I, Pencil By Leonard E. Read


Here is the classic essay by Leonard Read that illustrates how completely dependent the world is on the division of labor — and the more of it the better. Not even the smallest manufactured item can be made by one person alone.

I, Pencil is the story of the complexity of the market process and how everyone’s well-being depends on the knowledge of others.

Millions of humans have a hand in creating this seemingly simple item—each contributing a tiny, but essential amount of knowledge to the process. No one person can ever know all the information needed to make a single pencil.

The lesson learned here is to leave all creative energies unrestrained. Society depends on the ability to act in harmony with this lesson. All obstacles that stand in the way of the productive process need to be removed. Nothing can coordinate their efforts as effectively as the Invisible Hand.

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  • Jeffrey Tucker

    I, Pencil

    I, Pencil Leonard Read’s essay is about the division of labor but it touches on much more: the sheer complexity of the economic order. No essay has done more to illustrate how economics works to explain the world around us. Kick off the discussion! Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_I Pencil

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