Continuing on an observable pattern of Economics, I will attempt to discredit all former Economists in favor of my own personal theories. Like many other commonplace economic theories, Bastiat’s Broken Window Theory has many different perceived meanings. I’m going to break down these perceived meanings before looking more in depth into “a childish act of vandalism”. Hope to see you at the bottom!
Detriment to society
From what I can gather, Bastiat was implying that because the store owner (in his scenario) had to allocate resources towards fixing the window, he was unable to use those same resources for more economic pursuits. This brings forth an interesting dilemma in today’s society. The act of vandalism is punishable by law, meaning an addition to the responsibilities (or limiting of resources) to the vandal. In this view, the vandal who has limited the shop keeper’s resources has their resources limited as punishment. You might very well argue that those resources go to society. In fact those fines could very well go to paying the judge, bailiff, and facilities, but since they are so low, the bureaucracy ends up just eating those fines.
Another perceived meaning is that the breaking of the window is accidental. If it was in fact accidental, why use this theory to degrade a child? Today’s culture is all about babying your children until you die. You should know that, because YOUR parents probably support you in every aspect they can. In Bastiat’s day, Children had 12 – 15 hour work days or apprenticeships between the ages of 7 and 16. If a 7 year old drops glass and breaks it, it’s the event that was uneconomic, not the child. Bastiat’s broken window theory has a way of putting blame onto this poor kid. The child might be lashing out after having been worked really hard, or might have done it accidentally. Not to mention that positive reinforcement of good behavior is more effective than negative reinforcement of bad behavior.
Finally, many consider the broken window to be an act of vandalism. In fact, Bastiat might very well be the reason why vandalism is considered criminal mischief. Being a graffiti artist myself, I object! Famed street artist, Banksy, presents the argument: what type of criminal breaks and enters in order to leave something, not take? While many people might still expect graffiti to peter off, I know better.
Graffiti is here to stay. Graffiti is a learning experience. Graffiti is about building community. Graffiti is about beautification. Graffiti is about respect. Graffiti is about claiming your territory. Graffiti is about showing the overly rich that their buildings are in our town, not the other way around. Graffiti isn’t about destruction of property. Graffiti isn’t about fun. Graffiti isn’t a bad thing.
(Past) As with many other famous economic thought titans, Bastiat didn't have a bad point for his time. (Present) I'm just here to show people the modern day implications of his work. Don't listen to me if you don't want to, but utilization of logic and reason is the (future).