Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Walter Block Fans in the Amish Community

The following email exchange took place between  Paul Fisher, Dr. Walter Block and me:


I’m an EPJ reader, Alert subscriber, and just signed up for your blogging course. I’m hoping you can help me.

My question is off topic, but sincere. As treasurer of my local volunteer fire department I have gradually been able to turn the finances of our department around completely to the point where we are wildly successful financially. This is in complete contrast to what is happening in fire departments across the country. I attribute most of this success to my understanding of economics.

Because of this success I have (accidentally) become fairly influential in my community and at my local municipality. Recently I was able to generate enough grass roots support to successfully stop the passing of an International Property Maintenance Code that was being pushed for by our municipality. I am now being asked to address similar types of issues at the township level.

My question is this: are you aware of, and can you refer me to any information regarding the “proper” Rothbardian stance on local issues such as zoning, property maintenance codes, building codes, etc.? I’m looking for books, papers, public debates, etc. that would help me understand and apply the non-aggression principle when it comes to local issues. Essentially I’m wondering how Murray Rothbard would have handled these types of issues. Since Murray is no longer around, I figure you are the best remaining available source. Also, I figure there may be lots of other people out there reading your blog that are in similar positions and would love to read a blog post on this topic. Please help!

Thank you, and thanks for all you do for freedom!

Paul Fisher


My response with a CC to Walter Block:

I would google "Walter Block" and whatever specific topic you are interested in.  He, by far, addresses the nature of what a libertarian society would look like and these specific issues.
Here he is on zoning:
 Dear Bob:

Thanks for recommending me to Paul

Dear Paul:

Here's some more material. Any more urban topics you need covered beside fire, zoning, rent control?


Block, Walter E. 7/27/01. “Four Firemen Perish,”

Block, Walter E. 2001. “Socialist Fire; Socialist Death.” July 27.

Block, Walter E. 2012. “Long thin things.” September 3;


Block, Walter E. 1991. “Old Letters and Old Buildings,” The Freeman Ideas on Liberty, March, pp. 96,

Block, Walter E. 1990. “Sunday Shopping Lawbreakers,” Fraser Forum, January, pp. 35-36.

Block, Walter E. 1990. “Don’t Ban Demolition, Ban the Land Reserves,” British Columbia Report, v. 1, n. 25, February 26, 1990, pp. 7.

Block, Walter E. 1981. “Zoning:  A Tragic Public Policy,” The Freeman Ideas on Liberty, August, pp. 470-477,

January 29, 1981.  Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. "Zoning and the Free Market,” Presented at the School of Law, Dalhousie University;;;

Block, Walter E. 1980. “Zoning: Its Costs and Relevance,” The Mercury International Digest, March/April, pp. 21-31.

Block, Walter E. 8/30/80. “Zoning isn’t motherhood to everyone,” The Financial Post, p. 9

Block, Walter E. ed. 1980. Zoning: Its Costs and Relevance for the 1980s, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute

Block, Walter E. Speech. 1980. "Is Zoning Obsolete?" delivered to the Building Owners and Managers Association, Vancouver, B.C.; reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day, August 15, 1980, Vol. XLVI, No. 21, pp. 659-662; reprinted in World Market Perspective, 1981;

Rent control:

Feb 11, 2009. New York, N.Y. Cohen, Stefanie [] Rent Control Article; Reporter;  New York Post ; 212 930 5776; C: 917 796 7207;

May 23-25, 2008. Denver. National Libertarian Party convention. “What is libertarianism: immigration, abortion, voluntary slavery, anarchism” “An introduction to economics for libertarians: free trade, unions, minimum wages, rent control, environmentalism, unemployment, socialized medicine, drug legalization, markets in used body parts;;;

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Apr 24, 2007.  Calgary. Western Standard Magazine, Patrick McGee, rent control

Block, Walter E. 2010. “You are a rotten kid (rent control and libertarianism),” February 27;

Block, Walter E. 2010. “Rent Outta Shape” New York Post, January 31

Block, Walter E. 2010. “Rent Outta Shape: What the Stuytown and rent ruling fiascoes mean to New York City,” February 1

Block, Walter E. 2010. “Repeal Rent Control, and Sow Salt Where Once It Stood,” February 4

Block, Walter E. 2008. “Rent Control," David Henderson, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, pp. 442-445, Indianapolis, IN: The Liberty Fund

Block, Walter E. 2002. “A critique of the legal and philosophical case for rent control,” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 40, pp. 75-90;

Block, Walter E. 1999. “Market Inalienability Once Again: Reply to Radin,” Thomas Jefferson Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1, Fall, pp. 37-88;

Block, Walter E., Joseph Horton and Ethan Shorter. 1998. “Rent Control: An Economic Abomination,” International Journal of Value Based Management, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 253-263

McDonough, Gene and Walter E. Block. 1997. "The Evils of Rent Control," Consent, #27, May, pp. 10-11.

Block, Walter E. 1994. "Rent Control: A Case Study of British Columbia," Mid Atlantic Journal of Business, Vol. 30, No. 3, December, pp. 299-304;

Block, Walter E. 1993. “On Rent Control," David Henderson, ed., The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics, New York: Warner Books, pp. 421-425;;

Block, Walter E. 1991. “Rent Control in the New York City Zoo,” Fraser Forum, November, pp. 29.

Block, Walter E. 1991. "Preface," Keith Lehrer, The Landlord as Scapegoat, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, pp. vii-xvi.

Block, Walter E. 2/14/90. Face to face: “Rent controls will only make housing problems worse,” Victoria News.

