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The Invisible Hand

What's the invisible hand? In "Wealth of Nations" economist Adam Smith painted the first large and detailed picture of how a free market works to meet society's needs. He coined the term "invisible hand" to describe how the individual greed of merchants in competition meets society's need for goods and services. Individual animals in an ecosystem live and die in fierce competition yet their efforts create balance and growth. So too individual businesses live and die in fierce competition yet their efforts create balance and growth. This is the invisible hand.

Each time you give of yourself, your time, your money, you are part of the invisible hand. The invisible hand of nature guides evolution of nature. The invisible hand of Adam Smith guides the evolution of commerce. In nature and in commerce competition leads to constant evolution, adaptation, and improvement far beyond any intent of the participants.

The farmer, against nature, fertilizes some plants and poisons others distorting nature and creating imbalance. At least this imbalance keeps us fed. The government, against commerce, funds some enterprises and fines others distorting business and creating imbalance. This imbalance only hurts us for it is ourselves and our potential that is being distorted.

The invisible hand is unquestionably on the side of the libertarians. If libertarianism is going to move into the aquarian age it will need some vivid images with which to communicate. The invisible hand is one such image. The invisible hand is really nothing more or less than the real behavior of ordinary people, you and I. We are all part of the invisible hand. The invisible hand acts through all of us. The invisible hand is the force of evolution.