LRC Blog

Go to Metal Coin Standard

Elizabeth Warren has aired her 5 or 10 year central planning scheme named Economic Patriotism. The inane plan is a disaster, which is why she’s recovered ground among Democrats after her genetic scandal. The plan’s idiocy is why it’s supported by Robert Kuttner, a man who reliably indicates stupid communist-inspired policies that should not be adopted.

One of Warren’s planks is “More actively managing our currency value to promote exports and domestic manufacturing.” [Her emphasis.] She wants to depreciate the dollar relative to foreign currencies. This means she wants higher inflation. This won’t solve any economic problems we may have, and it will surely add new problems.

All government actions to manipulate currencies for the benefit of their local economies are doomed to failure. The real costs will be felt sooner or later. See here for some history of major disasters consequent to currency manipulations.

If current economic travails can be blamed on currencies disturbing economic decisions and leading us toward more crashes and depressions, then the culprits are central banks and fiat currencies already being manipulated by governments. Further manipulation isn’t going to remedy anything or prevent future economic disasters.

The way out is a metal standard, such as silver or gold coins. A dollar would be a fixed weight of the standard metal. That would be the dollar’s definition. A metal standard has many advantages. One is to integrate all the local currencies worldwide, because all will be convertible into certain fixed quantities of metal and therefore convertible into one another at known ratios.

Communist-lite, socialist-lite and fascist-lite plans like those of Warren only regiment us at great cost. They only destroy domestic peace and liberty. They only hamper our progress. They are all stupid and ridiculous, because by now we should know that they get us nowhere. We should be looking to dismantle our already existing such departments and plans that form much of our government institutions. Warren’s plans are a throwback to the totalitarian 20th century under the guise of helping American workers.

9:46 am on June 10, 2019

Johnny Burtka: On the Economy, America and GOP Should Return to Abraham Lincoln

A sampling of some of the newest conservative populist/nationalist economic “thought.”  Tariffs, new bureaucracies, etc.  Burtka (like J.D. Vance) is one of Tucker Carlson’s new muses.  Again, more revisionist fantasy, but this is where the conservatives (old, new, populist, nationalist) inevitably end up: government failure is really market failure, so bring on more government!

4:11 pm on June 9, 2019

The Sad and Continuing Decline of Tucker Carlson

America is on the road to economic ruin because of…Republicans implementing Austrian economics!  Really?  So who is one of these “libertarian zealots” controlling the GOP doing this?  Mitch McConnell!  Really!  You have to watch it to believe it.  The solution?  Elizabeth Warren’s “Economic Patriotism” program, in short, a massive Soviet-like program of mercantilist industrial policy that not even the extreme-progressive Vox has fully bought into.

3:59 pm on June 9, 2019

What Does Evictionism Say?

I have friendly relations with Walter Block, and we’ve exchanged e-mails on evictionism recently. This theory is strong, important, useful, clear, and creative. Any alternative theory, old or new, has to contend with it. This blog doesn’t criticize evictionism; it distills some of the major content in Block’s own words. I’ll provide criticisms at a later date.

What does the theory say? The quotes below are from various papers authored by Walter. They do not exhaust the content of his papers. They extract some but not all of the ideas that are important.
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3:09 pm on June 9, 2019

What Is The Correct Libertarian Position on Odor Pollution?

From: S
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 8:01 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Are Foul Smells or Pollens a Violation of Property Rights?

Hello Professor Block,

I have a question for you that has me stumped. If a person is smoking marijuana in their own home and the smell wafts over to a neighbors home, where the neighbor can smell the marijuana, is the smoker of marijuana violating the property rights of the neighbor who smells the marijuana, assuming the neighbor does not like the smell of marijuana? Keep in mind that burning marijuana produces a very pungent smell. Also, for the sake of argument/discovery, let’s assume that there are no private covenants specifying the allowance or disallowance of smells in this particular community.

Along those same lines, what if someone grows a pollen-producing plant on their property and the pollen from the plant travels through the air to a neighbor who is allergic to the pollen? In this case though the pollen is not visible and produces no smell. Again assume no covenants or contracts between the two neighboring properties/property owners.

