A Debate Between Walter E. Block and Adrian Moore, Vice President of the Reason Foundation, on Marijuana-Impaired Driving

The first letter of Dr. Moore’s was not addressed to me personally. Rather, it was sent out to a list utilized by Reason Foundation, in which I am included.

Below, I say some rather critical things about the Reason Foundation and his efforts on this matter. Let me introduce this series of letters by saying something nice about him, and them. Reason is doing great work in spreading the libertarian message. True, it is a watered down version of libertarianism, but, still, it is libertarian. They started out as a mimeographed newsletter, and are now a large organization with dozens of employees, acquainting millions of people with the case for liberty. Even though I disagree with some of what they say, I regard them as a plus for liberty. I am also very grateful to them for publishing no fewer than eight of my scholarly articles in their scholarly journal, Reason Papers and one in their Reason Magazine (see below on this).

Letter 1

From: Adrian Moore

Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2019 10:02 AM

To: wblock@loyno.edu

Subject: Dealing with marijuana impaired driving as marijuana is legalized

Walter,

My wife is a former narcotics officer and Drug Recognition Expert instructor. She has seen a great many drivers much too high to be behind the wheel, but also many drivers with marijuana in their system but who were not impaired at the time they were driving.

As states legalize marijuana for medical or adult recreational use, it is important that we ensure that we don’t see an increase in driving while high, nor punish drivers who are not high but have marijuana in their system.

In a new report A Common Sense Approach to Marijuana-Impaired Driving I team up with my wife to lay out how states can tackle this challenge. As parents we don’t want to see more driving while high, but don’t think responsible marijuana use should be punished any more than responsible drinking.

In the study we talk about what states are already doing, the challenges of a toxicology based per-se standard like the 0.08 blood alcohol level for drunk driving, and how to make more and better use of effective Drug Recognition Expert officers and field sobriety evaluations. We also discuss how to improve the transparency, accountability and fairness of these tests and impaired driving enforcement to protect everyone involved.

We hope this study will help decision makers in your state. Please share this information with anyone you know who can use it. And if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

Adrian

Letter 2

On Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 3:01 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

Dear Adrian:

Why not privatize the roads, and let free enterprise deal with this challenge?

Block, Walter E. 2009. The Privatization of Roads and Highways: Human and Economic Factors; Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute; http://www.amazon.com/Privatization-Roads-And-Highways-Factors/dp/1279887303/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336605800&sr=1-1; available for free here: http://mises.org/books/roads_web.pdfhttp://mises.org/daily/3416http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/radical_privatization.pdf; audio: http://store.mises.org/Privatization-of-Roads-and-Highways-Audiobook-P11005.aspxhttp://www.audible.com/pd/Business/The-Privatization-of-Roads-and-Highways-Audiobook/B0167IT18K?tag=misesinsti-20http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bf16b152ccc444bdbbcc229e4&id=6cbc90577b&e=54244ea97d

http://www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks.com/2017/09/book-review-privatization-of-roads-and.html

Best regards,

Walter

Letter 3

From: Adrian Moore

Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2019 9:54 AM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Dealing with marijuana impaired driving as marijuana is legalized

Walter, as I think you know we have been advocating privatizing the roads for over 30 years in countless studies and several books. This study is not about that, but a different topic.

Imagine we have succeeded in privatizing the roads, and you own a nice set of them.  No one is going to pay you to use your product if you allow anyone to drive on it regardless of how drunk or high they or. Or whatever speed or vehicle.  If you want to provide a product–roads–that customers will use, it has to be a reasonably safe one.  Unfortunately for now the government still owns the roads, so the rules to make them safe are laws.  In that setting, how do we make rules for enforcing against actual, measurable, impaired driving, while not punishing people who may use pot but are not impaired. That is what our study is all about.

Adrian

On Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 4:51 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

Dear Adrian:

I appreciate your point. However, I’m not in sympathy with your study. Why not? It is too much like being a (Milton Friedmanian – Bob Poolean) efficiency expert for the state. The government is evil. The way I see things, it is highly problematic for a libertarian such as yourself to offer these people suggestions for running their enterpriseses more effectively.

Best regards,

Walter

Letter 5

From: Adrian Moore

Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2019 6:25 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Dealing with marijuana impaired driving as marijuana is legalized

Walter, you choose to advocate and wait for the revolution. I chose to advocate for the revolution and meanwhile work on incremental progress. Not to make the government more efficient unless that is a side effect of making it less intrusive on our liberties. The two things often go together, though not always.   The government currently dramatically impinges on our liberties in their efforts to manage the roads they own and operate. If, while working to privatize roads, I can also help move to rules and enforcement that are more fair and respectful of liberty, I will seize the opportunity to do so.  I’d argue that our two approaches are complementary and you need both to achieve real progress towards liberty.  We share the same goals, and I do not criticize your approach, but respect it while also choosing my own approach based on my theory of social change. I wish you would do the same.

Adrian

Letter 6

On Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 10:36 AM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

Dear Adrian:

I follow Murray Rothbard on this. He, too, like you (and me) “advised” the government. But, he (and I) limited himself to “advising” the government to lower taxes, pull troops back home, deregulate, end the fed, get rid of CAFÉ, socialized medicine, etc. all areas where there is a clear and unambiguous move in the direction of freedom.

