Thursday, May 01, 2008

Invisible Hand Metaphor As "Public Enemy No. 1"?

Jerry Mazza, associate editor of Online Journal (“established 1998 to provide uncensored and accurate news, analysis and commentary” writes (1 May):

The Invisible Hand is picking your pocket”:

The Invisible Hand is a notion brought to us by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations. It poses that, “in a free market, an individual pursuing his own self-interest tends to also promote the good of his community,” cough, cough.
If you believe that, you’ll love how Smith subsequently reasoned that each individual, “maximizing revenue for himself maximizes the total revenue of society as a whole.” This gave the rich and greedy the right to plunder with impunity with the blessing of god, now as well as in Smith’s late 18th Century
.”

Then follows a rant. Read it for yourself – Jerry Mazza is very angry, doesn’t like much about the world in general and his own country in particular, and gets hold of the invisible hand metaphor – clearly he has never read the context in which Adam Smith used it – and lets go salvo after salvo, working the metaphor to death while bleeding it white for every association he can give it, and even quotes from Joseph Stiglitz that forms the core of the previous posting.

The National Post (Toronto, Canada) editorial board on the global rice crisis:

‘It's time to liberalize the world rice market’
(30 April) by Marni Soupcoff

“Our shops could simply jack up the price of rice and let supply and demand operate the way God and Adam Smith intended, and without question the taggers have been busy with their pricing guns. But managers are willing to forgo a certain amount of extra profit from each bag by limiting the maximum purchase per customer, because it is also in their interest to have more pairs of feet passing through the store. Rationing means you can still have all the rice you want if you're willing to bring enough friends -- friends who just might happen to have their own shopping lists to take care of.”

Comment
Then follows a rant. Read it for yourself – Jerry Mazza is angry, doesn’t like much about the world in general and his own country in particular, and gets hold of the invisible hand metaphor from Wikipedia – clearly he has never read the context in which Adam Smith used it – and lets go salvo after salvo, working the metaphor to death while bleeding it white for every association he can give it, and even quotes from Joseph Stiglitz that forms the core of the previous posting.

It is heading stuff, until you note the date is 1 May (no, not 1 April). It’s a point of view and Jerry is free to publish it, under the US Constitution that I hope he appreciates, because so many other places around the world have never known such freedom. Even Adam Smith did not have a vote because he did not qualify for the then franchise, but he celebrated in his Lectures On Jurisprudence Britain's tradition of liberty Magna Carta, Parliamentary sovereignity (Cromwell), the Hanovarian 'revolution', and constitutional monarchy, etc.

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