Freeman

ANYTHING PEACEFUL

"I, Pencil" Quoted in LA Times

SEPTEMBER 08, 2010 by TSVETELIN M. TSONEVSKI

Defending the free economy in his Los Angeles Times column, Jonah Goldberg quotes FEE founder Leonard Read’s classic, “I, Pencil.”

In 1958, Leonard Read wrote one of the most famous essays in the history of libertarianism, “I, Pencil.” It begins, “I am a lead pencil — the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.” It is one of the most simple objects in human civilization. And yet “not a single person on the face of this Earth knows how to make me.”

Later in the column Goldberg quotes Austrian economist F. A. Hayek in explaining why the market economy and decentralized decision-making are so vital for prosperity.

Friedrich Hayek did the heavy lifting on this point half a century ago in his essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” The efficient pricing of markets allows millions of independent actors to decide for themselves how to allocate resources. According to Hayek, no central planner or bureaucrat could ever have enough knowledge to consistently and successfully guide all of those economic actions in a more efficient manner.

ABOUT

TSVETELIN M. TSONEVSKI

Tsvetelin Tsonevski is director of academic affairs at FEE. He holds an LL.M. degree in Law and Economics from George Mason School of Law.

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