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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10954/the-broken-window/

The Broken Window

November 2, 2009 by

What if someone says that it is a good thing to break windows; it causes money to circulate; the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it? That person’s theory accounts only for the seen and not the unseen. FULL ARTICLE by Frederic Bastiat

{ 57 comments }

Mike C. November 2, 2009 at 9:04 am

“Society loses the value of things which are uselessly destroyed,” and we must assent to a maxim which will make the hair of protectionists stand on end — to break, to spoil, to waste, is not to encourage national labor; or, more briefly, “destruction is not profit.”

This is always a great reread. Thanks!

This should be required reading for every fifth grader and every American politician, bureaucrat, and journalist should have it recorded that they have read and understand it so that when their actions and words do conflict with this simple logic they could be better held to account.

Stephen Grossman November 2, 2009 at 9:36 am

If a thief stole Krugman’s wallet and spent the money in waterfront dives, how much stimulation would this provide for the economy?

T. Ralph Kays November 2, 2009 at 11:15 am

Thanks for this, it is great to read it again. I tell this story every time I have to explain to anyone that Mr. Obama and his administration can not create even one job, and due to government waste (a curious phrase in itself, seems redundant) must necessarily destroy jobs.

SweetLiberty November 2, 2009 at 4:09 pm

The Fallacy with the Broken Window Fallacy

There is a fallacy with this logic it seems to me as it assumes a net loss for the unseen shoemaker. While it is true the shopkeeper spends his 6 franks on replacing his broken window, the glazier is 6 franks the richer. Let us now say that the glazier is the one who purchases a new pair of shoes, placing the shoemaker in the same position as he would have been before with the sale of one pair of shoes. So society does not suffer from a monetary standpoint. There is no net loss, merely a redistribution of the shopkeeper’s wealth to the glazier. While it is clear the shopkeeper would rather have spent his money on something other than replacing his window, the glazier is equally satisfied with the arrangement, balancing the equation.

The unseen costs to society are not monetary, nor is there a loss to other merchants such as shoemakers (though in a wider example the glazier may choose to spend his six franks differently than the shopkeeper, but this is irrelevant for purposes of determining whether society as a whole gains or loses from broken windows). Assuming we set aside the moral issue of redistributed wealth, the unseen effects of a broken window are purely in resources: Time, Material, and Labor.

The glazier will spend time, material and labor on repairing the window, and the shopkeeper will spend time, material and labor on saving for the pair of shoes he still desires but cannot currently afford. In addition, let us imagine that both the glazier and the shopkeeper are inventors on the side and dedicate their spare time to this mutual hobby. If windows are broken in perpetuity, no new innovations will take place (or they will take place much more slowly) given the redirection of resources on rebuilding the same window.

So society does take a marginal loss every time a window is broken, it’s just not the shoemaker who loses out.

T, Ralph Kays November 2, 2009 at 5:04 pm

SweetLiberty

You have completey missed Bastiats point, he is not pointing to the shoemaker and claiming a net loss to society based on what happens to his business. He is criticizing those who claim that the destruction of the window results in a net gain for society, the shoemaker (or some other tradesman) is important as the less visible downside to the whole situation which exactly offsets the gain. The argument Bastiat is refuting involves an entire chain of prosperity radiating outwards from the scene of the broken window. You have merely obscured his point by assuming that the glazier will spend his newly earned money in exactly the same way the shopkeeper would. If he does you immediately get to Bastiats point, society is poorer by one pane of glass, prosperity has not resulted from destruction. It is far more likely that the glazier will spend his money differently than the shopkeeper would have and this will lead to a chain of increased business in one direction, while the loss incurred by the shopkeeper will lead to a different chain of decreased business in a different direction until the two chains happen to cross. Bastiat is pointing out the error of following only one of these chains of events and ignoring the other.

maxwood November 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Kays has it right. There is an additional cost:

a. The owner may start spending money hiring someone to watch over the repaired window, killing labor time that could have been spent doing something more productive than watching over stuff. (With some 20% of the world’s wealth, the US spends 50% of the defense money.)

b. Extra true and false accusations and revenge lust begin banging against each other, leading to more “accidents” (such as helicopters crashing in Afghanistan) and occasional far more costly war and chaos.

c. Coarsening of children’s perception of normality, undermining of attempts to teach caring about property, leading to unpredictable outbursts of vandalism.

d. Similar to (c): a nmbed mentality that wants to forget the trauma by shoveling the relics under the rug, or in our case customarily into the trash (once I saved a box of good but discarded fruit, an employee throwing good stuff into a compactor truck grabbed the box away from me and threw it into his truck, yelling: “Get outa my garbage!”)

