CEI Releases New I, Pencil Film

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 15, 2012 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is proud to announce the release of I, Pencil, a new short film adapted from the 1958 essay by Leonard E. Read, founder of the Foundation for Economic Freedom. CEI’s I, Pencil film is available online at www.IPencilMovie.org.

The Story of I, Pencil

Do you know how to make a pencil? You don’t, do you? As Read explained in his original essay, no single person on earth does. The pencil, like most modern wonders, is the end product of an intricate chain of human activity that spans the globe. There is no mastermind dictating the making of a pencil; not even the CEO of a pencil company could tell you exactly how to make one. It takes the little bits of know-how of thousands of individuals—loggers in California, factory workers in China, miners in Sri Lanka, and everyone in between—to bring an ordinary wooden pencil into being. By trading their skills and labor for wages, these individuals each bring the pencil a step closer into being.

This is the miracle of the free market. People who are strangers to each other—who might even hate each other if they ever met—are cooperating every day to produce goods that others want, need and enjoy. Markets compel men and women to voluntarily arrange themselves into efficient patterns of production through the pursuit of their individual self-interests. Without this constant spontaneous cooperation, the modern wonders of our world would not exist.

CEI’s Production of the I, Pencil Film

CEI began the process of adapting I, Pencil over a year ago. The goal of the project was to translate Leonard Read’s story into an exciting and accessible film for the Internet age. Under the direction of libertarian filmmaker Nicholas Tucker, the project has successfully realized—and even exceeded—CEI’s original vision. At six minutes long and expertly animated, I, Pencil is a colorful, easy-to-share reimagining of Read’s timeless narrative.

CEI President Fred L. Smith, Jr. said:

“Throughout my career, I’ve sought new and better means of communicating classical liberal ideas to people of all political persuasions. This year, I am stepping down as president of CEI so that I can continue this undertaking full-time as a policy analyst. It was with great pleasure that I shepherded the production of I, Pencil during this transition. Leonard Read’s original essay continues to be one of the most poignant free-market narratives I’ve ever come across. I’m proud of CEI’s film adaptation of Read’s work, and I’m very hopeful it will successfully bring classical liberal ideas to new and diverse audiences.”

Film Commentary and Extras

I, Pencil is hosted at IPencilMovie.org. Also on the website are educational resources and curriculum outlines which CEI hopes will enable teachers, professors and lecturers to make easy use of the I, Pencil film as a teaching tool. To supplement existing educational materials, CEI is producing a series of Extended Commentary videos on the fundamental themes of I, Pencil. Currently available are chapters on Spontaneous Order and Connectivity featuring University of Illinois Professor Deirdre McCloskey, George Mason University Professor Walter E. Williams, Samford University Assistant Professor Art Carden, and Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) President Lawrence W. Reed.

CEI owes great thanks to all those involved in the I, Pencil project. In particular, CEI is grateful to FEE for its help and support. Leonard Read founded FEE in 1946; now, today’s president Lawrence Reed gives his blessing to CEI’s film:

“For more than half a century, Leonard Read’s classic story has opened eyes and changed minds by the hundreds of thousands. It humbles even the high and mighty as it reveals the wondrous achievements of individuals whose contributions are coordinated by nothing more than incentives and market prices. This film guarantees that the insights of Read’s humble pencil will continue to work their magic for many years to come!”

Watch I, Pencil and share it with friends at www.IPencilMovie.org or at CEI’s I, Pencil Youtube channel. For more information about plans for the film’s release, contact Nicole Ciandella at [email protected] or 202-331-2773.