Archive for Walter Block

Anarchic Courts and More

Summary by Luis Rivera III:

Here Dr. Walter Block, host Daniel Rothchild and other guests go over a number of topics including:

-Courts in an anarchic society and how applied moral philosophies such as deontology and utilitarianism can help with libertarian hypothetical constructs.

-Punitive settlements which are non-monetary such a installing fear to your perpetrator.

-The differences in battles that legitimate courts would face

-The intrinsic free market hindrances against bandit courts and the intrinsic incentives for legitimate courts.

Youtube link. 

A New One for the Photo Archives

Thank to Walter Block who recently posted this on his Facebook page:

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Walter Block Interviewed about His Book ‘Toward a Libertarian Society’

Summary by Luis Rivera III:

In this video, Walter Block briefly goes over where rights might come from. He mentions Murray Rothbard’s natural rights theory, the utilitarian argument for rights and Hans Hoppe’s argumentation of ethics. Block, goes over what libertarianism consists of, namely, abiding by the non-aggression principle which he defines.

 

For more, read Toward a Libertarian Society:
http://mises.org/document/7448/Toward-a-Libertarian-Society

What About the Roads?

Something tells me Walter Block and many others will find this cartoon highly entertaining.


Does Janay Rice Have a Right to Conceal Public Acts?

800px-Revel_Atlantic_City_from_boardwalk

The Revel Hotel in Atlantic City

I don’t follow the NFL, so I had no idea who Baltimore Ravens ex-player Ray Rice is until stories about him started appearing in my Facebook feed. Given that a lot of people watch ESPN, it’s now well known that Rice apparently (and allegedly) beat his now-wife (Janay Rice) unconscious in a hotel elevator.

This wouldn’t be news at all, of course, if a famous person were not involved, and it would be just another story of domestic abuse.  And obviously, it’s blatantly unlibertarian and un-laissez-faire to beat people unconscious who pose no threat, so there’s no need to weigh in on at that aspect of the case.

What makes this case interesting from a property-rights standpoint, however, is the fact that the media is now being accused of “re-victimizing” Janay Rice, as if the media were in some way obliged to not show information that has been confirmed as true by numerous sources. I must confess I’m a Walter Blockian on this and neither the media, nor anyone else, is violating Janay Rice’s person or property in any way by merely showing true events that happened in a public place.

The only property issue here is the matter of whether or not the person who leaked the recording to the media was authorized to do so. That is, the hotel that made the recording may not have authorized the recording’s release to the public. Or it may be have been leaked by the police officers who had access to the recording. In either case, the relevant property dispute does not involve Janay Rice at all, but those who made and had access to the recording. If any party has a right to claim any control over the use and airing of the video, it is only the Revel Hotel which made the recording and owns the building in which the recording was made.

If Janay Rice, on the other hand, has a problem with the public nature of her beating, there is exactly one person she can blame for that: Ray Rice. The public elevator and hotel in which Rice chose as the venue for his actions is no different from the electronics aisle at Wal-Mart, or the parking lot in front of Ikea. One does not “own” the witnessing of one’s actions that play out in public, and if people witnessed it in person, or later in a recording,or even recorded it themselves, the public nature of the acts remains the same, and voids any expectation of privacy.

Thus, it is simply wrong to claim that the media is “victimizing” anyone at all by simply showing information that would have been plain to see for anyone who could have been standing near the Rices when he struck her. Moreover, Janay Rice has no right to claim ownership over the opinions of other people. That is, she does not own her reputation, which, as Block has noted, consists of thoughts in other people’s heads. Thus, to claim that Janay Rice is a “victim” of the media because the video’s release has affected the thoughts in people’s heads has no basis in reality. The events in this case were already public the second they happened. The fact that the number of people who saw the events has increased is unimportant.