However, libertarians associated with Reason, Cato, etc., do WAY more than that. They advise government entities not to disband, lower taxes, but, rather to set up voucher plans, telling the fed to raise or lower interest rates instead of disbanding, Bob Poole often advises government to do this or that on the roads, etc. Don’t you see a difference in kind?

Lookit, take peak load pricing for roads. It is one thing to write, as I often do, that this is a good system, and would be implemented most likely, by private road owners. If the government buys my book and does this, my conscience is clear. But if I testified to govt, telling them they should implement this system (especially without also telling them to privatize all roads, but even with doing so) I’d feel I’d compromised my principles.

Yes, we share the same libertarian principles, the same goals, as you say. You’re correct in saying you do not criticize your approach, but respect it. But, why does it then logically follow that I must not criticize your approach, but respect it? Is it not even logically possible that I am correct in this and you are not? Moreover, I’m criticizing your approach respectfully. I’m not calling you all vicious names. I’m not saying you all are not libertarians. You are. But, I’m offering what I consider to be constructive criticism.

Consider this debate I had with Milton Friedman. I was respectful to him. I don’t think he was, to me:

Block, Walter E. and Milton Friedman. 2006. “Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter Block and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek).” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3, Summer, pp. 61-80; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/20_3/20_3_4.pdfhttps://mises.org/system/tdf/20_3_4.pdf?file=1&type=document

Best regards,

Walter

Letter 7

From: Adrian Moore

Sent: Monday, February 25, 2019 7:40 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: Dealing with marijuana impaired driving as marijuana is legalized

Walter, sorry I lost track of this thread. You make a good point and I did not mean that you should not feel free to criticize or argue with us on this stuff.  I meant that we don’t feel we compromise our principles when we advocate incremental progress towards our goals.  We charge ourselves with assessing every opportunity for change and getting as much out of it as possible. If we think we can talk them into privatizing, we try to do so. If they are only willing to do peak load pricing, we push for that. Largely because we believe partial success creates opportunities to then push for more, or that it proves the concept, etc.  I honestly don’t think we can progress by only arguing on pure ideas and principles, OR only doing incremental progress. Because we need people to change their minds and come to agree with us. And some people are persuaded by principles, and some are persuaded by practical example and incremental change.

So what I was trying to argue is there is not one right answer on these things, but multiple paths to our goals and we should pick the ones we want to pursue. Which is what I think both of us have been doing.

Adrian

Letter 8

Dear Adrian:

I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t regard testifying to government as to how to make their enterprises more efficient as “incremental progress towards our goals.” I do regard a tax reduction, a privatization, as “incremental progress towards our goals.”

Best regards,

Walter

Reason Papers:

8. Block, Walter E. 2012. “Rejoinder to David Prychitko on Austrian Dogmatism.” Reason Papers. Vol. 34, No. 2 (October):  pp. 151-166; http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/342/rp_342_13.pdf

7. Block, Walter E. 2011. “Critical comment on Klein and Clark on ‘Direct and Overall Liberty.’” Vol. 33, pp. 110-136; Reason Papers; http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/33/rp_33_9.pdf

6. Block Walter E. 2010. “Austro-Libertarian Publishing: A Survey and Critique.” Reason Papers. Vol. 32, Fall, pp. 107-135; http://reasonpapers.com/pdf/32/rp_32_7.pdf

5. Block, Walter E. with William Barnett II. 2010. “Rejoinder to Hoppe on indifference, once again.” Reason Papers, Vol. 32, pp. 141-154; http://reasonpapers.com/pdf/32/rp_32_9.pdf

289. Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2008. “On Hummel on Austrian Business Cycle Theory.” Reason Papers Vol. 30, Fall, pp. 59-90; http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/30/rp_30_4.pdf

4. Block, Walter E. 2007. “Plumb Line Libertarianism: A Critique of Hoppe.” Reason Papers, Vol. 29, Fall, pp. 151-163; http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/29/rp_29_10.pdfhttp://www.academia.edu/1425340/Plumb_Line_Libertarianism_A_Critique_of_Hoppehttps://reasonpapers.com/pdf/29/rp_29_10.pdf

3. 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.reasonpapers.com/pdf/28/rp_28_7.pdf (death penalty justified)

2. 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/wp-content/uploads/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf

1. Block, Walter E. 2003.  “Libertarianism vs. Objectivism; A Response to Peter Schwartz,” Reason Papers, Vol. 26, Summer, pp. 39-62; http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/26/rp_26_4.pdf

Reason Magazine:

Block, Walter E. 1978. “Abortion, Woman and Fetus: Rights in Conflict?” Reason Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 12, April, pp. 18-25.

PS: I am very much opposed to the Reason folk’s continual criticism of Ron Paul: https://www.google.com/search?q=reason+magazine+on+ron+paul&rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS790US790&oq=reason&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j69i59j0j69i60l4.2415j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8. Dr. Paul is one of our foremost leaders in the libertarian movement; he serves as a litmus test for libertarianism. This is not to say he is beyond criticism. No one is. We’re not a cult, after all. I have also disagreed with my friend Ron. But, when I do, I do so with the utmost respect. The same cannot always be said about the Reason people’s treatment of him, unfortunately).

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2:39 am on April 25, 2020