Welcome to Liberty In the Books

Liberty In the Books, a project of Liberty On the Rocks, is a reading group founded by Amanda Teresi and moderated by Ari Armstrong. For information about the Denver group, please contact Ari at ari (atsign) freecolorado (dot) com.

Start a free market reading and discussion group in your area! Not only is discussing the ideas of liberty fun, but it educates and inspires activists to spread those ideas through the culture. The reading selections and review questions presented here offer a great foundation for an independent reading group.

Please note that Amanda and Ari lack the resources to independently evaluate any reading group, or organizer thereof, other than the one they actively attend. Therefore, no other group may claim to be sanctioned by or affiliated with Liberty In the Books. However, independent groups may claim to use Liberty In the Books materials, so long as they note their non-affiliation. It is strongly recommended that independent groups meet at public places, such as a bookstore or coffee shop, and that potential members attend only meetings held at public places. It is the responsibility of each potential member to independently evaluate a group and its organizers.

Please see the additional suggestions for starting an independent reading and discussion group.

All notes and review questions were written by Ari Armstrong and may be reproduced at will so long as a link to this web page is provided. Neither Liberty In the Books nor Ari Armstrong's notes were prepared, authorized, or endorsed by any other publisher or author mentioned in the materials.

 


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Moral Health Care vs. "Universal Health Care"

by Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh

This article is published at no charge online by The Objective Standard (Winter 2007-2008, Vol. 2, No. 4).

Zinser and Hsieh explain that modern problems in health care and health insurance are the consequence of decades of political meddling.

This reading is perfect for single meeting. See the notes and review questions.



 


 

"At Liberty in the Books you will read thought provoking books and meet intelligent people who want to gain a better understanding of our world through reading about economics, public policy, and liberty."—Brad Beck, Founder of Liberty Toastmasters

 


 

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The Forgotten Man
A New History of the Great Depression

by Amity Shlaes

Buy in association with Amazon:
The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

Hoover was an anti-free-trade interventionist, not an advocate of free markets. Far from "saving capitalism" or bringing the country out of the Great Depression, FDR's hyper-interventionism lengthened the depression.

Read Ari Armstrong's review at The Objective Standard.

This reading works well for four meetings. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

"Liberty In the Books is the best way I've found to gain proficiency
communicating free market ideas and how they work. The regular
discipline of reading encourages you to think about the books in more depth.
Also, the kindred spirits you meet provide a sounding board on many issues.
This can only make you a better practitioner or promoter of liberty."
—Craig Green, engineer and Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute

 


 

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The Housing Boom and Bust

by Thomas Sowell

Buy in association with Amazon:
The Housing Boom and Bust: Revised Edition

The modern housing crisis was not caused by free markets, as various politicians and commentators have alleged. Instead, as Thomas Sowell shows, it was the product of wide-ranging political interventions in the economy, including easy-money policies and legal requirements that banks make risky loans.

This reading works well for two meetings. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

"I joined Liberty In the Books with a modest hope of expanding my understanding of practical economics. I've gotten far more benefit than I expected in that regard, even with just one meeting per month. The readings are enjoyable, and the discussions help cement the concepts and principles in my mind. I hope to see more such groups pop up around the country. If you want to better understand the real-life economic effects of freedom versus statism, start or join Liberty in the Books!"—Diana Hsieh

 


 

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Economics In One Lesson
The Shortest and Surest Way
to Understand Basic Economics

by Henry Hazlitt

Buy in association with Amazon:
Economics in One Lesson

Originally published in 1946, Henry Hazlitt's classic set the standard for learning basic economics. Its lessons continue to illuminate today's economic crises and concerns. Hazlitt discusses the fallacy of "stimulus" spending, the harm of politicians promoting risky housing loans, and the problems with various political interventions from protective tariffs to minimum wage laws.

This reading works well for three meetings. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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Vindicating Capitalism
The Real History of the Standard Oil Company

by Alex Epstein

This article is published at no charge online by The Objective Standard (Summer 2008, Vol. 3, No. 2).

