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Dear Randy:

In this 2004 essay of yours, Barnett, Randy E. 2004. “The Moral Foundations of Modern Libertarianism.” https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/848, you state the following:

“But even before his death in 1995, Rothbard’s insistence on complete agreement from his admirers, and his willingness to shuck any deviationists,”

I think this is a mis-assessment of Murray on your part.

Murray never “shucked” me. Nor did I ever voluntarily leave his ambit. Yet, I disagreed with him, both privately and publicly (see below) on numerous occasions.

Do you think I’m “the exception that proves the rule,” or do you think you were mistaken in this contention of yours?

Hans Hoppe, too, “deviated” from Murray’s Natural Law with his argument ethics, and also on immigration (Murray initially favored open borders, then changed his mine), yet the two of them were always close friends, as close if not more so as were me and Murray. Two exceptions that prove the rule?

Best regards,


Barnett II, William and Walter E. Block. 2012. “The Optimum Quantity of Money, Once Again.” Economics, Management, and Financial Markets; Vol. 7, No. 1, March, pp. 9-24; http://www.addletonacademicpublishers.com/component/option,com_sectionex/Itemid,103/id,23/view,category/#catid145; Password: AddletonAP2009. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-Optimum-Quantity-of-Money%2C-Once-Again-Barnett-Block/2d43f6dbc3bebfcd9790ed67a35b2fd211374779

Block, Walter E. 2011A. “Hoppe, Kinsella and Rothbard II on Immigration: A Critique.” Journal of Libertarian Studies; Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 593–623; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_29.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2011B. “Rejoinder to Hoppe on Immigration,” Journal of Libertarian Studies Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 771–792; http://mises.org/journals/jls/22_1/22_1_38.pdf

Barnett, William II, and Walter E. Block. 2009. “Investment and Consumption: A critique of Rothbard’s claim that there can be no such thing as governmental ‘investment’” Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice. 27 (2-3): 183-188; https://walterblocks.com/wp-content/uploads/InvestmentConsumption.pdf

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Saving and Investment: A Praxeological Approach.” New Perspectives on Political Economy, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 129 – 138;


Block, Walter E., Peter Klein and Per Henrik Hansen. 2007. “The Division of Labor under Homogeneity: A Critique of Mises and Rothbard” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, April Vol. 66 Issue 2, pp. 457-464; http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/ajes/66/2http://

Block, Walter E., William Barnett II and Joseph Salerno. 2006. “Relationship between wealth or income and time preference is empirical, not apodictic: critique of Rothbard and Hoppe,” Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 69-80; http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11138-006-6094-8

Barnett, William II, and Walter E. Block. 2005-2006. “Mises, Rothbard and Salerno on Costs.” Corporate Ownership & Control, Winter, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 204-206

Barnett, William II, and Walter E. Block.  2005. “Money: Capital Good, Consumers’ Good, or (Media of) Exchange Good?” Review of Austrian Economics. 18 (2): 179-194; http://www.gmu.edu/rae/archives/VOL18_2_2005/4_Barnett.pdf

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2004. “On the Optimum Quantity of Money,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 39-52; http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae7_1_4.pdfhttps://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-Optimum-Quantity-of-Money%2C-Once-Again-Barnett-Block/2d43f6dbc3bebfcd9790ed67a35b2fd211374779

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Are Alienability and the Apriori of Argument Logically Incompatible?” Dialogue, Vol. 1, No. 1. http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/2004/256gord6.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2003. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Inalienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Gordon, Smith, Kinsella and Epstein,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol.17, No. 2, Spring, pp. 39-85; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_3.pdf

Block, Walter E. 1998. “A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration,” Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. 13, No. 2, summer, pp. 167-186; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/13_2/13_2_4.pdf


1:12 pm on January 26, 2022

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Here is part III in the flagpole series: https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/the-flagpole-part-iii/

Here is the next installment:

From: T

Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 12:18 PM

To: [email protected]

Subject: Flagpole

Well Walter if I was the guy on the flagpole I would just say “sorry for the trespass ma’am, but thank God your pole saved my life. Here’s a hundred bucks for your inconvenience.”


Dear T:

I see you and I raise you. I’d pay lots more than that to save my life. But, that’s not a question a libertarian can answer. As I see things, our philosophy can only answer questions concerning the use of violence. We can’t, at least not qua libertarians, tell the flagpole hanger what to do. We an only answer the question, if the homeowner shoots him, did she violate his rights. I say no.

From: Roderick

Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 6:08 AM

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Flagpole issue

Dear Walter,

Thank you for posting your flagpole articles. Your comment about taking the perspective of the property owner rather than the trespasser is enlightening.

On a bit of a tangent, in your 2003 post you said that those who attack the non-aggression axiom on emergency grounds should logically give up any wealth they have to those who have less.

Would it also follow that they should give up a kidney, eye, lung, etc. to those who are in greater need of these?

Is this what Ayn Rand meant (I think it was she) when she said the logical conclusion of altruism is that its adherents could only “shut up and die”?



From: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 8:50 AM

To: ‘Roderick

Subject: RE: Flagpole issue

Dear Rod:

Yes, yes, yes! There are always emergencies, somewhere on this planet of ours. Why be compelled, only, to give up money without the NAP. Body parts too. ALL of them!

