“I, Pencil” is an essay by Leonard Read. The full title is “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read” and it was first published in the December 1958 issue of The Freeman. It was reprinted in The Freeman in May 1996 and as a pamphlet entitled “I… Pencil” in May 1998. In the reprint, Milton Friedman wrote the introduction and Donald J. Boudreaux wrote the afterword. Friedman (the 1976 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics) used the essay in his 1980 PBS television show Free to Choose and the accompanying book of the same name. In the 2008 50th Anniversary Edition, the introduction is written by Lawrence W. Reed and Friedman wrote the afterword.
The Fate vs. free will in the short story can be seen as Jim makes his own decisions and doesn’t end up acting like the Sunday school books character, James, who we as the reader expect Jim to behave as. Jim has his own morals, his own personality, and he controls his fate, as anything that he can control; fate cannot.