A young hoodlum heaves a brick through the window of a baker’s
shop. The shopkeeper runs out furious, but the boy is gone. A crowd
gathers, and begins to stare with quiet satisfaction at the gaping
hole in the window and the shattered glass over the bread and
After a while the crowd feels the need for philosophic
reflection. And several of its members are almost certain to remind
each other or the baker that, after all, the misfortune has its
bright side. It will make business for some glazier. As they begin
to think of this they elaborate upon it. How much does a new plate
glass window cost? Two hundred and fifty dollars? That will be
quite a sum. After all, if windows were never broken, what would
happen to the glass business? Then, of course, the thing is
endless. The glazier will have $250 more to spend with other
merchants, and these in turn will have $250 more to spend with
still other merchants, and so ad infinitum.
Can broken windows make the economy grow?