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Dumbo’s Economics Stuck in the Nineteeth Century

Frédéric Bastiat in his 1850 essay Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas:

Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation—”It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”

Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.

Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade—that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs—I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.

But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented

Soucre: Wikipedia [1].

Dim Won, a/k/a Dumbo b/k/a Barack Obama, from RCP: [2]

[3]“Layoffs too often became permanent, not part of the business cycle. And these changes didn’t just affect blue collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs and the internet,” President Obama said at a campaign event in Kansas.

Hat tip:   John Hinderracker, Power Line [4].

Dim Won speaks in Kansas, but thinks he is in Texas and uses economic theory discredited over a century and half ago.   They do teach economics at Harvard.    Not that Dim Won ever spent a sober day in a college class room.

Ice cutting used to be big business.  That is until some joker invented the refrigerator.   Does anybody propose to trade their frig in for an old fashioned ice box?    Will Dim Won forgo air conditioning in the White House?