Watch "I, Pencil: The Movie"


The Competitive Enterprise Institute, in collaboration with the Foundation for Economic Education, has put together a terrific video illustrating the classic 1958 essay, "I, Pencil," by Leonard Read.

The essay—cited by Milton Friedman in Free to Choose and read by millions—explains how markets coordinate far-flung activity involving economic actors without a need for coercion and central planning.

Watch by clicking above and go here to read more about the video and the essay on which it's based.

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  1. Thanks, but I’ll wait for the porn parody version, “I, Penis”

    1. It’s mightier than the sword, you know.

      At least mine is.

    2. Here you go.

      No pr0n, but probably NSFW either.

      1. that is truly delightful. Thankyou thankyou thankyou

  2. Is this a big screen adaptation of NBC’s high concept 80’s private detective series Graphite Jones: Pencil Dick? When is Hollywood going to stop recycling old ideas?

  3. “When is Hollywood going to stop recycling old ideas?”

    When consumers of movies stop watching recycled old ideas. Unfortunately there are many consumers who have the memory of a fruit fly and even less knowledge of classic literature or Campbellian mythic theory and have no idea how old these ideas are.

    1. Well also a lot of people younger than the originals who don’t make the effort to explore older things. Except Spiderman, I dunno wtf is up with that.

      1. Comic book heroes are actually a very good example. Comic book heroes are based upon European legends of knights errant. Even Batman is called “The Dark Knight” which is a very fitting title for him. It has the sound of a name a Medieval Knight might very well be given.

        I love clasic films myself. Just the other day I saw a film I had never even heard of before called The Black Cat – very good film. It is interesting how “futuristic” the set of this 1934 film looks. It was recently restored.

  4. So, Obama and Hillary were right; It does takes a overbearing government to build a business.

    1. Only if it is part of the Military IndustrianComplex or the “Security” Industrial complex.

  5. This is one of my favorite econ stories. I read this to my son when he was younger to slowly indoctrinate him into my thinking.

    Yes I am a dull person.

    1. Did it work?

  6. But, but, but Tony said there is no cooperation without coercion. Thus this essay and video are false.

  7. Isn’t “I, Pencil” in the public domain? There should be a link to the story itself.

      1. Now all that’s left is for Apple’s TrademarkBot to crawl this page.

  8. This makes me a bit sad. I do so love their fruit pies. There’s a Hostess bakery outlet near where I live; I wonder if that’s going to close or whether they have other product lines to keep them in business.

    This is an echo of the collapse of the steel industry in the ’70s and ’80s. And The wolf finally came.

    1. I see this is as a good thing, I am more of a TastyKake guy.

      1. Well, it’s a good thing in that failed business models are being penalized. It’s a little sad because I kind of grew up savoring these products, when I was allowed to have them (which wasn’t often–my Mom was very nutrition conscious).

        1. I have no idea how I do not weigh 500 pounds. My mom’s packed lunch would include: a soda, sandwich, chips or doritos, string cheese, fruit snack, a pack of Tastykake Cupcakes, and two mini snickers (or other candy).

    2. Im sure the brand names will get sold in the bankruptcy, so they will exist again.

      1. Of course. There’s no way Twinkie gets left behind.

    3. Lots of schadenfreude in NY metro about this, I’m sure, since Hostess is blamed for ruining Drake’s cakes.

  9. That pencil- well, you know…

  10. OK you have to admit that is some pretty cool stuff!

  11. There are no good guys in the Hostess story. The management/ownership group are doubtless a bunch of idiots.

    However, the bottom line, as always, is this: if the union bakers are so fucking smart and attuned to the market and know the business model inside and out they should have no trouble buying the assets out of bankruptcy and astounding us with their business acumen and savvy. And I have no doubt their compensation model will be a marvel to behold, and a lesson for us all.

    1. Twinkie the Kid is a good guy.

      Anyway, part of the lesson from And the Wolf Finally Came is that when management agrees to unsustainable concessions to unions, the company (and its investors and employees) suffers as a whole later down the road. The unions ask for the sky, bitch when management gets them up to 30,000 feet, and ask for more. The management finds it easier to cave in to union demands rather than hold the sensible line, and everything eventually collapses. Corporations with unionized labor forces and defined benefit pension plans are essentially Ponzi schemes.

  12. markets coordinate far-flung activity involving economic actors without a need for coercion and central planning.


  13. when management agrees to unsustainable concessions to unions

    The biggest issue I have with corporate governance is the tendency of management to run the company for their own benefit, and buying short term labor “peace” with shareholders’ money. If the CEO wants to behave as if he is a sole proprietor, he should be in a privately held company.

    As for unions, fuck ’em; I would be perfectly happy to see Hostess re-staff their facilities with permanent non-union replacement workers. But the NLRB wouldn’t.

    1. If the CEO wants to behave as if he is a sole proprietor, he should be in a privately held company.

      Bingo. And I agree; fuck the unions, they helped make this bed.

  14. So Obama was right: you din’t build that pencil. Somebody else made that happen.

    Government had something to do with it along the way, so it deserves all the credit.

  15. If Tony’s head explodes watching this, does it make a sound?

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