Monday, February 27, 2017

Should a Libertarian Contractor Take a Gig Helping Build Trump's Wall?

A Target Liberty reader sends an email to Dr. Walter Block and me:
Good afternoon.

I have a actual real life question I am interested in what each of your opinion is.

The other day I was asked if my company would be interested in bidding and working on portions of Donald Trump's wall.
I gave no answer then, as I had not really thought of it, but, in my mind, as a Libertarian I don't see anything that would violate the NAP if my company did work on the wall.
I don't worry about whether or not federal money is involved, I've learned a long time ago that there is nearly nothing I do that I am not taking advantage of something that has tax (stolen) money involved. From driving to walking to eating, some sort of tax was involved.
I also have zero allegiance to the State, and anytime I can take money back from them, that they have stolen from me, and they have stolen a lot of money from me, I don't feel bad at all.
I have built roads, done hazardous cleanups, built housing, runways, and such for the State. I don't think any of these things violate the NAP. If I remember right Rothbard didn't have a problem with this as long as the work that was contracted would be work that would be contracted in a Private Society. Would a wall?

I would not build bombs, concentration camps, prisons exc. for the State.

I have read a lot of things about Libertarians and immigration, open borders, mass immigration, private property and such.
Would getting a contract to work on the "wall" violate the NAP? I think I have read enough from both of you that you don't think simply working on a government contract is a NAP violation, but is this different?


 RW response:

Well, I am against the wall but, that said, I see no problem with libertarians working on such a project as long as they don't promote the project as a great thing and don't call for additional spending for the project. Yes, it is about getting your tax money back.

If money is going to be allocated to a project, there is little that can be done about that.

However, I would expect libertarians working on such projects to be their normal bureaucratic, incompetent selves. They shouldn't break any laws that will get them in trouble but follow the rules, all of them, with a kind of Seargent Schultz spirit.

My only hesitation in providing a thumbs up on these kinds of projects is that there is a great danger of libertarians being co-opted on these types of projects and becoming mini-statists themselves. It takes a certain type of personality to walk into a statist program and remain true to liberty. Ludwig Erhard was able to do it over many years, both during the period of the Nazi regime and after. But the current walking zombies that were once libertarians who aren't even in government but just in beltarian institutions reveals the power of statist black hole in sucking in most who get too close to the state.

Return to this post for a reply from Walter Block.


  1. "If I remember right Rothbard didn't have a problem with this as long as the work that was contracted would be work that would be contracted in a Private Society. Would a wall?"

    A national border wall? Of course not.

    1. Also, part of the southern border goes through existing private property.

    2. Certainly in a Private Society a property owner could legitimately build a wall.

  2. I've heard of many contractors who have worked for the government and have come to regret it. They've come under investigation, the government has tied them up in court, etc. The money is tempting, but I would not touch a government contract for any reason. The Feds are dangerous thugs.

    And why further the expansion, power, and reach of government? Agreeing to work for them in the furtherance of their criminal enterprise is a terrible idea.

    1. Dangerous to work for the Feds, dangerous to work for Trump. Now Trump is running the Feds.

  3. In this particular scenario I rather see money going to a business owner who supports liberty than a government bootlicking business owner (con, lib, alt-right).

    1. NY Cynic, I think that is a topic that is worthy on it's own merit. Several friends of mine and I, who are An-Caps, have had the exact discussion that you just posted here. And we are still debating it after years.

    2. Joshua, I fully agree, it reminds me of the question I saw either Gary North or Robert Block (I forget which) on LRC during the Bush years; Can a libertarian use welfare services or work a government job (as a civil servant or 3rd party contractor) and still be a libertarian.

  4. This "wall" is the US version of the Berlin wall. And like the Berlin wall it will become a symbol of tyranny and tragedy in the U.S. The "wall" is a very real initiation of force against people on either side that would like to voluntarily interact. If you have any understanding of human liberty and its immeasurable benefit to human well being you won't take this job.

  5. Like his death camp guard example Walter might say you could take the money but you would have to be pretty lax and haphazard about doing the work.

  6. First, why would a libertarian want anything more to do with the state than what is foisted upon him? Contracting with the state is intentionally seeking out interaction with this criminal gang.

    Second, there must be a difference between using the roads, etc. to get back some of what has been stolen from you already, and acquiring and organizing factors of production for the purpose of receiving stolen loot from a new state-awarded project. That seems more akin to actively participating (aiding and abetting) in the theft.

  7. Do American Libertarians look at the US State differently than other States?
    As in, if this person was going to China to work on a project for the Chinese government, or if they were heading to Chile or Switzerland to do contractual work for one of those governments, would anyone see that as different than working for the US? I think for the most part a lot of Libertarians do see them differently, because they see the US government as "theirs". Mistakenly so.