Thursday, May 7, 2015

Walter Block on Monopolies and How to Choose a College

The following email exchange tool place between Walter Block and Nathan Fryzek:

From: Nathan Fryzek
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2015 2:15 AM
To: walter block
Subject: A Short Fan Question

I am currently 17 in my third semester of studying economics at a local community college. I have come to the decision that I want to focus on Austrian economics but I don't have a great way to decide what college or university would be best to transfer to for my bachelors. I was thinking about Hong Kong or Singapore National University although it would be rather ironic to study Austrianism at a public institution. The University of Chicago is well known for free enterprise although they have many shortfalls when it comes to the anti-trust, welfare, and central banking. Anyways you have been a huge inspiration through some videos of yours I have found on Youtube and I was wondering if you have any recommendations for a college or university. Thank you for your time, a great economist like you must be very busy.
Nathan Fryzek

From: Nathan Fryze

I didn't mean to ignore Loyola University, I was wondering if there are any other ones you would recommend. I am, obviously, already considering Loyola.


Dear Nathan:

I would also recommend Grove City College, Texas Tech and George Mason.

However, I recommend GCC and Loyola more highly for undergraduate work since I send my very good students, I expect you’ll be one of them, to TT and GM for graduate work, and it is better, in my opinion, to have two sets of professors, rather than one.  If you go to TT or GM for both grad and undergrad work, you get only one set of Austrian profs. If you go, first, to either GCC or Loyola, for undergrad work, and then to TT or GM for grad studies, you get two different sets of Austrian profs.

I’m copying my contacts at all three places. As far as I know, there are no Austrian profs at U of Chicago, or Hong Kong or Singapore National University.

Best regards,


Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business                
Loyola University New Orleans


From: Nathan Fryzek

I had another question if you have some time. I was watching one of your lectures about anti-trust and agreed with most of it, although I think I might have found a flaw. Imagine an island with ten fresh water wells. A businessman somehow manages to buy all of them without the owners being smart enough to see his intention of creating a monopoly. Once he owns the wells he can charge any price he chooses since all the residents of the island have to drink fresh water to survive. Do you see a Austrian/libertarian solution?


Dear Nathan:

Good questions. I’m gonna blog this. Shall I use you name or keep you anonymous?

First, it would not be a monopoly. A monopoly is based on a grant of govt special privilege. It would be a large firm with 10 water wells. Second, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that these 10 would be so stupid; after all these people passed a market test of profit and loss, otherwise they wouldn’t be the owners of such valuable resources. Far more likely, as the buyer of wells kept buying them, their price would go up, way up.  Third, if they were so stupid, a smart entrepreneur would seek an 11th water well; or get a desalinization plant. Or import water. Or grow watermelons (just kidding about this one). Even if not, the single seller of water won’t charge any price he chooses. Presumably, instead, he’ll choose the profit maximizing price. But, there is also the potential competition of the 11th water well owner. That would keep pricing policy of the owner of the 10 water wells in check. Then, also, there is another check on his pricing: if too high, his customers will migrate to other places, leaving his water less valuable. If they all leave, his water is almost worthless.


Rothbard, Murray N. 1993. Man, Economy, and State. (3rd ed. Auburn, Ala.: Mises Institute). Chapter 11.

Block, Walter E. 2008. “Market monopoly is apodictically impossible” Corporate Ownership & Control. Vol. 5, Issue 3, Spring (Continued-3), pp. 385-389

Barnett, William II, Walter E. Block and Michael Saliba. 2007. “Predatory pricing.” Corporate Ownership & Control, Vol. 4, No. 4, Continued – 3Summer; pp. 401-406; 9 (pp. 397-…)

Raskin, Max and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Justice Department Goes After Gates’ Foundation.” July 3;

Barnett, William II, Walter E. Block and Michael Saliba. 2005. "Perfect Competition: A Case of ‘Market-Failure,’” Corporate Ownership & Control. Vol. 2, No. 4, summer, p. 70-75;
Anderson, William, Walter E. Block, Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Ilana Mercer, Leon Snyman and Christopher Westley. 2001. “The Microsoft Corporation in Collision with Antitrust Law,” The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1, Spring, pp. 287-302;

Block, Walter E. 1999. “Naked Exclusion,” Humanomics. Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 141-148;;

Block, Walter E. 1994. "Total Repeal of Anti-trust Legislation: A Critique of Bork, Brozen and Posner, Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 35-70.

Block, Walter E. ed. 1986. Reaction: The New Combines Investigation Act, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute;

Block, Walter E. 1982. A Response to the Framework Document for Amending the Combines Investigation Act, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute. (60 pages) isbn: 0-88975-051-3; available for free here: First Part:;Second Part:

Block, Walter E. 11/14/81. “Abiding flaws in competition proposals,” The Financial Post.

Block, Walter E. 1977. "Austrian Monopoly Theory -- a Critique," The Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. I, No. 4, fall, pp. 271-279;

Nathan, you said you were considering enrolling at Loyola NO. What’s happening on that? Do ask the same question of my colleague Jeff Herbener at GCC and compare answers, I suggest.

Best regards,


From: Nathan Fryzek 

I would be honored to have my question be featured on your blog, please include my name, I am a passionate Austrian and the more strongly I hold a belief the more I challenge and scrutinize it.


  1. Best of luck, Nathan.
    But the water monopoly example raises a question.
    Has there ever been a successful monopoly without government intervention?

  2. This is a great exchange.

    I also think it highlights a challenge that we have as libertarians.

    The general understanding of the word "monopoly" as exhibited Fryzek is not unusual, in fact, it is the norm IMO.

    Though Rothbard did a great job of deconstructing the word in MES and making the case for it's sole use as "grant of gov't special privilege", the fact remains that a simple "google" doesn't yield that definition.

    Even further, the general public doesn't even connotatively use the word in the context of "exclusive possession/control" much of the time. Market dominance(even if not full, like Microsoft, Apple, etc. in their respective realms) is often "enough" to be called monopoly by the general public with no distinction.

    So the question in my mind is whether we discuss monopoly in the context of it's understanding/use by the general public or continue to push Rothbard's deconstruction...which is more effective?

  3. Don't rule out Auburn and Mises Institute.