The collaboration that the market makes possible across continents and time is one of the wonders of the world. I, Pencil conveys that wonder by showing how the fabrication of pencil depends on the actions of thousands of people who never meet. And there is no central planner to coordinate their actions. This story can make a market enthusiast even of a small child. I have seen this for myself!
Consumer surplus is another marvel of the market. In a competitive market, most consumers get a product for less than they would be willing to pay for it. The markets deliver us more than fair exchange. The idea of consumer surplus plays a large role in some areas of law, particularly antitrust. So it is important to dramatize this concept.
In class, I ask students to think of the product from which they get the greatest value. That large difference between the price paid and the benefits conferred shows how the market serves individual desires—really individual in that few or no other people share all of them.
In order to make the issue more vivid I share an example from my own life: an e-reader.