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 Law,” “The State,” and Other Political Writings, 1843–1850

By Frédéric Bastiat
Introduction by Pascal Salin
Jacques de Guenin, General Editor
Dennis O’Keeffe, Translation Editor
David M. Hart, Academic Editor

“The Law,” “The State,” and Other Political Writings, 1843–1850, collects nineteen of Bastiat’s “pamphlets,” or articles, ranging from the theory of value and rent, public choice and collective action, government intervention and regulation, the balance of trade, education, and trade unions to price controls, capital and growth, and taxation. Many of these are topics still relevant and debated today.


“The Law,” “The State,” and Other Political Writings, 1843–1850

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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 June 18, 2018

Richard Reinsch on the Enlightenment, Tradition, and Populism

Richard Reinsch, editor of Law and Liberty and the host of the podcast Liberty Law Talk, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Enlightenment. Topics discussed include the search for meaning, the stability of liberalism, the rise of populism, and Solzhenitsyn’s indictment of Western values from his Harvard Commencement Address of 1978.

This week's guest:

Law & Liberty June 18, 2018

An Unsung Opponent of Totalitarian Power

Even as he resisted evil, the Charter 77 cofounder Václav Benda kept the oppressors in his prayers.

OLL | Quotations April 6, 2008

Plato believed that great souls and creative talents produce "offspring" which can be enjoyed by others: wisdom, virtue, poetry, art, temperance, justice, and the law (340s BC)


OLL November 21, 2011

Psychic and Physical Treatises; comprising the Second and Third Enneads (Plotinus)

psychic.physicalPsychic and Physical Treatises; comprising the Second and Third Enneads, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).

EconLog June 17, 2018

Breastfeeding and Incentives

I suspect that most Republicans must have immediately “known” that the breastfeeding story was “fake news,” and that most Democrats were immediately sure it was true.

Late last week, the press reported the horrible story of border cops snatching a baby being breastfed by her illegal-immigrant mother. The story however may not be true. The New York Times calls it a mere “anecdote.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as the White House denied it. President Trump, who introduced the “zero tolerance” policy that would be responsible for this outrage, blamed “the democrats.”

The original source of the story was apparently CNN, who quoted an attorney from the Texas Civil Rights Project, who was himself reporting what the mother had told him. The mother is unreachable and is probably in jail. In short, there is no independent, verifiable evidence that the event ever happened—even if the administration revealed that 1,995 children were separated from their illegal-immigrant parents over a six-week period. Attorney General Jeff Sessions views these parents as guilty of “smuggling a child” (besides entering illegally in the country).

All this reminds us of the need to check the veracity of news stories. Looking at the incentives of the individuals involved is a first step. Incentives are the bread and butter of economists. If something is not incentive-compatible, assume it did not happen. So what are the incentives here?

Econlib June 13, 2018

Our New Design

A note to EconLog readers:

You may notice that we have a new format today.  This is part of a long planned changeover in our platform. 

There are a number of new features, but the one I most look forward to is the wider dimensions.  Under the old format, pictures and graphs were limited to a maximum of 420 pixels wide, and this often made it hard to see complex graphs. There were a few posts I had to move to MoneyIllusion simply because it had a wider format.  Those will now go to EconLog.

There are other important new features as well.  I expect that readers will be most excited by the fact that the whole new site is mobile responsive!

There will also be lots more opportunities to explore related content from other sections of the site. 

ALL content will continue to be archived, and it should be easier than ever to find and explore all archives.

Law & Liberty June 15, 2018

Scott Adams vs. Sam Harris on President Trump: Part II – Harris’s Critique of Trump

Like many of the President's critics, Sam Harris seems to be unable to dispassionately assess the present moment.

