Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Current LFB website

Laissez Faire used this blog only temporarily while the new website was being arranged. If you wish to find our current site please go to Thank you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beware of Bait-and-Switch at Amazon

Today we were shocked to discover that Amazon is engaging in a form of bait-and-switch with one the books that we publish. If you do a search on Amazon for Economics in One Lesson, 5oth Anniversary edition (which is the updated version we published) Amazon claims to have copies for sale for $11.16. 

This was a surprise to us since Amazon has not ordered any copies of this edition and I was wondering how that was possible. When I clicked on the link they provided to order the 50th Anniversary edition what Amazon does is divert the request away from the 50th Anniversary edition to an earlier, different edition. What is worse, is that the 50th Anniversary edition is sold through our shop on Amazon. We find this highly deceptive, if not dishonest. People searching for a particular edition of the book are being diverted away from that edition by Amazon. 

We have emailed Amazon regarding this deceptive practice (which actually is illegal) and await a response from them but we won't hold our breath. Getting meaningful replies from Amazon is like the transparency policy at the Kremlin. 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Don't get ripped off on Amazon

Amazon has lots of "shops" which are individuals who sell books through Amazon. And some of these shops are not particularly scrupulous.

Many of them promise the lowest price on Amazon for a "new" book but what they sell you is a used book in good condition. That isn't quite the same thing. A new book generally would mean a book which the dealer has bought directly from the publisher or a wholesale distributor. It is not a used book in good condition.

I noticed recently two dealers offering "new" books which clearly are not new. One was for a title which we publish. They made sure they dropped their price 1 cent below our normal list price to offer it. Now this may well be a used book in very good condition but it is not a new book which they are offering. I can say this because I know they did not buy the book from us and we are the publisher. We wholesale directly to bookstores but not to wholesalers for that title. This dealer didn't buy from us and couldn't have bought it from a wholesale outlet. That means they either bought the book from a customer or from another bookstore. In either case it was a used book when they bought it.

Another dealer which I noticed was offering a title that we sell, but don't publish. They, of course, offered a "lower" price for this "new" book. The problem was that they were a Goodwill store. Goodwill doesn't buy new products. People donate items they owned to Goodwill. It is a charity I've supported with donations. But a donated book is a used book. Again it might be in good condition but it is not a new book.

One way that some dealers compete is by over-rating the quality of the books they are offering. They purchase a used book from someone for $2. A used book in good condition might sell for $8, but by calling it "new" they can sell it for $12 or more, as an example. They purchase the item paying for it as if the book is "used" but then retail it as if the book is "new".

Also keep your priorities straight. The price difference of a few pennies -- sometimes much less -- can be deceptive. Consider the customer ratings that we have. Our current rating, for the last 30 days is 100% from customers. For the lifetime of LFB at Amazon that rating is 99%. For most of the year, since ISIL took over. our rating has been 100%. One outlet that had undercut us by one cent had a rating of 88%. (To see our current rating click on the image above.)

Now 88% on a test looks good. But consider what it means for a customer. If you are not fully satisfied 12% of the time that means that one out of every eight customers, who left a rating, was less than completely happy with the service they received. Does saving one cent on the book cover the downside of increasing the risk that you will be unhappy with your purchase?

Before you buy check out the rating. But in fairness you should also look at the comments and replies from the dealer. Not every complaint is what I consider legitimate. We got a huge number of orders before Christmas, many of which were literally placed just a couple of days before. Yet we had individuals demanding their money back because the order did not arrive in time for Christmas. There was no possibility the orders would arrive that quickly since they waited to the last minute to purchase it. The most bizarre complaint came from a woman who placed an order on December 31st. She then wrote us on January 2nd demanding to know why her book had not yet arrived. Of course, the post office was closed on the 1st. But even if it wasn't it, there was no way the book would travel across the country and be delivered in 24 hours unless she paid for overnight delivery.

None of these complainers ordered expedited service. They all purchased the slowest delivery method possible because it was the cheapest and then were unhappy that they didn't get a delivery method which they didn't pay for.

Reading the complaints is important. The worst rating we received was from a libertarian who ordered a book from us. He then wrote us, before the due date for delivery saying he had not received it. We suggested he wait until the delivery date arrived and told him that if the book was still missing he should email us and we would replace it. He never emailed us so we naturally assumed the book was delivered. That is what normally happens, a customer jumps the gun on when they expect the book and waiting for a day or two usually clears up the problem.

Instead of telling us the book still had not arrived he went another month and then wrote us angry email because the item still had not arrived. Remember we had offered to replace it for him and just asked him to wait a few days -- not a few weeks. At that point he didn't give us the opportunity to replace the book as we promised to do. He is free to do that, of course. But he then gave us a very low rating, the worst rating ever in fact. Yet his book had been shipped and we had offered a second replacement copy when it was lost in the mail. Reading the comments of the rating section would make that clear.

One of the strangest ratings we received, which was clear if you read the comments, came from someone who received the book they ordered and received it very quickly. He also saw a list of what other books we sell. He down rated us, not because of the service he received, but because he decided he didn't like one of the other titles we sold. He was a leftist, as he made clear in an email to me, and rated us low simply because we are libertarian. I should note he eventually changed his rating realizing he was being unfair.

So, not all low ratings are the fault of the dealer. You really do need to look at the ratings but you also have to go through the negative ratings to determine why someone rated them lowly.

One last caveat is not to be fooled simply because a dealer has a 100% rating either. It is a good rating but you have to see how many customers rated them. There are plenty of dealers that have 100% but were rated by one or two individuals only. This is hardly a representative sampling. The larger the number of ratings the more likely it is that they say something. We are small potatoes compared to some but we have 1187 ratings. So when our current rating is 100% that means something. Currently we are getting about one new rating per day.

And the dealer I mentioned with the 88% rating had several thousand customers rate them. That one in eight of them was less than happy is a real warning flag as far as I'm concerned. I've had enough experience with customers to realize that perhaps one to two percent of them are just unreasonable. But to have 12% of them less than fully satisfied is a problem.

