September 7, 2005


Economic lunacy (Walter E. Williams, September 7, 2005, Townhall)

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), a great French economist, said in his pamphlet "What is Seen and What is Not Seen": "There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen." What economists Chan and Woodward can see are the jobs and construction boom created by repairing hurricane destruction. What they can't see, and thus ignore, is what those resources would have been used for had there not been hurricane destruction.

Bastiat wrote a parable about this which has become known as the "Broken Window Fallacy." A shopkeeper's window is broken by a vandal. A crowd formed sympathizing with the man. After a while, someone in the crowd suggested that the boy wasn't guilty of vandalism; instead, he was a public benefactor, creating economic benefits for everyone in town. After all, fixing the broken window creates employment for the glazier, who will then buy bread and benefit the baker, who will then buy shoes and benefit the cobbler, and so forth.

Those are the seen effects of repairing the broken window. What's unseen is what the shopkeeper would have done with the money had the vandal not broken his window. He might have employed the tailor by purchasing a suit. The vandal's breaking his window produced at least two unseen effects. First, it shifted unemployment from the glazier who now has a job to the tailor who doesn't. Second, it reduced the shopkeeper's wealth. Had it not been for the vandalism, the shopkeeper would have had a window and a suit; now he has just a window.

Mr. Williams stumbles near to the truth here, but falls prey to the mistaken belief in economic man as a rational actor. The problem is that the shopkeeper will generally just consume with his money rather than upgrade his own plant and reap the benefits of modernization and efficiency gains. What is actually unseen is that when he puts in his triple pane Andersen windows he'll cut this Winter's heating bill and next Summer's cooling bill by more than the cost of the window and then bank the savings in subsequent years. Of course, with the money he's saved himself the shopkeeper can afford to indulge himself even more. But which of us wouldn't rather have a shiny new toy for ourselves today than prospective savings from an investment in a building down the road?

Rebuilding Begins Where Terror Struck: N.Y. Transportation Hub Costs $2.2 Billion (Michelle Garcia, September 7, 2005, Washington Post)

"Today, we begin to take back a site and restore something that was taken away from us on September 11," said Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.

The transportation hub, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, will link commuter trains from New Jersey, ferries and the city subway system. Officials estimate 250,000 people a day will stream through the transportation hub after its scheduled completion in 2009.

"New York is taking off again and set to soar to greater heights than ever before," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, speaking in the 70-foot pit where the city's tallest buildings once stood.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 7, 2005 12:00 AM

The boy in the story should still have to pay for the effects of his crime by working in the store or some such.

Posted by: JAB` at September 7, 2005 9:13 AM

If I came by tomorrow and bulldozed your house would you be richer? After all, you could simply rebuild it with those light but strong composite metals you've heard about. You seem to have a problem with the value of other people's time and effort -- you're not aware that they have any. Try thinking through some of these examples as though the rain were coming through the hole in your own roof.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 7, 2005 10:08 AM

Yes, the person who is forced to replace their leaky roof only by a catastrophic event obviously reaps many unseen benefits--excellent example.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 10:15 AM

William wrote: "What they can't see, and thus ignore, is what those resources would have been used for had there not been hurricane destruction."

OJ is much closer to the truth here. It may have been that no "resources" at all would have been "used" to do "anything."

Williams makes the Marxist mistake (rare for him) that "resources" either finite or static. They are neither.

Take the "Necessity Breeds Invention" proverb. The need to fix the Hurricane Damage has unleashed not only "dormant" financial capital, but dormant human capital as well. (Imagine the benefits of dispersing the most dysfunctional aspects of the NO populace.)

Williams is guilty here of not seeing the "unseen" value in the clean up project.

Let's say you decided to forgo that $3000 Mud room project your contractor just bid for. Let's say you send it to a (assumed efficient) organization that rebuilds devasted areas.

You may think that the $1500 is a "wash". But suppose you decide to "do it yourself" re: the remodelled mud room. Your cost (time + costs + opportunity cost) may turn out to be lower than your contractor's quoted price.

