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This 'big oil' company's commercial about an egg brings to life one of the greatest essays on free enterprise ever written


"Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed."

For those unfamiliar with free marketeer Leonard Reed and his simple but profound essay, "I, Pencil," an advertisement by a leading oil company is a visual testament to its power.

Like "I, Pencil," which follows the seemingly simple but actually remarkably complex creation of a pencil, the following Exxon commercial traces the steps that bring the eggs you eat for breakfast to your stove and allows you to boil them -- a thoughtless task enabled by a complex supply chain stemming from the harmonious actions of millions of people across the world, calibrated by the price system, organized spontaneously through the free market.

From procuring gas and transporting it, to packaging and boiling eggs, not to mention creating the machinery that enables such actions, the processes that bring the modern luxuries that we so take for granted are elegantly illustrated in the below video:

As free market professor Donald Boudreaux writes of the video at Cafe Hayek:

It cannot be said too often: our modern world, although not perfect, works so incredibly and so consistently well for the great majority of people that we take the marvels of our daily lives for granted.  These marvels are nearly all the product of unplanned human cooperation that spans the globe and involves the creativity and efforts of literally hundreds of millions of people.  A distinguishing feature of this marvelous market-created world of ours is that not only do you not know how to make any of the individual goods and services that you consume, but no one knows how to make any of these things.  With rare exceptions (almost all involving intimate personal services such as massages), everything that each of us moderns consumes daily requires the knowledge and information possessed by multitudes of strangers – knowledge and information that is not and cannot possibly be contained in a single mind or place.

Here is how Leonard Reed concludes his, "I, Pencil":

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

(h/t: Cafe Hayek)

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