called democracy " the worst form of government except
for all those others that have been tried." Said another way, it has the
lesser of flaws compared to other forms of government.
Its major flaw can aptly be called the
Tragedy of the Commons, which states that when individuals us a
public good, they do not bear the entire cost of their actions. If each
person seeks to maximize his share of the public pie, he ignores the
cost borne by others. Thus over time, democracies suffer economic calamity. In
my opinion, the United States and other major countries are moving
inexorably in that direction.
It helps to think
of the modern nation-state as a corporation with a product to sell —
itself. It utilizes think tanks and the media to spread it propaganda.
The politicians tell you what they want to hear, but take actions
contrary to your interests. The average person doesn't have time to
acquire the knowledge to see through the lies and myths. It's a religion
of a different sort.
The books below are free of
jargon. Some cover history so we can learn from the past. They explain
the nature of money and how government has been debauching it. My
personal advice to anyone who will listen is get out of debt as fast as
you practically can. These books provide background to the gravity of
What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray Rothbard. Explains
the nature of money and how the government debases it through the
Federal Reserve System.
The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin. Argues
that the Federal Reserve was created to avoid direct taxation by
creating new money, which in turn is the cause of inflation.
America's Great Depression by Murray Rothbard. History books
describe Herbert Hoover as a do-nothing president. Actually it was his
interference in the economy that made things worse. Unfortunately,
Roosevelt continued Hoover's legacy. Uses the Austrian theory of
business cycles to refute current myths.
The History of Money by Jack Weatherford. Gives a broad overview
from early forms of money to modern banking. It's not the definitive
book, but good for first time readers.
Fiat Money Inflation in France by Andrew Dickson White. France had a
severe inflation that brought the beheading of Louis XVI and Marie
Antoinette. The parallels fit into today's economy.
Money Mischief: Episodes in Monetary History by Milton Friedman.
Explains through historical events the mischief that can result from
misunderstanding the monetary system. Outlines the central role of
monetary theory and shows how it can foster inflation.
The Myth of the Robber Barons by Forrest McDonald. Takes a look at
19th century entrepreneurs, noting the difference between those
who built monopolies with private money and those who had government
Financial Reckoning Day: Survive the Soft Depression of the 21st Century by William Bonner & Addison Wiggin.
Takes a look at past financial fiascos and examines the probabilities of
a major depression.
Economics for Real People by Gene Callahan. Introduces the Austrian
School of Economics for first time readers. Explains how government use
of statistics for economics planning distorts the price system.
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. A master of clear writing
explains many common fallacies. At their heart is the failure to look at
long term consequences.
Cliches of Politics by Mark Spangler. Covers a wide variety of
myths used to promote government that can be done more efficiently in
the private sector.
The Power of Economic Thinking by Mark Skousen. A collection of
short articles on a variety of topics utilizing simple economic analyses
to explain how free markets improve out standard of living.
The Free Market Reader: Essays in the Economics of Liberty by
Llewellyn H. Rockwell. Explains many of the deceits you read in the
Ludwig von Mises
Arguably one of the greatest thinkers in the twentieth century for his
contributions to economics and social theory. He was shunned by the
economics establishment for his view that dependency on government leads
to economic chaos. The Ludwig von Mises
Institute continues to publish articles on contemporary issues
and offers a wealth of resources on what is now called the Austrian
School of Economics.
Bureaucracy Makes a distinction between profit
management and bureaucratic management. The distinctions bring opposite
The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality Capitalism has
raised this country's standard of living to unprecedented level.
Explores why Americans are unsympathetic.
Liberalism: The Classical Tradition The
word 'liberalism' has been corrupted in recent decades to mean
socialism. Explains how classical liberalism means the opposite of
socialism: capitalism and the protection of private property. An
excellent introductory book.
