LRC Blog

Can Voting Be Justified Along Self-Defense Lines? Yes

Dear S:

In my view, voting can be justified along self-defense lines; here are some readings on this:

Pro: Block, 2012; Block and Fryzek, 2015; Rothbard, 1972A, 1972B; Spooner, 1870; con: McElroy, 2013; Watner, 2000

Block, Walter E. 2012. Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty. New York: Ishi Press; http://www.amazon.com/dp/4871873234;

http://libertycrier.com/education/walter-blocks-new-book-on-ron-paul/;

http://libertyunbound.com/node/862

Block, Walter and Nathan Fryzek. 2015. “Was It Immoral to Vote for Ron Paul? And other libertarian questions and answers.” November 26;  http://www.targetliberty.com/2015/11/was-it-immoral-to-vote-for-ron-paul.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TargetLiberty+%28Target+Liberty%29

Rothbard, Murray N. 1972A. “Should Libertarians Vote?”  Outlook, April, p. 6.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1972B. “Interview.” February 25;

https://mises.org/blog/voting-immoral; https://mises.org/library/new-banner-interview-murray-n-rothbard-0

Spooner, Lysander. 1966[1870]. No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority and A Letter to Thomas F. Bayard, Larkspur, Colorado: Rampart College; http://jim.com/treason.htm

McElroy, Wendy. 2013. “The Faux Slavery Analogy to Voting.” July 31;

http://dailyanarchist.com/2013/07/31/the-faux-slavery-analogy-to-voting/

criticizes Walter E. Block

Watner, Carl. 2000. “Is Voting an Act of Violence?” April, The Voluntaryist. No. 103

http://voluntaryist.com/articles/103.html#.VzDxM0n2Y5s

Vegetarian, anti https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63NNuG-6-hQ

Best regards,

Walter

(read from the bottom up)

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2:35 am on April 21, 2019

Immigration, Overpopulation, Libertarianism, Wages for the Poor

(read from the bottom up)

Why do I share correspondences like this on the LRC blog? I do so, because in so many things, I like to emulate my friend and mentor, Murray Rothbard. Murray had a voluminous correspondence. Pretty much anyone who wrote him a non-impolite letter, would get a response from Murray. It is the same with me. Murray was unable to share this correspondence widely, given the technology under which he labored; I’ve got the advantage over him in that regard. However, it is my understanding that the Mises Institute will start published this correspondence. When this occurs, we will all be the better for it. Lookit, I’m not trying to compare myself with Murray, in any way other than we both write a published a lot. But he’s somewhere up there, looking down upon us, and, I think, cheering those of us on who are trying to bring honor to him, to promote liberty, as he has done. My thought is that if there is one person who was interested in my thoughts on Austro-libertarianism, there might well be others. Hence, these blogs.

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2:38 am on April 20, 2019

Those Calling for Trump Impeachment

The anti-Trump forces are divided upon impeaching Trump. Important voices like Pelosi are currently against it because the Senate would not convict. But they aim to have their cake and eat it too by trying Trump by fake publicity that keeps up criticism of him. Their latest line is to say that even if he’s not guilty of obstruction, he’s not an “acceptable” leader. He doesn’t walk on water like Democratic presidents and candidates. He doesn’t uphold the values of democracy. Seldom has so much hypocrisy gushed forth from the lips of politicians. After all, Hillary Clinton got a complete pass.

Some of those who want to impeach follow, not a complete list:

Elizabeth Warren
Ocasio-Cortez
Rashida Tlaib
Ilhan Omar
Al Green
Maxine Waters
Rob Reiner
Rosie O’Donnell
Alyssa Milano
The Democracy Integrity Project (George Soros funded), led by Daniel J. Jones, former Diane Feinstein staffer.
Yoni Appelbaum (Senior editor, The Atlantic)
Jeffrey Toobin (CNN)
George Conway
Beto O’Rourke
Julian Castro
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Andrew Gillum
Petition (with 1.44 million names)
Andrew Sullivan (New York Intelligencer)
Mehdi Hasan (The Intercept)
Jon Favreau
Susan Hennessey (Lawfare)
Jamelle Bouie (New York Times)
Jonathan Capehart MSNBC, Washington Post
Robert De Niro
David Brooks, New York Times

