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The tragedy of the commons is a concept that describes the depletion or degradation of shared resources that are not owned or managed by any individual or group. It occurs when multiple individuals, each pursuing their own ends, overuse or exploit a shared resource to the point of depletion, resulting in harm to all users of that resource in the long run.

The tragedy of the commons explained

Easter Island, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is famous for its giant stone statues. However, what is less well-known is that the island was once covered with a lush palm forest. Over 800 years ago, the Rapa Nui people arrived and settled on the island. Gradually, the population grew, and so did their demand for resources.  Settlers began to cut down trees to create farmland, clear land for homes, and use timber to build fishing boats. As the deforestation continued, the island’s ecosystem was irreversibly damaged. Ultimately, the depletion of natural resources is often viewed

War on Drugs

Expert answers on the Drug War: highlights from Prof. Jeff Miron’s AMA

In 2017, Professor Jeffrey Miron held an “Ask Me Anything” conversation on Reddit as part of the Learn Liberty Reddit AMA Series. The conversation

Despite the economic challenges involved, nuclear power is our best chance of walking that tightrope that allows us to manage both economic and industrial concerns while decarbonizing. Is that not the objective we are all striving for?

Out with the coal, in with the nuclear

Despite being home to a sizable share of the world’s uranium reserves, vast tracts of non-arable but geologically stable land, and an increasingly large

All Learn Liberty Blog Posts


Doing Bad by Doing Good

Should you save the spider in the toilet? That’s the philosophical thought experiment explored in the new Learn Liberty video below. Despite the good intentions of those who want to save the spider, there is no guarantee that they will result in it being saved. In fact, good intentions may make the spider worse off. […]


Republican Debate: More of the Same?

Last night’s Republican debate was two hours of 10 candidates doing their best to distinguish themselves from the many people hoping to win the 2016 presidential election. While there were some generally agreed-upon winners (Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz) and losers (Jeb Bush, and for some the CNBC moderators), the debate itself was underwhelming. Was […]


Win the Game of Thrones by Not Playing

Game of Thrones won Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmy Awards recently, and its fandom has reached a feverish pitch. Though its medieval society filled with dragons, giants, and magic may seem far removed from our present day, the principles underlying the nature of power remain the same in both. In the video below, economist […]


Every Flaw in Consumers Is Worse in Voters

I have been making a mistake for most of my life. See, I’m an economist, and one of the things that attracted me to economics is the notion of the “ideal economy.” Of course, there are valid objections to the use of markets. There are people who cheat and commit fraud, and there are problems […]

Civil Liberties

Foundation for Economic Education: The Ghosts of Spying Past

This post originally appeared on FEE.org on July 8th, 2015. Below is an excerpt. In the early days, the Internet was thoroughly insecure; its governmental and academic users trusted each other, and the occasional student prank couldn’t cause much damage. As it started becoming available to everyone in the early ‘90s, people saw the huge […]


Art Carden: Illegal Immigrants Don't Lower Our Wages Or Take Our Jobs

Below is an excerpt of a post that appeared at Forbes.com on August 28th, 2015. According to an April 2015 symposium on the effects of illegal immigrants in the Southern Economic Journal, illegal immigrants actually raise wages for documented/native workers. Meanwhile, rules preventing illegal immigrants from getting driver’s licenses raise our car insurance premiums and […]

Debt and Spending

New York Times’ Solution to Fiscal Problems: Eat the Rich

The New York Times came out with an article last weekend claiming how much good raising taxes on the country’s wealthiest could do: [W]hat could a tax-the-rich plan actually achieve? As it turns out, quite a lot… the government could raise large amounts of revenue exclusively from this small group, while still allowing them to […]


Staff Profile: Sloane Shearman

Learn Liberty: First, when did you join the Learn Liberty team and what is your role? Sloane Shearman: I came to work at Learn Liberty shortly after I graduated, in September 2013. As part of the Digital Strategy team, I work closely with Learn Liberty producers throughout the video creation process to help us reach […]

Free Speech

Is Offensive Speech Good for Society?

