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A Nice Letter About Me, Bob Murphy, Gary North, Lew Rockwell and Tom Woods

I invited M to a seminar I was holding at Loyola for high school teachers. Here is his response:

From: M
Sent:
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Free market oriented high school teacher here….in Shanghai

Dear Walter Block,
You have been a great teacher to me. You are one of the many who helped turn me to teaching Economics. I’ve been reading LRC and Mises.org since the early 2000s. More accurately, I’ve read Lewrockwell.com very nearly daily since around 2002 or 2003. I count you, Gary North, and Tom Woods as my three most influential economists. My current textbook is Lessons for the Young Economist by Roberty P. Murphy. So, it is with great enthusiasm that I answer your call.
However, I teach at a school in Shanghai, China. And in November 2016, classes will be in session and I will be unable to attend what would surely be a great event at Loyola. In my place, I heartily recommend one Mr. C, a high school economics teacher and video producer from ACDCLeadership on Youtube (and also a co-host of Crash Course Economics (also on YouTube). While he is not a pure Rothbardian, he does have a definite free-market lean. His videos are well done, and are highly viewed (especially before AP exam season). I have used many of his videos to help clarify different concepts in my classes. And even though my students are not native English speakers, they follow his meaning fairly well. Also, with ACDC’s following on YouTube, I’m sure Mr. C would have many connections who would be interested in the conference at Loyola.
Best regards to you, much appreciation, and many more thanks than one should reasonably write in the sign-off of an e-mail,
M
Economics Teacher
High School
Shanghai, China

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2:30 pm on November 4, 2018

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Some Tough Questions About Libertarian Homesteading Theory

—–Original Message—–
From: A
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2018 9:37 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: What can we homestead?

Hello Dr. Block,

What can we homestead and what are its limits? I can understand homesteading land but what about less physically-tangible things?

One example I’ve heard was, suppose a company builds an airport on some empty parcels of land and there is no one around. Let’s also assume the airport produces a fair bit of noise but it doesn’t affect anyone because no one else lives there. In this process, the airport homesteads the right to produce some level of noise. It is precisely this right that prevents a person from building a new house close to the airport, and then suing the airport for noise pollution.

This example seems intuitive to me. But where does it stop?

If I build a house with a nice mountain view, do I really have the right to that mountain view? If someone decides to build a high-rise tower and blocks the view, can I really sue them?

Or alternatively, what about if I build a house with a backyard such that I get plenty of sunlight for the plants that I am growing. If someone builds a house next to me and blocks the sunlight, can I really sue them? Have I homesteaded the right to the sun?

Could you please point me to resources that can help answer these questions? Thank you in advance for your help and all that you do for liberty. I am an admirer of your work.

Best, A

Dear A:

By far, the best thing ever written about issues of this sort is this one:

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

I don’t think you can own views:

Block, Walter E. 2014. “A Collection of Essays on Libertarian Jurisprudence:
Sunshine and property rights.” Saint Louis University Law Journal; Vol. 58, No. 2, Winter, pp. 541-547; http://slu.edu/Documents/law/Law%20Journal/Archives/LawJournal58-2/Block_Article.pdf;
http://law.slu.edu/sites/default/files/Journals/walter_block_essay.pdf
Shade, sunlight, sun light, views .

More on sunlight:

Block, Walter E. 1998. “Roads, Bridges, Sunlight and Private Property: Reply to Gordon Tullock,” Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, Vol. 8, No. 2/3, June-September, pp. 315-326; http://141.164.133.3/faculty/Block/Blockarticles/roads2_vol8.htm;
http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block_roads-bridges-sunlight-reply-tullock-1998.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2008. “Homesteading, ad coelum, owning views and forestalling.” The Social Sciences. Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 96-103;
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1890872

Block, Walter E. 2009. The Privatization of Roads and Highways: Human and Economic Factors; forward by Brad Edmonds; Auburn, AL: the Mises Institute; http://www.mises.org/store/Privatization-of-Roads-and-Highways-P581.aspx
http://www.mises.org/store/Privatization-of-Roads-and-Highways-P581.aspx?AFID=14
freebie: http://mises.org/books/roads_web.pdf
http://mises.org/books/roads_web.pdf
isbn: 978-1-933550-04-6

Block, Walter E. and Matthew A. Block. 1996. “Roads, Bridges, Sunlight and Private Property Rights,” Journal Des Economistes Et Des Etudes Humaines, Vol. VII, No. 2/3, June-September, pp. 351-362; http://141.164.133.3/faculty/Block/Blockarticles/roads1_vol7.htm;
http://www.business.loyno.edu/bios/Blockarticles/roads1_vol7.htm;
http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block-block_roads-bridges-sunlight-property-1996.pdf;
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228217518_Roads_Bridges_Sunlight_and_Private_Property_Rights?ev=prf_pub

