I, Pencil

Leonard Read’s delightful story, “I, Pencil,” has become a classic, and deservedly so. I know of no other piece of literature that so succinctly, persuasively, and effectively illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smith’s invisible hand–the possibility of cooperation without coercion–and Friedrich Hayek’s emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system in communicating information that “will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do.”

I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read,” by Leonard Read, December, 1958, from the Introduction, by Milton Friedman

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