You may end up ahead. (at today's contractor prices, I can almost guarantee it) It could be win/win. I realize that we could spend the rest of the day throwing scenarios around, but I'm ideologically in favor of the ocassional 'shock to the system.' It propels the creative destruction we all hold so dear.

We shouldn't assume the "status quo" is "efficient." It rarely is. Here is my prediction. Sometime in Feb 06, the economic numbers for the 4th Q will come out. They will be close to - or above - 5% growth.

Posted by: Bruno at September 7, 2005 10:56 AM

OJ, I think your point is intensely silly.

Let's play the analogy out further. The shopkeeper would be forced to borrow money at a high interest rate to pay for his windows (an unplanned expense), interest from which would easily eat up any energy savings. One of the invisible efects of destruction is the loss of the time-value of money from a forced expense.

Maybe he could have spent half the money on fiberglass insulation and saved even more on his heating bills, but can't do so now that the little punk broke his window.

The world doesn't work the way you are suggesting. Otherwise a government edict that everyone must replace their windows every five years would make wonderful economic sense. It doesn't. Just look at the failure of the goofy Carter-era energy policies which tried to create efficiencies in just that way. They didn't work.

Your critique of Bastiat is essentially that people are not necessarily rational economic actors, which is of course true (they just usually are over the long term, especially businesses). But why on earth would destruction of wealth tend to make people act more rationally?. If the shopkeeper is so stupid that he doesn't understand how to save on heating bills, why wouldn't he buy a cheap replacement and spend the remaining money on something else, especially for an unplanned expense.

I think you are focussing on a single part of a tree (yes, sometimes--not always, or even often--there is an unexpected good from destruction) but ignoring the forest (wealth destruction is wealth destruction no matter how you look at it). You are also ignoring the fact that sometimes there is value lost that cannot be recovered. (E.g., suppose the shopkeepers window was 200 year old glass which had a wonderful antique effect which helped the keeper market his goods. A sterile Anderson replacement may not fit the bill). Unexpected gain and unexpected loss are difficult to calculate, but in the aggregate would be only minor modifications to an economic equation which shows a 100% loss of wealth.

Posted by: Kevin Bowman at September 7, 2005 10:57 AM

Typo - both numbers should be $3000.

Posted by: Bruno at September 7, 2005 10:58 AM


Yes, that's what Y2K did and it worked brilliantly.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 11:05 AM


This is Pollyannaish twaddle. The fact that the result of a destruction might possibly be an unexpected gain does not mean that it must be. On the contrary, most of the time it will not be because the unexpected gain must be large to off-set the loss. Unexpected gains may also arise from doing nothing.

BTW--Since contractors work more efficiently at building it very unlikely that there will be a net gain in wealth from doing it yourself. Do it yourself projects only gain their efficiency from people usuing otherwise unproductive or undervalued time.

% Growth of GNP measures growth of wealth. It does not measure concurrent loss of wealth. Considerable sums of money will be spent in Louisiana and Mississippi over the next few years. They will probably show a measurable growth in gross production. That absolutely does not mean that Louisiana will be better off than before the storm. There will be both measurable and unmeasurable destruction of wealth, neither of which is measured in terms of gross production.

Posted by: Kevin Bowman at September 7, 2005 11:20 AM

Mr. Williams stumbles near to the truth here, but falls prey to the mistaken belief in economic man as a rational actor. The problem is that the shopkeeper will generally just consume with his money rather than upgrade his own plant and reap the benefits of modernization and efficiency gains.

Orrin falls prey to the mistaken belief that if a man "could" do X, that he "will do" X. Unless he is clarvoyant or prophetic, he has no REAL idea of what the shopkeeper would do: By his destruction, the boy has deprived the shopkeeper of the ability to CHOOSE what he would do with his money by creating a requirement of what he MUST do with it. The fact that the new window *may* be better than the old one (provided he coughed up MORE money to buy the higher quality one) is a benefit that is fiendishly credited to the boy: if the shopkeeper had CHOSEN to replace the window, Orrin would have applauded his prudence, but now Orrin can justifiably refrain from applauding the shopkeeper, since the shopkeeper cannot PROVE that he would have done so on his own volition. Indeed, now that the money is out-of-pocket, the shopkeeper is hindered in his ability to show that he was going to invest the money better than Orrin would have thought or allowed or begrudged him.