T. Ralph Kays November 2, 2009 at 6:14 pm

I am not willing to go so far as maxwood says, although he could be right that those things might happen. But clearly it is absolutely true that destruction can not lead to prosperity, Bastiat points out what MUST happen.

SweetLiberty November 2, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Thank you for your civil response, Kays, but I do not believe I am missing Bastiat’s point at all. He explicitly states the following,
“The reader must take care to remember that there are not two persons only, but three concerned in the little scene which I have submitted to his attention. The third is the shoemaker (or some other tradesman), whose labor suffers proportionately by the same cause. IT IS THIS THIRD PERSON WHO IS ALWAYS KEPT IN THE SHADE, AND WHO, PERSONATING THAT WHICH IS NOT SEEN, IS A NECESSARY ELEMENT OF THE PROBLEM. It is he who shows us how absurd it is to think we see a profit in an act of destruction. It is he who will soon teach us that it is not less absurd to see a profit in a restriction, which is, after all, nothing else than a partial destruction. ” (Emphasis added)
So, by directing attention to the shoemaker, he is here emphasizing the consequences of breaking windows. But I maintain that the shoemaker is all but irrelevant. That if the argument against breaking windows hinges upon the wellbeing of unseen tradesmen, then one can clearly see that breaking windows has no net consequences. Whether or not the glazier chooses to purchase something from the shoemaker or candlestick maker has no net effect on the net economy (though it does have a local effect on whom he chooses to do business with as it differs from whom the shopkeeper would choose to do business with).
It is not the shoemaker that should be the focus of Bastiat’s unseen, but the wasted resources. Who benefits from the six francs should be of no concern. Some of maxwood’s extreme points indeed show how the waste of resources can escalate – resources which have nothing to do with the shoemaker. To make the case that the third person in the shadows is of any import on the economy whatsoever, we must address the theoretical situation that both the glazier and shopkeeper spend the six franks in the same way; purchasing a pair of shoes. Because the shoemaker does NOT suffer under this scenario in any way, this effectively eliminates Bastiat’s intangible unseen and places the focus directly where it should be: wasted resources.

RTB November 2, 2009 at 6:50 pm

The fundamental point is much simpler than all that.

T. Ralph Kays said it:

“society is poorer by one pane of glass”

Bastiat sums it up nicely in these 2 paragaphs:

“Now let us consider James B. himself. In the former supposition, that of the window being broken, he spends six francs, and has neither more nor less than he had before, the enjoyment of a window.

In the second, where we suppose the window not to have been broken, he would have spent six francs in shoes, and would have had at the same time the enjoyment of a pair of shoes and of a window. Now, as James B. forms a part of society, must come to the conclusion, that, taking it altogether, ind making an estimate of its enjoyments and its labors, it has lost the value of the broken window.”

And here:

“Society loses the value of things which are uselessly destroyed,”

T. Ralph Kays November 2, 2009 at 7:25 pm

SweetLiberty

Again you have not read carefully, Bastiats point is yours, society is poorer by one pane of glass, that is your “wasted resource”. Again Bastiat was countering people who claimed that society was made richer by the destruction of a pane of glass. The shoemaker is essential to his explanation of why society was not richer from that destruction. He does not claim that what happens to the shoemaker makes society poorer, only that it negates the falsely recognised gains of the glazier.

SweetLiberty November 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Let me try to make my point by playing devil’s advocate. You say society is “poorer by one pane of glass.” Yet this is only temporary, for the glazier replaces the window and earns a wage doing so. But you lament the poor shopkeeper, saying he is now without shoes. But the glazier has bought himself the very pair of shoes James B. had his eyes upon. The shopkeeper is sad, but the glazier is happy, thus reaching a utilitarian equilibrium. The shopkeeper has a window, the glazier has shoes, and the shoemaker has 6 francs which he pays to the shopkeeper for a nice new blanket. Where is the society’s loss of a broken window, for it has been repaired? Where is the shopkeeper’s loss, for he has sold a blanket and may now buy a pair of shoes? Is this scenario not better than one that excludes the glazier?

