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.

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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 Envy

By Helmut Schoeck

This classic study is one of the few books to explore extensively the many facets of envy—“a drive which lies at the core of man’s life as a social being.” Ranging widely over literature, philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences, Professor Schoeck— a distinguished sociologist and anthropologist—elucidates both the constructive and destructive consequences of envy in social life. Perhaps most important, he demonstrates that not only the impetus toward a totalitarian regime but also the egalitarian impulse in democratic societies are alike in being rooted in envy.




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.

EconTalk December 10, 2018

Peter Berkowitz on Locke, Liberty, and Liberalism

Acropolis.jpg Peter Berkowitz of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of liberalism and the importance of John Locke. Berkowitz defends the liberal project of individual rights and liberty and argues that critics of Locke mischaracterize his thought. The conversation closes with an evaluation of the Enlightenment.

AdamSmithWorks August 9, 2018

The Theory of Moral Sentiments: Part III, Chapter III

Of the Influence and Authority of Conscience

Law & Liberty December 10, 2018

Paris Is Burning

The present upheaval engulfing France reflects far deeper and unresolved tensions within.

Liberty Review December 10, 2018

The age of mass migration in Latin America

BLANCA SÁNCHEZ‐ALONSO THE ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW Abstract: The experiences of Latin American countries are not fully incorporated into current debates concerning the age of mass migration, even though 13 million Europeans migrated to the region between 1870 and 1930. This survey draws together different aspects of the Latin America immigration experience. Its main objective is to […]

EconLog December 9, 2018

John Stossel Returns to His Roots, by David Henderson

Long before he became a libertarian, John Stossel was a consumer reporter on the ABC News. His specialty was reporting on seedy companies. That’s what won him a lot of Emmies.

Now John has returned to his roots, reporting on a seedy company or, more correctly, a company that occasionally engages in seedy behavior, named Google. The difference this time: he doesn’t advocate regulating the firm to change its bad behavior. Instead, he reports on its bad behavior and calls it creepy. And guess what? It has already worked. John had a YouTube video showing that socialism is violent. Google, which owns YouTube, judged that it was a bad idea to show young people that socialism is violent and so Google restricted it to adults. After John reported on it, Google relented.

One caveat: John refers to what Google did as censorship. It’s not censorship. It may be creepy, as John claims, but its actions are not censorship.

OLL | Quotations March 10, 2014

Thomas Gordon asks whether tyranny is worse than anarchy (1728)

Law & Liberty December 10, 2018

Paying the Piper May Not Justify Calling the Tune

Why do we accept the idea that the federal government can expansively regulate every aspect of the institutions they help fund?

EconLog December 8, 2018

Branko Milonavic’s Confusion on Inequality, by David Henderson

Branko Milonavic is one of the most prominent writers on economic inequality. So when he wrote a recent article on why he cares about inequality, I looked forward to reading it so that I would understand better why he cares. Disclosure: As long as pretty much everyone is doing better economically, I don’t care about inequality.

Milonavic starts by correctly expressing the view of people like me that I stated directly above:

The argument why inequality should not matter is almost always couched in the following way: if everybody is getting better-off, why should we care if somebody is becoming extremely rich?

So then why does it matter to him? He goes on to say why, and I recommend that you read the whole thing. He sees a conflict between inequality and growth. But then he writes a paragraph that surprised me:

Why would inequality have [a] bad effect on the growth of the lower deciles of the distribution as Roy and I find? Because it leads to low educational (and even health) achievements among the poor who become excluded from meaningful jobs and from meaningful contributions they could make to their own and society’s improvement. Excluding a certain group of people from good education, be it because of their insufficient income or gender or race, can never be good for the economy, or at least it can never be preferable to their inclusion.

OLL March 20, 2012

Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 1 (Alexis de Tocqueville)

Tocqueville.memoir.lettersMemoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville. Translated from the French by the translator of Napoleon’s Correspondence with King Joseph. With large Additions. In Two Volumes (London: Macamillan, 1861). Vol. 1.

OLL | Quotations October 3, 2007

Frédéric Bastiat and the state as "la grande fiction à travers laquelle Tout Le Monde s'efforce de vivre aux dépens de Tout Le Monde (1848)


Law & Liberty December 10, 2018

Spinning Tales about the “Intelligence Cycle”

Sound intelligence about our adversaries is hard to come by—including in this book.

OLL | Liberty Matters November 30, 2018

Alberto Mingardi, “Liberty and Cynicism: Was Vilfredo Pareto a Liberal?” (November, 2018)

Liberty MattersAlberto Mingardi, an assistant professor of the history of political thought at IULM University in Milan, Italy and director general of the free-market think tank Istituto Bruno Leoni, asks if Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) should belong in the history of classical liberalism? His answer is that Pareto’s drastic political realism—his ambition to look at politics for what it is—is not incompatible with a classical-liberal worldview, but it is incompatible with a classical-liberal program. He is joined in this discussion by Giandomenica Becchio, an assistant professor at the University of Torino; Rosolino Candela, a Senior Fellow with the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; and Richard E. Wagner is Holbert Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University.

