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 The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian

By Armen A. Alchian
Edited and with an Introduction by Daniel K. Benjamin

Liberty Fund is proud to present, in two volumes, The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian, bringing together Alchian’s most influential essays, articles, editorials, and lectures to provide a comprehensive record of his thinking on a broad range of topics in economics.

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The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian

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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.

Law & Liberty July 27, 2017

A Right-Left Fusion Agenda on Zoning & Occupational Licensing

Both political right and political left increasingly share a common cause critical of occupational licensing and residential zoning. Signs portend the possibility of a left-right coalition to reform these state- and local-level policies. But bitter national-level polarization would need to

OLL | Quotations March 8, 2009

Frédéric Bastiat on the state as the great fiction by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else (1848)

Bastiat

Law & Liberty July 27, 2017

Democratic Accountability and the Economy

Ray Fair, a fine Yale economist, has the best economic model for predicting the outcome of presidential and congressional elections.  The model has the virtue of simplicity, weighting incumbency, length of time a party holds the Presidency, and  news about

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Bach, Music, and Liberty

Among the names engraved on the limestone walls of the Luther's Hymns and Bach's Chorals. We exhibit here some of the melodies from those works.

Bach, Music, and Liberty 1A moving hymn by Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, was put to Johann Sebastian Bach. The themes of faith and freedom have spoken powerfully to Protestants ever since:

A stronghold sure our God remains,
A shield and hope unfailing;
In need His help our freedom gains,
'er all we fear prevailing.
Our old malignant foe
Would fain work us woe.
With craft and great might
He doth against us fight;
On earth is not one like him.

Bach, Music, and Liberty 2This score at the left is from The Hymns of Martin Luther.

Liberty Review July 26, 2017

Taxation in the Liberal Tradition

ROBERT A. LAWSON, J.R. CLARK THE REVIEW OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS Abstract: In this essay, we argue that liberal economists should take more seriously the problems of public goods and externalities as well as the capacity of taxation and state action to improve human welfare. While taking seriously the public choice concerns about how the political process […]

EconLog July 27, 2017

Friedman, Galbraith, and Wright on American Capitalism, by David Henderson

"Capitalism" has become a fighting word in the battle between East and West and for men's minds everywhere; and, like all slogans, it means many things to many men. To some "capitalism" is a term of opprobrium, signifying the oppression of little men by ruthless monopolies; to others "capitalism" is a term of hope, signifying the freedom of men to shape their own economic destinies, the unleashing of human ingenuity and energy to raise the standard of living of the masses. To all, American capitalism is a symbol of economic strength and power, of unprecedented wealth and productivity, the strength which is the hope of our friends and the despair of our enemies.So begins Milton Friedman in a June 28, 1953 discussion on NBC radio titled "What Is American Capitalism?" At the time, Friedman was a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. The other two participants were John Kenneth Galbraith, a professor of economics at Harvard University and David McCord Wright, a professor of economics at the University of Virginia Law School. It was either the late Gordon Tullock, in a conversation in 1971, or the late Ben Rogge, in a conversation in 1969, who told me that Wright was a rare bird: a conservative Keynesian. That is, he believed in countercyclical fiscal policy but not in a large government.

Law & Liberty July 27, 2017

Americans with Disabilities Act: An Epic Tragedy of Good Intentions

Looking back at the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed by Congress in 1990[1], one has to be struck by the extent to which the ADA’s lofty sentiments have been overwhelmed by its adverse results. If it’s true that the

OLL | Quotations September 20, 2009

Charles Darwin on life as a spontaneous order which emerged by the operation of natural laws (1859)

Darwin

EconLog July 25, 2017

Do you really want to include capital gains?, by Scott Sumner

I frequently argue that income is a meaningless concept, as it includes capital gains (and losses) in asset values. Indeed the problem is even more basic, as income mixes labor income and all investment income, which is like adding apples and oranges. No, it's even worse, like adding strawberries and watermelons, and talking about the number of "fruit".

