Framing the Dialogue

I, Pencil

I ordered a copy of this writing at the suggestion of a speaker at a workshop that I recently attended. I love when others recommend books that they truly enjoy. Though more of a pamphlet than a book, I, Pencil contains a powerful message. Author Leonard Read’s 50th Anniversary Edition of I, Pencil arrived at my door and expecting more of a book I was somewhat disappointed at its lack of girth…until I started reading.

Size did not matter. I, Pencil is a story of the lead pencil. Like the pencil the story is simple yet complex. There is a challenge here to try to find one person who can make a pencil or even can name everything that goes into making the common tool. You may think you can, but you’d be wrong…extremely wrong. The pencil is a metaphor for free markets. No one man commands that a pencil be made and oversees the manufacture of it and all of its components which come from around the world. The command comes from consumers who want the pencil. That drives the desire to make the pencil. That drives the cutting of a tree, the mining of minerals, the smelting of metal…

I, Pencil should be required reading for every American and certainly any student. The simple story of the “simple” act of making a pencil as described by Read demolishes any socialist/Marxist/communist preaching. How can one man or one government make all of the billions of decisions necessary to run an economy? The answer is simple…they cannot! But billions of consumers can make demands that trigger the manufacture of a pencil.


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