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When I began my writing career, what held me back was my perfectionist hangup. The eyes of history were looking over my typewriter and shaking their collective heads at me, saying things like “no,” or “bs” or “are you kidding?” or “this is pathetic.” When I could fully tell the eyes of history to F off, a great burden was lifted from me and I could write much more easily. To combat this hangup of mine, I adopted this motto:” The next piece I write will be perfect. As far as this one right here is concerned, I’ll just do my best.” I actually printed this up and hung it on a wall near where I was writing.

Another trick I pulled on myself. I would write this and also hang it on the wall: “This essay I am now writing must be perfect.” And then I would try to laugh at that statement.

I hope and trust this will be of help to all those who share with me this psychological hangup of perfectionism.


10:12 am on September 5, 2023

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Debate between Walter Block and Mark Skousen on the Morality of Prostitution

This is a nine-part series. Don’t miss any part of this important debate!

This debate started off with this op ed of mine: https://walterblock.substack.com/p/legalize-prostitution

Here is Mark’s initial commentary on this op ed:


From: Mark Skousen

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Legalize Prostitution — one thing thou lackest

Dear Walter,

I agree with legalizing prostitution, drugs, and even abortion up to a certain time period, but as Jesus said to the young rich man, “one thing thou lackest.”  Whenever you legalize an immoral behavior that can have cultural impact, you need to begin an active program of persuasion.  When prohibition was ended in 1933, guess what?  AA got started to discourage alcoholism.  When Roe v Wade became law by the Supreme Court, pro-life groups were energized to preach sexual responsibility and encourage adoption of out-of-wedlock children; as a result, abortions began a long decline.  So when you legalize prostitution, all kinds of organizations including the Bully Pulpit of our political leaders, need to begin a program to discourage prostitution and sexual responsibility, and encourage traditional marriage as a way to moderate the passions of lust.

See my pamphlet “Persuasion vs Force”:  Persuasion vs. Force – MSKOUSEN.COM

BTY, I sent in my contribution to your Festschrift.

With all good wishes, AEIOU


Mark Skousen

Doti-Spogli Endowed Chair of Free Enterprise Chapman University

Newsletter:  www.markskousen.com

Free weekly e-letter:  https://www.markskousen.com/signups/skousen-investor-cafe/

Personal website:  www.mskousen.com

Annual conference:  www.freedomfest.com

Producer, FreedomFest

“The World’s Largest Gathering of Free Minds”

July 10-13, 2024, The Mirage


Here is my reaction


On Monday, August 21, 2023 at 07:04:13 PM EDT, Walter Block <[email protected]> wrote:

Dear Mark:

I am a libertarian, not an ethicist. A libertarian asks but one question, and gives one answer. The question: what is just law? The answer: whatever violates person and property rights.

Whether behavior is “immoral” or not is a question outside of the realm of libertarianism.

I think abortion is necessarily murder, hence, a crime:

30. Block, Walter E. 2021. Evictionism: The compromise solution to the pro-life pro-choice debate controversy. Springer Publishing Company. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-16-5014-7;

For reviewers: https://www.springer.com/gp/reviewershttps://www.springer.com/gp/instructors/textbook-copy-request-us/17556774;




https://dam.springernature.com/preview/8qkJz6AE4NVAo0r_q1x9IT/previews/maxWidth_600.png?&authcred=YXBpX2V4dGVybjpndWVzdA; file:///C:/Users/WBlock/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/HK3CWM0N/Block%20Evictionism%20The%20compromise%20solution%20to%20the%20pro-life%20pro-choice%20debate%20controversy%20(Walter%20E.%20Block)%20(z-lib.org).pdf; https://b-ok.cc/book/18608872/f7d2ac;

A unique perspective to the pro-life, pro-choice debate. Explores themes of property rights in relation to human life and rights. Offers a balanced debate on the topic of human rights.

Evictionism- The compromise solution to the pro-life pro-choice debate controversy__.pdf


Best regards,


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

[email protected]



From: Mark Skousen

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Legalize Prostitution — one thing thou lackest

But libertarians are making a moral judgment when they say you can’t initiate violence.

And you can’t ignore the moral issue when it comes to prostitution, abortion, drugs, etc.


