I, Pencil: The Movie

In 1958, Leonard E. Read wrote “I, Pencil”—a short, brilliant essay about how markets coordinate the countless steps that go into making an ordinary pencil. In addition to its insightful substance, the essay is also noteworthy for Read’s clever literary device: the story is told from the perspective of a pencil.

The piece ran in The Freeman—the venerable monthly published by the organization that Read founded in 1946, the Foundation for Economic Education—and quickly became a classic.

“I, Pencil” reached new levels of fame in 1980, when Milton Friedman drew from it in a segment of his popular PBS television series, Free to Choose. Friedman also contributed an afterword to the official 50th Anniversary Edition of the essay.

Read’s essay now serves as the basis for a brilliant short film, directed by Nick Tucker and produced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“I, Pencil: The Movie” is a gem and is reaching many viewers who were unfamiliar with Read’s original essay. Interviews and educational resources related to the film and its content are available at the film’s website.

HT: Steven Horwitz

Carl Close is Research Fellow and Senior Editor for The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review and editor of The Lighthouse, The Independent Institute’s weekly e-mail newsletter.
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