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.
By Armen A. Alchian and William R. Allen
Edited by Jerry L. Jordan
“No one has ever done price theory better than Alchian—that is, no one has ever excelled Alchian’s ability to explain the reason, role, and nuances of prices, of competition, and of property rights. And only a precious few—I can count them on my fingers—have a claim for being considered to have done price theory as well as he did it.” —Donald Boudreaux, George Mason University
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.
Rodney Brooks, emeritus professor of robotics at MIT, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of robots and artificial intelligence. Brooks argues that we both under-appreciate and over-appreciate the impact of innovation. He applies this insight to the current state of driverless cars and other changes people are expecting to change our daily lives in radical ways. He also suggests that the challenges of developing truly intelligent robots and technologies will take much longer than people expect, giving human beings time to adapt to the effects. Plus a cameo from Isaac Newton.
It’s creative destruction that rules in Silicon Valley, not tech arrogance—and that’s a good thing.
Over at our sister Liberty Fund site, Law and Liberty, John Tamny has a hard-hitting piece titled “True Overlords Don’t Work This Hard.” It’s a response to a pretty negative piece on Silicon Valley by Michael Anton published earlier this month at Law and Liberty. Anton’s piece is titled “The Frivolous Valley and Its Dreadful Conformity.” Anton is a lecturer in politics and research fellow at Hillsdale College. Tammy is director of the Center for Economic Freedom at FreedomWorks.
Although I’m not a big fan of Tamny’s negative tone when discussing Anton, I am a total fan of both his positive tone in understanding the big picture and his evidence of the dynamism of Silicon Valley and, indeed, of free markets in general. I’ll highlight a few beautiful passages.
Commenting on Facebook recently, The Guardian’s technology writer Victor Keegan noted that the social network is “Well on the way to becoming what economists call a ‘natural monopoly.’ . . . Users have invested so much social capital in putting up data about themselves it is not worth their changing sites . . . Its massive user base will help maintain its dominance.”
Jack Rakove makes a plausible case for Madisonian game theory even as he maintains respect for the Madison who said “justice is the end of government.”
CHARLES I. JONES, JIHEE KIM JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY Abstract: Top income inequality rose sharply in the United States over the last 40 years but increased only slightly in France and Japan. Why? We explore a model in which heterogeneous entrepreneurs, broadly interpreted, exert effort to generate exponential growth in their incomes, which tends to raise […]
Paul Krugman has an interesting post, where he pushes back against the conventional view that micro is more successful than macro. Here’s Krugman:
So let me talk about three things:
The unsung success of macroeconomics
The excessive prestige of microeconomics
The limits of empiricism, vital though it is
I think Krugman’s basically right, although I’d emphasize some different points.
Krugman spends a lot of time on the IS-LM model, which he finds useful and I do not. He emphasizes the fact that IS-LM allowed him to avoid falling into the trap of expecting QE to lead to high inflation. Rapid increases in the money supply are often inflationary, but not when interest rates are near zero.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
A constitution that puts judge-made law first will be an increasingly unoriginalist constitution as precedent is piled on precedent.
In December 2016, I posted about the fact that we had started giving our cat chemotherapy for his small-cell lymphoma. It seemed to work for a while, but in November 2017, it seemed to be failing. Joey, our cat, was starting to lose weight. He had been about 16.5 pounds (which was, admittedly, too much) before he got sick, but in November it was down to about 15.5 pounds, but, more important, he was vomiting a lot.
So our vet shifted him to a different stronger drug and it appeared to be working. The vomiting subsided and his weight stayed above 15 pounds. Starting around March of this year, though, his weight started falling. The last recorded weight I have for him is about 14.5 pounds in late March. In around mid-May, we took him to the vet: I think his weight had fallen to just above 13 pounds but I had failed to record it. She said that he was probably near the end. I asked if we were talking weeks, months, or years, and she said weeks and maybe a few months.
Yoram Hazony discusses why nationalism produces a politics of freedom, prosperity, and peace.
Lists of books form the core of a real education, and we lose something without them.
State Papers and Speeches on the Tariff, with an Introduction by F.W. Taussig (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1892).
Will the American Bar Association intervene to prevent the Left’s Kulturkampf in the nation’s law schools?
An Economics Reading List
Bastiat, Frederic, Economic Sophisms
Bastiat is free trade’s greatest popularizer. This book collects his principal essays exposing the flaws that infect all arguments against free trade. This book contains dozens of Bastiat’s most lively essays. If you are looking for just one to sample, try his classic candle-making satire: Chapter 7, A Petition. Each essay is short, witty, clear, and focused on a
particular fallacy. Bastiat’s critique of dozens of arguments for tariffs and other import restrictions is
devastating. Economic Sophisms also provides a superb lesson in persuasive writing. Noted for his
mastery of the reductio ad absurdum, Bastiat excelled across the board in writing both to persuade and
Caves, Richard, Jeffrey Frankel and Ronald Jones, World Trade and Payments: An Introduction
Hume, David, Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, (Part II was originally published as Political Discourses)
Irwin, Douglas, Against the Tide: An Intellectual History of Free Trade
This is book is not so much a brief for free trade as it is a scholarly survey of the history of
economic thought on the topic. Irwin’s book uncovers the contexts, the motivations, and the trains of thought that led economists to develop the case for free trade. To truly understand the case for free trade
requires knowledge of the development of the economic theories supporting free trade—as well as of
those theories in opposition to free trade-and of the historical context of these theories. Irwin lucidly
reviews all of these.
