I, Pencil by Lawrence W. Reed: Quotations


A famous five-page story that succinctly illustrates Adam Smith’s principle of cooperation without coercion and Hayek’s idea that price values communicates the appropriate information to allow people to make economically rational decisions without force.


“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Here is an astonishing fact: Neither the workers in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or truck nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit or metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.” – pg. 44

“If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” – pg. 45

“The lesson I have to each is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson.” – pg. 47


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