Mark Skousen

Doti-Spogli Endowed Chair of Free Enterprise Chapman University

Newsletter:  www.markskousen.com

Free weekly e-letter:  https://www.markskousen.com/signups/skousen-investor-cafe/

Personal website:  www.mskousen.com

Annual conference:  www.freedomfest.com

Producer, FreedomFest

“The World’s Largest Gathering of Free Minds”

July 10-13, 2024, The Mirage



On Monday, August 21, 2023 at 08:23:54 PM EDT, Walter Block <[email protected]> wrote:

Yes, you are right. Libertarianism is indeed a part of overall morality. But it is certainly distinguishable from the rest of morality.

The color red is indeed a color. But, surely, it is distinguishable from the other colors. Suppose I were a scientist and wanted to study only the red color. Would you criticize me for not, also, studying the other colors? Of course not.

In like manner, as a libertarian I want to focus on whether or not prostitution (drugs, gambling, blackmail, labor unions, etc.) should be legal or not. I don’t, also, want to specialize in whether or not they are moral. You seem to think that for some reason I need to do the latter also. Surely, you believe in specialization and the division of labor.

I most certainly can “ignore the moral issue when it comes to prostitution, abortion, drugs, etc.”

Why do you think I can’t?

Even were this not the case, even if I did not choose to limit myself in this way, not every paper, or even every book, can discuss all important issues.

You are guilty of what you accuse me of. In your important work on GO, you never once mention things irrelevant to that, such as the morality of prostitution. You might say that the one has nothing to do with the other. That is my argument here.

We agree on 99.9% of everything in political economy. It is fun discussing with you the other 0.1%


From: Mark Skousen

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Legalize Prostitution — one thing thou lackest

But libertarianism is a political view, not a science!

I repeat, whenever you pass a law legalizing what most Western cultures consider immoral — such as prostitution, illicit drugs that could easily kill people when abused, alcohol use, etc. — people in the community need to emphasize an educational program to persuade, not force, people to behave better.  Otherwise, the “freedom to choose” becomes the “freedom to lose.”  I have copies of both books on my shelves next to each other.


On Monday, August 21, 2023 at 08:43:27 PM EDT, Walter Block <[email protected]> wrote:

I define “science” as amassing systematic knowledge. Libertarianism is thus both: a political view and also a science.

Yes, I agree with you. People do indeed “need” this. But, why am I obligated to supply it? Certainly I’m under no such obligation. Positive obligations are anathema to libertarians. Even if I were so obligated, surely I’m not obligated to do so in every paper I write, whether on this subject or not.

My mentor, Murray Rothbard, often discussed the “science of liberty.”



From: Mark Skousen

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Legalize Prostitution — one thing thou lackest

Dear Walter,

My argument is that you are NEVER going to be effective in your arguments for legalizing certain behavior unless you add moral suasion.  By that I mean adding a voluntary educational program to discourage the use of potentially abusive drugs…..prostitution….alcoholism….etc.   And I want to emphasize “voluntary.”  I like the word “persuasion” because it combines liberty and a moral attitude on what is right or wrong.

Otherwise, your libertarianism is going to be viewed as “libertine.”

It’s like free speech — you have the right say what you want, and I’ll defend your right to speak freely, but that doesn’t mean I would use that kind of language, etc.  You should have the right to use drugs, but that doesn’t mean I will use them — in fact, I would make the point that I don’t plan to use them.

It’s like the prophet Joshua who said, “Choose you this day whom you shall serve, but for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)

In faith and liberty, AEIOU

Mark Skousen

Doti-Spogli Endowed Chair of Free Enterprise Chapman University


On Monday, August 21, 2023 at 09:13:05 PM EDT, Walter Block <[email protected]> wrote:

Dear Mark:

My main goal is not to be “effective.” Yes, I’d very much like to convert the entire world to libertarianism. That would be lovely. But what really turns my crank is the pure beauty of libertarianism. I want to be the Mozart of libertarianism. I want to be true to it. I don’t want to be detracted from plumbing the depths of libertarianism by extraneous goals such as of being “effective.”

Who were the must successful libertarians? Who were the most “effective” in making mass conversions? I’d say the following: Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Friedman, Nozick.

Not a one of them attempted to be “effective” although they were. Rather, they all aimed at telling the truth with a capital T, and letting the chips fall where they may.

