The Broken Window Fallacy: Debunking the Myth That War Is Good for the Economy

August 24, 2015   |   John Vibes

John Vibes
August 24, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) What is a fallacy? A fallacy is a false idea that acts as an obstacle, preventing someone from understanding a particular topic. Fallacies are quite often used in arguments as deceptive maneuvers to mislead a person who is attempting to determine truth and make sense of a situation. Within the studies of logic, many of these fallacies are identified and given specific names. This way, someone can more easily spot a misleading idea before it enters their consciousness and becomes a part of their worldview.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to the reader, but the political world is consumed with fallacies. Most of the information in the mainstream media, in public schools, and in government officials’ speeches are riddled with deception, lies, and fallacies.

To sustain an organization that is rooted in lies and uses violence in its every interaction, it is necessary for government to employ fallacies on a constant basis to justify the destructive and irrational nature of its actions. One of the most frequently used fallacies in regards to economics, especially in times of war, is “the broken window fallacy”.

“The broken window fallacy” is a term used to debunk the popular but false argument that the destruction of property stimulates economic growth by creating messes that people will eventually be paid to clean up. This is one of the arguments that we typically hear to defend war. People say that war is good for the economy because it creates jobs. However, the fatal flaw in this logic is that it fails to consider that a better outcome could have been possible had war resources been used for creation instead of destruction.

The broken window fallacy was coined by French economist Frederic Bastiat in the 19th century in his essay, “That which is seen, and that which is not seen.” He used a parable about a broken window to describe the situation we are talking about here. In his story, the witnesses of the destruction assume that the broken window is good for the economy because they are only thinking about the profit of the window maker — but overlooking the potential loss incurred by unseen third parties, primarily the owner of the window and the businesses that he would have invested in otherwise.

War is the most obvious example of this fallacy, but it can also be seen in the recent financial bailouts or even the very process of taxation to begin with.

In the case of the bailouts, our broken windows are the untold trillions that were transferred from the general public to various quasi-state corporations just after the massive financial crash of 2008. At this point, no one can be sure of exactly how much money was transferred through these bailouts, but the official figure continues to climb as more independent research and investigation is carried out. The mainstream media would have us believe that these bailouts were necessary to save jobs and prop up the U.S. economy, but when we take a closer look, we can identify this as an obvious use of “the broken window fallacy.”

STUDY: Nations 100 Times More Likely to Go to War in Oil-Rich Countries

In the case of war, it should be obvious that it is not good for anyone economically, aside from perhaps politicians and weapons manufacturers. Countless people are killed and untold damage is done to property, creating a situation where an economy is going to be less profitable because less people are working, creating, and being entrepreneurs.

By digging deeper into the broken window mentality, we can see some very serious philosophical consequences that come as a result of finding joy in destruction. This kind of thinking makes ethics completely irrelevant because it allows people to rationalize actions that truly should have never been tolerated to begin with.

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John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter-culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at

Author: John Vibes

John Vibes joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in October of 2014. His topics of interest include agorism, anarchism, consciousness, the Drug War, and spirituality. Born in Philadelphia, he currently resides in Maryland.

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