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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Last-Minute Gift Ideas from the Folks at FEE

Your guide to the best holiday presents for freedom-loving friends and family

Did you put off any of your holiday shopping to the last minute? The folks at FEE have got you covered.

Lawrence W. Reed, President

Brunel: The Man Who Built the World by Steven Brindle

Certainly the greatest engineer of early Victorian Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunel comes alive in this relatively short volume. Brunel died at the young age of 53 but managed to design and build a seemingly endless number of dockyards, tunnels, bridges, steamships, railroads, and other monuments to his towering genius and boundless energy. This biography is a testimony to what a person of enormous talent can accomplish in an environment that encourages enterprise.


Wayne Olson, Executive Director

The Essence of Hayek

What a breath of fresh air it is to read and reread Hayek! Each of these 21 essays reveals Hayek's gifts — his vast perspective, his astonishing originality, his challenge to orthodoxy. His prose is elegant and crystalline — as readable as Adam Smith himself, doubly remarkable because Hayek came to English as a second language. This collection includes “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” where I experienced my own road-to-Damascus moment. It may be that it usually begins with Ayn Rand, but for me the blinding light was one sentence of this essay that followed a quick recitation of some basic notions of conventional economic theory: “This, however, is emphatically not the economic problem which society faces.” In other words, the emperor is buck nekkid. It includes “The Pretense of Knowledge,” Hayek's Nobel lecture, which deserves a read in honor of the 40th anniversary of that important occasion. It includes essays on macroeconomics, social justice, and intellectual history. It includes essays on political economy that venture into psychological and anthropological ideas. This anthology is probably best for someone who has already shown an interest in questioning the prevailing wisdom in economics, politics, and ethics. For someone just starting out, try The Road to Serfdom and then give him or her this collection next year.


Carl L. Oberg, Chief Operating Officer

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness by Russ Roberts

Russell Roberts's new book on Adam Smith is a popular, well-written, and easy-to-read deep dive on Smith's “other” book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It turns out that Smith the original economist was also a profound thinker in the area of human relations, emotions, culture, and society and had a pretty good idea on how to be happy and make those around you happy as well.


Richard Lorenc, Director of Programs

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

A No.1 New York Times bestseller by the writer, director, and executive producer of NBC's Emmy award-winning comedy series The Office, The Book with No Pictures is a fun read-aloud to entertain new readers and to remind the adult reader of something kids already know: reading can be fun.

Max Borders, Editor

A butter coffee kit

With maniacal free-market types always shoving books at you, sometimes it’s nice to get something you might actually want. By giving someone a butter coffee set, you’re offering them an addiction that’s harder to shake than crack.

·      One bag of high-quality coffee (I like Counter Culture and Third Coast)

·      A tub of grass-fed butter (Kerry Gold is good)

·      One quart-sized Mason jar (in which to blend the butter and hot coffee to a tasty froth)

·      An immersion blender, such as this one (or a bullet mixer, which means no Mason jar is needed)

·      If they don’t have a coffee grinder, they’ll have to buy their own


Jason J. Riddle, Program Development Manager

The Enterprise of Law: Justice without the State by Bruce L. Benson

In a system designed to protect the system, within which overcriminalization of nonviolent activity gives heavily armed enforcers of the State grounds to harass otherwise peaceful people, it is becoming evident that the police state is an imminent and growing threat to the American people. Some have argued that even during less explicitly violent interactions, police work seems largely to have become a racket where the major function is raising money for the government. But if not for the State, how would law and order be provided? Bruce L. Benson, chair of the department of economics and courtesy professor of law at Florida State University, explores how non-State institutions provide services of protection and render justice more effectively than the State. Using economic and historical analysis, Benson argues that the State is unnecessary for law enforcement. This offers hope to those of us who want a practical alternative to the costly, violent injustices that occur today.


Cameron Sorsby, Program Development Associate

Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story by Harvey Pekar

Michael Malice, a good friend of FEE, has had his exuberant life story told through a graphic novel. This book will make you laugh out loud time and again as you try to understand how one man can be so awesome.

Ego & Hubris relates how, a year and a half after his birth in the Ukraine, Michael Malice moved with his parents to Brooklyn. He’s an intransigent kid, a hard-ass — both a demon to and demonized by the people who cross his path. His life is a constant struggle for validation in a world where the machine keeps trying to break him down.” — Amazon product description

Jeffrey Tucker, Distinguished Fellow

A mink coat

It was once the ultimate status symbol for any woman. Next to a great diamond, to have a mink coat is to arrive at where you want to be. To own was to have a legend. To wear was to inspire everyone present to awe. And it is easy to see why. They are gorgeous, hyperluxurious, beautiful, and warm. Now, with Internet commerce dropping prices on everything and inviting ever more rivalry — glorious deflation everywhere — you can actually pick up one of these treasures for $1,000. Check out FurSource, for example. You won't believe your eyes. The single most amazing thing about capitalism is how it redistributes to the whole population what was once the exclusive possession of the extremely rich. That's true even for this one-time symbol of ultimate riches. In a real free market, no status symbol lasts forever.


B.K. Marcus, Managing Editor

Timeline (card game)

So much of history as we learn it in school is about kings and generals, legislation and warfare. In other words, the history written by the victors is of the growth of the State and the destruction of wealth. But so many of the most important developments of the past were about making our lives better: the inventions that have taken humanity from the Stone Age to the Information Age. Timeline, a card game from publisher Asmodee, is a fun-for-the-whole family antidote to textbook history. For two to eight players, a game can last five minutes or half an hour, depending on how long a timeline the players agree to build. The first player with all inventions properly placed at their date of origin (Was the light bulb invented before or after glasses?) wins the game. And at around $10, Timeline makes a great stocking stuffer.

Robert Ramsey, Website Curator

Stan, the Life-Size Tyrannosaurus Skeleton

For the friend who has everything, “Stan” is the conversation piece of the ages and the fulfillment of every little boy's dream. Who wouldn't want a life-size replica of the king of the dinosaurs? Communists, that's who, which is why we support it here at FEE. Excessive? Only if you don't believe in the free market doin’ what it do.


Carrie Leggins, Alumni Relations Associate


From Birchbox to BarkBox to Bulu Box, subscription boxes offer a variety of personalized quality products in a monthly “goody box.” Consumers get to try something new at minimal risk and cost, as items come in sample sizes, sometimes with coupons or discounts to buy the full-size product.  Beyond the quality of these boxes, they're simply fun. Subscribers receive a box filled with an array of products that they're eager to try each month. So surprise a loved one or a friend with a subscription box this holiday season.


Sara Morrison, Program Operations Manager

The gift of your time

You can easily avoid the holiday rush at the mall (and thus maintain your faith in humanity) by purchasing an activity for someone rather than a traditional gift. Take your mom out to lunch or get a pair of concert tickets for your best friend. Not only are you sharing in their gift, but you are also guaranteeing gratitude for your uniqueness and avoiding a forced smile from opening yet another sweater. Plus, once you've explained the opportunity cost of your time, your family will be sure to appreciate your gift even more!

  • The Freeman is the flagship publication of the Foundation for Economic Education and one of the oldest and most respected journals of liberty in America. For more than 50 years it has uncompromisingly defended the ideals of the free society.