Socialism If you have a lot of reading time,
this is the definitive attack on socialism. The author predicted the
demise of the Soviet Union because they had no realistic system of
Liberty verses authority
The concept of liberty is often
confused as an every-man-for himself philosophy. Nay! It is a quality of
going about your life in peace without aggressing against others. It is
in opposition to the common idea that others are entitled to the product
of your labor through the force of government. Liberty doesn't deny
charity towards other; it denies the right of others to deprive you of
your choice of charity. Liberty is compatible with free markets in that
it allows us to maximize the utility of scarce resources. To the degree
that citizens submit to their liberty to government authorities we are
poorer — economically and politically.
The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek. A classic written during
WWII. Warns how government social planning poses dangers to freedom.
The Fatal Conceit by Friedrich Hayek. Coined the term "spontaneous
order" to distinguish the differences between social planning from the
top to argue that natural order works from the bottom. Excellent book.
Free to Choose by Milton & Rose Friedman. Explains the benefits of
voluntary cooperation verses the "deadening effects of government
For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto by Murray N. Rothbard.
Excellent introduction to libertarianism in one volume. Covers moral
philosophy, economics, and answers questions on how to replace state
The Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority by Rose
Wilder Lane. Takes an historical view on man's quest for freedom and
government's attempt to quash it. "Government is guns," she says.
The God of the Machine by Isabel Paterson. Presents a theory of
history in defense of individualism. She criticizes all but but the
minimum application of government.
Our Enemy, the State by Albert Jay Nock. He calls the state an
efficient instrument for stratifying society and for siphoning goods
from producers into the hands of the elite. It's a sobering analyses.
Against Leviathan: Government Power and Free Society by Robert
Higgs. Exposes the corrupt foundation of big government from an
historical and economic view. Many of its functions produce the effects
they aim to cure.
Crises and Leviathan by Robert Higgs. Explains how national
emergencies like wars and depressions have prompted federal officials to
take over private rights and activities.
How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne. One of my
favorites. Discusses the many ways others scheme to draw you into
supporting their world. His writing style is as clear as glass.
Why Government Doesn't Work by Harry Browne. He makes the case for
shrinking government to its original Constitutional limits. The many
social problems today are the result of government excesses.
Beyond Politics: Markets, Welfare, and the Failure of Bureaucracy by
William C. Mitchell & Randy T. Simmons. Explodes the myth that "market
failures" are common, requiring government intervention. Argues that
government intervention is not the cure, but the cause.
Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block. It may be a shock to
imagine someone would defend prostitutes, drug addicts, dishonest cops,
blackmailers, misers, slumlords and such. Read before you judge.
Frederic Bastiat His clarity and wit make him a pleasure to read.
This page takes you to a list of his books in print. His writings touch
on economics and liberty. He can be sampled at
Foundations of Morality by Henry Hazlitt. Explores a host of topics:
Pleasure, social cooperation, altruism, self-sacrifice, duty, value,
asceticism, justice, freedom, free will, capitalism, socialism etc.
A Mencken Chrestomathy by H. L. Mencken. He was one of the best
wordsmiths and social critics of his time. This collection of essays on
a variety of topics is a delight to read.
Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do by Peter McWilliams. Argues that
you should be allowed to do with your person or property whatever you
choose as long as you don't harm the person or property of another.
The Lysander Spooner Reader A 19th century lawyer explains how
government tramples on your rights. Contrary to what judges tell jurors,
jurors can refuse to prosecute crimes they deem unjust, and more.
According to a
survey by the Library of Congress and Book of the Month club early
in the 1990s, Atlas Shrugged was rated second to the Bible in its
influence. Her mission was to lay out an ethical foundation for personal
liberty and free market capitalism. She's been demonized by statists (
economic control by centralized government) and praised by freedom
lovers such as me. Here life and works are summarized
The Virtue of Selfishness The title turns people off before they
have read the book. Her objective was to assert man's right to a moral
existence, to be the beneficiary of his moral actions. Man needs a code
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal Argues that free market capitalism is
based on the moral foundation of free exchange between suppliers and
consumers. It's antithesis is government interference in the process.
