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.
Edited and with an Introduction by Lance Banning
Liberty and Order is an ambitious anthology of primary source writings: letters, circulars, debate transcriptions, House proceedings, and newspaper articles that document the years during which America’s Founding generation divided over the sort of country the United States was to become.
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.
The Times is doubling down on the policies and cultural attitudes that led to the improbable victory of Donald Trump.
Author and professor Janine Barchas of the University of Texas talks about her book, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation explores Austen’s enduring reputation, how the cheap reprints of her work allowed that reputation to thrive, the links between Shakespeare and Austen, how Austen has thrived despite the […]
The American abandonment of Armenians a century ago suggests disquieting lessons for Christians and other Middle East minorities today.
Law & Liberty contributors offer their reflections on the man and his achievements.
Where many conservatives speak sentimentally of Western Civilization, Roger Scruton sought to know and justify it by the highest standards of philosophers.
In this edition of Liberty Matters, Adam MacLeod, Professor of Law at Faulkner University, Jones School of Law, considers the English constitution of Walter Bagehot. Bagehot’s constitutionalism is not just a theory of institutions. It is far more radical. It concerns what it means to be human. At stake is the question whether a people can govern themselves or instead must be ruled by their intellectual superiors. Bagehot’s constitutional anthropology matters because Bagehot’s constitutionalism is now our constitutionalism. The ascendance of the administrative state, rule-making and adjudication predicated on expert insights, legal positivism and judicial supremacy, and many other features of American constitutionalism that are now taken for granted in our law schools, policy schools, and bar associations are rooted ultimately in the concept of human nature that Bagehot articulated.
With America’s politics being increasingly polarized, it’s worth giving some thought to the issues are not partisan. What makes an issue cross party lines? In San Diego, a proposal to limit growth has split the Democratic party:
“The ‘Yes on A’ side was unable to address the racial problem, in a way that clearly made our African-American voting members very uncomfortable,” he said. “Some language in the initiative seemed coded, things like defending neighborhood character and preventing urbanization – those are words long associated with communities of color. The optics of their case just were not good.” . . .
A watershed moment? As Democrats are ascendant in local politics, we’ve been keeping a close eye for clues that traditionally right-of-center groups are reorienting themselves.
Is this the start of a relationship between the Democratic Party, and the Building Industry Association, which vehemently opposes Measure A?
Of the Natural Progress of Opulence
[This post contains spoilers for the final episode of the 2020 Netflix series, Dracula. Proceed with caution.]
The current rendition of Dracula on Netflix, created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, was providing me with a delightfully gory evening of blood and horror when it stopped me dead. Out of nowhere, Count Dracula himself delivered one of the finest descriptions of the miracle of modern progress since Adam Smith marvelled that the greatest monarch of his time was not as far removed from the peasantry in terms of wealth than the peasant was from the monarch of an undeveloped country.
Adam Smith was able to make progress visible by comparing the rapidly industrializing England and Scotland with countries that had not yet experienced the rapid increase in wealth brought on by the division of labor and the increase of specialization and mechanization. These changes are so widespread and rapid in the 21st century, however, that we are liable to let them go unnoticed. As GK Chesterton noted, “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” Or, if you prefer, George Will observed more recently in his 2019 book The Conservative Sensibility that “It is astonishing that we do not live in a state of perpetual astonishment.”
Outlines of American Political Economy, in a series of letters addressed by Friedrich List to Charles J. Ingersoll. To which is added the celebrated letters of Mr. Jefferson to Benjamin Austin, and of Mr. Madison to the Editors of the Lynchburg Virginian (Philadelphia: Samuel Parker, 1827).
In the foreword to Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Mises explains complex market phenomena as “the outcomes of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each of whom was trying as best as he or she could under the circumstances to attain various wants and ends and to avoid undesired consequences.” It is individual choices in response to personal subjective value judgments that ultimately determine market phenomena—supply and demand, prices, the pattern of production, and even profits and losses. Although governments may presume to set “prices,” it is individuals who, by their actions and choices through competitive bidding for money, products, and services, actually determine “prices”. Thus, Mises presents economics—not as a study of material goods, services, and products—but as a study of human actions. He sees the science of human action, praxeology, as a science of reason and logic, which recognizes a regularity in the sequence and interrelationships among market phenomena. Mises defends the methodology of praxeology against the criticisms of Marxists, socialists, positivists, and mathematical statisticians. Mises attributes the tremendous technological progress and the consequent increase in wealth and general welfare in the last two centuries to the introduction of liberal government policies based on free-market economic teachings, creating an economic and political environment which permits individuals to pursue their respective goals in freedom and peace. Mises also explains the futility and counter-productiveness of government attempts to regulate, control, and equalize all people’s circumstances: “Men are born unequal and … it is precisely their inequality that generates social cooperation and civilization.”
The Best of the OLL No. 69: John Thelwall, “Political Songs” (1795) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2015).
There are numerous illustrations in the British edition of the Frederick Douglass. They are of three types: pictures of famous abolitionists, Douglass visiting graves and memorials of those who had struggled against slavery, or horror pictures of the treatment of slaves. Here are a slection.
Even laissez-faire policies need to be, at some point, engineered by some reformers.
Eugene McCarraher's Enchantments of Mammon seeks to unveil capitalism and recapture a premodern sense of the world as sacramental.
Richard Cobden’s “I have a dream” speech about a world in which free trade is the governing principle (1846)
Although labor unions have been celebrated in folk songs and stories as fearless champions of the downtrodden working man, this is not how economists see them. Economists who study unions—including some who are avowedly prounion—analyze them as cartels that raise wages above competitive levels by restricting the supply of labor to various firms and industries.
Many unions have won higher wages and better working conditions for their members. In doing so, however, they have reduced the number of jobs available in unionized companies. That second effect occurs because of the basic law of demand: if unions successfully raise the price of labor, employers will purchase less of it. Thus, unions are a major anticompetitive force in labor markets. Their gains come at the expense of consumers, nonunion workers, the jobless, taxpayers, and owners of corporations.
According to Harvard economists Richard Freeman and James Medoff, who look favorably on unions, “Most, if not all, unions have monopoly power, which they can use to raise wages above competitive levels” (1984, p. 6). Unions’ power to fix high prices for their members’ labor rests on legal privileges and immunities that they get from government, both by statute and by nonenforcement of other laws. The purpose of these legal privileges is to restrict others from working for lower wages. As antiunion economist Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1922, “The long and short of trade union rights is in fact the right to proceed against the strikebreaker with primitive violence.” Interestingly, those who are expected to enforce the laws evenhandedly, the police, are themselves heavily unionized.