To me, what’s really immoral is murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, etc. Compared to these, prostitution is small potatoes indeed. I don’t think it is always immoral. Suppose it is the only way a woman can support her family. I’m not about to condemn her for this. No, I don’t think it is ideal, but I don’t think prostitution is evil either, like violations of the NAP.

Here are some of my other pubs on prostitution:

Carroll, Faelynn and Walter E. Block. 2021. “Selling sex: (more) evidence for decriminalization.” Touro Law Review; Vol. 37, Issue 3, Article 4; pp. 1155-1172; https://www.tourolaw.edu/academics/volume-37-issue-3https://digitalcommons.tourolaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3334&context=lawreview

Block, Walter E. 2020. “Let’s Legalize Prostitution.”  April 21;


Smith, Katy and Walter E. Block. 2019. “Legalize Prostitution.” Journal of Accounting, Ethics & Public Policy; Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 351-368;


Varricchio, Marino and Walter E. Block. 2018. “Prostitution, Essential and Incidental Aspects: A Libertarian Argument for Legalization” Acta Economica et Turistica. December, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 125-133. https://hrcak.srce.hr/index.php?show=clanak&id_clanak_jezik=310146https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/aet/4/2/article-p125.xml

Block, Walter E. 2008 [1976]. Defending the Undefendable. Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute; John Stossel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DJ7wFENHkchttp://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/11/friedrich-hayek-playing-chess-with.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+economicpolicyjournal%2FKpwH+%28EconomicPolicyJournal.com%29http://bit.ly/BlockDefending2; file:///C:/Users/WBlock/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/6I1PKZ08/Defending_the_Undefendable_2018_CS.pdf; https://mises.org/sites/default/files/Defending%20the%20Undefendable_2.pdf; audiobook on Amazon and Audible:  https://www.amazon.com/Defending-the-Undefendable/dp/B005VFU05O  and here: https://www.audible.com/pd/Defending-the-Undefendable-Audiobook/B005V1UV70; available for free here: http://mises.org/books/defending.pdfhttp://LPColorado.us7.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=4c7a023fc9c237b65e459feaa&id=d38e925ad8&e=2e4a305fd0http://mises.org/document/3490/Defending-the-Undefendable?utm_source=Ludwig%20von%20Mises%20Institute%20of%20Canada%20Daily%20List&utm_campaign=99baa4361a-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6c2fea3584-99baa4361a-209944333; Spanish translation: https://www.editorialinnisfree.com/product-page/defendiendo-lo-indefendible-walter-block; for free here: https://cdn.mises.org/Defending_the_Undefendable_2018.pdfhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pVk0S_Jwmo&t=48s

Hayek: “Looking through Defending the Undefendable made me feel that I was once more exposed to the shock therapy by which, more than fifty years ago, the late Ludwig von Mises converted me to a consistent free market position. Even now I am occasionally at first incredulous and feel that ‘this is going too far,’ but usually find in the end that you are right. Some may find it too strong a medicine, but it will still do them good even if they hate it. A real understanding of economics demands that one disabuses oneself of many dear prejudices and illusions. Popular fallacies in economics frequently express themselves in unfounded prejudices against other occupations, and in showing the falsity of these stereotypes you are doing a real service, although you will not make yourself more popular with the majority.”


From: Mark Skousen

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Legalize Prostitution — one thing thou lackest

these men and one woman certainly were “effective.” They knew what they were doing.  Do you think Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman just wanted to express their views in any way?  No they wrote books, they did TV, they promoted their works.  And they were effective.  You thought you could be effective by being provocative with your book title.  Same thing, my friend.

Mark Skousen


3:08 am on August 27, 2023

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Advice To A New Professor

Stay in the closet in your new job! It will only be for six years (assuming you’re on tenure track; if not, get a tenure track job elsewhere). Don’t make waves, even in Florida, where woke goes to die, as you’ve already seen evidence that this is no guarantee of fair treatment. Don’t publish in JLS or RAE or QJAE. Try to publish in mainstream non Austro libertarian journals. You don’t need AER or JLE. There are plenty of good B journals that can get you tenure that will be safe. And don’t challenge your pinko colleagues to public debates, one of my own flaws when I was early in my career as you now are. Also, no one ever agrees with anyone in the ancap camp 100%. If you could attack Rothbard, Hayek, or Mises or Nozick or Friedman or any other Austrian or libertarian on some minor issue, that would be great. Also, we do agree with the left on some issues. Articles supporting them would be good, if you can hold your nose. If you can make a contribution to statistics, or math-econ, that would be great. Even pedestrian econometric empirical work with no political implications would be good. Hey, find out what is the price elasticity of bananas! Or the income elasticity of shoes.