The anarchist may claim that, like God at the End of Time, he is destroying the old to make way for the new. Would Orrin approve? Keep in mind that the Anarchist, like the boy, can only destroy and not create the supposed improvement: God indeed will destroy what was all His, corrupted by evil, because HE, himself, will create the better himself.

*yawns* this is the Economic version of the Biblical claim that "Let us do evil, that good may come." The Apostle paul had some pithy words to say about THAT.

Posted by: ptah at September 7, 2005 12:01 PM


You seem to making the mistake that all "empericists" make. Von Mises / Hayek understood that economics is much more than a bunch of green eye shade number crunching.

It is study in human action. It isn't as if you don't make some good points, but I wouldn't be so dismissive of those of us who are arguing against Williams here.

Williams started with the excellent point of the "unseen." He should play around with that concept a little before stopping at the shallow "accounting" mentality of "zero sum game" thinking.


Regarding your point about GNP, I think you trying to skate by the obvious. With the massive aggregation of numbers that fit inside a concept like GNP, things like "loss of wealth" are already incorporated in part.

Simply put, if Katrina was supposed to be a major "hit" on our economy (so the MSM tells us), the numbers should show that in the 4th Q. This doesn't mean that a 5% plus number proves me right and you wrong, but it would be a pretty good indicator as to who is on the right track.

Re: Doing it yourself..

Being a former contractor, I can attest to the fact that many people could benefit from doing it themselves. Contracting is very inefficiently priced because our nation has become so specialized that no one knows whether they are getting reamed.

To your point, this makes it somewhat dangerous for your typical emasculated suburban male to attempt changing a light bulb.

To my point, broadening your skill set to being something other than being a white collar drone has personal (and economic) benefits that some one like Williams might call "unseen."

You go on moving around numbers on the "debit/credit" ledger. I'll keep making more "sociological" arguments. We probably won't agree. One would hope both of us will keep an open mind.

(Read my comment on OJ's post about people not coming back to NO. If you are really into this debate, read Tolstoy's description of what happened to Moscow after Napolean left in War & Peace)

Posted by: Bruno at September 7, 2005 12:10 PM


Except that the infrastructure that's built there will be worth much more than what was lost.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 12:34 PM

OJ is intensely silly on this.

More than just windows get broken, and at least some windows getting broken are the 3-pane variety.

Further, his notion of personal decisions is way off base. Just on a personal level, over the past two years I have added a layer of R-30 to existing R-19 in the attic, replaced all the windows in the house, and installed a high-efficiency HVAC system.

Assumptions on the future cost of energy, not some kid (or hurricane) hurling rocks, was sufficient reason.

Of course, as Hayek would note, your mileage may vary.

Posted by: at September 7, 2005 12:34 PM


The point is that we'll generally choose wrong, contra libertarian cant.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 12:41 PM

Not may, does.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 12:43 PM

I have no idea what you mean by "generally just consume". Money spent is money spent. If you think that money compelled to be spent and money chosen to be spent are equal, you'd better go back and retake Introduction to Microeconomics.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 7, 2005 12:59 PM

The point, of course, is that the course is wrong. It makes assumptions about how people behave that are not borne out by human experience.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 1:06 PM
Except that the infrastructure that's built there will be worth much more than what was lost.
Right here we again see OJ missing the real costs as he silently elides the money spent on replacing the window and counts only the original cost of the window. It's the "other people's money" issue again and sure, if you can use other people's money it's easy to make a profit on destruction.

Bruno's error is that he apparently doesn't believe that specialization makes for greater economic productivity. That's contrary to everything economists believe and the evidence of the last few centuries of economic development. As has been shown many times, even if I can do construction more efficiently than a contractor, I'm stil better off paying a contractor if I can use that time for activities at which I am even more productive than construction (and for most of us, that's just about any other activity).