Buying on Amazon has its problems. Often your best bet is to contact a dealer directly to purchase an item. Amazon restricts the options that dealers have and the public often doesn't know this. Amazon also makes customer service very difficult as the dealer is forbidden to contact the customer directly -- in fact Amazon hides the email from the dealer. So all emails must go through Amazon. That practice means that some emails just never get read, often to the detriment of the customer, the dealer, and sometimes to the detriment of both of them. Amazon doesn't worry about this lack of communication because the dealer will often get the blame.

Also remember that Amazon sets the postage rates, not the individual shops. One of our problems has been that Amazon often charges people far more postage than is necessary. This is especially true for Canadian orders, or for anyone ordering more than one book. Amazon will charge you a flat rate of $3.99 per title. Yet typically adding a second book to an order may cost between 35¢ and 70¢ in additional postage.

Contacting the book dealer directly allows you to find out whether a book is in stock. Often Amazon blocks a dealer from listing books. This gives the impression they don't have the book when they do have it. At any one time we are blocked from listing numerous new titles. The net result is that a customer going to Amazon will see the Amazon list price and pay that instead of the lower price we offer. We can't tell the customer the book is in stock because Amazon has blocked us from adding it. Normally these blocks exist for several weeks before they are lifted, precisely the period when many people are most likely to make their purchase.

It is always to your benefit to work with the dealer directly. Amazon certainly offers a service that makes it easy to order. But it also works intentionally to block communication between you and the dealer. And that often means that if there is a problem you don't know about it or the dealer doesn't know about it. Going straight to the dealer, when you can, means better service. We welcome customers calling us directly with their queries or orders and promise they will speak to one of our staff, not to someone at a switchboard in India (we don't oppose outsourcing but it is not a great way to get customer service). You can call us at 866 686 7210 and we will do our best to help -- always.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rare signed/numbered Atlas Shrugged for sale.

Rare 10th anniversary edition of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Limited to 2,000 copies each copy is numbered and signed by Rand. This is number 350 of 2000. In the original slipcase. Hardcover in glassine jacket, bound in blue cloth with gilt on cover and spine label. Slipcase has some wear and slight fading. Book is in good condition with a very slight weakening of the binding which can be repaired easily. Shipping fees include insurance for full value of book. We can also accept credit card payments directly if you prefer. You may email us with questions or call us at 1 800 326 0996 with questions. We will ship anywhere in the world by UPS insured.

We have this book on auction at Ebay. The minimum bid is $2,400 or you can buy it now for $2,900. Typically this edition sells for $3000 or more. If you wish to bid on the book you can go here to do so.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Network Solutions continues to make life hell.

Since we posted on September 1 things did not improve with Network Solutions which, in my opinion, is acting maliciously to prevent us transferring our domain names to another server. They have demanded signed letters and ID copies. They got everything they wanted.

On Tuesday we were told that they had removed the transfer lock. They sent us instructions to reinitiate the transfer but we discovered that some admin contact information that they said they updated last week had not been updated at all. That would block the transfer. This in spite of them assuring us it had been done and would take effect in 24 hours. Everything apparently takes effect in 24 hours, in their dreams.

So the admin contact information finally was updated and that was confirmed. Instantly Network Solutions sent another message saying they had locked all the domain again! That was three days ago. We were told by phone that they would release it within 24 hours but that never happened. We have emailed them and they have ignored the emails. It has been one full week since we tried to get our new website design up and running and for that entire week Network Solutions has botched the transfer, lied to us, treated us as if were criminals for daring to use our own domain names, and basically done everything they can to block the transfer.

I know a lot of our customers at internet designers and such. May I warn you to stay as far away from Network Solutions as you can. As bad as they were when I last blogged about them they have managed to become even worse.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Avoid Network Solutions at all costs

Recently Laissez Faire Books was about ready to go hot with a new e-commerce site, the long-awaited upgrade that we needed. As you may know, when ownership was transferred it was necessary to pull down the old site.

We hired a web designer. Actually it was our second designer. The first designer started things, closed the old site, and then went out of business. We were working with the new designer to open this site as quickly as possible.

But in the process we were consolidating all our domain names with the same server. So we contacted Network Solutions, where the names had been registered, and asked them what we needed to do to transfer them. We followed their instructions. This after having to wait about 40 minutes before a customer service rep answered.

The next day they sent us an email saying they have locked two of the five domain names to "protect" us from unauthorized transfer of our names to another server -- this in spite of them knowing it was authorized and that it was done directly on the server, and after we answered their security questions. So we called them again and had to wait at least another 30 minutes before their service rep answered the phone.

At this point we explained to them that they locked two of our domain names and we needed them released and that were actually harming us not protecting us. They said they would expedite the release. One day later they send an email once again saying that they would not unlock our domain names in order to protect us.

Yesterday we also sent them an official request from the email address on record with them asking to release it. We responded to them when they emailed the official email address on record. And still they won't release our property to us because they are protecting us.

At this point I don't believe they are protecting us. They know we authorized the transfer so that our new e-commerce site could go into operation. It appears that they are trying to cling to our registration for another month in the hopes of forcing us to stay with Network Solutions. We were moving to GoDaddy because our parent organization, the Interntional Society for Individual Liberty, has a dedicate server there and their domains names registered there as well. We prefer to deal with one company instead of two. But now that we see how Network Solutions is inflicting financial harm on us it is clear that the sooner we cut all ties with them the better.

As soon as the new sites is available we will let you know. At this time Network Solutions is blocking and

Monday, June 23, 2008

Can any readers give advice on this problem

Lately we have in hit with numerous pieces of hate propaganda by some demented individual who hates Jews. He continually sends us the anti-semitic material that we don't want to receive. We asked him nicely, though he didn't deserve such respect, to delete us from his hate list. He has refused to do so. The second time we told him we would report him for sending spam after we requested that he delete us. The hate material comes in with amazing regularity.

He uses an account at Yahoo who claims that they "take seriously" anyone using a Yahoo account to spam others. Sure they do! That's why they apparently make it impossible to file a spam report against one of their customers. I have gone to their FAQ and gone through their "abuse" section. The only connection I found was to a "search abuse" -- I've never heard of that but figured I'd give it a try.

