed from society.”

However, for him, turnabout is fair play. On their own property, in their condominium associations, based on their own restrictive covenants, the pinko, commie, hippie weirdos, may also do exactly the same thing to those who are out of step with them. Not only may the straights prevent nudists from undressing on their property, but the nudists may demand that the straights disrobe while on their terrain. No libertarian could have said it any better.

I regard Hans’s mistake as very minor. It is akin to a typographical error, an oversight, a poor word choice. He should not have said that these miscreants, and enemies of liberty should be removed from SOCIETY. In my humble opinion he should written, instead, that the pinko, commies, politically correct snowflakes, etc., should be removed from the premises of the vast majority of traditional (“deplorable”) people. Or, maybe, he should have said something along the lines that they should be removed from TRADITIONAL society.

By the way, in his recent memo to me, he also committed a typo. He wrote “and please not (sic) the very first words.” I changed “not” to “note” without ever thinking about it, of course knowing what he meant: “and please note the very first words of the quote: ‘in a covenant … you would also expel people from a nudist beach if they insist on wearing bathing suits.’” I regard his inaccuracy regarding removed from SOCIETY in much the same manner as I do this recent oversight of his.

Gentle reader, are you a donor to the MI or LRC? If so, I urge you to increase your level of contribution. If not, I urge you to join me and become a financial supporter. If you are willing in this way to promote Austrian economics and libertarianism, go here: https://mises.org/giving/campaigns/help-us-pack-more-powerful-punch-5

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5:13 pm on December 23, 2017

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From: R
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2017 4:49 AM
To: walter block

This quote is from your article, Block, Walter E. 2010. “Libertarianism is unique; it belongs neither to the right nor the left: a critique of the views of Long, Holcombe, and Baden on the left, Hoppe, Feser and Paul on the right.” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22: 127–70; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_8.pdf; http://mises.org/journals/scholar/block15.pdf; http://www.mises.org/journals/scholar/block15.pdf; https://mises.org/library/libertarianism-unique-and-belongs-neither-right-nor-left-critique-views-long-holcombe-and

On p. 150 you offer, and criticize this quote from Hoppe:

“in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They—the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism—will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”

. he’s for physically removing (how, by force?) people (where do they go?) because of what they advocate (just by expressing certain opinions?)

. and this guy is considered a libertarian? this is repulsive stuff, the sort of thing Trump or Moore would agree with.

Dear R: Are you a donor to the MI or LRC? If so, I urge you to increase your level of contribution. If not, I urge you to join me and become a financial supporter. If you are willing in this way to promote Austrian economics and libertarianism, go here: https://mises.org/giving/campaigns/help-us-pack-more-powerful-punch-5 (This, of course, is an open invitation to anyone reading this correspondence.)

I’m a good friend of Hans Hoppe’s. I regard him as one of the most creative, productive and successful libertarians to have ever lived in all of history. He is a chief follower of Murray Rothbard, deservedly so, and I can’t think of higher praise than that. So I resent your attempt to trash him.

Yes, I disagree with Hans on this one point. But, I agree with him, I am inspired by him, on roughly 99.99999…% of everything in political economy. I learn greatly from him, over the years, every time, which is often, that I listen to speech of his or read anything he has ever written.

Lookit, we libertarians have to be more gentle with each other. Murray Rothbard is pro choice, Ron Paul is pro life. They are 180 degrees apart from each other on this matter, and both claim to derive their stance on abortion from basic libertarian principles. It is difficult to think of any two people with better credentials in libertarianism. Suppose I were to call one or both of their views on this matter “repulsive stuff” and in effect say, no actually say, that neither “guy” should be “considered a libertarian.” If I did anything like that, I would be “repulsive” myself. As it happens, I disagree with both. But, I do so in the gentlest, most respectful manner I am capable of. A splendid libertarian leader like Hans Hermann Hoppe, one of our very top theoreticians, deserves no less. I think you should withdraw your calumny of him, and apologize for it.

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2:53 pm on December 23, 2017

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From: S
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2017 10:28 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Income Taxes

Dear Prof. Block, I have been a fan of yours for decades, and I appreciate all the good work you have done.

