Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Seeing The Invisible Hand

Posted by M. C. on April 11, 2023

Thomas Sowell said it best when he averred: “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or dangerous way of making decisions that by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no penalty for being wrong.” He, too, is herein channeling the invisible hand.

Hint: don’t bet against the invisible hand. It is a losing proposition.

Luis Rivera

By Walter E. Block

Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is certainly the most wondrous, astounding and marvelous concept in all of economics, and there are quite a few doozies in the dismal science. I go further than that. The invisible hand ranks as high or higher, in terms of pure beauty, than even the smile of a baby, the music of Mozart or the most beautiful sunset that ever took place. In terms of what it means for our potential prosperity, it has no upper bounds whatsoever.

Bastiat perched himself on the top of the Eifel Tower, looked down at the people scurrying around far down below him, and marveled at the fact that Paris got fed, without any central direction at all. This was in invisible hand (that is, free enterprise) at work; you can’t see this “hand,” but you can discern its effects.

We all marvel at the teamwork of the championship basketball team, the winner of the eight-person shell in the regatta, a 100-member orchestra playing 64th notes without a hair’s breath of discord. But this pales into total insignificance compared to the teamwork made at least potentially possible by the invisible hand; all eight billion of us cooperating producing goods and services and thus fighting poverty. These other accomplishments have a coach, a coxswain or a conductor; in contrast, when the human race bans protectionism and regulation, the invisible hand will take over without any central direction at all. If that is not a miracle, then nothing is (Adam Smith thought that the invisible hand was God’s hand). If that does not at least slightly shake up the atheists of the world, then nothing will.

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