I read with great interest Tom Purcell’s column “Erasing capitalism? Consider the pencil first” (March 19, TribLIVE) and his references to Leonard Read’s essay “I, Pencil.” Contemplating how such an item as seemingly mundane as a pencil could be produced — the basic idea, the type of wood, discovering that graphite was best to use, the design and adaption of the various machines needed throughout the entire process, all done without interference from government — truly does point to how socialism will not work in our country.
To quote Purcell: “Even more amazing is this: No one person could possibly manage the millions of decisions made by the millions of people who produce pencils’ ingredients.”
Read had a firm grasp on capitalism vs. socialism. I could take one more — and, quite possibly, the most important — principle from Read’s treatise: Consider the teamwork and compromise needed to produce the pencil. From original idea to final product, teamwork and compromise in every phase had to be phenomenal for an item that we, today, find so very commonplace.
“I, Pencil” should be required reading for all politicians for each to understand capitalism vs. socialism and also to learn that teamwork and compromise work better than party against party.
George A. West