Debate on eminent domain: Walter E. Block vs. Richard Epstein, http://mises.org/media/1231; http://blog.mises.org/archives/002009.asp;
http://maroon.uchicago.edu/news/articles/2004/05/04/block_epstein_will_d.php;
5/4/04; http://www.mises.org/blog/archives/002009.asp
Listen to it: http://www.mises.org/Media/?action=showname&ID=64

Epstein, Richard vs. Walter E. Block, 2005. “Debate on Eminent Domain.” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 1144-1169 http://maroon.uchicago.edu/news/articles/2004/05/04/block_epstein_will_d.php;
5/4/04; http://www.mises.org/blog/archives/002009.asp
http://www.nyujll.org/articles/Vol.%201%20No.%203/Vol.%201%20No.%203%20-%20Block%20and%20Epstein.pdf

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4:34 pm on November 3, 2018

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Praise for Hans Hoppe

I got this letter from someone who knows that I’m a big fan of Han Hoppe’s in general, and, in particular, of his argumentation ethics (for my pubs on this see below). Here is the letter:

“I was thinking about Hans Hoppe during the election. The Kavanaugh battle convinced me that the only two parties in the U.S. with a legitimate claim to my vote are the Republicans and the Libertarians. Why have I so completely written off the Democrats? The answer, I realized, lies in Hoppe’s contribution. The Democrats, as far as I can see, have abandoned the ethics of argumentation. They are no longer interested in trying to persuade those who disagree with them. Instead, they simply insult or shout down those who do not hold the correct views, the correct views being pre-determined by some exclusive process carried out in private by an elite; there is no requirement for public debate or public consensus building as part of the process of determining correct views. In short, the Democrats have abandoned the ethics of argumentation. And that’s driven my decision to permanently write off the Democrats.”

Block, Walter E. 2011. “Rejoinder to Murphy and Callahan on Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 631–639;
http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_31.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Are Alienability and the Apriori of Argument Logically Incompatible?” Dialogue, Vol. 1, No. 1. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1889440

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10:25 am on November 2, 2018

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Mother or Father as Guardian of the Baby? Part III

I have had more pushback regarding these two blogs of mine (https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/693930/; https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/mother-or-father-as-guardian-of-the-baby-mother/) than from any other topic I have ever addressed on this blog. I am grateful to those who have written me on this matter. Most were well-considered arguments. I will not respond to all of them (hey, I’ve gotta do my other writing), but here are my responses to two of them:

First of all, my initial essay on this topic was merely an attempt to apply black letter libertarian homesteading theory (see below) to which I think all libertarians agree, to an arena to which it has not often been applied. I noted that from the time of intercourse, to the birth of the baby, the mother necessarily puts in far more “mixing of her labor” with the fetus than does the father, abstracting from financial considerations (I also ignore the fact that Arnold Schwartenegger was once pregnant). Therefore, at the time of birth, not at any other time, the mother has a far better case for ownership of the guardianship rights of the infant than the fater. Probably, I should have been far more clear about this beforehand. I’m trying my best to clarify, now. With this in mind, let me respond first to H, by interspersing my responses within his important queries.

From: H
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2018 8:11 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Lew Rockwell: Mother custody

Dr. Block

I plan to respond to your favoring the mother for custody in a divorce scenario, but first a couple questions:

Does the father have any obligation to support the child in the future?

<<No. None. Unless he contractually obligates himself to do so. There are no positive obligations in libertarian theory. Only negative ones. Does the father have any obligation to support the mother in the future? <<No. Ditto. Is there a transfer of his past earnings to the mother in the divorce? << No. Ditto. For the same reasons. Does the father have any rights to the child at all? << Yes, certainly. His rights are second, only, to the mother’s. If she dies, and he is willing to care for the child, his guardianship rights are better than those of anyone else. With keen interest, H To B: I have children of my own, a son and a daughter, so I can perhaps emphasize with you. My heart goes out to you in your plight. I wish you every success

in your endeavors. However, your son is now 14. My essay was focused, only, on newborns. At that time, if there were a divorce between you and your wife, or the mother of your child, all I am saying is that her guardianship rights were then stronger than yours. Most courts look at these matters from the “best interests of the child” and I have no quarrel with that. In baseball if there is a tie at first base, the call goes to the runner. That’s arbitrary. In a dispute between the mother and father as to guardianship rights in terms of the “best interests of the child”, at the time of birth of the baby, my view is that the tie should go to the mother, based upon libertarian homesteading theory. I am an avid reader of your contributions to LRC. Even if I were not, I would still wish you the best. Certainly, I agree with you that when a boy reaches 14, the influence of a loving father is very, very important.

