Liberty Fund

Liberty Fund was founded in 1960 by Pierre F. Goodrich, an Indianapolis lawyer and businessman, to the end that some hopeful contribution may be made to the preservation, restoration, and development of individual liberty through investigation, research, and educational activity.

Books

Great books are the repository of knowledge and experience. Liberty Fund seeks to preserve the wisdom and learning of the ages and to strengthen our understanding and appreciation of individual liberty and responsibility.

For over four decades, Liberty Fund has made available some of the finest books in history, politics, philosophy, law, education, and economics—books of enduring value that have helped to shape ideas and events in man’s quest for liberty, order, and justice.

Featured Book View of the Constitution of the United States

By St. George Tucker
Foreword by Clyde N. Wilson

St. George Tucker’s View of the Constitution, published in 1803, was the first extended, systematic commentary on the United States Constitution after its ratification. Generations learned their Blackstone and their understanding of the Constitution through Tucker.

Details

View of the Constitution of the United States

Discover

These resources are designed to further Liberty Fund’s educational activities. They include classic works in the tradition of limited government, as well as lively current discussions of how classical-liberal principles apply in today’s world.

Law & Liberty July 19, 2019

A Giant Leap, Fifty Years On

The fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11 is a time for honoring that human spirit that drives us to extraordinary achievements previously thought impossible.

Law & Liberty July 19, 2019

Burke and the Nation

Our particular national character, as Burke could see even before American independence, is uniquely oriented by certain principled commitments.

EconLog July 18, 2019

Political issues of the 2020s, by Scott Sumner

Politics is always in a state of flux, with old coalitions dissolving and new coalitions forming. Urban planning is likely to be one of the hot issues of the next decade, which will help to shape this realignment.

Consider the case of Plano, a large affluent suburb of 288,000, north of Dallas.  The city government put together a plan to add high density housing near transit corridors, which is an increasingly popular trend in urban planning.  Texas is known as a pro-development state, and has much lower housing prices than many other major population centers, due to lenient zoning rules. Texas is also a politically conservative state.  Nonetheless, the plan to add to Plano’s housing stock attracted intense opposition.  This 2018 article provides some background analysis:

Looking at the history of accusations, rumors, and disinformation surrounding this fight, the conflict seems more closely connected to clashing visions of American life. Beginning with the Levittown developments after World War II, the American suburb was sold as an ideal of success built on prosperity and homogeneity. But the sense of permanence and security suggested by that ideal was also something of an illusion. The suburban development model, in fact, promoted a cycle of growth that transformed communities into a kind of disposable commodity. Today’s attractive suburb becomes tomorrow’s eroding, challenged community. North Texas’ inner-ring suburbs were once treasured, only to be abandoned for the greener pastures of Plano. Now, just as Carruth once moved from Farmers Branch to Plano, younger families are moving farther out, to towns like Anna and Melissa.

Law & Liberty July 19, 2019

Notes on a New Fusionism

There are too few legal traditionalists to achieve what Merriam wants; this argues for a restorative project that’s conceptual rather than demographic.

OLL December 28, 2011

The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 6 (Introduction, Glossary, and Indexes) (Geoffrey Chaucer)

Chaucer works 6The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.

EconLog July 18, 2019

Somewhere Inside Humanity, by David Henderson

I told Min-Jin that Iain and I met at a concert while in college. I couldn’t figure out how to describe the sounds of the Chemical Brothers. Just then, Min-Jin started singing some Western songs, beginning with “My Heart Will Go On,” by Celine Dion. It seemed that everyone, no matter how isolated their society is, knows the movie Titanic and the song that goes with it.

“Do you know what hip-hop is?” I asked. She looked confused. “It’s like rap music,” I continued.

“Oh, yes!” she replied and jumped up from the couch where she was sprawled out. “Is this rap music?” she asked and began to bounce up and down with her arms spread out. “Yo, yo, yo!” she chanted before keeling over laughing.

Law & Liberty July 18, 2019

The Parallel Democratic Dilemmas of the Court and the Fed

In our era of elite polarization, these institutions may themselves become the very sources of the instability that they seek to temper.

EconLog July 17, 2019

Minimum Wage: A Most Remarkable Belief, by Pierre Lemieux

In a study published earlier this month, “The Effects on Employment and Family Income of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage,” the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that a gradual increase of the federal minimum wage to 15 an hour by 2025 (from the current 7.25) would boost the wages of 17 million workers at the cost of 1.3 million pushed out of employment. (Lower increases in the minimum wage would have similar but reduced effects.) The reaction of Rep. Bobby Scott (D., Va.), as reported by the Wall Street Journal (“15 Minimum Wage Would Bring Mixed Fortunes for U.S. Workers,” July 8, 2019) was typical of what many if not most minimum wage advocates believe:

If you look at the whole report, there’s no question there are significant benefits for a massive number of people that far outweigh whatever the cost might be.