Is there any speech you think should be restricted? Should we have laws to protect people from being offended? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Debt and Spending

Deficit Day

What happens when the government spends all of the tax revenue it collects? In 2013, the U.S. budget deficit was $680 billion dollars! Who eventually pays for this difference in tax revenue and government spending? Professor of Economics at Duquesne University Antony Davies explains in the following video on the worst fiscal milestone of every […]


Quote of the Day

Alexis de Tocqueville on the paradox of freedom. Freedom comes with risk but the risk is well worth the reward of owning yourself. What do you think about this quote? Tell us how you feel in the comments.

Civil Liberties

Featured On Demand Program of the Week: Free Speech

Learn Liberty On Demand offers you a series of videos on new and exciting topics in the world of policy and ideas that you can watch any time, anywhere, on your schedule. Have you ever wondered if Free Speech has its limits? Well, this is the place for you. You’ve got freedom of speech, but […]


The War on Drugs: Seen vs. the Unseen

We have lived in Providence, RI for almost four years. I still am not accustomed to the driving habits of Rhode Islanders. There are the ones I might have expected moving up here from Georgia: the honk when the light turns green but I don’t move fast enough, the infrequent use of turn signals when […]


Learn Liberty’s New On Demand Program: Liberty 101

Pro civil society, pro individualism, pro market process, pro rule of law, pro limited government, pro peace, pro skepticism of power, pro spontaneous order, pro toleration, and pro liberty. These are the 10 fundamental principles of a free and prosperous society that will be explored in Learn Liberty’s new On Demand program, “Liberty 101”. Led […]


Leave Maternity Leave Alone!

Washington D.C. council members introduced legislation that would provide 16 weeks of paid parental leave to almost all employees in the District — paid for by a new tax on private D.C. employers. The proposal has been greeted positively by the media, which frequently point out that the U.S. is one of the only countries […]


Discussion Question: Safety Nets

Can you support any type of social safety net and still be considered a libertarian? Do individuals born with severe disabilities deserve assistance beyond what they or their families can pay for? How will those services be provided reliably if not by government means? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Liberty Trivia Time

Did you know that American anarchist, abolitionist, and lawyer Lysander Spooner started the American Letter Mail Company in 1844? It succeeded in delivering mail for lower prices, but the U.S. Government challenged Spooner with legal measures, eventually forcing him to cease operations in 1851.


The Future Day that Wasn't

The date of October 21, 2015 has been etched in the back of many minds for the better half of a generation. Today is the day that Marty McFly traveled to the future with Doc Brown in the Back to the Future sequel. On that date, Marty arrived in a world of automated diners, hoverboards, […]


When government fails — Venezuela edition

The following blog post by Abigail Hall appeared on the Independent Institute’s blog on September 3rd, 2015. Below is an excerpt. Some people look at the conditions in Venezuela and point to oil prices as the source of many of its problems. The Venezuelan government, led by President Nicolás Maduro, blames opposition leaders for the […]


The creative destruction of nudity in Playboy Magazine

This post by Sarah Skwire originally appeared on the Foundation for Economic Education on October 14th, 2015. Below is an excerpt. The disappearance of full nudity from Playboy magazine is, in other words, a perfect example of Schumpeter’s concept of creative destruction. Schumpeter wrote that the “essential fact about capitalism” is creative destruction — the […]


Drug Policy Alliance Internship Opportunity in the Berkeley, CA Area!

The Drug Policy Alliance is seeking a Public Policy Intern and they want you! If you’re interested in a career in public policy then this internship may be perfect for you. Check out the details and consider applying. Internship Description The Office of Legal Affairs is looking for graduate public policy students who are interested […]


Quote of the Day

This quote comes from Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience where he gives an impassioned defense of the right to say no to unjust government dictates. What do you think? Should free people resist unjust government laws at the risk of imprisonment? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Civil Liberties

V for Venezuela

Venezuela’s condition continues to deteriorate, with opposition leaders imprisoned and elections allegedly rigged, the situation looks like it will not change anytime soon. This brings up the question, when are societies justified to rise up in a violent manner against government? Check out this short Learn Liberty video and let us know what you think […]

Civil Liberties

New whistleblower reveals “the Drone Papers,” detailing Pres. Obama’s covert drone war

A “Second Snowden” leaked a cache of secret documents that has put the CIA’s and United States military’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) back into the spotlight. Drones have been used post-9/11 to carry out lethal strikes on those deemed enemies of the United States – even if the strikes take place outside of […]