From: B
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2018 8:13 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Cc:
Subject: Re: Child custody

When speaking of child custody, women are better suited to handle the 24-hour challenges posed by infants. Their nurturing/cuddling hormone, oxytocin, qualifies them for the job. But that same hormone-driven nurturing smothers kids as they grow up. Eventually something else enters the picture. The single mother wants a son to grow up and support her. She pulls on the child’s heartstrings and cries. A son never gets an opportunity to start his own life, career, marriage, etc.

Some time back a teacher took 17 disadvantaged kids in Los Angeles and taught them one subject: reading, nothing else. As they advanced through middle and high school they excelled and had excellent SAT scores. All of them received full scholarship offers from high-ranking schools. How many of them went on to higher education? None. Their mothers pressured the children to get a job and support them. This is why mothers are not best suited for the job of raising kids beyond their nurturing years.

What can result is a son being a mamma’s boy. The mother interferes with any approaching young female who may befriend her son. The fatherless boy has an unconscious desire for a father. The gays and other Catholic priests target these fatherless boys, knowing their weakness. The boy’s life may continue to revolve around his mother, as pointed out in a recent article I wrote at LewRockwell.com

I’m living this challenge. My son is 14 and his mother has contrived stories to persuade the family court to remove all custody from me, the father. My son is devastated. I appealed and got an attorney appointed by the court to represent my son’s interests. That attorney (called minor’s counsel) has already arranged for me to take my son on a business trip to Japan over the mother’s objections. And my son’s voice on who he wants to spend time with (mom or dad) is now being heard. About 40% of divorced mothers use tricks to block their children from having contact with their fathers, to the detriment of the child. B

Libertarian homesteading theory:

Block, 1990, 2002A, 2002B; Block and Edelstein, 2012; Block and Yeatts, 1999-2000; Block vs Epstein, 2005; Bylund, 2005, 2012; Grotius, 1625; Hoppe, 1993, 2011; Kinsella, 2003, 2006, 2009; Locke, 1948 (pp. 17-19), 1955 (chapter 5); Paul, 1987; Pufendorf, 1673; Rothbard, 1973, 32; Rozeff, 2005; Watner, 1982

Block, Walter E. 1990. “Earning Happiness Through Homesteading Unowned Land: a comment on ‘Buying Misery with Federal Land’ by Richard Stroup,” Journal of Social Political and Economic Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer, pp. 237-253.

Block, Walter E. 2002A. “Homesteading City Streets; An Exercise in Managerial Theory,” Planning and Markets, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 18-23; September, http://www-pam.usc.edu/volume5/v5i1a2s1.html; http://www-pam.usc.edu/

Block, Walter E. 2002B. “On Reparations to Blacks for Slavery,” Human Rights Review, Vol. 3, No. 4, July-September, pp. 53-73

Block, Walter E. and Michael R. Edelstein. 2012. “Popsicle sticks and homesteading land for nature preserves.” Romanian Economic and Business Review. Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring, pp. 7-13;
http://www.rebe.rau.ro/REBE%207%201.pdf

Block, Walter and Guillermo Yeatts. 1999-2000. “The Economics and Ethics of Land Reform: A Critique of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s ‘Toward a Better Distribution of Land: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform,’” Journal of Natural Resources and Environmental Law, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 37-69

Block, Walter v. Richard Epstein. 2005. “Debate on Eminent Domain.” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 1144-1169

Bylund, Per. 2005. “Man and Matter: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Justification of Ownership in Land from the Basis of Self-Ownership.” Master thesis, Lund University, spring semester (June); http://www.uppsatser.se/uppsats/a7eb17de8f/; http://perbylund.com/academics_polsci_msc.pdf; http://www.essays.se/essay/a7eb17de8f/; http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/o.o.i.s?id=24965&postid=1330482

Bylund, Per. 2012. “Man and matter: how the former gains ownership of the latter.” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 4, No. 1; http://libertarianpapers.org/articles/2012/lp-4-1-5.pdf

Grotius, Hugo. 1625. Law of War and Peace (De Jure Belli ac Pacis), 3 volumes; translated by A.C. Campbell, London, 1814

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

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 2011. “Of Private, Common, and Public Property and the Rationale for Total Privatization,” Libertarian Papers Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 1-13. http://libertarianpapers.org/2011/1-hoppe-private-common-and-public-property/

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

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2009. “What Libertarianism Is.” August 21;
https://mises.org/library/what-libertarianism

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2006. “How we come to own ourselves” September 7;
http://www.mises.org/story/2291

