Ekonomia W Jednej Lekcji

We all know that the market system is an amazing decentralized social planning and allocation mechanism if externalities are small, if returns to scale are in general diminishing, if we are happy with the distribution of wealth and the concommitant distribution of economic power it gives rise to, and if Say's law holds—if supply does indeed create its own demand, and we don't have to worry about large-scale unemployment and deep depressions.

Hazlitt doesn't recognize any of these ifs. And that is what makes his book very dangerous indeed to a beginner in economics, because the ifs are, all of them, important qualifications and caveats. I gather that Tyler read it relatively early, and I am amazed that he has escaped with so little permanent neurological and ideological damage.[1]

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The rebuilding money goes to consumption, whereas without the disaster it might have gone to savings or investment. Now savings and investment may well be good because they increase future productivity; but there’s also the paradox of thrift and, generally, the view, associated with Keynes, that consumption spending is inefficiently low during recessions. Now maybe Keynes is wrong, but I don’t have a super-strong view on that.

And, as before, it would be better not to have a disaster but to just vote to spend the money, but there might be political resistance to this by taxpayers, libertarians, Tea Partiers, etc. So one can argue — as, indeed, (perhaps) Keynes and (definitely) some others do — that, if the only way to get that spending is to have disasters, wars, etc., then at least those events will have good economic consequences by removing the political barrier that would otherwise exist.[2]

The fact that breaking windows would make a society poorer (fewer windows) is precisely why nobody ever proposes stimulating the economy by deliberately smashing windows. But the way the dialogue works is that first a Keynesian observes that fiscal stimulus can increase growth in a depressed economy. Second, as an attempted reductio, a conservative says “if that was true, then you could increase growth by breaking a bunch of windows.” Third, the Keynesian accurately points out that you could, in fact, increase growth by breaking windows. Fourth, the conservative accuses Keynesians of wanting to break windows or believing that window-breaking increases wealth. But nobody ever said that! The point is that we have very good reasons to think smashing windows would be a bad idea—there’s more to life than full employment—and that’s why Keynesians generally want to boost employment by having people do something useful like renovate schools or repair bridges.[3]

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