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 Essays on Church, State, and Politics

By Christian Thomasius
Edited, Translated, and with an Introduction by Ian Hunter, Thomas Ahnert, and Frank Grunert

The works found in Essays on Church, State, and Politics, which originated as disputations, theses, and pamphlets, were direct interventions in the unresolved issue of the political role of religion in Brandenburg-Prussia, a state in which a Calvinist dynasty ruled over a largely Lutheran Population and nobility as well as a significant Catholic minority.


Essays on Church, State, and Politics

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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 May 25, 2017

Amending the Constitution with Buchanan and Buckley

US Constitution Historical Documents with Quill Pen

Along with Michael Rappaport, I participated in Michael McConnell’s “Big Fix” conference, held at Stanford Law School this past week. “Should We Amend the Constitution?” was the subtitle of the fun event. You can talk me into that, provided law

EconLog May 25, 2017

Tabarrok on the Great Depression, by David Henderson

Alex Tabarrok narrates a very good video on the Great Depression. It's called "Understanding the Great Depression." In it, he applies an aggregate demand/aggregate supply framework and puts most of what happened in that framework. I have two criticisms, but they shouldn't be interpreted to mean that the video is weak: it's quite good.

3:20: Alex explains correctly that deflation increases debtors' burden. His numerical conclusion is slightly wrong, though. He says that if prices fall by 10%, your real debt increases by 10%. Actually, it increases by 11%. This may sound picky, but I worry that most viewers will generalize and say that if prices fall by 30%, your real debt will increase by 30%. In fact, your real debt would increase by 43%.

6:25: The Smoot-Hawley tariff did make things worse, as Alex said. He also gets right one of the main ways it made things worse: by causing other countries' governments to retaliate with tariffs on U.S. goods and by making trade less efficient, just as if technology had been negated.
But trade economist Doug Irwin has convinced me that the aggregate supply effects of Smoot-Hawley were not nearly as big as I, and many other economists, had thought.
There is one other way that Smoot-Hawley might have reduced aggregate demand--by causing bank failures in the agricultural sector. Alex's colleague Thomas Rustici wrote his dissertation on this.


Law & Liberty May 26, 2017

The Impotence of the Kantian Republic

When a young man such as Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, blows himself up, killing as many others as he can take with him, it is only natural for us to ask why he acted as he did. His behaviour

OLL | Quotations September 7, 2016

Jeremy Bentham argued that the ruling elite benefits from corruption, waste, and war (1827)

Jeremy Bentham argued that the ruling elite benefits from corruption, waste, and war (1827)

Liberty Review May 25, 2017

Human capital, knowledge and economic development: evidence from the British Industrial Revolution, 1750–1930

B. ZORINA KHAN CLIOMETRICA Abstract: Endogenous growth models raise fundamental questions about the nature of human creativity, and the sorts of resources, skills, and knowledge inputs that shift the frontier of technology and production possibilities. Many argue that the experience of early British industrialization supports the thesis that economic advances depend on specialized scientific training, the […]

EconTalk May 25, 2017

Piling On the Problem of Poverty

gravel pile.jpg What's the best way to help the world's poor? Should we give them cash or chickens? Or is the best way to eradicate poverty something else entirely? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed back Lant Pritchett, of Harvard's Center for International Development. Their starting point was a series of "letters" attempting to answer these questions, each initially responding to Bill Gates's plan of providing chickens to the global poor.

Just how bad is the world poverty situation today, and what's our best approach to reducing poverty in the world's lowest productivity areas? Pritchett has his ideas, and Roberts is on board with some of them. What about you? We'd love to hear from you.

Why does Pritchett object to giving cash- or chickens- to people in poverty-stricken countries? What does he mean by making an analogy to a cancerous tumor?

EconTalk May 22, 2017

Lant Pritchett on Poverty, Growth, and Experiments

How should we think about growth and poverty? How important is the goal of reducing the proportion of the world's population living on less than a dollar a day? Does poverty persist because people lack skills or because they live in economic systems where skills are not rewarded? What is the role of experimental methods in understanding what reduces poverty? Author and economist Lant Pritchett of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these questions and more in a wide-ranging discussion of how best to help the world's poorest people.