Because income is a meaningless concept, income inequality is also meaningless. But let's say I'm wrong, and let's assume that capital income actually measures something interesting. What then? In that case, the income of the top quintile would almost certainly be highly cyclical. Consider the following graph, showing the total stock market capitalization in the US:

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 9.00.53 AM.png
Notice that stock market capitalization fell by 23.4% of GDP between 2001 and 2002, and by 44.5% of GDP between 2007 and 2009. What happens when stock market capitalization falls by nearly a quarter?

Let's consider the top quintile of the population, which owns the vast majority of stocks. Capital losses of 23% of GDP would sharply cut into their income from other sources. The top quintile earns about 55% of total income, or 43% after taxes and transfers. If the income inequality data were accurate, it should show a huge drop in the share of income earned by the top quintile, any time the stock market crashed. But we don't see that---income shares are pretty stable from year to year.

Liberty Review July 24, 2017

Libertarianism and Basic-Income Guarantee: Friends or Foes?

JUAN RAMÓN RALLO JOURNAL OF BUSINESS ETHICS Abstract: The Basic-Income Guarantee is a governmental programme of income redistribution that enjoys an increasing predicament among academic and political circles. Traditionally, the philosophical defence for this programme has been articulated from the standpoint of social liberalism, republicanism, or communism. Recently, however, libertarian philosopher Matt Zwolinski also tried to […]

OLL November 21, 2011

The Texts of Taoism, Part I (Lao Tzu)

The Sacred Books of China. The Texts of Taoism. Part I: The Tao Teh King. The Writings of Kwang Ze Books I-XVII, trans. James Legge (Oxford University Press, 1891).

Law & Liberty July 27, 2017

Can the President Pardon Himself?

Recently, the question whether the President can pardon himself has been in the news.  I have always found that to be a difficult question.  But unfortunately the framing of the question these days often leads people to misunderstand the issue. …

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 4 (Alexis de Tocqueville)

A new 4 volume edition of Tocqueville’s classic text De la Démocratie en Amérique. The original was published in two large volumes, the first in 1835, the second in 1840. The first volume focused primarily on political society; the second, on civil society. The online version of Liberty Fund’s edition contains only the English translation of the French critical edition. Vol. 4 contains Parts III and IV and numerous appendices.

OLL | Liberty Matters July 5, 2017

Matt Zwolinski, "William Graham Sumner – Liberty's Forgotten Man" (July 2017)

Liberty Matters History has not been kind to the legacy of William Graham Sumner. In his time (1840-1910), Sumner was one of the most prestigious and widely read libertarian intellectuals in the United States. Beyond his more technical academic work Sumner also wrote passionately and voluminously in defense of laissez faireon a wide range of social issues. His popular critique of protectionism, "The –ism Which Teaches that Waste Makes Wealth" (1885) and his denunciation of imperialism in "The Conquest of the United States by Spain" (1898) are two of his most impressive polemical works. Sumner's most sustained investigation of questions of economic policy and distributive justice appeared in a collection essays What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1883) which includes his most famous single essay – "The Forgotten Man" (1884). Unfortunately, Sumner's intellectual legacy suffered essentially the same fate as that of his contemporary Herbert Spencer, and for much the same reason. From near-ubiquity and respectability, Sumner's ideas have descended into obscurity and disrepute. To the extent he is remembered at all today, it is mostly for his alleged "social Darwinism." In this essayMatt Zwolinski, professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego, examines the charge of social Darwinism, and, more generally, the nature of Sumner's views on redistribution and our responsibilities toward the poor and vulnerable, and concludes that the charge of social Darwinism is mistaken as applied to Sumner, whi is a principled libertarian, not a social Darwinist. Moreover, he is a libertarian who took special pains to demonstrate the ways in which a regime of liberty is especially beneficial to society's most vulnerable members. Matt is joined in the dicussion by Phillip W. Magness, a historian based in the Washington, D.C. region, Robert Leroux, professor of sociology at the University of Ottawa, and Fabio Rojas, professor of sociology at Indiana University.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

Law & Liberty July 26, 2017

Killing Words and the First Amendment

Throughout the two-year history of the Massachusetts case in which a young woman was charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide, there was a nationwide discussion of the implications of the case for free speech under