T. Ralph Kays November 2, 2009 at 7:38 pm

The loss you are ignoring is that the glaziers work would have resulted in an additional window instead of simply replacing a window which used to exist. You might even say the loss to society is actually the productive capacity of the glazier, who could have produced an additional pane of glass for societies benefit if he hadn’t been occupied in replacing what used to exist.

RTB November 2, 2009 at 7:59 pm

I think of this article every time a hurricane blows through New Orleans or Florida. All those panes of glass, all those homes, all that damage that must be repaired. Where does the money come from? The money that would have been spent on other, new things is spent to replace things. Things that already existed.

SweetLiberty November 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm

“You might even say the loss to society is actually the productive capacity of the glazier, who could have produced an additional pane of glass for societies benefit if he hadn’t been occupied in replacing what used to exist” which goes precisely to my point of a loss in Time, Materials, and Labor. That is what is lost – not the pane of glass that is replaced which you first contended.

Alpha Bootis November 2, 2009 at 8:32 pm

SweetLiberty, if you walked into your living room and thru a brick thru your front window would you or society be any richer? I think you would find that both you and society are poorer by the amount of time, material, and energy that you must spend replacing that glass vs. the time you could have otherwise spent producing new goods which would have added to your own existing goods and that of the society as a whole.

If your theory held true then it would make sense for us all to burn down our homes tomorrow so that we could put all the construction people back to work.

When something useful in society is destroyed then society is poorer by the amount of resources required to replace that item… there is simply no logical way around it.

civilian November 2, 2009 at 9:11 pm

“loss in Time, Materials, and Labor.”

Yeah, that is what is lost.

Destruction of thing that are going to be replace always means that time, materials and labor which went in the the destroyed thing are going to be lost.

That is what Bastiat meant: Do not forget about the worth of the things that are destroyed.

Gil November 2, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Why not take it the story to the real world extension: because people are too busy preferring superstition and making war over science and productivity, people could’ve had a high standard of living centuries if not millennia ago. There historical anectodal evidence that the Ancient Greeks and Chinese were almost close to an Industrial Revolution some 2,000 years thus it could be said we are at least 2,000 years behind in technological advancement. In other words, automobiles and advance farming could’ve appeared some 2,000 years ago.

Alpha Bootis November 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

It is impossible to say just how much richer the world would be today if the ignorance and useless violence inspired by zealots had been overcome 2000 years ago, or even 200 years ago, but I think it is safe to say we would be living in a far different and much more prosperous and peaceful world.

But what this has to do with reality or any extension thereof is beyond me.-)

SweetLiberty November 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Alpha,

You may be confused by my post playing devil’s advocate. My purpose was always intended to illustrate that time, material, and labor are indeed what is lost. The pane of glass itself is not lost as it is replaced, and Bastiat’s unseen third person is but diversion. So you and I completely agree.

Gil,

I agree with you that technologies could have progressed at a much faster rate had liberty and freedom been the focus rather than war and oppression.

Alpha Bootis November 2, 2009 at 9:46 pm

SweetLiberty, I was responding to your devils advocate post and I realized what you actually meant when I saw your 8:24 post… my bad!

EIS November 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm

The point of this exercise is to illuminate the concept of opportunity costs, the very thing ignored by both SweetLiberty and Kays. It’s true that the six francs are arbitrarily distributed from one person to another, but the real loss here (including wasted resources, and the dis-utility gained by needlessly breaking a window) is the loss incurred from not employing the glazier towards more warranted economic activities. Instead of repairing a window needlessly broken, the glazier could find employment, or start a business, and actually create wealth. Unfortunately, he’s stuck repairing a needlessly broken window, assuring a superfluous neutral redistribution of money (not wealth). The whole point is to show the unseen, to prove that this is in fact not neutral, but results in a net loss.

The government takes from some, and gives to others (assuming it’s completely efficient, a rather absurd conclusion) in the form of employment (public works). But those who have been employed by the government are trapped in non-profitable employment (if it was profitable, the government wouldn’t be doing it; ‘greedy’ entrepreneurs would), and as such, are taken from more warranted economic activities actually desired by the public (net loss).

Hayek gives a great example of this in the road to serfdom where he talks about the ‘marvelous ingenuity’ of the autobahn. But upon further inspection, one notices that this fantastic road, this testament to modern engineering, has less traffic than your average back roads in small German villages.