Liberty Review June 11, 2018

Spinning the industrial revolution

JANE HUMPHRIES, BENJAMIN SCHNEIDER THE ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW Abstract: The prevailing explanation for why the industrial revolution occurred first in Britain during the last quarter of the eighteenth century is Allen’s ‘high wage economy’ view, which claims that the high cost of labour relative to capital and fuel incentivized innovation and the adoption of new techniques. […]

OLL November 21, 2011

The Thirteen Principal Upanishads (Misc (Upanishads))

13.upanishadsThe Thirteen Principal Upanishads, translated from the Sanskrit with an outline of the philosophy of the Upanishads and an annotated bibliography, by Robert Ernest Hume (Oxford University Press, 1921).

OLL | Quotations February 17, 2014

John Trenchard on the real nature of political parties (1721)

OLL | Liberty Matters May 1, 2018

Alan Kahan, "Limited Government, Unlimited Liberalism. Or, How Benjamin Constant was a Kantian After All" [May, 2018]

Liberty MattersIn this month's discussion Alan S. Kahan, Professor of British Civilization at the Université de Versailles/St. Quentin, argues that Benjamin Constant, like Immanuel Kant, analyzed politics from a double perspective. Kant divided his Metaphysics of Morals into what he called the "Doctrine of Right," about how human behavior affects other people, which is the business of the state, and the "Doctrine of Virtue," which relates to human beings' internal obligations, their motives and duties, which are not the state's business. In Constant this double perspective takes the form of strictly limiting the sphere in which it is legitimate for the state to act, the equivalent of Kant's doctrine of right, and of close attention to human moral and religious development, the equivalent of Kant's doctrine of virtue. For both Kant and Constant the state's sphere of action must be strictly limited. But the limits they impose on the state do not limit the scope of their commentary on the relationship between politics and religion and morals. Indeed, for Constant at least, a limited state must rest on a broad religious/moral foundation to survive. Alan Kahan is joined in the discussion by Aurelian Craiutu, professor of political science at Indiana University, Bloomington; Bryan Garsten, professor of political science and humanities at Yale University; and Jacob T. Levy, Professor of Political Theory in the department of philosophy at McGill University.

See the Archive of "Liberty Matters".

Law & Liberty June 18, 2018

A Stealthy Congressional Abdication

Seeking policy resolution from the courts, when you have the votes to do it yourself, is the height of legislative folly.

OLL November 21, 2011

A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents (Oliver J. Thatcher)

mediaeval.historyA Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar Holmes McNeal (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905).

Law & Liberty June 15, 2018

Living as an Ex-Suicide

If we want to understand how someone who "has it all" could commit suicide, Walker Percy remains our best guide.

Liberty Review July 3, 2017

Should There Be Freedom of Dissociation?

DAVID S. ODERBERG ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, Volume 37, Issue 2 Abstract: Contemporary liberal societies are seeing increasing pressure on individuals to act against their consciences. Most of the pressure is directed at freedom of religion but it also affects ethical beliefs more generally, contrary to the recognition of freedom of religion and conscience as a basic human […]

Law & Liberty June 15, 2018

Discrimination Against Asian Americans Reveals the Ugliness of Racial Selection

Harvard currently faces a lawsuit alleging discrimination against Asian Americans, and the facts reveal the divisiveness of counting by race.

OLL | Quotations July 16, 2012

Germaine de Staël on the indestructible love of liberty (1818)

Madame de Stael

EconLog June 18, 2018

Whose Tariff Rates Are Higher?

I’ve been having discussions with a number of pro-Trump friends who favor Trump’s raising of tariffs as a way to induce other countries’ governments to reduce their tariffs. They think my fear of a trade war is overstated.

One major premise of their argument is that the United States has lower tariff rates than other countries. I don’t think that matters much for the argument: even if it’s true, the dangers of a trade war are serious. Indeed, I have shared their premise.

But the Cato Institute’s Simon Lester casts doubt on that premise. In an important blog post this morning, he gives a table of tariff rates by country.

