Matt Ridley: When Ideas Have Sex
Leonard Read: I, Pencil
Stories in Video
In The Rational Optimist, Ridley argues that our prosperity is due to our willingness to trade with strangers. This enables the division of labour and permits us to specialise, to work on the things we are good at. That encourages us to innovate, to make tools and machines and processes that make our production more efficient.
We trade ideas too. We learn skills from experts and build on what has gone before, so a communal intelligence develops. Prosperity increases exponentially.
The prologue to The Rational Optimist, “When ideas have sex” became a 16-minute TED conference talk and has been viewed more than 2 million times.
In 1958, Leonard E. Read wrote a delightful essay I, Pencil in which he explained the collaboration of millions of people in the production of a simple pencil.
As Read pointed out, “not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me”. What is more, “there is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being”.
The free market coordinates the actions of free people to increase the prosperity of all.
On the 1st December 2014, one hundred and seventy friends gathered at The Wheeler Centre to hear the Hon. Jim Carlton AO launch my first book, The Fragility of Freedom: Why Subsidiarity Matters.
Jim Carlton’s career included being a management consultant with McKinsey, the Minister for Health in the Fraser government and the Secretary General of the Australian Red Cross. With John Hyde and Peter Stack he formed the Crossroads Group which promoted the free market cause within the parliamentary Liberal party. He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2001.
Introducing him, Lindsay Moore said, “Given his background, there would be few better equipped to form a view on The Fragility of Freedom and none more appropriate to launch this important book.”
Here is an edited video of the launch, produced by the talented Chris ‘Topher’ Field.