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.
By David Ricardo
Edited by Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M. H. Dobb
David Ricardo was born in London in 1772. His father, a successful stockbroker, introduced him to the Stock Exchange at the formative age of fourteen. During his career in finance, he amassed a personal fortune which allowed him to retire at the age of forty-two. Thereafter, he pursued a political career and further developed his economic ideas and policy proposals. A man of very little formal education, Ricardo arguably became, with the exception of Adam Smith, the most influential political economist of all time.
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.
John Lewis Gaddis reminds us that best minds of the past can illuminate the perennial challenges of politics and grand strategy.
If we cannot trust the state with the care of vulnerable children, why should we trust it with the power to rewrite or erase our history?
An article in the August 9 issue of The Economist, “The Time May Be Right for Land-Value Taxes,” suggests to reconsider the land-value tax advocated by American economist Henry George in his 1879 book Progress and Poverty.
George proposed to tax away the rent on the unimproved value of land, and to replace all other taxes by that single one. The improved value, represented for example by a house or an industrial building, would not be taxed. Presumably, the implicit rent a homeowner earns on the land on which his house stands would be taxed. The receipts from the tax would finance public goods. These goods boost land rents–think about a police station or even a park or a road–and benefit the landowners more than the landless, who have paid wage taxes and other taxes to finance the public goods. In other words, the rent tax would be redistributed to the landless in free public goods.
By the way, the Economist article contains many good illustrations of economic theory. For example, a land tax is capitalized in land values, which decrease by the present value of future tax payments. A Danish government study apparently provided an empirical confirmation (a useful citation would have been appreciated).
A convincing argument exists for taxes on improved land, from the double perspective of economics and ethics.
Before and after my “Capitalism vs. Socialism” Debate with Elizabeth Bruenig, we had quite a while to chat. While I was nonplussed by her case for socialism, she was quite gracious in person. There are probably plenty of socialists like her: Nice people who find capitalism disgusting. Which gets me thinking: If capitalism made my flesh crawl and I knew socialism wasn’t coming anytime soon, how would I cope? What is the best way for a can-do socialist to find socialism in a capitalist world?
Step 1: Live very modestly. Shop at Walmart – or better yet, Aldi’s. Move to a low-cost part of the country. Don’t own a car; just take the bus – or Uber if you must. Get books and DVDs from the library. Buy durables at estate sales; they’re practically giving furniture away. Use a 5-year-old phone. Victims of consumerism may scoff at your frugal lifestyle, but you know that real happiness comes from autonomy and community.
Step 2: Cheat the rat race. If you want to consume lots of luxury products, you’ll probably have to run capitalist rat races for decades. But if you practice personal austerity, you have flexibility. You can take a low-paid full-time job you enjoy. You can take a better-paid part-time job you don’t enjoy. You can run the standard rat race for a 5, 10, or 15 years – then shock your co-workers by retiring. Or any mix thereof.
We normally think of judicial review of legislation as a zero-sum game, but it has unseen benefits.
Philip Hamburger joins us to discuss his new book Liberal Suppression
Brexit is turning out to be a much more complicated affair than both the “remainers” and the “leavers” initially surmised. The hope of an amicable divorce is vanishing. The British Government and the European Commission are edging nearer the precipice of an unwanted and unplanned total break, which neither side really wants, though in the end it could be the best solution. Theresa May, the tottering British Prime Minister, is trying to devise a way of leaving the European Union without actually leaving it. Michel Garnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, wants to send a message to other “exiteers” tempted by the British example, but he also strives to keep Mrs. May in office as the least bad UK negotiator he could wish for. And the clock is ticking: the moment when exit must happen is March 19, 2020, 11 pm (Greenwich Time).
Nearly all of the historical evidence favors a broad, political view of the impeachment power.
While rational expectations is often thought of as a school of economic thought, it is better regarded as a ubiquitous modeling technique used widely throughout economics.
