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Walter Block



Articles by Walter Block

Coyotes in Stanley Park

18 days ago

Stanley Park is one of the most beautiful recreational centers in Canada. It is, if I may be permitted to say so, the Jewel in the Crown of Vancouver, British Columbia. I am a race walker and I’ve entered dozens of 5k, 10k, and half marathons there. The outer track is about 6 miles; while walking, running, skating or biking around it, you can view the majestic Grouse Mountain, English Bay, the Vancouver skyline, numerous beaches, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, a statue of the mermaid, the University of British Columbia, North and West Vancouver, and much much more. It is truly a trip worth taking.

But all is not well in what would otherwise clearly be considered this environmental heaven. There are coyotes at large in in Stanley Park, and some of them are not at all

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Rain, Rain, Go Away. Come Again Another Day?

December 28, 2020

According to that nursery rhyme we all grew up with: “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.”
This goes in spades for hurricanes, which have devastated the economy, and tens of thousands of lives. But our complaints about the weather do not end there.

Sometimes, on the day of an annual parade, we just don’t want it to rain. We’re not against a little precipitation; oh no. We would just like it to pour down when we want it to, not when “it” decides to do so.
Who does “it” think he is anyway? He has a lot of nerve. Raining when he wants it to, not when we want him to?
Not as much as with hurricanes, of course, but, still, a lot of economic welfare hangs in the balance. If we can rearrange the timing, then outdoor concerts cannot get rained out, nor can

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A Libertarian Analysis of the COVID-19 Pandemic

November 6, 2020

ABSTRACT: What is the correct analysis, from a libertarian point of view, of governmental action in the face of the coronavirus? Is the state justified in imposing quarantines or vaccines to cure this disease? These are the questions we shall be wrestling with in this paper. KEYWORDS: infection, property rights, threats, disease, pandemic, COVID-19, contagion …

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Rejoinder to Appelbaum on Friedman

October 25, 2020

By John P. Mackey and Walter E. Block

In his September 18, 2020 New York Times column, Binyamin Appelbaum appeared to be highly critical of Milton Friedman.

The former started out by calling the latter “a free-market ideologue,” and he did not mean this as a compliment. He ended on this note: “After 50 years of listening to Friedman, it’s time to do something about the flaws (in the views of this Nobel Prize winning economist).” In between, he maintained we should no longer wait for, or rely on, businessmen to renounce “selfishness portrayed as a principled stand,” as he purported Friedman would have it. It is now time- it is past time, in his view, to get the government involved in compelling the wealthy in effect to support social justice.
It would appear at

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Who Owns Your Genes?

September 27, 2020

Doctor He Jiankui was sentenced to a three year prison term, fined $430,000, and fired from his academic position as Associate Professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China. Did he engage in groping a patient? No. Poisoning a client? Again, no. According to the official Chinese Xinhua News Agency, Dr. He and two others, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, were convicted of gene editing fetuses.
His clients were a healthy mother and a father who was HIV positive. Dr. He engineered the genes of their twin girl babies so they would be resistant to HIV..
At the outset, this appears to be an agreement between consenting adults to engage in a capitalist act. The couple knew of the risks involved in this new medical technology. According to

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The Decriminalization of Polygamy

August 29, 2020

Utah’s anti-polygamy laws came under fire on December 2013, by US Federal Judge Clark Waddoups. He ruled in Brown v. Buhman that this state’s ban on polygamy was unconstitutional.
This year, Utah state Senator Deirdre Henderson sponsored a measure that would decriminalize this practice but not legalize it. The Utah state Senate approved this bill unanimously. If signed into law, plural marriage would be punished with fines of up to $750 and community service, but would no longer warrant a jail sentence of up to five years as a third degree felony.
Let us react to this initiative under six headings: 1. religion, 2. sociology, 3. libertarianism, 4. aesthetics, 5.feminism and 6. practicality.

1- Religion. From a religious point of view, this new policy, if signed

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Well-Intentioned Policies That Make Life More Expensive

July 15, 2020

Demand curves slope in a downward direction. This means that the higher the price, the less of an item, or good, or service will be sought. The more roadblocks, hurdles, thumbtacks, placed in the way of any given action, the less likely it will occur. Economists do not agree on many things, but on this insight …

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Should Insider Trading be Legalized?