Though portrayed by some biased historians as a plundering "robber barron," John D. Rockefeller succeeded by revolutionizing his industry's production and management and by relentlessly lowering prices, thereby dramatically enriching the lives of his customers.

This reading is perfect for single meeting. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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Reversing Course
American Attitudes about Monopolies, 1607-1890

by Eric Daniels

Daniels's essay is contained in the book The Abolition of Antitrust, edited by Gary Hull.

Buy in association with Amazon: The Abolition of Antitrust

A great second essay to add is Daniels's "Antitrust with a Vengeance: The Obama Administration's Anti-Business Cudgel," published by The Objective Standard (Winter 2009-2010, Vol. 4, No. 4)

Daniels explains how the meaning of the term "monopoly" originally meant the political granting of exclusive privilege but came to be misapplied to free market organizations. In the second essay, Daniels briefly explains how the Obama administration expanded antitrust enforcement.

These two essays are perfect for single meeting. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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Antitrust: The Case for Repeal

by Dominick T. Armentano

This book is published as a pdf online at no cost by the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Buy in association with Amazon:
Antitrust: The Case for Repeal

While antitrust laws often are described as protecting competition, their actual intent and consequence is to destroy free market competition, punish the successful, drive up prices, and protect inefficient businesses.

This reading works well for two meetings. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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Capitalism Unbound

by Andrew Bernstein

Buy in association with Amazon:
Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable Moral Case for Individual Rights

Bernstein reviews the life-furthering achievements of the Industrial Revolution in England and America, establishes the moral foundations of capitalism, and discusses the problems with socialism and aspects of the mixed economy.

Read Ari Armstrong's review at The Objective Standard.

This reading works well for two meetings. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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What Has Government Done to Our Money?

by Murray Rothbard

This work is available at no charge as a pdf from the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Rothbard reviews the historical rise of money, discusses how money would operate on a free market, and reviews the American history of monetary interventions.

This reading works well for two meetings. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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Progress and Property Rights

by Walker F. Todd

This work is available as a paperback and pdf from the American Institute for Economic Research.

Todd reviews the basic history of property rights from ancient to modern times, with an emphasis on English and American developments.

This reading works well for two meetings. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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Common Sense Economics

by James Gwartney et al.

Additional information about this book may be found at CommonSenseEconomics.com. Note that the 2010 edition was extensively revised.

James Gwartney and his coauthors review the basic principles of economics and political economy using lively, contemporary examples.

This reading works well for three meetings. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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The Economics of Freedom

by Frédéric Bastiat

This work is available at no charge as pdf from Students for Liberty.

Bastiat, the 19th Century French political economist, was a genius at toppling economic fallacies. This collection of his work includes his classic essays on the broken window fallacy and the protectionist petition from candle makers.

This reading works well for a single meeting. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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The Right to Earn a Living

by Timothy Sandefur

This work is available as a hardback and a pdf from the Cato Institute.

According to the principle of individual rights behind the American Revolution, people have the right to interact voluntarily to trade and produce goods and services. But "Progressive-era judges began to tear away those protections" and subject private contracts to political controls, Sandefur argues, in many cases damaging individuals' right and means to earn a living.

This reading works well for four meetings. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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Why Businessmen Need Philosophy

Edited by Debi Ghate and Richard Ralston

This book is available from the Ayn Rand Bookstore, Penguin, and Amazon.

This compilation of essays presents "a philosophical defense of capitalism by Ayn Rand and other Objectivist intellectuals." The book explains why productiveness is a moral virtue, what other principles producers need to adopt, and how business owners can defend their creative work.

This reading works well for four meetings. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes

by Peter Schiff and Andrew Schiff

Information on this title and its retailers may be found at Peter Schiff's web page.

Beginning with a story of a simple fish-catching economy on a remote island, the Schiffs develop basic economic principles in a logical and fun way.

This reading works well for three meetings. See the notes and review questions.