Block, Walter E. 1/18/90. “Rent Controls will only make problems worse,” The Vancouver Sun. A13

Block, Walter E. 1990. “Rent controls will only make the situation worse.” The Independent Senior. February

Block, Walter E. 1990. “Rent Control Fever,” Fraser Forum, April, pp. 27-28.

Block, Walter E. 1989. "Rent Control: A Tale of Two Canadian Cities," Mid Atlantic Journal of Business, Vol. 25, No. 7, 1989, pp. 85-88;

Block, Walter E. 10/17/89. “Time to repeal rent controls,” The Financial Post.

Block, Walter E. 1989. “Rent Control in Ontario,” Fraser Forum, December, pp. 26-27.

Block, Walter E. 5/8/89. “Vacancy rate comparison gives a revealing look at controls,” Kimberly B.C. Daily.

Block, Walter E. 8/23/89. “Rental housing only a service,” The Financial Post.

Block, Walter E. 4/25/88. Dollars and Sense: “Rents soar in Toronto.”

Block, Walter E. 12/30/88. Dollars and Sense: “Rent Control in New York,” Dawson Creek; Block, Walter E. 12/30/86. Dollars and Sense: “Rent control in New York,” Dawson Creek.

Block, Walter E. 1987. “Scrap Rent Controls and Help Tenants,” Dateline Canada: Understanding Economics Through Press Reports, pp. 40-41.

Block, Walter E. 2/6/86. “Rent Control is rent control is rent control….” The Toronto Star, p. A23.

Block, Walter E. 3/25/86. “Evictions: why all the fuss?” The Province, p. 17

Block, Walter E. 1982. "Rent Controls--Who Benefits and Who Is Hurt," Housing in Canada: A Continuing Challenge, Paul Cosgrove and Raymond V. Hession, eds., Don Mills, Ontario: The Canadian Real Estate Association, pp. 197-209.

Block, Walter E. 1982. "A Reply to the Critics," Rent Control: Myths & Realities, Walter E. Block and Edgar O. Olsen, eds., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1981, pp. 283-319,; sections reprinted as "Housing is Not a basic human right," Canadian Housing, Vol. 6, No. 1. Spring 1989, pp. 30-31; reprinted as "If housing is a basic human right, we live in a moral swamp," Vancouver Province, 5 March.

Block, Walter E. 1982. “Rent Controls—Who Benefits and Who Is Hurt?  Is There an Alternative?” Housing in Canada: A Continuing Challenge, June, pp.197-209.

Block, Walter E. 5/14/81. “Don’t blame the landlord, he’s doing the best he can,” The Vancouver Sun, p.5.

Block, Walter E. 1981. “The Silent Bomb” (rent control). Halt Report, Vol. 3, No. 6, June, pp. 1-2.

Block, Walter E. and Edgar Olsen, eds. 1981. Rent Control: Myths & Realities, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute;

Block, Walter E. 1981. "The Negative Impact of Government Policies on the Built Environment," International Journal of Housing Science, Vol. 5, No. 2, spring, pp. 131-140.

Block, Walter E. 3/28/80. “Rent control: great destroyer,” The Vancouver Sun, p.5

Block, Walter E. 5/17/80. “Scrap rent control and help tenants,” The Financial Post.

Block, Walter E. 1980. "An Analysis and Evaluation of Rental Housing in the City of New York: Supply and Conditions 1975 - 1978 by Peter Marcuse," International Journal for Housing Science, Vol. 4, Number 4, Fall, pp. 343-359.

Block, Walter E. 1977. “Rent Control: the New York City Case.” The Libertarian Forum.  Vol. 10, No. 11. November, pp. 3-4;

Block, Walter E. 1975. “N.Y.C. today: Economist Updates Saga of Goose That Laid Golden Egg.” Realty. Vol. XXV, No. 633, April 8, pp. 1, 12

Block, Walter E. 1975. “The Goose That Laid A Golden Egg: Part II of an Updated Saga.” Realty. Vol. XXV, No. 633, April 22, pp. 3, 8

Block, Walter E. 1972. “The Slumlord as Hero.” The Libertarian Forum. October, Vol. 4, No. 8, pp. 5-6;

Block, Walter E. 1972. “Assembly Candidate Blasts Rent Control.” Real Estate Weekly, Thursday, August 3

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
 Dear Professor Block,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my email. I appreciate all of the information you sent, and I will be reading and applying as much of it as possible.

It is an honor to have gotten a response from you and I would just like you to know that the hard work you've done is touching people's lives. The libertarian philosophy that you have worked so hard to advance is being embraced by many of my friends, and is even working its way into our local politics. More importantly, it is an intellectual blessing to many of us across the country and inspires us to live more principled and better lives.

I have to add one more item that you may find humorous. I was born and raised in an Amish family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Although I am not personally practicing the faith, (too authoritarian for my taste) many of my family and friends are still Amish and I've found them to be very receptive to anarcho-capitalist ideas. I've recommended your book, "Defending the Undefendable" to a few of them and they really enjoyed it. So among your many other fans you can now add the Amish to your list of supporters. I thought you might find that interesting.

Thanks again for being such an inspiration on behalf of liberty.

Best regards,

Paul Fisher


  1. Wow, great to hear that a good and peaceable group of folks are fans of Dr. Block and his ideas. I had no idea.

  2. Being a libertarian and a Baptist who has studied Amish philosophy, I have noted the two systems of belief frequently align with one another.

  3. iakobos,

    "I have noted the two systems of belief frequently align with one another."

    Could you elaborate on this? Sounds very interesting...