Gwartney and Stroup

Here is a conversation I had with Bob Murphy about Jim Gwartney and Richard Stroup, and their econ textbook:

Letter 1:

Dear Bob:

In your excellent comparison of Austrian and Chicago economics you say this: “It was a principles of microeconomics class, and we were using the (excellent) textbook by Gwartney, Stroup, et al.”

Let me tell you a little story.

Tom DiLorenzo invited me to give a lecture at his school, Loyola Maryland. My thesis was that productivity differences, not sexism, accounted for the male female wage gap. So far, you’d think both Austrians and Chicagoans would agree.

But the wokesters at Loyola Maryland were incensed. They wrote a blistering letter attacking me. Guess who they cited as their source against me? Yes, the Gwartney Stroup text. In it, GS attributed the error term in an econometric equestion to discrimination. I wrote to them. I thought both were friends of mine. I’m a several times coauthor of Gwartney’s. I told them, hey, the error term is an indication of our IGNORANCE, not discrimination.  It could represent pretty much anything under the sun. I asked them to renounce this claim in their text, and to write to Tom’s social justice colleagues to that effect.

Neither one even had the decency to respond to my request. To either tell me I was wrong, and why, or to fix their text.

However, I agree with you, in other ways, it’s a pretty good text. Well, not as bad as many others.

Could you please send me the url for your op ed. I lost it.

Best regards,


Letter 2:

From: Robert Murphy <>

Sent: Friday, May 29, 2020 7:29 PM

To: Walter Block <>

Subject: Re: Gwartney, Stroup

Hi Walter,

Huh that’s interesting. I’ve always heard economists say something like, “The remaining residual could be due to (unfair) discrimination, but the rest has been explained away.” I.e. not saying that it IS due to discrimination.

Here is what you want:

On Thu, May 28, 2020 at 7:55 PM Walter Block <> wrote:

Letter 3:

On May 31, 2020, at 6:44 PM, Walter Block <> wrote:

Dear Bob:

The error term could possibly, conceivably, indicate discrimination, but Gwartney and Stroup don’t say that. Instead, they write that the error term demonstrates discrimination.

You’ve heard the expression, “Sure, he’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Now, I’m not calling G&S son’s of bitches.

But I will say this. Sure G&S erred here, but they are our error creators. As it happens, both of them have made important contributions to good economics and to libertarianism. I’m even a several times co author of one of them:

Gwartney, James, Robert Lawson and Walter E. Block. 1996. Economic Freedom of the World, 1975-1995 Vancouver, B.C. Canada: the Fraser Institute; reviews:

Block, Walter E., Michael Walker, James Gwartney and Robert Lawson. 1996. “El concepto y la medida de la libertad economica,” Libertad Economica Y Progresso: Un Marco Conceptual, Madrid: Estudios Economicos

Gwartney, James, Robert Lawson, and Walter E. Block. 1996. “Economic Freedom of the World,” Madison Review, v. 1, n. 3, Spring, pp. 35-39.

Gwartney, James, Walter E. Block and Robert Lawson. 1992. “Measuring Economic Freedom”, Rating Global Economic Freedom, Stephen T. Easton and Michael A. Walker, eds., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, pp. 153-229.

What really ticks me off is the neither of them had the decency, the politeness, to even respond to me on this.

Best regards,



2:37 am on June 11, 2020