Remember a few months ago when a mural was painted on the wall of a market in northwest Pasadena as part of a city-funded public arts project and then painted over a couple of weeks later by the proprietor of the business?
Well, now we have another case of vandalism of a city-funded arts project – a sculpture of a hummingbird costing $12,000. But what did you expect when the program is meant to give away money on the pretense of community art?
Read about it here:
This reminds us of what is called “The Broken Windows Fallacy” that says windows will be broken to create work for glaziers. Read below;
Bastiat uses this story to introduce a concept he calls the broken window fallacy, which is related to the law of unintended consequences, in that both involve an incomplete accounting for the consequences of an action. Economists of the Austrian school of economics frequently cite this fallacy, and Henry Hazlitt devoted a chapter to it in his book Economics in One Lesson.
The parable describes a shopkeeper whose window is broken by a little boy. Everyone sympathizes with the man whose window was broken, but pretty soon they start to suggest that the broken window makes work for the glazier, who will then buy bread, benefitting the baker, who will then buy shoes, benefitting the cobbler, etc. Finally, the onlookers conclude that the little boy was not guilty of vandalism; instead he was a public benefactor, creating economic benefits for everyone in town.
The fallacy of the onlookers' argument is that they considered the positive benefits of purchasing a new window, but they ignored the hidden costs to the shopkeeper and others. He was forced to spend his money on a new window, and therefore could not have spent it on something else. Perhaps he was going to buy bread, benefitting the baker, who would then have bought shoes, etc., but instead he was forced to buy a window. Instead of a window and bread, he had only a window. Or perhaps he would have bought a new shirt, benefitting the tailor; in that case the glazier's gain was the tailor's loss, and again the shopkeeper has only a window instead of a window and a shirt. The child did not bring any net benefit to the town. Instead, he made the town poorer by the value of one window.