No Man Is an Island

Contrary to About a Boy, and despite the quite fine gadgets that were in that movie, the conclusion that everyone comes to that no man is an island also rings true in an economic sense. I just read a clever passage in a book by P.J. O’Rourke, which I’ll post more about later:

A pencil is a simple object, but there’s not a single person in the world who can make one. That person would need to be a miner to get the graphite, a chemical engineer to turn graphite into pencil lead, a lumberjacj to cut the cedar trees, and a carpenter to shape the pencil casing. He’d need to know how to make yellow paint, how to spray it on, and how to make a paint sprayer. He’d have to go back to the mines to get the ore to make the metal for the thingy that holds the eraser, then build a smelter, a rolling plant, and a michine-tool factory to produce equipment to crimp the thingy in place. And he’d have to grow a rubber tree in his backyard. All this would take a lot of money. Yet a pencil sells for nine cents

Obviously he becomes more frivilous as it goes on, but I thought it was a nice take on Milton Friedman’s pencil example in illustrating the importance of division of labor. Now I need to go get back to something I’m good at.

3 thoughts on “No Man Is an Island

  1. you know what’s ironic? Thoreau, who hated the idea of division of labor, made pencils for a living. weird.

  2. yeh yeh good point, any other ineteresting ideas? I need some information for my assigment and the subject is “No man is an island”