This is my first time emailing you and hopefully not my last. Thank you for everything you do! S

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 8:04 PM
To: S
Subject: RE: Are Foul Smells or Pollens a Violation of Property Rights?

Dear S:

It depends on who was there first, the smoker or the anti smoker.

A reading for you:

Rothbard, Murray N. 1982. “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution,” Cato Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring; reprinted in Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, Walter E. Block , ed., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1990; http://www.mises.org/rothbard/lawproperty.pdf

Best regards,

Walter

4:20 am on June 9, 2019

Why Don’t I Reply to Mike Rozeff on Evictionism, Thick Libertarianism?

Several people have asked me this question. See below for one such. Let me say the following in response.

I am a big fan of Mike Rozeff’s. I think he has made numerous, important contributions to our philosophy. But, accomplished libertarians such as he, and if I may say so, me, do not always have to agree on everything. We are dealing with a complex perspective in political economy, and that is just to be expected. Hey, Murray Rothbard is a pro choicer, Ron Paul, a pro lifer, and it would be difficult to mention two more highly accomplished libertarians than them. Mises and Hayek parted company on matters of Austrian economics. Joe Salerno has done magnificent work on the “de-homogenization” of the latter two in this regard, demonstrating this.

I’m not comparing me and my friend Mike with Rothbard, Paul, Mises, Hayek, except to say, and I’m sure Mike would agree with me on this, that he and I are mere followers of those four giants of Austro-libertarianism. I’m only saying that it should occasion no big surprise to find disagreement in our movement.

Why don’t I reply to Mike on these issues – thickism, evictionism – that divide us? There are several reasons. One, he writes so much, it would be difficult to keep up with him. Two, I think a better venue for such disputes is in the scholarly, peer-reviewed literature, which allows for thousands of words, footnotes, etc. Three, my understanding of the purpose of the LewRocwell.com blog is not to promote heavy internal debates amongst libertarians, but, rather, to keep people up with news of interest to the LRC audience, to keep the general Austro-libertarian community informed.

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4:19 am on June 9, 2019

A Man and a Woman Getting Married and Having Children “Does Not Reflect on Boston Values”

Says Boston Mayor Marty (i.e., Maw-ty) Walsh.

I was in Massachusetts all last week, where the state license plates all say “The Spirit of Massachusetts.” The two biggest newspaper headlines about that “spirit” last week were: 1) Today’s Gay/Lesbian/Transvestite/Sex-With-Farm-Animals/Etc. Etc. Parade; and 2) the “Transvestite Reading Hour” program in the public schools.

And people wonder why Southerners no longer wanted to be in the same political union with the New England Yankees in the 1860s.

8:20 pm on June 8, 2019

Wombsteading Consistent with Contractual Principles

I recently presented a theory of an unborn baby’s rights (here and here). I used the term womb-homesteading at that time. That term can better be replaced by wombsteading. Wombsteading is a libertarian theory, relying on basic libertarian concepts.

Some years ago, Bionic Mosquito offered a neat and detailed theory of the unborn’s rights based upon general contractual principles. I believe that his contracting theory and wombsteading theory are basically consistent with one another, while taking different approaches. I had not read his work on this until now.

The consistency occurs in this statement I made: “I propose that the female’s property right in her body has been altered by her pregnancy.” Bionic’s statement is “I suggest that the unborn child does have rights to (and the mother has obligations to the unborn child regarding) the use of the womb…”

Thereafter we go in different directions. I propose that the mother has lost some control, whereas Bionic goes in the direction of causation and the female’s responsibility.

7:54 pm on June 7, 2019

Thin or Thick Libertarianism?

Dear Bionic:

Thanks for your kindly worded disagreement with me:

Mosquito, Bionic. 2019. “Walter is So Very Wrong.” June 7

Regarding my criticism of Hans’ view of excluding certain people from society. If friends can’t have a friendly disagreement, they aren’t friends. I hope and trust my friend Hans will take my gentle criticism of him in the same way that I take yours of me.

I don’t think you are correct.