They responded and said it was the wrong department. But they have refused to provide an email so I can file with the right department. Instead they say I must go to page that answers the question about abuse. It actually only addresses how people with Yahoo accounts can stop spam from others. It doesn't address how others can stop spam from Yahoo accounts.

Failing that I was told to click "no" when it asks if this was helpful and then fill out the "feedback" form that will appear. I click "no" but no feedback form appears. There is a button to contact "customer support". Attempts to use it however require me to "log in" to my Yahoo account. In other words they will Yahoo customers complain about spam but not those of us without Yahoo accounts. Yet it is they who are sending the emails on behalf of this nut case. If you don't believe that he's crazy look at the photo.

My question to the readers is this: Does anyone have an email address or a phone number where one can contact Yahoo and actually reach someone who stop us from getting this unwanted hate mail?

Our view is that we have asked him to stop sending his crap to us. He is in violation of his agreement with Yahoo. He refuses to stop and refuses to honor his contract with Yahoo. But we need help to stop getting his offensive literature.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Some questions on Market for Liberty

I received a couple of questions over the last couple of weeks regarding the classic book The Market for Liberty by Linda and Morris Tannehill and thought I’d answer them here for the benefit of everyone.

One writer wanted to know if it was true that Linda and Morris Tannehill were pseudonyms and that the real authors were Dirk Pearson and Sandy Shaw. The other asked about what versions of the book exist. I’ll answer in that order.

I can assure the readers that Linda and Morris Tannehill were real people and the legitimate names of the authors. I recently read the files of correspondence between Laissez Faire Books and the Tannehills. Linda and Morris had split up as a couple and apparently Linda remarried. They were living in different states.

I was familiarizing myself with the history of the contract between LFB and the Tannehills since LFB republished the book in 1994 after purchasing the rights from the Tannehills. I saw letters from Linda and Morris and even have the photocopies of the payments they received when they sold LFB the rights to The Market for Liberty.

That brings us to question number two. There have only been two legitimate editions of The Market for Liberty -- if there are others floating around they would be pirated editions and actually the theft of LFB property (depending on when that was done).

The first legitimate edition was the one which the Tannehills published themselves. It was a paperback edition and printed with a yellow paper cover. If memory serves me it said it was printed in Michigan which is where they lived at the time.

The LFB edition of the book was a stark black cover. Those are the two legitimate editions. The first was published by the Tannehills, the authors and thus copyright holders. Later they sold the rights to the book to LFB. If there is another one I have not yet seen it. If it was printed years ago then it was the violation of the property right of the Tannehills. If it was printed recently then they have stolen LFB property.

By the way if you have one of the originals I would estimate its value at around $40 to $50.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Anarchy, State and Utopia

In the realm of modern political philosophy few books have had the impact that Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia had. This libertarian classic won him the Naitonal Book Award in 1975, been translated into about a dozen languages and has been named one of the 100 most influential books since World War II by the Times Literary Supplement.

Nozick’s book was considered the definitive answer to the theories of John Rawls which justified coercive redistribution of wealth. Nozick showed that when the state expands to areas beyond that of protecting the rights of individuals it can only do so by violating the rights of people.

We are informed that this book will sadly being going out of print soon so we stocked up on copies when we could. The list price is $25.00, which is what Amazon sells the book for. The Laissez Faire price is $19.50. To order call 1 800 326 0996.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Cult of the Presidency

The Imperial Presidency of George Bush may trample on the Constitution, ignore the Bill of Rights and invent new powers for itself. But Bush wasn't the first president to do nor will he be the last. In his provocative new book, The Cult of the Presidency, Gene Healy argues that the fault lies not in our leaders but in ourselves. When our scholars lionize presidents who break free from constitutional restraints, when our columnists and talking heads repeatedly call upon the “commander in chief ” to dream great dreams and seek the power to achieve them—when voters look to the president for salvation from all problems great and small—should we really be surprised that the presidency has burst its constitutional bonds and grown powerful enough to threaten American liberty?

The Cult of the Presidency takes a step back from the ongoing red team/blue team combat and shows that, at bottom, conservatives and liberals agree on the boundless nature of presidential responsibility. For both camps, it is the president’s job to grow the economy, teach our children well, provide seamless protection from terrorist threats, and rescue Americans from spiritual malaise. Very few Americans seem to think it odd, says Healy, “when presidential candidates talk as if they’re running for a job that’s a combination of guardian angel, shaman, and supreme warlord of the earth.”

Healy takes aim at that unconfined conception of presidential responsibility, identifying it as the source of much of our political woe and some of the gravest threats to our liberties. If the public expects the president to heal everything that ails us, the president is going to demand—or seize—the power necessary to handle that responsibility.

Interweaving historical scholarship, legal analysis, and trenchant cultural commentary, The Cult of the Presidency traces America’s decades-long drift from the Framers’ vision for the presidency: a constitutionally constrained chief magistrate charged with faithful execution of the laws. Restoring that vision will require a Congress and a Court willing to check executive power, but Healy emphasizes that there is no simple legislative or judicial “fix” to the problems of the presidency. Unless Americans change what we ask of the office—no longer demanding what we should not want and cannot have—we’ll get what, in a sense, we deserve.

This title has our highest recommendation.

Hardback, 368 pages, list price $22.95. Our price $16.50. To order please call 1-800-326-0996.

NOTICE: If you wish to order this book from us you can only order it by calling us. You can not order the book through our shop at Amazon. For reasons which have yet to be explained Amazon has restricted our selling of this book. They tell us it is "ineligible" for inclusion in our list of books. We have almost 500 titles listed in our Amazon shop and this is the first time we have been told we can't list a specific book.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Mind of the Market

Michael Shermer is the editor of The Skeptic magazine and an advocate of reason and science. In his newest book The Mind of the Market Shermer outlines how markets act and evolve much the way nature acts and evolves. Capitalism is a natural system which evolves through natural selection.

What is often forgotten is that Darwinian evolution and Smithian markets both show how order can evolve naturally from competition and innovation. To oppose capitalism makes about as much sense as being against photosynthesis.

Laissez Faire is happy to offer Michael Shermer’s new book The Mind of the Market. But we are also thrilled to have DVDs of his presentation to the Cato Institute about the his new book. This is an excellent introduction to the book and a good companion to it.

