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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

How To Initiate The Innocent Into Our Cult

While floating around the blogosphere, I accidentally came across an essay by Leonard E. Read called "I, Pencil- My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read". It is like beautiful poetry that delivers a message of truth without the "look-at-me" trappings of the too-smart academic. This is a classic from 1958. I had read the synopsis of it in Milton Freidman's "Free To Choose" a number of years ago. Somehow, I came upon it in the Library of Economics and Liberty today. I urge you all to click the link and read it in your spare time.

It is a simple but beautiful statement about how thousands of people around the world do their part in the making of a pencil. While the pencil's components appear few, when one considers it is made of "some wood, lacquer, the printed label, graphite lead, a bit of metal and an eraser", there does not appear to be much to it. Then, if you think of the support for the workers who make the components, the capital investment in every plant that made every component and, ultimately, that no one centrally planned much of it, that a pencil can be made at such a low cost is amazing. Like the bread on the supermarket shelves, we take it for granted.

Read's lesson is wrapped up with the following soft sermon:

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

This captures what we are trying to say in this blog, too inconsistently, with perhaps more hyperbole than is always necessary. As the Governator gives "Free To Choose" as Christmas gifts, I suggest this paper be given to friends as an innocent and wonderful entrance to free market capitalism. Once the initiate is on board, then we crush em with the heavy stuff.

1 Comments:

At 12:45 AM, Blogger Mi Michigan House Cleaning said...

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