Friday, October 3, 2014

Part 4: Walter Block Responds to Wenzel on Rand Paul

Part 4

By Walter Block

Bob makes some very important and telling points. Let me try to respond to them.

1. Bob cites the crazed warmonger John McCain saying some nice things about Rand Paul. Certainly, I agree with Bob’s highly critical assessment of the Senator from Arizona. But is this Rand’s fault? I think not. In my view, Rand is responsible not for what Bob Wenzel says, not for what Walter Block says, not for what Ron Paul says, not even for what John McCain says. Rather, he is responsible, wait for it … for what only one man on the face of the earth says. And guess who that is? Yes, Rand Paul; Rand Paul himself. The Senator from Kentucky did not say those things. McCain did. How is this Rand’s fault?
2. Bob mentions what a great disappointment Ronald Reagan was. He quotes Murray Rothbard who
accurately makes this case. But how is this Rand Paul’s responsibility? Yes, Rand might become, as president, as great a disappointment as President as was Ronald Reagan. But that is in the future!  How is it fair to blame Ronald Reagan on Rand Paul at present? We are certainly justified in being disenchanted with Ronald Reagan. But, again, I ask, “compared to whom?” Who were the other politicians running against Reagan? Which of them should libertarians prefer to him: Walter Mondale? Geraldine Ferraro?  George H. W. Bush? Jack Kemp? Gary Hart? Jesse Jackson? John Glenn? George McGovern? Reubin Askew? Alan Cranston? Ernest Hollings?  John Anderson? Jimmy Carter? Howard Baker? Phil Crane? John Connally? Bob Dole? I tell you, for reasons similar to my preference for Obama vis a vis McCain and Romney (less of a war-monger), I probably would have preferred Carter or McGovern to Reagan. But Hillary Clinton is no Carter or McGovern. And, Reagan looks a bit better when compared to his greater war mongering Republican (and Democratic) counterparts.
3. Bob engaged in a low blow, a below the belt punch, when he mentioned “Brooklyn” (☺). And, here, I thought we were having a polite, civilized dispute, one that we could both take pride in. He’d better watch out! I might bite his ear over this outrage (☺).
4. On a more serious note my friend Mr. Wenzel states: “I have contacted The New Yorker and requested a copy of the relevant portion of the audio. I will post the audio or any other response, when I receive such.” No, no, no. We need the entire tape recording. The context is very important.  Lookit, I did indeed say to the New York Times that slavery was “not so bad.” Of course, I meant to refer in this regard to that evil, despicable institution only when shorn of its compulsory aspects. Then and only then would it be “not so bad.” But if the New York Times supplied “the relevant portion of the audio” (if there was one made), without this context I would indeed look monstrous.  So, we need to hear the entire tape recording, not just what The New Yorker deems relevant.
5. Bob asks: “If … the reporting by The New Yorker proves accurate, will (I) concede that (I) may be misreading Rand and company?  Suppose, arguendo, that Rand Paul did indeed “throw me under the bus.” This would certainly indicate a flaw in his character, or at least ignorance or forgetfulness on his part about how the New York Times mistreated me. Would that mean that rational, moral persons should prefer Hillary to Rand? That hardly follows. Hillary has been accused, accurately I think in many cases, of far, far worse (crony capitalism, outright stealing money, actual murder). I have no idea as to whether these charges are true; go google her on such allegations. Will Bob soon be starting a group called “Libertarians for Hillary?” I think not.
6.Were it anyone else apart from Bob Wenzel who seriously stated that it is: “extremely difficult to know on what issues Rand will be better than Hillary on” I would give this claim the back of my hand. I would not dignify this monstrous suggestion with a response, the answer seems so clear and obvious to me. But, I have learned (in my debate with my friend Bob on intellectual property, mentioned previously in this present dispute over Rand Paul), that he is very serious-minded, devoted to liberty 100% of the time, very sincere, an astoundingly capable libertarian and extremely bright. So if he poses a challenge, it deserves a serious answer. So, let me count at least a few of the ways that Rand is likely to be better, way better, than Hillary. Right now, the U.S. has about 700 military bases in about 160 countries. With Hillary, I expect this number to rise. Will Rand end all of this, the way Ron would have? No, we cannot expect that. However, I would be shocked if Rand did not pull all troops out of at least half the countries they are now in. What in bloody blue blazes are U.S. armies doing in Japan, Germany, and other European nations? For more on this see here, here, here, and especially here. The military budget under a President Rand Paul would rise more slowly than under a second Clinton administration, and would probably fall, McCain’s hints to the contrary notwithstanding. I would be appalled, amazed, and shocked if President Rand ever engaged in a war without a congressional declaration as required by the Constitution. President Hillary, of course, would not even think of asking for any such thing.
Rand is likely to be way better than Hillary on the minimum wage law, on unions, on feminism (equal pay laws), on political correctness, on economic regulations, on taxation, on energy policy, on global warming, on welfare “rights,” on socialized medicine, on the drug war, on legalizing prostitution, the list really could go on and on. It is damning Rand with faint praise to say he is more libertarian than Hillary. If that is not a low bar, then nothing is. Heck, Barack Obama is probably more libertarian than Hillary Clinton on a plethora of issues, but don’t ask me to go there.
There is also the “minor detail” of appointments to the Supreme Court. To believe that Hillary and Rand would even be on similar pages in this regard is to take complete leave of one’s senses. In my book on Ron Paul, I devoted an entire chapter to discussing who he might appoint to the Supreme Court. I would imagine Rand Paul would seriously look at many of the same people. Hillary would probably appoint a black, lesbian, feminist, socialist, need I go on?
7. Bob asks, “… how does Walter know that Rand is so great, so libertarian?” First of all, I don’t remember saying exactly that.  My debating partner directly quotes me all over the place, with quote marks and all. Here he fails to do so. I am pretty sure this is because I never uttered or wrote those exact words. For me, the issue is, again, compared to who?  Of course Rand is “so great, so libertarian” compared to some people. And, just as assuredly, he is not much of a libertarian in comparison to others. I gave Rand a 70 out of 100 on my “libertarian-meter” which is a pretty good score, but not excellent. However, in the land of the Lilliputians, an ordinary person appears huge. And, in the territory of the Brobdingnagians, he seems small. Comparison, comparison, comparison; context, context, context, say I.
8. “Loose cannon.” Here, I agree, Bob has a good point: Rand has changed his views much more than Hillary. But it is not at all clear that this is a clear advantage for the latter. Yes, Hillary has been unrelenting in her socialism, in her feminism, in her interventionism, in her totalitarianism, in her general all around obnoxiousness. In contrast, it cannot be denied, Rand has changed his mind on a number of issues; sometimes he has been very, very good, at other times not at all good (and Bob has done an excellent job of pointing out these flaws). And, all too often, these alterations have not been in the direction of liberty. So which is better, unchanging evil, or rare equivocation (Rand has altered his tune, after all, on only a few issues)?  Again, it is a matter of comparison, and I select the latter. Which would the slave prefer: overseer baddy, who beats the crap out of them every minute, without fail, or overseer equivocator, who sometimes does just that, but on other occasions acts just like overseer goody, who whips them lightly, and only once per week? I know which one I would choose. Bob?


