Anti-Tax Academic

Walter Block Profile

by Glen Korstrom by Walter Block Recently by Walter Block: Privatizing Rivers and Voluntary SlaveContracts

Anti-tax academic

Former Fraser Institute senior economist Walter Block, who heads Loyola University New Orleans’ economics department, believes a world with no taxes is possible and desirable

Mission: To convince people that paying zero dollars in tax is viable

Assets: PhD in economics from Columbia University; job as endowed chair and professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans’ business school

Yield: Outside-the-box views and an eagerness to defend them

With the HST stoking tax anger to a blaze, it’s instructive to reflect on ideas from longtime North Vancouver resident and internationally acclaimed libertarian economist Walter Block.

Block wants zero dollars in taxes and the complete abolition of government.

That sounds incredible to some. Most fiscal conservatives accept that there are some goods and services where pooling resources for the common good makes sense.

Fraser Institute founder Michael Walker believes governments should finance roads, insure health services, police society, defend sovereignty and provide a social safety net for those who can’t look after themselves.

Block, however, is convinced that society will function smoother and be wealthier with 100% private:

  • roads;
  • courts;
  • police and fire departments; and
  • money supply.

He fills his summer touting his new book, The Privatization of Roads and Highways, debating on blog with well-known local commentator Rafe Mair about the merits of voluntary slave contracts and lunching with friends.

As the endowed chair and professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans’ business school, Block has the luxury of time to think.

“I’ve reached the apex of academia,” he said. “There are lecturers, instructors, assistant professors, full professors and then endowed chairs. It means I get a higher salary and lower teaching responsibilities so I can do more writing and interviews like this.”

Walker told BIV that he recruited Block in 1979 to be the Fraser Institute’s senior economist because Walker wanted to have a libertarian thinker on staff.

Block left the institute in 1991 to return to teaching and pursue some of the controversial topics he broached in his 1991 book, Defending the Undefendable. There, he defended everyone from the prostitute to the drug pusher to the person who yells “fire” in a crowded theatre.

“He’s a very intellectual guy and very capable, but he’s marginalized because these ideas are perceived to be radical,” said friend and fellow libertarian Morgan Poliquin, who is president of Vancouver’s Almaden Minerals Ltd.

“Loyola University is not exactly Princeton University. Walter has the capacity to be a professor at Princeton but his worry is that he be true to his ideas, not to be academically motivated.”

Block opposes the HST but his reasoning differs from most; he believes it is a more efficient tax.

“Do we really want to do evil more efficiently? Suppose that I came up with a way to run Nazi concentration camps more efficiently. Would implementing it be a clear benefit? I think not,” he said.

Born Jewish, Block lives the curiosity of being a “devout athiest” while teaching at a Catholic-associated institution — one of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities’ 28 higher-learning sites.

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