Invisible Hand becomes Invincible Hand

Reflection for Thanksgiving Day: ‘Invisible Hand’ becomes ‘Invincible Hand’

J.N. Manokaran

Adam Smith one of the influential economists wrote about the ‘invisible hand’.  When each consumer has the freedom to choose what to buy and each manufacturer or producer has the freedom to decide how to produce and what to sell; then the market will become stable in the product distribution and prices that would benefit all in the community.  Based on this theory, the market became an autonomous giant beyond the control of political or social or moral or spiritual factors. With globalization, technology and easy movement around the globe, markets have become global phenomenon.  With the fall of USSR, the world became almost a single market entity.  In earlier times, the labourers moved; the capital moved in the global trade.  Now, the production moves i.e. the jobs moves from one place to another.

The Founding Fathers of America were sensitive to the needs of the people because of the biblical worldview.  The minimum wages were fixed in a way that a person is able to feed a family of four/five and send the children to school.  If the minimum wages does not cover the schooling of the children, the next generation would be illiterate.  The minimum wages are not determined purely by economic necessity, but with social development.  The influence of the Church created the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ that transformed the whole economy.

Gradually, the social agenda was neglected as political leaders vacillated with regards to biblical worldview.  The Intelligentsia promoted ‘common sense’ instead of bible and humanism replaced Christianity in the public space.  When this happened, the economy was solely based on profit and the motivating factor was greed.  In fact, greed became the creed of market economy.  With no moral influence from the church and lack of political direction and supervision, economy was guided by the ‘invisible hand’.

Chris Hedges writes in an article writes about a city Scranton, once known as Electric city for introducing Electric Street Car in 1886 is like sinking ship.  “In nearly all of the country’s 19,000 municipalities, declining or stagnant property tax revenues, along with mounting costs, have reached crisis proportions.”[1]  The reason is the jobs have been shipped out of the country. In these economically less progressive countries: “There are no popular mechanisms—no labour unions, no political parties, no grassroots movements—strong enough to counter the corporate juggernaut and halt the decline.”[2]

In these countries, the workers are deprived of their privileges and are marginalized from real development or growth or prosperity.  The poor are unable to demand their rights. “That work has been taken over by non-unionized, poorly paid, and often abused sweatshop workers in Vietnam or China. And should they rise up and demand decent wages and safe working conditions, the jobs will be moved again.”[3]  Temporarily such countries could be benefitted, in the long term, the people would continue to suffer.

It is not just the unskilled or skilled workers that are being affected, even the highly skilled workers are also are becoming victims.  Even IT professionals do not have long shelf life. “The shelf life of a software engineer today is no more than that of a cricketer – about 15 years,” says V R Ferose, MD of German software major SAP’s India R&D Labs that has over 4,500 employees . “The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do.”[4]  The management of such IT firms do not bother about their workers who touch 40 years.  They are given pink slip.  What would they do to fend themselves?  The Management says that they should carefully invest in their early life.  In most countries, savings are wiped off by high inflation.

The social implications of this economic blunder are well described by Chris Hedges: “As deteriorating infrastructure and ongoing layoffs continue to beset the nation’s cities, more dramatic signs of neglect will appear. Garbage will pile up on curbsides. Power grids will blink on and off. There will not be enough police, firefighters, or teachers. Pensions will be cut or paid sporadically.”[5]

Unknown God and Invisible Hand

In the first century, the citizens of the city of Athens had an altar devoted To An unknown God (Acts 17:23).  The Athens did not know that god; who is not personal or predictable, The 21st Century postmodern generation worships the Invisible Hand which has become Invincible Hand. As a Nation, America should reflect, repent and renew their faith to renew as nation of pre-eminence and prominence.

 

 


[1] Chris Hedges, “A Metaphor For America” The Walrus November 2012, p. 24-33.

[2] Chris Hedges, “A Metaphor For America” The Walrus November 2012, p. 24-33.

[3] Chris Hedges, “A Metaphor For America” The Walrus November 2012, p. 24-33.

[4] Sujit John and Shilpa Phadnis, What’s shelf life of techies? Just 15 years  http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-17/job-trends/35171063_1_shelf-life-data-management-symbian accessed on 17 November 2012.

[5] Chris Hedges, “A Metaphor For America” The Walrus November 2012, p. 24-33.

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About J.N. Manokaran

Preacher, Teacher and Writer. Serving Lord Jesus Christ through Community Bible Study
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