By Robert Wenzel
Walter Block turns 77 today.
His entire professional career has been about promoting liberty and it is quite a career.
In 1972, the rock group Bread came out with a song called, "The Guitar Man."
It is an ode to a man who has chosen to make his life about playing the guitar. It is an ode to the man who, Gary North might say, has pursued his calling.
With only a few changes in words, the song could be about Dr. Block as the Liberty Man.
Four short years after "The Guitar Man" was released Dr. Block published in 1976 his first book, Defending the Undefendable. It was a stunning first book.
It was one of the very first books on liberty that I had ever read. I never had a chance after that. It made me a radical for liberty. In time, I became more radical than the Founding Fathers. I am sure that for many others it has shaken them to their core also.
It even appears to have had an impact on the Noble prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek:
Looking through Defending the Undefendable made me feel that I was once more exposed to the shock therapy by which, more than fifty years ago, the late Ludwig von Mises converted me to a consistent free market position. … Some may find it too strong a medicine, but it will still do them good even if they hate it. A real understanding of economics demands that one disabuses oneself of many dear prejudices and illusions. Popular fallacies in economics frequently express themselves in unfounded prejudices against other occupations, and showing the falsity of these stereotypes you are doing a real services, although you will not make yourself more popular with the majority.But Dr. Block did not stop with that book. He has written about the application of liberty to highways, space, water, discrimination, and labor.
A Jew, he has even chosen to take on confusion amongst Catholic bishops:
The U.S. Bishops and Their Critics is a detailed response to the recommendations made by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in the Pastoral Letter "Economic Justice for All."I have seen him on video debate members of a black group in New Orleans.
I am sure he has done hundreds of podcasts and speaking gins.
He just always has to find a place to discuss sound economics and liberty.
When his friend Michael Edelstein attempts to coax him to visit the Bay Area, Dr. Block demands that Dr. Edelstein find him two or three venues at which to speak during the visit.
As part of his academic work, he has written over 500 peer-reviewed journal articles. And who knows how many individual emails he has responded to?
And what a great teacher. It seems he has co-authored hundreds of published papers with his students. Wouldn't we all love to have had a teacher that worked with us this way?
I could go on but you get the idea, Dr. Block is the Guitar Man of Liberty:
Who's gonna steal the show
You know, baby
It's the guitar man..
Something keeps him going
Miles and miles a day
To find another place to play
Night after night
Who treats you right
Baby, it's the guitar man
Who's on the radio
You go listen to the guitar man
Then he comes to town
And you see his face
And you think you might
Like to take his place
Something keeps him drifting
Miles and miles away
Searching for the songs to play
Then you listen to the music
And you like to sing-along
You want to get the meaning
Out of each and every song
Then you find yourself a message
And some words
To call your own
And take them home...
Something keeps him moving
But no one seems to know
What it is that makes him go
Then the lights begin to flicker
And the sound is getting dim
The voice begins to falter
And the crowds are getting thin
But he never seems to notice
He's just got to find
Another place to play
Got to play
Got to play
Happy Birthday, Walter and thank you!