Thursday, March 5, 2009

It takes a village to make a pencil

It takes a village to make a pencil
(Some real-world economics, here)

In The Vision of the Anointed(p.254), Thomas Sowell powerfully observes that the manufacture of the lowly pencil is vastly beyond the capability of a single person. There are those who select, harvest and prepare the wood; those who find, extract, and prepare the graphite; those who shape and assemble the parts; those who package, transport, sell, etc. Each works within a limited “circle of knowledge.” The sum of these circles cannot possibly be invested in a single individual; further, the participants must must all work, autonomously, and voluntarily as a team. They probably work within a web of trusting relationships and formal contracts.

Politicians have no positive contribution to pencil making [my words, not Sowell’s].

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