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.


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 Choice, Contract, and Constitutions

By James M. Buchanan
Foreword by Robert D. Tollison

Constitutional political economy is the theme of the papers collected in this volume. This entire area of contemporary economic thought is a legacy of James M. Buchanan.


Choice, Contract, and Constitutions

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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.

EconLog November 17, 2017

Taking Comparative Advantage Seriously, by Contributing Guest

by Pierre Lemieux

_ Some geographical conditions can be changed by human entrepreneurship or government intervention. If hothouses have been built with a government subsidy and their cost is sunk, don't they now represent a comparative advantage? _

Arecent Wall Street Journal story reports that the longer growing season of Mexican farmers is seen as a cause of dumping and that a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement may have to compensate for this comparative advantage of Mexico:

American farmers, however, complain that their Mexican rivals enjoy unfair advantages, including low-cost farm labor, state subsidies and a year-round growing season that lets them dump cheap berries on the U.S. market when the two countries' growing seasons overlap in the late spring.

Law & Liberty November 17, 2017

One and a Half Cheers for More Civics Education

Commentators on both left and right advocate renewed emphasis on civics at both the high school and college level. As with everything, the devil is in the details.

First, sure, I think every state should adopt laws similar to Texas

EconLog November 16, 2017

A Vast But Dwindling Reservoir of Nativism, by Bryan Caplan

Tyler Cowen and I have an ongoing dispute about "immigration backlash."  Reading these June Gallup poll results, I'm tempted to hail a "backlash to the backlash."

Though preventing illegal immigration was one of the president's key campaign promises, the general desire to decrease immigration is near its historic low in Gallup's trend over more than half a century.If you look at the numbers, however, they've been quite steady for the last five years.  We're not living in a period of rising hostility to immigration.  We're not living in a period of rising support for immigration.  We're living in a period of stable but relatively high support for immigration.  The numbers speak:

gallupimmig.jpgIf public support for immigration is so high, why has political opposition become so vocal?  Because public support for immigration, though relatively high, remains absolutely low.  And that's all it takes for anti-immigration demagoguery to work.  The real puzzle isn't, "Why did Trump take a strong anti-immigration stand in 2016?" but "Why doesn't every presidential candidate take a strong anti-immigration stand in every election?"  And the obvious solution to this puzzle is elite-on-elite pressure: elites are more cosmopolitan than the masses - and shame fellow elites who dissent.  Trump won by being the sort of elite who treats elite shame as a badge of honor.

Law & Liberty November 16, 2017

The State Farm Case and the Promotion of Deregulation

One of the objectives of people who favor deregulation is to design legal institutions that can promote deregulation.  I have mentioned one such method in prior scholarship: Congress should establish an agency with the mission of identifying regulations that should

EconLog November 16, 2017

How should we evaluate Herbert Hoover?, by Scott Sumner

The Economist recently reviewed a biography of Herbert Hoover:

Why was it that Hoover, hitherto so talented at overcoming crises, was unable to overcome the Great Depression? Perhaps he had come to believe his own propaganda about ordinary people collectively solving problems without government aid. Or maybe the scale of the problem was too great even for someone of Hoover's abilities. Mr Whyte does an excellent job of describing the qualities that brought Hoover his early successes--but provides too little guidance as to why, in the end, he failed his severest test.Hoover is widely regarded as one of the most talented people ever to serve as President of the United States. He was very successful in business, and also in managing complex and difficult relief efforts in Europe (during and after WWI). He was clearly a highly skilled individual.

OLL | Quotations March 10, 2014

Paul Heyne on THE economic way of thinking (1995)

Paul Heyne

Liberty Review November 5, 2017

Marsilius of Padua on Representation

MULIERI, A. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 38, Number 4 Abstract: The concept of representation plays an important role in Marsilius of Padua’s major work, the Defensor Pacis. Yet, with a few notable exceptions,Marsilius’ concept of representation has received relatively little attention among recent scholars. The main purpose of this article is to fill this gap […]

Law & Liberty November 17, 2017

Constitutional Federalism v. National Federalism

On Thursday I spoke at a panel at the Federalist Society’s National Convention  entitled: Is Everyone for Federalism Now? The title is a backhanded tribute to the President.  Finally, he is bringing us together, because he has caused the liberal

OLL November 21, 2011

The Advancement of Learning (Sir Francis Bacon)

Francis BaconThe Advancement of Learning, by Lord Bacon, edited by Joseph Devey, M.A. (New York: P.F. Collier and Son, 1901).

EconTalk November 13, 2017

Anthony Gill on Tipping

tipping.jpg Why does tipping persist? Despite the efforts of some restaurants to stop tipping, it remains a healthy institution and has recently spread to Uber. Political scientist Anthony Gill of the University of Washington talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why tipping persists and what it achieves despite there being no formal way of enforcing this norm.


Time: 1:05:43

Law & Liberty November 17, 2017

Longmire’s Last Ride

Tonight, the sixth and final season of Longmire, the Western series produced by Netflix, begins streaming. Based on Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire mystery novels, the show has earned an intense, devoted following. Originally it was an A&E series, the …

EconLog November 17, 2017

Caplan on Communism, by David Henderson


Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, "socialism" and "communism" were synonyms. Both referred to economic systems in which the government owns the means of production. The two terms diverged in meaning largely as a result of the political theory and practice of Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924).