There are also those who support impeachment in so many words but do not come right out and say so:
James Clapper
Pete Buttigieg
Mitt Romney
Jerrold Nadler
Kamala Harris
Eric Holder
Adam Schiff

8:02 pm on April 19, 2019

Costs of Clinical Trials for the FDA Are Substantial

From: C
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 9:41 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Publication correspondence

Dr. Block,

I am an instructor at the University of XYZ. I teach our ethics and law class on health care (the school doesn’t know that they’ve let a libertarian teach about health care). I am working on writing up some lecture content regarding the costs of health care and came across your published work on the economics of pharmaceuticals:

Romanach, John and Walter E. Block. 2017. “Medical Economics: End the FDA.” The Winners; Binus University Journal. Vol 18, No 1, pp. 43-48;

http://journal.binus.ac.id/index.php/winners/issue/view/222/showToc; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21512/tw.v18i1.4052

http://journal.binus.ac.id/index.php/winners/issue/view/222/showToc

I noted this statement, “Studies indicate that the need to conduct these various stages of clinical trials adds almost 40% to the cost of R&D for a new drug. Such a dramatic increase in the cost to supply drugs will undoubtedly raise the price paid by consumers.” Could you possibly point me in the direction of these studies?

Thank you for your assistance, C

Fidem – Caritas – Fortitudo

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2:39 pm on April 19, 2019

Glenn Greenwald: One-Sided Media Bubble Fed Trump-Russia Hoax

And now of course a new bubble is being created, details of course from Glenn.

1:40 pm on April 19, 2019

Trump Didn’t Obstruct, But Nadler Continues War on Trump

For weeks now, anti-Trump forces like Nadler have rallied around the Mueller report. Their attacks are 100 percent political. Impeachment talk is all political. The 2020 election is only 19 months away. The idea is to impair and smear Trump.

The media continue to attack Trump constantly. The goal is to swing voters against him by making him appear as some sort of criminal and monster. The attackers want Trump on the defensive. Trump has no choice but to attack the attackers vigorously and incisively. He knows how.

Mueller’s report is long. Those who say it provides a roadmap to impeachment shouldn’t be believed. To show this in full can’t be done in a single blog. Only one example is provided here. The report reads (p. 272)

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10:42 am on April 19, 2019

Do We Really Want Three Billion Immigrants, Even If None of Them Are Criminals? No. Not I.

From: M

Sent: Friday, March 08, 2019 6:15 AM

To: wblock@loyno.edu

Subject: Re: Open Borders and Strict Libertarian Theory

Dr. Block,

Pete, Pierre, and Pedro contract with an airline (outside the lines on a map known as the continental united States) for a trip from THAT airport to an airport in Anywhere, Continental united States. [note that the SAME thing is possible by automobile, bus, railroad, and ship — or some combination thereof.] They arrive at Anywhere airport, deplane, grab a sandwich, and exit. On the curb they hail a taxi or an uber or a bus or have a friend/acquaintance/party pick them up (contracting accordingly) … they drive to a hotel where they (again) contract with the proprietor for a room. The next day, they again hail a taxi or an uber or a bus or have a friend/acquaintance/party pick them up (contracting accordingly) and travel to a business. At the business, they contract with the owner and execute said contract accordingly. Where did *any* of these gentlemen enter/attempt to enter anyone’s property without permission? Sincerely, M

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2:01 am on April 19, 2019

Mueller Exonerates Trump, But ‘Russiagate’ Will Not Die

12:34 pm on April 18, 2019

Shocking News: Unionization Leads to Job Loss

I couldn’t stop laughing after reading this article, in addition to the comments on the Detroit Free Press Facebook page.

Report: Ann Arbor coffee shop chain to close after baristas unionize

A chain of four coffee shops in Ann Arbor is expected to close and lay off its newly unionized baristas, according to a news report by WXYZ-TV.

