This week, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released a short animation film about the creation of a pencil, how it’s made and how it benefits families across the globe. It’s adapted from a 1958 essay by Leonard E. Read titled “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read.”
In 1996, it was reprinted in “The Freeman” and then two years later as a pamphlet. Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman wrote the introduction in the reprint and Donald J. Boudreaux penned the afterword.
The essay will most be remembered, however, in Friedman’s “Free to Choose” series on PBS and in his book with the same name. It is even remembered by those who are non-followers of economics because of some class they took in high school, whether it was business or social studies.
The premise of the essay is to understand the complexities of constructing a pencil: gathering the necessary components cedar, lacquer, graphite, ferrule, factice, pumice, wax and glue and then the large number of people involved in the assembly and the sale of pencils.
It’s a very important essay and now film for those interested in free market economics. It will put a lot of things into perspective and assist in understanding how the market works. The video can be found below.