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学点经济学:什么是看不见的大手

What Is the Invisible Hand?
什么叫看不见的手?


There are few concepts in the history of economics that have been misunderstood, and misused, more often than the "invisible hand." For this, we can mostly thank the person who coined this phrase: the 18th-century Scottish e conomist Adam Smith, in his influential books The Theory of Moral Sentiments and (much more importantly) The Wealth of Nations.
在社会经济学有史以来,非常少有定义比“看不见的手”更非常容易误解和错用。因此,我们要谢谢造就这一语句的人:18世纪英国经济师亞當·亚当斯密,他在其极具知名度的经典著作《道德情操论》和至关重要的《国富论》中明确提出了这个词。

By the time he wrote The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Smith had vastly generalized his conception of the "invisible hand":
当阿诗丹顿于1776年发布《国富论》时,他就普遍地归纳了“看不见的手”的定义:
People who pursue their own selfish ends in the market (charging top prices for their goods, for example, or paying as little as possible to their workers) actually and unknowingly contribute to a larger economic pattern in which everybody benefits, poor as well as rich.“
这些在销售市场上追求完美自身个人利益的人(比如,对她们的产品扣除最大价钱,或是尽量少地付款给他的职工)事实上在不经意间中促使了一种更大的经济体制,在这类方式中,不管穷光蛋還是有钱人都获益。”

You can probably see where we're going with this. Taken naively, at face value, the "invisible hand" is an all-purpose argument against the regulation of free markets.
大家能够 见到我们要干什么。从表层上看,“看不见的手”是抵制管控市场交易的全能原因。

Is a factory owner underpaying his employees, making them work long hours, and compelling them to live in substandard housing? The "invisible hand" will eventually redress this injustice, as the market corrects itself and the employer has no choice but to provide better wages and benefits, or go out of business.
加工厂老总是不是给职工少发过薪水,让她们长期工作中,驱使她们住不在合格的房屋里?“看不见的手”最后将改正这类不公平,由于销售市场会自身改正,顾主不顾一切,只有出示更强的薪水和褔利,不然便会倒闭。

And not only will the invisible hand come to the rescue, but it will do so much more rationally, fairly and efficiently than any "top-down" regulations imposed by government (say, a law mandating time-and-a-half pay for overtime work).
除此之外,“看不见的手”不但会下手相助,并且会比政府部门制订的一切“由上而下”的政策法规(例如,一项要求加班费1.5倍的法律法规)更为客观、公平公正和高效率。

Does the "Invisible Hand" Really Work?
“看不见的手”确实合理吗?

To answer this question, we have to look at the era in which Adam Smith came up with it.
要回应这个问题,大家务必看一下亞當·亚当斯密明确提出这个问题时所处的时期。

At the time Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, England was on the brink of the greatest economic expansion in the history of the world, the "industrial revolution" that resulted in widespread wealth.
亞當•亚当斯密编写《国富论》时,美国正处在世界史上最规模性经济发展扩大的边沿,即“科技革命”,它产生了普遍的財富。

In the 18th and 19th centuries England had some natural advantages not enjoyed by other countries, which also contributed to its economic success. An island nation with a powerful navy, fueled by a Protestant work ethic, with a constitutional monarchy gradually yielding ground to a parliamentary democracy, England existed in a unique set of circumstances, none of which are easily accounted for by "invisible hand" economics. Taken uncharitably, then, Smith's "invisible hand" often seems more like a rationalization for the successes (and failures) of capitalism than a genuine explanation.
在18世纪和十九世纪,美国有一些其他国家沒有的当然优点,这也推动了它经济发展上的取得成功。美国是一个有着强劲南海舰队的海岛国家,在新教工作中社会道德的促进下,君主立宪制慢慢让坐落于议院民主制,美国处在与众不同的自然环境当中,这种自然环境都不易被“看不见的手”这一经济学原理所表述。这般来看,阿诗丹顿的“看不见的手”好像更好像资产阶级取得成功(和不成功)的有效表述,并非真实的表述。

The "Invisible Hand" in the Modern Era
当代的“看不见的手”

Today, there is only one country in the world that has taken the concept of the "invisible hand" and run with it, and that's the United States.
今日,全世界只有一个我国接受并选用了“看不见的手”的定义,那便是英国。

As Mitt Romney said during his 2012 campaign, "the invisible hand of the market always moves faster and better than the heavy hand of government," and that is one of the basic tenets of the Republican party.
如同米特•罗姆尼在二0一二年竟选时常说,“销售市场这只看不见的手一直比政府部门这只厚重的手走得迅速、更强”,它是美国民主党的基本准则之一。

For the most extreme conservatives (and some libertarians), any form of regulation is unnatural, since any inequalities in the market can be counted on to sort themselves out, sooner or later. (England, meanwhile, even though it has separated from the European Union, still maintains fairly high levels of regulation.)
针对最极端化的保守主义者(及其一些自由主义者)而言,一切方式的管控全是不当然的,由于销售市场中的一切不公平状况早晚都能够寄希望于自身处理。(此外,虽然美国已脱离欧盟,但仍维持着非常高的管控水准。)

But does the "invisible hand" really work in a modern economy? For a telling example, you need look no further than the health-care system. There are many healthy young people in the U.S. who, acting out of sheer self-interest, choose not to purchase health insurance—thus saving themselves hundreds, and possibly thousands, of dollars per month. This results in a higher standard of living for them, but also higher premiums for comparably healthy people who choose to protect themselves with health insurance, and extremely high (and often unaffordable) premiums for elderly and unwell people for whom insurance is literally a matter of life and death.
但“看不见的手”在当代经济发展中确实有什么用?举一个非常好的事例,你只需看一下保健医疗系统软件就可以了。在国外有很多身心健康的年青人出自于纯碎的本身权益,挑选不选购健康险——那样每个月能够 节约百余乃至千余美金。这会给他产生更高的生活水平,另外针对这些挑选用健康险来保护自己的一样身心健康的人而言,保险费用会更高,针对老人和身体不好的人而言,商业保险真是便是生命攸关的事,保险费用也非常高(并且通常承受不住)。