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1:15 pm on June 7, 2019

Homosexuality and Libertarianism Are Indeed Compatible, Contrary to Hans Hoppe

From: R
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2019 6:13 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Gays

I saw your letter in LewRockwell.com concerning the compatibility of homosexuality with libertarianism.  Of course there is no conflict between the two.  Libertarianism has nothing to say about voluntary sexual choices, good or bad. Like you, I find the idea of intimate relations with other men to be unthinkable. In my case, I have a son who is gay and I find it difficult to think about his relationships without experiencing a shudder of revulsion…not for my son, but for the acts.  My son, on the other hand, seems totally accepting of the idea of any sexual combinations.  Perhaps it is my generation (I’m 61) that was conditioned to be conventional, but my reaction to seeing two men kissing seems more visceral than that.  It is something deep in me.  I joke with my wife that when I experience those feelings, it is my inner homophobe coming out.

My son carries inside him some contradictions that I am watching unfold.  On the one hand, he has been influenced by identity politics and the idea of intersectionality of oppression.  On the other hand, he does not advocate violence.  When we discuss (we can go on for hours discussing and disagreeing and still being totally calm and civil…something that I cherish in him) topics that he is most interested in (gay liberation, social justice, politics) he advocates for a kind of uniformity of society, one that embraces his life choices.  I cannot go there (see my aforementioned revulsion).

He once asked me “what kind of world do you want to live in?” when I failed to jump on-board his politically correct train.  I thought about it for a moment, then answered “I imagine a Black Nationalist living on my right, a Born Again behind me, a Bleeding Liberal on the other side, and a couple of lesbians across the street.  We’d wave to each other, help shovel out each other’s driveways after a bad storm, and maybe even have civil conversations about our different opinions, but otherwise we’d just leave each other alone.”  My son didn’t think such a thing was possible, believing as he does that NAP is not enough of a glue for society.  We disagree, but he does have a point given the emotional nature of all the human beings I know.  Unless they adopt the NAP, then it  will be a society of rising tempers and eventually violence, sort of like what we sometimes see now. Nevertheless, when he asks me about what I think of his life choices, I ask a counter question, “Are you hurting anyone?  Are you lying to anyone?  Are you taking other people’s stuff?  If not, then you are doing nothing wrong regardless of what anyone thinks.”  If that is the only life-lesson he gets from me, that will be OK even if I shudder at his other choices. R

Dear R:

Thanks for your lovely letter. My son is straight, but if he were gay, I would love him just as much as I now do. I’m sure you and I think alike on this.

I regard Hans Hoppe as one of the most gifted libertarian theoreticians who ever graced this planet. However, on this one issue, I think he is mistaken. He writes as follows:

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3:50 am on June 7, 2019

D-Day Thoughts

We have heard all manner of things about D-Day today. What we haven’t heard about is the thousands of French civilians who were killed in the aftermath. Collateral damage I suppose since they were not Americans. And here is another omission. On May 27, we were not told that a ship carrying 937 Jewish refugees, fleeing Nazi Germany, was turned away from Cuba on May 27, 1939. No Jews were allowed to enter America either. Thanks FDR. And thanks for not letting Anne Frank’s family to immigrate to the United States.

9:00 pm on June 6, 2019

Pompeo Accidentally Tells Truth About Failed Venezuela Coup

12:23 pm on June 6, 2019

Manufacturing War With Russia

In Manufacturing War With Russia: We are in a new and more perilous point in a 50-year nuclear arms race, award-winning journalist Chris Hedges interviews noted author Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, where he was the director of the Russian studies program, and professor emeritus of Russian studies and history at New York University.

10:51 am on June 6, 2019

David Bergland, RIP

David Bergland, the calm principled voice of Libertarianism, has died. One of my fondest memories is my tenure on the senior national staff of his 1984 Libertarian Party presidential campaign, where I had the distinct honor and privilege of reading the manuscript copy of the first edition of his brilliantly executed work, Libertarianism In One Lesson. In each subsequent edition, David finely crafted and honed this masterwork into the most concise, understandable work of its kind. This brief book remains the best place to begin your exploration of the ideas of Libertarianism.

10:04 am on June 6, 2019

The Real Energy Revolution: Natural Gas

This brilliant – must read – authoritative article, The Real Energy Revolution: Natural Gas, presents more hard factual analysis on the true state of the world’s production and consumption of energy (present and future) than most attentive readers will have likely encountered. The seminal role of natural gas in that powerful narrative is something naive, ill-informed supporters of the bogus and deadly “Green New Deal” proposals have never reflected upon or contemplated.

