From: Robert Ryan
Subject: Reparations

Professor Block,

I recently listened to a lecture you gave on reparations at the Mises Institute on Reparations some years ago.  I also read your opinion at the Epoch Times on the same subject.

I was able to follow your logic on the Libertarian Punishment Theory and it’s implication on the case for reparations.  The question I had is what about the lost capital or utility of a stolen item?  In your example of the watch or the pen, am I entitled to repayment of the loss of use of the watch?  In other words, should I be compensated for all of the appointments I missed due to not knowing the time?  Or for replacement watches since I did not have that one.  As for reparations, why are the defendants of slaves only entitled to that portion of the plantation that would equate to their percentage of the population?  Over years, many slaves lived on a plantation not just those when slavery was made illegal.  Thousands would have a claim.  Why wouldn’t descendants be owed the amount of their labor stolen, ie lost wages.  In addition, what about the lost capital gains that could have been reaped from the property that was not transferred at the time of liberation?

I realize these are several questions and an hope I was clear enough in the asking.  I appreciate the work you have done and always enjoy your writing.


Robert Ryan

Dear Robert:

I agree with you. I never wrote about that since I thought it was implicit. Yes, if I steal your car, and it takes a year for you to come capture me and get your car back from me, not only do I owe you the car, but, I also owe you one year’s depreciation on your car, plus a fee for the fact that you had to rent a car for that year, etc.

Best regards,



2:16 am on August 26, 2020