Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 8:15 AM
Subject: On the subject of taking government money
First a little foreword: I’m a swedish/finnish 20 year old electrician, who’ve had the luck of having a friend who is an anarcho-capitalist/austrian who had read a lot of Rothbard and Mises. He first convinced me that taxation was theft, and to start listening to Tom Woods and you. Thankfully I took his advice and now I am myself a libertarian/AnCap in the school of Murray Rothbard, and I am constantly trying to learn more about austrian economics. Secondly, this mail is coming completely from a place of respect, and not bad will.
Okay, so mainly I have two things I want to attack you on.
The first one is your discussion or debate that you had with Bob Murphy on the Tom Woods show episode 470. On there you made a point about taking government money isn’t only moral it is also desirable. The reason for this being is that stealing from a thief is good since it’s not his legitimate property.
My main objection with this is that when the cost ultimately and without exception is put on the taxpayer’s/thief’s subjects, it is no longer stealing from the thief, but stealing from the thief’s subjects. And by indirectly stealing from the thief’s subjects makes them directly poorer I would equal it to an active action (taking money from the government voluntarily) leading to the active reaction of the government taking MORE money from the taxpayer. My point being is that we should desire to take as little money from the government as possible, to give it less of an excuse to steal more of the taxpayer’s money, since it will use the fill up the “lost revenue” with more taxes.
My other objection would be more specifically towards the phrase: You (say you) can’t steal from a thief. I don’t think that’s quite right, I believe that you CAN steal from a thief. Just because the thief stole from an innocent person doesn’t give me, a third unaffected party a right to steal from the thief, since he didn’t take anything that was rightly mine. However, when this phrase is laid fourth against the government, it is also taking my money and this phrase is rightly applicable. I just don’t think it is applicable in all cases like you’ve made it sound like.
My last thought on the subject is that you’ve said that only libertarians can rightfully take government money. This I believe is completely wrong, since that would mean that I can change the morality of an action by simply having different thoughts in my head. That would lead to some very odd hypotheticals where my intentions suddenly changes an immoral action into a moral one.
Thanks for reading and keep doing what you do, I appreciate all your work! Cheers, B
Dear B: You need not worry about “respect.” I respond to all polite letters. But, thanks, anyway
I believe in intellectual fudging. I know that I am justified in taking all sorts of benefits from the government: walking on its streets, using its currency, visiting its libraries and museums and parks, going to public schools as a student, teaching at public universities, eating food (the state subsidizes it), allowing its sanitation trucks to pick up my garbage, accepting its social security payments, medical care, etc. Anarcho-capitalism of the Rothbardian variety is not a suicide pact. If I didn’t accept all this government largesse, I’d die. However, I also note that the funds from these benefits come from other people, against their will. If I didn’t come up with this theory of mine, some lefty could come up to me and demand my car, house, money, etc. But that’s just psychology; that was my inner thinking when I concocted this theory. Forget about its geneses. I think it is correct. The state is a robber gang. Right now, it has our money. If a lefty wants some of this money back, let him go liberate it from the state, just as I have. I have no positive obligation to turn it back over to him. This is perhaps easy to see with fungible money. But what about asset forfeiture? The (unjust) government (this applies only to nations that I don’t live in, won’t ever visit; I don’t want to be breaking any laws here) unjustly seizes Smith’s truck. I break into a state garage and liberate it from them; I can’t steal it from this government; you can only steal from the rightful owner. Smith now comes to me and demands back his truck. If I have to give it to him, even if I have to give it to him minus a salvage fee, then we’re back to the suicide pact. No, I tell him, go liberate someone else’s truck.
As to “simply having different thoughts in my head” changing anything, go look up mens rea.
I’ve published a lot about this. If these pub do not convince you, do get back to me:
Block, 1972, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009A, 2009B, 2010, 2011A, 2011B, 2011C, 2011D, 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; http://www.mises.org/journals/lf/1972/1972_06-07.pdf; http://mises.org/daily/4054; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block143.html
Block, Walter E. 2002. “Accepting Government Subsidies,” Fraser Forum, February, p. 27; http://oldfraser.lexi.net/publications/forum/2002/02/section_13.html
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; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf; http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf; http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/28/rp_28_7.pdf; (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;
https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block108.html (libertarians hypocrites for using public school?)
Block, Walter E. 2009A. “Libertarian punishment theory: working for, and donating to, the state” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 1; http://libertarianpapers.org/2009/17-libertarian-punishment-theory-working-for-and-donating-to-the-state/
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; http://mises.org/books/hulsmann-kinsella_property-freedom-society-2009.pdf
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; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block172.html
Block, Walter E. 2011B. “May a Libertarian Take Money From the Government?” March 11; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block175.html; https://www.lewrockwell.com/2011/03/walter-e-block/may-a-libertarian-take-money-from-the-government/
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; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_33.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2011D. “Hoppe, Kinsella and Rothbard II on Immigration: A Critique.” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, pp. 593–623; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_29.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2016. “Is It Compatible With Libertarianism to be a Banker? Yes!” September 29; https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/compatible-libertarianism-banker-yes/
Block, Walter E. and Chris Arakaky. 2008. “Taking Government Money for Grad School?” May 23; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block100.html
Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166 June; http://www2.units.it/~etica/; http://www2.units.it/~etica/2008_1/BLOCKBARNETT.pdf
D’Amico, Dan and Walter E. Block. 2007. “A Legal and Economic Analysis of Graffiti” Humanomics Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 29-38; http://www.mises.org/journals/scholar/damico.pdf; http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContainer.do?containerType=Issue&containerId=24713; http://ssrn.com/abstract=100852512:59 pm on November 6, 2018 Email Walter E. Block