Philosophy: Who Needs It To study philosophy one needs to follow the
trail like a bloodhound. A common error in thinking is to accept the
consequences without pursuing the root causes. Lays out the basic
concepts for the study of her philosophy of Objectivism.
For the New Intellectual Contains excerpts from her novels which
contain the main philosophical passages and presents the outline of her
The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z by Harry Binswanger.
Contains excerpts of her writing on a variety of subjects. Good for
quick look-up. Not all the entries are hers.
Ayn Rand Amazon search page for other works by and about Ayn Rand.
History and current controversies
It has been observed that the victors write the history books. These
books set the record straight.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared
Diamond. A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. Traces
migration patterns, the effects of climate, disease and war on social
The Histories (Oxford World's Classics) by Herodotus, Robin
Waterfield, Carolyn Dewald. Writing in the 5th century BCE, Herodotus is
called the "father of history." His observations cover his travels
around the Eastern Mediterranean world.
Hammond Atlas of World History by Richard Overy. This is a big book
physically. Think of this as a short course in human history. It starts
with human origins and migration routes, and proceeds through historical
eras, covering the globe. The maps are incredible.
For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization
by Charles Adams. Those great pyramids were built with tax money. Covers
episodes in history when empires bankrupted themselves.
The Twelve Caesars by Michael Grant. Roman history can fill several
volumes. This are short biographies on the twelve emperors that shaped
the Roman empire: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Caligula, Nero and others.
Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel.
Unmasks many myths about the Civil War. Initially, Lincoln had no
interest in slavery; it was a gambit to reduce Northern and European
resistance by giving the war a moral cause. The south wanted to succeed
over tax issues.
The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories edited by John V.
Denson. Explains how American's long legacy of war is rooted in how it's
leaders lie to win public support.
Lies my Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got
Wrong by James W. Loewen. Did you know that the celebrated
Christopher Columbus worked his slaves to death, and more.
When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and its
Consequences by Eric Alterman. Covers president from Roosevelt to
George W. Bush. Lying is an art form that masks ulterior reasons.
Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the
Decline of Freedom edited by John V. Denson. Establish historians
rate the best presidents like Lincoln and Roosevelt for their
contributions for expanding the power of the state. This book rates them
as the worst presidents and explains why.
Official Lies: How Washington Misleads Us by James T. Bennet &
Thomas J. Dilorenzo. Exposes the ways in which the federal government
manipulates opinion in the name of promoting its own interests.
A list of favorite Libertarian and Paleo-Libertarian books
Hoodwinking the Nation by Julian Simon. Explains the fear tactics
used to exploit public ignorance about the environment. Argues that
people have a too positive a view of the past and too negative about the
Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax by
Sheldon Richman. Argues that the income tax is a form of theft that
turns the state into our master. Explains how we got it and how it is
Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State by Sheldon
Richman. Traces the history of the welfare state and details how
redistribution schemes damage both the taxpayer and the recipient.
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto. An ex-teacher reveals the
heart of compulsory schooling as designed to stamp out the
self-knowledge and curiosity essential to learning.
Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families by
Sheldon Richman. Traces history of government schools from Sparta to
America and argues that they are designed to suppress individual
initiative while training kids to support the state.
What Has Government Done to Our Health Care? by Terree P. Wasley.
Explains how government meddling in health care has exploded costs.
Socialized health care in other countries is regulated by rationing.
The Law by Frederic Bastiat. This little book was written 150 years
ago, yet his explanation of how the law is used to plunder is as cogent
today as when it was written. He grew up during the reign of Napoleon.
The Tyranny of Good Intentions by Paul Craig Robert & Lawrence M.
Stratton. On introductory book identifying the abuses in our legal
system. Singles out overzealous prosecutors and bureaucrats.
Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? by Thomas Sowell. Argues that
civil rights legislation imputed racial inferiority and resulted in
harms of those it was designed to protect.
James Bovard I gave a link to the search page because the author has
made a career out of cataloging government transgressions. His writing
style doesn't bog you down and it's well researched.