Best regards,


From: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 1:45 PM

To: ‘Tom Dilorenzo’

Subject: RE: Flagpole

Dear Tom:

I see you and I raise you. I’d offer $1000. Heck, $10,000. Way more. My life is worth more than that to me. Way more. But suppose the woman declines that offer?

However, that is not the question that a libertarian can answer. The only question a libertarian can answer is, If the woman shoots him, is she guilty of a crime?

I’m gonna post this on LRC. May I use your name, or should I keep you anonymous?

Best regards,


From: Jason

Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 8:32 AM

To: [email protected]

Subject: The Flagpole

Dear Professor Block,

I have to quibble a bit with your stance on the right of a flagpole owner to order a falling person to release the flagpole. It is not equivalent to the example of selling your property in order to feed other people who are starving. In that case, you are not preventing them from eating by not sending food. But in the example of the flagpole, the owner is ordering the falling soul to let go of the only thing between him and near certain death. At that point, in my mind at least, the exercise of property rights has become an aggression and the NAP has been violated. Does anyone have the absolute right to condemn another to death for property rights if there is no self defense or defense of property involved?  Isn’t there an obligation to at least wait until the Fire Department sends a crew to erect a net under the falling man before ordering him off the pole?

It’s a tricky question. Thanks for sharing.


El Paso

Dear Jason:

Thanks for your thoughtful contribution to this thread. I agree with you that the flagpole lady should be legally required to safeguard herself in the gentlest manner possible, compatible with her safety. Yes, indeed, if there is time for the fire department to set up a net, and the flagpole hanger can just hang there without moving toward her, then, she may not legally shoot him (I’m really being “woke” here; I’m such a wuss!; this will take her extra time to keep an eye on the flagpole holder for a few minutes).

However, take the more realistic case. It will take 5 minute for the fire department to get there. The flagpole hanger can’t hang on for that long. His only choice is to drop to his certain death (not near certain) or to move hand over hand toward to flagpole lady. Note, I do not address myself to the issue of what should he do. That is NOT a proper question to ask of a libertarian. That is the way critics of the NAP tug at our heartstrings. Remember, libertarianism is ONLY a theory of the proper use of violence. The ONLY question we may properly ask is, Is the flagpole lady guilty of a crime if she plugs this trespasser.

When we look at the matter in this way, her shooting him is a justified use of self defense, given that this is the only way she can protect herself (she doesn’t have armed guards in her apartment, ready to protect her; she fears that her pistol may be grabbed by the flagpole holder, if she allows him into her apartment, etc.)

Best regards,


From: mike

Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 7:24 AM

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: RE: Flagpoles

Dr. Block-

I missed ‘Flagpole, parts I and II’, so my apologies if I’m asking you to clarify something already plainly explored.

You state in a response to Zack, “Yes, if the flagpole woman could fully protect herself using gentler means she would be required to do so.” Whaaaaattt??

I’m at a loss to that response. Just what entity would a libertarian society have that would choose for the woman? Have we arrived at some kind of woke-libertarianism? If so, the philosophy is in a sad state.

In my libertarian mind, the choice belongs solely to the woman. Who is the ‘we’ that would require her to opt for rubber bullets? That sounds like libertarianism has woken up in Sweden or Denmark.

Please, enough of taking philosophical hypotheticals to absurd conclusions! When one fears for his/her life, there can be no limit to the choice of protection used, nor to the severity of its use.

Thanks for the ear,


Dear Mike:

You didn’t get the message that my word on libertarianism is definitive? That Murray Rothbard appointed me to be in charge of libertarian theory?

On a more serious note, in my humble opinion, I speak for no one on any issue such as this but me, the victim has only the right to 100% or as close as she can get protection, not anything more. Suppose that the woman is about to be raped. If she hits the rapist with her weak off hand, he will be rendered helpless with 100% certainty, and the police will be able to scoop him up and arrest him and he will never not only bother her again, but never again will threaten anyone at all. On the other hand, she’s very powerful, and if she hits the rapist with her strong hand, he will die.

I, wokester that I am, think that if she kills him under these circumstances, she will be violating his rights.

Take another case. A shoplifter is walking out of the store with stolen items. The proprietor has a net that will stop him, also, a bazooka that will kill him. All other things are exactly equal. In your view, the store owner has a right to kill the thief; I think otherwise. Here is a bibliography of libertarian punishment theory (note, we are now off the flagpole case, and onto general libertarian punishment theory):


Block, 2009A, 2009B, 2016, 2018; Gordon, 2020; Kinsella, 1996, 1997; Loo and Block, 2017-2018; Olson, 1979; Rothbard, 1977, 1998; Whitehead and Block, 2003