Hardback, 308 pages, list price $26.00. LFB price $23.95.
DVD, 60 minutes, $14.95

Special Offer: Book and DVD, normal price $40.95. Buy both from LFB for $29.95.

To order call 1-800-326-0996.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Zimbabwe: The Death of a Dream

Zimbabwe: The Death of a Dream is a Laissez Faire Books exclusive. The world has been watching the corruption and petty thuggery of Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe. But most people ignored the warning signs for decades.

When Mugabe came to power the world applauded. The Los Angeles Times said “with Mugabe at the helm the future of Zimbabwe... is brighter now than at any other time in the past two decades.” We now see how dreary that future was. Margaret Thatcher praised Mugabe when he came to power and The Economist said: “Race relations are sunny.” In just a few short years all that optimism turned to tears.

But very few press accounts can tell you how or why this happened. They don’t explain how it was a series of government blunders by Mugabe that dragged Zimbabwe down. They don’t tell you that right from the start Mugabe considered himself a radical Marxist who promised to impose one party rule on Zimbabwe. They don’t tell you how they pooh-poohed those facts when they first were made public years ago. The crisis in Zimbabwe was in the making for decades but the media portrayed Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s saviour.

And when the whole charade fell apart in 2000 they misreported the facts. What was portrayed as an attack on “white farmers” was not that at all. The target was not a small number of white farmers but the tens of thousands of black voters who lived on the white farms. The farms provided them homes, schools and clinics. They were out of reach to Mugabe’s armed thugs and couldn’t be intimidated by force nor bribe by government “services”. The white farmers were attacked because they stood between Mugabe and black voters. This fact escaped most the media.

Zimbabwe: The Death of Dream explains in easy-to-read chapters how and why the collapse of Zimbabwe came about. But it does much more. It explains the role of “envy” in the socialist politics and how Mugabe used “hatred of the good for being the good” to create his dictatorship. It shows how Mugabe attacked all successful elements of his society, not just white farmers. Black businessmen, the educated, teachers, etc., were all objects of attack by Mugabe’s armed agents.

Jammed with facts this very readable book gives a libertarian perspective to an issue that is now prominent in the news. Written a few years ago it warned of the current crisis, predicted the famines that now plague Zimbabwe and accurately predicted how the crisis in Zimbabwe would be played out in South Africa as well.

The author, Jim Peron, is now general manager for Laissez Faire Books. His articles on African politics have been published around the world including the Wall Street Journal (Europe). Paperback, 152 pages, $14.95.

Bonus: Jim’s other book, Die, the Beloved Country? chronicles the decline of South Africa under the first years of governance by the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela. Also available for $14.95 the two books can be purchased as a package deal for $22.95 from Laissez Faire. To order call 1 800 326 0996.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A few days off

Our offices will be closed for a few days. We are rapidly running out of space and are scounting for new offices for the next few days. When we are back this message will be removed.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

America's War on Sex

"In our free society, people have the right to choose how they live their lives."-- President George Bush, June 3, 2006 So why does our government:

• want to censor what you read, hear, and see?
• try to limit your access to contraception?
• attempt to legislate "good moral values"?
• try to brainwash your kids about "abstinence"?

These are the kinds of questions Dr. Marty Klein asks--and answers--in his new book, America's War on Sex. With hundreds of examples ripped from today's headlines, he names names, challenges political hypocrisy, and shows the financial connections between government and conservative religious groups that are systematically taking away your rights. Dr. Klein isn't shy about it. He demands to know--as you should demand to know--

If 50 million Americans consume pornography, why does the government dare to regulate it without consulting any consumers? Why do Congressmen listen to "victims of porn" but not healthy adults who use porn?

Now that "abstinence-only" sex education has been proven a failure, why does the government still give it $200 million each year? And how can most of that money go to "faith-based" groups who tell your kids how God feels about their sexual choices?

Why do hundreds of American communities feel they have the right to eliminate legal adult entertainment, claiming "we're not that kind of city"?

Why do family courts have the right to judge the private sexual habits of each parent when making custody decisions?

Our glorious Constitution guarantees us the widest range of rights civilization has ever seen. Why are those rights systematically undermined and revoked when it comes to sexual expression? Is there a conspiracy to deny us our sexual rights? No, says Marty Klein: "It's worse than a conspiracy. It's a war. They're very open about it--it's a War on Sex." It's a war that threatens the very fabric of our secular democracy. The American Taliban, our own sexual jihadists, want to replace our government with laws based on the Bible, creating a country in which "normal sex" is narrowly defined and no one has the right to alternative sexual information, health care, or personal expression. America is fighting a war on terror to prevent the overthrow of our way of life by fanatics who want to base all law on their strict religious beliefs. It is completely unacceptable that a group of conservative Americans is trying to accomplish the same thing right here.

Hardback. Inscribed by the author. 212 pages. $28.95.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Case Against Adolescence

A good thinker integrates the books he or she reads. Often you discover that information in one book corresponds with information in another. And sometimes the connections are rather unusual. For instance, I found an interesting connection between Unger’s biography Lafayette with Robert Epstein’s book The Case Against Adolescence.

At the age of 14 Lafayette was engaged to be married. His bride to be was then 12-years-old. The would-be mother-in-law wanted her daughter to wait until she was older. So marriage was delayed until the girl turned 14 and Lafayette was 16. For his wedding gift he was made a captain and “command of a company in the Noailles Dragoons when he turned eighteen.” At about the same time Louis XVI, then just twenty, and his wife took the throne of France.

Upon turning 18 Lafayette assumed his captaincy and shortly after became a father. At that time he persuaded some friends to join him on a journey. He was going to America to fight for the liberal revolution against the English monarch. At 19 he accepts the commission as a Major General in the Revolutionary Army. He becomes a hero of the American Revolution.

And this brings me to Epstein’s fascinating and persuasive book The Case Against Adolescence. Dr. Epstein is the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today magazine and someone thoroughly familiar with the literature on the topic.