Baristas at Mighty Good Coffee say they expected to negotiate a contract with the company after they formed the Washtenaw Area Coffee Workers Association in October after a former employee accused the chain of racial discrimination. Instead, they received a notice a week ago about the layoffs and closures, according to WXYZ.

The non-unionized coffee roasting side of the business will continue to operate, however.

 

 

8:30 am on April 18, 2019

Speculation

Speculation is not evidence. It is, however, a way of beginning to ask questions regarding the unknown. If a man is found murdered in Seattle, the police will start their investigation by asking his wife, business associates, or neighbors about their possible connections to the crime. Does this mean that such persons are being accused of the murder? No. It means that the police believe they are more likely to find relevant evidence by asking questions of those close to the victim than by asking a homeless person in Keokuk, Iowa, of his whereabouts. I am wearing a sweat shirt that bears the message “cui bono.” One versed in the Italian language will translate this as “who benefited?” It was the question asked by officials in ancient Rome if an important person was found murdered; it was a starting point in the investigation. I am weary of those who think they are saying something important when they condemn others for “conspiracy theories.” I had a colleague who once challenged me on this point by asking: “do you think 9/11 was a conspiracy?” I replied: “it would appear that someone conspired with others to carry out this terrible act. What do you think, and how would you find out?”

My late friend, Chris Tame, once told me: “I am not interested in conspiracy theories; I am interested in the facts of conspiracies.” Attacks on those who speculate are made in order to intimidate people into not asking questions they are not supposed to ask.

5:07 pm on April 17, 2019

Imperial Presidency Wins Again: Trump’s Veto Continues Yemen War

1:16 pm on April 17, 2019

Golf vs War and Politics

When Trump announced he would award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods, I loved the fact that it pissed off a lot of folks. I’m watching commentators – including libertarians – get all boo-hoo over this thing, as if a statist medal is something to worship and glorify.

Since this medal exists, why give it to military occupiers, politicians, presidents, and socialists? Why not give it to an icon of American culture, and a guy who stuck it out amidst all of the hate, criticism, health impairments, and attacks from the media and armchair golf commentators? Yeah, he screwed up, but he got back on his stick and he made himself and his game right again. Golf needs Tiger, and so golf is basking in this hard-fought comeback and effort from one of its greatest ambassadors.

We keep hearing how “classy” Obama was, and how he has been followed by Trump the Neanderthal. This is the part of Trump that I relish – not giving a damn about rules, (statist) etiquette, or obligatory pomp. Everything he does to demystify and debase the Emperor’s office is all to the good.

7:54 am on April 17, 2019

Era of Empathy Overkill

All of the Facebook-type, virtue-signaling empathizers need to read this commentary on empathy.

Empathy does indeed have a very dark side, especially in an era of social media overkill. Quote from the article: “Empathy is a riddle,” Breithaupt says. While it can enrich our lives, Breithaupt says our ability to identify with others’ feelings can also fuel polarization, spark violence and motivate dysfunctional behavior in relationships…”

Breithaupt directs an Experimental Human Studies lab at Indiana University. He notes how empathy is self-serving, with the empathizer benefitting the most from the empathetic action. He also pointed to the concept of vampiristic empathy, wherein “people want to manipulate the people they empathize with so that they can, through them, experience the world in such a way that they really enjoy it.” This quote from the article also stands out a bit:

For example, if you want the victims to say ‘thank you.’ You may even want to keep the people you help in that position of inferior victim because it can sustain your feeling of being a hero.

This fits in perfectly with the folks on Facebook who, when a critical event occurs (mass shooting or other horrible event creating innocent victims), they are the first to the front of the empathy line, exclaiming their virtue and unselfishness, and shouting their empathy, caring, and humanity from the rooftops. And they hammer away at it on Facebook to garner cheers from the chorus for this behavior.

One point not discussed in this edited interview is how the hyper-empathizers – the hero wannabes on that dark side – collectively band together on social media to condemn and shame individuals who have the ‘appearance’ of not having “enough” empathy. We’re called “crazy,” “mean,” “horrible,” yada, yada. When in fact it is they who are philosophically unhinged.