The purpose of the “victim” claim is to assert that she has some right to constrain the actions of the media and others who are doing things she doesn’t like. But of course, she has no such right, and the only person who has victimized her is the person who hit her. Indeed, the claim of media victimization in this case is dangerous because it is founded on the idea that public information should be removed from the public eye if a person involved doesn’t like it. The argument being made is that the video “does not inform, but only shocks.” This is mere bumper-sticker philosophy since obviously the video does inform, although it may also shock. The same is true of a video of US military personnel shooting innocents. It’s both informative and shocking, but of course, the US government and its apologists make the same claim as Janay Rice, saying that video of such misdeeds should be hidden from the public for the sake of the victims, or even for the sake of the perpetrators who “are just following orders.” One might also include in this category efforts by police to ban video recording of things they do in public.

If the media were purposely distorting the facts that would be another matter, but in the Rice case, it’s hard to even make the claim that general politeness dictates that the media not play the video. The media’s use of the video doesn’t even rise to the level of gossip since there’s nothing necessarily mean-spirited in the airing of the video and (in this case) the media is (apparently) not attempting to distort the facts by strategically editing the video or smearing anyone involved.  And if there were distortion of facts, the distortion itself would be the relevant issue, not the reporting of facts. The claim to a right to control a person’s (or in this case, the media’s) prerogative to report or repeat public events after the fact is dangerous indeed, and stands up to no serious consideration of the actual property rights involved.

Free Markets and Fighting Fires

Wildfire_in_the_Pacific_Northwest_(8776249150)According to Terry L. Anderson and Daniel Botkin, “Fighting Western Fires with Economics” is a good idea.

Were I writing an essay with this title, I would emphasize the role of private property rights. If all forests were owned by individuals and private corporations, those that did well in protecting their trees from conflagrations would prosper, those who failed to do so would lose money and eventually be forced into bankruptcy. Whereupon the ones who were more efficient protectors of the woodlands would  take over the holdings of the failures, and more and more acreage would fall under the control of  those who were effective not only at fighting fires, but at all aspects of protecting and promoting this valuable resource.

Would this be a perfect system? No, of course not. Nothing in this vale of tears rises to that level. Entrepreneurs in charge of making these decisions are imperfect human beings, who always make mistakes. But this “weeding out of the unfit” process tends to ensure that more effective fire fighters would tend to control more and more stands of wood, and the particularly inept less and less. Does anyone else have a better idea? No? I thought not.

Is this the tack that was taken by Anderson and Botkin? No. Of course not. Had they done so, there would have been no reason for me to have written this sharpish critique of their essay. Instead, I might have just blogged this on LewRockwell.com, alerting readers to a good, modern, application of the Bastiat – Hazlitt insights.

Which analytic technique did these authors offer to combat forest fires? What advice did they offer to this end? Property rights, profit and loss? No. Perhaps a different version of these insights? No, again. We search in vain for even any mention of these concepts. And this is more than passing curious, in that these authors are well known as being advocates of free market environmentalism.

Instead, horrors, they took on the role of efficiency experts for the state. Murray N. Rothbard had this to say about Milton Friedman in this regard: “Milton Friedman has once again been guided by his overwhelming desire not to remove the State from our lives, but to make the State more efficient.” Why do I mention this? I am not sure of Botkin, but Anderson is certainly a disciple of Friedman (full disclosure, as if any were needed: as I am of Rothbard). The point is, both Anderson and I are heavily guided by our respective mentors: Anderson (and Botkin) try to promote more efficient state control of forests, and I now upbraid him (them) for so doing, from the free enterprise perspective.  Neither the word “privatization” nor the phrase “private property” appears even once in this essay, and this is incomprehensible for an analyst who claims any adherence at all to the philosophy of laissez faire capitalism.

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Walter Block On Controversies Throughout His Career

(Summary by Luis Rivera III)

Here, Dr. Walter Block reveals what he believes is his most controversial view as well as what has been the harshest response he has ever received. Dr. Block talks about his books Defending The Undefendable I and Defending The Undefendable II. He touches on some of the chapter including prostitution, drug legalization, blackmail, WalMart, child labor and private roads. This and more in this great interview!

For more on why blackmail should be legal and how it distinguishes itself from extortion read Legalize Blackmail (ebook.)

New online interviews with Mark Thornton and Walter Block

On the “Wake Up Call Podcast”:

Mark Thornton.

