Classic & Contemporary Writings from Lao-Tzu to Milton Friedman
If you are looking for a quick introduction to the principles and practices of the Libertarian Party, avoid this book; a good search engine and some basic research skills are all you need. If instead you're searching for a deeper understanding of the philosophy of liberty, then I can suggest no better starting point.
The book itself is a collection of short essays from a wide range of contributors to the libertarian tradition, from political economists and philosophers (such as Locke, Mill, and Adam Smith) to some perhaps more surprising sources (like the Old Testament and the Tao Teh Ching). These essays are grouped around broad themes - "individual rights", "free markets", "skepticism about power" - certainly a boon to students, but also an aid to the casual reader. Should a particular topic or thinker pique your interest, a lengthy essay called "The Literature of Liberty" catalogs the sources as it closes the book.
Whether reading this book will convince you to join the Libertarian Party, or send money to the Cato Institute, is a matter open to debate; indeed, some critics rightly point out elements of "big L" Libertarianism that are at odds with "small l" classical liberal thought. My own hope is that reading these essays will give you not only a better understanding of the founder's intent, but also a clearer vision of a better possible future - a freer, saner world. How we get there, if we get there, remains to be seen.
Author: Tom G. Palmer
Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice
What is freedom? How is freedom related to justice, law, property, peace, and prosperity? Tom Palmer has spent a lifetime-as a scholar, teacher, journalist, and activist-asking and answering these questions. His best writings are now collected in Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice. Palmer's work ranges from the theory of justice to multiculturalism, democracy and limited government, globalization, the law and economics of patents and copyrights, among many other topics. These essays have appeared in scholarly journals and in such newspapers as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and London Spectator. His work is accessible to scholars and thoughtful citizens alike. Palmer has smuggled photocopiers and fax machines into the Soviet Union; organized movements against the draft, taxes, censorship, and victimless crime laws; and ceaselessly promoted freedom in the most hostile locations, from communist Europe and China to Iraq to the halls of academe.
GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS AREBAD FOR YOUR KIDS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Author: James Ostrowski
If you're wondering how health care will look under increased government control, look no further than our schools (and this book).
The result of public control is a mediocre product that people tolerate because it's "free", and because most can't afford the better option (since so much of their money-- taxes--- is already going to pay for the "free" option).
Those who can afford it often escape the inferior product by paying additionally for a better one. A private one. So they pay twice; mandated taxes for the lesser, then additional money for the one the really want.
FEDS IN THE CLASSROOM
Author: Neal P. McCluskey
How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education
Thomas Jefferson warned that 'the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.' American elementary and secondary education shows how right he was. Two centuries ago the founders rejected federal participation in education and even rejected George Washington's plans on establishing a national university. It should be of little surprise, then, that the term 'education' appears nowhere in the Constitution. Few early Americans would have considered providing education a proper function of local or state governments, much less some distant federal government. Federal control of the nation's schools would have simply been unthinkable. This view was the prevailing one well into the 20th century. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan campaigned, in part, on a proposal to close the federal department of education. How things have changed in a few short decades. Today, every state requires children to attend school, and most dictate precisely what the children will learn. Parents, in contrast, are able to make very few choices about their children's education. And what role does the federal government have now? It has drilled deep into almost every public classroom in America. Washington can now tell public schools whether their teachers are qualified, their reading instruction acceptable, and what they must do when their students do not achieve on par with federal demands. At the outset of his presidential administration, for example, George W. Bush pushed for the largest federal encroachment in education in American history. Through his No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government can dictate what will be taught, when, and by whom, to most of the 15,000 public school districts and 47 million public school children. Why the change? Is it a change? What's the cost to the taxpayers? What are the benefits to public school students? To public schools? Today, with the almost-complete consolidation of education authority in the hands of policy makers in Washington, the last of our educational liberty has been pushed to the brink of extinction. Thankfully, there is still hope: Over just the last decade-and-a-half, school choice - public education driven by parents, not politicians and bureaucrats - has become a force to be reckoned with. Feds in the Classroom will challenge much of the conventional wisdom surrounding federal involvement in education. The author considers all federal activities-legislation, funding, regulations, and judicial oversight-and then makes a cost-benefit and constitutional assessment.
THE ROAD TO SERFDOM
Author: F. A. Hayek
Edited By: Bruce Caldwell
Text and Documents
The Definitive Edition
An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics,The Road to Serfdomhas inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program—The Road to Serfdomwas seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944,The Road to Serfdomgarnered immediate, widespread attention. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 books were sold. In April 1945,Reader’s Digestpublished a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this edition to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best seller, the book has sold 400,000 copies in the United States alone and has been translated into more than twenty languages, along the way becoming one of the most important and influential books of the century.
