Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Which Hand? — Invisible? or Learned?

Adam Smith’s invisible hand (in its present, contorted multinational condition):
By preferring the support of [global] to that of [domestic] industry, [the multinational] intends only [its] own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce [and branding] may be of the greatest value, [it] intends only [its] own gain, and [it] is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of [its revealed] intention. Nor is it always the worse for the [political] society that it was no [transparent] part of it. By pursuing [its] own interest [it] frequently promotes that of [its Highly Paid Employees, i.e., HyPEs] more effectually than when [it] really intends to promote it [for its shareholders and VIFriends]. I have never known much good done by those who affected to [manufacture globally] for the public good [of poor nations/peoples]. It is an affectation, indeed, not very [un]common among [modern corporate PR] merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it [because Ayn R. and Milton F. have done such a persuasive job through idea-branding and bull-sales].

What is the species of domestic industry which his capital can employ, and of which the produce is likely to be of the greatest value, every individual [small business owner or state], it is evident, can, in [their] local situation, judge much better than any [big lender, IMF or World Bank] can .... The [Financial behemoth that] should attempt to direct private people [or sovereign nations] in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load [itself] with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no [profit-obsessed] council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a [global corporation] which had folly and presumption enough to fancy [itself] fit to exercise it.1

Learned Hand 2 (1872 – 1961), U.S. Judge and judicial philosopher; and the lower-court judge most quoted3 by legal scholars and SCOTUS:
What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty:
▪ is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right;
▪ is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women;
▪ is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias;
▪ remembers that not even a sparrow falls to the earth unheeded;
▪ is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind the lesson that it has never learned but never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.4
In the déjà vu recyclings of this world, which hand are we presently holding? Or are we (and our various nation states) being choked by hands which have become more than visible?

1. Original 1776 quote found in Adam Smith’s, The Wealth of Nations, Book IV, Chapter 2 “Of Restraints Upon the Importation From Foreign Countries of Such Goods as Can Be Produced at Home”
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_Hand
3. For some of those quotes, see http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Learned_Hand
4. This portion of his speech (21 May 1944 in Central Park, New York City) can be found under the section “World War II” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_Hand . This author has amended the original printed layout of the speech.
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