T. Ralph Kays November 3, 2009 at 2:28 am

SweetLiberty

The pane of glass is lost, it has been destroyed, that it might be replaced is irrelevant, the shopkeeper may very well decide not to replace it. Whether a new pane of glass is produced or not a pane of glass was destroyed and society is poorer by one pane of glass. That people continue working to make life better and eventually get back to the level of wealth that they had before the destruction doesn’t change the fact that wealth was destroyed and that they would be even better off if the destruction had never happened. That time material and labor are used to produce the pane of glass is irrelevant, the finished product, that specific finished product was destroyed, that it is possible to make another one has nothing to do with it.

T. Ralph Kays November 3, 2009 at 2:45 am

SweetLiberty

How can you claim that time, material and labor are lost when the pane of glass is broken? The time, material and labor used to produce that pane of glass are already gone, they can never be recovered whether that pane of glass is broken or not.

T. Ralph Kays November 3, 2009 at 4:31 am

SweetLiberty

If you measure the amount of time, material and labor available just before the pane of glass is broken and measure it again just after it is broken won’t you get the same results? What time, material and labor is lost when the glass is broken if there is just as much of these things available after the destruction as before? Where, when and how are these things lost?

Trader November 3, 2009 at 5:19 am

Re-title Bastiat’s classic to “The Clunker Window,” & it may get much more press.

SweetLiberty November 3, 2009 at 9:02 am

Kays,

You are quite passionate about this I see having stayed up all night to make numerous posts. In this example, the glazier replaces the pane of glass, thus, while certainly it is initially destroyed, it is replaced. My goal isn’t to argue that society would be better off if wealth were destroyed and not replaced, but to get to the root of WHY it is not better off for destroying and replacing wealth. But you are correct in pointing out that I was imprecise before. The Time, Material and Labor of the original pane are already spent in the final product. It is upon being replaced that the Time, Material and Labor are spent again, not upon the breaking of the window itself. So it is this second expenditure that must be examined to determine if it really makes a difference to society and why.

EIS believes I miss the point of opportunity costs, but he should refer back to my first post where I say, “The glazier will spend time, material and labor on repairing the window, and the shopkeeper will spend time, material and labor on saving for the pair of shoes he still desires but cannot currently afford. In addition, let us imagine that both the glazier and the shopkeeper are inventors on the side and dedicate their spare time to this mutual hobby. If windows are broken in perpetuity, no new innovations will take place (or they will take place much more slowly) given the redirection of resources on rebuilding the same window. ” These are just some specific opportunity costs I’m addressing here. But indeed, EIS is correct, for it is the opportunity costs of creating new wealth as opposed to replacing old wealth where the time, materials, and labor are lost. This is what is truly unseen.

I greatly appreciate the discussion and insights of this group, but I will refrain from posting again as I have made my case as clear as I can at this point. So the last word shall be yours Kays, if you choose to make it.

Cheers!

T. Ralph Kays November 3, 2009 at 11:51 am

The time, material and labor used to produce the second pane of glass results in a new useful product, how is it “lost”? Would not that same time, material and labor have been available if the original pane of glass had not been destroyed? Why does it matter that the people involved decide to replace the pane of glass? Are you saying that if they decided not to replace the pane of glass there would be no loss?

Nelson November 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Anyone else like Seymour Cain’s translation better?
http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html

Have you ever been witness to the fury of that solid citizen, James Goodfellow, when his incorrigible son has happened to break a pane of glass?

vs.

Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James B., when his careless son happened to break a square of glass.

A “square of glass” are you kidding me?

T. Ralph Kays November 3, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Wow, you are right, the difference is powerful, the punch is missing in the one originally posted.

Gerry Flaychy November 4, 2009 at 8:32 pm

“… it is a good thing to break windows; it causes money to circulate; the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it …”_ The article.

What this story says, in part, is that it is not necessary to break windows (useful goods) to cause money to circulate, and for having the encouragement of industry in general as the result: just spend this money on new goods !

T. Ralph Kays November 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Are you joking?

Gerry Flaychy November 5, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Not at all.

In this story, there is two cases.

Case 1: the shopkeeper enjoy a window at a cost of 6 francs (the seen).

Case 2: the shopkeeper enjoy a window AND a pair of shoes (or anything else at 6 francs) at a cost of 6 francs (the unseen).