His basic case is that adolescence is a recent, Western invention. The Lafayette case above indicates what that means. During much of Western history teenagers were not treated as if they were some class of more advanced children. The reality is that they were given adult responsibilities and adult rights. And, for the most part, they proved themselves capable of handling such rights and responsibilities. Even today this process of socialization continues to exist in numerous cultures around the world.

Recent Western society, however, compartmentalized teens. It stripped them of a large portion of the rights that teens historically held and started treating them more and more like children. This compartmentalization had several results.

One is that teens, who used to spend a considerable amount of their teenaged years working and socializing with adults, were relegated to peer groups. Where they used to have regular contact with adults, which helped them learn how to act like adults, their role models suddenly became unsocialized teenagers like themselves.

In addition, there is the ever-present teenage complaint: “I am not a child.” Of course teens are not children. But socially and legally they are often treated that way -- except when the law finds it convenient to hold them responsible like adults but without the rights of adults. Epstein says this sort of treatment is infuriating and frustrating to young adults. They feel grown up but they are treated like children. This encourages them to act more like children than like adults.

Epstein outlines numerous cases where children or teens were put into adult situations due to circumstances and performed as well as adults. He shows from the literature that the ability of teens to act in mature ways is not significantly different from that of legal adults.

Teens who are frustrated by their treatment as children, however, find various ways which force society to treat them as adults. One such method is to act violently or criminally. Another is to become a parent or to act in ways associated with being “grown up”. What is often seen as “acting out” is the cry of an adult wanting to be treated like an adult, but being treated like a child.

There are aspects of Epstein’s book which libertarians might take issue with. But, on the whole, it is a call for the extension of human rights, responsibilities and liberties to a segment of the population who are too easily treated like second class citizens. General Lafayette is an example of what can happen in a different time with different social values, a time when young adults were treated as rights-bearing individuals, not as big children. Lafayette lived up to those expectations and so do most teens when given the opportunity. For this reason the subtitle of Epstein’s books is “Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen.”

This is an important contribution to the case for giving teens their full set of rights. It is persuasively written, covers the major areas of contention, and brings forth reams of scientific evidence to refute the notion that teens are merely surly, large children. It is highly recommended. Hardback, 489 pages, list price $24.95, Laissez Faire price, $22.95. To order call 1 800 326 0996.

JOHN TAYLOR GATTO: “Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a policy maker, or a recovering victim of enforced childishness, you need to read this book.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Atlas Shrugged with Antlers!

Laissez Faire Books has been working to expand it’s fiction department, especially fiction for the young. And while you can find books for older children or teens it is especially difficult to find material for those who are younger. One delightful exception to that rule is Thidwick: The Big-Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss.

The story concerns a herd of moose at Lake Winna-Bango and one moose in particular, Thidwick. One day a Bingle Bug asks Thidwick if he can ride on Thidwick’s antlers. Being a gentle soul Thidwick is happy to comply. A hour later he discovers that the bug has invited a Tree Spider to share the antlers as well. Soon a Zinn-a-zu Bird joins them.

Thidwick is unpleased when the Zinn-a-zu starts plucking hair from his head to build a nest but the bird tells him “You can always grow more.” The next morning Thidwick is dismayed to discover the bird’s wife joined him during the night and her uncle, a Woodpecker, has joined the group. The uncle has also decided to make some holes in Thidwick’s antlers which he then invites a family of squirrels to use. Soon the menagerie is joined by a turtle and a bobcat.

Thidwick discovers that the rest of the herd has deserted him. Worse yet, winter is setting in and the moose-moss he eats is now scarce. He has to swim the lake to the other side if he is to survive. Thidwick steps into the water only to hear this clamor from his “guests”.
“STOP!” screamed his guests. “You can’t do this to us!
These horns are our homes and you’ve not right to take
OUr home to the far distant shore of the lake!”

“Be fair!” Thidwick begged with a lump in his throat...
“We’re fair,’ said the bug.
“We’ll decided this by vote.”
Of course when the election is held Thidwick is outvoted eleven to one. So Thidwick obeyed the will of majority and climbed back on shore. Of course the freeloaders immediately expanded the number of “guests” living at Thidwick’s expense. Just when Thidwick doesn’t think it could get worse --- it does. Hunters arrive looking for a nice moose head for the wall of their club. Burdened by the weight of his guests poor Thidwick finds it hard to escape the hunters.

Exhausted by the extra weight he is forced to carry he is trapped by the hunters when a miracle happens, well, not a miracle exactly. It’s time for him to shed his antlers so a new set can grow a new set.
“And he called to the pests on his horns as he threw ‘em,
‘You wanted my horns; now you’re quite welcome to ‘em!
Keep ‘em, They’re yours!
As for Me, I shall take
Myself to the far distant
Side of the lake!”
One can’t help think of Wyatt’s torch in Atlas Shrugged. Ellis Wyatt is finally disgusted by the looters confiscating his business one piece at a time. He set one of his oil well’s alight and posted a note at the bottom of road leading to it. “I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It’s yours.”

Now only does this Dr. Seuss classic illustrate how the welfare state grows and grows it shows how it burdens down those forced to carry the weight. And it eventually puts them at risk as well. Thidwick had only one alternative ”to shrug”.

This book has some wonderful illustrations that any child would enjoy. The book is a hardback and is $14.95. To order a copy call Laissez Faire at 1-800-329-0996.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Girl Who Owned a City

If libertarian ideas are to have a future then we have to reach each new generation with the ideas. That is one reason that libertarian oriented fiction for young people is important. I have already reviewed the first two volumes of the Shadow Children series here and here. And I shall be reviewing volume three shortly

Today I want to share two other books which are favorites of mine and which I think are good additions for any young person’s library.

I don’t remember when I first read O.T. Nelson’s book The Girl Who Owned a City but I certainly enjoyed it immensely. It is not only a libertarian work for kids but basically an Objectivist novel as well. And I personally enjoyed it since the story takes place in the locality where I was living when I read it. I’ve moved on since then but the book is still a pleasure to read.

One day the children of the world wake up to discover that they are alone. All the adults have died in some mysterious plague. Left to fend for themselves they have to discover what it takes to survive.

