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New Video: I, Pencil, The Movie

The classic essay by Leonard Read, founder of the Foundation for Economic Education is now a movie. It shows how millions of people under no state coercion or central planning work together to create a pencil:

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What about the paint? Intangibles?

With so few elements you'd think they would include them all...

Otherwise I thought it was pretty good.

But as usual the unaddressed elements were externalization of costs (such as pollution) at every link in the chain, and relatedly, the unregistered cost in intangibles. For example air is free to all, financially worthless, but in practice among the most valuable things on earth. The market can only connect through those types of things through scarcity. So the creation of artificial scarcity becomes a profitabel endeavor. Could/would that happen in the free market...? I think not... I think it needs Gov't collusion. But And as for externalization of costs - obviously that can be handled largely at the local level. Though what do you do when air pollution from factories in one state or nation cause acid rain in an other? Diplomacy? I dont know the answer, I'm winging this line of thought here. What do you think?


I, Pencil was always one of my favorite essays. The Candlemakers' Petition is another.

How About a Pair of Shoes?

Thanks for the interesting video. I enjoyed it.

I have often used a pair of shoes as an example.

How much would it cost you to make a pair of shoes?

First, you would have to raise a cow, make a knife to slaughter and skin it, buy a shovel to bury the scraps, buy land to deposit the waste, and then figure out how to cut the leather into the proper size and shape to assemble the sole, heel, and upper.

Oh, and maybe you would need to buy some medical supplies to save your life after fighting with a cow while you tried to kill it. And maybe you would need to develop a set of ear plugs to avoid listening to the screaming cow as you slaughter it.

Then you would have to sew together some cotton to create the material for the lining. You would then have to sew the various pieces of the shoe together. You would have had to make a sewing needle to avoid the difficulty of pushing the thread through the leather.

Of course, you might want to make some dye to color the shoes if you wanted to put some style into it.

Good luck in trying to properly fit the shoe.

Then you would have to build a vehicle to transport your creation to the dump.

Finally, you would need to earn enough money to buy the shoes in the store because the ones that you made would be useless.

Gene Louis
Supporting a Needed Tool for Government Feedback:
A Citizen-Operated Legal System.

Amazing quote from this video...

"What you’re seeing is the market at work...the spontaneous configuration of creative human energies of millions of people with various skills and talents organizing voluntarily in response to human necessity and desire, as if led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of the intention."

That's not from the original by Read is it?

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!

nope i just searched for it...its original, but familiar

the " as if led by an invisible hand" is a common phrase...Adam Smith The Wealth of Nations


Beautifully done. Clearly shows that we don't need rulers to produce a pencil.

Complexity can be organized out of apparent chaos without central control.

Those allergic to the text can learn a lot from this video.

Last week's episode of American Restoration was about restoring a pencil dispenser. The last scene had the customer inserting a Nickel and buying a Pencil.

Henry David Thoreau worked at a pencil factory.

Free includes debt-free!

I like it - although I wish it had emphasized supply and demand

...regarding the price of pencils.

But then again that's another subject I suppose.

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

I don't care for it very

I don't care for it very much. The original, printed essay says it so much better. I invite you who have never read one of my two all-time favorite essays to sit down one evening with a glass of your favorite adult libation and read it for yourself here:

I promise you that as you read and contemplate, the pencil's story takes on an almost spiritual aspect to it and you will find application to many areas of your own life such as why you teach Sunday School, or why you coach Little League ball, or in why you do almost any charitable acts. You can almost watch the "invisible hand" at work in Read's classic here, and you can almost see it staving off all of the other wrong-headed economic and social fallacies that have ever been leveled at free-market capitalism and of individual freedoms as the pencil makes his case that he "offers the miracle of his creation as testimony that this is a practical faith...that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand."

They say that it is easy to count the seeds in the apple, but it is impossible to count all of the apples in the seed. A very good read, Read's read is...

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. - George Washington

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel... The battle, Sir,

The Price System: How could the narration leave out that?

Its the Price System that is the SIGNAL within that voluntary world.

Its the Price System that is the SIGNAL that conveys the messages that all those in the market need.

Its the Power of the Price System that allows for Spontaneous Organizational Behaviors....

I like Dr. Friedman's statement on the Pencil the best.

Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

"The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism" author George Smith --
Buy it Here:

You didn't make that

You didn't make that pencil... *face-palm* lol

- Brennan

A day doesn't go by when I'm not simply baffled.. all the ignorance despite this concrete empirical evidence that a market regulated strictly by it's consumers i.e. a free market is the best way to provide ANY and ALL services we have discovered yet.