July 14, 2020

New York City businessman Telemaque Lavidas was recently found guilty of insider trading. He was charged with utilizing inside information about a U.S. biotechnology company, and passing it on to Georgios Nikas, a Greek entrepreneur.
Lavidas and all others charged with this so-called “crime” should be freed, immediately. Insider trading should be legalized forthwith: it is a victimless crime.

Consider the following. A is a wealthy investor, B is a helicopter pilot and a geologist. A is looking for gold, or diamonds, or oil, or copper or some other such mineral. He hires B to go “out there” and seek promising rock formations. In the first contract, A offers B a large salary, say $500,000 per year, plus all expenses, and requires the B share information about his

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US Trade Is Crippled by the American Government, Not the Chinese

July 13, 2020

Some fair-weather friends of free trade have been rethinking their positions in the face of supposed Chinese economic weaponization of pharmaceuticals. They are now embracing managed trade instead. Why? Consider the following threat made by Tsinghua University’s economics professor Dr. Li Daokui: “We are at the mercy of others when it comes to computer chips, but …

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Restore Laissez-Faire Capitalism

June 20, 2020

When I first saw Daniel Henninger’s 2020 op ed “Restore Laissez-Faire Capitalism.” (Wall Street Journal; p. A13, April 16) I said to myself “Whoop di do.” No. I lied. Actually, I said: “Double Whoop di do.” This is a title that a Ludwig von Mises or a Murray Rothbard could easily have chosen for many of their sterling contributions.
But a careful perusal of this short essay greatly moderated my enthusiasm for it. I now give it an A-, not the A++++ I was ready to award it based on the title alone.
Why my less than rabid appreciation for this really excellent column? (The economist was asked “How is your wife? Came the answer: “Compared to what?” Compared to most op eds in the major media, “really excellent column” is a highly accurate assessment of this one).

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COVID19 and Public Housing

May 29, 2020

Why even discuss the flaws in public housing during a pandemic?
Simple. Black people are more vulnerable to this dread disease than whites for several reasons. They are poorer, and “wealthier is healthier.” African-Americans suffer to a greater extent from other medical maladies which weaken immune systems, such as diabetes, obesity, heart conditions, etc. Also, they tend to congregate to a greater extent in large cities, and population density is one of the dimensions implicated in Covid 19.
And, proportionately fewer whites are found in public housing than blacks, and this is likely true even in absolute numbers. Black lives matter. The sooner we eliminate this housing scourge, the more precious lives will be saved.
At the outset, public housing sounds like a

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Defending the Miser

January 2, 2020

[Excerpted from Defending the Undefendable] The miser has never recovered from Charles Dickens’s attack on him in A Christmas Carol. Although the miser had been sternly criticized before Dickens, the depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge has become definitive and has passed into the folklore of our time. Indeed, the attitude pervades even in freshman economics textbooks. …

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Monopoly and Antitrust

December 20, 2019

Presented at the Mises Institute’s “First Annual Advanced Instructional Conference in Austrian Economics” at Stanford University; June 21–27, 1987. Includes a Question and Answer period.

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El contrato Yellow Dog: ¡Volvamoslo a instaurar!

November 19, 2019

El contrato Yellow Dog [«contrato de perro amarillo»] es un tipo de contrato muy honorable. Afirma que una de las condiciones para poder trabajar es que el trabajador renuncie a unirse a un sindicato. El contrato no es diferente, en principio, a que usted vaya a una fiesta en casa de una persona y el …

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Zoning and the Free Market

December 29, 2018

Much is often made of allowing “consenting adults” to exercise their freedoms unhindered by government regulation. Unfortunately, this presumption is often limited to the realm of activities like gambling and prostitution. But should not consenting adults also be allowed freedom in larger economic matters such as real estate? In this 1981 lecture, Walter Block discusses …

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Defending the “Gentrifier”

