Dr. Walter Edward Block is an American Austrian School economist and anarcho-capitalist theorist, who currently holds the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Economics at the J. A. Butt School of Business at Loyola University, New Orleans. In his book, Defending the Undefendable, Dr. Block gives detailed scenarios to defend crimes that have been condemned in our world through the use of economic principles. Along with defending these crimes, he clearly explains basic economic principles that apply to our daily lives. Out of the various economic terms he discussed, there are three which are outstanding and they include; free market, property rights, and importation. I believe Dr. Block fulfilled his aim by giving a clear and detailed explanation about different condemned acts with the use of economic principles.
In his book, Dr. Block described the free market as an economic arrangement which consists of many buyers and sellers who depend on the invisible hands of demand and supply to determine the price of goods sold. Dr. Block relates this economic situation to prostitution which is condemned. Dr. Block justifies prostitution by saying it is not wrong if both participants freely agree to be involved in the transaction. Although it is viewed as immoral, Dr. Block was of the opinion that if both parties give their absolute consent, it is alright because both parties made their decision. In my opinion, he advocates that the individuals, not the act should be condemned. He also mentions that participants have the right to leave the agreement if they feel they are not receiving adequate satisfaction from the transaction. This connects with the free market economy because buyers and sellers have free entry and exit at any time. He fulfilled his aim because he was able to justify prostitution, and also bring light to the free market principle which is applied in our daily lives.
Another act Dr. Block addressed was that of a curmudgeon, which refers to a bad-tempered person. The curmudgeon in this book is referred to a person who owns and lives in the most decrepit tenement in the block. This person is fond of his building that he refuses to sell it no matter how much he is offered. People around him label him a staunch human barrier to social progress. Dr. Block’s ideas serve as a voice for those who have been ridiculed and insulted for overreacting over issues they face in life. He opposes the people’s opinion because he believes the curmudgeon is not wrong. He uses the principle of property rights as a justification for the curmudgeon’s behavior. The property rights give the curmudgeon the right to choose how and what should be done to his property. From my point of view, I think many people are ignorant of the essence of property rights, but Dr. Block was able to use it to justify the curmudgeon’s behavior.
Furthermore, Dr. Block talked about the importer, who is seen as an intruder in the economy of different countries. The importer is seen as an intruder because people believe he takes away jobs from the citizens of a country. In order to prove that the importer is beneficial to the society, Dr. Block created a picture where no countries traded with each other. He explained that goods will be homogenous, and people’s needs will not be fully met because of countries will only have goods they can produce. For example, if Nigeria produces cotton without trading with other countries, all Nigeria will have is cotton. On the contrary, if countries trade with one another, there will be a variety of goods because different countries have various goods. Countries will experience gains of trade which implies that countries would possess different goods and production of goods will be cheaper since countries have to focus on producing goods that have lower opportunity costs. Opportunity costs here implies that countries would produce more goods at lower costs. I believe through this explanation, Dr. Block was able to highlight the importance of the importer, who had been seen as an intruder.
Around the world today, a lot of acts are condemned like prostitution, theft and so on. Unknown to us, our daily activities could be related to these acts and the only difference is the way these acts are viewed morally. For example, when we bargain for a product at a price far less than its value, we are cheating the seller, but we do not see it as such. Dr. Block did a great job highlighting these acts and justifying them through the use of economic principles. Reading this book made me understand that these crimes are carried out based on individual decisions, and mindsets. Although Dr. Block did an excellent job with the explanation and justification of these acts, it was slightly difficult for me to follow the ideas in the book because of the numerous economic principles discussed in the book.