Patents, Giffen Goods, Invitations

From: E
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 12:32 PM
Subject: Just Missed You
Hello Dr. Block, My name is E and I am a graduating senior at the University of Central Arkansas. I learned recently from a professor, Dr. Joe McGarrity, that you used to chair the Department of Economics here at UCA. I am quite a fan of yours and the Austrian school so I was quite pleased to learn of the free market pedigree in the department, but sad to have missed your instruction here. I have had many lively discussions with Dr. McGarrity about issues of economic theory, especially the faulty concept of the Giffen good. Another professor, Dr. Zach Donohew, and I have discussed patent law and whether or not it is necessary for future development of lifesaving drugs. He argues that if R&D for a drug is very expensive, but the drug can be widely manufactured by anyone in the absence of patent law, would any drugs ever be produced? I have a few questions for you. Why do empirically-based economists cling so hard to the theoretical idea of a Giffen good when there is no evidence of one? Second, economically speaking, if there is no profit possible from an endeavor, that would be an indication that society does not prioritize its production. Is there a better argument against patent law for drug manufacturers that would answer his arguments on their own ground, maybe something along the lines of backwards determination of costs?
My questions aren’t extremely urgent, but I read of your correspondence policy on and thought I would say hi. Dr. McGarrity said that you return to the university from time to time to visit old colleagues and often give talks while you are here. I was wondering if you had given any thought to when might be the the next time you visit. Thank you for your time and thoughts. Regards, E

Dear E: Thanks for your very kind letter. Since I and others have written about patents (I oppose them) and Giffen goods (ditto), I’ll content myself by sharing with you, below, some readings on these two issues. As for the next time I return to UCA to give a speech there, the proprieties are the host has to initiate the invitation to a speaker, not the other way around. Let me just say that when and if UCA invites me back to make another presentation there, I will look with great favor upon any such invitation, and will be very inclined to accept it. In the meantime, I urge you to apply for admission to the Mises University a week long seminar during the summer in Auburn, AL; I’ll be on the faculty there.

on patents:

Block, 2013; Boldrin and Levine, 2008; De Wachter, 2013; Kinsella, 2001, 2012; Long, 1995; Menell, 2007A, 2007B; Mukherjee and Block, 2012; Navabi, 2015; Palmer, 1989.

Block, Walter E. 2013. Defending the Undefendable II: Freedom in all realms; Terra Libertas Publishing House; isbn: 978-1-908089-37-3;

Boldrin, Michele & David K. Levine. 2008. Against Intellectual Monopoly.;

De Wachter, Joren. 2013. “IP is a thought crime.” at TEDxLeuven. June 6;

Kinsella, N. Stephan. 2001. “Against Intellectual Property,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2, Winter, pp. 1-53;

Kinsella, N. Stephan. 2012. “Economic Freedom of the World Rankings and Intellectual Property: The United States’ Bad Ranking is Even Worse Than Reported.”

Long, Roderick. 1995. “The Libertarian Case Against Intellectual Property Rights.” Formulations. Vol. 3, No. 1, Autumn;

Menell, Peter S. 2007. “Intellectual Property and the Property Rights Movement.” Regulation, Fall;

Menell, Peter S. 2007. “The Property Rights Movement’s Embrace of Intellectual Property: True Love or Doomed Relationship?” Ecology Law Quarterly, Vol. 34.

Mukherjee, Jay and Walter E. Block. 2012. “Libertarians and the Catholic Church on Intellectual Property Laws.” Journal of Political Philosophy Las Torres de Lucca. Issue No. 1, July-December, pp. 59-75;ólica-en-las-leyes-de-propiedad-intelectual&Itemid=24&lang=en&Itemid=23

Navabi, Ash. 2015. “To Taylor, Love Freedom.” June 23;

Palmer, Tom. 1989. “Intellectual Property: A Non-Posnerian Law and Economics Approach” Hamline Law Review, Spring, Vol 12 No. 2.

on Giffen goods:

Barnett and Block. 2010; Block, 2012; Block and Barnett, 2012; Block and Philbois, unpublished; Block and Wysocki 2018; Klein, unpublished; Klein and Salerno, Unpublished; Murphy, Wutscher and Block, 2010.

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2010. “Mises never used demand curves; was he wrong? Ignorant? No: The Antimathematicality of Demand Curves.” Dialogue, Vol. 1, pp. 23-31, March;;

Block, Walter E. 2012. “Thymology, praxeology, demand curves, Giffen goods and diminishing marginal utility” Studia Humana; Volume 1:2, pp. 3—11;,%20praxeology,%20demand%20curves,%20Giffen%20goods%20and%20diminishing%20marginal%20utility.pdf,The-second-issue,Thymology-Praxeology-Demand-Curves-Giffen-Goods-and-Diminishi.html

Block, Walter E. and William Barnett, II. 2012. “Giffen Goods, Backward Bending Supply Curves, Price Controls and Praxeology; or, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Boogie Man of Giffen Goods and Backward Bending Supply Curves? Not Us.” Revista Procesos de Mercado, Vol. IX, No. 1, Spring, pp. 353-373

Block, Walter E. and Gabriel Philbois. Unpublished. “Giffen Goods and Backward Bending Supply Curves of Labor.”

Block, Walter E. and Igor Wysocki.Forthcoming, 2018. “A defense of Rothbard on the demand curve against Hudik’s critique.” Summer; Acta Economica et Turistica;

Klein, Peter G. Unpublished. “A note on Giffen goods.”

Klein, Peter G. and Joseph T. Salerno. Unpublished. “Giffen’s Paradox and the Law of Demand”

Murphy, Robert P., Robert Wutscher and Walter E. Block. 2010. “Mathematics in Economics: An Austrian Methodological Critique.” Philosophical Investigations, January, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 44-66;;


10:22 pm on February 27, 2018