“I Pencil” is an essay by Leonard Read that was first published in The Freeman in December of 1958.  The full title was “I Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read.”  The point of the work is to provide a first person account of how a pencil is manufactured by first harvesting and then refining the raw materials of cedar, lacquer, graphite, ferrule, factice, pumice, wax and glue, and then assembling them into a pencil.  Obviously large numbers of people are involved in this process, including the person who sweeps out the factory and the lighthouse keeper who guides the shipment into port.  But none of those workers are directed or forced to cooperate.  They do so because of the “Invisible Hand” of working for their own economic benefit.  Ayn Rand described this phenomenon by saying that “Greed is good!”  Unfortunately, that comment has been misconstrued, and Libertarians have thus been tarred for generations as approving of greedy people – which is a totally different concept.  But instead this means that, to the degree possible, creative energies should be left uninhibited so they can be productively harnessed – for the benefit of the actor, and of us all.  Or, as Leonard Read encouraged us, “Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand.  This faith will be confirmed.”

                Actually this is basic economics, which focuses upon supply and demand, and is based upon the incentives of allowing people to be able to profit from their own labors and creativity.  But this concept is vastly under-taught and misunderstood in our society today. In fact, in many ways, it is vilified.  But, as Dr. Milton Friedman taught us, no society has ever raised itself up out of poverty except through a system of free enterprise combined with private property rights.  So how can this historically beneficial system be under attack today?  Because numbers of politicians are simply pandering to the voters.  Why?  Because in politics, reality is irrelevant – it is only the voters’ perception of reality that matters.  So that leaves it to the rest of us to stand up and proselytize the teachings of “I Pencil.”  And if you do, you will be performing a great service for our country and, especially, our children!  

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President