"Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it ... He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for society that it was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."
The invisible hand which Adam Smith defined above is the definition of what Marx called capitalism but which far more accurately known as the free enterprise system of economics.
One of the reasons that people have a hard time grasping both the merits and the genius of the free enterprise system is simply because it is, well invisible. Despite the fact that the fruits of free enterprise are all around us, in fact they dominate and determine nearly every aspect of our lives, the very abundance of these fruits only serves to minimize the importance of the system which brought them forth.
Let's just take one small example of the free enterprise system as an illustration Which I tried to explain in a previous post called Jobs:
This post, despite the title and picture, is not a really about Steve Jobs, it is however about the 60,400 people who work for Apple and an additional 2,900 full-time equivalent temporary employees and contractors all of which would not have been possible without the creative genius of Steve Jobs. Look at that picture. Think of the spouses, children and others who benefit as the result of these people having jobs. Think of all the money that these people spend in their neighborhoods which create even more employment opportunities for others. The sixty thousand plus employee base of Apple creates literally billions of dollars of economic activity around the world and this does not even include all the subcontractors, service contractors, suppliers and other industries and services that have sprung up around the Apple business empire.When I say that this is but one very small example of the Free Market System I am being serious and am fully aware of the fact that Apple is the largest corporation in America. This just goes to show both how massive an influence the free market has had on society, global society, but also how much we take it for granted.
To give you an idea how vast an impact this one company has on society consider this, In the past year Apple spent over 82 billion dollars to produce and sell their products, that is not their profit that is what they spent, All that money went to employees, contractors, suppliers, vendors and a host of other entities all of whom employ people and like Apple and it's employees pay taxes in one form or another at one level or another which help pay for everything from teachers to congressman and even presidents.
This economic activity creates an ever expanding economic growth which touches millions of people who probably are not even aware that in some small or large way they are benefiting from the entrepreneurial skills of a single man, A college drop out who with his friend had an idea and a vision which transformed the world and expanded the pie of economic well being in the world.
The evil of Barack Obama, he being just a symptom of the statist disease, and the ignorance of those who support his view of social engineering is that they are on the verge of collapsing thousands of years of human advancement and freedom.
Investopedia explains the invisible hand this way:
Smith assumed that individuals try to maximize their own good (and become wealthier), and by doing so, through trade and entrepreneurship, society as a whole is better off. Furthermore, any government intervention in the economy isn't needed because the invisible hand is the best guide for the economy.From a purely historical perspective there can be little doubt that the free enterprise system is responsible for the tremendous growth in mankind's wealth and increased well being over the past several centuries. This being demonstrably true then these attempts to "manage" free enterprise through the intrusive hand of government rather than the invisible hand of free enterprise is destined to undo centuries worth of progress.
Not only is government intervening into the marketplace through various legislative and executive schemes from subsidizing the inefficient to bailing out the failures in our economy they are reaching down into our own personal space to determine what is good or bad for us as individuals. This intrusion into the very fabric of personal freedom besides being an affront to personal liberty destroys the wholesome aspects of self preservation instincts necessary to a civil society. Man indeed was not made for bread alone. Imagination, creativity, self worth and many other attributes are as necessary to a happy fulfilled life and thus society as is mere sustenance. Although the lack of basic sustenance will quickly send a society into rebellion and chaos, constraints on the fulfillment of these other human needs will, given time, ensure the same results as the lack of food.
This intrusion into every aspect of human life far from providing order all but insures disorder. When people are conditioned to believe that others are responsible for their well being rather than themselves, besides destroying the human spirit so necessary for a productive and happy life, it inevitably leads to societal breakdown. No longer are people making choices seeking to improve their lot in life, thus positively contributing to society as a whole, instead they are trained like Pavlovian dogs to react to their master's command in order to survive. The whole concept of self preservation being a catalyst to growth is circumvented and is instead used as a tool of the state to control and maintain the power of a ruling class over what the ruling class intends to be a more docile and subservient society.
A docile and subservient society can not in the long run be a creative or industrious society. In fact when green shoots of industriousness or creativity spring forth, the state must contain and thus destroy it in order to maintain their all important control . The state must be on constant guard and ever vigilant so that it may amputate the invisible hand of free enterprise lest it take hold and undermine the power of the state. One example of this is being played out now as the state is beginning to look askance at the energy boom brought on by fracking. This tremendous boom to the economy will soon, if prior practice is any guide, will soon be handcuffed and marginalized through federal control and regulations, greatly reducing the benefits to society in the name of public and environmental safety. Given time, market forces, would deal with any issues that might arise but the state can not allow the invisible hand of markets to correct any future problems for that would cede control to natural forces beyond the states control.
There was a time when men in government realized that the people enacting their will through the market place was the very essence of freedom and the American ideal, that time sadly has now become anathema to governance in the Land Of The Free and The Home Of The Brave. The open and free market is a threat to the power of the state and thus must be controlled and in many cases expunged from society.
This attitude if it continues will insure not only the collapse of a vibrant and growing American economy, it will insure a nation built on the idea of individual liberty being just another nation among men ruled by petty little depots.
There is simple truth being played out in America, a free people can not be free without free enterprise as a basis for their economy. Barack Obama and the progressives are amputating not only the invisible hand of free enterprise, they are amputating the invisible hand which holds the torch of Liberty.