Block, Walter E. 2009A. “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;

http://mises.org/books/property_freedom_society_kinsella.pdf; festschrift

Block, Walter E. 2009B. “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. 2016. “Russian Roulette: Rejoinder to Robins.” Acta Economica et Turistica. Vol. 1, No. 2, May, pp.  197-205; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309300488_Russian_Roulette_Rejoinder_to_Robins; file:///C:/Users/walterblock/Downloads/AET_2_Block_6.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2018. “The case for punishing those responsible for minimum wage laws, rent control and protectionist tariffs.”  Revista Jurídica Cesumar – Mestrado, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 235-263; http://periodicos.unicesumar.edu.br/index.php/revjuridica/article/view/6392http://periodicos.unicesumar.edu.br/index.php/revjuridica/article/view/6392/3190

Gordon, David. 2020. “Rothbard and Double Restitution.” September 4;


Loo, Andy and Walter E. Block. 2017-2018. “Threats against third parties: a libertarian analysis.” Baku State University Law Review; Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 52-64; http://lr.bsulawss.org/archive/volume4/issue1/http://lr.bsulawss.org/archive/volume4/issue1/block/http://lr.bsulawss.org/files/archive/volume4/issue1/4BSULawRev13.pdf?

Kinsella, Stephen. 1996. “Punishment and Proportionality: the Estoppel Approach,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring, pp. 51-74; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/12_1/12_1_3.pdf

Kinsella, Stephan. 1997. “A Libertarian Theory of Punishment and Rights,” 30 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 607-45

Olson, Charles B. 1979. “Law in Anarchy.” Libertarian Forum. Vol. XII, No. 6, November-December, p. 4;

Rothbard, Murray N. 1977. “Punishment and Proportionality.”  R. E. Barnett and J. Hagel, III (eds.), Assessing the Criminal: Restitution, Retribution, and the Legal Process.  Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Co., pp. 259 270.

Rothbard, Murray N. 1998 The Ethics of Liberty, New York: New York University Press. http://www.mises.org/rothbard/ethics/ethics.asp;

In the view of Rothbard (1998, p. 88, ft. 6): “It should be evident that our theory of proportional punishment—that people may be punished by losing their rights to the extent that they have invaded the rights of others—is frankly a retributive theory of punishment, a ‘tooth (or two teeth) for a tooth’ theory. Retribution is in bad repute among philosophers, who generally dismiss the concept quickly as ‘primitive’ or ‘barbaric’ and then race on to a discussion of the two other major theories of punishment: deterrence and rehabilitation. But simply to dismiss a concept as ‘barbaric’ can hardly suffice; after all, it is possible that in this case, the ‘barbarians’ hit on a concept that was superior to the more modern creeds.”

Whitehead, Roy and Walter E. Block. 2003. “Taking the assets of the criminal to compensate victims of violence: a legal and philosophical approach,” Wayne State University Law School Journal of Law in Society Vol. 5, No. 1, Fall, pp.229-254

Best regards,



5:49 am on January 26, 2022

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Here is part II in this series: https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/the-flagpole-part-ii/

From: Abhirath MS 12 C

Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2022 5:33 AM

To: [email protected]

Subject: Your views on marital rape

Greetings  Mr  Block .  At the very outset let me declare that I do not consider you as  the appointed  spokesman for all    libertarians  both dead and living . So with  that  out of the way, I must ask you   ,what do you  think of the criminalization of marital  rape, ?  Marital Rape Poll Results for Libertarians (isidewith.com) I  recognize that isdewith isn’t  perfect and that being espoused by a majority lends no moral weight to a claim  but is it libertarian to criminalize it?

From: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2022 10:13 AM

To: ‘Abhirath MS 12 C’

Subject: RE: Your views on marital rape

Dear Abhirath:

Hadn’t you heard: Murray Rothbard appointed me the spokesman for all libertarians  both dead and living! A big ceremony at the Mises Institute took place confirming my appointment!

I think that all rape should be considered a very serious crime, certainly including within a marriage.

Best regards,


From: The NAPster

Sent: Sunday, January 23, 2022 5:40 AM

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Subject: Flagpole Example


Two comments on your correspondence on this topic.

First, you note to Bob that you are taking a deontological perspective, not a utilitarian view as he is taking.  Yet in your next paragraphs, you justify your view on utilitarian grounds (your view is necessary to protect lives and the baking of bread).

Second, I couldn’t follow your logic with Mike.  You say:

No one is talking punishment here. Obviously, the punishment for virtually any trespass, certainly this emergency kind of trespass, would be far less than the death penalty.

We’re only talking, here, whether if the woman shoots the flagpole trespasser, she’s a criminal. I say she is not.

In shooting the flagpole trespasser, isn’t the woman levying a punishment on him for his trespass?  Wouldn’t you say that libertarianism requires some proportionality in punishment for NAP violations?  And if you “over-punish,” then you yourself would be liable for violating the NAP?

Zack Rofer

Check out my book: Busting Myths About the State and the Libertarian Alternative

From: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Sent: Sunday, January 23, 2022 1:30 PM

To: ‘The NAPster’

Subject: RE: Flagpole Example

Dear Zack:

I commonly employ both deontological and utilitarian arguments. The one does not preclude the other.

I think it is important to distinguish between punishment for a crime, which takes place typically long after the crime itself, and violence used in self defense which occurs at the moment of the crime. Yes, indeed, the former needs to be proportional to the seriousness of the crime. But the latter does not. Yes, if the flagpole woman could fully protect herself using gentler means she would be required to do so. I don’t see how that would work in this case. But, in the ordinary trespass case, if she had two guns, one with lead bullets in it the other with rubber bullets in it, and, we stipulate that both would do the job equally well, then she should be required to stop the criminal in the gentlest manner possible.