But I have been struggling with the following issue. The libertarian position is that all taxes are a form of theft; and if possible, we should move forward to get rid of all taxes. Here is the problem. The income tax system keeps increasing the number of people that pay no federal income taxes. Libertarians support that position. But these people that do not pay any taxes are prone to support government programs, because they benefit at no cost to them. Actually, there is a cost to them, but they do not see it. Thus, they keep voting for bigger and more intrusive government. Is it rational for us to support a policy that in effect increases the number of people who have no skin in the game? They will keep voting for more government, and as they increase in volume it will be more difficult to move the country to a more libertarian position.

I remember that the Los Angeles Times used to support any sales tax increase that was proposed. At that time, newspapers, at least in California, were not subject to a sales tax. But the law was changed, and newspapers were subject to the sales tax. After that, the LA Times was more reluctant to support any sales tax increase. Sincerely yours, S

Dear S:

Are you a donor to the MI or LRC? If so, I urge you to increase your level of contribution. If not, I urge you to join me and become a financial supporter. If you are willing in this way to promote Austrian economics and libertarianism, go here: https://mises.org/giving/campaigns/help-us-pack-more-powerful-punch-5

Thanks for your kind words. Yours is a question of strategy and tactics, an empirical issue. Sorry, I have no particular expertise in matters of this sort. My own interests veer more toward the theoretical, the deontological, the principled case for libertarianism, not how best to bring about the free society. My one contribution to this is to note that the two libertarians responsible for the conversation of more people to the freedom banner are Ayn Rand (she didn’t call herself a libertarian, but she was one, in my estimation) and Ron Paul. Yet, in most ways, demeanor, presentation, profession (one was a novelist, the other a politician) they were opposites. From this I draw the conclusion that there is no one best practical way to promote libertarianism, and all libertarians should promote liberty in the manner that best suits their interests, tastes, etc. The only other contribution I can make to your query is to refer you to the writings of Murray Rothbard on this matter of strategy and tactics.

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7:07 pm on December 22, 2017

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Economic Illiteracy

From: C
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2017 11:45 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Economists Warn of Trump Trade War
Dr. Block, Here is a recent interview with Alan Tonelson. Please let me know what you think:

Dear C:
I didn’t have the patience to listen to this protectionist. Alan Tonelson is a Research Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, a supporter of tariffs and an opponent of free trade. Instead, I just skimmed this essay of his:

Up from Globalism

All I can say is that this man’s acquaintance with the doctrine of comparative advantage is greatly wanting. I regard him as an economic illiterate, at least on this subject.

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12:48 pm on December 21, 2017

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Cut Off ALL Foreign “Aid”? No!

Much as it pains me to disagree with my friend and fellow LRC columnist Laurence M. Vance, I feel I must. He states that “Trump should withhold every penny that the United States takes from taxpayers and gives to foreigners and their governments.” https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/trump-withhold-every-penny/.

Vance is such an extremist! I, in contrast am known far and wide (at least in my own mind) as Walter Moderate Block.

So, I offer a friendly amendment to Laurence’s advice to Trump: He should cut down foreign “aid” (as Peter Bauer reminds us, this is a pejorative, and inaccurate; it implies that these expenditures actually do some good; a better verbiage is government to government transfers of funds), exactly to the one penny Mr. Vance warns against. In this way we can burnish our moderate credentials and, also, better show our contempt for these transfers. As for that one penny, I hereby volunteer to give it to Trump for this purpose, so that no taxpayer is forced to do so. (I have written elsewhere that anyone who volunteers to give money to the state is a criminal; I’m willing to take the heat on this one occasion.)

Lord Bauer characterizes foreign “aid” in terms of the three “M’s”: monuments (usually a statue of the dictator, but, more often, a steel mill that produces this product at 5 times the cost of purchasing on the world market), Mercedes, and machine guns.

Lew is such a bully. He insists that when I write tongue in cheek, that I say so. Ok, ok, I really agree with Laurence Vance.