With this new edition,The Road to Serfdomtakes its place in the seriesThe Collected Works of F. A. Hayek. The volume includes a foreword by series editor and leading Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell explaining the book's origins and publishing history and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek's thought. Caldwell has also standardized and corrected Hayek's references and added helpful new explanatory notes. Supplemented with an appendix of related materials ranging from prepublication reports on the initial manuscript to forewords to earlier editions by John Chamberlain, Milton Friedman, and Hayek himself, this new edition ofThe Road to Serfdomwill be the definitive version of Hayek's enduring masterwork.
Other than Thomas Woods, I can think of no one else that can explain the often intimidating field of economics as clearly and simply as Peter Schiff can. Even if you are a complete idiot when it comes to understanding economics, this book will make you understand that economics is actually a very simple concept to grasp. If you are literate, you should have a great understanding of the Austrian school upon finishing this book. Complete with humorous anecdotes and illustrations, Peter and Andrew Schiff retell their father's masterpiece (How an Economy Grows, and Why It Doesn't) in a new, modernized version. Whether you are new to, or are well versed in the Austrian School of Economics, I recommend that you read this book and pass it on to a friend when you are finished!
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: AMERICAN HISTORY IN BLACK & WHITE
Author: David Barton
Absolutely excellent book that should be required reading for all black Americans that wish to really learn about their history. For hundreds of years there has been a clandestine effort by the Democrat party to either enslave or oppress the black Americans. However, this history has been hidden from them and in fact black Americans vote in majorities for Democrat candidates. Unfortunately the history continues as these people are kept subservient and under control by addicting them to welfare instead of helping them succeed and forwarding the pernicious lie that minorities are somehow inferior as to not be able to succeed without the government's help.
In this book the reader will learn about the first black speaker of the house in 1870, the thoughts of Frederick Douglass on the constitution after he had embarked upon a study of it and the real genesis of the Klu Klux Klan. This book will make you angry. Angry at the injustices committed upon fellow human beings. Angry at the wrath of tyranny unleashed by Democrats on anyone who was black, or was white and advocated for black rights. Angry that you have not been taught this part of history of the country, and angry that the story has been twisted for political gain for 200 years.
However, the book will empower you as well. It should be required reading for all black Americans.
Author: Bradley A. Smith
The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform
At a time when campaign finance reform is widely viewed as synonymous with cleaning up Washington and promoting political equality, Bradley Smith, a nationally recognized expert on campaign finance reform, argues that all restriction on campaign giving should be eliminated. In Unfree Speech, he presents a bold, convincing argument for the repeal of laws that regulate political spending and contributions, contending that they violate the right to free speech and ultimately diminish citizens' power.
Smith demonstrates that these laws, which often force ordinary people making modest contributions of cash or labor to register with the Federal Election Commission or various state agencies, fail to accomplish their stated objectives. In fact, they have worked to entrench incumbents in office, deaden campaign discourse, burden grassroots political activity with needless regulation, and distance Americans from an increasingly professional, detached political class. Rather than attempting to plug "loopholes" in campaign finance law or instituting taxpayer-financed campaigns, Smith proposes a return to core First Amendment values of free speech and an unfettered right to engage in political activity.
Smith finds that campaign contributions have little corrupting effect on the legislature and shows that an unrestrained system of contributions and spending actually enhances equality. More money, not less, is needed in the political system, Smith concludes. Unfree Speech draws upon constitutional law and historical research to explain why campaign finance regulation is doomed and to illustrate the potentially drastic costs of efforts to make it succeed.
THE ADVENTURES OF JONATHON GULLIBLE: A FREE MARKET ODYSSEY
Author: Ken Schoolland
A Children’s Book
This is a wonderful young-adult literature book on free-market economics and the inherent problem of things like publicly owned land, eminent domain, welfare, the drug problem, the one major weakness of pure democracy and other such things. Part of what makes it such a delight is that there are references to many great economic ideas and thinkers such as Ludwig Von Mises (the cat, Mices), who had been many brands of socialism before becoming one of the greatest economists ever, Frederic Bastiat's candlemen's petition, Murray Rothbard (the Great Bard), etc. Using small little stories, the book illustrates the inherent conflict over many government programs and regulations and how they also benefit either special interests or bureaucrats in particular. This is a great way to get interested in economics as a whole and also the libertarian movement as well.
