the pencil. Adam Smith gave us the answer two hundred years ago. Some among them never saw a pencil and would not know what it is for. That was why he was so effective in keeping alive, in the early days, and then spreading the basic idea that human freedom required private property, free competition, and severely limited government. I know of no other piece of literature that so succinctly, persuasively, and effectively illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smiths invisible handthe possibility of cooperation without coercionand Friedrich Hayeks emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system. That was his basic credo and one that he stuck to consistently during his long period of service to the publicnot public service in the sense of government service. Professor Friedman, the 1976 Nobelist in Economic Science, is Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, California. I, Pencil is a typical Leonard Read product: imaginative, simple yet subtle, breathing the love of freedom that imbued everything Leonard wrote or did. Each saw his work as a way to get the goods and services he wantedgoods and services we produced in order to get the pencil we wanted. He was simply trying to enhance individuals understanding of themselves and of the system they live.
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No military police enforced the orders that were not given. How did it happen? By Milton Friedman, introduction, Leonard Reads delightful story, I, Pencil, has become a classic, and deservedly. We summarized the story and then went on to say: None of the thousands of persons involved in producing the pencil performed his task because he wanted a pencil. We used Leonards story in our television show, Free to Choose, and in the accompanying book of the same title to illustrate the power of the market (the title of both the first segment of the TV show and of chapter one of the book). Whatever the pressure, he stuck to his guns, refusing to compromise his principles. No one sitting in a central office gave orders to these thousands of people. As in the rest of his work, he was not trying to tell people what to do or how to conduct themselves. These people live in many lands, speak different languages, practice different religions, may even hate one anotheryet none of these differences prevented them from cooperating to produce a pencil.