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2009. “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/

Locke, John. 1948. An Essay Concerning the True Origin, Extent and End of Civil Government, in E. Barker, ed., Social Contract, New York: Oxford University Press,
Locke, John. 1955. Second Treatise of Civil Government, Chicago: Henry Regnery
Paul, Ellen Frankel. 1987. Property Rights and Eminent Domain. Livingston, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers
Pufendorf, Samuel. 1673. Natural law and the law of nations (De officio hominis et civis prout ipsi praescribuntur lege naturali)
Rothbard, Murray N. 1973. For a New Liberty, Macmillan, New York; http://mises.org/rothbard/newlibertywhole.asp

Rozeff, Michael S. 2005. “Original Appropriation and Its Critics.” September 1.
https://www.lewrockwell.com/rozeff/rozeff18.html

Watner, Carl. 1982. “The Proprietary Theory of Justice in the Libertarian Tradition.” Journal of Libertarian Studies. Vol. 6, No. 3-4, Summer/Fall, pp. 289-316; http://mises.org/journals/jls/6_3/6_3_6.pdf

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6:45 pm on November 1, 2018

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Mother or Father as Guardian of the Baby? Mother.

On October 30, 2018 I wrote this note on the LRC blog: “Should We Favor The Mother In Child Custody Cases? Yes.” (https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/693930/). I received two critical comments on this, see below.

Here is my response to Scott Tips: I was talking deontology, rights, you are discussing pragmatism. I based my claim on the mother, in child custody cases, since she did the lion’s share of “homesteading,” mixing her labor with the fetus, compared to the father. I think this is broadly in keeping with the quintessentially libertarian property rights theory of John Locke and Murray Rothbard. In contrast, you are making the utilitarian case that the father is needed to socialize boys. So, at least in this sense, our views do not conflict. However, in addition to being a deontological libertarian, I am also a utilitarian supporter of this philosophy. I think the freedom philosophy also best promotes human flourishing. I am a big fan of Farrell and Gray for emphasizing the crucially important role of dads, in socialization. But, still, if we had to choose which single parent would be better, I think there is a wealth of empirical evidence pointing in the female direction. Women are just more “into” kids than are men, apart from the rights of the matter.

Response to M: Thanks for your intense, well-thought out objection to my thesis. Unhappily, I cannot respond, fully, to each and every important point you make. Let me content myself with the following:

1. I regret you decline to accept me for your Covenant Community. If all your members are as intense libertarians as you are, as well-read, as erudite, your decision is a loss for me. However, I don’t remember ever applying for membership. On the other hand, I’m almost 80 years old, I’m getting senile, and my application may have slipped my mind.

2. I was talking about custody when the baby was born. For the past nine months, (not just “a handful of days at most”) the father’s contribution was virtually zero, while the mother’s was gargantuan. He may or may not have financially supported her. If he did, then, obviously, his claim rises somewhat.

3. Yes, ideally, both parents should have equal custody. That is of course best for the baby. But what about if we have to choose? Did you ever hear of “Sophie’s choice?” In baseball, the tie at first base goes to the runner. All I am suggesting is that if we must choose only one parent as the guardian, libertarian theory suggests that we incline in favor of the mother, not the father.

4. I accept the concept of implicit contracts, but I don’t see how it applies in this case.

From: Scott Tips [mailto:starsend24@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2018 9:05 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Should we favor the mother in child custody cases? No.

Dear Walter,

As a longtime libertarian from the Class of ’69, I thoroughly disagree with your analysis and conclusion on this issue. I strongly suggest that you buy & read The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell & John Gray. It will change your opinion here. Especially in the case of boys, women are incapable of turning boys into men. It takes a father to do that, as very well demonstrated and argued in Farrell & Gray’s book. Custody has nothing to do with homesteading; and even if it did, doesn’t the father’s work outside the home (often far harder & dangerous work than the mother must ever do) to put a roof over everyone’s head and food on the table count towards homesteading? Of course it does. Please read the book. You will find it an eye-opener.

Best wishes,

Scott Tips
President
NATIONAL HEALTH FEDERATION

From: M
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2018 1:33 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: You don’t get to be in my Covenant Community

Dear Doctor Block,

We appreciate your interest, but having reviewed your application we regret to inform you that you will not be permitted to join our Covenant Community at this time. The problem was your insistence that courts show bias in favor of the mother when custody is in dispute. The problems with this position are legion. In no particular order: You put forth a dubious category of property rights called “guardianship rights”; you apply too broadly an argument that at best would have limited application; you are too strict in what you will accept to establish “guardianship rights”; you leave no room for personal contracts nor for implied contracts according to community standards; you too strictly adhere to what we call Zero Stage Libertarianism; you fail to give any weight to basic human nature; and you strictly support an Ivory-Tower-concocted blue print for property rights though the heavens fall.