AN ISLAND CALLED LIBERTY
Author: Joseph Specht
Illustrated By: Justina Dzerzanavskas
A Children’s Book
Wow! I LOVE this book! I bought several copies for my children’s school. This book explains what our forefathers were looking for when they left the taxation of Europe and proclaimed, "Give me Liberty, or give me death." Every American child must understand this concept and strive to protect it....because freedom is not free. This book conveys the very important concept of "liberty" in a way that any child can understand. (And they will DEFINITELY still be able to share their toys!)
THE SCARY STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE BIG BAD BOX OF FREE MONEY
Author: Martin McCannell
Illustrated By: Sharen Grey
A Children’s Book
In their later years, they bought a yacht and sailed the seven seas. The three little pigs each had a bag of gold coins to spend at the various ports of call. The good life. No wolf, no central bank, no worries. Or so they thought... After being shipwrecked and learning how to survive on their own, a treasure chest washed ashore brings the pigs a life-threatening economic disaster. Readers from age 10 to 100 will enjoy a fun and scary story -- while learning about the Austrian Business Cycle Theory of Ludwig von Mises and Nobel Prize winner Friedrich Hayek.
THE POWER OF FREEDOM: UNITING DEVELOPMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Author: Jean-Pierre Chauffour
In this thought-provoking book, Jean-Pierre Chauffour argues that freedom in all its economic, civil, and political dimensions is the only internally consistent and mutually supportive way of thinking about development and human rights.
THE RULING CLASS: HOW THEY CORRUPTED AMERICA AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT
Author: Angelo M. Codevilla
Introduction By: Rush Limbaugh
Codevilla thesis divides the country into two halves to make his case. These are not the typical talking points that the left drones on about: the haves and the have nots (John Edwards two Americas garbage), rather Codevilla's two classes are those who feed the political elites and the political elites themselves.
According to Codevilla remarkable thesis the keys to power and becoming an elite has little to do with wealth. A Texan oilman or a Missouri real estate developer may be worth tens of millions of dollars, as much if not more than the top tier of Codevilla elites. It's the elites and their functionaries' ability to expropriate the wealth of the non-politically connected that makes them powerful, comfortable and provides them with wealthy. The elites through their control of government determines who gets to put his hand in the till and who pays into that till. This explains why the majority of careerists who rely on the tax dollars of others so readily and willingly vote democrat.
The keys of power are also bestowed to those who belong to the right circles. The right circles include the nation's elite Ivy League universities, think tanks and journalistic outfits. These, as Codevilla illustrates with Clarence Thomas, doesn't guarantee you a seat at the table of the elites but they are most certainly required. As with the example of Lawrence Tribe, all sins can be forgiven if you belong and talk the talk.
The original vision of America was and still is one of the crowning achievements in human history but its core principles have been eroded by Codevilla's elites. These United States has been replaced with The United States indicating a shift from federalism to federal authority. Equality of opportunity has been supplanted by equality of outcome. A Republic has been replaced with an Oligarchy. The rule of law has become the rule of man. Leaders have been replaced with rulers.
Americans don't appreciate being "ruled" by our betters and are not pleased that our meritocracy has been replaced with nepotism. Codevilla thesis is long overdue and should have a significant impact.
Author: Dambisa Moyo
Why Aid is not working and How There is a Better Way for Africa
Over the past 60 years at least $1 trillion in aid was sent to Africa - yet, calls for even more grow steadily louder. Moyo - a native of Zambia contends that evidence demonstrates that this aid has made the poor poorer. Real per-capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s. In other words, aid is not part of the solution; it is part of the problem.
Even after aggressive debt-relief campaigns in the 1990s, African countries still pay close to $20 billion in debt repayments per year - at the expense of education and health care. Moyo also asserts that the roughly 500,000 individuals in the "aid business" have no motivation for that aid to succeed; meanwhile, well-meaning individuals such as Bono have choked off debate of its efficacy.
The author claims that the most obvious criticism of aid is that it enables rampant corruption and bloated bureaucracies. In 2002, the African Union, an organization of African nations, estimated that corruption was costing $150 billion/year. Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, states that Zaire's former president is reputed to have stolen at least $5 billion from the country. Across Africa, over 70% of government funding comes from foreign aid - enabling those governments to avoid accountability to local citizens since they pay so little.
In Cameroon, it takes a potential investor about 426 days to gain a business license, vs. 17 in South Korea. Under the auspices of the U.S. Food for Peace program, each year millions are used to buy American-grown food that is then shipped to Africa where it puts local farmers out of business.
Moyo's bottom-line is that other regions should stop the largess towards Africa, and Africa should focus on becoming more attractive to private investment. This includes ceasing to be the source of the world's greatest number of armed conflicts.
