Ask a Libertarian

Ask a Libertarian Lightning Round 2: Schumpeter, Eminent Domain, Students for Liberty


Welcome to Ask a Libertarian with Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. They are the authors of the new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America.

Go to to purchase, read reviews, find event dates, and more.

On June 15, 2011 Gillespie and Welch used short, rapid-fire videos to answer dozens of reader questions submitted via email, Twitter, Facebook, and In this episode, they answer the questions:

Jesse Walker:
"In the opening bath of faces, who's the fellow next to Mises with the prominent chin?"

Jonathan Cantin:
"Anarchy or Minarchy? Austrian School or Chicago School?"

"In all seriousness, what ought to be the first concrete policy priority of a libertarian-leaning administration (were that even possible), given the present political circumstances and considerable restraints?"

"Since Social Security is a failing pyramid scheme, why can't a congressman say so without getting grief?"

Troy Combs: 
"Is an act of eminent domain ever justified by a government at any level?"

"Why should anyone vote?"

Jeremy Sands: 
"Who will assume Ron Paul's place in the future?"

For the complete series, go to and's YouTube Channel at

Produced by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein, Josh Swain, with help from Katie Hooks, Kyle Blaine and Jack Gillespie.


NEXT: Ask a Libertarian! What about health care?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Whoa whoa whoa! You skipped over The Jacket questions!

  2. Schumpter? Who the hell is Schumpter?

    1. Yeah, you’d think they’d have spell-check or something.

  3. How much would I have to donate to the Reason Foundation to get lunch with Katherine?

  4. Also, I don’t know what Gillespie was talking about with respect to Star Trek III, but it completely invalidated everything else said in this segment. By either authors.

  5. I’m having a real hard time imagining Nick in Oxford, OH.
    P. J. O’Rourke in the ’70s I can see, but Nick in the early 21st century?
    That burg is full of whiny libs.

  6. “It’s in the Constitution. As long as it’s for an actual public use and the owner is compensated properly.” That’s a very poor answer for supporting eminent domain.

    1) That it’s in the constitution doesn’t make it justified. Counting slaves as 3/5 of a person wasn’t justified when that was in the constitution.

    2) It’s that?? same exact answer that people use to support Social Security, Government mandated health insurance, and all the other interventions libertarians are so ardently against.

    If property rights are conditional, then who sets the standards?

  7. Otherwise, this is a fun series I’m glad you guys did this!

  8. I’d like to know who the woman in the hat is. Is that Eleanor Roosevelt?

    1. rose wilder lane. Way prettier than Eleanor Roosevelt; also less statist.

  9. Thank you gentlemen… I feel honored to be a part of the Q & A, even if I realize that I am excessively wordy and verbose in my questions.

    It really is appreciated.

  10. * Lightning
    * Schumpeter

  11. Eminent domain is not in the Constitution–not as an enumerated power. The Fifth Amendment says “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This is a limit on state power, not a grant. You might say that this implies there is a power to take–otherwise why have the limit?–but (a) there are other limits in the Bill of Rights, such as prohibitions on establishing a religion or censoring freedom of speech or the press, but these prohibitions do not imply that there is a federal POWER to censor speech or establish an official religion, as the Ninth Amendment emphasizes. The Fifth amendment was part of the Bill of Rights added in 1791, two years after the Consitutiton was enacted, and provides further/extra limits on federal power, it does not grant any power to the feds. So you have to find an enumerated power for the feds to have eminent domain elsewhere–and it’s not in there.

    States, of course, do have this power since they are governments of general or plenary power, but the feds do not. And the limits on federal power in the fifth amendment do not apply to the states (though the federal courts now claim that they do). Consider: the 5th Amendment has a due process provision. The 14th amendment prevents states from limiting privileges or immunities of citizens. Centralist libertarians say that this P-I clause applies the fundamental rights in the Bill of Rihgts against the States. But if so, why does the 14th Amendment also explicitly apply a Due Process provision to the States? It’s already in the 5th amendment, so if the P-I clause incorporates the 5th amendment, you would not need to separaetly list Due Process in the 14th, it would already be included in the P-I clause’s incorporation of the 5th. So it is implausible to say the bill of rights applied to the states before OR after the 14th amendment.

    So the 5th amendment does not grant the feds power to engage in eminent domain, and it does not limit states’ power to engage in eminent domain.

  12. You misspelled “Schumpeter” in the title.

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