Saturday, November 10, 2007

Invisible Hand, no 371

K. Hansen writes in Living in interesting times (‘the fight to ensure access to higher education in New Brunswick’) here. “Hogs at the Trough, or Pigs in Space

But now that we live in an age where, largely, industries are founded by financiers looking to make a fast dollar, rather than by independent inventors looking to market their discoveries, we find industry wishing to disregard the role of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” and stick their own fingers directly into the pie. They confuse “industry” with “marketplace”. The two are not the same, not by any reasonable interpretation. Still, the industrialist’s position would be fine if they were attempting to found research departments within their own companies to pursue promising lines of research, but that isn’t the aim in the case of the PSEC report. Instead of industry risking its capital on research, it wants the taxpayer to bear all of the risk for the benefit of industry. The vision of hogs at the trough comes readily to mind.’

That favourite disembodied body part, the ‘invisible hand’, crops up again. This time the invisible hand has a ‘role’; usually it’s a ‘theory’, a concept’, ‘a principle’, even a ‘paradigm’. It was none of these to Adam Smith.

K. Hansen seems to think it exists. The problem, Hansen thinks, is that it is ‘ignored’. So, financiers are ‘ignoring’ what is ‘invisible’! Well, that’s not difficult then, is it?


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