In our Covenant Community we recognize property rights, which means you can do what you want with your property as long as you don’t interfere with someone else’s. We do not consider children property, and apparently neither do you, which is why you speak of “guardianship rights”. But while we are fine with easements and partial property rights and temporary property rights and all the other subcategories that make a complex economy feasible, we don’t recognize any sort of property right that doesn’t involve ownership, however limited or unlimited in scope and duration. If a woman has “mixed her labor” with a fetus, this would seem to be an argument for ownership of the child, a condition which we do not accept.

We are willing to consider the idea of guardianship rights further, but even if we were to accept your arguments, we cannot see how they would apply beyond a very limited duration. The period during which the mother has labored long to bake the loaf while the father has yet to do aught but supply the seed would last only for a handful of days at most. You support a general bias in favor of the mother because of this with no mention of time limits. Shall a father who has put in years raising his children suddenly become a second class parent during a divorce because the mother gestated the fetuses fifteen years ago?

This raises the next point: why is gestation of the fetus the only consideration when deciding whom to favor in custody cases? Even before the child is born has the father done nothing to sustain the mother and therefor, indirectly, the fetus? Should this not at least be a rebuttable presumption in custody disputes, even those that occur the day after the child is born?

And what of implied contracts? I daresay many a factory worker has labored more on the widget than the factory owner, who merely supplies the seed, if you will. But our courts do not award ownership of the widget to the factory worker, because there is a contract between them. And if there were no explicit contract, whether written or verbal, an implied contract would be assumed according to the long-established custom of workers getting a salary and owners getting the fruits of the workers’ labor. Should a shared custody clause not be considered inherent in any marriage contract? Absent a marriage contract, why should not a shared custody contract be considered implied during any sexual encounter?

After all, libertarianism is a series of guidelines, not a precise blueprint or instruction set. Libertarianism tells us that noise pollution is a property rights violation, but it does not tell us under what conditions exactly a sound becomes noise pollution. Rothbard’s “relevant technological unit” will vary from community to community, and why should it not, since there is no single right answer, just wise and unwise ones? Moreover, one community will consider an implied contract to be in force under conditions by which another community will enforce no such contract. There is no single, correct answer to these questions. It is sufficient that a community set standards that enough of its members consider reasonable. The advantage of a Covenant Community is that these standards are explicitly agreed to in advance of moving in. In our CC, we consider the mother and the father to be equal parents and apportion custody accordingly in the event of an unfortunate breakup of the family.

This is, after all, more in accordance with human nature. The twentieth century is littered with the remains of civilizations who thought they could engineer humans differently. Giving the mother primacy in questions of custody is not what is best for the children – to which a veritable tsunami of scientific literature can attest – to say nothing of the cruelty this visits on the father, or the opportunities for cruelty that this bestows upon the mother, who, in the event of a break up, may be very much disposed to acts of cruelty.

There were CCs that were biased in favor of the mother, but they were not popular. Most men, who were, after all, the ones principally responsible for the construction and maintenance of the physical community, were not too keen on having the people they loved most in the world ripped away from them because of a nine month gestation period often in the distant past with no consideration given to their own contributions. And while many women coming out of a divorce would be more than happy to take a man’s children from him, going into a relationship these same women are of a very different mindset. The result was simply that Covenant Communities were overwhelmingly equitable in their child custody terms. The ones that weren’t did not attract many prospective inhabitants. Those few that did allow women to divorce a man and take his kids found within the space of a generation that the wanton promiscuity, drug use, mental illness and property crime that inevitably accompany a generation raised by a single parent were inimical to the peace and prosperity they sought.

Even if you could show us that the mother has a logically deduced right to take the kids in the event of disputed custody, we would get around this by the simple expedient of ignoring it. A logically deduced libertarian right is not a law of physics, nor is it a magic spell, and if it produces the sort of negative results that single motherhood produced in, say, the United States of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, we would simply assume that we had deduced wrongly, wrongly being defined as against human nature. And if no flaw in the logic could be found, then we would figure that Ivory Tower logical deductions of rights is not an infallible method for the design of a legal system. In our Covenant Community we value Justice second most of all. But more than Justice we value keeping the heavens where they belong. What does it profit a society that they adhered to Justice when only the cockroaches are around to read the epitaphs on their tombstones because they decided to let the heavens slip from their proper place because a deduction that was assumed to be logical but not yet tested against reality was allowed to influence their justice system?