The history of how the U.S. Constitution and the Biill of Rights were ratified is more complex (and long-lasting) than most people realize.
Silicon Valley, with soil so fertile that anything could grow there, now grows a hierarchy of techies seeking money, fame, power, sex, and adulation.
The Sphere and Duties of Government. Translated from the German of Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt, by Joseph Coulthard, Jun. (London: John Chapman, 1854).
This volume contains the four essays that Spencer published as The Man Versus the State in 1884 as well as five essays added by later publishers. In addition, it provides “The Proper Sphere of Government,” an important early essay by Spencer. Spencer develops various specific disastrous ramifications of the wholesale substitution of the principle of compulsory cooperation - the statist principle - for the individualist principle of voluntary cooperation. His theme is that “there is in society … that beautiful self-adjusting principle which will keep all its elements in equilibrium… . The attempt to regulate all the actions of a community by legislation will entail little else but misery and compulsion.”
Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, “socialism” and “communism” were synonyms. Both referred to economic systems in which the government owns the means of production. The two terms diverged in meaning largely as a result of the political theory and practice of Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924).
Like most contemporary socialists, Lenin believed that socialism could not be attained without violent revolution. But no one pursued the logic of revolution as rigorously as he. After deciding that violent revolution would not happen spontaneously, Lenin concluded that it must be engineered by a quasi-military party of professional revolutionaries, which he began and led. After realizing that the revolution would have many opponents, Lenin determined that the best way to quell resistance was with what he frankly called “terror”—mass executions, slave labor, and starvation. After seeing that the majority of his countrymen opposed communism even after his military triumph, Lenin concluded that one-party dictatorship must continue until it enjoyed unshakeable popular support. In the chaos of the last years of World War I, Lenin’s tactics proved an effective way to seize and hold power in the former Russian Empire. Socialists who embraced Lenin’s methods became known as “communists” and eventually came to power in China, Eastern Europe, North Korea, Indo-China, and elsewhere.
The signs of a wholesale lurch to the Left by Andrés Manuel López Obrador are not there, at least not yet.
Except if one restricts the concept of externality as effects that trespass upon other people’s property, the concept encompasses so many phenomena that it is meaningless. This is not an unknown problem in economics. Welfare economist E.J. Mishan noted that technically, “an awareness of what is happening to others” is an externality (Introduction to Normative Economics, 1981, p. 135—emphasis in original). James Buchanan suggested a solution: the only effects that count as externalities are those that infringe on the individual rights defined by the constitutional (or social) contract (The Limits of Liberty, p. 124).
Trigger warning : What follows would be as valid if one replaced “man” with “woman” and vice-versa, or even used only “man” or only “woman,” but at the cost of some statistical relevance. My goal here is not to take a stance on any specific case, where circumstances and the nature of the alleged act matter. We do know instances–the famous Duke University lacrosse case was one–where false accusations were made. I am interested in the economics of false sexual accusations. From this viewpoint, at least three points are worth making.
COLIN HEYDT JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS Abstract: Adam Smith is one of the philosophers whose views on the relation of morality to religion have been very actively debated. It is accepted that Smith had unorthodox personal religious beliefs. The crux of the debate, however, is whether or not the God of natural religion is […]
Dr. Martin Luther’s Deutsche Geistliche Lieder. The Hymns of Martin Luther set to their original Melodies with an English version, ed. Leonard Woolsey Bacon and Nathan H. Allen (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1884).
In early 16th century Florence, when Machiavelli was working as a diplomat for the city state, the seal of the Magistrates of the Ten of Liberty and Peace was an image of a dove holding an olive branch in its beak with the following Latin motto "S. Pax et Defensio Libertatis" (Peace and the Defence of Liberty). It can be found in volume 3 of Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings. Below is a photograph of a medallion made by "PENKO' Bottega Orafa Artigiana di Firenze with a similar image.
This month’s Liberty Matters discusses the work of the Austrian economist Ludwig M. Lachmann (1906 - 1990). All his whole professional life Lachmann considered himself an "Austrian" economist, a soldier dedicated to fostering an appreciation of Austrian insights and to developing those insights beyond the initial contributions of Carl Menger. So Lachmann saw it as his mission to advance among the Austrians a heightened appreciation of the importance of the subjective and autonomous nature of expectations. Lachmann’s most significant contribution to economic theory was to the theory of capital. These contributions can be found in numerous articles in the 1940s, during the LSE period, culminating in his book Capital and its Structure (1956), and in various articles subsequently right up until his death, and also in his final full length work, The Market as an Economic Process (1986). Lachmann’s capital theory is a logical outgrowth of his methodological and epistemological views. In other words, it reflects his thoroughgoing subjectivism. The topic is introduced by Peter Lewin, Clinical Professor in the Jindal School of Management, University of Texas, Dallas, and is joined in the discussion by Hans Eicholz, Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund; Paul Lewis, Reader in Economics and Public Policy at King’s College London; Mario J. Rizzo, professor of economics at NYU, and Bill Tulloh is a cofounder and economist at Agoric.
See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".