Walter Block.

Walter Block: Regulations Contributed To And Worsened The BP Oil Spill

downloadSummary By Luis Rivera III:

Many people are under the false impression that the oil spill that occurred in April of 2010 was due to a lack of regulations. One of these individuals is Thomas Frank, a journalist from The Wall Street Journal. In this lecture Walter Block offers a rebuttal to this absurd claim. He sheds light on the fact that the regulations in place at the time prevented drilling or mining at the Alaska Artic National Wildlife Reserve, Oil Sands in Alberta (mining), National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and Shallow Offshore off The Gulf of Mexico. The drilling could have been done in much more shallow water, instead of the 6,000 feet the government forced BP to drill. Common sense dictates that in 20 something feet stopping a leaking would have been much easier. However, the state has no such common sense and the leakage persisted for months causing significant damage to so many.

An example of a law that increased the negative impact of the oil spill is the Jone’s Act. The Jones’ Act as Dr. Block talks about in this lecture actually prevented the experts in the field of cleaning up oil, from helping and thus lessening the devastion. Block, offers a solution, he says allow oceans to be managed with proper incentives and repercussions – allow for oceans to be (“privately”) owned. This erases the problem that comes with the tragedy of the commons which is a direct result of un owned mass (which is not abundant).
Click the link below to see Block’s entire speech on the matter:
Walter Block On The Deep Horizon Oil Spill

Note: Dr. Walter Block is currently working on a book about privatizing the oceans.

Walter Block: Libertarianism from A to Z

6792Walter Block’s new book Toward a Libertarian Society covers a wide variety of topics from the death penalty to secession, and from war to macroeconomics. Dr. Block recently spoke with the Mises Institute about just a few of these.

Walter Block: Many Different Topics Are Discussed on FreedomizerRadio

Summary by Luis Rivera III:

Here Walter Block talks about how some private roads were managed before. Block mentions that carriages were charged for being on these roads based on the amount of horses that were pulling the carriage as well as the width of the wheels on these carriages. This was done in order to cover the expenses accumulated by the wear and tear caused by the different combinations of horse and carriages. Block goes into evictionism. He tells the audience what he thinks The US National Defense actually does, I’ll give you a clue it’s not defend. Block talks more about government roads and how so many people blamed what in reality are proximate causes rather than look at the government itself. Block: traffic jams and car accidents are increased due to government’s intrinsic inefficiency. He says they, the government are the ones that manage the roads, so why not lay fault on them!? Other topics discussed are private courts and a very interesting question “When should force be used in a libertarian world?” This last question deals with imprisonment as well. Check out this link below to listen to the full interview:

Note: Walter Block offers an alternative to Anarcho-Capitalist Dr. Robert Murphy’s ostracizing solution for jails. Listen in:

Walter Block on FreedomizerRadio

Walter Block Interviewed on Libertas Media Project Podcast

Summary by Luis Rivera:

Podcast host and libertarian, Brian Wilson talks to Walter Block about Defending The Undefendable II, “thick libertarians,” and recent articles written by Dr. Block on LewRockwell.com. Block talks about his favorite character from Atlas Shrugged. Does leering violate the non-aggression principle? Walter Block answers this in this podcast. Being an anarchist and defending Ron Paul for running for president. Block suggests what the best way to promote liberty is. He goes on to talk about government war propaganda. This and much more in this great interview that covers many subtopics within libertarianism.

Walter Block Podcast Interview

Walter Block: Against Taxation (Radio Interview CKNW AM 980)

Summary By Luis Rivera III:

As Lysander Spooner said before him, Walter Block calls “taxes” what it is…highway robbery. Host Mike Smyth asks Dr. Block how would services such as fire fighting, roads, police, courts etc. be funded. He uses a reductio ad absurdum to elucidate his point. Dr. Block holds no punches and tells listeners of this Canadian radio station that North America practices a lot of fascism. Smyth commits a common mistake when debatin an Anarcho Capitalist, the appeal to tradition fallacy, listen in to learn how to respond with an effective rebuttal to this. This and much more below!