Best regards,


From: Steve

Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2022 8:58 AM

To: Walter Block <[email protected]>


Dear Walter,

A flagpole sticking out from the side of a building could be a species of what’s known as attractive nuisance.

Just as a homeowner should know that a kid could fall into his unfenced swimming pool and drown, the apartment owner should have known that her flagpole would be “attractive” to a falling man. If she has to shoot him because she fears for her own safety, or, heck, if he impales himself on the pole, she bears some responsibility for putting the thing there in the first place.

Sure, if the flagpole wasn’t there, he would certainly die, but the apartment owner would have clean hands. Instead she chose to install and maintain the attractive nuisance that led to unpleasant consequences for all involved.

I’m being facetious. I know these libertarian angels-on-a-pin arguments are important, but sometimes I can’t help finding them funny as well.

Most sincerely,


I look forward to the day when the people of the world achieve herd immunity to political fear-mongering and tyranny.

~ Steve

From: Walter Block <[email protected]>

Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2022 10:14 AM

To: ‘Steve

Subject: RE:

Dear Steve:

I have a pretty good sense of humor, but, I don’t see this attack on Rothbardian libertarianism as funny.

This flagpole challenge is a very powerful one against Rothbardian libertarianism. Many, many people have been taken in by it.

Nonetheless, having said that, I changed my mind. I think your point is indeed very funny. I lost my funny-bone for a minute.

Best regards,



2:41 am on January 25, 2022

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Here is Part I of the flagpole challenge to libertarian (NAP) theory: https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/im-sick-and-tired-of-the-flagpole-example/

Here are some of my reactions to several responses regarding Part I.

From: Nate

Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 5:06 AM

To: Walter Block <[email protected]

Subject: I’m Sick And Tired of the Flagpole Example

Your 2003 article was a superb and brilliant answer to the flagpole question.  Someone, somewhere, always has an emergency, so if you only have property rights when nobody is having an emergency, or needs your property more than you, then you don’t have property rights at all, and you never will.  Perfect!

While I personally would help out a person in such a situation, and yield my property rights gladly. It’s also possible that I could reserve that help, for people that would do the same.  So if someone forced someone off their flagpole, then when they are in a similar situation, I could do the same to them, on the grounds that I only help people that are helpful.  There would still be consequences for being so unreasonable, just not legal. If you are unreasonable, then people will be unreasonable with you.

Dear Nate:

Yes, yes, yes. There are ALWAYS emergencies. If they can repeal property rights, we’ll never have any property rights. Most of us will die due to their absence.

It would be NICE if the woman allowed him to enter her apartment; after all, she has a gun and protect herself. If she shot him anyway, I would join a boycott against her. But that’s not the libertarian question, as you see so clearly.

Ditto with the baker. It would be NICE if the baker didn’t press charges against the thief. Supererogatory.

Best regards,


From: Mike

Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 11:46 AM

To: Walter Block <[email protected]

Subject: Good reminder on “emergency” status of NAP in today’s LRC


A nice timely reminder of that, linking to your reply in the 2003 LRC article (oh, that seems so old now.)

Some points I like to consider:

•            NAP is a necessary but not sufficient moral philosophy. It doesn’t exclusively cover all ethical/moral questions

•             NAP isn’t an isolated self-administering system of moral behavior (the input of others is usually required to apply NAP in real world situation). NAP doesn’t justify one-person application as to judging right/wrong and punishments, if any

•             Libertarians can violate NAP if they are willing to accept the libertarian consequences of that choice. People aren’t perfect nor are libertarians so. To accept the consequences of NAP violation (required/demanded/requested) by others (fines, punishments, etc.) in order to remain in an NAP governed society is acceptable. E.g. I will accept the penalty for trespass for holding the flagpole but still remain an upholder of NAP in general.

People aren’t perfect nor will they ever be so. The religious concept of “sinner” or the legal concept of “law breaker” leads to further issues of how to respond to this inherent human behavior. While in the short run NAP allows you to react if “necessary” it does not allow you (in most cases) to unilaterally judge what is or is not a specific “violation” of NAP and apply the consequences of such a violation.

NAP doesn’t reduce to “one person rule” or existence is a society.

Anyway, good to remind us that many objections to libertarianism writ large embed assumptions having nothing to do with NAP. Most objections are some form of “straw man” argument.


Katy TX

From: Walter Block [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 2:20 PM

To: Mike

Subject: RE: Good reminder on “emergency” status of NAP in today’s LRC

Dear Mike:

The issue here, the only issue here, is when the woman on the 15th floor shoots the flag pole holder soon to be home invader, is she guilty of a crime or not?

I say not.

Best regards,


From: Mike

Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 3:38 PM

To: ‘Walter Block’ <[email protected]

Subject: RE: Good reminder on “emergency” status of NAP in today’s LRC


I agree under NAP there is a presumption that permission is required to use someone else’s property. That may or may not count as aggression however.

But capital punishment isn’t the penalty for every violation of NAP is it?

