Why We Bite the Invisible Hand

Why We Bite the Invisible Hand

Why We Bite the Invisible Hand

In Why We Bite the Invisible Hand, Peter Foster delves into a conundrum: How can we at once live in a world of expanding technological wonders and unprecedented well-being, and yet hear a constant drumbeat of condemnation of the system that created it? That system, capitalism, which is based on private property and voluntary dealings, is guided by the "Invisible Hand," the metaphor for economic markets associated with the great Eighteenth Century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith. The hand guides people to serve others while pursuing their own interests, and produces a broader good that, as Smith put it, is "no part of their intention." Critics. however, claim that the hand is tainted by greed, leads to inequity and dangerous corporate power, and threatens not merely resource depletion but planetary disaster. Foster probes misunderstanding, fear and dislike of capitalism from the dark satanic mills of the Industrial Revolution through to the murky concept of sustainable development. His journey takes him from Kirkcaldy, the town of Smith's birth, through Moscow McDonald's and Karl Marx's Manchester, on a trip to Cuba to smuggle dollars, and into the backrooms of the United Nations. His cast of characters includes the man who wrote the entry for "capitalism" in the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, a family of Kirkcaldy butchers, radical individualist Ayn Rand, father of evolutionary theory Charles Darwin, numerous Nobel prizewinning economists, colonies of chimpanzees, and "philanthrocapitalist" Bill Gates. Foster suggests that the key to his conundrum lies in the field of evolutionary psychology, which offers to help us understand both why some of what Adam Smith called our complex "moral sentiments" may be outdated, and why so many of our economic assumptions tend to be wrong. We are hunter gatherers with iPhones. The Invisible Hand is counterintuitive to minds formed predominantly in small close-knit tribal communities where there were no extensive markets, no money, no technological advance and no economic growth. Equally important, we don't have to understand the rapidly evolving economic "natural order" to operate within it and enjoy its benefits any more than we need to understand our nervous or respiratory systems to stay alive. But that also makes us prone to support morally-appealing but counterproductive policies, such as minimum wage legislation. Foster notes that politicians and bureaucrats -- consciously or unconsciously -- exploit moral confusion and economic ignorance. Ideological obsession with market imperfections, income gaps, corporate power, resource exhaustion and the environment are useful justifications for those seeking political control of our lives. The book refutes claims that capitalism's validity depends on the system being "perfect" or economic actors "rational." It also notes the key difference between capitalism and capitalists, who are inclined to misunderstand the system as much as anyone. Foster points to the astonishing rise in recent decades of radical, unelected environmental non-governmental organizations, ENGOs. Closely related to that rise, Foster examines with one of the biggest and most contentious issues of our time: projected catastrophic man-made climate change. He notes that while this theory is cited as the greatest example in history of "market failure," it in fact demonstrates how both scientific analysis and economic policy can become perverted once something is framed as a "moral issue," and thus allegedly "beyond debate." Foster's book is not a paean to greed, selfishness or radical individualism. He stresses that the greatest joys in life come from family, friendship and participation in community, sport and the arts. What has long fascinated him is the relentless claim that capitalism taints or destroys these aspects of humanity rather than promoting them. Moreover, he concludes, when you bite the Invisible Hand... it always bites back.

From Miracle to Menace

From Miracle to Menace

From Miracle to Menace

A miracle. Coal, oil and natural gas, the carbon-based fossil fuels that powered the Industrial Revolution and civilization’s rapid advancement. A menace. Climate change has how convinced many that carbon emissions are the world’s greatest challenge. The necessity and benefits of decarbonizing the global industrial and energy complex are well articulated. What is not explained is this will require the largest financial disruption in history, affecting everyone and everything. For over a century Alberta’s massive carbon resources have supported Alberta and Canada financially, helping make Canada the world’s fifth-largest oil and gas producer. Carbon has been a major driver of prosperity, employment and opportunity, shaping the country we know today. However, climate change is creating enormous challenges for Alberta - and Canada - with no possible outcomes that will satisfy all stakeholders. Alberta has become ground zero for the changes many demand but few are willing to pay for. As the province demonstrates what carbon’s future looks and feels like, unless the rest of the world participates Alberta has become a needless sacrifice. From Miracle to Menace explains how Alberta came to be, the enormity of the planned financial dislocation, and how Alberta, and Canada, can meet the climate challenge without committing economic suicide.

The Willing World

The Willing World

The Willing World

Explains how to grow and govern the global economy in ways that will work economically and environmentally for sustainable development.

Seven Deadly Economic Sins

Seven Deadly Economic Sins

Seven Deadly Economic Sins

Compelling basic principles of economics every citizen should know to enable better personal decision-making and better evaluation of public policy.

Death by an Invisible Hand

Death by an Invisible Hand

Death by an Invisible Hand

After a stint as an officer in Marine Corps intelligence, Jorge Sanchez hoped to lead a normal civilian life in his new home in Washington, D.C. But a new friend, a professor at a nearby university, desperately needs his help. Someone is stalking Van Rhodes and threatening his life. Van is confused, angry, and scared. He’s under siege wherever he turns and doesn’t know why. While Jorge attempts to uncover Van’s murderous pursuer, he stops a mugging near his home. His quick actions, which rescue a homeless man, may also provide a way to save Van’s life.

Landscape with Invisible Hand

Landscape with Invisible Hand

Landscape with Invisible Hand

National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization. When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth — but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem classic Earth culture (doo-wop music, still life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go — and what he’s willing to sacrifice — to give the vuvv what they want.

Industrial Restructuring Financial Instability and the Dynamics of the Postwar US Economy RLE Business Cycles

Industrial Restructuring  Financial Instability and the Dynamics of the Postwar US Economy  RLE  Business Cycles

Industrial Restructuring Financial Instability and the Dynamics of the Postwar US Economy RLE Business Cycles

This volume, originally published in 1997, examines the combined effect of financial instability and industrial restructuring on postwar economic growth and recession in the US. It sheds light on the fundamental question of whether or not these trends are positive for the economy as a whole. To explain the cyclical nature of investment and finance, institutional theory regarding financial instability is examined in depth and related to Minsky’s analysis of investment behaviour. The author has created an empirical model of this behaviour which, he claims, accurately predicts historical consumption investment and GDP cycles.