As libertarians we can agree that we are not born with positive obligations. In the wild, absent a community, at the Zero Stage I mentioned above, we have only negative rights. But here in the Covenant Communities we have developed positive obligations through contract, whereas governments create them with legislation. We have prohibitions against libel and slander, which do not exist at Zero Stage but which have contractually developed. We have Good Samaritan Agreements, again achieved through contracts. These positive obligations are nearly universal among the Covenant Communities, and so is the agreement that any conceived child will be under the equal guardianship of the mother and the father, whether they are together or separate. Even if a case for maternal primacy at Zero Stage could be established, and we have serious doubts that it could be, the entire discussion is obviated by contractual agreement upon entering the Covenant Community.

Libertarianism is great at telling us how things ought to be, at least in broad terms. It is less useful for telling us how to get there, or how to behave in a statist world when sometimes you only have non-libertarian choices. My own opinion is that governments, if they are going to exist, ought to imitate the Covenant Communities as best they can, which means that libertarians need to get past Zero Stage Libertarianism. If a government prohibits its citizens from forming Covenant Communities, or inhibits their development by forced funding of and providing the law and enforcement that make Covenant Communities so attractive, at the very least it should fashion its laws in a reasonable manner, so that though the laws are created through unlibertarian means, they may yet appear libertarian in substance.

Though Truth may win out in the long run given a free and open exchange, in the short run people are rather inclined to behave as Winston Churchill said of Americans: they’ll always do the right thing after trying everything else first. We hope you understand that we simply cannot allow subversives to run rampant in our community. Those without must remain without, and those within must be physically removed, so to speak. As Moses on the edge of Canaan, you must remain without.

However, we are not so cruel as the God of the Old Testament. A year from now, if you have purged this deviancy from your ideology, you may reapply. Given your exemplary contributions to libertarian thought, we would be happy to have you.

Yours in Liberty, M

“To be governed is to be watched, inspected, directed, indoctrinated, numbered, estimated, regulated, commanded, controlled, law-driven, preached at, spied upon, censored, checked, valued and enrolled by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.” – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

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9:26 pm on October 31, 2018

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Should We Favor The Mother In Child Custody Cases? Yes.

Should We Favor The Mother In Child Custody Cases? Yes.

From: N
Sent: Saturday, September 1, 2018 11:30 AM
To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: Child Custody and Libertarian Law

I think the following could be used as an argument in favor of the mother in child custody cases under libertarian law. What do you think?

“We’re always taught that our mothers and fathers contribute equally to our genetic composition, but this isn’t quite true: the mitochondria in every one of your cells (and the DNA that comes with them) come from the mitochondria that were initially present your mother’s egg, which, when fertilized by your father;s sperm, developed into you. In other words: all of your mitochondria are descended from your mother’s mitochondria. The tiny sperm contributes DNA , but no cytoplasm and, hence, no mitochondria . Consequently, mitochondrial DNA is something that we inherit exclusively from our mothers. This is true not only in humans but in most multicellular eukaryotes. As the fertilized egg develop into a two-celled, then four-celled, embryo, the mitochondria split themselves by a process called fission, the same process in division and DNA duplication used by bacteria—so there is always a sufficient number of mitochondria for the newly produced cells. This similarity between mitochondria and bacteria is another characteristic that supports the theory that mitochondria were originally symbiotic bacteria.” – Page 107, What is Life

Dear N: My usual practice is not to allow total lack of knowledge to stop me from pontificating about issues. But, here, I must violate my own general rule. I know nothing about the biological issues of which you speak. However, I do have strong (libertarian) views over who has more claim to the guardianship rights of the child. It is the mother. I base this on homesteading theory, a la John Locke, Murray Rothbard and Hans Hoppe. I don’t support the labor theory of value, but I do the labor theory of property rights. He who “mixes his labor” with something gets to own it. Both mother and father took an equal time period to create the fertilized egg, after which the mother put in 9 more months of sometimes pretty intensive labor in supporting the baby during which the father need not have done anything. So, we libertarians should be biased in favor of the mother owning the guardianship rights to the baby.

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8:43 pm on October 30, 2018

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A Nice Letter

From: Gene Epstein [mailto:gene.epstein@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2018 6:56 AM
To: walter block
Subject: Re: debate on abortion

When you famously said, echoing The Godfather line, that with Murray Rothbard’s death, we lost half our strength, you were of course quite right. And you clearly resolved, with much success, to make up for that. as ever, Gene

Dear Gene:

Thanks. That’s just about the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long while. I do indeed try, strive mightily, to pass on the baton Murray was kind enough to bestow on me to the younger generation, through speaking, debating, publishing, having fun, promoting laughter, to the best of my ability.