The first thing to notice is how low tariff rates are generally, something I have pointed out previously. But the second thing to note is this, in the words of Simon Lester:

Taking all of these tariff figures into account, it can be hard to come up with a precise ranking, but you can see that New Zealand and Australia are the low tariff leaders. The U.S., EU, Canada, Japan, and Switzerland come next, clustered closely together. Mexico has tariffs that are a bit higher. Then come China and Brazil with even higher tariffs.

I emphasize that whether U.S. tariff rates are higher or lower than other countries’ tariff rates is not important for my argument about the dangers of starting a tariff war. But it does seem important to some of those whom I argue against. Are they factually correct about China? Yes. Canada? Yes by the WTO measure, but no by the World Bank measure. Average the two measures and you get an average of 2.0 percent for the United States and 1.95 percent for Canada. In other words, virtually no difference.

OLL | Images of Liberty April 12, 2016

The Virtues

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

Law & Liberty June 15, 2018

Summer Reading Picks

Vacation fun for bibliophiles.

OLL | Liberty Fund Books November 21, 2011

David Hume: Prophet of the Counter-revolution (Laurence L. Bongie)

Hume Prophet Counter RevolutionThough usually Edmund Burke is identified as the first to articulate the principles of a modern conservative political tradition, arguably he was preceded by a Scotsman who is better known for espousing a brilliant concept of skepticism. As Laurence Bongie notes, “David Hume was undoubtedly the eighteenth-century British writer whose works were most widely known and acclaimed on the Continent during the later Enlightenment period. Hume’s impact [in France] was of undeniable importance, greater even for a time than the related influence of Burke, although it represents a contribution to French counter-revolutionary thought which, unlike that of Burke, has been almost totally ignored by historians to this day.” The bulk of Bongie’s work consists of the writings of French readers of Hume who were confronted, first, by the ideology of human perfection and, finally, by the actual terrors of the French Revolution. Offered in French in the original edition of David Hume published by Oxford University Press in 1965, these vitally important writings have been translated by the author into English for the Liberty Fund second edition. In his foreword, Donald Livingston observes that “If conservatism is taken to be an intellectual critique of the first attempt at modern total revolution, then the first such event was not the French but the Puritan revolution, and the first systematic critique of this sort of act was given by Hume.”

Liberty Review January 7, 2017

Paul Sakmann’s and Albert Schatz’s Mandeville Studies: Their Link to Hayek’s ‘Spontaneous Order’ Theory

MARK CHARLES NOLAN Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Volume 38, Issue 4 Abstract: This paper agrees with Friedrich August Hayek’s assertion in his 1945 Dublin lecture that the importance of Dutch physician Bernard Mandeville’s role in the history of economics had been overlooked and with his 1966 London lecture’s assertion that Mandeville’s important contribution […]

OLL | Quotations August 13, 2006

Adam Ferguson observed that social structures of all kinds were "the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design" (1782)


EconLog June 18, 2018

Is it “reality” that turns you into a statist?

One of the rhetorical tricks in contemporary debates goes as follows: Present people who agree with you as if they were convinced of the validity of their (your) positions by reality, suggest people who disagree with you never put their nose out of their office.

I am reading a bit on “neoliberalism” (a tip: if it has neoliberalism is in the title, feel free to assume it’s a terrible book. There are exceptions, but only a handful). In particular, I am reading one of Oxford’s typically excellent very short introductions, this one written by Manfred Steiger and Ravi Roy.

They write (p.5):

The fury and longevity of the Great Depression convinced leading economic thinkers like John Maynard Keynes and Karl Polanyi that government was much more than a mere ‘nightwatchman’.

OLL November 21, 2011

The Barber of Seville, or the Useless Precaution (Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais)

barber.sevilleThe Barber of Seville, or the Useless Precaution; A Comedy in four Acts. With Songs (London: J. Chouquet, 1776).

Law & Liberty June 15, 2018

The Rational Voter Model Does Not Predict Zero Turnout

Critics of rational choice theory in general and the rational voter model in particular misunderstand what it implies.

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