OLL April 22, 2013

Philosophical View of Reform (1820) (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Shelley.philosophical.reformPercy Bysshe Shelley, A Philosophical View of Reform (1820), ed. T.W. Rolleston (Oxford University Press, 1920).

EconLog December 9, 2018

Parmesan cheese and Sunbucks Coffee, by Scott Sumner

What are we to make of firms that sell products under name that misleads consumers? Consider an American firm selling “Parmesan” cheese that is actually made is Wisconsin, or a Chinese firm selling “Sunbucks Coffee” using a non-Starbucks recipe?

I see good arguments both ways.  On the one hand, actual Parmesan cheese and actual Starbucks coffee are likely (albeit not certainly) better than the counterfeit version.  On the other hand, how much harm does counterfeiting actually do?  I’d guess that 90% of cheese eaters know that Parmesan cheese often comes from places other than Parma, and most probably don’t care.  I’d also guess that 90% of the (relatively sophisticated) Chinese who pay 4 for a cup of coffee know the difference between Starbucks and Sunbucks.  Sunbucks may simply be signaling that they provide a coffee experience that’s almost equal to Starbucks, at a bit lower price.  So I doubt that these sorts of IP infringement cause much of a problem.

OLL | Quotations December 18, 2011

Sven Forkbeard and new Yuletide Taxes (11thC)

CEE February 4, 2018

Brand Names

CEE.brandConsumers pay a higher price for brand-name products than for products that do not carry an established brand name. Because this involves paying extra for what some!---- consider an identical product that merely has been advertised and promoted, brand names may appear to be economically wasteful. This argument was behind the decision to eliminate all brand names on goods produced in the Soviet Union immediately after the 1917 Communist revolution. The problems this experiment caused—problems described by economist Marshall Goldman—suggest that brand names serve an important economic function.

When the producers of products are not identified with brand names, a crucial element of the market mechanism cannot operate because consumers cannot use their past experience to know which products to buy and which not to buy. In particular, consumers can neither punish companies that supply low-quality products by stopping their purchases nor reward companies that supply high-quality products by increasing their purchases. Thus, when all brand names, including factory production marks, were eliminated in the Soviet Union, unidentified producers manufacturing indistinguishable products each had an incentive to supply lower-quality goods. And the inability to punish these producers created significant problems for consumers.

OLL | Quotations July 12, 2010

Georg Jellinek argues that Lafayette was one of the driving forces behind the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)

George Jellinek

OLL July 9, 2013

“The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” (1789) (Georg Jellinek)

declaration.rights.droitsThe Best of the OLL No. 49: “The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” (1789) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2013).

Econlib December 3, 2018

Markets without Friction

“If you want to know why at present we own rather than share, the answer is transaction costs. And that is all going to change.” —Michael C. Munger, Tomorrow 3.0: Transaction Costs and the Sharing Economy

In his most recent book, Mike Munger sees Airbnb and Uber as portents of a future in which reduced transaction costs will allow us to make more efficient use of durable goods. In the process, Munger offers other important lessons in economics. His thesis also leads one to worry about the implications for liberty in a society where individuals own less and share more.

OLL | Quotations February 10, 2012

Tocqueville on the 1848 Revolution in Paris (1851)


OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Lilburne quoting Coke on English Liberties at his treason trial (1649)


John Lilburne reading from Coke's Institutes at his Treason Trial (1649)

Image Source

From The Triall of Lieut. Collonell J. Lilburne by an extraordinary Commission of Oyear and Terminer, at the Guildhall of London, the 24, 25, 26 of Octob. 1649 Unto which is annexed a necessary Appendix, Published by Theodorus Verax (Southwark, 164).

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

The French Revolution, vol. 1 (Hippolyte Taine)

TaineFrenchRevThe 1st volume of Hippolyte Taine’s 3 volume history of the French Revolution which is part of his 5 part history of modern France, The Origins of Contemporary France, in 6 volumes. They are The Old Regime (1875); The Revolution, vol. 1 Anarchy (1878); The Revolution, vol. 2 The Jacobin Conquest (1881); The Revolution, vol. 3 The Revolutionary Government (1883); and The Modern Regime, in 2 volumes (1890-93).

OLL November 21, 2011

The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. 4 (Representative Men) (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Emerson.representative.menThe Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in 12 vols. Fireside Edition (Boston and New York, 1909). Vol. 4 Representative Men.

Econlib June 1, 2018

Roles of Government


Definitions and Basics

Public Goods and Externalities, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Most economic arguments for government intervention are based on the idea that the marketplace cannot provide public goods or handle externalities. Public health and welfare programs, education, roads, research and development, national and domestic security, and a clean environment all have been labeled public goods.

Public goods have two distinct aspects—”nonexcludability” and “nonrivalrous consumption.” Nonexcludability means that nonpayers cannot be excluded from the benefits of the good or service. If an entrepreneur stages a fireworks show, for example, people can watch the show from their windows or backyards. Because the entrepreneur cannot charge a fee for consumption, the fireworks show may go unproduced, even if demand for the show is strong….

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