August 29, 2018

[Originally published February 9, 2015] Reprinted from Mises.org
Gentrification gets bad press. It would appear that the gentrifier (he who engages in gentrification) is a malign exploiter, a bully, someone who takes advantage of the weak and the poor. And these are the nice things said about him.
What is the case against this practice? First and foremost, it pushes previous residents out of their homes. These people may have lived in their neighborhoods for years. They may be the third or fourth generation to occupy these premises. But when someone comes along, flashing big bucks, it is game over: the occupants have to vacate. What is the means through which the gentrifiers do their evil deeds? They simply try to purchase real estate in the target area, or attempt to rent accommodation

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Defending the “Gentrifier”

August 10, 2018

Gentrification gets bad press. It would appear that the gentrifier (he who engages in gentrification) is a malign exploiter, a bully, someone who takes advantage of the weak and the poor. And these are the nice things said about him. What is the case against this practice? First and foremost, it pushes previous residents out …

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

June 1, 2018

[A selection from Toward a Libertarian Society.] Reprinted from Mises.org
Just as an important difference in everyday life is that between a bathroom and a kitchen, so, too, does a crucial distinction in political economic philosophy exist between government and private contractual arrangements. But here is where the analogy breaks down. There are other, even more important insights to be garnered in ordinary living than that between these two rooms (e.g., don’t eat poison, feed yourself, take care of babies); there is simply no more important delineation in libertarian theory than that which exists between coercion (the government) and voluntary cooperation (the market).
Yet, such is the parlous nature of our discipline that there are even people parading themselves around as libertarians

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Is it a Crime to Support Government Aggression?

March 19, 2018

Reprinted from Mises.org
Are supporters of the minimum wage law criminals? Possibly, but not necessarily.
Consider the following contention. Merely verbally advocating for “public policies” like the minimum wage constitutes illicit threat, and the perpetrators of such speech should be charged with the “direct” crime of threat in the libertarian Nuremberg trial, not just as “indirect” accessories of the state apparatus. Suppose someone publicly announces that he will send a team of people to beat some people up, and persuades others to support his plan. That is certainly an illicit threat. Well, if the government holds a referendum on whether to implement the minimum wage, and someone publicly announces that he intends to vote “yes” on the resolution and persuades others to do so, it seems

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Is There a Right To Unionize?

March 2, 2018

Reprinted from LewRockwell.com
I resist the notion that we have a “right to unionize” or that unionization is akin, or, worse, an implication of, the right to freely associate. Yes, theoretically, a labor organization could limit itself to organizing a mass quit unless they got what they wanted. That would indeed be an implication of the law of free association.
But every union with which I am familiar reserves the right to employ violence (that is, to initiate violence) against competing workers, e.g., scabs, whether in a “blue collar way” by beating them up, or in a “white collar way” by getting laws passed compelling employers to deal with them, and not with the scabs. (Does anyone know of a counter example to this? If you know of any, I’d be glad to hear of it. I once thought I had

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Defending the Undefendable: The Slum Lord

December 11, 2017

To many people, the slumlord — alias ghetto landlord and rent gouger — is proof that man can, while still alive, attain a satanic image. Recipient of vile curses, pincushion for needle-bearing tenants with a penchant for voodoo, perceived as exploiter of the downtrodden, the slumlord is surely one of the most hated figures of the day.The indictment is manifold: he charges unconscionably high rents; he allows his buildings to fall into disrepair; his apartments are painted with cheap lead paint, which poisons babies; and he allows junkies, rapists, and drunks to harass the tenants. The falling plaster, the overflowing garbage, the omnipresent roaches, the leaky plumbing, the roof cave-ins and the fires, are all integral parts of the slumlord’s domain. And the only creatures

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Is it a Crime to Support Government Aggression?

December 1, 2017

Reprinted from Mises.org
Are supporters of the minimum wage law criminals? Possibly, but not necessarily.
Consider the following contention. Merely verbally advocating for “public policies” like the minimum wage constitutes illicit threat, and the perpetrators of such speech should be charged with the “direct” crime of threat in the libertarian Nuremberg trial, not just as “indirect” accessories of the state apparatus. Suppose someone publicly announces that he will send a team of people to beat some people up, and persuades others to support his plan. That is certainly an illicit threat. Well, if the government holds a referendum on whether to implement the minimum wage, and someone publicly announces that he intends to vote “yes” on the resolution and persuades others to do so, it seems

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How the Market Creates Jobs and How the Government Destroys Them

