What is not seen is that since our bourgeois has spent six francs on one thing, he can no longer spend them on another.

Frédéric Bastiat
What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

This Broken Window fallacy is one of the most famous from Frédéric Bastiat and certainly the most famous of the series “What is Seen and What is not Seen”. Unfortunately, it is not the most famous because it is the first in the series but because this fallacious argument keeps coming back, including through the gospel of distinguished economists (The Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman uses it on a regular basis, explaining why on his blog without convincing me that much).

Fortunately, it is also famous because the explanation is very simple and because of the very reason why it exists – the analysis of a situation according to what is seen while ignoring what is not seen. This is a text to be shared with everybody, from age 7 to age 77.

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