If I can be of help to you in any other way, do let me know.

I never could keep my big mouth shut. As a result, I didn’t get tenure until I was 60 years old. Had I to do this all over again, I would have followed the above advice, disgusting and unprincipled as it is.


2:40 am on July 30, 2023

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Trip to Mexico Part 2

Dear Folks:

Here is the second installment regarding my upcoming trip to Mexico:

Bertha Pantoja Arias [email protected]

Ana Elisa Valentina Artigas Rovira [email protected]

Dear Mr. Block,

I hope this mail finds you well. I’m Bertha PantojaI, director of Caminos de la Libertad, from Mexico, writes to send you the invitation to receive the “A Life for Freedom” award.

I am attaching a letter of invitation from Sergio Sarmiento, our president, who a few weeks ago had the opportunity to interview you for TV Azteca.


Bertha Pantoja Arias

Directora ejecutiva

Caminos de la Libertad


5:19 am on May 24, 2023

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Trip to Mexico Part 1

Dear Folks:

My upcoming trip to Mexico started with this interview:


3:05 am on May 23, 2023

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From: Milo

To: [email protected]

Subject: Reparations

Hi Walter,

As always you have a strong, nuanced argument.  I love and admire your ability to push principles to their limits and see what happens.

You assume that the expropriated value of the slave’s labor is 100% embedded in the property.  You need that assumption to claim the current owner owes 100% of the current property to the descendants of the slaves that worked on that property.

Given agreement on stolen property, consider these issues:

Suppose the stolen value of the slave labor was 100% embedded in the land, but now that particular land is worthless.  What then?

suppose the stolen value of the slave labor was 100% embedded in the land, but the increase in the real value of the land is due to subsequent improvements, the use of modern fertilizers and the use of newly developed hybrid seeds.   What part of the current value is owed?

Suppose the stolen value of the slave labor was 100% embedded in the land (as you posited), and when the slave owners died their N children shared equally in the estate.  Suppose one of the N children bought out the rest: N-1.  The N-1 children received (N-1)/N of the stolen value.  Only 1/N remains with the original property.  Suppose we assume a generation is 25 years, we consider the 150 years since the end of the Civil war, and we assume N children on average for each of the 7 generations, then 1/(N^7) of the current property value is owed by the current property owner. If N = 2, then 1/128; if N = 3, then 1/2,187.

But this assumes the stolen slave labor equals the total value of the property.  This means the slave involved could have bought the entire property had the slave owner had to buy their service.  This seems unlikely.  In Northern farms having a hired man to help run the farm — or having a hired woman to help with the kids and the household involved little more than providing room, board and a little spending money.  Thus, all that is at issue is the market value of their service, minus room, board and any spending money.

Now suppose the slave was a household slave: cooking, washing, etc.  The stolen labor meant the slave owners became wealthier than they would have if they had to purchase those services on the open market.  This excess wealth could have been inherited by their descendants.  Or the original slave owners could have used it to buy other properties — which could have been inherited and still fall under your stolen property argument.  But the original slave owners could have used the excess wealth to buy services which they consumed in their entirety.  Thus, there is nothing owed by any of the slave-owner’s descendents.

More important than any of these small arguments is whether there is a statute of limitations in Libertarian philosophy.  I was introduced to Libertarian (and anarcho-capitalism) in the 60s and 70s.  I attended the First Libertarian Conference in NYC with Karl Hess and Murray Rothbard.  Can you provide any references on whether the statute of limitations has any status for libertarians?


Dear Milo:

Thanks for your kind words.

You attribute to me, falsely, that I: “assume that the expropriated value of the slave’s labor is 100% embedded in the property” Where’d you get that from?