November 22, 2017

Originally published in The Free Market 6, no. 5 (May 1988) Reprinted from Mises.org
The Creation of Jobs
If the media tell us that “the opening of XYZ mill has created 1,000 new jobs,” we give a cheer. When the ABC company closes and 500 jobs are lost, we’re sad. The politician who can provide a subsidy to save ABC is almost assured of wide spread public support for his work in preserving jobs.
But jobs in and of themselves do not guarantee well, being. Suppose that the employment is to dig huge holes and fill them up again? What if the workers manufacture goods and services that no one wants to purchase? In the Soviet Union, which boasts of giving every worker a job, many jobs are just this unproductive. Production is everything, and jobs are nothing but a means toward that end.
Imagine

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¿Es un delito apoyar la agresión del gobierno?

October 9, 2017

Lea esto en Español
¿Son delincuentes los defensores de la ley de salario mínimo? Posiblemente, pero no necesariamente.Consideremos la siguiente idea. Limitarse a pedir verbalmente “políticas públicas” como el salario mínimo constituye una amenaza ilícita y el perpetrador de dicho discurso debería ser acusado del delito “directo” de amenazada en el juicio libertario de Nuremberg, no solo como cómplice “indirecto” del aparato estatal. Supongamos que alguien anuncia públicamente que mandará a un grupo de personas a apalear a otras y convence a otros para que apoyen su plan. Eso es indudablemente una amenaza ilícita. Bueno, si el gobierno realiza un referéndum sobre si implantar el salario mínimo y alguien anuncia públicamente que pretende votar “sí” a la resolución y

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Is it a Crime to Support Government Aggression?

October 9, 2017

Are supporters of the minimum wage law criminals? Possibly, but not necessarily. Consider the following contention. Merely verbally advocating for "public policies" like the minimum wage constitutes illicit threat, and the perpetrators of such speech should be charged with the "direct" crime of threat in the libertarian Nuremberg trial, not just as "indirect" accessories of the state apparatus. Suppose someone publicly announces that he will send a team of people to beat some people up, and persuades others to support his plan. That is certainly an illicit threat. Well, if the government holds a referendum on whether to implement the minimum wage, and someone publicly announces that he intends to vote "yes" on the resolution and persuades others to do so, it seems that

Read More »

How the Market Creates Jobs and How the Government Destroys Them

August 17, 2017

Originally published in The Free Market 6, no. 5 (May 1988) Reprinted from Mises.org
The Creation of Jobs
If the media tell us that “the opening of XYZ mill has created 1,000 new jobs,” we give a cheer. When the ABC company closes and 500 jobs are lost, we’re sad. The politician who can provide a subsidy to save ABC is almost assured of wide spread public support for his work in preserving jobs.
But jobs in and of themselves do not guarantee well, being. Suppose that the employment is to dig huge holes and fill them up again? What if the workers manufacture goods and services that no one wants to purchase? In the Soviet Union, which boasts of giving every worker a job, many jobs are just this unproductive. Production is everything, and jobs are nothing but a means toward that end.
Imagine

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How the Market Creates Jobs and How the Government Destroys Them

March 6, 2017

Tags
Free MarketsThe Creation of JobsIf the media tell us that "the opening of XYZ mill has created 1,000 new jobs," we give a cheer. When the ABC company closes and 500 jobs are lost, we’re sad. The politician who can provide a subsidy to save ABC is almost assured of wide spread public support for his work in preserving jobs.But jobs in and of themselves do not guarantee well, being. Suppose that the employment is to dig huge holes and fill them up again? What if the workers manufacture goods and services that no one wants to purchase? In the Soviet Union, which boasts of giving every worker a job, many jobs are just this unproductive. Production is everything, and jobs are nothing but a means toward that end.Imagine the Swiss Family Robinson marooned on a deserted South Sea island. Do they need jobs? No, they need food, clothing, shelter, and protection from wild animals. Every job created is a deduction from the limited, precious labor available. Work must be rationed, not created, so that the market can create the most product possible out of the limited supply of labor, capital goods, and natural resources.The same is true for our society. The supply of labor is limited. We must not allow government to create jobs or we lose the goods and services which otherwise would have come into being.

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