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Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing columns on important issues for today.

The Story of a Pencil and the Free Market

January 6, 2014

Hi, I am just an ordinary wooden/lead pencil. Writing is my vocation and avocation; that's all I do!  Although I am ordinary, my family history is interesting and some might say miraculous.  Except for God, no one person knows how to make me and yet, with the minds and talents of many, I am easily available to you all. 

Pick me up. What do you see?  Some wood, lacquer, graphite lead, a bit of metal and an eraser. It doesn’t seem like much does it?  But consider this. 

My life started with a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon.  It took lots of equipment to harvest my wood and get it to the factory where I was assembled. Thousands of people played a role in just getting my cedar wood to the factory where I took shape. 

At the factory my wood was kiln dried, tinted, cut into slats and kiln dried again. It took electricity to run the kilns, chemicals to tint me, and machinery to create me.  It took engineers to layout my assembly line to form, shape and get me ready for you!

There are a countless number of people who bought stocks and bonds that raise the capital for companies that took the risk to make my different parts. They are all part of my lineage! 

I could go on and on about the millions of people who played a part in making me who I am today: but I think I have made my point.

The astounding fact is that I am not the product of a master mind.  No one dictated or forcibly directed these countless actions which brought me into being. What I represent is a free market where people are free to make individual decisions.  No one person can make a pencil.  It takes millions of people making individual decisions to make just one of me.

Today, we are seeing an intrusive government interfering with the free market. Taxpayer dollars were paid to subsidize “green” energy producers, many of whom went bankrupt.  If “green” energy is to survive it needs to be economically viable without government subsidies -- just like I am.   

Today private money and companies are ready to build the Keystone XL pipeline but the Administration is again meddling with the free market, dragging its feet on project approval and as a result losing potential jobs, a boost for our economy, and keeping us further from energy independence.

When the government picks winners and losers it inevitably makes wrong choices even though it thinks it knows better than we do about what is best for us!

So, here are some lessons:

  • Encourage creativity by regulating less;    
  • Keep government from “managing” our economy, let the free market be the manager;  
  • Don’t have a tax structure that penalizes those who take economic risks and succeed, after all they create jobs!
  • Don’t force ObamaCare on employers, especially when it conflicts with their religious beliefs; and finally        
  • Have faith that free men and women will make good business decisions and, if they fail, let them pay the price for failures.  No company should be too big to fail. None should be bailed out by the federal government.   

Thanks “Three Musketeers” for sharing my family story!

I, The Pencil