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 The IEA, the LSE, and the Influence of Ideas

By Arthur Seldon
Edited and with a New Introduction by Colin Robinson

Volume 7 of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon includes six works that discuss the role of the Institute of Economic Affairs, where Seldon spent most of his working life.


The IEA, the LSE, and the Influence of Ideas

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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.

EconTalk August 21, 2017

John McWhorter on the Evolution of Language and Words on the Move

Words%20on%20the%20Move.jpg How did bad come to mean good? Why is Shakespeare so hard to understand? Is there anything good about "like" and "you know?" Author and professor John McWhorter of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the unplanned ways that English speakers create English, an example of emergent order. Topics discussed include how words get short (but not too short), the demand for vividness in language, and why Shakespeare is so hard to understand.


Time: 1:04:43

Law & Liberty August 23, 2017

The Fiery Patrick Henry

In 1775, a 29-year-old named Patrick Henry swung the balance of the Second Virginia Convention with these words:

Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so

EconLog August 22, 2017

The Curious Absence of American Emulationists in the Third World, by Bryan Caplan

After World War II, virtually every Third World country had a major political faction that looked on the Soviet Union as a model society.  What path should their nation take?  The answer was obvious: Emulate the Soviet Union.  With minor allowance for local conditions, they sought to copy Soviet institutions and policies.  Despite the fiery anti-colonial nationalism of the day, members of the Third World's pro-Soviet factions happily publicized their desire to follow in the footsteps of a foreign land - even putting a string of Europeans - Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin - on their banners.

EconLog August 22, 2017

Never say never, by Scott Sumner

I've been extremely critical of the Trump administration, but if the following Politico story is true it could be a very good sign going forward:

President Donald Trump's top aides and congressional leaders have made significant strides in shaping a tax overhaul, moving far beyond the six-paragraph framework pushed out in July that stoked fears about their ability to deliver on one of the GOP's top priorities.

There is broad consensus, according to five sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes talks, on some of the best ways to pay for cutting both the individual and corporate tax rates.

The options include capping the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners; scrapping people's ability to deduct state and local taxes; and eliminating businesses' ability to deduct interest, while also phasing in so-called full expensing for small businesses that allows them to immediately deduct investments like new equipment or facilities.

EconLog August 22, 2017

Can regulations stop terrorism?, by Alberto Mingardi

terrorism.jpg The attack in Barcelona has been the latest in a chain of terrorist acts performed following a similar modus operandi to the one in Nice which happened more than one year ago, when a truck was deliberately driven over the crowd celebrating Bastille Day. In its turn, this was a "copycat" of the Palestinian terrorist campaign started in Israel in 2014. Terrorism is all the more shocking and frightening when it uses means that are seemingly cheap and ordinary.

In an earlier post, I made the point that over-regulation would not greatly affect terrorist behaviour. My understanding is that engaging in a terrorist act, particularly a suicidal terrorist act, involves such a commitment that it would easily override existing bans or regulations, as the terrorist sets to put his (as terrorists are almost invariably young males) will into practice. Commentators seem not to agree with me very much, and they raised some interesting points. JFA, in particular, argues that "a person decides to participate given the costs and benefits" and therefore "if those costs are raised, those marginal terrorists will not commit the act." JFA strikes a point, alluding to the fact libertarians are all too eager to abandon the economic way of thinking when they want to defend their preference for little or no regulation.

Law & Liberty August 22, 2017

The Business End of Transnational Progressivism

According to John Fonte, “transnationalism is a concept that provides elites with both an empirical tool (a plausible analysis of what is) and an ideological framework (a vision of what should be).”  What is, is humanity divided into groups along …

EconLog August 21, 2017

New Reflections on the Evolution in France, by Bryan Caplan

I just returned from a month in France.  I stand by everything I said during my last visit in 2008, but have plenty to add:

  1. The biggest change is the ubiquitous police and military presence.  Teams of militarized police and policified military patrol every tourist site and every public function, plus numerous random locations.  It wasn't just Paris; even small cities like Bayeaux were on guard.  I've never seen anything like this in the United States, even on September 12, 2001.

  2. France's massive effort still looks like security theater to me.  None of the major terrorist attacks of recent years targeted high-profile locations, and endless unguarded targets remain.  Any fanatic who can drive could kill dozens of people with ease.  So why isn't it happening every day?  Because suicidal fundamentalists are thankfully very very rare. 

Law & Liberty August 21, 2017

The Constitution Permits People to Exercise Two Rights at the Same Time

The ACLU has decided to not to defend the First Amendment rights of those who carry firearms to their protests. This decision betrays its historical commitment to protecting the free speech rights of all. First, people do not lose one

OLL April 1, 2013

BOLL 26: Lao Tzu, “The Tao of Governing” (6thC BC) (Lao Tzu)

The Best of the OLL No. 26: Lao Tzu, “The Tao of Governing” (6thC BC) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2013).

EconLog August 20, 2017

All That Glitters Is Not Gold: A Parable, by Scott Sumner

Atlantis is on the gold standard. The unit of account is called the "dollar" and it's defined as one gram of gold. Atlantis has a state-owned gold mine with a monopoly on gold production, near limitless reserves, and a very low cost of production.