The theory of rational expectations was first proposed by John F. Muth of Indiana University in the early 1960s. He used the term to describe the many economic situations in which the outcome depends partly on what people expect to happen. The price of an agricultural commodity, for example, depends on how many acres farmers plant, which in turn depends on the price farmers expect to realize when they harvest and sell their crops. As another example, the value of a currency and its rate of depreciation depend partly on what people expect that rate of depreciation to be. That is because people rush to desert a currency that they expect to lose value, thereby contributing to its loss in value. Similarly, the price of a stock or bond depends partly on what prospective buyers and sellers believe it will be in the future.
The use of expectations in economic theory is not new. Many earlier economists, including A. C. Pigou, John Maynard Keynes, and John R. Hicks, assigned a central role in the determination of the business cycle to people’s expectations about the future. Keynes referred to this as “waves of optimism and pessimism” that helped determine the level of economic activity. But proponents of the rational expectations theory are more thorough in their analysis of expectations.
JAMES STACEY TAYLOR BUSINESS ETHICS JOURNAL REVIEW 4.7 (2016): 41-46 Abstract: In Markets Without Limits Brennan and Jaworski defend the view that there are “no legitimate worries about what we buy, trade, and sell.” But rather than being a unified defense of this position Brennan and Jaworski unwittingly offer three distinct pro-commodification views—two of which […]
Shakespeares Sonnets, being a Reproduction in Facsimile of the First Edition 1609 from the copy in the Malone Collection in the Bodleian Library with an Introduction and Bibliography by Sidney Lee (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1905).
The Senate is free to process judicial nominations however its members so choose, and mental gymnastics are not required.
Physician David Meltzer of the University of Chicago talks about the power of the doctor-patient relationship with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Meltzer, who also has a Ph.D. in economics, discusses a controlled experiment he has been running to measure the importance of maintaining the continuity of doctor-patient relationships. Meltzer argues that the increasing use of hospitalists–specialists who take over a patient from the patient’s regular doctor once the patient is hospitalized–has raised costs and hurt patients. The initial results from his study show that patients who stay with their doctors have fewer subsequent hospitalizations and have better mental health. The conversation closes with a discussion of the challenges facing the current medical system to adopt cost-saving or life-improving technology or techniques.
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols. Vol. 5.
A long-time friend gave a copy of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s A Torch Kept Well Lit to his daughter, who is in her late 20s. My friend has a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA and is a successful businessman. His wife used to be a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Ideas and books are discussed a lot in their household.
His daughter, who got good grades at a pricey private high school, read the whole thing and, afterwards, said, “Dad, I learned nothing in school.”
Her point was that there was so much about U.S. culture, politics, literature, etc., that she didn’t know and she realized that fact after reading the book.
So I ordered the book and read half of it on a flight from L.A. to Denver last month.
It didn’t have the same effect on me because, of course, I have learned a lot over the years. Nevertheless, the book is excellent. I don’t recommend reading it in one sitting. It’s composed entirely of obituaries that Buckley wrote for politicians, novelists, thinkers, friends, etc. and reading one obit after another can get old. I would recommend a minimum of three sittings punctuated by days.
One of my favorites is the obit of Ronald Reagan. Buckley tells about an event in the spring of 1961. He and his sister-in-law were eating at one end of a restaurant while Ronald and Nancy Reagan were eating at the other end. They hadn’t yet met, but Reagan was to introduce Buckley, who was the speaker. Here’s my favorite paragraph:
He distinguished himself that night—and dismayed Mrs. Reagan—by what he proceeded to do after discovering that the microphone hadn’t been turned on. He had tried, raising his voice, to tell a few stories. But the audience was progressively impatient. Waiting in vain for the superintendent to unlock the door to the tight little office at the other end of the hall, in which the control box lay, he sized up the problem and, having surveyed all possible avenues of approach, climbed out the window at stage level and, one story above the busy traffic below, cat-walked, Cary Grant style, twenty or thirty yards to the window of the control room. This he penetrated by breaking the window with a thrust of his elbow; he climbed in, turned on the light, flipped on the microphone, unlocked the office door, and emerged with that competent relaxed smile of his, which we came to know after Grenada, Libya, Reykjavik, and Moscow; proceeding with the introduction of the speaker. And all that was thirty years before bringing peace in our time!