Like most contemporary socialists, Lenin believed that socialism could not be attained without violent revolution. But no one pursued the logic of revolution as rigorously as he. After deciding that violent revolution would not happen spontaneously, Lenin concluded that it must be engineered by a quasi-military party of professional revolutionaries, which he began and led. After realizing that the revolution would have many opponents, Lenin determined that the best way to quell resistance was with what he frankly called "terror"--mass executions, slave labor, and starvation. After seeing that the majority of his countrymen opposed communism even after his military triumph, Lenin concluded that one-party dictatorship must continue until it enjoyed unshakeable popular support. In the chaos of the last years of World War I, Lenin's tactics proved an effective way to seize and hold power in the former Russian Empire. Socialists who embraced Lenin's methods became known as "communists" and eventually came to power in China, Eastern Europe, North Korea, Indo-China, and elsewhere.

Liberty Review November 9, 2017

‘A Burthen Too Heavy For Humane Sufferance’: Locke on Reputation

STUART-BUTTLE, T. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 38, Number 4 Abstract: Locke emphasized that a concern for reputation powerfully shaped the individual’s conduct. Most scholarship suggests that Locke portrayed this phenomenon in negative terms. This article complicates this picture. A concern for reputation served a constructive role in Locke’s theory of social development, which offered a […]

EconLog November 15, 2017

About That Loss of Health Insurance, by David Henderson

Someone tells you that you have to buy something, and levies a penalty if you don't. So you buy it. Then someone else countermands the first person's order. You no longer have to buy it. So, assuming it's not because the price of what you had to buy rose, you don't buy it. Are you worse off?

Various media outlets have reported on the loss of health insurance that the Congressional Budget Office thinks will come about if Congress gets rid of the mandate that requires individuals to buy health insurance. Estimating the effects of changes in laws is always tricky, of course. What's not tricky is to explain to readers something that many of the reports don't do a good job of.

Are you ready?

Many of the people who will "lose" health insurance if the mandate is repealed are people who want to lose health insurance. That is, according to the CBO, what is causing them to get health insurance now is the mandate. So, by their standards, even if we, observing them paternalistically, might think different, they would be better off.

How many of the millions who lose health insurance are people who want to lose it? We can't tell exactly but we can probably come close.

OLL November 21, 2011

Retrospect of Western Travel, vol. 2 (Harriet Martineau)

Retrospect of Western Travel in Three Vols (London: Saunders and Otley, 1838). Vol. 2.

Liberty Review July 9, 2016

Adam Smith on What Is Wrong with Economic Inequality

DENNIS C. RASMUSSEN AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW 110.2 (2016): 342-352 Abstract: This article explores Adam Smith’s attitude toward economic inequality, as distinct from the problem of poverty, and argues that he regarded it as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, as has often been recognized, Smith saw a high degree of economic inequality as […]

OLL | Quotations March 10, 2014

Lao Tzu and the Tao of laissez-faire (6thC BC)

Lao Tzu

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (1416)

JanuaryWe have selected an appropriate quotation from the works of members of the Scottish Enlightenment to go with the following illustrations from the Très Riches Heures. We have done this because the Très Riches Heuresis a marvellous depiction of many aspects of social and economic life in Europe in the early 15th century and it was a feature of the Scottish Enlightenment to explore how European societies made the transition from a system of peasant agriculture dominated by an aristocratic class to a modern market society in which mass production and the division of labor satisfied the needs of consumers in a voluntary fashion.

OLL | Quotations March 10, 2014

Kant on the natural right to seek happiness in one's own way (1791)

Immanuael Kant

Law & Liberty November 15, 2017

Music, Memory, and the Sound of Sacrifice: A Conversation with Mark Helprin

Acclaimed novelist and foreign policy thinker Mark Helprin returns to Liberty Law Talk to discuss his most recent novel, Paris in the Present Tense.…

OLL November 21, 2011

Rigoletto: An Opera in Four Acts (Giuseppe Verdi)

Metropolitan OperaRigoletto: An Opera in Four Acts, words by Victor Hugo (New York: Fred Rullman, n.d.). Metropolitan Opera House, Grand Opera, Libretto.

Law & Liberty November 16, 2017

Anglifying American Conservatism

When it seemed that conservatism was finally settling into some defined boundaries under the presidency of Donald Trump, however fitfully—into Trump alt-populists, Never Trump former neocons, establishmentarian veterans of the two Bush administrations, expert/reform conservatives, social communitarians, big L libertarians,

Liberty Review November 2, 2017

Democracy before, in, and after Schumpeter

PHILIP PETTIT CRITICAL REVIEW Abstract: The classical model of democracy that Schumpeter criticizes is manufactured out of a variety of earlier ideas, not those of any one thinker or even one school of thought. His critique of the central ideals by which he defines the model—those of the common will and the common good—remains persuasive. People’s […]

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, Vol. 1 (Bernard Mandeville)

Fable of the BeesMandeville is a witty satirist who used a poem to make the profound economic point that “private vices” (or self-interest) lead to “publick benefits” (such as orderly social structures like law, language, and markets).

OLL | Liberty Matters November 1, 2017

Peter Boettke, "Gordon Tullock and the Rational Choice Commitment" (November, 2017)

Liberty MattersThis month's discussion looks at the work of the political economist Gordon Tullock who saw himself very much in the tradition of Mises – a praxeologist who from a methodologically individualistic perspective would study human action across all social arrangements.  Tullock's subject matter was humanity in all settings, and that included not just markets, but non-market settings such as law, politics, and charity.  Along the way he made fundamental contributions to the theory of bureaucracy, constitutional construction, judicial decision-making, voting behavior, lobbying, scientific organization, redistribution, and even sociobiology. The Lead Essay is by Peter J. Boettke, University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, and he is joined by Peter Kurril-Klitgard, Professor of Political Theory and Comparative Politics at the Dept. of Political Science of the University of Copenhagen, David M. Levy, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and Michael Munger, director of the PPE Program at Duke University and professor of political science, economics, and public policy.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".