letter from a worried libertarian, and my response

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Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 10:15 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Requesting Your Opinion

Dear Walter Block,
I am emailing you for a couple of reasons. The first reason is to tell you that I think you’re absolutely wonderful. I do not take any of your classes, but I am a student of yours. I have watched many of your lectures, interviews, and debates. I have also read in whole or in part some of your books and articles. I consider you to be one of the great libertarians, with the likes of Rothbard and Ayn Rand. Apart from libertarian greatness, I must compliment you on the way that you handle yourself when dealing with intellectual foes. You generally do not speak out of turn, act rude, or engage in character attacks even when such tactics have been deployed upon you. If more people followed your example, a genuine exchange of ideas could happen more often and with better results.

The second part of my email has to do with a personal matter. I’m faced with a dilemma and would consider your opinion to be valuable. As a preface I will inform you that I am an anarchist in the truest since and hold that government is evil even at its smallest capacity. My issue is internal, as I have had aspirations of becoming a firefighter, which have existed before finding the truth that is anarchism. My problem with the fire department is not so much that it is governmental as it is with some of the duties that may be required with the job. I am concerned about having to do things that go against the NAP such as enforcing a fire code or getting policemen involved in the lives of others. I have put some work in towards becoming a firefighter and I am currently working in the 911 system as an EMT. The trouble is, is that to make good money in this field (at least in California), one’s options are mostly limited to joining a fire department, where values of anarchist principles might be tested. I’m doubtful and nervous about which steps I should take in the future. I’m open to hearing whatever thoughts you may have about the information I’ve shared with you. Thank you for your time.

Dear :

It is only libertarians who are worried about this sort of thing. Your reservations do you credit.

A libertarian lawyer friend of mine was once offered a judgeship. I BEGGED him to take it. I ORDERED him to take it. I DEMANDED that he take it. Instead, he wrote a letter to the chief judge of his state saying something like, When it comes to real crimes (murder, rape, theft), I’ll be a real good judge. I’ll be fair, go by the evidence, etc. But when it comes to victimless crimes (drugs, sex between consenting adults), as a libertarian, I’ll let them all go free. Needless to say, the offer was withdrawn. My thought was that even if he could only free 90% of victimless criminals (if he let go 100% of them he’d be kicked off the bench), he’d be WAY better than any ordinary judge. I say the same thing to you. Do, please, become a fireman. You’ll be WAY better than anyone else, as a libertarian, in terms of promoting liberty, even if not 100% of the time.

I’ve written a bit about this sort of thing:

Block, 1972, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009A, 2009B, 2010, 2011A, 2011B, 2011C, 2011D, 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; http://www.mises.org/journals/lf/1972/1972_06-07.pdf; http://mises.org/daily/4054; http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block143.html

Block, Walter E. 2002. “Accepting Government Subsidies,” Fraser Forum, February, p. 27; http://oldfraser.lexi.net/publications/forum/2002/02/section_13.html

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; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf

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.walterblock.com/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf; http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.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://www.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; http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/17-libertarian-punishment-theory-working-for-and-donating-to-the-state/

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. 137-148; http://mises.org/books/hulsmann-kinsella_property-freedom-society-2009.pdf

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.” February 18; http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block172.html
Block, Walter E. 2011B. “May a Libertarian Take Money From the Government?” March 11; http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block175.html
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

Block, Walter E. 2011D. “Hoppe, Kinsella and Rothbard II on Immigration: A Critique.” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 593–623; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_29.pdf

Block, Walter E. and Chris Arakaky. 2008. “Taking Government Money for Grad School?,” May 23; http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block100.html

Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166 June; http://www2.units.it/~etica/; http://www2.units.it/~etica/2008_1/BLOCKBARNETT.pdf

D’Amico, Dan and Walter E. Block. 2007. “A Legal and Economic Analysis of Graffiti” Humanomics Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 29-38; http://www.mises.org/journals/scholar/damico.pdf; http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContainer.do?containerType=Issue&containerId=24713; http://ssrn.com/abstract=1008525

I plan to blog this. But I’ll keep you anonymous.

Best regards,


Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Avenue, Box 15, Miller Hall 318
New Orleans, LA 70118
tel: (504) 864-7934
fac: (504)864-7970





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

9:02 pm on August 13, 2014