Big Idea #3: What can a simple pencil teach us about the world?

In a world of self-government, how is the world ordered?

Take a look at the video below, or think about the statements below:

Consider a simple pencil and the sum of its parts. There is wood, rubber, metal, and graphite in the middle.

If all of the parts were on the table in front of you, could you assemble a pencil? Not likely. It takes a vast, inter-connected, voluntary network of people to make a simple pencil.

It takes trees, loggers, the workers at the mill, the miners in China and Sri Lanka for the graphite, etc…

It is the end result of cooperation and collaboration. But why? Because the millions involved love pencils? Not quite. They exchange their labor and skills for wages that let them buy what they want. As a result, that money flow to those that feed, clothe, entertain, and move the worker. This is a free market.

Amazingly, it has no mastermind dictating the outcome. It is the spontaneous configuration of creative human energies. It is millions of people organizing their skills and efforts to voluntarily solve a problem that improves the lives of millions. We call this spontaneous order.

If we can keep this creativity uninhibited, there is no end to the prosperity this force can create or problems it can solve.

Chris Spangle is the publisher and editor of We Are Libertarians, a news site and podcast that covers national and Indiana politics from the libertarian perspective. Spangle previously worked in marketing for the Englehart Group on behalf of the Advocates for Self-Government. He also served as the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana and producer of the Abdul in the Morning Show. He now works as the web director of a nationally syndicated morning show.

Further reading