Thus, every time I see folks chiding others about their “lack of empathy” or “feelings” on social media, my red light immediately clicks on. I’ll watch their anger rise in concert with any and all challenges to their so-called empathy. There’s always been something very wrong about this, in my mind, and this article provides some very good reflections on the abuse and overkill of empathy.

7:41 am on April 17, 2019

Dave Portnoy on the Legal Lynching of Robert Kraft

“Sex trafficking! Sex trafficking! Ooops. Never mind.” Another bogus prosecution goes up in flames. So where does Kraft now go to get his reputation back?

9:05 pm on April 16, 2019

Nolan Finley: No Evidence of More Hate Crimes Since Trump Elected

People are much more likely to be attacked for wearing a MAGA hat than for just being a minority.

9:00 pm on April 16, 2019

Mike Rowe: Admissions Gaming Only One Part of the Higher-Ed Scam

Debt slavery, guidance counselors steering every high-school grad to a bachelor’s degree, and obsession with credentials but not real education are a few of the others.

8:48 pm on April 16, 2019

Trump Reducing Fascism, Democrats Increasing Fascism and Socialism

Just to keep things straight, we can go back to Ayn Rand’s very useful distinction between fascism and socialism, which is that in the context of both being highly statist philosophies, there is no difference. Both are against individual property rights. However, she pointed out this difference. The socialists advocate collective (state) ownership and control of property, while the fascists allow the retention of titular (de jure) individual ownership but decimate property rights through state control (de facto).

In these terms, Trump is reducing the fascism in American government by his deregulation efforts (ceteris paribus). See here for a summary.

Meanwhile, all the Democrat candidates for the 2020 nomination have endorsed major socialist measures that will, if enacted, result in increases in collective state ownership. The very same measures also increase state control in areas where they do not cause state ownership. Thus, the Democrats can be accused of desiring both greater fascism and greater socialism.

Democrats champion the post-modern version of a “mixed economy”, namely, one that implements statist measures from both statist philosophies, fascism and socialism. Republicans are the “me-too” party, Trump being a maverick whom they would cast off if they could.

3:23 pm on April 16, 2019

Camille Paglia “Should be Removed . . . “

. . . from her job at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, say the ignorant little totalitarian social justice Nazis there, because she is not sufficiently worshipful of “transgenderism” and the feminist hatred-of-all-men ideology known as “the me too movement.”  These are the kinds of bigoted notions that university administrators routinely describe these days as “our values.”  The language of “our” values implies that no other values are acceptable.  Right out of the Maoist cultural revolution playbook.

3:19 pm on April 16, 2019

‘Pompeo Has Lost His Mind!’ – China Fires Back On Venezuela

12:23 pm on April 16, 2019

The Hero of the Notre Dame Fire

Father Jean-Marc Fournier rushed into the inferno and rescued the Crown of Thorns and other religious relics.

11:01 am on April 16, 2019

Happy Tax Freedom Day

Today is Tax Freedom Day, the day that “represents how long Americans as a whole have to work in order to pay the nation’s tax burden.” In 2019, “Americans will pay $3.4 trillion in federal taxes and $1.8 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of over $5.2 trillion, or 29 percent of the nation’s income.” This means that Americans “will collectively spend more on taxes in 2019 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.”

So much for the Trump tax cut, “undoubtedly the smallest, not the biggest, individual tax cut in history,” says David Stockman.

6:53 am on April 16, 2019

U.S. Tax Dollars and Higher Ed: Some Scandalous Facts Exposing Waste and Corruption

1. The 50 worst performing community colleges (average graduation rate of 12%) received $1 billion in federal funds.
2. About 43,000 employees in higher ed receive a salary of $200,000 or more per year. In California, 10,000 public employees receive a salary of $200,000 or more per year.
3. At the 8 schools of the Ivy league, 147 professors and administrators receive a salary of more than $400,000 per year, with 47 of them receiving over $1 million and 5 over the last 5 years have received about $20 million each.