NAP doesn’t imply or require that every victim of a possible NAP violation can be their own judge, jury and executioner. I don’t think that was Murray’s view.

I believe a functional NAP ethic requires clearly stated rules or laws and when possible, a neutral adjudication of the facts and circumstances. NAP doesn’t allow you to shoot someone who parks in your private parking space. One might even argue that absent permanent removal of your access/use of your own property, you don’t commit aggression. Only theft (of use.) A temporary user of someone else’s property has defenses against NAP charges and harm-free “use” could be categorized as only a potential violation of your right to property (because you the owner don’t know how long this “use” may last, and eventually could deprive you of it totally.)

There are many scenarios where intent and actual harm are major factors, even in a NAP type of world.

The problem with “emergency” scenarios is that they are structured in argumentation to ignore those. But there is always in the NAP background of functionality, the existence of “libertarian law” and judges/courts.

There is a good reason that there is a very old legal maxim that states, “hard cases make bad law.”

There is in the flagpole case the suggestion that capital punishment is sanctioned for a violation of usufruct with respect to the flagpole. No.

I would agree that the pole user is trespassing but that the punishment must fit the crime. Intent is a big part of application of NAP.

So a flagpole grasper might be found liable for any damages and a reasonable market based charge for use for a limited time.

Most libertarians would not define emergency use of someone’s property as aggression. Post facto, a neutral party/parties would decide that question and what should be done, if anything, if it is defined as aggression.

As you know, there is in common law (Roman, British, American) a presumption that property must be “posted” against trespassing before any criminal sanction is levied. You might however be able to post facto levy a cost to an unknowing trespasser.

I find that common law principles (some now codified) take care of most emergency NAP scenarios.


From: Walter Block <[email protected]

Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 4:11 PM

To: ‘Mike

Subject: RE: Good reminder on “emergency” status of NAP in today’s LRC

Dear Mike:

No one is talking punishment here. Obviously, the punishment for virtually any trespass, certainly this emergency kind of trespass, would be far less than the death penalty.

We’re only talking, here, whether if the woman shoots the flagpole trespasser, she’s a criminal. I say she is not.

Best regards,


From: Darin

Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 6:48 AM

To: [email protected]

Subject: Flagpole getting longer like pinocchio’s nose


Re: your flagpole example, the scenario not only invites you to enter

the mind of the lawbreaker, but it also lends itself to the

annihilation of all criminal law.  Thus, the falling pole-catcher had

this accident happen to him (why aren’t we asking how in the world he

fell out of a 25th floor window?  is he irresponsible? shouldn’t he

bear the cost of his own irresponsibility?  these questions seem

suited to a laissez faire debate.) rather than acted in a reckless way

that resulted in his fall.  Same goes for the robber, burglar,

rapist…  Their poor upbringing and unfavored racial status left them

at a permanent disadvantage, as they never learned in oppressive

schools, never rubbed elbows with honest business persons, never got

jobs because of the oppressive minimum wage, etc, and are simply

living out their perception of reality as a state of war.  They have

to eat and screw, too, you know.  What legitimate law doesn’t recognize the reality of their situation?


On 1/21/22 15:49, Walter Block wrote:

Dear Darin:

You make an EXCELLENT point about the min wage law.

As for the rest of what you say, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

In my view, the only purpose of just law is to stop invasions against

persons and their property.

The flagpole hand walker, for whatever reason, is a trespasser. If the

woman on the 15th floor shoots him, that’s an act of self defense.

Best regards,


From: Darin

Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 3:59 PM

To: Walter Block <[email protected]

Subject: Re: Flagpole getting longer like pinocchio’s nose


I’m agreeing with you though.  My email was partly sarcasm, taking the argument further than you did in your reference to it.  Hence the parenthetical.

The point is the argument can go to the extreme of purporting to invalidate any law, even those against rape, robbery, and burglary.

It purports to invalidate a law based on the circumstances of one person.  Generally speaking, i would think such an argument could always invalidate all law because one can always construct a class of one for whom the application of a given law is unfair or seemingly unjust.  In this case, if we apply the same argument we do to the poor investor who lost his shirt investing in xyz and needs a bailout (that is, the idiot shouldn’t have spent all his cash on xyz), then we say the idiot shouldn’t have been so close to the window that he fell, or he shouldn’t have gone out in the woods without a compass and supplies. Alternatively, he is free to violate the property rights of others, but as you say, he’s putting his life at risk.  Incidentally he already did so when he got near the window / wandered aimlessly into the woods.


Dear Darin:

I’m glad we’re together on this now.

Best regards,



Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 12:24 PM

To: [email protected]

Subject: Quick comment RE Rockwell post on Flagpole Example

Dear Dr. Block,

Thanks for your years of posts and essays at Lew Rockwell.com.

Regarding the infamous flagpole and lost hiker examples, I would only say that the NAP may be expressed incompletely. In my opinion, it should be “Thou shall not initiate aggression against your fellow human — but if you DO, you risk getting your butt kicked!”

The sad fact is, we may all find ourselves in situations which have NO good solution, only a choice of various bad ones. Being a good person does not negate that possibility. Both the flagpole hanger and the hiker have, through fate or poor choice, found themselves in a bad situation with three potential solutions. Let’s look at the flagpole guy.