My jusification for reparations is a bit different: I assume the validity of ex post (libertarian) law; to wit, (coercive) slavery is per se a crime, even if legal at the time. What should be the penalty, then, for slave holding? Poetic justice: to become the slave of the ex slaves. What happens to the property of the criminal slaveholder? It should be given over, in its entirety, to the ex slaves. That’s my justification. It matters little, in my analysis, as to how much of the slave’s labor is embedded in the property. Joe is a slave. Pete is his owner. Pete has property all over the place, in Alabama, where Joe worked on Pete’s plantation, and, also, in France, Canada, etc. Certainly, none of Joe’s labor is “embedded” in Pete’s property in France, Canada, etc. Yet, in my view, Joe should now own ALL of Petes property, yes, in Alabama, but, also, in these other places.

Here are some of my publications on this issue:

Suppose my grandfather stole a wristwatch from your grandfather. Then, my grandfather passed it down to my dad, who gave it to me. Posit, that had this theft not taken place, your granddad would have given the watch to your dad, and from him it would have passed on to you. Should I be compelled, by law, to hand over that watch to you? It still has your grandfather’s initials, or picture, or both, on it.

You say I should keep it? You want to promote theft? I say, I owe you that watch. That’s the case for reparations

Here are my publications on this matter:

Alston and Block, 2007; Amos and Block, unpublished; Block, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2019, 2014, 2020A, 2020B; Block and Yeatts, 1999-2000; Crepelle and Block, 2017; Nouveau and Block, 2020.

Alston, Wilton D. and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Reparations, Once Again.” Human Rights Review, Vol. 9, No. 3, September, pp. 379-392; http://tinyurl.com/2b75flhttps://philpapers.org/rec/ALSROAhttps://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12142-007-0055-x

Amos, Jon-Paul and Walter E. Block. Unpublished. “Contra Horowitz: A Case for Reparations to Blacks for Slavery.”

Block, Walter E. 1993. “Malcolm X,” Fraser Forum, January, pp. 18-19; http://mises.org/Community/forums/t/5361.aspx

Block, Walter E. 2001. “The Moral Dimensions of Poverty, Entitlements and Theft,” The Journal of Markets and Morality, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 83-93; http://www.acton.org/publicat/m_and_m/2001_spring/block.htmlhttp://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=922087http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCcQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.marketsandmorality.com%2Findex.php%2Fmandm%2Farticle%2Fdownload%2F587%2F577&ei=lBn9UuLIOtDOkQe1toHwBw&usg=AFQjCNF2MZ5XoFKKMF5UcOfOT5Kv-HQgZA&sig2=VVYWZhyl0ZmAWRAKXtkxWw; Search for “Walter Block” under “Authors” here: http://www.marketsandmorality.com/index.php/mandm/search

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


(David Horowitz, Randall Robinson)

Block, Walter E. 2020B. “Return of Stolen Property: A Libertarian Case for Reparations.” December 18; https://www.theepochtimes.com/return-of-stolen-property-a-libertarian-case-for-reparations_3177301.html

Block, Walter E. 2019. “Return of Stolen Property: A Libertarian Case for Reparations.” December 23; https://www.theepochtimes.com/return-of-stolen-property-a-libertarian-case-for-reparations_3177301.html

Block, Walter E. 2020. “Reparations.” February 16;


Block, Walter E. 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; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/ethics_land_reform.pdf

Crepelle, Adam and Walter E. Block. 2017. “Property Rights and Freedom:  The Keys to Improving Life in Indian Country.” Washington & Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Vol. 23, Issue 2, Article, 3, pp. 314-342; http://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1435&context=crsjhttp://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/crsj/vol23/iss2/3/

Houma Indian

Nouveau, Lucas and Walter E. Block. 2020. “A comment on reparations for slavery.” Libertas: Segunda Epoca; http://www.journallibertas.com/online-first.html

Best regards,



4:12 am on April 19, 2023

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From: P

To: Walter Block <[email protected]

Subject: Working for the government

Dear Prof. Block,

I’m sure you must have written about this: Is it morally defensible to

 work for government as an anarcho-capitalist and receive pay funded by taxes?

Asking for a friend 😉



On Fri, Mar 12, 2021, at 17:43, Walter Block wrote:

Dear P:

I think so. I’ve worked for several public universities, as did Murray Rothbard, Hans Hoppe, Joe Salerno, Tom DiLorenzo, and many other solid libertarians. Ron Paul worked for the govt too!