However, I’m rethinking my calculation. Do all of us together, all of us, equal the output of Murray in terms of promoting liberty, Austrian economics, etc.? I’ve been rereading Murray. I’m now in the midst of his For a New Liberty. I’m gonna be using this book, plus his Ethics of Liberty, for a new course on libertarianism I’ll be teaching freshmen students at Loyola next spring. I now think that we all put together probably provide less than this one man, all by his lonesome. Well, all we can do is to try to follow in his footsteps, as well as our lesser abilities allow. I’m delighted to be a fellow Rothbardian. You are doing excellent work with your Soho Forum debates.

Best regards,

Walter

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8:57 pm on October 29, 2018

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From: J
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2018 10:50 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Lying as a form of force

Two Questions in Political Economy

Dear Dr. Block, I’m sure you already got a ton of responses about the above.

I’m referring to a post you made a few days back where you stated lying wasn’t coercion/force.

Please allow me to elaborate why the two are mutual.

First, any lie can be categorized as manipulation which is a soft form of coercion because it can force people to make decisions they normally wouldn’t.

Probably an even better point is that lying and force often go together, especially with the state.

E.g., the state calls it conscription, libertarians call it kidnapping. Other than the use of the barrel of a gun to enforce conscription, the state also uses lies to control the information about war as necessary and good leading many to believe there is no sound alternative. Therefore the two go hand in hand.

I’d say the same is true with taxation, aka theft according to Libertarians. While this is also enforced with the barrel of a gun, lies also perpetuate the myth of taxation as good leading many to think there is no alternative to funding road construction. The two go hand in hand here as well.

Just wanted to share a thought I had after giving it consideration.

By the way, I saw your interview on CSPAN and thought you broke everything down so clear and concise that a high school student could get it.

Take care, J

Dear J:

Thanks for your kind remarks about my c span interview on this book:

24. Nelson, Peter Lothian and Walter E. Block. 2018. Space capitalism: the case for privatizing space travel and colonization. Palgrave Macmillan; https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-74651-7; https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/3319746502/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1531187909&sr=8-1&linkCode=sl2&tag=economicpolicyjournal-20&linkId=959e913e476f48b289a16223d557a826; http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2018/07/new-walter-block-book-space-capitalism.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+economicpolicyjournal%2FKpwH+%28EconomicPolicyJournal.com%29;
https://www.c-span.org/video/?448910-4/space-capitalism;
https://mises.org/power-market/walter-block-talks-space-capitalism-cspan;
https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/hey-im-on-tv-c-span/;
http://mitchell-langbert.blogspot.com/2018/09/walter-block-on-space-capitalism.html;

In this blog https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/two-questions-in-political-economy/

I lied. I said that 2+2=5. That’s a blatant lie on my part. I’m a criminal? A tortfeasor? No. Not the latter, unless I was contractually obligated to tell the truth.

In many sports, people “lie” to each other. Basketball, football, soccer, baseball, tennis. In the former three, they feint in one direction, and run in the other. In the latter two cases, the pitcher makes as if he is going to throw one kind of pitch, and then throws s a different one. In tennis, the player fakes hitting to one side of his opponent, and hits to the other. Ditto for handball, volleyball, all racket sports. Liar, liar, pants on fire, right? Wrong. This stance is highly problematic.

Here are some more lies of mine: the earth is flat. The sun revolves around the moon. It is now midnight (it’s actually 9am). Hitler and Stalin were libertarians. Ron Paul is a commie. Mises and Rothbard did not make magnificent contribution to economics

Best regards, Walter

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10:07 am on September 28, 2018

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Please File This Under Shameless Self Promotion

An entire volume of a refereed journal (Revista Estudios Libertarios) has been published in my honor. This is not quite a festschrift, but I think it comes close. Here is the dictionary definition of that type of publication: “In academia, a Festschrift (German pronunciation: [ˈfɛstʃrɪft]; plural, Festschriften [ˈfɛstʃrɪftən]) is a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic, and presented during their (sic) lifetime. It generally takes the form of an edited volume, containing contributions from the honoree’s colleagues, former pupils, and friends.” This is not a book, but rather, as I say, an entire volume of a refereed journal, so it comes close, I think, to being a festschrift, but does not quite make it. Another deviation: none of the other contributors to this publication are my colleagues, former pupils or friends, but I hope to rectify the latter lacunae in the not too distant future. This is also the inaugural volume of Revista Estudios Libertarios. I hope and trust this will get it off to a good start.