 


 

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The Original Constitution

by Rob Natelson

Natelson's book is available in paperback and Kindle. These notes follow the Second Edition. See his biography at the Independence Institute.

Rob Natelson argues, "We can reconstruct most of the original Constitution's meaning with clarity and confidence." However, that task requires a careful look at the law books and classical sources that the Founders commonly read. Natelson offers the fruits of his decades of Constitutional scholarship in this book accessible to the layperson. He offers extensive bibliographical references for readers who wish to explore various topics in greater detail.

This book works well for four meetings. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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Why Originalism Won't Die

by Tara Smith

Smith's 2007 article is published online by the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy.

Philosopher Tara Smith argues that originalism in Constitutional interpretation devolves into another variant of subjectivism, with the beliefs of the Founders held as primary, and without good guidance for applying the law to new cases. Smith argues that the proper way to interpret the Constitution (or any law) is neither according to the subjective beliefs of the Founders, nor the subjective beliefs of modern judges or the masses, but according to the objective meaning of the text.

This book works well for one meeting. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow

by Ludwig von Mises

This work, a transcription of six lectures Mises delivered in Argentina in 1959, is published online by Liberty Fund.

In this short work of breathtaking scope, Ludwig von Mises, the great Austrian economist who eventually settled and taught in New York, covers the basics of free-market economics, addressing such issues as why capitalism is superior to socialism, why government intervention in the economy doesn't work, how inflation operates and damages an economy, and how nations can prosper if they embrace freedom.

This book works well for one meeting. See the notes and review questions.

 


 

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How to Read the Federalist Papers

by Anthony Peacock

This work from the Heritage Foundation is available through Amazon.

What are the key themes of the Federalist Papers, the most important documents explaining and defending the U.S. Constitution? Anthony Peacock reviews these papers and discusses their themes of individual rights, political union, republicanism, citizenship, the separation of powers, and federalism.

This book works well for one meeting. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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Beyond Politics

by Randy Simmons

Simmons's book is available from the Independent Institute. Please note that it is the revised and updated 2011 edition.

"Traditional public policy and welfare economics have held that 'market failures'—the presumed inability of a free market to deliver certain goods and services deemed to be in the public interest—are common and require government intervention to protect the public good. But is this actually the case?

"Beyond Politics carefully scrutinizes this view through the modern theory of public choice and systematically explains how government is producing a scandal of political myopia, economic stagnation, and public distrust. Social welfare, consumer protection, education, trade, the environment, and crime are some of the topics the book examines."

This book works well for five meeting. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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After the Welfare State

Edited by Tom Palmer

After the Welfare State is available from the Atlas Society, Amazon, and elsewhere.

Should the government forcibly confiscate wealth to finance retirement programs, health care, and basic necessities? Do the government's welfare programs actually help those they are intended to help, or do they foster dependency, waste resources, and push out better alternatives?

The essays collected in After the welfare State address those questions and more, covering the history, modern workings, legality, and morality of the welfare state as it exists in the Unite States and throughout much of the world.

This book works well for two meetings. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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The Law

by Frédérick Bastiat

The Law is available from Bastiat.org, Amazon, and other sources.

What is the proper purpose of government? What is the legitimate function of the law? Do individuals properly run their own lives and make their own decisions, or do a nation’s rulers or political leaders rightly intervene to set the nation's course?

Frédérick Bastiat’s The Law eloquently argues that, properly understood, the law "is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense," and that political leaders corrupt the law whenever they push it beyond that narrow boundary.

This book works well for one meeting. See the notes and review questions.


 


 

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The Truth About Gun Control

by David B. Kopel

The Truth About Gun Control is available from the Cato Institute and Amazon.

In this short book, David B. Kopel explains the history of gun control, focussing on the American Revolution, the post-Civil War era, and the 20th Century. Historically, Kopel argues, gun control has been the tool of white racists trying to disarm the freedmen and of genocidal tyrants.

Kopel puts the modern gun control debate in context and argues in favor of the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

This book works well for one meeting. See the notes and review questions.