The main character is Lisa, a young girl, left alone to fend for herself and her younger brother. All the support that her parents had given her is now gone and she realizes that to survive she must think. She has to figure out how to survive. Using her reason Lisa discovers food that others had forgotten about. She also discovers that some children resort to looting instead of thinking to survive.

Forced to defend herself from the looters Lisa builds an alliance with some of the other children from her neighborhood. But repeated assaults by the looters make life difficult. Lisa decides her only alternative to have her own city. She and her children retreat to an abandoned school which they turn into fortress in order to fend off the looters.

The author wrote this book for his own children, Lisa and Todd, and his goal was to create a children’s story that would translate the basic ideas of Ayn Rand into a format that they could understand. And in this he succeeded. This is a Laissez Faire recommended book.

Paperback, 200 pages, $5.95.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

New LFB DVD exclusives.

As part of the expansion of the new Laissez Faire Books we are stocking and producing more DVDs. For instance we have already promoted the DVD of skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg which is well worth lending out to friends and relatives. Trust me: they’ll watch the DVD long before they’ll read his book (which is excellent and which is in stock as well.)

We have a few DVDs I want to mention in particular. In cooperation with our friends at the Cato Institute we are offering two DVDs which we can recommend. One is with President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic. His talk Environmentalism is not one that the Greens will applaud. But the many of us who see radical environmentalism as a threat to liberty will applaud his comments. Copies are available from us for $14.95. Mentioned earlier this week is another Cato DVD with Philippe Legrain on Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them also for $14.95.

We also have two DVDs which will be of special interest to libertarians. Libertarian scholar George Smith gave two lectures at one of the ISIL world conferences on The Origins of Classical Liberalism. Both lectures were big hits with the audience. The two lectures are available on one DVD for $16.95.

At the same conference Michael Cloud gave a presentation entitled Battlefield or Marketplace. This two hour presentation includes important techniques you can use to become a more effective communicator of libertarian ideas. This DVD is also $16.95.

To order any of these DVDs call 1-800-326-0996.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Among the Impostors -- Shadow Children

In Among the Impostors, volume two of the Shadow Children’s sequence, author Margaret Peterson Haddix continues her harrowing tale of a totalitarian future where guns, snack foods, and pets are banned along with having more than two children. Illegal “third” children are executed by the state and the Population Police are actively on the hunt for them.

In this volume, Among the Impostors, we follow the main character Lee Grant, under his assumed named of Luke Garner. At the end of volume one Luke is given a false ID in order to come “out of hiding”. But it means assuming the identity of the deceased Lee Grant and that means leaving home and his family and attending Hendricks School for Boys.

Here Luke discovers that there are other impostors like himself, assuming the identities other than their own. But among the impostors there are also impostors: “third children” who are not who they appear to be but agents of the Population Police.

In this volume Luke is out in the world for the first time in his life. After being hidden since infancy this is an entirely new experience for him. And Haddix explores the emotions that Shadow Children have when they come out of hiding. We also see Luke beginning to mature. He begins to explore the world on his own and discovers the joy of private ownership and accomplishment.

More importantly he discovers a growing network of individuals all dedicated to saving the Shadow Children and toppling the government: two causes which Luke decides to embrace as his own.

As with the first volume Haddix continues to weave a story of children pitted against the State. And libertarians won’t be disappointed. While this reviewer is now waiting to read volume three the story line, so far, is one that libertarians can embrace and these are good gifts for young readers.

Among the Impostors, paperback, 172 pages, $5.95.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Special package deal: Immigrants are good for us.

Some conservatives argue that more immigration is detrimental to the country. Yet historically libertarians have been the advocates of the free movement of goods, capital and labor. The free movement of all three are critical elements of a free market. To restrict any one of these three pillars of a market economy is to shift the economy decidedly in a dirigist direction.

And author Philippe Legrain has authored a hard-hitting, perceptive defense of a free market in labor in his work: Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them. Legrain argues the immigration is not the zero sum game that many xenophobes on the Right or unionist on the Left seem believe. Free migration, like all free exchange, is a win-win situation. Legrain carefully answers the arguments put forth by those who want state restrictions on labor migration.

Economist Tyler Cowen says Legrain’s book is the “single best non-technical defense of a liberal immigration policy. What I liked most was how it put U.S. debates in a broader context, most American sources don’t do this.... This book is original in this regard, yet without moving beyond easily understood arguments.”

Hardback, 374 pages, $27.95.

But we also have a DVD of Legrain putting forward his case for a libertarian immigration policy. Approximately one hour long this presentation covers some of the main points and is a great educational tool for people just starting to consider freedom as an alternative. This DVD is a Laissez Faire Books exclusive in cooperation with the Cato Institute. DVD, $14.95.

Immigration Package deal. Order both the Legrain DVD presentation and the book at a special discount. If you order the book we will sell you the DVD for the special low price of $7.95. In other words get both the book and the DVD for $35.90.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Liberty books for kids. The Shadow Children

Millions of people first heard the message of individual liberty through novels -- yet the libertarian movement seems to produce precious few novels, in spite of their success record. If liberty is to grow the ideas of liberty have to seep into popular culture. If libertarian novels are in short supply for adults the selection for children is even more dire. It is the intention of Laissez Faire Books to help rectify this problem by offering a selection of good libertarian-oriented works for children.

And the first such book that we are stocking is part of a series called the Shadow Children sequence by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The Shadow Children series comprises seven volumes in total. Volume one, Among the Hidden, introduces us to our the main character of the series, 12-year-old Luke Garner. All Luke knows is that he must remain hidden at all times -- for he is illegal. No, he’s not Mexican -- he’s a third child in a nation which regulates everything and which bans anyone from having more than two children. Be warned, this review will give away the entire plot but then we’re hoping this is a book adults will buy for kids.

Luke, the main character of the book, lived on a small family farm and had some reprieve from the necessity of hiding. He could go outside during the day with his brothers because the woods shielded the farm from the view of others. But one day the government tells the family they are confiscating the wooded land to build housing for Barons. Barons are mostly wealthy government employees who live in relative luxury while the rest of the population is kept intentionally on the financial edge -- in order to force them to work harder.

