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 Economics and the Public Welfare

By Benjamin M. Anderson
Foreword by Arthur Kemp

In the turbulent years between passage of the Federal Reserve Act (1913) and the Bretton Woods Agreement (1945), the peoples of the Western world suffered two world wars, two major and several minor international financial panics, an epidemic of currency devaluations and debt repudiations, civil wars, and revolutions.


Economics and the Public Welfare

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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 June 19, 2018

On The Universe We Think In

We often try to think our way out of the predicament of life, and Fr. James V. Schall offers us wisdom about our place in the universe.

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 19, 2018

Kim’s Grand Strategy

From the pages of rocket man’s diary.

EconLog June 19, 2018

Immigration: A Confession and a Value Judgment

I must confess that, contrary to my former anarcho-capitalist stance for unrestricted immigration (shared by many of my co-bloggers here), I now find the topic more complicated. I of course have no economic objection to immigration, if by “economic” is meant its effects on wages, incomes, and the allocation of resources. Basically, as Jean-Baptiste Say would have said, supply creates its own demand. As far as value judgments are concerned—some are ultimately needed to evaluate any government policy—I find no moral case for banning competition by the poorest. Any newborn citizen is an immigrant from within, and—except for Malthusian environmentalists—we understandably don’t worry about that.

The invasion argument is more difficult to reject. Assume that “our” state is a contractual agent for protecting our liberty. An invasion of immigrants who do not share that value would compromise it. We then have a classical-liberal argument against open immigration. How many and what sort of immigrants would actually come is an empirical issue that cannot be decided in advance, and it may be impossible to go back after the fact.

Law & Liberty June 19, 2018

Why the Supreme Court is Activating the Passive Virtues

In such divided times, we shouldn't be surprised that the Supreme Court embraces passive virtues in order to guard their authority.

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)


EconLog June 19, 2018

Do poverty programs reduce poverty?

The answer is “probably”, but by less than you might assume. The LA Times has an interesting article entitled:

New evidence shows that our anti-poverty programs, especially Social Security, work well

I’m not quite convinced by this argument.  The article discusses some very interesting research by Bruce D. Meyer and Derek Wu, which shows the poverty rate looking at only official income data, and then again after accounting for taxes and various income support programs.  I’m convinced by their argument that poverty, properly measured, has fallen rather sharply over time.  There are clearly far fewer poor people in America than when I was young (in 1960).

Indeed research by Bruce Meyer and James Sullivan produced another similar graph that I included in this post, which shows that the consumption poverty rate has fallen to extremely low levels, below 5%.  I like that graph so much I included it in the new principles textbook that I am working on.

Law & Liberty June 19, 2018

The Rational Voter Might Show Up to Defend Civic Virtue

Isn't it possible that the rational voter model can be amended to account for civic virtue?

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).

OLL | Quotations February 17, 2014

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

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).

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. […]

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 | 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".

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 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.

Law & Liberty June 19, 2018

Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments

Can procedurally-sound amendments to a constitution be declared unconstitutional?

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 […]

OLL | Quotations July 16, 2012

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

Madame de Stael

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.

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 | 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)


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).

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