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 Hobbes on Civil Association

By Michael Oakeshott
Foreword by Paul Franco

Of Michael Oakeshott and his interest in Thomas Hobbes, Professor Paul Franco has written, “The themes Oakeshott stresses in his interpretation of Hobbes are . . . skepticism about the role of reason in politics, allegiance to the morality of individuality as opposed to any sort of collectivism, and the principle of a noninstrumental, nonpurposive mode of political association, namely, civil association.” Of Hobbes’s Leviathan, Oakeshott has written, “Leviathan is the greatest, perhaps the sole, masterpiece of political philosophy written in the English language.” Hobbes on Civil Association consists of Oakeshott’s four principal essays on Hobbes and on the nature of civil association as civil association pertains to ordered liberty. The essays are “Introduction to Leviathan” (1946); “The Moral Life in the Writings of Thomas Hobbes” (1960); “Dr. Leo Strauss on Hobbes” (1937); and, “Leviathan: A Myth” (1947). The foreword remarks the place of these essays within Oakeshott’s entire corpus.


Hobbes on Civil Association

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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.

EconLog November 21, 2017

Himmelfarb on why intellectuals hate capitalism, by Alberto Mingardi

It is not the fault of capitalism that the common man does not appreciate uncommon books. ~Ludwig von Mises


There are many gems in Gertrude Himmelfarb's Past and Present. The Challenges of Modernity, from the Pre-Victorians to the Postmodernists.

One is a 1952 essay on "American Democracy and Its European Critics". In that essay, in comparing Tocqueville's reading of America with Harold Laski's (in The American Democracy), Himmelfarb notes perceptively that critics of American culture tend to see that "the incubus of Big Business lies heavily upon the whole country, stifling individual expression and corrupting individual tastes".

But we know well that successful enterprises, cultural enterprises included, basically provide people with something that they want. Himmelfarb knows this, too.

Law & Liberty November 21, 2017

Originalism and Proportionality Analysis

One of the important differences between American constitutional law and the constitutional law of much of Europe and of many countries throughout the world is the use of proportionality analysis.  Proportionality analysis can be thought of in several ways, but …

EconTalk November 20, 2017

Tim Harford on Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy

50%20Inventions.jpgFinancial Times columnist and author Tim Harford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Harford's latest book, Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy. Highlights include how elevators are an important form of mass transit, why washing machines didn't save quite as much time as you'd think, and the glorious illuminating aspects of light throughout history.


Time: 1:08:50

EconLog November 20, 2017

How Corporate Income Taxation is Misunderstood, by Contributing Guest

by Richard McKenzie

"Don't tax me, don't tax thee, tax the man behind the tree!"
~ The late U.S. Senator Russell Long (D-LA)

trade.jpg Republicans are being excoriated by pundits, journalists and Democrats for proposing to lower the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. The critics claim the reduction is an unjust and extravagant tax break for President Donald Trump and his rich business compatriots. The reduction will transfer the country's tax burden onto the backs of the middle-class and lower-income groups, or so we are told.

The critics, however, don't appreciate two major problems with corporate taxes:

First, the critics fail to grasp the wisdom in a widely repeated tenet of public finance economics: Corporations don't pay taxes, people do. This is to say that while corporate taxes are directly drawn from corporate profits, those taxes must ultimately come out of the pockets of real people - and the real people affected are not just stockholders whose dividends are undercut by the tax.

Law & Liberty November 20, 2017

The Kaleidoscopic Joys of State Constitutionalism

In addition to requiring instruction in US government and politics, Texas law requires undergraduates at state-sponsored colleges and universities to take a course “which includes consideration of the . . . constitutions of the states, with special emphasis on that

EconLog November 19, 2017

Coulter on Immigration, by David Henderson

Last week Ann Coulter wrote a piece on how immigrants to the United States helped Democratic candidates win in Virginia. She made a somewhat compelling case. It is this kind of concern that has made me more nervous than co-blogger Bryan Caplan or Cato Institute's Alex Nowrasteh about allowing more immigrants in. It's not that I want immigrants to vote for Republicans. It's that I don't want them to vote for bigger government. Of course, Republicans and Democrats tend to favor bigger government. So the Democratic vote per se is not necessarily a good indicator.

Coulter pointed not only to foreign-born's proclivity to vote Democrat but also to their favoring bigger government. It's this latter than concerns me. She wrote:

The foreign-born vote overwhelmingly, by about 80 percent, for Democrats. They always have and they always will -- especially now that our immigration policies aggressively discriminate in favor of the poorest, least-educated, most unskilled people on Earth. They arrive in need of a LOT of government services.

According to the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Hispanic immigrants and 55 percent of Asian immigrants support bigger government, compared to just over 40 percent of the general public. Even third-generation Hispanics support bigger government by 58 percent.
I asked my friend Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute for his quick thoughts on Coulter's article and he pointed out some strong evidence in the other direction.

