Dear A: thanks for your very important question. This is an issue that plagues only thoughtful libertarians, such as yourself. My answer is, Yes, accepting government subsidies is indeed licit, but ONLY for non statists. See below for my publications on this matter.
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2018 3:20 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Hi + Health Insurance Subsidies = Congruent with Libertarianism?
Hi Dr. Block, I’m a big fan of your work and love listening to you on The Tom Woods Show.
I’m sure you’re very busy, so I’ve tried to keep this short. I have a libertarian question that I’ve been having a difficult time coming to a decision on, and I thought, if you have a moment, maybe you could lend your opinion. It has to do with the ACA Health Insurance Premium Subsidies. Simply put:
– I’m eligible for a subsidy.
– My principals say that taking the subsidy is the wrong thing to do.
– In theory I could purchase health insurance *without* the subsidy, but the price is insane ($5,000/mo, $7,300 out of pocket max).
– It’s insane *because* the government messed up the market.
– I’d be fine with a less expensive catastrophic plan, but they don’t really exist. Unless I use short-term health insurance.
– Over the years, I’ve “paid” the government thousands of dollars in taxes.
– Maybe I should look at the subsidy as one way to “get that money back”?
I think I know most of the other pro/con arguments but I’m still having a hard time resting on one of them. None seem as clean/elegant/perfect as I’d like. I don’t want to do the “wrong libertarian – principled thing” and kick myself later. What’s your take on a situation like this? I really love the creativity and thoughtfulness in your approach to philosophical questions like these. I often wonder if my thinking is too ridged, and if I’m constantly painting myself into a corner. Your arguments seem to counter that nicely. Thank you for taking the time to read this. a.
A, here are my justifications for this stance:
Block, 1972, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009A, 2009B, 2010, 2011A, 2011B, 2011C, 2011D, 2016; 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; https://archive.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;
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; http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/28/rp_28_7.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;
https://archive.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; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block172.html
Block, Walter E. 2011B. “May a Libertarian Take Money From the Government?” March 11; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block175.html; https://www.lewrockwell.com/2011/03/walter-e-block/may-a-libertarian-take-money-from-the-government/
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. 2016. “Is It Compatible With Libertarianism to be a Banker? Yes!” September 29; https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/compatible-libertarianism-banker-yes/
Block, Walter E. and Chris Arakaky. 2008. “Taking Government Money for Grad School?” May 23; https://archive.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
This book of mine might be of interest to you in this regard:
Block, Walter E. 2012. Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty. Ishi Press; http://www.amazon.com/dp/4871873234;