Wednesday, 8 May 2013

I, Pencil

Have you ever considered that, common as it is, no-one actually knows how to make a pencil—just one of the many miracles of the division of labour we all take so much for granted, and have forgotten to notice.

Milton Friedman reckoned

Leonard Read's delightful story, "I, Pencil," has become a classic, and deservedly so. I know of no other piece of literature that so succinctly, persuasively, and effectively illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smith's invisible hand—the possibility of cooperation without coercion—and Friedrich Hayek's emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system in communicating information that "will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do."

More videos here extending the concept.

Leonard Read’s original essay “I, Pencil” here.

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