1) The apartment owner might (potentially) allow the guy to climb in and leave peacefully.

2) The guy might climb in anyway and risk being shot, pepper sprayed, or arrested and charged.

3) The guy can fall to his death.

Number one has been ruled out by the apartment owner, who has every right to do so.

Number two is distasteful, and worst of all, involves some danger including possible death.

Number three is a choice of certain death.

Unless someone places purity of principle over the value of life, number two is the only reasonable choice but there are still negative consequences. There simply IS NO happy ending for this. The moment he starts to climb into the apartment he is in the “you risk getting your butt kicked!” unspoken clause of the NAP. Just because he has no evil intentions does nothing to give him a free ticket to aggress against the apartment owner. Flagpole guy is in a situation where he must choose to either aggress or die — but that does not make his aggression acceptable. He can expect “to get his butt kicked” either a lot or a little as fate will have it.

The reason, in my opinion that so many people see the flagpole example as convincing evidence that the NAP is not adequate for emergency situations is that they have a deep-seated conviction that because flagpole guy does not intend to do harm, that should (first) relieve him from any implications for his aggression, and should (second) simultaneously impose a duty on the owner to give up his rights. Neither of those two are correct. Sorry, life is not that kind. He should climb into the apartment, yes — but he can expect to be faced with all the implications of having violated the rights of the owner.

Just my take on it. Thanks again for all you do.


The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their true name.

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by anybody.”  — Thomas Paine

Dear Bob:

You and I have a different conception of what libertarianism is all about. In your (utilitarian) view, it is about which of the 3 in this case choices are best, in that they will create the least harm, the most benefits.

In my (deontological) perspective, it is all about the justification of initiatory violence. Is act X a crime or not? There are two Xs here. First, the flagpole hand walker. Is he a criminal? Is he a rights violator? Yes, if the owner objects, no, if she welcomes him into her home. Second, she shoots the hand walker, after she tells him to drop to his death, and he refuses. Is she a criminal? No.

Now, I admit, this sounds a bit callous. Ok, ok, more than just a bit callous, at least to the utilitarian. But, I guarantee you that more lives will be saved, more utility garnered, if we protect private property rights, by not finding the shooter a criminal, than if we do.

Henry Hazlitt, in his magnificent book Econ in One Lesson, warned us not to just look at one event, at present, but at all implications. The implications of considering her guilty of a crime are very non utilitarian. Very callous. Lots of people will die if private property rights are not protected.

Consider the case of Jean Val Jean who steals a loaf of bread to feed a starving child. Lots of utilitarians won’t consider him a criminal, because all our hearts go out to this starving child. But, if he is not found guilty, bakers won’t bake bread, and LOTS of children, and adults too, will starve to death.

Best regards,



Sent: Friday, January 21, 2022 2:31 PM

To: Walter Block <[email protected]

Subject: Any even shorter reply to your reply. Yes, you are right!

Dear Dr. Block.

I think I must have done a bad job of expressing myself.

You say: “In your (utilitarian) view, it is about which of the 3 in this case choices are best, in that they will create the least harm, the most benefits. In my (deontological) perspective, it is all about the justification of initiatory violence. Is act X a crime or not? There are two Xs here. First, the flagpole hand walker. Is he a criminal? Is he a rights violator? Yes, if the owner objects, no, if she welcomes him into her home. Second, she shoots the hand walker, after she tells him to drop to his death, and he refuses. Is she a criminal? No.”

Yes, absolutely. My point was NOT that the hand walker has a right which supersedes her property rights, but rather that his best choice is to violate her rights and then take all the risks and punishment which might proceed from that. Her rights are absolute, but his observance (or non-observance) of those rights is a choice he will have to make, and no matter what he chooses, the outcome will not be pretty.

So, why is it that people disagree with you? I think that people disagree with your analysis because they think that the hand walker’s predicament somehow gives him priority over her rights. They (wrongly) believe deep down that because he means no harm, and it would cost so little to her, that there MUST be some principle which will exonerate him from blame — thus their need to give up the NAP for emergencies. It is true that choosing to climb in will most likely produce the least harm, but that DOES NOT justify it. He must still suffer the consequences and needs to realize that as he starts to climb in. I think any normal person would look at the consequences and take a chance on climbing in; but that does not make it justifiable, but rather merely prudent.

Thanks so much, Dr. Block. I realize your time is limited and I am honored by your previous response. No further reply needed unless you feel it is appropriate!


The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their true name.

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by anybody.”  — Thomas Paine

On 01/21/2022 2:33 PM Walter Block <[email protected] wrote:

Dear Bob:

Sorry for my misunderstanding of your viewpoint. We are on the same wavelength.

Best regards,



8:58 am on January 22, 2022

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I am sick and tired of the flagpole example being brought up as a criticism of Rothbardian libertarians such as me who maintain that the non aggression principle, and private property rights, are together the foundation of this philosophy.