This is a most remarkable belief. It means that the state should purposely intervene to harm some citizens in order to favor others. If the state represents all citizens equally, how could this discrimination be justified?

OLL | Quotations June 29, 2009

Condy Raguet argues that governments cannot create wealth by means of legislation and that individuals are better judges of the best way to use their capital and labor than governments (1835)

Condy Raguet

EconLog July 18, 2019

“España Es Como Una Madre”, by Bryan Caplan

Our most memorable Uber driver in Madrid was a young Pakistani man.  We gave him twenty minutes; he gave us his odyssey.  Too bad I failed to recorded the conversation, because this would have been a great interview to broadcast on Spanish radio.

Our driver’s story: Back in Pakistan, he lived in hunger, so he left home to seek his fortune.  In popular parlance, he became part of the “European migrant crisis.”  He traveled solo, journeying from Pakistan to Iran to Turkey.  Then he zigzagged around the EU, passing through Greece, Romania, Germany, Italy, and France.  Our driver gave few details, but each of these countries treated him badly.  He had to hide from the authorities, and could not legally work.

OLL January 15, 2016

David Hume, "Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth" (1777) (David Hume)

David HumeThe Best of the OLL No. 70: David Hume, “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth” (1777) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2016).

Law & Liberty July 19, 2019

Rangers and Hobbits: Towards Liberal Arts for the Common Good

We must create and inculcate the moral imagination by which we all live.

OLL | Quotations November 4, 2014

Herbert Spencer on the idea that society is a spontaneous growth and not artificially put together (1860)

Herbert Spencer

EconTalk July 15, 2019

Michael Brendan Dougherty on My Father Left Me Ireland

Father-Left-Ireland-198x300.jpg Author and journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty talks about his book My Father Left Me Ireland with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dougherty talks about the role of cultural and national roots in our lives and the challenges of cultural freedom in America. What makes us feel part of something? Do you feel American or just someone […]

AdamSmithWorks July 16, 2019

TMS Reading Guide: Part I, Section II

OLL March 2, 2016

Author Guide: Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) (OLL Editor)

Ludwig von MisesAuthor Guide: Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2015).

Law & Liberty July 17, 2019

Inheriting the Wind, or Reaping the Whirlwind?

Almost all of the “conventional wisdom” concerning the Scopes trial is false and was manufactured to meet the needs of the new provincialism.

OLL | Liberty Matters July 1, 2019

Phillip W. Magness, “William Leggett: Free Trade, Hard Money, and Abolitionism” (July, 2019)

Liberty MattersThe American political journalist William Leggett (1801-1839) had a short but productive period of activity between 1834-39 when he became famous, even notorious, for his opposition to slavery, tariffs, a state privileged National Bank, and government intervention in the economy to benefit special interests (like bankers, industrialists, and slave owners). Leggett's position of consistent opposition to the state interfering in the economic affairs of individuals is one that does not sit well with the new school of economic historians of "capitalism" who argue that slavery and capitalism were joined at the hip and were "symbiotic". In this discussion Phil Magness, senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, argues that it is Leggett who is the consistent one and the advocates of the "New History of Capitalism" are the ones who are confused and do not seem to know about this "broader liberal political tradition" of which Leggett was a member. He is joined in the discussion by Anthony Comegna, from the Institute for Humane Studies, Brian Schoen, associate professor of history at Ohio University, and Lawrence H. White, professor of economics at George Mason University.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

Law & Liberty July 17, 2019

Is There “Equality” in the Equality Act?

The Equality Act removes protections for people who have deeply held religious beliefs that conflict with homosexual behavior.

Liberty Forum July 1, 2019

Is Legal Conservatism as Accomplished as It Thinks It Is?

If the demolition from the 2016 wrecking ball does not create this change in the legal world, I think it is safe to say the next populist uprising will.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books December 27, 2011

Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, in 4 vols. (LF ed.) (Ludwig von Mises)

Mises human actionIn the foreword to Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Mises explains complex market phenomena as “the outcomes of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each of whom was trying as best as he or she could under the circumstances to attain various wants and ends and to avoid undesired consequences.” It is individual choices in response to personal subjective value judgments that ultimately determine market phenomena—supply and demand, prices, the pattern of production, and even profits and losses. Although governments may presume to set “prices,” it is individuals who, by their actions and choices through competitive bidding for money, products, and services, actually determine “prices”. Thus, Mises presents economics—not as a study of material goods, services, and products—but as a study of human actions. He sees the science of human action, praxeology, as a science of reason and logic, which recognizes a regularity in the sequence and interrelationships among market phenomena. Mises defends the methodology of praxeology against the criticisms of Marxists, socialists, positivists, and mathematical statisticians. Mises attributes the tremendous technological progress and the consequent increase in wealth and general welfare in the last two centuries to the introduction of liberal government policies based on free-market economic teachings, creating an economic and political environment which permits individuals to pursue their respective goals in freedom and peace. Mises also explains the futility and counter-productiveness of government attempts to regulate, control, and equalize all people’s circumstances: “Men are born unequal and … it is precisely their inequality that generates social cooperation and civilization.”