Some readings:

Block, 1972, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009A, 2009B, 2010, 2011A,

 2011B, 2011C, 2011D, 2012, 2016; Block and Arakaky, 2008, Block and

 Barnett, 2008, D’Amico and Block, 2007

Block, Walter E. 1972. “The Polish Ham Question.” The Libertarian Forum.

June-July, Vol. 4, No. 6-7, p. 5;




Block, Walter E. 2002. “Accepting Government Subsidies,” Fraser Forum,

 February, p. 27;


Block, Walter E. 2004. “Radical Libertarianism: Applying Libertarian

 Principles to Dealing with the Unjust Government, Part I” Reason

 Papers, Vol. 27, Fall, pp. 117-133;



Block, Walter E. 2006. “Radical Libertarianism: Applying Libertarian

 Principles to Dealing with the Unjust Government, Part II” Reason

 Papers, Vol. 28, Spring, pp. 85-109;





 http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/28/rp_28_7.pdf; (death penalty

 justified, net taxpayer, ruling class analysis p. 87)

Block, Walter E. 2007. “Ron Paul and Matching Funds,” October 1;


Block, Walter E. 2008. “Replies to readers” September 23;

 http://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block108.html (libertarians

 hypocrites for using public school?)

Block, Walter E. 2009A. “Libertarian punishment theory: working for,

 and donating to, the state” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 1;



Block, Walter E. 2009B. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Guilt and

 Punishment for the Crime of Statism” in Hulsmann, Jorg Guido and

 Stephan Kinsella, eds., Property, Freedom and Society: Essays in Honor

 of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, pp.




Block, Walter E. 2010. “You are a rotten kid (rent control and

 libertarianism),” February 27;


Block, Walter E. 2011A. “It’s Ayn Rand Bashing Time, Once Again.”


18; http://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block172.html

Block, Walter E. 2011B. “May a Libertarian Take Money From the


March 11; http://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block175.html;


ake-money-from-the-government/ Block, Walter E. 2011C. “Toward a

 Libertarian Theory of Guilt and Punishment for the Crime of Statism,”

 Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 22; pp.

665-675; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_33.pdf

Best regards,


From: P
To: Walter Block <[email protected]
Subject: Re: Working for the government

Dear Walter,

I’ve revisited our correspondance shown below, since I’m currently considering doing freelance work for my country’s Tax Authorities.

Now, I am full-blown ancap, and could use my moral stance as the justification for draining money from the state. But to be honest, I am mostly considering doing it because it is fairly easy money.

A fellow ancap’er and I discussed the problem of how much money I can justifiably take from the state in this capacity. His view is that I can only take as much as I’m owed, i.e., the amount taken from me by the state. But I remember one of the articles below arguing that there is no explicit limit when it comes to taking from an evil institution. I buy the argument that 1) I am not the one originally violating tax payers’ property rights, and 2) that tax victims have no positive right in getting anything from me.

His counterexample would be: Imagine thief A stole your gold watch and sold it to B. The gold watch is rightfully yours, and thus you have a claim against B (and A). He argues that otherwise everyone could knowingly buy stolen goods and then get away with saying it wasn’t they who stole it.

So my question in essence is: Can I freelance for the government and justify it morally?

I ask that you keep my details anonymous if you decide to publish my question online.



Dear P:

Your motive for doing so (“fairly easy money”) is irrelevant. The issue is, is doing so compatble with libertarianism.

First of all, only a libertarian would even think of raising such a question.

Second, my answer is a clear YES. I think that you should get as much “easy money” as you legally can.

But while you do, do give a thought to my favorite character in Atlass Shrugged, Ragnar Danneskjold.

Best regards,



3:38 am on April 18, 2023

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The Synthetic Apriori, Market Failure, External Diseconomies, Part 2

From: Ben

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Thoughts on the invisible hand

Dear Walter,

Thanks very much. I accept your criticism re “tautological,” and your corrective, “necessarily.” Even without getting into Kant, I can see your point clearly.