Here is a recent instance of this:

I am definitely an anarcho-capitalist in the Rothbardian tradition, but I’ve been thinking about ethics a lot. I’m sure you’ve heard the whole song and dance with the flag pole scenario. Although I do think it brings up an intriguing question; “Can we really believe in something we wouldn’t practice?” The example I would give is that if I was in someone’s home and a deadly blizzard developed, and they decided to kick me out. I think I would certainly resist their will, and I don’t believe I would feel guilty for acting in my own interest in that scenario in the slightest. I would defend a legal framework based on the NAP to the death, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bulletproof ethical philosophy.

Here is another:

Here is a hypothetical, I think due to Bill Bradford, for you to respond to. You fall off the balcony of your 10th floor apartment, catch hold of the flagpole of the balcony of the 9th floor apartment, are working your way in hand over hand when the owner of that apartment sees you and tell you to let go of his flagpole. Do you? Assume that he unambiguously owns the flagpole.

Here is my response to this challenge:

Block, Walter E. 2003B. “The Non-Aggression Axiom of Libertarianism,” February 17; http://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block26.html

I’m keeping these people anonymous. One of them is a very famous libertarian theorist.

Best regards,



3:03 am on January 21, 2022

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Murray Rothbard, Anarchist

Dear Readers of this blog:

I think you might find my latest scholarly publication to be of interest:

Block, Walter E. 2021. “Murray Rothbard, Anarchist.” Histori Filozofii (Studies in the History of Philosophy), Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 7-41; https://apcz.umk.pl/szhf/issue/view/2218https://apcz.umk.pl/szhf/article/view/36720;


Everyone, have a good, happy and productive new year, promoting liberty and Austrian economics.

Best regards,



11:15 am on December 28, 2021

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31. Block, Walter E. Forthcoming, 2021. Evictionism: the libertarian solution to the seemingly unresolvable pro-life and the pro-choice debate. Springer Publishing Company

30. Block, Walter E. 2021. Free Enterprise Environmentalism. Lexington books
978-1-4985-8685-6 • Hardback • $105.00 • (£81.00)
978-1-4985-8686-3 • eBook • $45.00 • (£35.00)

In Free Enterprise Environmentalism, Walter E. Block argues that laissez-faire capitalism can address climate change more effectively than socialism and government regulation. Block advocates for the role of markets, free enterprise, limited government, and private property rights in service of environmental protections. Covering topics such as extinction, overpopulation, pollution, and resources exhaustion, this volume offers alternate solutions to environmental degradation than have been proposed by the political left.

Loyola students, Loyola ex professor, preseent Loyola professor, students of mine from when I taught at Holy Cross

29. Block, Walter E. 2021.  Defending the Undefendable III. Springer Publishing Company; https://www.amazon.com/Defending-Undefendable-III-Walter-Block/dp/9811639566/ref=sr_1_24?dchild=1&keywords=libertarianism&qid=1623439836&s=books&sr=1-24; https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-16-3957-9; ISBN: 978-981-16-3957-9; for book reviewers: https://www.springer.com/gp/reviewers 

To purchase: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-16-3957-9

28. Block, Walter E. and Alan Futerman. Forthcoming, 2021.  The Classical Liberal Case for Israel. Springer Publishing Company

https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789811639524; https://rd.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-16-3953-1;

for book reviewers: https://www.springer.com/gp/reviewers 

To purchase: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-16-3953-1


27. Block, Walter E. and Alan Futerman. 2021. The Austro-Libertarian Point of View. Springer Publishing Company.


for book reviewers: https://www.springer.com/gp/reviewers 

To purchase: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-16-4691-1


2:52 am on November 11, 2021

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Space Travel

From: R.J. Smith

Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2021 10:42 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: You can add space travel to your list of things the State wants to tax.


Sent from RJ’s iPad

From: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2021 12:00 PM

To: R.J. Smith

Subject: RE: You can add space travel to your list of things the State wants to tax.

Dear Bob:

I wrote a book about this sort of thing:

Nelson, Peter Lothian and Walter E. Block. 2018. Space capitalism: the case for privatizing space travel and colonization. Palgrave Macmillan; https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-74651-7;

Best regards,



3:18 am on October 31, 2021

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{ 1 comment }

The Pure Time-Preference Theory of Interest

From: DontPeal MyOnion

Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2021 3:07 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: The Pure Time-Preference Theory of Interest

Dear Walter:

I have searched far and wide, for references, with your take on ‘The Pure Time-Preference Theory of Interest’.

The only reference I found was: “Professor Rothbard and the Theory of Interest.” In Man, Economy, and Liberty. Walter Block and Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., eds. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1988.

I’m writing this asking if there is a reference out there (that I missed) with your take on the PTPF. If there isn’t could you quickly explain your take?