OLL | Quotations March 11, 2014

Adam Smith on the “liberal system” of free trade (1776)

Adam Smith

AdamSmithWorks August 8, 2018

The Wealth of Nations: Book IV, Chapter I

Of the Principle of the Commercial or Mercantile System

OLL November 13, 2018

Universal Economics (Armen A. Alchian)

Universal.EconomicsUniversal Economics. Edited by Jerry L. Jordan. Foreword by William R. Allen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2018).

CEE February 5, 2018

Human Capital

CEE human capitalTo most people, capital means a bank account, a hundred shares of IBM stock, assembly lines, or steel plants in the Chicago area. These are all forms of capital in the sense that they are assets that yield income and other useful outputs over long periods of time.

But such tangible forms of capital are not the only type of capital. Schooling, a computer training course, expenditures on medical care, and lectures on the virtues of punctuality and honesty are also capital. That is because they raise earnings, improve health, or add to a person’s good habits over much of his lifetime. Therefore, economists regard expenditures on education, training, medical care, and so on as investments in human capital. They are called human capital because people cannot be separated from their knowledge, skills, health, or values in the way they can be separated from their financial and physical assets.

Education, training, and health are the most important investments in human capital. Many studies have shown that high school and college education in the United States greatly raise a person’s income, even after netting out direct and indirect costs of schooling, and even after adjusting for the fact that people with more education tend to have higher IQs and better-educated, richer parents. Similar evidence covering many years is now available from more than a hundred countries with different cultures and economic systems. The earnings of more-educated people are almost always well above average, although the gains are generally larger in less-developed countries.

Econlib June 1, 2018

Scarcity

Introduction

In economics, scarcity refers to limitations–limited goods or services, limited time, or limited abilities to achieve the desired ends. Life would be so much easier if everything were free! Why can’t I get what I want when I want it? Why does everything cost so much and take so much effort? Can’t the government, or at least the college or local town, or if not that, my parents just give it to me–or at least make a law so that if I want to buy pizza, there is a pizza shop nearby that has to sell me pizza at a dollar a slice?

That you can’t have everything you want the moment you want it is a fact of life. Figuring out how individuals, families, communities, and countries might best handle this to their benefit is fundamental to what economics is about.

You are probably used to thinking of natural resources such as titanium, oil, coal, gold, and diamonds as scarce. In fact, they are sometimes called “scarce resources” just to re-emphasize their limited availability. Everyone agrees natural resources are scarce because they take a lot of effort, money, time, or other resources to get, or because there seems to be a finite amount available.

Law & Liberty July 18, 2019

The Plot to Undermine the Electoral College

The National Popular Vote compact is a poor alternative to the Electoral College and is manifestly unconstitutional. 

OLL | Images of Liberty April 13, 2016

Adam Smith and J.B. Say on the Division of Labour

Pin FactoryAdam Smith and the Pin-Maker; J.B. Say and the Playing Card Manufacturer

One of the most famous stories in economics is Adam Smith's story of the pin-maker. It has been repeated endlessly by other economists as it encapsulates quite nicely one of the key insights of economic analysis, namely the benefits of the division of labor. It would have to rank alongside Frédéric Bastiat's story of the broken window in popularity. The purpose of the story is to illustrate how much greater output could be achieved if numerous workers cooperated by taking one small task each in building a complex good like a pin or a nail. Adam Smith developed his ideas about the division of labour in the 1760s and 1770 as he was giving lectures and writing the Wealth of Nations (1776). At the same time Denis Diderot in France was compiling the famous Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers which appeared between 1751 and 1772. The articles in the Encyclopédie were accompanied by beautifully drawn illustrations, such as the ones we include below of a pin factory. Members of both the Scottish and French enlightenments were facsinated by the opportunities offered by technological and economic change in such things as seemingly "very trifling" as the making of a pin.

OLL | Quotations May 19, 2014

Tocqueville on Centralised Government in Canada and Decentralised Government in America (1856)

Tocqueville

OLL December 28, 2011

The Divine Comedy, vol. 3 (Paradiso) (Bilingual edition) (Dante Alighieri)

divine.comedy.ParadisoThe Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. The Italian Text with a Translation in English Blank Verse and a Commentary by Courtney Langdon, Vol. 3 Paradiso (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1921).

Liberty Law Talk July 17, 2019

Liberalism as Armed Doctrine: A Conversation with Philip Hamburger

Philip Hamburger joins us to discuss his new book Liberal Suppression

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