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5:22 pm on December 20, 2017

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Private Roads and Highways

From: J
Sent: Monday, November 27, 2017 4:24 PM
To: walterblock@business.loyno.edu
Subject: Questions on Privatizing the Roads
Hello Professor Block, my name is J. I participate in a private speech and debate league called STOAUSA. Within this league, there is a form of debate called Team Policy Debate in which we as the debaters are given a resolution and are required to form our policy options from this resolution in order to debate the pros and cons of the policy. Our resolution this year is “The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its transportation policy.” In the course of researching a case for this year, I stumbled upon a book that you wrote called “The Privatization of Roads and Highways.” The idea of privatizing the roads in the US piqued my interest and I decided to write a case for the year based upon your book and other research that I had found. However, I discovered that it was impossible for the US Federal Government to privatize the roads themselves as they do not own the roads, the states were given the roads and highways and were given the responsibility to care for them. This poses a problem for me because under the resolution that we were given, I may only act as the federal government, and this fact meant that it was potentially illegal or even unconstitutional for me to pass my case (theoretically at least). My question is this: do you believe that there is any possible way for me to pass my plan under this resolution given the current state of the roads’ ownership? Also, is there any examples of when a foreign country has implemented this same type of policy and seen great success from it? Another source of opposition that I have seen against the idea is the fact that private companies would be building toll roads, thus incurring more costs on the American people. Have you seen a good rebuttal to this point or any sort of statistic as to if the American people support this or not? I would greatly appreciate any sort of answer that you have for me. Yours, J

Dear J: I know of no nation that has fully implemented private roads. If Ron Paul were president, and he wanted to privatize all the roads, he would have very powerful tools at his disposal: a threat to cut off funds from any state that did not go along with his privatization plan. Not all private roads would be toll roads. Some would be loss leaders: the owner would donate road services to motorists, in an effort to get them to patronize his shopping center, purchase real estate, etc. But, don’t think that even when the private road charges a toll the people would be more than at present; right now, they pay through taxes, and it is my claim that the tolls in a free market would be substantively lower than taxes, due to efficiency difference between public and private roads. Do read this book of mine to which you refer for more answers to these challenges. My main motivation for writing this book is to save lives. Some 35,000 US residents die on our roads every year, and I offer reasons for believing this loss would be greatly reduced under privatization.

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

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4:07 pm on December 20, 2017

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From: J
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2017 6:21 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: “Net Neutrality”

Dear Dr. Block, Can you provide a Rothbardian rundown on the issue of the day: [inter] net neutrality? Best wishes, J

Dear J: I hope and trust this bibliographical list will be helpful to you in this regard:

Dellinger, 2017; Estep, 2017; Freiling, 2017; Klein, 2015; McMaken, 2017; North, 2017; Swanson, 2006; Wenzel, 2017

Dellinger, Brian. 2017. “No Neutral Ground: The Problem of Net Neutrality.” December 13; https://mises.org/wire/no-neutral-ground-problem-net-neutrality

Estep, Sam. 2017. “The FCC Needs To Abolish a Lot More than Net Neutrality .” December 19;
https://mises.org/wire/fcc-needs-abolish-lot-more-net-neutrality

Freiling, Nicholas. 2017. “Net Neutrality: Government Can’t Know the ‘Correct’ Price for Internet Service.” November 18;
https://mises.org/wire/net-neutrality-government-cant-know-correct-price-internet-service

Klein, Peter. “The Net Neutrality Lie.” 2015. March 14;
http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2015/03/peter-klein-net-neutrality-lie.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+economicpolicyjournal%2FKpwH+%28EconomicPolicyJournal.com%29

McMaken, Ryan. 2017. “Net Neutrality Strengthens Monopolies, Invites Corruption.” July 17; https://mises.org/blog/net-neutrality-strengthens-monopolies-invites-corruption
North, Gary. 2017. “Goodbye, Net Neutrality. Hello, Liberty..” December 1;

Goodbye, Net Neutrality

Swanson, Tim. 2006. “Who Owns the Internet?” May 04; http://www.mises.org/story/2139;
see also http://blog.mises.org/archives/authors.asp#Swanson; http://www.techliberation.com/ http://www.heritage.org/Research/Regulation/bg1941.cfm

Wenzel, Robert. 2017. “The FCC Just Killed Net Neutrality: Here’s Why You Should Cheer.” December 14; http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2017/12/the-fcc-just-killed-net-neutrality.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+economicpolicyjournal%2FKpwH+%28EconomicPolicyJournal.com%29

Best regards,

Walter

Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Avenue, Box 15, Miller Hall 318
New Orleans, LA 70118
tel: (504) 864-7934
wblock@loyno.edu

Biography and CV

Articles in Refereed Journals

If it moves, privatize it; if it doesn’t move, privatize it. Since everything either moves or doesn’t move, privatize everything.

