The High Cost of Undivided Labor

In "Nations Don't Have Economies" I linked to Leonard Read's classic essay on trade and the division of labor: "I, Pencil".

In it, Read explains how it takes countless thousands of people from all over the world, none of whom know what the others are doing, to produce one pencil. Of course, the processes they use enable millions of pencils to be made, inexpensively, but Read's main point is that no single person could make something so apparently mundane. That's what markets do for us.

The following TED Talk shows one man's effort to produce another everyday household item all by himself, a toaster. As Thomas Woods summarizes, "It took him nine months, international travel, and 300 times the cost of a toaster in the store." 

But you have to admire the man's tenacity: