The miracle of the pencil is: how did it get made? Not one of them has been forced to do it.
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Nobody has had a gun to his head. Which suggests, as the pencil puts it …. PENCIL: The absence of a mastermind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. And the astounding thing, as Leonard Read says, is the absence of a mastermind. There is no one dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions, as he put it. Now, this may not be the way you see free-market capitalism.
But the point is that free-market capitalism is better than all the known alternatives.
They were also concerned about Communism, and what they saw as the tyranny of state-run economies in places like the Soviet Union. Just listen to the pencil:. Government, get out of the way! Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow.
Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. And then there are the less tangible things, like a legal system to uphold contracts, and the protections provided by police and the courts. Here again is the economist Tim Harford:. HARFORD: Clearly, in a modern economy, a tremendous amount of the infrastructure that we rely on has been paid for by taxpayers and coordinated in some way by state government, local government, or by the federal government. Some of these things could be provided privately.
But, as a matter of fact, they are provided by government and they seem to be provided reasonably well. It is a warning that Harford says is worth heeding. Especially as we are collectively thinking about how to deal with things like climate change, income inequality, the stability of our financial system. Be careful. And any fix to, for example, the energy system, is going to involve far more people and far more countries and far more technologies than you could imagine. I mean, some kind of unintended consequence, I guess, yes?
HARFORD: So, yes, one lesson is that there will always be unintended consequences whenever you start messing around with a complex system. I think another lesson is that trial and error is a really important process. This is the lesson I draw in my book Adapt. You need to carry out lots of experiments and you need to create a system that allows lots of experiments. And I think where Leonard Read was absolutely right was to suggest that when the free market works well, it delivers amazing results.
Well, why does it deliver amazing results?
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There are pencil manufacturers or lumberjacks or coffee companies or truck companies making bad decisions and going bankrupt all the time. But the system as a whole is resilient and stable and creative. And, as Leonard Read rightly pointed out, it produces miracles. Jim Weissenborn. Jim Weissenborn is We even do all our own marketing. There are only a couple other U.
Weissenborn led our producer Christopher Werth on a tour. These are tumbling barrels.
And what you hear going around in there are Belgium stones off the coast of Belgium. That fine mixture is then dried, ground up again, mixed with water. Those are then dried again and fired in kilns at around 1, degrees Fahrenheit. In , Leonard Read wrote that the graphite for pencil lead came from Ceylon, which is present-day Sri Lanka. Most of the graphite General Pencil uses today comes from Mexico; overall, China is the biggest supplier.
What about the eraser? So our erasers are made for us in Spain. The tour heads into the woodshop. A machine is cutting a row of tiny grooves into thin, rectangular wooden slats. This is how the lead gets into the pencil. A lead is laid into each of the grooves and then another grooved, wooden slat is glued on top. We had all the contracts for the L.
How to Write Fictional Autobiographies of Inanimate Objects
Unified school districts, Seattle school districts, State of New York. We were running truckloads and truckloads of pencils out of here. This was back 40 years ago. All told, there are steps in making a pencil in this factory, and Jim Weissenborn knows every single one. Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. Not that most of us would ever want or need to do such a thing, right?
So a kiwifruit grown in New Zealand or Italy? I can buy that for a dollar in a New York grocery store — even an online grocery store, which delivers to my door. What do you want to buy? A German-made car? A t-shirt made in Indonesia and Bangladesh, spun from cotton grown in Mississippi? Yep, you can buy that too. But this does not stop some people from trying to make their own stuff, from the ground up. And that is Thomas Thwaites. He wanted to better understand just how finished consumer goods get to him. We British, we love our toast.
Where do I start? Those five materials were steel, nickel, copper, mica and plastic. But even with the first material, steel, Thwaites hit a roadblock. The steel-making process is incredibly difficult, especially for an art-and-design student. So he settled on iron, which is somewhat less complicated. But anyway, they cleared that up and he went back home with a suitcase full of iron ore. How do you turn iron ore into iron? How do you make metal from rock? I had a vague idea — you have to get it hot.
Thwaites consulted professors and some books on metallurgy. He landed on a method from the 15th century, with a few modifications. The fire produced a big lump of heavy gray matter that looked like metal. I must be some kind of genius because it took the rest of humanity thousands and thousands of years to move from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age but hey, me, I just pulled it out of the bag. Alas, Thwaites was not quite as genius as he imagined. The lump was still just iron ore.
So he read some more and landed on another idea. With the nickel he needed, for example.
The closest extant mine he could find was in Siberia. THWAITES: I was determined that this toaster would have a plastic case because a plastic case is kind of the defining feature of cheap consumer electrical objects.
Autobiography of a pencil
I am happy and do my best to help him finish his work on time. He uses me to draw many paintings of people and its surroundings. Then he adds color to make me look nice. The painter gets so much money and fame as I help him to draw with. His thoughts and ideas are present in his mind and then display through me. This is how I try to spread human imagination and thoughts from one generation to another.