The gold mine is charged with the responsibility of keeping the value of the Atlantis dollar stable, by adjusting the quantity of gold it sells (or buys) each month. There are also privately produced metals such as silver, palladium and especially platinum, which are close (but not perfect) substitutes for gold. When the gold mine injects gold into the economy, they typically buy platinum, which is considered a relatively safe asset (in case the gold mine later has to sell assets to keep gold from losing purchasing power.)

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All goes well until Atlantis is hit by a financial crisis, caused by reckless lending (ultimately caused by an ill-fated attempt by the Atlantis government to insure bank deposits--but that's another story.) The panicking residents scramble for any sort of safe asset they can find, and now gold and platinum become virtually perfect substitutes, and even palladium and silver are being considered pretty close substitutes. Open market purchases of platinum for gold don't have the usual impact on the price level. The state-owned gold mine struggles to stabilize the value of gold, which is gaining purchasing power (i.e. prices of goods and services are falling.) Unemployment is rising.

Liberty Review August 19, 2017

Democracy and Unfreedom: Revisiting Tocqueville and Beaumont in America

SARA M. BENSON SAGE JOURNALS, Volume 45, Issue 4 Abstract: This essay reexamines the famous 1831 prison tours of Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont. It reads the three texts that emerged from their collective research practice as a trilogy, one conventionally read in different disciplinary homes (Democracy in America in political science, On the Penitentiary in criminology, […]

Law & Liberty August 22, 2017

Can We Remember Well?

Perhaps, amid the profound divisions revealed by the national conversation over Confederate monuments, consensus could emerge over this: If their removal is justified, it should be carried out in the light of day.

That is the proper milieu for a

Liberty Review August 13, 2017

Economic freedom and human capital investment

HORST FELDMANN JOURNAL OF INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS, Volume 13, Issue 2 Abstract: Using data from 1972 to 2011 on 109 countries, this paper empirically studies the impact of economic freedom on human capital investment. Enrollment in secondary education is used as a proxy for such investments. Controlling for a large number of other determinants of education, it […]

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

The Virtues

Here we have a collection of images depicting the Seven Virtues of charity, faith, fortitude, hope, justice, prudence, and temperance.

OLL | Quotations May 22, 2005

Erasmus has the personification of Peace come down to earth to see with dismay how war ravages human societies (1521)


EconTalk August 18, 2017

Soul in the Game

circuit breaker.jpg EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomes back popular guest Nassim Nicholas Taleb in this week's episode to chat about the manuscript of his forthcoming book, Skin in the Game. In their wide-ranging conversation, the discuss the value of employees versus slaves, the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to work, and the power of minorities. Even though Taleb counsels listeners to beware of "good advice," trust us...take ours and have a listen!

We'd love to get your reactions to this week's episode, so please share with us today. As always, we love to hear from you.

  1. Why does Taleb think we are more "slave-burdened" today than in the past? To what extent do you agree with him?

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".

OLL | Quotations April 6, 2015

Under Magna Carta the King cannot imprison a freeman without being convicted by a trial of his peers (1215)

King John

OLL | Quotations September 26, 2004

The Prophet Isaiah urges the people to "beat their swords into plowshares" and learn war no more (700s BC)

About this Quotation: The prophet raises two very interesting problems. The first is the economic problem of how to convert the capital goods needed for the production of war materiel (“swords”) into the capital goods which are needed to produce consumer goods (“ploughshares”). The second is the moral and political problem of getting the will power and the political constituencies to do so.

OLL September 29, 2013

Subject Guide: War and Peace (OLL Editor)

Subject Guide: War and Peace (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2013).

OLL | Liberty Fund Books December 27, 2011

The History of England, 6 vols. (David Hume)

Hume’s great History of England the theme of which is liberty, above all English constitutional development from the Anglo-Saxon period to the Revolution of 1688. This Liberty Fund edition is based on the edition of 1778, the last to contain corrections by Hume. 6 vols.

Law & Liberty August 15, 2017

Introducing Originalism: A Conversation with Ilan Wurman

Ilan Wurman joins this edition of Liberty Law Talk to discuss his new book, A Debt against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism.…

Law & Liberty August 22, 2017

The Redistributions and Distortions of the Health Care Market

A while back I talked about the health care and health insurance market and how it is the result of tremendous government regulation.  There are portions that involve competition, but they are limited by a variety of matters, including large …

Liberty Review August 16, 2017

Adam Smith on Justice, Social Justice, and Ultimate Justice

JAMES R. OTTESON SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY AND POLICY, Volume 34, Issue 1 Abstract: Adam Smith argues that virtue falls into two broad categories: “justice,” which he calls a “negative” virtue because it principally comprises restraint from harming or injuring others; and “beneficence,” which he calls “positive” because it comprises the actions we ought to take to improve […]

EconLog August 20, 2017

Prices and Your Pocketbook, by David Henderson

This is another in the series of NBC radio broadcasts that involved Milton Friedman as one of the three panelists. See here and here for earlier posts on the NBC shows.

This one shows both Friedman and George Stigler to be believers in fiscal policy to control inflation and advocates of high taxes for the war effort.

The three participants are Leo M. Cherne, executive director and editor-in-chief of the Research Institute of America, Milton Friedman of NBER and on leave in the Division of War Research at Columbia University, and George Stigler, associate professor of economics at the University of Minnesota and at the time visiting professor in the department of economics at the University of Chicago.

The show is titled "Prices and Your Pocketbook." The date is June 27, 1943. Recall that the United States was in the midst of a relatively comprehensive regime of price controls at the time.