Best regards,

Richard Lechko

From: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2021 1:43 PM

To: DontPeal MyOnion

Subject: RE: The Pure Time-Preference Theory of Interest

Dear Richard:

What about this:

Block, Walter E., William Barnett II and Joseph Salerno. 2006. “Relationship between wealth or income and time preference is empirical, not apodictic: critique of Rothbard and Hoppe,” Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 69-80; http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11138-006-6094-8http://www.gmu.edu/rae/archives/VOL19_1_2006/4-Block_Barnett_Salerno.pdf

Block, Walter E. 1978. “The Negative Rate of Interest: Toward a Taxonomic Critique,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. II, No. 2, summer, pp. 121-124; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/2_2/2_2_4.pdf

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2006. “On exchange, monetary credit transactions, barter, time preference, interest rates, and productivity.” Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics; Vol. VIII, No. 2, pp. 116-126; http://www.units.it/~etica/2006_2/BARNETTBLOCK.pdfhttp://www.units.it/~etica/;

Best regards,



3:17 am on October 31, 2021

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From: Craig Duddy

Sent: Sunday, July 18, 2021 3:04 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: The Ricardo Effect

Dear Professor Walter Block,

I have been working for a couple months now on a paper about Hayek’s Ricardo effect. Though I have way overshot my targets multiple times and will likely now have to turn it into a book. I am working extremely hard to have it out by next month, and I was wondering if you have the time if you’d be interested in taking a look and giving me your thoughts on it. The layout of the paper/book I have now is;


Hayek’s Theory of the Ricardo Effect

Internal Rates of Return and Interest Rates

The Problem of Real Wages

The Conflict at LSE

The Structure of Production

Clark, Knight and Bohm-Bawerk

Hayek vs Keynes

Capital re-switching and Cambridge

The Productivity of Investment

The Pure Time Preference Theory of Interest

A Rehabilitation of the Ricardo Effect

At present there is a few chapters unfinished and I am pouring everything I know into it and its around 90 pages as we speak. I hope that you’ll be able to see my contributions to economic theory, and I am looking forward to seeing you speak at Mises U.

All the best,


From: Walter Block

Sent: 19 July 2021 05:12

To: Craig Duddy

Subject: RE: The Ricardo Effect

Dear Craig:

Send me this material. I’ll take a peek at least at part of it, probably not all of it.

Stay safe.

Best regards,


From: Craig Duddy

Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2021 6:47 PM

To: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Subject: RE: The Ricardo Effect

Dear Professor Walter Block,

I’ll leave the link to the work below, it is unfinished and unedited currently but I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the sections that are finished.


Best Regards,


From: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>

Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2021 2:59 PM

To: ‘Craig Duddy’

Subject: RE: The Ricardo Effect

Dear Craig:

The entire manuscript needs a bit of copy editing.

Suggestion: submit this to a journal like the Review of Austrian Economics, or the Quarterly Journal of Austrian economics, and get substantive critiques.

I can’t respond to all of what you write, I’ve got too many other commitments. I’ll focus on just two.


“When calculating labour costs businessmen do not look at real wages. They instead look at the relative ratio of prices between specific wages rates, which are based on both marginal productivity of labor and marginal costs. Within the typical business cycle, one that normally lasts for several years, entrepreneurs focus on short-run production, thus only making nominal prices relevant. This means there is no need to adjust for inflation. Pricing of labor is appraised from the given employees marginal productivity but also to sales and profits.”

I disagree with this. Ceteris paribus, businessmen who ignore real wages will go bankrupt. (copy editing: it should be wage rates, not wages rates; it should be employees’, not employees). The ratio of wage rates and prices IS real wages, so I’m confused about that sentence. Entrepreneurs do not “focus on short-run” anything. Rather, they focus on present discounted values, if they want to prosper. “Sales and profits” are incorporated into discounted marginal revenue productivity, and thus your ”also” is misplaced.


That Skousen diagram near footnote 16. More copy editing: you should number your pages. You don’t criticize Skousen, rather, you rely on him.

I’m a bit of a critic of his:

Block, Walter E. 2020. “Unblocking Progress in Austrian Economics: Response to Skousen.” Revista Procesos de Mercados, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 313-326; https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=http://www.procesosdemercado.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Vol_XVII_1_2020_Notas-1.pdf&hl=eshttps://search.proquest.com/openview/2bb6dc0192967b03d7e94362bd35ffbb/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=686495;


Barnett II, William and Walter E. Block. 2016. “Gross Output – Another Government Con.” Revista Procesos de Mercado Autumn, Volume XIII, no. 2, pp. 13-39; http://www.procesosdemercado.com/pdf/2016-2-new/PM2016_2_02_Arti%CC%81culo%201.pdf (critique of Skousen)

Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2006. “On Hayekian Triangles.” Procesos De Mercado: Revista Europea De Economia Politica; Vol. III, No. 2, Fall, pp. 39-141; http://mises.org/journals/scholar/block18.pdfhttp://www.academia.edu/1359916/On_Hayekian_Triangleshttp://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1880543

This might also be of interest to you:

Block, Walter E. 1990. “The Discounted Marginal Value Product – Marginal Value Product Controversy: A Note,” Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. IV, pp. 199-207; http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/rae4_1_7.pdf;

http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/R4_7.pdf; reprinted as Block, Walter E. 1994. “On Marginal Productivity Theory,” Peter Boettke, ed., The Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics, Hants, England: Edward Elgar, pp. 123-130; http://www.academia.edu/1355567/The_Discounted_Marginal_Value_Product_-_Marginal_Value_Product_Controversy_A_Note

I hope and trust some of this will be of help to you. Where are you now going to school?

Best regards,



5:02 pm on October 29, 2021

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