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Property Rights; Abandonment

Letter 1

From: Fatima Ramone
Sent: Sunday, December 22, 2019 8:24 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: cheese

Hi ,

My name is Fatima and I have a question about property. I will try to keep it short

I hope you can give me answers or recommend me some reading materials:

-I shoplift ; I take some cheese from the supermarket´s shelf.

-I skip cheese; I wait until the supermarket throws it away and I collect it from the bin.(private bin)

In both cases I´m taking supermarket´s property.

Everyone( my neighbours , the shop owner, the police) , report me when they see me shoplifting but they don´t report me when they see me collecting food from the bin.

I say that there is a general feeling :

taking cheese from the shelf is stealing. Taking it from the bin, once the shop is closed ,is not that much stealing.

Can be there different degrees in stealing?

and therefore

Can be there different degrees in ownership?

My stuff is mine because others recognise me as owner.

The more people that recognise me , the “miner” is it?

And, if I abandon what´s mine, others could forget about me and I could loose my things.

Can be maintenance of the property a requirement for its ownership?

Thanks ?

On Wed, Jan 29, 2020 at 9:39 PM Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu> wrote:

From: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Sent: Monday, December 23, 2019 1:32 AM

To: ‘Fatima Ramone’ <fatimapitaemail@gmail.com>

Subject: RE: cheese

Letter 2

Dear Fatima:

You are a thief in both cases, equally.

In the first case, you stole from the grocery.

In the second case, you stole from the sanitation company, the garbage removal firm. The grocer had a deal with the garbage company. The former “gave” the garbage to the latter. The latter was now the owner of the grocer’s garbage, when you stole the old cheese.

Best regards,


Letter 3

From: Fatima Ramone <fatimapitaemail@gmail.com>

Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2020 7:02 AM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: Re: cheese

Hi Walter,

Yes , sure ,go ahead , you can use this conversation and use my name if you want but you haven´t answered the question yet.

Yes , you are right , the cheese now belongs to the garbage company but still you didnt explain the main question : why nobody reports me when I take it from the bin ( not even the owner himself , the garbage company ) but everyone reports me when I shoplift?

You arent explaining why people  do  perceive taking cheese from the bin as “not stealing” ,

and if people perceive as “not stealing “,

that means is not stealing.

because we are subjectivists

And what it is perceived is what exists

And it is not just ,I dont get reported ….

After years of collecting cheese on different bins , not only  I have never been reported  but the only person who kind of “question”in public my cheese hunt didnt received any support , on the contrary , people were encouraging me even more to keep collecting cheese.

You say the cheese in the bin is as much private property as the cheese in the supermarket´s shelf

but you wont find a cop who arrests me for taking the cheese in the bin,

or a judge who will discipline me for that

or a crowd that will booo me for that

But any cop will arrest me , any judge will discipline me and any crowd will report me for shoplifting


In my opinion private property also grows out of the barrel of a gun and maintenance of the property is a requirement for its ownership .Occupation its another way to gain new property..

Thanks for your time

Fatima Pita

Letter 4

Dear Fatima:

You’re now raising a positive, not a normative point.

I think the correct answer is that people value to a much greater degree things for sale than items they have thrown out into the garbage can.

I just read that some local town is fining a homeowner for allowing his grass to grow too long. A horrid violation of rights, of course. On the other hand, if this resident was a member of a condominium, or a homeowners association, the latter would be entirely justified in taking action against him. And, from a minimal government libertarian point of view, minarchism, the town would be justified in penalizing him for allowing the grass to grow so long it endangered the neighbors. How long? Read this on that:

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

As for abandonment, here’s a bibliography on that:

Block, 2004, 2015; Block and Nelson, 2015; Kinsella, 2003, 2009A, 2009B, 2009C, 2011; Long, 1993; Wisniewski, 2010.

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Libertarianism, Positive Obligations and Property Abandonment: Children’s Rights,” International Journal of Social Economics; Vol. 31, No. 3, pp 275-286; http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContainer.do?containerType=Issue&containerId=18709https://walterblocks.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block-children.pdfhttps://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/03068290410518256https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/03068290410518256?fullSc=1&journalCode=ijse

Block, Walter E. 2015. “Expiration of private property rights.” The Journal of Philosophical Economics. Vol. VIII, Issue 2, Spring; http://www.jpe.ro/?id=revista&p=410;


Block, Walter E. and Peter Lothian Nelson. 2015. Water Capitalism: The Case for Privatizing Oceans, Rivers, Lakes, and Aquifers. New York City, N.Y.: Lexington Books; Rowman and Littlefield; https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498518802/Water-Capitalism-The-Case-for-Privatizing-Oceans-Rivers-Lakes-and-Aquifershttps://mises.org/library/case-privatizing-oceans-and-rivers

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2003. “A libertarian theory of contract: title transfer, binding promises, and inalienability” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2, Spring, pp. 11–37; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_2.pdfhttp://mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_2.pdf

Kinsella, Stephan. 2009A. “A Critique of Mutualist Occupancy.” August 2;


Kinsella, Stephan. 2009B. “Left-Libertarians on Rothbardian Abandonment.”  August 22; http://www.stephankinsella.com/2009/08/left-libertarians-on-rothbardian-abandonment/

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2009C. “Homesteading, Abandonment, and Unowned Land in the Civil Law.” May 22; http://blog.mises.org/10004/homesteading-abandonment-and-unowned-land-in-the-civil-law/

Kinsella, Stephan N. 2011. “The relation between the non-aggression principle and property rights: a response to Division by Zer0.” October 4;


Long, Roderick T. 1993. “Abortion, Abandonment, and Positive Rights: The Limits of Compulsory Altruism,” Social Philosophy and Policy vol. 10 no.1, Winter, pp. 166-191; http://praxeology.net/RTL-Abortion.htm

Wisniewski, Jakub Bozydar. 2010. “A Critique of Block on Abortion and Child Abandonment.” Libertarian Papers Vol. 2, No. 16;


Best regards,



5:01 pm on April 29, 2020

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