The shopkeeper represents the consumers part of the economy; and the others represent the producers, the production part of the economy.

For the consumers, the best ‘deal’ is Case 2.

For the production part, there is no best deal: the production gets only 6 francs in each case. In one case this 6 francs enter the production via the glazier, and in the other, via the shoemaker (or any other producer).

In either case, there is only 6 francs who enter in ‘circulation’.

T. Ralph Kays November 5, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Whaaaat?

Gerry Flaychy November 6, 2009 at 5:21 pm

“… it has lost the value of the broken window.”_Bastiat

This value is what could have been bought with the 6 francs instead of spending it to repair the window.

This good, or service, that could have been bought, and enjoyed by the consumer (in addition to the window), this is what has been lost by the society, nothing else.

T. Ralph Kays November 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm

I am dumbfounded at the outrageous interpretations by so many people of such a brilliantly simple article. I truly don’t know what to say……
So horribly sad….

Gerry Flaychy November 9, 2009 at 4:57 pm

T. Ralph Kays wrote:“The loss you are ignoring is that the glaziers work would have resulted in an additional window instead of simply replacing a window which used to exist.”

http://blog.mises.org/archives/010954.asp#c620850

This is the unseen case where the consumer, James B., instead of buying shoes with his 6 francs, buy something else, and this something else could very certainly be the installation of an additional window as well as buying a book, or ice cream!

Each of these : additional window, shoes, book, ice cream, or else, constitute what Bastiat call “the value of the broken window”.
This good, or service, that could have been bought and enjoyed by the consumer, in addition to the existing window, instead of repairing it, this is what has been lost by the society, nothing else.

T. Ralph Kays November 10, 2009 at 6:31 pm

No, no , no. What is lost is the window which was broken. All of those other things would exist even if the window had not been broken, and will still exist if it is broken. You are making the error of reversing Bastiats explanation, doing the fallacy backwards. He is exposing the fallacy of seeing only the gain resulting from the extra business of the glazier and ignoring the lost business of the shoemaker. You are making the fallacy of seeing only the loss of business to the shoemaker and ignoring the extra business of the glazier.

Gerry Flaychy November 10, 2009 at 7:29 pm

To T. Ralph Kays: the broken window is a lost, no arguing on this, but the new window is a gain. We have thus a lost and a gain. The net effect, the final effect, is zero: no loss no gain. Match even !

Once the broken window is replaced, there is no more lost of window for the shopkeeper: he is enjoying the presence of a window again, as before, so, for him, there is no more lost concerning the window. It is like if the window has never been broken.

But in the process, the shopkeeper has spent his 6 francs, so he cannot take this same 6 francs and buy something else costing 6 francs: he cannot do both, and have both, the window and the something else. But if the window would have not been broken, he could enjoy both, window and something else, because he would still have his 6 francs to spend. But the window having been broken and having spent the 6 francs to repair it, he could no more buy the something else, so he is losing it, so to speak.

If he cannot enjoy both, then he is losing one of them: here, the something else, be it a pair of shoes, a book, a bottle of wine, or anything else which would please him to buy with his 6 francs.

T. Ralph Kays November 10, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Bastiat is refuting a claim that society benefits from the destruction of the window, he is not looking only at what happens to the shopkeeper. When you point to the shoes, or a book etc. that the shopkeeper doesn’t get you are ignoring the fact that the glazier does get those things, due to his increase in business. Replacing the window results in no gain or loss to society. The only loss to society is the broken window.

T. Ralph Kays November 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Why is everyone focusing on the replacing of the window as being the action that leads to the loss? If that were true than the smart thing would be to not replace the window, then there would be no loss at all. Replacing the window is irrelevant to the loss.

Gerry Flaychy November 11, 2009 at 11:17 am

O.K., lets eliminate the shoemaker, the book, the shoes and else. Lets keep only the glazier and the shopkeeper. And lets compare the two situations.

In the seen situation, at the end of the process, the glazier gets 6 francs, and the shopkeeper gets the enjoyment of 1 window.

In the new unseen situation, the shopkeeper spend his 6 francs to have the glazier install a second window. Now, at the end of the process, the glazier gets 6 francs, and the shopkeeper gets the enjoyment of 2 windows.

For the glazier, there is no difference for him: he gets the same benefice whatever the situation. No gain, no loss for him, by comparing the two situations.

