In March of 2021, famed economist Frédéric Bastiat released a video highlighting why going to war (or fighting a pandemic) isn’t good for the economy.
Sorry, wait. It was actually comedian Ryan Long who just delivered a timely reminder of the broken windows fallacy with his latest video “Another Company Profiting From Unrest.”
In the video, Long and his frequent co-conspirator Danny Polishchuk play two men who are members of Antifa by night while being the owners of Not-Antifa Window Repair by day. Polishchuk explains the business model, saying, “We organize and cause riots which then cause damage which then creates customers.”
It’s all part of pursuing “capitalism by day, Communism by night.” Long adds, “Some say Antifa is just an idea, but to me, it’s a billion-dollar idea.”
It’s a hilarious sketch, but like much of Long’s work, it does hit some deeper truths. In this case, it highlights the facts that Antifa does exist, it has destroyed a lot of stuff, and there’s money to be made off protests. But it also shows the problem Bastiat identified in 1850.
While the fictitious window repairmen can “put a rock through this window, put a rock on my wife’s hand” and “put my kids through college,” theoretically stimulating local economies, such destruction takes money out of the economy as business owners are forced to pay for maintenance rather than investing in new equipment, employees, or other forms of growth.
Given that the government is currently dedicated to “fixing” all the economic woes caused by COVID-19 by not addressing any of the actual economic woes associated with the pandemic, it’s worth remembering Bastiat’s lesson. It’s especially important to remember it as President Biden, perhaps misremembering who he is, has dreams of being the next FDR.
As another Democrat once said, although it’s likely he was paraphrasing an apocryphal phrase, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Right now, Democrats are doing their best not to let a crisis, even as they exacerbated it with excessive lockdowns and policies that seemingly targeted those most susceptible to the virus, go to waste. We shouldn’t let them.
While it’s hilarious when Long says, “Kind of like the government shut down businesses, forcing you to rely on them, we break windows, forcing you to rely on us,” it’s much less entertaining when an entity that can jail you for not paying up is the one breaking the windows.