It probably goes without saying, given my views on foreign policy, that my quoting this does not mean that I agree with what Reagan did with respect to Grenada and Libya.
Young Americans’ submission to the blob-like takeover of everything by digital devices has produced a paradox: the millennials are fear-filled zombies.
The Parallel Bible. The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments translated out of the Original Tongues: being the Authorised Version arranged in parallel columns with the Revised Version (Oxford University Press, 1885). Amos.
Expect to see these questions and lines of attack at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, because senators often use them, regardless of the nominee.
STEVEN B. SMITH AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 7, Number 3 Abstract: This article examines Lincoln’s “Lyceum Speech” with its concern for the “towering genius” in politics against the backdrop of the recent rise of populism and demagoguery. Lincoln’s concern was with a new kind of problem, namely, the appearance of the romantic hero in politics, a […]
This month’s Liberty Matters discusses the work of the Austrian economist Ludwig M. Lachmann (1906 - 1990). All his whole professional life Lachmann considered himself an "Austrian" economist, a soldier dedicated to fostering an appreciation of Austrian insights and to developing those insights beyond the initial contributions of Carl Menger. So Lachmann saw it as his mission to advance among the Austrians a heightened appreciation of the importance of the subjective and autonomous nature of expectations. Lachmann’s most significant contribution to economic theory was to the theory of capital. These contributions can be found in numerous articles in the 1940s, during the LSE period, culminating in his book Capital and its Structure (1956), and in various articles subsequently right up until his death, and also in his final full length work, The Market as an Economic Process (1986). Lachmann’s capital theory is a logical outgrowth of his methodological and epistemological views. In other words, it reflects his thoroughgoing subjectivism. The topic is introduced by Peter Lewin, Clinical Professor in the Jindal School of Management, University of Texas, Dallas, and is joined in the discussion by Hans Eicholz, Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund; Paul Lewis, Reader in Economics and Public Policy at King’s College London; Mario J. Rizzo, professor of economics at NYU, and Bill Tulloh is a cofounder and economist at Agoric.
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The 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).
Freeing localities from federal control appeals to the Left at the moment. Right and Left could make a strategic alliance to foment a decentralist rebellion.
In Chapter XVIII of his Two Books of the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence, Pufendorf makes an argument about the "geometry of moral actions", comparing them to the arc of a circle made by moving radii. In his own words:
And so, also, considered formally and precisely, one good action is not better than another, since, forsooth, nothing can be more right than the right, although, considered materially and on the score of its object, one action is superior to and nobler than another. But, since an evil action declines from the law, it assuredly is at a certain distance from the law, greater or less, from which a sin obtains the character of greater or less degree, as one deviation from a straight line is greater than a second. Now this divergence from the law is like neither length, breadth, nor depth, which can be measured by a straight line; but it resembles a rectilinear angle, whose magnitude is measured by the arc of a circle described from the point of intersection of the two sides as a centre, and intercepted by the aforesaid sides. For, as a rule of law, which, like a straight line, marks out by its course precisely what is to be done, has the character of the first side; so the determination of our will, which is always joined by our conscience to the rule of the law in what resembles the point of an angle, is the other side, which, if the action swerve aside from the law, has a certain angular distance, as it were, from the first side, and by this the degree of bad actions is estimated...
M.J.C. Vile's Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers tells the story of a political tradition largely lost in the west.
I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove…. Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year. [Pars. RP.4-5]> …My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink! [Par. RP.8]> …My “lead” itself?it contains no lead at all?is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth?and the harbor pilots. [Par. RP.13]
From An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.
This volume brings together a series of lectures A. V. Dicey first gave at Harvard Law School on the influence of public opinion in England during the nineteenth century and its impact on legislation. It is an accessible attempt by an Edwardian liberal to make sense of recent British history. In our time, it helps define what it means to be an individualist or liberal. Dicey’s lectures were a reflection of the anxieties felt by turn-of-the-century Benthamite Liberals in the face of Socialist and New Liberal challenges.