 

9:46 am on June 6, 2019

CIA Whistleblower Kevin Shipp on the Soft Coup Program Against Trump

CIA whistleblower Kevin Shipp is the author of From the Company of Shadows. 

Here is an earlier expose’ of the Shadow Government by  former CIA officer Shipp.

5:27 pm on June 5, 2019

Who’s The Bigger War Criminal – Duncan Hunter…Or Those Who Sent Him To Iraq?

12:32 pm on June 5, 2019

Democrats DELETING GOD From Congressional Proceedings

5:32 pm on June 4, 2019

Chris Arnade on the Plight of “Back-Row” America

Progressive Arnade documents a phenomenon which transcends Trump, ethnicity, or party affiliation.

3:37 pm on June 4, 2019

Western Media Cheer Newest Attacks on White South-African Farmers

Including the recent murder of farmer Stefan Smit.

3:35 pm on June 4, 2019

Ryan Cleckner on the Newest Democratic Attacks on Gun Ownership

Including Barack Obama telling Brazilians that Americans are allowed to buy “machine guns” over the Internet, no questions asked.

3:31 pm on June 4, 2019

Lives of Interesting Men and Women

For your Summer reading pleasure here is an eclectic assortment of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs concerning Ludwig von Mises, Preston Sturgis, Joshua Norton I – Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, Murray N. Rothbard, J. R. Simplot, Lord Acton, Albert Jay Nock, Saint John Paul II, H. L. Mencken, Stewart Brand, Gore Vidal, Rose Wilder Lane, Willi Münzenberg, Thomas Jefferson, Nikola Tesla, Benjamin Franklin, Dr. W. C. Minor, Frank Chodorov, Henry Adams, Ralph Adams Cram, George Santayana, Ayn Rand, Whittaker Chambers, Harry Elmer Barnes, John Chamberlain, Paul Fussell, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, William F. Buckley Jr., Victoria C. Woodhull, George Seldes, Joe Furnas, Isabel Paterson, John Stossel, and many others.

1:43 pm on June 4, 2019

The USS Liberty – Controversy, Cover-Up or Conspiracy?


On June 8, 1967, the National Security Agency intelligence ship USS Liberty, stationed in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula during the Six-Day Arab/Israeli War, was attacked by unmarked jets and later by unmarked torpedo boats. In all, 34 men were killed and 171 wounded. Deep into the attack, the captain and crew realized that the aggressor was their supposed ally, Israel, who claimed they couldn’t identify the ship as American (despite the large American flag being displayed during the assault). Here are authoritative books and documentaries on this tragic incident.

12:31 pm on June 4, 2019

The ‘Good War’? US Bomb Kills Entire Afghan Family

12:23 pm on June 4, 2019

The Duty to Rescue at Sea

The abstract libertarian discussion of property rights in the case of a sailboat rescuing a young girl is well and good for a number of purposes. It shouldn’t be the exclusive basis for reaching conclusions, however. The duty to rescue at sea is well-established in customary law and international law. There is no good reason not to examine the existing solutions to rescues at sea that have developed over long periods of time. See here for a review article.

Sometimes useful bodies of law develop independently of states. Sometimes states are directly involved. In a world without states, insurers would probably individually and collectively have incentives to save lives at sea. Through restrictions on making insurance available, they might produce rescue provisions that have a result similar to the laws and duties arranged by states in treaties. In addition, people taking to the sea benefit from knowing that other ships will make efforts to rescue them should a mishap occur. This demand translates into owners making pacts to engage in rescues on a reciprocal basis.

Some bodies of Law that would develop in a stateless world of free markets might look quite a lot like the laws that have already developed in a world of states. What may look like involuntary impositions on property rights in a world of states may be requirements that make sense even for property owners if they were free to make their own arrangements.

This is not to ignore or be content with state-made law, because the state’s power to make laws is so easily applied beyond proper limits and abused. We see this all the time. In the face of the constant pressures to extend laws to new areas of our behavior, our Constitution has provided too weak a barrier and deterrent.