Liberty Review November 5, 2017

Marsilius of Padua on Representation

MULIERI, A. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 38, Number 4 Abstract: The concept of representation plays an important role in Marsilius of Padua’s major work, the Defensor Pacis. Yet, with a few notable exceptions,Marsilius’ concept of representation has received relatively little attention among recent scholars. The main purpose of this article is to fill this gap […]

Law & Liberty November 20, 2017

The Achievement of Gertrude Himmelfarb

In her new essay collection, the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb offers this confession: “I am sufficiently stimulated by the past to relate it to the present.” She believes that “just as a philosopher today may look to the classics for the …

OLL | Quotations March 10, 2014

Horace Say on "I, Pin" and the international division of labor (1852)

Horace Say on “I, Pin” and the international division of labor (1852)

Law & Liberty November 21, 2017

Contra Criminalization

This month’s Liberty Forum essay offers a thoroughly sensible take on a continuing and deepening problem afflicting the United States. Robert VerBruggen offers readers an excellent overview of the depth and breadth of the problem. The toll of opioids is …

OLL November 21, 2011

Some Love Songs (Francesco Petrarch)

Some Love Songs of Petrarch, translated and annotated with a Biographical Introduction by William Dudley Foulke (Oxford University Press, 1915).

OLL | Liberty Matters November 1, 2017

Peter Boettke, "Gordon Tullock and the Rational Choice Commitment" (November, 2017)

Liberty MattersThis month's discussion looks at the work of the political economist Gordon Tullock who saw himself very much in the tradition of Mises – a praxeologist who from a methodologically individualistic perspective would study human action across all social arrangements.  Tullock's subject matter was humanity in all settings, and that included not just markets, but non-market settings such as law, politics, and charity.  Along the way he made fundamental contributions to the theory of bureaucracy, constitutional construction, judicial decision-making, voting behavior, lobbying, scientific organization, redistribution, and even sociobiology. The Lead Essay is by Peter J. Boettke, University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, and he is joined by Peter Kurril-Klitgard, Professor of Political Theory and Comparative Politics at the Dept. of Political Science of the University of Copenhagen, David M. Levy, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and Michael Munger, director of the PPE Program at Duke University and professor of political science, economics, and public policy.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

EconLog November 19, 2017

How much do government workers cost?, by Scott Sumner

Tyler Cowen directed me to an interesting question raised in his comment section (by "BC"):

Do federal employees pay income tax on their wages? I know they do nominally, but that tax goes back to their employer, the federal government. So, doesn't that mean that, while their actual salary may be lower than their official nominal salary, they actually don't pay any tax? (NB: this is quite different from a private sector employee whose after-tax salary is less than the pre-tax salary. In that case, the difference between the two does *not* go to the employer, creating a gap between what the employer pays and what the employee receives.)

For example, suppose a private firm and the federal government both value a worker's output at $100k/yr and the tax rate is 20%. The private firm offers the worker $100k and the worker receives $80k after paying taxes. The federal government, however, can offer the worker $125k in nominal salary, *knowing that it will receive $25k back in income tax*. The net result is that the federal government pays $100k and the worker receives $100k after taxes, i.e., the worker earns $100k tax free, $20k more than he or she would earn at the private firm. Another way of seeing this is to note that taxes paid by employees are economically equivalent to taxes paid by employers. So, if employers received rebates for income taxes paid by employees, then the net income tax would be zero. Well, the federal government *does* receive a rebate for all income taxes paid by employees!

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

Shaftesbury's Illustrations

shaftesbury.illustrationThe The Characteristicks of Men, Manners, and Opinion (1737), included a number of illustrations in the book in order to complement the text. The exact meaning of these illustrations is not entirely clear. The illustration to the left is from the frontispiece of vol. 1.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

Revolutionary Writings (John Adams)

AdamsRevThis volume contains the principal shorter writings in which Adams addresses the prospect of revolution and the form of government proper to the new United States. There are pieces on the nature of the British Constitution and the meaning of rights, sovereignty, representation, and obligation.

OLL November 21, 2011

Money and the Mechanism of Exchange (William Stanley Jevons)

money.mechanismMoney and the Mechanism of Exchange (New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1876).

OLL | Quotations March 10, 2014

Macaulay argues that "the main end" of government is the protection of persons and property (1839)


OLL November 21, 2011

The Shi King, the Old “Poetry Classic” of the Chinese (Misc (Confucian School))

shi.kingThe Shi King, the Old “Poetry Classic” of the Chinese. A Close Metrical Translation, with Annotations by William Jennings (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1891).

EconLog November 20, 2017

The Ideological Turing Test in 3 Minutes, by Bryan Caplan

Learn Liberty has just released a slick new video on my Ideological Turing Test.  Enjoy, share, and repent

Law & Liberty November 21, 2017

A New Mission for Conservative Public Interest Litigation

I used to be in the public interest litigation business, back in the premodern era. My comments here briefly summarize an outsider’s observations on what I think has changed in public interest law and what its role should be in

Liberty Review November 9, 2017

‘A Burthen Too Heavy For Humane Sufferance’: Locke on Reputation

STUART-BUTTLE, T. HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 38, Number 4 Abstract: Locke emphasized that a concern for reputation powerfully shaped the individual’s conduct. Most scholarship suggests that Locke portrayed this phenomenon in negative terms. This article complicates this picture. A concern for reputation served a constructive role in Locke’s theory of social development, which offered a […]

Law & Liberty November 21, 2017

How Two Governments Protect Liberty Better than One

The happy paradox of constitutional federalism is that two sets of government can protect liberty better than one.  This promotion of liberty depends on a federalism of different governmental spheres laid down in the Constitution itself. The Constitution enumerates and

OLL | Quotations March 10, 2014

Milton on Eve's discovery of the benefits of the division of labor in the Garden of Eden (1667)

John Milton