Bastiat’s original parable of the broken window from Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas [That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen] (1850) – translated by Patrick James Stirling

Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son has 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.

The key here is that each of us only has so much money.  Relative to my post on 31 March 2013 – giving my wife’s money to the Federal Government so they may distribute it at will to whomever they please may sound good on the surface.  All those “poor” people so in “need” of our help. However, this creates problems on two fronts.  One, we have less money to give to charities of OUR choice.  Individuals that would benefit from our contributions must now look elsewhere – the consequence therefrom means there are even MORE people that look to the government for assistance.  This is not to mention the expensive bureaucracy created to redistribute all this wealth.  Bureaucracies without which most charities seem to be able to operate just fine.  Second, we have less to spend on those things WE may need or want.  Lacking things we need creates problems for others (grocers, power company employees, etc.), but even more of a problem for us (food, water, lights, heat, etc. are important to us… go figure).  Lacking those things we want creates problems for others as well.  Just as in the parable above, the six francs that went to the glazier are six francs we cannot give to the carpenter for a new chair or table, or the shopkeeper for a new lamp or television or whatnot.  I don’t care if it is of the yacht builder we speak.  Billionaires that own yachts contribute significantly to the economy.  Yachts are expensive to buy (not to mention to operate).  Consider all those men and women that build and operate yachts and support systems therefore, they have families too!

I could go on and on about this concern.  Suffice it to say, from a total economic picture, money is NOT limited (as some would have you believe).  Yet, on an individual level it is.  The more government takes from its people the less they have to support their fellow citizens.  Allowing us to spend according to our individual need/want creates an economy that will support all.  Taking and creating a dependent underclass only depresses the economy and our country that much further.  It is your choice.  Consider it next time you have a decision to make regarding who will run your country.

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…