OLL | Quotations March 16, 2008

Aristotle insists that man is either a political animal (the natural state) or an outcast like a "bird which flies alone" (4thC BC)

Aristotle

Law & Liberty July 25, 2017

Political Institutions Can’t Foster Virtue, They Can Only Channel Vice

In the July Liberty Forum essay, Joseph Postell boldly takes on the core problem of representative government: how a representative legislature can be made to serve the common good instead of the parochial interests to which its members are tied. …

OLL November 21, 2011

The Little Clay Cart (King Shudraka)

The Little Clay Cart [Mrcchakatika] A Hindu Drama attributed to King Shudraka, translated from the original Sanskrit and Prakrits into English Prose and Verse by Arthur William Ryder, Ph.D. (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard Univesity, 1905).

EconTalk July 24, 2017

Sally Satel on Organ Donation

kidney.jpgSally Satel, psychiatrist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of increasing the supply of donated organs for transplantation and ways that public policy might increase the supply. Patel, who has received two kidney donations, suggests a federal tax credit as a way to increase the supply of organs while saving the federal government money. She also discusses the ethical issues surrounding various forms of compensation for organ donors.

Play

Time: 1:00:12

EconTalk July 27, 2017

Kidney Donations

A special thank you to Alice Temnick for creating this week's Extra.

kidney%20transplant2.jpgDo you or have you known someone who has donated, is in need of, or has received a transplanted organ? If so, how has that association shaped your thinking about organ donations and the illegality of organ markets?

Whether you have or have not been exposed to the current arguments for and against potential donor compensation, we hope this conversation with Sally Satel will encourage you to share your thoughts about this.

  1. Sally Satel presents the multiple costs (and benefits) donors face, from the pre-surgery preparation work, the recovery, the psychological effect of donating and family influences. Are there other costs that might influence potential donors?

  2. With a waiting list of 80,000 and 12 people dying daily as they wait for a kidney, directed donations from living donors are a patient's best hope. Satel indicates that a thriving black market exists globally. Who is helped or harmed by this?

Law & Liberty July 26, 2017

Some Musings on the Abnormally Normal Germans

I’ve just returned from my annual vacation on my beloved island of Foehr; and as in earlier years Brother Reinsch has invited my random thoughts on what’s up with Krautland. Some bad stuff happened while I was there but frankly,

Liberty Review June 23, 2016

Freedom as Independence

CHRISTIAN LIST AND LAURA VALENTINI ETHICS 126.4 (2016). DOI: 10.1086/686006 Abstract: Much recent philosophical work on social freedom focuses on whether freedom should be understood as noninterference, in the liberal tradition associated with Isaiah Berlin, or as nondomination, in the republican tradition revived by Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner. We defend a conception of freedom that […]

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Amagi Symbol: Liberty Fund's Logo

Amagi

We believe that the first written reference to the concept of liberty is the ancient Sumerian cuneiform symbol "amagi" which Liberty Fund uses as its logo.

Urukagina, the leader of the Sumerian city-state of Girsu/Lagash, led a popular movement that resulted in the reform of the oppressive legal and governmental structure of Sumeria. The oppressive conditions in the city before the reforms is described in the new code preserved in cuneiform on tablets of the period: "From the borders of Ningirsu to the sea, there was the tax collector." During his reign (ca. 2350 B.C.) Urukagina implemented a sweeping set of laws that guaranteed the rights of property owners, reformed the civil administration, and instituted moral and social reforms. Urukagina banned both civil and ecclesiastical authorities from seizing land and goods for payment, eliminated most of the state tax collectors, and ended state involvement in matters such as divorce proceedings and perfume making. He even returned land and other property his predecessors had seized from the temple. He saw that reforms were enacted to eliminate the abuse of the judicial process to extract money from citizens and took great pains to ensure the public nature of legal proceedings.

In this important code is found the first written reference to the concept of liberty (amagi or amargi, literally, "return to the mother"), used in reference to the process of reform. The exact nature of this term is not clear, but the idea that the reforms were to be a return to the original social order decreed by the gods fits well with the translation.