Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Progressive and the Pencil

This is a pencil. There isn't a single person in the world who could make this pencil.

The wood from which it was made came from a tree cut down in the state of Washington.

To cut down that tree, it took a saw.

To make that saw, it took steel.

To make that steel, it took iron ore.

The black center of the pencil, which we call 'lead', is actually made from compressed graphite.

It comes from mines in South America.

The eraser, made from rubber, likely comes from Malaysia.

The rubber tree wasn't native to Malaysia. It was imported from South America by businessmen with the help of the British government.

The brass fairing that holds the eraser probably came from the Midwestern United States, where computerized machine tools stamp, roll, finish and convey them.

The yellow paint, the glue that holds it together... literally thousands of people cooperated to make this pencil.

People who don't speak the same language. Who practice different religions. Who might hate one another if they ever met. When you visit a store and buy this pencil, you are -- in effect -- trading a few minutes of your time for a few seconds of time from all those thousands of people.

What brought them together and induced them to cooperate to make this pencil?

There was no "Pencil Czar" sending out orders from Washington. It was the magic of the free market. The impersonal operation of a market system that brought them together and got them to cooperate to make this pencil, so that you could have it for a few pennies.

That is why the free market system is so important to our society. It fosters harmony, cooperation and peaceful interactions between the peoples of the world.

How many of the Democrats' despised "millionaires and billionaires" were created as this pencil came into existence? Do the employees of the steel mill care? The saw manufacturer? The buyer of the pencil? Of course not.

In the formulation of the hard left Democrat party, the manufacture and distribution of pencils would be administered by a "Czar" and a centralized, federal agency. A few masterminds, like Obamacare's health advisory board, would try to manage and control thousands of voluntary, individual interactions. And we know from history that it simply can't be done.

We must call Obama and the Democrats' incessant drive for centralized government -- and their class-warfare rhetoric -- what it is: a new branding of the old Marxist philosophies, i.e., "Progressivism". It's just a different name for the same failed ideology that spreads misery and poverty where ever it is implemented.

The modern Democrat Party should be called what it is: the party of Marx. The Party of Unconstitutionality. The Party of Economic Misery and Failure. And it must be stopped -- quickly -- if this Republic is to survive.

Based upon: Milton Friedman's 'Power of the Market'. Hat tip: Mark Levin.


Mike aka Proof said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike aka Proof said...

"What brought them together and induced them to cooperate to make this pencil?"
When I saw the picture of Barry O underneath this question, I though for a moment that he was taking credit for that, too!

(Pesky typos!)

Matt said...

Well, if the government did do it, it would cost $20 a piece, still be sold at a loss, would be in short supply, and would break in 15 seconds.

Anonymous said...

I realized this years ago. That is why when Pelosi, Reid, and Dear Leader Chairman MaObama came into power I started calling them what they are . . . Commiecrats!

Bones said...

Another chapter with this illustration would be tariffs.
Imposed by government for the union campaigned contributors.
It almost always ends badly.

Anonymous said...

This is straight out of Leonard Read's short article, I Pencil. See:

Here it is as an eBook:

Anonymous said...

My label for these present-day commies is, "NeoFabian".

Old NFO said...

Interesting post, thanks for the info, and yeah, the Obamallama threw me too!

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is "I, Pencil", and it's worth reading the actual essay; but Doug's visual summation is perfect and quite wonderful as a quick intro.

Anonymous said...

You mean that Al Gore didn't invent it?

Dutch said...

Wish you had used a US made pencil. (Ticonderoga are made in China).

Reliapundit said...

great adaptation of MK!

Knucklehead said...

Reminds me of the story of the NASA "space" pen which provides another example of profit mongering business beasts using their own resources to develop a solution to a problem. Those darned profiteers just can't keep their noses out of problem solving. Very disturbing, very.

The Internet Myth is that NASA spent millions developing a pen that would write in space conditions. The Soviets used pencils.

The reality is they both used pencils and/or grease pencils. But both of those products present potential hazards in space that are not present on earth; floating broken tips or shavings, flammability in 100% oxygen, etc.

NASA did not spend millions although they did purchase some preposterously priced mechanical pencils.

What did happen is that the Fisher Pen company recognized (or otherwise discovered) an opportunity and developed the space pen all by themselves. Some versions of the story say that Fisher invested approx. $1M developing their ball-point pens before the space pen, others have them spending $1M on the space pen. Either way, they did on their dime and sent the first batch to NASA where they were tested, accepted, and purchased for $6/pen. By both NASA and the Soviet space program, BTW.

Here is the NASA history version:

You can examine the Snopes or other versions if you'd like. Easy enough to google.

Larry Geiger said...

Remember, if they spent a million dollars developing it, it wasn't a million dollars to make a SpacePen. It was to develop all of the processes and supply lines needed to make millions of SpacePens and sell them to anyone who wants one for $6.00.

The government would have spent a million dollars and ended up with 5 or 10 pens.

Knucklehead said...


Well, it would have been 5,000 or 10,000 or so pens (at least one for each congress critter and staff member as well as large campaign contributor) but your point stands and is well taken.

Thanks for pointing it out. It is true that the few hundred pens and thousand or two refills wouldn't recoup Fisher's investment. Patent law and clever marketing took care of that.