This volume may be accessed here: Essays in Honor of Walter Block:
http://www.notaslibertarias.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Volumen-completo.pdf

Most of the contributions are in Spanish, but I have contributed two papers to this compilation, one coauthored with a present student of mine:

552. Block, Walter E. 2018. “Negative Rights.” Revista Estudios Libertarios; Vol. 1, pp. 5-6;
http://www.notaslibertarias.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Article-1_.pdf

551. Block, Walter E. and Gabriel Philbois. 2018. “Giffen Goods and Backward Bending Supply Curves of Labor.” Revista Estudios Libertarios; Vol. 1, pp. 55-69; 6http://www.notaslibertarias.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Article-8.pdf

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10:54 am on September 26, 2018

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An Interesting Conversation About a New Book

An Interesting Conversation About a New Book

Letter 1:

FROM: Aleksandar Novakovic [mailto:aleksandar.novakovic@ips.ac.rs]
SENT: Saturday, September 22, 2018 6:16 AM
TO: wblock@loyno.edu
SUBJECT: Request for permission to include in a publication

Dear professor Block,

I am Aleksandar Novakovic from the Institute of Political Studies in
Belgrade and together with my colleague Dusan Dostanic I work on the
collection of texts on the relation between libertarianism and
conservatism.

The aim of the collection is to explore and elucidate ideological
differences and similarities of these intellectual traditions and
political orientations. The prospective collection should encompass
important contributions on the topic from renowned writers from both
intellectual traditions.

Our plan is to include such classic as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich
Hayek, Murray Rothbard, conservatives such as Russell Kirk, Wilhelm
Röpke, fusionists (Frank Mayer, Edward Feser), some “neglected”
Austrians (Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn), libertarian-conservatives
(Hans-Hermann Hoppe), popular libertarian voices (Deirdre Mccloskey),
and several contemporary European authors such are Gerd-Klaus
Kaltenbrunner, Friedrich Romig and Alexander Gauland.

With such selection of the authors our aim is to present various ways
in which the notions of libertarianism and conservatism have been
understood today.

I would like to ask your permission to include in the collection a
Serbian translation of your article “Libertarianism and Libertinism.”
published in _Journal of Libertarian Studies_ 11, No. 1
(1994): 117–128.”

We think your paper, published in 1994, enjoys a reputation of
classical elaboration of the essence of libertarianism. The insights
that you have exposed there, especially the idea that cultural
conservatism naturally parallels libertarianism, while libertarianism
cannot, and should not be, reduced to libertinism (which is currently
a strong tendency), presents the valuable contribution for the
general consideration of the relation between conservatism and libertarianism.
If you grant us the permission to translate your paper within the
collection, it will significantly contribute to the overall
theoretical quality of the prospective manuscript.

Here are details about our project:

* The project is non-commercial, and it addresses mainly academic
audience.
* The tentative title of the manuscript: Libertarianism and
Conservatism: the ideological similarities and differences (in
Serbian: Libertarijanizam i konzervativizam: ideološke sličnosti i
razlike)
* Prospective publisher: Institute for Political Studies (Belgrade,
Serbia).
* Language: Serbian
* Quantity: 300-500 copies
* Realization time: 2019.

If permission granted, it will be duly acknowledged in the
publication. In case you do not hold the copyright on the
above-mentioned material, we would be grateful if you can provide us
with contact information of persons or institutions who we might
contact in order to obtain the proper rights.

Professor Block, thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Should you need additional information about prospective publication,
please contact me.

Sincerely,

Aleksandar Novakovic, PhD
Research associate
Institute for Political Studies, Belgrade http://www.ips.ac.rs/
phone: +381 11 33 49 204
cell-phone: +381 64 179 3201

Letter 2:

Dear Aleksander:

I am honored to be asked this, and delighted to give my permission.
Copyright to the JLS, I think, rests with the Mises Institute. I have
no doubt they will also give permission. I’m copying two people from
there, one of whom I’m sure will grant you permission for this.

However, two things.

One, my “price” for my permission is one copy of this book.

Two, you might also want to include this article of mine, which seems
even more pertinent to your thesis:

Block, Walter E. 2007. “Plumb Line Libertarianism: A Critique of
Hoppe.” _Reason Papers, _Vol. 29, Fall, pp. 151-163;
http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/29/rp_29_10.pdf [1];
http://www.academia.edu/1425340/Plumb_Line_Libertarianism_A_Critique_of_Hoppe

There is also the issue of immigration that separates purist
libertarians, like myself, from conservative libertarians, as you
accurately label my friend Hans Hoppe. See below for my pubs on that
subject. I give you permission to use any of those articles as well.

Best regards,

Walter

Letter 3:

—–Original Message—–
From: Aleksandar Novakovic [mailto:aleksandar.novakovic@ips.ac.rs]
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2018 4:21 PM
To: Walter Block

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8:58 pm on September 25, 2018

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