Sunday, September 6, 2015

Walter Block Responds to My Latest Rand Challenge Post

RW Note: As per my agreement with Dr. Block, I will not respond to Dr. Block's email for at least 24 hours (I plan to post a response on Tuesday.) However, in the comment, Dr. Block suggests that some Target Liberty readers examine the records of all 16 other Republican candidates against the positions of Rand. Since this is an action item that some readers may respond to immediately, I do want to notify readers that I do not consider this a worthwhile project and I will address why in my Tuesday response.

Dear Bob:

I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. Evidently, neither of us wishes to go through the hard slog of comparing Rand to his 16 GOP competitors on, oh, 10-15 different issues. You asked me to do so, I returned the favor and asked you to do this. Neither of us has done so. I still think that Rand is more libertarian than any of the others; you deny this. I don’t know of any other way of settling this friendly dispute than going through the time-consuming exercize I mention above. Perhaps some of your readers will take on this job. We really need 16 of them: each reader should compare Rand with one other candidate on 3-4 issues in foreign policy, 3-4 issues on economics, 3-4 issues on personal liberty, and, maybe 3-4 issues that do not fit neatly into any of these categories. There is also the issue of candidates changing their minds on issues. One way to address this is to take the last espoused view. Another is to consider both. There’s lots of work that can be done here. This sounds more like a phd dissertation in political science than anything I want to do, and, if I may speak for your too, than either of us wants to do. But, if someone did this, we could settle our differences in a systematic way. Another difficulty: suppose we have 15 different criteria (fed, privacy, drugs, min wage, etc.) Do we give equal weights to them all? Do we weight foreign policy more heavily, under the unfluence of Bob Higgs?

I once went through an exercie like that, and all I can say is that it will take a lot of intellectual work to do that in this case:

Gwartney, James, Robert W. Lawson and Walter E. Block. 1996. Economic Freedom of the World, 1975-1995;Vancouver, B.C. Canada: the Fraser Institute (308 pages);;; isbn: 0-88975-157-9;

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


  1. Block is doing the asserting, yet he wants Wenzel to prove it. Interesting.

    In any case, it shouldn't be this difficult. When the tally is 60 vs. 30 on the libertarian scale (or whatever Block now says is the difference), at least two or three important issues should be clear cut and jump off the tongue (or fingertips in this case.), with nothing important going against him.

    It shouldn't take a Ph.D. dissertation.

  2. There us an easier way to settle the issue.
    You don't have to compare Rand to 15 people.
    Wenzel should give Block the names of the 3 or 4 candidates that he thinks are better (more libertarian) than Rand.
    Block could then compare those 3 to rand and try to convince Bob that Rand is better.

    1. Why should I give Block any names? I never said there were any candidates that were better than Rand. To me they are all the same, with the exception that Rand is worst on taxation.

    2. Walter claims that Rand is the least bad candidate. You disagree.
      If you want to settle that disagreement you have to do what Walter laid out in that post, which is rather time consuming.
      If you give Walter just a few names you make it easier for him.
      It seems that you think they are all equally bad, so you could just pick one of the candidates
      It makes no difference.

      Of course it would not follow that we should support Rand, if we believed that he was the least bad, bc there are costs involved. But that is a separate question.

    3. No, Wenzel has made it easy for Walter. All Walter has to say is Rand is better on "X" than any other candidate, since Wenzel claims he is not.

  3. He needs to throw out his sliding scale and adopt a polarized scale. It's us vs them. Rand is a total phony. You don't want a guy like that as your frontman.