For the shopkeeper, there is a difference for him: he gets the benefice of one more window in the unseen situation, compare to the seen situation.

If one more window is a gain, then one less window is a loss. So, to say that there is a gain in the unseen situation, is the same thing to say that there is a loss in the seen situation.

In the story, the shopkeeper represent all the consumers of the society, while the glazier represent all the producers of the society. Those two, the consumers and the producers, represent the society.

On the side of the producers, the society gets no more, and no less, benefice from a situation than from the other: its equal.

On the side of the consumers, the society gets a benefice from the unseen situation compare to the seen situation.

Thus the society as a whole gets a gain from the unseen situation, which is the same thing to say that the society as a whole gets a loss from the seen situation.

A gain in a situation = a loss in the other situation.

T. Ralph Kays November 11, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Wow, and I thought I had already heard the most ridiculous thing possible, you have set a new standard.

Gerry Flaychy November 12, 2009 at 10:08 am

New version of the story: the broken window is not replaced.
Results:

Seen case: __ 0 window + 1 pair of shoes (or else)
Unseen case: 1 window + 1 pair of shoes (or else)

The best case for the consumer is still the unseen case.

In this version, the value of the broken window is the ’1 window’. Thus, in this version, what society has lost by broking the window is … the window !

Gerry Flaychy November 12, 2009 at 10:13 am

Breaking, not broking !!

T. Ralph Kays November 12, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Gerry

Maybe you could find someone to actually read Bastiats article to you, because you apparantly can’t read it yourself.

Gerry Flaychy November 12, 2009 at 6:05 pm

” The pane of glass is lost, it has been destroyed, that it might be replaced is irrelevant, the shopkeeper may very well decide not to replace it. Whether a new pane of glass is produced or not a pane of glass was destroyed and society is poorer by one pane of glass.”_T. Ralph Kays

Yesterday I went to the casino with a 20 $ bill and a 100 $ bill. In the first hour I lost 100 $. In the next I won 100 $ that I receive in the form of a 100 $ bill. Then I returned home, having lost no money at all. The only difference was that the second 100 $ bill was not exactly the same as the first one.

Can I say then that I lost the first one ? In a certain sense, yes, because I don’t have it anymore. In another sense, no, because it has been replaced by another one of the same value. In terms of value I didn’t lost anything. ‘Before’ I was 100 $ rich, ‘after’ I was still 100 $ rich.

We can apply the same reasoning about the replacement of the ‘piece of glass’ in the story wrote by Bastiat.

A ‘piece of glass’ has been replaced by another ‘piece of glass’ of the same value: in this specific case, James B. has lost nothing in terms of ‘window’. ‘Before’ he was 1 window rich, ‘after’ he was still 1 window rich.

But the replacement cost him 6 francs, with which 6 francs he could have bought a pair of shoes (or else), if only the window would not have been broken, while conserving the window, thus giving him the gain of one pair of shoes. But having to replace the broken window with his 6 francs, he can no more buy the shoes (or else) with those same 6 francs, hence the idea that he lost those shoes (or else) when comparing the two situations.

Frederic Bastiat November 12, 2009 at 6:23 pm

But he could have been 2 windows rich instead of only 1 window rich, because the glazier could have made a 2nd window during that time. Or he could have been 1 window rich and 1 pair of shoes rich, if the glazier changed jobs and made a pair of shoes instead.

Saul Frugman November 12, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Breaking windows are rebuilding them boosts consumer spending and GDP. So we should pay government thugs to break everyone’s windows so we can create lots of rebuilding jobs. We need that kind of stimulus. We should pay government thugs to bomb cities so we can create even more rebuilding jobs. That’s an even better stimulus.

Gerry Flaychy November 12, 2009 at 6:44 pm

To Frederic Bastiat.
If by ‘during that time’ you mean the time that the glazier was at the shop of James B. to replace the broken window, then the cost to James B. would have been 12 francs instead of 6 francs. In the story you wrote around 160 years ago, when you were very very young, there is only 6 francs to use, not 12.

Same thing for your second example.

Gerry Flaychy November 12, 2009 at 6:59 pm

To Saul Frugman.
If the consumer spend his money on rebuilding windows, he is not spending this same money on other goods or services. The same amount of money is spent in either situation: so it cannot boosts consumer spending and GDP to rebuild windows.

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