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Summary and Comments

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Category: 

Introduction

Date: 

1997-07-15 00:00:00

Subject: 

The #1 Issue: The Collapse of the Division of Labor

  Link:

http://www.fee.org/ipencil.html

Comment: 

We are interdependent. This is a cliche these days, but it is also a life-and-death matter. Your life depends on others. Without the daily delivery of services to you, you would die. Without water, for example, how long would you live? Days?

Here is the problem: the modern world depends on information, mainly price information. Without it, we go blind. If prices are wrong, or if the prevailing means of payment ceases to work (banks, checks, credit cards), the information that keeps us alive ceases to sustain us.

I am attaching a link to one of the most brilliant essays on economics ever written: "I, Pencil," by Leonard E. Read, my first full-time boss. In this essay, he makes it clear: no one knows how to make a pencil.

Without the voluntary cooperation of untold numbers of unknown people, there could be no such thing as a pencil.

Or a computer.

This voluntary cooperation today is based on the information in mainframe computers. If this information were no longer accessible, or if it were inaccurate or unreliable, no one would know how to make a computer, including a replacement computer. So, we must hope -- but not assume -- that all of this information will not become inaccessible or corrupted by interaction with other non-compliant computers in 2000. But if there is a breakdown in communication among computers, with noncompliant computers being locked out of the system, then there will be no more system. Yet the system is what "I, Pencil" is all about.

You had better read "I, Pencil." This will take you only a few minutes. But after 1999, dealing personally with the truth it conveys will require you to do a lot of rethinking, repositioning, and re-everything else.

After you read "I, Pencil," think of ten household items that you rely on to get you through every day. Then think, "I, [ ]." Ten times.

Then, to quote a letter to me from a man whose company advises Fortune 500 companies in making their y2k repairs, "be afraid. Be very afraid."

Link: 

http://www.fee.org/ipencil.html

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