Walter Block is interviewed on CKNW AM 980

You Didn’t Consent to be the State’s Victim

6780Mises Daily Weekend by Walter Block

A selection from Toward a Libertarian Society.

Defenders of government coercion often claim that residence within a state’s boundaries imply consent to be taxed and regulated by the state in question. While one can expect to be robbed by the state regardless of where one lives, this is not the same as consenting to be robbed.

Advice for Grad Students

1280px-BibliotecaestantesAt Loyola University, my colleagues and I have been very successful in sending off numerous of our graduating economics majors to graduate school, to get a phd in economics. Here is some advice I offer them, which might be helpful to others as well:

Advice for grad students (some of this advice is personal to me; take what makes sense to you and ignore the rest):

1.Your goal is to get that phd, asap. Don’t let anything interfere with that, if at all possible. If you need money, take out loans, don’t work and let that interfere with your studies.

2.Don’t take any part time jobs; don’t be anyone’s research assistant. Don’t be a teaching assistant. Don’t teach any courses. Just study to pass your courses with the best marks possible, and pass your oral or comprehensive exams.

3.Don’t argue with your professors, certainly not on basic issues. Your job is not to convert them to laissez faire capitalism, to Austrianism, to libertarianism or anything else. It is only to get that phd, asap. Read More→

Exploring Libertarian Class Theory

8332829134_9686d1f1dc_zI run an Austro-libertarian seminar at Loyola University. We meet on Friday afternoons usually twice a month during the academic year (if you want to be notified of these events, e mail me at wblock@loyno.edu, and I’ll put you on my list). At a past meeting I happened to mention libertarian ruling class theory. Many of my students were appalled at me, some of the more brazen ones even accused me of going over to Marxism. Yes, of course, we libertarians reject Marxian ruling class theory, based on the exploitation of labor in the free enterprise system. Silly. Read Mises, Rothbard and Bohm-Bawerk on this. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is also such a thing as libertarian class theory. In sharp contrast, it is based on the exploitation of innocent people by those who violate the libertarian non aggression principle (NAP). I think most readers of this blog are a bit more sophisticated about this issue. However, even those might appreciate this bibliography I have put together on this subject:

Read More→

Gary Becker, RIP

6745Walter Block writes in today’s Mises Daily:

Gary Becker passed away on May 4, 2014 at age 83. There will be many obituaries written about this Nobel Prize winning economist, focusing on his numerous and important contributions to the dismal science. Here, instead, I will tell a more personal story, my own private interactions with my first mentor, Gary Becker.

I entered the Columbia University graduate program in economics in 1965. There were about 100 of us, so they assigned the new entrants to three different sections. The top one was taught by Becker, the middle one by William Vickery who also later won the Nobel Prize in economics, and the section for the least prepared of the students was taught by Roger Alcaly. I lucked out and landed in Becker’s microeconomics course. Those were heady days for me. This was the time before I met Murray Rothbard, and became an Austrian economist; I was a staunch follower of Gary’s: a logical positivist, an empiricist, a follower of the Chicago School of thought, as was this teacher of mine.

Walter Block Explains the Minimum Wage

In this video, Dr. Boyd Blundell takes me on in a debate on minimum wage.


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Free Market Environmentalism Is Not An Oxymoron

What are environmental forensics and why did the market develop this sector to uphold property rights? How did the government directly legalize acts of trespassing? During the 19th century the State trumped property rights in favor of State growth, Block elaborates on this and answers the questions above. Dr. Block covers much more in this fascinating video to all those to aspire to know more about libertarianism and to those who want to help the environment effectively.

Walter Block vs. Nobel Prize Winning Economists Friedman & Coase

Walter Block – The Errors of Friedman, Coase & Buchanan [Australian Mises Seminar 2012].

Here I speak at Mises University 2012. My lecture is about Friedman’s positive externalities’ argument of public schools, his broken window fallacy concerning WWII, the tradable emission rights, Friedman’s road socialism. I talk about the flexible exchange rates. I go on with Friedman on eminent domain, democracy and anti-trust. I also viciously attack Coase’s Lighthouse article and his anti-property rights beliefs and more!