Sunday , October 22 2017
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I, Needle Nose Pliers

Summary:
Above is a picture of a tool I borrowed from a neighbor (or, should I say "neighbour" since I'm at my cottage in Canada.) The main insight from the classic "I, Pencil" is that no single person knows how to make a pencil but that it is made using an extensive, international division of labor and is done so well and efficiently that one high-quality pencil costs only a small amount of money. When I borrowed the needle-nose pliers, I had a related thought: I needed that particular size of pliers to do what I needed to do: fix something in my shower head. No other pliers would do. And a division of labor similar to the one that led to the pencil produced this highly specialized piece of equipment for my

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I, Needle Nose Pliers

Above is a picture of a tool I borrowed from a neighbor (or, should I say "neighbour" since I'm at my cottage in Canada.)

The main insight from the classic "I, Pencil" is that no single person knows how to make a pencil but that it is made using an extensive, international division of labor and is done so well and efficiently that one high-quality pencil costs only a small amount of money.

When I borrowed the needle-nose pliers, I had a related thought: I needed that particular size of pliers to do what I needed to do: fix something in my shower head. No other pliers would do. And a division of labor similar to the one that led to the pencil produced this highly specialized piece of equipment for my neighbor at a relatively low cost.

I go into a hardware store every summer in Kenora, near my cottage at Minaki, When i look around at the awesome collection of tools, specialized for this or that use, I think that a hardware store is a testament to two things: (1) the high cost of our time, which leads us to choose a tool that's just right for the job, and (2) the power of the free market in delivering most of these items at a relatively low cost.

Hardware stores are one of my favorite places to browse, even if I'm buying only one item.



David Henderson
David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

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