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The broken windows fallacy of economics has often been discussed in these pages, but it does not go far enough. First, for those who are new to Ricochet or only read the funny stuff, the broken windows fallacy is the thought that all types of economic activity are equal. So, a restaurateur who has a brick thrown through his window has to hire people to replace the window. This is good, because he is spending money, right? Except that this is spending money that would have otherwise gone into the economy in higher value ways. Maybe he could have hired an executive chef to make his food better. Maybe he could have afforded to buy higher-quality meats. Maybe he would have used that money as a down payment on a delivery truck. Maybe he could have invested in stocks for a start-up that would have invented and marketed the next great thing. Whatever the restaurateur would have done with his money, it’s not going to happen now, because he is buying a new window and paying to have it installed. Besides his costs, that window and work installing it could have gone into a new commercial building instead of to repairing his building. Everything cascades from there. Windows may cost more because of higher demand. Installation may cost more because of higher demand. What we see of lost opportunity costs is merely the tip of the iceberg in what is lost to the overall economy because someone decided to throw a brick through a window. And we recognize that all types of economic activity are decidedly not equal.
Now, let’s multiply that by a million times by having riots across the nation. While we are at it, let’s deliver pallets of bricks to shopping areas to ensure the rioters have plenty of ammunition for breaking windows. Let’s also deliver supplies of Molotov cocktails to those same areas to ensure stores can be burned after being looted. (This is seriously happening.) Many of the businesses are not going to replace the window and move forward, because it’s not just one broken window they have. Some have been looted and others have been burned to the ground. While some may rebuild, many will not bother. Keep a store in a bad neighborhood that is prone to riots? No, thanks; it costs too much. Insurance rates will be up. Jobs are lost. It costs more for people in the riot-torn neighborhoods to reach the stores that are in another neighborhood, either until stores are rebuilt in their neighborhoods or until West Texas freezes over.
But that is not where this ends. The United States, while dancing on the economic brink as it may be, is still an extremely wealthy country. Our poor people have enough food to be fat. We do not only have a United States economy, though. We have a world economy. As jobs are lost in the United States and goods go unbought, factories in the Third World shut down, and the employees are set free of having to work for a living in countries where the choice is work or starve. And make no mistake: some of them will starve. And while it is difficult to trace the path of causation of that starving person in some hellhole country, it started with rioters in the United States burning down our places of work, our jobs, and destroying our wealth.
There are thousands of stories that could be told. A bookstore went up in flames in the Twin Cities during these riots. It was full of first editions, signed first editions, out-of-print books, and they have all gone to smoke and ash. We are all poorer this day than we were yesterday. Not just the Twin Cities, not just the United States. The whole world. Some of our history has been destroyed, never to exist again. We can’t take those ashes and reassemble books from them. Even if the insurance pays to rebuild that bookstore, the owner cannot replace that burned stock. Those special items no longer exist. But probably, it’s too much heartache to bother rebuilding, and all his employees will have to scramble to find new jobs, if they can. And at a hundred or a thousand removes, a few more people starve in the Third World.
The rioters are burning our past. They are destroying our wealth. They are leaving us with no future to look forward to. And they never count the cost. They only look forward to the glorious revolution that will fix everything in the future. They do not see that they are destroying the most glorious of all revolutions, the one that has lifted more people out of poverty than any other. That was the revolution of private property and free markets. They spit upon it and call it evil capitalism. But it is the only revolution that has brought evolution, true change. It is the only revolution that has brought fat poor people. It is the only revolution that has brought poor people with two cars in their garages. Yet, they have been taught that the private property and free-market revolution was bad, because although everyone is wealthier, the wealth is distributed unevenly. It does not accord with the Gospel according to Marx and Engels. (Where did Engels get his money again? Oh, yes, exploiting the working class in textile factories. “Do as I say, not as I do.”)
They are not revolutionaries; they are thugs, thieves, and murderers. They are regressionists. They want to take us back to the age of autocracies. They may call their czars something else, commissars and high party officials. They may give their czars titles such as General Secretary of the Communist Party or President of the People’s Republic, but the czar is still the czar. They are true monarchists, and they aren’t even smart enough or educated enough to know it. And when their day comes, they will wonder why they are now the targeted other. “If only the
Czar General Secretary knew!” they’ll exclaim. But their General Secretary does know. They were expendable tools all along.
But there are some who see all of this. There are some who understand the effects these looters and rioters are having. But when we call for a whiff of grapeshot, the governors and mayors mostly ignore us. Our betters know better. They shall get out in front of the parade and lead it. Philippe Égalité tried that, too. It led to his introduction to Madame la Guillotine. So it will end for these Progressive office holders when the revolution comes. They should have tried the whiff of grapeshot.
Those who study history are doomed to repeat it, too, because everyone around them doesn’t pay attention to the history or thinks they are special and can “get it right” this time. The particular doom of those who understand history and how it applies to today is that they know what is going to happen and have no power to influence it. It is like watching a situation comedy where one knows what the character is about to do is stupid and will have ill effects, but the character cannot hear our advice as we yell at the television or movie screen. He goes ahead and does it. So it is with our leaders.
We who see the true costs, who see people starving in a year or two in countries that Antifa members cannot name and shall never care about, we know the true cure for all of this: “Looters will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.”Published in