"What would become of the glaziers, if nobody ever broke windows?"

Reference

La Vitre cassée, by Claude Frédéric Bastiat, That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, Jul 1850
The famous essay, in French
The Broken Window, by Claude Frédéric Bastiat, That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, Jul 1850
The famous essay, translated from French
"Now, as James B. forms a part of society, we must come to the conclusion, that, taking it altogether, and making an estimate of its enjoyments and its labours, it has lost the value of the broken window. When we arrive at this unexpected conclusion: '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 labour; or, more briefly, 'destruction is not profit.' "

Articles

Economic Lunacy, by Walter E. Williams, 15 Nov 2004
"The broken window fallacy was seen in a column written by Princeton University Professor Paul Krugman after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center ... If [he] is right, wouldn't the terrorists have done us a bigger economic favor if they had destroyed buildings in other cities?"
How a 19th century French pamphleteer preempted two centuries of economic fallacies, by Christopher Todd Meredith, 18 Oct 2016
Examines some of the main themes in Bastiat's writings, such as ethics and economics, the seen and the unseen and the State
"It may seem that someone who breaks your window is creating jobs and stimulating the economy, since he is supplying a glazier with employment. But in fact, the work the glazier gets is merely what is seen. What is not seen is what you would have done with the money if you had not had to hire a glazier to replace your windowpane. Perhaps you would have bought a new pair of shoes, in which case you would have had an intact window and a new pair of shoes. But hiring the glazier uses up the money you would have spent on shoes, so that you have merely an intact window."
The Bright Side of War, by Sheldon Richman, 24 May 2004
Comments on a Washington Post article on the economic benefits of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
"... the idea that war creates prosperity is emphatically not true. ... The real cost of the war is the wealth we are compelled to forgo. ... Even truly defensive wars entail destruction, not production."
Related Topics: Claude Frédéric Bastiat, War
The Economic Costs of Going to War: Transcript: Bill Moyers Talks with Lew Rockwell, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., NOW with Bill Moyers, 7 Mar 2003
Topics discussed include: the economy, the federal budget deficit, the national debt, inflation, Republican vs. Democrat presidents, tax cuts, war spending, World War II and the depression, Sadam Hussein and unemployment
"A boy tosses a rock through a baker's window and everybody's very sad for the poor baker. And then the guy in the — maybe an economist in the crowd say, oh, don't worry, you know, this is gonna be great. It's gonna be money for the glazier, then he'll buy a new suit and everything, you know, will multiply and we'll be all better off. But that, you know, first of all leaving aside property rights and morality questions it ignores what that money would have been spent on otherwise."
The Failure of Macroeconomics, by John H. Cochrane, The Wall Street Journal, 2 Jul 2014
Discusses the views of various economists on the slow GDP growth after the 2008 recession, what are the causes and what can be done about it
"Paul Krugman writes that even the 'broken windows fallacy ceases to be a fallacy,' because replacing windows 'can stimulate spending and raise employment.' If you look hard at New-Keynesian models, however, this diagnosis and these policy predictions are fragile. There are many ways to generate the models' predictions for GDP, employment and inflation from their underlying assumptions about how people behave. Some predict outsize multipliers and revive the broken-window fallacy. Others generate normal policy predictions—small multipliers and costly broken windows."
Related Topic: Economics
The Myth of War Prosperity, Part 1, by Anthony Gregory, Future of Freedom, Dec 2006
Review of Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy by Robert Higgs
"Bastiat asks his reader to imagine a delinquent boy throwing a rock through a store window, about which some presumptuous onlooker comments that it might indeed be good for the economy. The glazier will make money replacing the window, which he will use to buy bread from a baker ... What this ignores ... is the unseen costs: what the storeowner could have done with that money had he not had to spend it on the glazier ..."
Related Topics: War, World War II

Cartoons and Comic Strips

Good news, Sire! The Dow is up 360 points this morning!, by Parker and Hart, The Wizard of Id, 13 Nov 2015

Videos


Bastiat - The Broken Window Fallacy, by Meat for Thought, 15 Nov 2016
Animated summary of Bastiat's Broken Window Fallacy