On externalities, at some point I hope to make time and really dig into some of the references you sent. I fully agree with the idea that purported negative externalities do not necessarily mean government intervention will provide any kind of corrective; the notion that “if negative externality ergo benefit from government intervention” seems disastrously wrong. But to say this does not (and I say this without yet reading your articles) mean that negative externalities do not or cannot exist. I assume you would agree with this statement of mine?


Dear Ben:

There are two kinds of negative externalities: so called real ones, and fake ones.

Fake ones: pollution. But this is not a negative externality. It is, rather, a trespass against private property.

Here, if there is a govt, presumably, it will protect private property rights. Under ancap, the preferred scenario, the private defense agencies will stop this. You must read Rothbard (1982) on this.

So called real ones: I refuse your offer of friendship.  I ignore you. I wear garish clothes you find offensive.

Here, there is nothing govt or private enterprise defense agencies should do. No rights have been violated. As an Austrian economist, I would say you have no way to register your disapproval, harm imposed by my behavior (you can whine about me, but you could be lying that you’re hurt by my behavior), so this only counts as an external diseconomy by ignorant mainstream economists.

Best regards,



3:36 am on April 18, 2023

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The Synthetic Apriori, Market Failure, External Diseconomies

From: Ben

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Thoughts on the invisible hand

Hi Walter,

Thanks for your nice piece on the invisible hand:


As I understand it, the phenomenon described by the term invisible hand arises most fundamentally from the fact that all (or most) economic exchanges in the society are voluntary. Because every transaction brings with it a mutual increase in value to the participants (as defined subjectively, in terms of revealed preference), it follows almost (or perhaps even actually?) tautologically that the universalization of transaction-level mutual betterment translates into society-wide betterment.

The only question I have here pertains to the possibility that, by some mechanism that is not obvious to me, paired mutual benefits do not tautologically translate into society-wide betterment. (I wonder if this could somehow, one way or the other, be elucidated, or even proven, mathematically. I’d like to see someone try.)

To my way of thinking, the connection between universal (or near-universal) voluntary exchange and the society-level invisible hand phenomenon should be emphasized more. Doing so would make the invisible hand less (seemingly) miraculous and integrate it better into a ground-up understanding of how things function in reality. It would also provide good ammunition against those who argue that the invisible hand is really an ideology, rather than a description of how things work in reality; it would make the invisible hand phenomenon seem more intuitive and common-sensical.

I’m not sure, but the same voluntary-exchange basis may provide the mechanism of economic spontaneous order. I’d have to think about this more.

The main potential utilitarian-type problem that I see for an exclusively voluntary way of organizing things pertains to negative externalities (= there are uncounted participants in a seemingly voluntary exchange, who may experience a negative value from it). In this sense, there can be an involuntary transfer of value (~theft) from the uncounted to counted participants. As of now, I’m unclear on the best way to limit these externalities. However, I do lean strongly against most regulations and am open to your approach, which, if I understand it, would proscribe all (top-down, coercive) regulation.

Thanks again for your piece.


Dear Ben:

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

I reject your word “tautologically.” I would substitute for it “necessarily.” As an Austrian economists, I believe in, support, the Kantian synthetic apriori. See on this: Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1995. Economic Science and the Austrian Method. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute; http://www.mises.org/esandtam/pes1.asphttp://www.mises.org/esandtam/pfe3.asphttp://mises.org/pdf/esam.pdfhttps://mises.org/library/economic-science-and-austrian-method

As for externalities, whether positive or negative, this is part and parcel of the critics’ of the free enterprise system doctrine of “market failure.” For a rejoinder to this fallacious argument, see:

Block, 1994, 1998, 2009, 2011, 2012; DiLorenzo, 1990; Gordon, 2021; Horwitz, 1977; Lewin, 1982; McGee and Block, 1994; Rockwell, 2000; Rothbard, 1982

Block, Walter E. 1994. “Pollution,” Cliches of Politics, Mark Spengler, ed., Irvington on Hudson, New York: Foundation for Economic Education, pp. 267-270

Block, Walter E. 1998. “Environmentalism and Economic Freedom: The Case for Private Property Rights,” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 17, No. 6, December, pp. 1887-1899; http://www.mises.org/etexts/environfreedom.pdf;; Romanian translation: www.antiteze.comhttp://mises.org/Etexts/Environfreedom.Pdf

Block, Walter E. 2009. “Contra Watermelons.” Ethics, Place & Environment, Vol. 12, Issue 3, October, pp. 305 – 308; http://mises.org/daily/4209http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/section?content=a916452684&fulltext=713240928

Block, Walter E. 2011. “Ron Paul and the Environment.” December 13;


Block, Walter E. 2012. “Global Warming, Air Pollution and Libertarianism.” January 18;


DiLorenzo, Thomas. 1990. “Does Capitalism Cause Pollution?,” St. Louis, Washington University: Center for the Study of American Business, Contemporary Issues Series 38.