Time: 1:03:14

Liberty Review May 22, 2017

The limits of liberalism: Good boundaries must be discovered

ADAM MARTIN THE REVIEW OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS Abstract: Determining good boundaries for governance jurisdictions is among the most difficult problems in political theory and political philosophy. But to whom the rules of a given jurisdiction applies is a problem that afflicts private as well as public governance. Clubs have boundaries no less than cities, states, or […]

EconLog May 25, 2017

Does John Cochrane get Italy wrong?, by Alberto Mingardi

John Cochrane took part in a debate on Italy and the euro, hosted by Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy's premier financial daily. The debate was promoted by Luigi Zingales. Most of my friends thought it was not a great idea, for it put on par contributions from well-established economists with others that are quite at the fringes of the scientific debate: the first tended to be less critical of the euro project, the latter tended to have a more jaundiced view of the European single currency. Italy euro.jpg

My gut feeling is that Euro-exit is a bad idea, but debating it frankly is a good idea: for nothing helps bad arguments more than the impression that they can't be talked about, most likely because of some dark forces which are suppressing the debate.
Cochran contributed a splendid piece to the debate. The article was criticised by Alberto Bagnai, perhaps the most vocal critic of the euro in Italy. Cochrane responded here and was showered by quite a few critical comments.

In his rebuttal, contending that Italy's problem is not the currency Italians use but high public spending and lack of economic dynamism, John writes:

Call me when you can hire and fire people, government spending is under 50% of GDP, marginal tax rates are less than half, rent control is gone, it takes less than a decade to get a building permit, or when the World Bank ease of doing business ranking doesn't look like this.
Well, rent control has been gone for quite a while, and so commentators on Cochrane's blog couldn't resist the temptation to teach the famous economist a lesson on Italy. They provided Cochrane's readers with a glimpse of Italy as a free market nirvana - perhaps inadvertently.

Let me just go through a couple of the points they make. I don't believe they are false: but they are, so to say, half-truths.

OLL | Images of Liberty July 16, 2014

"New" Socialist Ideas in the 1848 Revolution

The French political caricaturist Amédée de Noé mocked the leading socialist figures of the 1848 Revolution in this panel of 6 cartoons. He ridicules their claims that their ideas were new and original by pointing out the true origins of their ideas for reform. It turns out they “borrowed” all their ideas from other people. His panels depict socialist thinkers such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Victor Considerant; utopian socialist activists such as Pierre Leroux and Étienne Cabet; as well as socialist politicians such as Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin and Louis Napoléon Bonaparte.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

The Ideal Element in Law (Roscoe Pound)

Roscoe Pound, former dean of Harvard Law School, delivered a series of lectures at the University of Calcutta in 1948. In these lectures, he criticized virtually every modern mode of interpreting the law because he believed the administration of justice had lost its grounding and recourse to enduring ideals. Now published in the U.S. for the first time, Pound’s lectures are collected in Liberty Fund’s The Ideal Element in Law, Pound’s most important contribution to the relationship between law and liberty. The Ideal Element in Law was a radical book for its time and is just as meaningful today as when Pound’s lectures were first delivered. Pound’s view of the welfare state as a means of expanding government power over the individual speaks to the front-page issues of the new millennium as clearly as it did to America in the mid-twentieth century. Pound argues that the theme of justice grounded in enduring ideals is critical for America. He views American courts as relying on sociological theories, political ends, or other objectives, and in so doing, divorcing the practice of law from the rule of law and the rule of law from the enduring ideal of law itself.

Law & Liberty May 25, 2017

He Built Better Than He Knew

Peter Lawler, Photo by Zac Calvert

Peter Lawler’s passing has been quite painful to me as it has to so very many people who were his students, friends, and colleagues. His death means that a source of incomparable wisdom in my life is gone. One story

OLL | Quotations September 2, 2015

Lysistrata's clever plan to end the war between Athens and Sparta (411 BC)

Lysistrata’s clever plan to end the war between Athens and Sparta (411 BC)