6:54 pm on June 3, 2019

Who’s a Socialist?

Why is it that even the most vocal opponents of socialism are unwilling to include Adolf Hitler’s regime as socialistic? He named his party the “National Socialist German Workers Party” [shortened to “Nazi”].  The implications of this “oversight” can be found in my earlier LRC article “The Hitler Test.”

4:15 pm on June 3, 2019

By Backing Al-Qaeda, Trump Continues Obama’s Horrible Syria Policy

12:31 pm on June 3, 2019

Eviction, Gentleness, and Time

Jeff Bell raises an important point about eviction/trespass. In the eviction theory, trespass results in ejection. The Rothbard idea is that one’s actions in pursuit of rights and against invasions, i.e., in self-defense, may not make new rights infringements. Walter Block has applied this concept to abortion vs. eviction, the latter being in the gentlest possible manner, so as to avoid killing the fetus. However, if the fetus is removed and the technology doesn’t permit its survival, his eviction theory looks upon that as necessitated or “so be it”.

Now, what’s the gentlest possible manner? There is no time dimension to it. In the sailboat example, there is no time dimension either. It’s a big question that I didn’t raise, but it’s certainly relevant. Why aren’t the sailors told under libertarian law that they must wait until they reach port or encounter a vessel willing to take their unwelcome visitor aboard? In the abortion case, why isn’t the pregnant woman instructed to delay removal until the fetus is able to survive removal? The theory has no time dimension for gentle removal (eviction), and as such, it can be interpreted as saying that no abortion of any kind is allowable (assuming a normal pregnancy) because gentleness takes time. This looks like a fatal objection to the eviction theory.

Once time becomes an issue, there are going to be interpersonal utility comparisons made. The longer the time waited, the worse off the property owners but the better off the “trespassers”, if they really are such. Who is to say what gentlest manner means in that circumstance? The Rothbardian reply might be to attempt to skirt these utility comparisons and allow immediate removal. That really doesn’t resolve the issue satisfactorily.

Absolute property ownership implicitly makes the utility of the owner dominate the utility of a trespasser. To maintain that dominance, there can be no injection of “gentlest possible manner” into a theory of property and trespass. This is a point raised by Jeremiah Dyke in an unpublished comment on eviction theory. In that view, eviction is emptied of its content.

8:17 am on June 3, 2019

Debate on the ERE and Equilibrium

This is a debate that took place between me and my good friend and many times co-author, Bill Barnett, courtesy of the econ club of Loyola U.

I took what I regard as the mainstream, Misesian, Rothbardian, position: the ERE and Equilibrium are helpful, important but limited constructs in Austrian economics. Bill took what I regard as the Ludwig Lachmanian (Lachmaniacal) position that these concepts are a snare, delusion, fallacy and should be expunged from economics. It is not for nothing that I am widely known (at least in my own mind) as Walter Moderate Block. For, the mainstream neoclassical economists adopt the viewpoint that there is practically nothing else in the dismal science worth discussing apart from equilibrium.

Watch the fur fly, here!

April 12, 2018. Walter Block versus Bill Barnett debate on the ERE and equilibrium

3:37 am on June 2, 2019

Hucksterism, Flim-Flam

From: J
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2019 12:51 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: libertarians

Walter,

I tend to think of myself as a libertarian, but in addition to the usual freedoms from government controls and limits, I subscribe to the adherence to honesty and to the basic responsibility to not deceive or otherwise “flim-flam” folks.

Does this place me into a different category than “libertarian”?

J

 

Dear J:

In my view, libertarianism is incompatible with fraud. People who commit fraud are thieves and should be considered criminals. On the other hand, selling expensive encyclopedias to poor people who can’t read is highly problematic, but not a crime. I’m not sure what is “flim flam.” I assume that’s what hucksters do.

As far as I’m concerned, you’re a libertarian if you support the non aggression principle and private property rights based on initial homesteading and legitimate title transfer afterward. But, this is a complex issue. Libertarians do disagree amongst ourselves on the implications of these two principles. I’m a big tent kind of libertarian.

Best regards,

Walter

3:36 am on June 2, 2019