7:37 pm on April 15, 2019

Young People Who Get Married and Attend Church Are Happier, Have Better Sex Lives

Feminist Cathy Areu vs. the Catholic ladies (Martha MacCallum and Lila Rose) on The Story. Areu surprisingly avers that Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda’s 1970s advice “backfired.”

7:27 pm on April 15, 2019

Bjorn Lomborg: Poverty Kills, Not Climate Change

Surveys reveal that for the poorest people on Earth, “fixing global warming” is a low priority. Technology is the solution, not Green New Deals astronomical in cost and low in likely benefits.

7:05 pm on April 15, 2019

Libertarian Theory Applied to Children, Animals

From: E
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 5:03 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: do parents “own” children?

Walter:

I was hoping you would jump in on the Lew Rockwell blog on the “legal obligation to feed their children”.

My thoughts would be more towards Rothbard’s on no positive obligations. I tend to think that your idea of Guardianship makes sense here. If you don’t feed your children, then you should lose guardianship rights – different from ownership rights. If you don’t want to feed your children, then anyone who is willing to step up, should then be able to adopt your children our from under you.

And also, if nobody want’s your children, then you should be able to leave them to die – perhaps you should have to inform others of your decision to permit adopters to rescue the child before he/she dies.

But, I don’t believe we own our children.

Also, do you own a pet dog or are you a guardian? Must you feed your dog, or not torture it etc. Can you leave your dog in the desert to die?

Regards, E

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1:36 pm on April 15, 2019

Co-Conspirator: Ecuador Paid Off To Deliver Assange

12:26 pm on April 15, 2019

Reputation Again

Should malicious slander and libel that destroy a man’s reputation be viewed by the law as a tort or a crime? Walter, you say, “No”. Why? What is it that forecloses the possibility that maybe these should be treated as torts or even crimes?

The NAP may be too restrictive to handle certain cases. Its restriction buys definiteness, perhaps, although one can think up hard cases where lines must be drawn, but it’s still arbitrary and not necessarily a basis for a COMPLETE set of laws. The objectivity of its application is by no means assured. Not everyone, including all libertarians, will buy into it.

Walter, you cannot define libertarianism by restriction to the NAP.

The NAP is fine but it has limitations. That’s all. There are consequences for placing 100% reliance on it.

The NAP omits certain “hard” cases, of which slander is one. A line can be drawn between trivial lies that inflict no damage worthy of one’s rebuttal and lies that destroy a man’s livelihood or destroy a valuable institution. Destroying reputation can be as bad as setting a fire.

The problem here is one of trust. We get along socially, in ordinary dealings, depending a lot on reputation that someone or some company or system is trustworthy. We build reputation by good deeds, and that’s much like mixing our labor with land. But it’s not the same. It’s not physical. Rothbard is right to say that reputation is not our property in the same sense as our physical belongings. Yet reputation’s important, and just because it isn’t something we own or control doesn’t mean we should ignore it in our law. It doesn’t mean that a social group interested in justice should ignore it.

Why not? Violating trust by spreading lies destroys, not property, but this reputational trust “thing”. This “thing” is intangible and it is what others think of us. So what? What others think of us is no less important than many physical tangibles we own. From the fact that what others think of us is not physically controlled by us, it does not follow logically that this is something to be ignored by a theory that proposes to outline what we are free to do and not free to do. Should we be free to destroy a man’s reputation and his livelihood by causing others to think he’s no good and should be shunned? Do we have that right? Not if it’s tantamount to an aggression.

A few practical comments are in order. It’s quite challenging to win a libel or slander case. The law sets a high bar. The line has been drawn to weed out the trivial. The law is not naive about this. The legal line has been set so as to protect trust and gain its benefits while weeding out trivial stuff like micro-aggressions or feeling hurt by what someone says or thinking that some political opinion is a threat. This doesn’t mean that people can’t go off the rails and start imagining serious hurts all over the place. They can also adopt bad laws.

9:15 am on April 15, 2019

The Libertarian View on Libel

There is only one question that interest the libertarian, qua libertarian, regarding libel law: should malicious, lying libel, gossip, be prohibited by law. And, there is only one answer: no. For a compelling case on this matter, read what Mr. Libertarian has to say about it.

