The Competitive Enterprise Institute has produced a great little film based on Leonard Read’s classic essay on the complexity of the free market and Adam Smith’s concept of the “Invisible Hand”. It’s well worth six minutes of your time!
There’s a reason that the “you didn’t build that” rhetoric resonates so well with people: it’s true! To a point. Our President is correct that nothing is built independently of the work of others, but he is absolutely wrong in his application of our interdependence.
Unfortunately, a lot of conservative responses have been equally wrong, insinuating that people are solely responsible for the results of their labor. This fails to grasp the complete picture of how markets work. Understanding the complex principles involved in free trade helps us see that it is precisely this interconnectedness that provides the foundation for our concepts of property rights and the right to profit from one’s own labor. Leonard Read’s essay is one of the very best illustrations of how this works.
CEI is also producing a series of educational videos based on I, Pencil that provide further commentary on the economic ideas it contains.
Here is the first, on “Spontaneous Order” and “Connectivity”:
More videos will be available soon at this website, where you can also find curriculum and other educational resources for teaching these concepts (or learning them yourself). Enjoy!