(VIDEO) I Pencil: Classic Video Explaining Free Markets

-By Warner Todd Huston

This was created by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CPI) and is based on I, Pencil, a famous essay by famed economist Leonard Read. This is a great video that everyone should watch, but it’s especially apropos for young people.

Do you know how to make a pencil? You don’t, do you? As Read explained in his original essay, no single person on earth does. The pencil, like most modern wonders, is the end product of an intricate chain of human activity that spans the globe. There is no mastermind dictating the making of a pencil; not even the CEO of a pencil company could tell you exactly how to make one. It takes the little bits of know-how of thousands of individuals—loggers in California, factory workers in China, miners in Sri Lanka, and everyone in between—to bring an ordinary wooden pencil into being. By trading their skills and labor for wages, these individuals each bring the pencil a step closer into being.

This is the miracle of the free market. People who are strangers to each other—who might even hate each other if they ever met—are cooperating every day to produce goods that others want, need and enjoy. Markets compel men and women to voluntarily arrange themselves into efficient patterns of production through the pursuit of their individual self-interests. Without this constant spontaneous cooperation, the modern wonders of our world would not exist.

CEI President Fred L. Smith, Jr. said:

“Throughout my career, I’ve sought new and better means of communicating classical liberal ideas to people of all political persuasions. This year, I am stepping down as president of CEI so that I can continue this undertaking full-time as a policy analyst. It was with great pleasure that I shepherded the production of I, Pencil during this transition. Leonard Read’s original essay continues to be one of the most poignant free-market narratives I’ve ever come across. I’m proud of CEI’s film adaptation of Read’s work, and I’m very hopeful it will successfully bring classical liberal ideas to new and diverse audiences.”

If you know any teens, get them to watch this video. It is well worth their time.

“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001