Gordon, David. 2021. “Can Taxation Be Justified?” August 13;


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

Lewin, Peter.  1982. “Pollution Externalities: Social Cost and Strict Liability.”  Cato Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, Spring, pp. 205-229.

McGee, Robert W. and Walter E. Block. 1994. “Pollution Trading Permits as a Form of Market Socialism and the Search for a Real Market Solution to Environmental Pollution,” Fordham University Law and Environmental Journal, Vol. VI, No. 1, Fall, pp. 51-77; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/pollution_trading_permits.pdf. Translated into Russian, and published in № 3б, 2007 of “Ekonomicheskaya Politika” (Economic Policy) Journal; http://tinyurl.com/263787http://;


Rockwell, Jr. Llewellyn. 2000.  “The Enviro-Skeptic’s Manifesto.” May 1;


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, pp. 233-279. http://www.mises.org/rothbard/lawproperty.pdfhttp://mises.org/story/2120

Best regards,



3:31 am on April 18, 2023

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From: Walter Block <[email protected]>

To: Don

Subject: RE: Consensus of relevant data

Dear FA:

Wow. Fascinating. One error is that this has nothing whatsoever to do with “libertarian logic.” Rather, it is an aspect of economics. Libertarianism is a theory of the proper use of violence, and has nothing at all to do with this question. The chatgpt takes a mainstream view that there is indeed such a thing as “market failure.” Austrian economics has a long bibliography refuting this claim, which chatgpt seems unaware of.

Four Arrows is my co-author of this book:

Four Arrows and Walter E. Block. 2010. Differing Worldviews: Two Scholars Argue Cooperatively about Justice Education; Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers; http://www.amazon.ca/Differing-Worldviews-Higher-Education-Arrows/dp/9460913504/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336603241&sr=1-6[email protected][email protected]

Best regards,


From: Don

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: Consensus of relevant data

Just for the fun I asked this question in in literally 7 seconds it gave this answer (It took me longer to write the question):

Question: In the book by Four Arrows and Walter Block, Walter argues that if “endless rows of identical trees” are truly inferior to natural regrowth of diverse original life after a clear cut were really a problem, the competitive market strggle for profits against t counter parts that eschew this type of tree planting would cause the owners to rethink for the sake of profit and start planting more diverse trees. But if biodiversity does not promote profits, then the laws of economics then the rows of same trees is most just. What is wrong with this libertarian logic?

The libertarian logic presented in the book assumes that market forces alone will always ensure the best outcomes for society and the environment. However, this assumption overlooks several important factors:

1. Externalities: The impact of clear-cutting and monoculture plantations on the environment and local communities can be negative and far-reaching, such as soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and damage to water systems. These impacts are often not reflected in market prices and can create negative externalities that are not accounted for by the market.

2. Short-term thinking: The profit motive can lead to short-term thinking and neglect long-term environmental impacts. Planting monoculture plantations may be cheaper and easier in the short term, but it can have negative consequences for the environment and society in the long term.

3. Information asymmetry: The assumption that market competition will drive companies to adopt sustainable practices assumes that consumers have perfect information about the products they buy. However, this is often not the case, and companies may be able to hide negative impacts from consumers.

4. Power dynamics: The assumption that all actors in the market have equal bargaining power overlooks the fact that some companies may have more power than others, allowing them to dominate the market and drive out competitors who promote sustainable practices.

Therefore, relying solely on market forces to promote sustainability and biodiversity can be insufficient and may lead to negative outcomes for the environment and society. It is important to recognize the limitations of the market and to use other mechanisms, such as regulation and public policies, to ensure sustainable practices and protect the environment.


3:42 am on March 25, 2023

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