Luke realizes when the woods are gone his life will be gone as well. He wants to know why the family must give up their land. “The Government didn’t ask us if we wanted houses there,” his father tells him. Luke imagines “the Government as a very big, mean, fat person, two or three times as tall as an ordinary man, who went around yelling at people. ‘Not allowed!’ and ‘Stop that!’ It was because of the way his parents and older brothers talked: ‘Government won’t let us plant corn there again.’ ‘Government’s keeping the prices down.’ ‘Government’s not going to like this crop.”

Everything on the farm is tightly controlled by the state. The family is forced to sell their hogs, and forbidden to have livestock, since it might offend the Barons moving into the new houses. When Luke’s father looks at hydroponics to grow food during the winter in order to feed his family he is ordered to turn in the equipment because it might be used to produce marijuana.

Luke retreats to his room and sees the world entirely through a small vent opening. But, with the woods gone, he can now see farther and one day he discovers that inside the home of one of the Barons there is another Shadow Child. After weeks of planning Luke finally finds a way to meet the other child and discovers it is a girl named Jen. Jen tells Luke that lots of Barons have illegal children and her father is a top official in the government.

Luke is shocked. “’But—if you’re an illegal—’ Luke hadn’t thought he could get any more confused.”

Jen respond: “'Haven’t you learned? Government leaders are the worst ones for breaking laws. How do you think we get this house? How you think I got Internet access? How do you think we live?’” She introduces Luke to the world of Shadow Children through an illegal chat group that she operates and she tells him of her bold plan. The shadow children, thousands of them, will come out and demonstrate in front of the president’s residence. She says that once the world sees these children they will understand that they have a right to live free.

Luke refuses to go along. He’s too afraid but Jen carries out her rally with the few dozen Shadow Children who dared join her. Luke listens patiently to the news and hears nothing. The media is tightly regulated by the state. Days go by and Luke can’t stand now knowing what happened. He sneaks back to Jen’s house looking for her only to be discovered by her father instead. The frightened man points a gun at the boy, a gun which is illegal in this society -- as are pets and junk food. Luke tells him that he’s a third child as well, a friend of Jen’s and he has to know what happened at the rally.

Luke is told that the Government killed her and all the other children with her.
They shot her,’ Jen’s father said. “They shot all of them. All forty kids at the rally, gunned down right in front of the president’s house. The blood flowed into his rose-bushes. But they had the sidewalks scrubbed before the tourists came, so nobody would know.
And by using Jen’s computer to access the chat room, which was now being monitored because of the rally, Luke would be discovered as well. The Population Police would come and search all the homes in the area and any Shadow Children would be taken away and executed. Jen’s father makes Luke an offer. He says that for the time being he still has power. He can obtain fake ID for the boy to legalize him. But Luke must take on the identity of a young man who just had recently died. The boy’s parents were part of an underground movement who donated ID to help Shadow Children come out into the open.

Luke had no other choice. The underground would pay his tuition at a private school but Luke had to loose his identity and become Lee Grant instead. And Luke/Lee accepts. He dreams of his plan to ultimately free the Shadow Children. And so ends volume one. If there is another children’s book that so clearly outlines the evils of big government I don’t of it.

The books is recommended for kids from the ages of eight to twelve. I think it a tad bit difficult for an average child under ten years of age. But intelligent children won’t have a problem with it. In addition I think it is appropriate for children much older as well. If you want a book to dispel the notion of benevolent statism this book will do it. No child who reads this book, and absorbs the plot and it’s meaning can ever see government quite the way the political classes want them to.

While the book is 153 pages the type is large and double-spaced for easy reading. Our price $5.95. To order this book call 1-800-326-0996.

New Inventory on the Way

Since taking over LFB and moving it from Arkansas, we have been working hard at replenishing the inventory, which had run down to very low levels. There are new titles and old classics that need to be stocked. Here are some that are now on order and will be delivered shortly. If you want any of these titles you should reserve a copy now. We expect the initial stock to sell quickly.

Friedman on Economics -- This is a new collection of essays includes his 1977 Nobel Lecture and ranges from papers from 1948 to the 1990s. There are a variety of his papers on economic issues in one volume. This book has just been released in paperback. 180 pages, $15.00.

In addition we are offering copies of Friedman’s classic work Capitalism and Freedom, 230 pages, $15.00.

Another important author in the classical liberal camp is FA Hayek. His Constitution of Liberty, especially the first section, is required reading for anyone interested in freedom. We have copies in transit at $24.00 each.

Hayek’s famed Road to Serfdom is now in stock. This is the new definitive edition which includes supplemental material previously not available. This includes a new introduction covering the history of the book and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek’s thought. Ne explanatory notes have been added and it has been supplemented with an appendix of related materials ranging from prepublication reports on the the initial manuscript to forewords to earlier editions by John Chamberlain, Milton Friedman and Hayek himself. Paperback, 283 pages, $14.95.

Also on the way are copies of Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit, paperback $18.00 and his work Individualism and Economic Order, paperback, $21.00.

Numerous titles by Thomas Sowell are now on the table for discussion with the publisher. We are especially working to obtain these titles so that we can offer a substantial discount to the Laissez Faire Books family. So watch the blog for more information.

To order any of these titles call 1-800-326-0996.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rare Ayn Rand collecitible for sale

Here is one of the rarest items that Laissez Faire Books will ever be selling. It is a one-of-a-kind Ayn Rand collectible.

In 1968 Rand had an explosive parting of the ways with her acolyte Nathaniel Branden and his ex-wife Barbara. For most the first they knew of this splintering was Rand’s “To Whom It May Concern” which appeared in her publication The Objectivist. While the publication itself was dated May, 1968 it was behind schedule and appeared in October, 1968.

Of course, others close to Rand, knew of the split earlier. Was the October, 1968 article the first acknowledgement of the split that made it into print? Not quite. What we have for sale is a very unique letter written by Rand on September 27, 1968 which actually hints, in very strong terms, at the split. This original signed Rand letter has an interesting history.