Block, Walter E. 2017. “C’mon Down To New Orleans; The Water’s Fine. Enroll at Loyola University.” June 27; https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/cmon-new-orleans-waters-fine-enroll-loyola-university/

Loyola Economics Students Published Widely in Refereed Journals; http://www.loyno.edu/news/story/2017/7/17/3962

Block, Walter. 2017. “The Best Place to Study Undergraduate Economics.” June 30; http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2017/06/the-best-place-to-study-undergraduate.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+economicpolicyjournal%2FKpwH+%28EconomicPolicyJournal.com%29

Wenzel, Robert. 2017. Interview with Walter E. Block. “The Inside Scoop on Studying Economics at Loyola University-New Orleans” September 3;
http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2017/09/the-inside-scoop-on-studying-economics.html
http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2017/09/the-inside-scoop-on-studying-economics.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+economicpolicyjournal%2FKpwH+%28EconomicPolicyJournal.com%29

Top Ten Contemporary Academics Helping The Political Right (#8)
http://www.poletical.com/academics-helping-the-right.php

100 Most Influential Libertarians: A Newsmax/FreedomFest List (#46)
http://www.newsmax.com/BestLists/libertarians-newsmax-freedomfest/2017/06/01/id/793510/

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7:32 pm on December 19, 2017

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Free Trade, Capital Movements, Economic Welfare

From: T
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 9:11 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Defending Buchanan

Re: How Can Buchanan Be So Bad? (https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/like-little-girl-curl-can-pat-buchanan-good-foreign-policy-yet-bad-free-trade/)

Hello Dr. Block, Doesn’t Ricardo’s theory of Comparative Advantage stipulate that capital must be fixed? If capital can move out of the U.S., for instance, and into a country with cheaper labor– slave labor, let’s say– how would free trade benefit Americans? All things considered, if the capital in high wage, liberal democracies moved into low wage, totalitarian countries, would humanity benefit? Respectfully, T

Dear T: Free trade always and ever, necessarily, apodictically, praxeologically benefits all those who engage in it, at least in the ex ante sense, and almost always, but not as a matter of pure logic, in the ex post sense. But when you talk about anything benefitting “Americans,” or “humanity,” you run into the issue of interpersonal comparisons of utility, a no-no for Austrian economists. Here, we are outside of the realm of praxeology. In my prudential judgement, however, the free movement of capital, and free trade even with totalitarian countries that practice slavery, is a net benefit to all. Putting aside the issue of rapefugees, and truckfugees, and other immigrant terrorists, the free movement of goods, labor and capital is of benefit to both “Americans” and “humanity,” in my assessment.

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7:09 pm on December 18, 2017

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Who Owns the Dead Body?

From: D
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2017 12:55 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Question regarding property rights on corpse of aggressors

Hello Prof Block! There is a fascinating situation going on in Israel now, the supreme court revoked the govt decision to hold terrorist corpses that were obtained by the Israeli army after killing the terrorists in combat. The bodies are held in order to negotiate with at a later time, I personally feel that the best solution is for the govt to allow for the families of the victims to be the ones to decide what to do with corpse of the assailant, as compensation, what are your thoughts on this issue?

Dear D: I agree with you. If someone dies intestate, it should be assumed that his heirs in effect “own” his remains, and should decide to do with it as they wish; presumably to bury it. On the other hand, if someone dies with a will, then, presumably, his last wishes should be respected. Ditto for murderers. A murders B. A has stolen the life of B. Ideally, if there were a Nozickian type of machines that could transfer the life out of the live murderer into the victim’s corpse, that machine should be employed. We don’t (yet) have such machines. But, B (and his heirs) are the rightful owners not only of A if he is still alive, but, now, of the corpse of A. They should decide what to do with it, not the government.

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3:07 pm on December 17, 2017

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