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Jan 15, 2009

Nobody knows how to make a pencil

Nobody knows how to make a pencil
01/15/09 - AlexBarnett.net (11/18/06)

Do you believe that the economy can be managed, beyond setting free and fair rules and protecting property rights? Consider that there is no single person or small group in the world who actually knows how to make a lowly lead pencil.

I, Pencil
1958 by Leonard E. Read (1898-1983). Full text, free.

[edited excerpt]:  I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I can teach this lesson better than an automobile, an airplane, or a mechanical dishwasher because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Especially when it is realized that about one and one-half billion of my kind are produced in the U.S.A. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye: there's some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

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