On September 10, 1968, Bruce Evoy of Toronto, Canada wrote Miss Rand. He stated that he was a former representative for the Nathaniel Branden Institute and was working on his Ph.D. in drama. In addition he taught English and literature. In his teaching career Mr. Evoy taught about Rand’s novels but says he “always seemed rushed” and there “was never enough time to cover the many facets and ramifications” of the work. Mr. Evoy spent some time putting together a lecture series on the novels of Rand. In his letter he explained this and asked Rand if she would mind if he gave this lecture series. In addition he mentioned that he was asked to give a dramatic reading and wanted to use a section of The Fountainhead as his text, if she permitted.

Rand wrote back saying she appreciated his interest and that he used her book in his classroom courses. Then she let the cat out of the bag. “I regret that I cannot endorse your request to give private lectures on my novels. In view of my unfortunate experience with NBI (an account of which you will find in the forthcoming issue of The Objectivist), it is now my policy not to endorse any private lectures, except by the few lecturers whose viewpoint is known to me in every detail.”

Rand did, however, give permission to use the section of The Fountainhead in Mr. Evoy’s dramatic reading.

Here is the first (to our knowledge) written statement by Rand acknowledging the split with the Brandens, written prior to the release of her “To Whom It May Concern” public statement. And while Rand wrote this letter on stationery for The Objectivist she used a typewriter to X out the return address of “Empire State Building” where NBI and her publication had offices. Instead she has typed in the address of 201 East 34th Street, New York, NY 10016.

Replacing the The Objectivist address at the Empire State Building with this address, along with her statement that she had an “unfortunate experience with NBI) which will be explained in the next issue of her newsletter is a very strong indication that she and the Brandens had split -- and this prior to any public announcement. To our knowledge no other letter of a similar nature exists.

Signed letters by Miss Rand routinely sell from $1,500 and up. Some currently being sold are up to $15,000. Laissez Faire has Miss Rand’s letter, and a copy of the original sent to her by Bruce Evoy for sale. Minimum offer is $3,000. We reserve the right to withdraw the item for sale at any time and, at this time, we can’t specify a date when we will stop taking offers. This is clearly a one-of-a-kind Rand collectible. Both letters are in excellent condition.

If you wish a facsimile of both Mr. Evoy’s letter to Miss Rand and a facsimile of her reply for your inspection we will supply them for a fee of $25.00. Your fee will be applied to your bid if you win. If you want the facsimile for inspection send your check to Laissez Faire Books, 836-B Southampton Rd. #299, Benicia, CA 94510-1960. Or you can call 1-800-326-0996 to have copies sent to you. To place a bid call the toll free number of email

PS: Barbara Branden has written us saying, "I don't think you're asking enough for this letter." She notes that "a very brief letter to a fan" sold for $2,500 and that she "recently learned" that a letter from Rand to Barbara's mother "just sold at auction in New York for $17,000".

Sunday, February 10, 2008

David vs Goliath or LFB vs Amazon: You can buy the hype or buy cheaper books.

A lot of people simply buy the hype and don’t look at the substance. And the hype is that Amazon is cheaper when it comes to libertarian books. Well, it just isn’t so. We recently compared 75 titles we stock and compared them to the prices at Amazon. We were surprised. And, no, we didn’t cherry pick titles to favor us. We took titles in lots of 10 from the beginning, middle and end of our list. And they were in random order to begin with.

First, out of the 75 titles Amazon doesn’t even stock 21 of them. They don’t sell these books or DVDs. If you were to go to the Amazon site to order those 21 books they would place the order with Laissez Faire and have us ship you the books. They would, of course, take 20% for doing this. You could get the title directly from us at the same price that Amazon would charge you but the postage costs would be lower. Amazon charges a flat fee on these orders of $3.99 per book. We charge actual postage rates plus .50¢ for the box and that almost always comes out less. This is especially true when it comes to multiple books. One poor fellow ordered 10 books from us through Amazon. He was charged $39.90 for shipping. We felt awful and sent it expedited mail, instead of the slower service Amazon offered, and that was only $8.95. His order cost him $30 more than necessary because he didn’t buy direct from us.

Our next surprise was the cost of this basket of titles (those you could get from Amazon that is). Of course, we had to delete the 21 titles that Amazon doesn’t actual sell themselves, and which they would order from us to ship to you. So our final basket had 54 titles in it. Amazon’s cost for those books would be $681.52. The same titles from Laissez Faire would be $610.94. That would mean that Laissez Faire was $70.58 cheaper. The difference means that the same basket of books cost about 12% more from Amazon than what it would cost from Laissez Faire.

And, while we applaud profit making companies, we are a libertarian educational foundation. We only carry libertarian books. And we publish them as well --- something Amazon would never do. We also distribute books to various think tanks and worthy students around the world free. Our goal is spreading the libertarian message. But if that sort of outreach message doesn’t concern you then just look at the bottom line. The choice is yours. You can buy the hype or you can buy books at better prices.


In this gripping biography, acclaimed author Harlow Unger paints an intimate and detailed portrait of the heroic young French soldier, who, at nineteen, renounced a life of luxury in Paris and Versailles to fight and bleed for liberty -- at Valley Forge, and Yorktown. A major general in the Continental army, he quickly earned the love of his troops, his fellow commanders, and his commander, George Washington, who called him his "adopted son".

Lafayette convinced the French court to send a huge military and naval force to aid them in their fight for independence. And then he returned to America to lead the remarkable guerrilla campaign in Virginia that climaxed with the British surrender at Yorktown.

A passionate advocate of classical liberalism Lafayette returned to France dreaming of introducing liberal ideas to his own nation only to witness the ravages of the French Revolution instead. Declared an enemy of the state, Lafayette fled France only to be imprisioned by the Austrians for five years, whils his wife and her family festered in prison, awaiting the blade of the guillotine.

American ambassador, and future president, James Monroe won the freedom of Lafayette's wife and helped his son escape France and find refuge in the home of George Washington. But others in Lafayette's family were not so lucky.  Here is the dramatic story of an idealistic young liberal who decided one day to just get on a boat and come to America (aren't you glad the US didn't have the INS back then?) and help lead the country to freedom. Just a teenager when he made that decision he was soon made a general and quickly became a major force in American history.

Hardback edition, 452 pages, list price $30,00, OUR PRICE $19.95.
To order call 1-800-326-0996 or email with shipping and paynent details.