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I, Pencil

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I, Pencil

HB graphite pencils.

"I, Pencil" is an essay by Leonard Read. The full title is "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read" and it was first published in the December 1958 issue of The Freeman. It was reprinted in The Freeman in May 1996 and as a pamphlet entitled "I... Pencil" in May 1998. In the reprint, Milton Friedman wrote the introduction and Donald J. Boudreaux wrote the afterword. Friedman (the 1976 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics) used the essay in his 1980 PBS television show Free to Choose and the accompanying book of the same name. In the 2008 50th Anniversary Edition, the introduction is written by Lawrence W. Reed and Friedman wrote the afterword.

"I, Pencil" is written in the first person from the point of view of a pencil. The pencil details the complexity of its own creation, listing its components (cedar, lacquer, graphite, ferrule, factice, pumice, wax, glue) and the numerous people involved, down to the sweeper in the factory and the lighthouse keeper guiding the shipment into port.

No Master Mind There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the — "I, Pencil", 2008 edition

External links

  • I, Pencil, as originally published
  • I, Pencil, 50th Anniversary Edition
  • I, Pencil Audiobook provided by the Foundation for Economic Education
  • Free to ChooseExcerpt of video referencing I, Pencil, as told by Milton Friedman
  • 'When Ideas Have Sex' video referencing I, Pencil, as told by Matt Ridley
  • – a similarly styled essay also published by The Freeman
  • It Takes a World: On Liberty and the Welfare State article expanding on I, Pencil to show its implications for the concept of society and the ethics of the welfare state.
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