Obligatory Post-Sandy Bastiat Post

Max Borders

Here comes the stimulus crowd again. (Video)

And here’s classic Bastiat to set them straight. I know, I know. It does get tiring.

A sliver:

Suppose that it will cost six francs to repair the damage. If you mean that the accident gives six francs’ worth of encouragement to the aforesaid industry, I agree. I do not contest it in any way; your reasoning is correct. The glazier will come, do his job, receive six francs, congratulate himself, and bless in his heart the careless child. That is what is seen.

But if, by way of deduction, you conclude, as happens only too often, that it is good to break windows, that it helps to circulate money, that it results in encouraging industry in general, I am obliged to cry out: That will never do! Your theory stops at what is seen. It does not take account of what is not seen.

It is not seen that, since our citizen has spent six francs for one thing, he will not be able to spend them for another.It is not seen that if he had not had a windowpane to replace, he would have replaced, for example, his worn-out shoes or added another book to his library. In brief, he would have put his six francs to some use or other for which he will not now have them.

People repairing broken windows in New York won’t be able to spend those dollars on copies of The Law.

Additional irony: I gave a talk last night to the Bastiat Society‘s Charlotte chapter, mere yards away from the Wells-Fargo prognosticator in the video above. 

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