Saturday, August 08, 2009
The Broken Window
A young hoodlum, say, heaves a brick through the window of a baker’s shop. The shopkeeper runs out furious, but the boy is gone. A crowd gathers, and begins to stare with quiet satisfaction at the gaping hole in the window and the shattered glass over the bread and pies. After a while the crowd feels the need for philosophic reflection. And several of its members are almost certain to remind each other or the baker that, after all, the misfortune has its bright side. It will make business for some glazier. As they begin to think of this they elaborate upon it. How much does a new plate glass window cost? Two hundred and fifty dollars? That will be quite a sun. After all, if windows were never broken, what would happen to the glass business? Then, of course, the thing is endless. The glazier will have $250 more to spend with other merchants, and these in turn will have $250 more to spend with still other merchants, and so ad infinitum. The smashed window will go on providing money and employment in ever-widening circles. The logical conclusion from all this would be, if the crowd drew it, that the little hoodlum who threw the brick, far from being a public menace, was a public benefactor. (http://jim.com/econ/chap02p1.html)
Thursday, I got up and left to go to work and found out that, during the night, someone had thrown an egg at my car and also broken the windshield (not, I presume, with an egg). Of course, I shopped around and got the cheapest "glazier" I could find, and of course he stood me up on Friday and didn't finish the job until today.
As we were leaving for a family gathering today, I noticed someone else in the neighborhood having his windshield replaced. I stopped and inquired - yes, another victim of the same miscreant. And I noticed some other cars in the neighborhood had been egged as well, but I saw no damage.
Whoops, I didn't blank out my license plate (why do people on the internet do that?).
Posted by Brian at 9:25 PM