The Essentials: Leonard Read

by admin on 01/10/2015 2:57 AM

FEE is happy to present the Essential series, five free ebooks collecting the key works of five great freedom philosophers: Leonard Read, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, F.A. Hayek, and Frédéric Bastiat. In each of these compact anthologies, you will find a powerful case for liberty.

But the ideas within are not mere fodder for debate. Like all great sages, these authors offer true wisdom that can inspire you and benefit you personally in your own life. Here is a discussion of just a few of the included works. We will review these to help us understand how the government intrusion into health care has decrease medical quality and decreased access.

Leonard Read

Leonard Read (1898-1983), FEE’s founder, dedicated his life to spreading “the freedom philosophy.” In addition to facilitating the contributions of others, Read himself was a prolific author and a font of wisdom. For example, in the included “How Socialism Harms the Individual,” Read explains how the forced transfer of wealth degrades and cripples everyone involved. In addition to being directly harmed, the victim of the transfer becomes less provident and charitable. The beneficiary becomes less self-reliant and capable. And the enforcer of the transfer becomes power-addled and contemptible. Power corrupts and captivity degrades. Read cuts through the weeds of public policy debate, and counsels the reader to renounce any role in the redistribution of wealth “for his own mental and spiritual health.”

In “I, Pencil,” his most famous work (also included), Read charmingly adopts the voice of a pencil who recounts the tale of its own ancestry. Despite its humble appearance, the pencil is the end result of a mind-boggling, globe-spanning feat of cooperation among millions of strangers. This triumph of coordination is all the more marvelous for having no mastermind. Indeed no central planner, however brilliant and public-minded, could have pulled it off. Such an intricate order can only emerge out of the voluntary interplay of free people. Read imparts to the reader his own sense of wonder at the miracles of the market. After reading Read, you’ll never look at the abundance that surrounds you the same again.

Tables of Contents

The Essential Leonard Read

  1. I, Pencil
    2. Neither Left nor Right
    3. A Break with Prevailing Faith
    4. Socialism Is Noncreative
    5. How Socialism Harms the Individual
    6. How Socialism Harms the Economy
    7. The Most Important Discovery in Economics
    8. The Greatest Computer on Earth
    9. The Service Motive
    10. Why Freedom Works Its Wonders
    11. Asleep at the Switch
    12. In Pursuit of Excellence

Read more: Power corrupts and captivity degrades.

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Government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.

– Ronald Reagan

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