Sunday, September 26, 2010

Leonard Read's "I Pencil"

Leonard Read
Leonard Read was born on this day in 1898. Read, an important figure of the post-war free market/libertarian movement of last century, was founder and president of the Foundation for Economic Education for many years. His most famous work was a rather brief essay entitled "I, Pencil" in which Read explains the division of labor necessary to produce a single solitary pencil. His point is that only in a free market can such activity be coordinated in a way so that all of the different factors from all over the world come together to produce something as common as pencil.

"I, Pencil" was the basis of an important section of Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose that was subsequently turned in to a film series. Here is Friedman using a pencil as "exhibit A" to explain the benefits and operation of the free market price system.

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