Part I, 9-26-14, (Block), The Opening of Debate Between Robert Wenzel and Walter Block on Rand Paul; 9-29-14, (Wenzel), A Response to Walter Block on Rand Paul

Part 2, 10-1-14, (Block), Block versus Wenzel on Rand Paul, part 2

Part 3, 10-2-14, (Wenzel), Block versus Wenzel on Rand Paul, part 3; Is Walter Block Misreading Rand?, It's On: Walter Block Responds to My Challenge


  1. "Which would the slave prefer: overseer baddy, who beats the crap out of them every minute, without fail, or overseer equivocator, who sometimes does just that, but on other occasions acts just like overseer goody, who whips them lightly, and only once per week? I know which one I would choose. "

    I actually could make the case that I would prefer harsher treatment over a shorter period of time, rather than less harsh treatment over an extended period.(although circumstances could change that depending on levels of misery/harshness)

    Think about Japan's policy of QE for decades and the extended economic misery they've brought their population as a result.

    If we all accept that Rand will not "save" the US gov't long term(and maybe we all don't), then perhaps he unwittingly lengthens the duration of our own problems/misery here.

    Also, Walter seems to ignore the contention RW makes that Rand will actually distort what Sixpack Joe and his family think libertarianism represents...which seems to be the crux of RW problem with Rand.(rightfully so imo)

    I don't know, this whole debate seems odd in that an-caps ideally would like to see a voluntary society, which leaves no room for gov't from an an-cap perspective, and if I'm not mistaken both Watler and RW claim to be ancaps.

    1. Nick,

      "I don't know, this whole debate seems odd in that an-caps ideally would like to see a voluntary society, which leaves no room for gov't from an an-cap perspective, and if I'm not mistaken both Watler and RW claim to be ancaps."

      So true! For the libertarian (and especially the anarcho-capitalist), the default position should be boycotting government. To support a political candidate should be considered shaky ground in the first place! Dr. Block, therefore, has the burden of proof in this debate. I am a kind soul, and therefore would give a pass to certain peculiarly outstanding politicians who argue clearly for the elimination of the State- but Rand?

      Bob points this out in his response referencing Ayn Rand. She recalls, "In conclusion, let me touch briefly on another question often asked me: What do I think of President Reagan? The best answer to give would be: But I don’t think of him—and the more I see, the less I think. I did not vote for him (or for anyone else) and events seem to justify me."

      This is the proper attitude of the State hater, no participation in and total apathy regarding the political process. Less of an injustice is still an injustice!

      The slave-master example Dr. Block provides at the end reminds me of Rothbard's channeling William Lloyd Garrison to provide insight into how to advocate the libertarian viewpoint against the State. Dr. Block is arguing that he believes in Rand being a better slave-master than Hillary, and therefore he will vote for (and advocate for) Rand. Why not just contend that he doesn't have a "master", and leave the voting and supporting part out? This is a much stronger position to be in than trying to defend a rather questionable politician such as Rand Paul.

  2. You can't make a positive reference to slavery and not expect the NYT to jump on it. C'mon Walter.