1:35 am on April 15, 2019

Reputation, the NAP and Justice

A man’s reputation is not less important to him than his body. Men work hard to build up a good reputation. A lot is riding on one’s reputation. For example, people who seek promotions often have to rely on the recommendations of others or the input of others about their abilities and character. A man’s reputation depends upon what others think of him and will say about him; and the reputations of these others depend on the accuracy of their recommendations.

What people will say about others when it matters is not simply a matter of whim. Lies said about someone, with or without an intent to hurt someone, are not on an equal footing with telling pertinent truths. People are connected in many ways and reputation is one of them.

Reputations can be destroyed. A man’s good name can be smeared or dragged through the mud. This is no laughing matter if it’s undeserved or if it happens because of someone’s evil intent to damage someone else. A man’s reputation, built up through his actions, is held in the minds of others. He does not own their minds or thoughts, but he has contributed to what they think of him by his deeds. He does not own his reputation, but it is attributed to him nonetheless, as expressed by what others think of him.
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3:00 pm on April 14, 2019

Abandonment, Parental Responsibility and Other Challenges to the NAP

“E” questions the Rothbard/Block analysis of child abandonment. “E” concludes “In summary, it seems to me that leaving out these key concepts of authority (responsibility) and duty, when it comes to the nurturing or not nurturing, as the case may be, of our children gives us a flawed perspective of the issue.”

I agree with “E”. See here and here. These two blogs of mine try to “save” the non-aggression principle (NAP) by arguing that it does apply to the case of parents starving their children to death, which it has been said is because they have no obligation to feed them under the NAP. In contrast, I argue that parents assume that obligation when they bring children into this world. This elaboration of circumstances saves the NAP. Surely, if starving one’s baby or child to death is not murder, then nothing is; and if the NAP cannot address such a case, it’s sorely and surely defective.

If my argument fails, and if libertarian theory is unable to defend the parental obligation to feed one’s children by reflecting such a manifest obligation in its understanding of “aggression”, then so much the worse for libertarian theory. If libertarian theory cannot reflect such a basic moral obligation in its “law”, then again so much the worse for libertarian theory. It would then stand in dire need of revision, elaboration or extension.

Similarly, attempted murder is obviously a moral wrong. Because of this moral clarity, it’s my view that the NAP is only worth its salt if it can easily find that attempted murder is an “aggression”. Walter Block fortunately is able to locate this under the concept of “threat”, which is a valid analysis.

Some actions resist application of the NAP, however. If the New York Times repeatedly prints the falsehood that Walter Block is a racist and hate speech proliferator and this causes him to be fired and ostracized, does the NAP say that the newspaper has committed an aggression? Not according to either Rothbard or Block.

If the newspaper published these lies, it’s morally wrong in doing so. That’s crystal clear. It seems then that the NAP is too restrictive if it cannot support a moral obligation of the paper to print stuff in good faith, meaning it thinks it’s printing truth and not falsehoods. Does a newspaper assume a naturally lawful obligation by becoming a newspaper? Isn’t this analogous to parents assuming an obligation to feed their children?

The ethics of liberty is supposed to be based upon natural law, and it seems problematic that the NAP in this case, at least as it has so far been interpreted by Rothbard and Block, fails to be in accord with a natural law obligation, which is that one does not misrepresent what service one is providing. Again, it may be possible to save the NAP by not overloading it and requiring that it exclusively form a basis of legal judgment. We have to go outside the NAP and elaborate further.

Invoking fraud doesn’t do the trick in this case. Misrepresentation by lying is not fraud, according to Kinsella. If the NAP is restricted to physical force, it’s too restrictive. If it covers force and fraud, it still cannot handle the case of lies that damage a person in a variety of ways.

If fraud involves a theft of property, as Kinsella argues, then what has Block been robbed of in this hypothetical case? Not reputation alone, but his livelihood, plus his wealth to litigate the case, his time, and quite possibly the loss of family, friends and health.

8:13 pm on April 13, 2019