I, Pencil is one of the most important and influential writings that explain the necessity for limited government. A simple object that we may not give much throught to, the story of the pencil illustrates the importance of markets, and the impossibility of centralized economic planning.
From the afterword to I, Pencil by Milton Friedman:
Leonard E. Read’s delightful story, “I, Pencil,” has become a classic, and deservedly so. I know of no other piece of literature that so succinctly, persuasively, and effectively illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smith’s invisible hand — the possibility of cooperation without coercion — and Friedrich Hayek’s emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system in communicating information that “will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do.”
Link to a pdf of I, Pencil: http://www.fee.org/pdf/books/I,%20Pencil%202006.pdf
Link to Leonard E. Read reading I, Pencil: http://www.fee.org/events/detail.asp?id=6239