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Visual #6: Modern “Translation” of Bastiat

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In his column “After the Horror” (New York Times, Sept. 14, 2001), [Paul Krugman, Princeton University economist] says, “Ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack . . . could do some economic good.” He suggests that the destruction will stimulate the economy through business investment in rebuilding.

We know this has to be fishy just by asking: Would there have been even greater “economic good” had the terrorists succeeded in destroying buildings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and all other major cities? Of course, you and I know that is utter nonsense. Property destruction always lowers the wealth of a nation. I hope one of Krugman’s students asks him, “If property destruction is good for the economy, why aren’t Beirut and Belfast boom towns?

Walter Williams,

George Mason University economist