Walter Block, a Columbia University educated philosopher in economics (Ph.D. 1972) and the Harold E. Wirth eminent Scholar Chair in Economics at Loyola University New Orleans, is a leading Austrian School economist in the USA and an international titan of freedom movements. His earliest work, Defending the Undefendable (first edition Fleet 1976, latest edition Mises 2008, translated in 12 languages) is now, more than 30 years later, regarded as an overlooked classic on libertarianism. This collection of essays, which argues for societal villains as economic scapegoats based on the principles of non-aggression, forces its reader to think and to rethink his or her initial knee-jerk emotional responses, and to gain a new and far sounder appreciation of economic theory and of the virtues and operations of the free market economy.
Block’s writing was inspired by his most admired writer and author, Henry Hazlitt, whom he dubbed as an equivalent of a Mozart or a Bach. In his Introduction to the Mises Institute Press’ 2008 edition of the most widely read economic text, Economics in One Lesson, by Hazlitt (first published by Harper & Brothers in 1946), he deemed this classic work as a book for the ages.
Block has been a fixture in the libertarian movement for over three decades and is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. His contributions to academic libertarianism and to Austrian economics have been prodigious. He delivers seminars around the world and is frequently interviewed by key media (refereed journals, non-refereed magazines, radio, film and TV) in the US, Canada, and Europe.
Like Hazlitt, Block’s thought process has the intellectual elegance of Mozart, the well-tempered logic of Bach, plus the uncontainable passion of Beethoven. His writings continue to challenge the conventional wisdom (or ignorance) of how economics works and will retain its freshness for decades to come.
Walter Block’s remarkable new treatise on private roads, will cause you to rethink the whole of the way modern transportation networks operate. It is bold, innovative, radical, compelling, and shows how free-market economic theory is the clarifying lens through which to see the failures of the state & see the alternative that is consistent with human liberty.
He shows that even the worst, off-the-cuff scenario of life under private ownership of roads would be fantastic by comparison to the existing reality of government-ownership.
That is only the beginning of what Block has done. He has made a lengthy, detailed, and positive case that the privatization of roads would be socially optimal in every way. It would save lives, curtail pollution, save us (as individuals!) money, save us massive time, introduce accountability, & make transportation a pleasure instead of a pain in the neck.
Because this is the first-ever complete book on this topic, the length & detail are necessary. He shows that this is not some libertarian pipe-dream but the most practical application of free-market logic. Block is dealing with something that confronts us everyday. And in so doing, he illustrates the power of economic theory to take an existing set of facts and help you see them in a completely different way.
What’s also nice is that the prose has great passion about it, despite the great scholarly detail. He loves answering the objections (aren’t roads public goods? Aren’t roads too expensive to build privately?) and making the case, fully aware that he has to overcome a deep and persistent bias in favor of public ownership. The writer burns with a moral passion on the subjects of highway deaths and pollution issues. His “Open Letter to Mothers Against Drunk Driving” is a thrill to read!
The book comes together as a battle plan against government roads and a complete roadmap for a future of private transportation.