Tag Archives: Leonard Read

“I, Pencil”: A Pointed Little Tale of Economic Wisdom

pencil good

Do you know how to make a pencil?

You know: those classic yellow wooden #2 pencils that most of us over 30 grew up with? Surely something which has been around for so long, yet which even today can be purchased with just a few pennies, must also be cheap and simple to make.

But you know better than that, don’t you? Even considering that there are only four basic parts–the wood, the graphite, the metal ferrule and the eraser–there is obviously a tremendous amount of specialization involved in gathering all the ingredients and assembling them into a marketable, affordable product.

No one person could possibly do it.

Yet if the government decided that the pencil industry was grievously mismanaged (pencil factories have wood shavings on the floors!, yellow is a racist color!, those sharpened points are dangerous!!) and announced it was taking charge…many would claim that was a good thing, as has been claimed so many times before.

After all, none of us could do any better. If the government can solve the problem, we should let them.

Right?

thomas_sowellColumnist Thomas Sowell, in his August 7 editorial, “Busybody Politics”, observes that:

“Sometimes it seems as if there are more solutions than there are problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today’s problems are a result of yesterday’s solutions.Continue reading