And yet even on DailyPaul people constantly and consistently disregard the principles of voluntary trade and associations trying to force their beliefs or rules onto others, most of the time without even realizing it which is the really sad part about it!

Will people ever learn?

Agreed, but is the free

Agreed, but is the free market the best way to provide protection from cronyism?

There is a paradox at work. Democratic government is the market will of the people in political form. If you truly believe that people's unabated 'will' provides the best possible solutions to the world, then you must also agree that pure democracy must lead to the best possible government. The only difference between the political market and the consumer market are the feedback mechanisms within them: price on one hand, advocacy on the other. If the market invisibly moves prices towards the optimal point all the time, it must also (by the same standard) always invisibly move the political market in the optimal direction via its feedback. Just as you might not like the price the market ends up selecting for a good - which does not mean the market has made a mistake - similarly, just because you end up with government you disagree with, does not mean that the selected government is not optimal under current conditions. The true question is exactly what does "optimal" mean, the answer to which is subjective and not inclined to mathematical proofs, no matter how much one might wish it were.

Any time anyone advocates for a pure free market system, they are really advocating anarchy (of which the man this site is named after was not a proponent). I'm not saying there is anything wrong with advocating anarchy, but it should be stated cleanly and understood by the proponent so that we can all remain intellectually honest.


I trust the free market is best for providing any service or good worth having.

Equating a democratic government with an outcome of a free market is a fallacy, if it wasn't people wouldn't need to be forced at a barrel of a gun to pay taxes.

I don't advocate chaos, I advocate voluntary rules without rulers, I advocate voluntary services and a market regulated strictly by it's consumers i.e. a free market.

If you think that equates to anarchy then I advocate anarchy, if you think it doesn't, then I don't advocate anarchy. The meaning of words is subjective and I rather not use words like anarchy, not because I don't want to be intellectually honest (ty for the ad hominem attack btw) but because they simply mean too many different things to too many people and thereby make a constructive communication impossible.

Right now, a group of people

Right now, a group of people voluntarily choose to rule you, and they have voluntarily accepted those rules. Just because you have not, doesn't mean they have not. If you see yourself as having a gun pointed at you, you are free to point one back; you only have to be willing to accept the consequences of doing so (as with any other human interaction).

There is no difference between economics and politics; the idea that there is, is an illusion. The original term for economics was "political economics," with emphasis on the political. At one point, men were wise enough to see that all interaction, be it trade or politics, operate under the same principles. The idea that economics is a science equatable with physics (in purity) has resulted in the common myth that man's vices derogate every system ever set up - except that of spontaneous economic organization, which is incorruptible. Viewed as a political endeavor, however, it becomes easy to see why perfectly free markets (by which I mean zero government enforcement) do not mean a perfectly just society - or even close.

I never intended to say that anarchy means chaos. Certainly, the spontaneous organization of people into a social structure, adopting a set of rules within that structure, and utilizing force to impose those rules, is something that could happen within an "anarchy." Anarchy was the original state of man, if anything was, and look at where it has taken us. As you said, anarchy can mean many things, and I agree that it is therefore more or less a useless word.

Well there's the rub


Right now, a group of people voluntarily choose to rule you, and they have voluntarily accepted those rules. Just because you have not, doesn't mean they have not. If you see yourself as having a gun pointed at you, you are free to point one back; you only have to be willing to accept the consequences of doing so (as with any other human interaction).

does not equal a free market.

Saying otherwise is a fallacy.

Agree witness the support right here for things like

- government enforced GMO labeling
-taxes on the rich - as if the money was better off in the govt hands than private hands

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Don't forget the most basic yet least obvious one..

the very idea of a government i.e. the involuntary services the people that call themselves the government provide at a barrel of gun.

I wonder how long it will take for people to see through that one.

Cyril's picture



"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius


Very lovely.

I'm glad they made a video out of this...

.. I think this book is even better as a visual...

9-11 Media Fakery: Did anyone die on 9-11?

9-11 Actors:

Pysops.. media.. actors.. propagandists... disinfo agents.. fake videos.. fake photos

There are other readings of this on you tube

and you can get a free copy in PDF at the link below

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And here's a great commentary

And here's a great commentary that accompanies the video

"You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage...Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one...Above all do not appear to others what you are not" - Robert E. Lee, CSA

I like that commentary better

I like that commentary better than the main movie.

In this country full of what seems like 90% socialists it's nice to see people who really understand that capitalism works.

Cyril's picture



"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Free copy of I,Pencil