My Debate With Dr. Adrian Moore of Reason On How Radical We Libertarians Should Be

(I usually keep my correspondents anonymous, but I asked him about this and he had no objection to me sharing his identity. I corrected a few spelling mistakes; otherwise, what appears below is the full exchange. I thank Mike Rozeff for impressing upon me the importance of keeping these letters in the correct order, so that people do not have to read “from the bottom up.”) I think this is a good illustration of the difference between people associated with the Mises Institute (I cannot of course speak for this organization) and a typical “Beltway” libertarian organization

He started off this debate-conversation with:

Letter 1:

From: Adrian Moore [mailto:adrian.moore@e.reason.org
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

Dr. Adrian Moore
Vice President, Reason Foundation

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 [mailto:adriantmoore@gmail.com
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.

Letter 4:

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 enterprises more effectively.

Best regards,

Walter

Letter 5

From: Adrian Moore [mailto:adriantmoore@gmail.com
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.

Letter 6

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 govt 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 govt 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 govt 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.pdf;https://mises.org/system/tdf/20_3_4.pdf?file=1&type=document

Best regards,

Walter

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2:50 pm on May 22, 2019