Author: George B. N. Ayittey
The Blueprint for Africa’s Future
Why haven't the poorest Africans been able to prosper in the twenty-first century? Celebrated economist George Ayittey thinks the answer is obvious: economic freedom was denied to them, first by foreign colonial powers and now by indigenous leaders with similarly oppressive practices. As war and conflict replaced peace, Africa's infrastructure crumbled. Instead of bemoaning the myriad difficulties facing the continent today, Ayittey boldly proposes a program of development--a way forward--for Africa.Africa Unchainedinvestigates how Africa can modernize, build, and improve its indigenous institutions, and argues forcefully that Africa should build and expand upon traditions of free markets and free trade rather than continuing to use exploitative economic structures. The economic model here is uniquely African and takes little heed from the developed world; this is sure to be a highly controversial plan for moving Africa forward.
THE MYSTERY OF CAPITAL
Author: Hernando De Soto
Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else
In the past five years I've read a shade under a thousand books, and this is easily the most important of them. In it, Peruvian economist de Soto sets out to do nothing less than explain why capitalism has worked in the West and been more or less a total disaster in the Third World and former Communist states. This has long been a pivotal question for anyone interested in the world beyond their own back yard, and there have been plenty of attempts to explain it before (often in terms of history, geography, culture, race, etc.). However, de Soto's is the most compelling and logically argued answer I've come across. But it's not just me. I don't generally quote other reviews, but my general reaction echoes the most respected policy journals, newspapers, and magazines, who tend to repeat the same words in their reviews:"revolutionary", "provocative", "extraordinary", "convincing", "stunning", "powerful", "and thoughtful". Perhaps my favorite line comes from the Toronto Globe and Mail: "De Soto demolishes the entire edifice of postwar development economics, and replaces it with the answers bright young people everywhere have been demanding." Of course readers (especially those on the left) will have to swallow a few basic premises from the very beginning, such as "Capitalism stands alone as the only feasible way to rationally organize a modern economy" and "As all plausible alternatives to capitalism have now evaporated, we are finally in a position to study capital dispassionately and carefully." And most importantly, "Capital is the force that raises the productivity of labor and creates the wealth of nations.... it is the one thing that the poor countries of the world cannot seem to produce for themselves no matter how eagerly their people engage in all the other activities that characterize a capitalist economy." No matter how badly some of us may want to hold on to cherished ideals of collectivist economies, the reality is that at present these are only viable on a micro scale. For the moment, capitalism has won, and the only question is how to make it work to improve the lives of the bulk of the world. De Soto writes: "I do not view capitalism as a credo. Much more important to me are freedom, compassion for the poor, respect for the social contract, and equal opportunity. But for the moment, to achieve those goals, capitalism is the only game in town. It is the only system we know that provides us with the tools required to create massive surplus value."
According to De Soto, the problem outside the West is that while the poor have plenty of assets (land, homes, businesses), these assets lie overwhelmingly in the extralegal, informal realm. De Soto's on the ground research reveals that this is the result of an accelerated process of urbanization and population growth, coupled with the inability of legal systems to adapt to the reality of how people live. What has happened is that throughout the Third World, the costs of making assets legal (obtaining proper title to a house, registering a business, etc.), are so prohibitive both in terms of time and money, that the assets end up being what de Soto calls"dead capital." In the West, a web of financial and legal networks enable people to use their assets to create further wealth, through such tools as mortgages, publicly traded stocks, and the like. Outside the West, most people live and work outside the kind of invisible asset management infrastructure that we take for granted, and thus are unable to use their assets for the "representational purposes" we are able to. Thus the full set of capitalist tools are not available to them and it becomes incredibly hard to realize any kind of upward mobility.
One of the key sections of the book is "The Missing Lessons of U.S. History", in which de Soto demonstrates how the US faced the exact same challenge several hundred years ago. The difference is that the legal system was flexible enough over a century and a half to realign itself with the reality being created on the ground by an energetic citizenry. However, it occurred over the long-term and long ago, and has thus been forgotten by history. What de Soto says needs to be understood is that the less developed nations of today are trying to accomplish the same thing over a much shorter time and with much greater populations, and without a clear understanding of how the West managed to do it. The ultimate challenge is raising the social awareness and political backing necessary to implement major legal change in the face of resistance from an entrenched bureaucracy and elites who benefit from the status quo. This is a daunting and provocative challenge-but not impossible.
Of course, all of the above is greatly simplified, so anyone interested in the state of the world should read it for themselves. De Soto's writing is remarkably clear (especially for an economist), and no background in economics or law is needed to follow his argument. There is a little repetition here and there, but always in the service of making sure the reader doesn't miss the big picture. In the end, whether you agree with his thesis or not, I guarantee it'll challenge your preconceived notions about global capitalism.