I, Pencil - My Family Tree As Told to Leonard E. Read
I, Pencil by Leonard E. Read, c2006, 6"x9", staple bound, 11 page booklet. Heavy paper cover, glossy paper pages.
Introduction BY LAWRENCE W. REED
Eloquent. Extraordinary.Timeless. Paradigm- shifting. Classic. Half a century after it first appeared, Leonard Read’s “I, Pencil” still evokes such adjectives of praise. Rightfully so, for this little essay opens eyes and minds among people of all ages. Many first-time readers never see the world quite the same again.
Ideas are most powerful when they’re wrapped in a compelling story. Leonard’s main point—economies can hardly be “planned” when not one soul possesses all the know-how and skills to produce a simple pencil—unfolds in the enchanting words of a pencil itself. Leonard could have written “I, Car” or “I, Airplane,” but choosing those more complex items would have muted the message. No one person—repeat, no one, no matter how smart or how many degrees follow his name—could create from scratch a small, everyday pencil, let alone a car or an airplane.
This is a message that humbles the high and mighty. It pricks the inflated egos of those who think they know how to mind everybody else’s business. It explains in plain language why central planning is an exercise in arrogance and futility, or what Nobel laureate and Austrian economist F. A. Hayek aptly termed “the pretence of knowledge.”
Indeed, a major influence on Read’s thinking in this regard was Hayek’s famous 1945 article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” In demolishing the spurious claims of the socialists of the day, Hayek wrote......