—–Original Message—–
From: A
Sent: Wed 8/3/2016 11:16 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Restitution for regulations

Dear Walter,
Thank you for sending me your articles on reparations for slavery (see below). I just
read them and they are really enlightening. You mention that if 500 slaves
worked on a plantation and only the grandchildren of one of them can be
found, then those grandchildren can only split among themselves
one-five-hundredth of the total contribution of those 500 slaves. I have
some follow-up questions on this:

1. What if there was some division of labor among the slaves and it can be
proven that some of those 500 slaves contributed “more” or “less” (in some
vague sense) than the rest of those 500 slaves, although such differences
in contribution cannot be quantified? For example, some slaves were made
“managers,” some really did the physical work on the plantation, some only
helped to repair equipment, etc. (hypothetically).

2. What if a slave had two children, A and B; A has no children, and B has
two children, C and D; among these people, only A, C and D are alive. In
what ratio should the reparations be split? What if A, B, C and D are all

3. Suppose only one descendent of a slave can be located. How much of the
reparations should he get if (a) it is known that other descendants exist,
and exactly how many, etc., but none of them can be located, (b) it is
known that other descendants exist, but their quantity is unknown, (c) it
is not known whether any other descendants exist?

Thanks a lot for your great patience in answering my questions!


What appears below is a cooperative effort between A and me to come to grip with his important questions, challenges, to libertarian theory applied to reparations.

1. Determined with reference to the wage ratio between various positions in (non-coercive) firms that have a similar division of labor?

2. If only A, C, D are alive, the reparations should be split in the ratio 2:1:1. If A, B, C and D are all alive, the reparations should be split in the ratio 1:1:0:0, because A and B, not C and D, are heirs to the slave; C and D are merely heirs of B. If B does not decide to pass on his property to C and D, they should not get anything. (In the former case, however, we don’t know B’s will, so we can only assume C and D to be his heirs.)

3. (a) 1/500th. (b) the burden of proof, in reparations, rests with the grandchildren of the slave. It is up to them to come forward with their claim; possession is 9/10 of the law. If the quantity of these grandchildren is unknown, then, I deduce, none of them has yet come forward. If so, they get nothing. (c) The located descendant can get everything for now, but if a second descendant shows up later, they will have to split it, and so on and so forth.
What do you think?
Thanks a lot! A

I have written a bit about this important issue:

Alston and Block, 2007; Block, 1993, 2001, 2002; Block and Yeatts, 1999-2000

Alston, Wilton D. and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Reparations, Once Again.” Human Rights Review, Vol. 9, No. 3, September, pp. 379-392;

Block, Walter E. 1993. “Malcolm X,” Fraser Forum, January, pp. 18-19;

Block, Walter E. 2001. “The Moral Dimensions of Poverty, Entitlements and Theft,” The Journal of Markets and Morality, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 83-93;;;; Search for “Walter Block” under “Authors” here:

Block, Walter E. 2002. “On Reparations to Blacks for Slavery,” Human Rights Review, Vol. 3, No. 4, July-September, pp. 53-73;;;
(David Horowitz, Randall Robinson)

Block, Walter E. and Guillermo Yeatts. 1999-2000. “The Economics and Ethics of Land Reform: A Critique of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s ‘Toward a Better Distribution of Land: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform,’” Journal of Natural Resources and Environmental Law, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 37-69;

I herein reject the notion that all whites owe all blacks anything at all in terms of reparations for slavery. On the other hand, I do support reparations, and oppose all statutes of limitations laws. It is not for nothing that I am known, far and wise, at least in my own mind, as Walter Moderate Block. In these publications of mine, I specifically reject both of these “extremist” views.


11:09 pm on December 28, 2018