Is It Ok For A Libertarian To Accept Social Security Payments? Yes.

From: S

Sent: Friday, March 15, 2019 2:26 AM


Subject: On accepting Social Security

I like your argument in favor of libertarians taking Social Security. The logic is persuasive, and, personally speaking, it relieves me of any lingering feelings of guilt for doing so.

Here’s a thought experiment. Suppose the State were to pair up specific workers with specific recipients, such that when I received my SS check there was a note attached informing me of the name and address of the actual individual(s) whose paycheck was seized (in part) to cover it. Besides sending that person a nice thank-you card, would I be morally obligated to return the money to him? Or would you still say that I could and should keep it? Does it change the calculus if a face can be put to an individual victim who was robbed by the State specifically for my benefit? Further, suppose that that worker/victim was given my name and address. Would he be justified in coming to my door and seizing the money by force if I refused to voluntarily return it to him? S

Dear S:

Forget about the money with that note (brilliant example, by the way).

Here’s a friendly amendment: the government, B, takes, commandeers, a specific thing from A

(for example, a truck, under its civil asset forfeiture policy; on which see this:

Rothschild, Daniel Y. and Walter E. Block. 2016. “It Is Not Armed Robbery When Government Takes People’s Stuff, It Is Civil Asset Forfeiture.” Journal of Social and Administrative Sciences September, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 219-230;;,

and gives that specific truck to you, C, a social security recipient, instead of money. In that way, the point you want to make is even clearer.

So, are you legally obligated, under libertarian law, to return this truck to A?

No. I think libertarian salvage law ( comes into the analysis here. If X salvaged Y’s sunken boat, X did not have to give Y back his boat. Rather, they shared (the value of) it. So, I think you’d only have to give A part of the value of that truck.

But, subject to one proviso: that A has totally clean hands in this regard. He is not the illicit recipient of any other favors of govt.

I have written a bit not so much about taking social security payments from government as about taking any money from any illicit, problematic, illegitimate institution such as government; for example, should Ron Paul accept matching funds from the state?:

Block, 1972, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009A, 2009B, 2010, 2011A, 2011B, 2011C, 2011D, 2012, 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;;;

Block, Walter E. 2002. “Accepting Government Subsidies,” Fraser Forum, February, p. 27;

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;;;; (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; (libertarians hypocrites for using public school?)

Block, Walter E. 2009A. “Libertarian punishment theory: working for, and donating to, the state” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 1;

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;

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;

Block, Walter E. 2011B. “May a Libertarian Take Money From the Government?” March 11;;

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;

Block, Walter E. 2011D. “Hoppe, Kinsella and Rothbard II on Immigration: A Critique.” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 593–623;

Block, Walter E. 2016. “Is It Compatible With Libertarianism to be a Banker? Yes!” September 29;

Block, Walter E. and Chris Arakaky. 2008. “Taking Government Money for Grad School?” May 23;

Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166 June;;

D’Amico, Dan and Walter E. Block. 2007. “A Legal and Economic Analysis of Graffiti” Humanomics Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 29-38;;;

This book of mine might be of interest to you:

Block, Walter E. 2012. Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty. Ishi Press;;;;;;;;;;;;


7:35 am on July 23, 2019