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 7, 2005 1:14 PM


No, his own money. If he'd replace his own inefficient windoiws he'd be able to buy even more junk. Instead he waits until someone breaks it. That's fine so long as we have some force to provide the breakage. Nature fills the role to a degree.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 1:21 PM

OJ - Sometime a shiny new bridge is better. Sometimes it aint. In replacing the Brooklyn Bridge something would definitely be lost. I fear that the same must be said for much of New Orleans. Not much point in arguing since the destruction is accomplished. We all just hope for the best. I have no doubt that you are right in part. Some good will come of this. Our argument is really more quantitative than qualitative. I do fear that anything involving enormous sums of government money thrown at a problem is unlikely to result in much unexpected good to offset the bad.

Bruno: Your point about being my being overly dismissive is a fair one. I regret that. Something in me wants to be Christopher Hitchens, but I lack the capacity for prolonged disdain.

I will just add that the parable of the broken window is one of the essential lessons of libertarian economics. It is Chapter One of Hazlett's "Economics in One Lesson." I do not know for certain that Von Mises cited the parable approvingly, but I do know that he strongly embraced Bastiat. Williams himself is a "public-choice" Virginia-school economist which is very heavily influenced by and tied to the Austrian-school. I cannot imagine either Hayek or Von Mises rejecting the parable as wrong-minded. It captures a fundamental microeconomic point that has macroeconomic implications that counter socialism. The whole thrust of Bastiat's argument is against command economies.

If I overreacted, it is because the parable of the broken window is the prism through which I view most government policies. Most (maybe all?) promises about good greated by some redistribution of wealth or expenditure of tax dollars suffer from the fallacy that the parable is intended to shatter.

Posted by: Kevin Bowman at September 7, 2005 1:55 PM

I'm enjoying this immensely. OJ and I seem to be arguing that Katrina is not the economic disaster it is made out to be, and the rest of you (who disagree) seem intent on picking apart picyune problems with the metaphors we are using.

This isn't just about windows & specialization, but if you want to keep on that track, go nuts.



My point about specialization is hardly an "error". In the first post that I bring it up, I take into account the opportunity costs.

I've been on both sides of the "make v. buy" decision (I have hired when I could have saved time & money by doing it myself. I've also "done it myself" and wished I'd have hired.)

If your point is that I suffer somehow by being capable of doing it myself, it's a pretty poor one. I have options others don't. I'll have the same choices if I ever need legal research or advice.

You are also mistaken about my view of specialization. I have no problem accepting that 'specialization' is a wonderful tool for driving efficiency & productivity.

However, to paraphrase Jesus, "what shall it profit a man shall he gain the whole domain of placing Charmin on the proper shelf space in the Grocery store if he shall lose sight of all the wonder of the rest of creation?"

Man does not live by bread alone. Neither does the nation live by the sticks and plywood or bricks & mortar of a corrupt & badly managed city.

I'd be far richer financially if I'd just focused on practicing law. But I'd be far poorer in spirit, understanding the world around me, and my golf score. If you are going to mouth the words of the market, at least be open-minded enough to realize that the "market" is more than "money."

I leave you with a quote from Heinlein's character Lazarus Long. First, let me remind all of you that I don't wish to "impose these beliefs on you." I only wish to persuade you that they offer you a better and more balanced life.

I can do 18 out of the 21, and have done about 16.5. I daresay I'm proud of that fact.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve an equation, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects [Heinlein, 248]."

Posted by: Bruno at September 7, 2005 1:56 PM

Last point:

An enormous loss of wealth is not necessarily measured by the statistics used to measure the economy. If, for example, a museum filled with paintings worth hundreds of millions of dollars burned to the ground, there would be little measurable loss for the economy, but a substantial loss of wealth. Insurance may effect some transfer payments to the owners (who would spend it--but so would the insurance companies if they did not have to pay) So the net effect is zero, perhaps some minor loss from the museum employees being out of work.

GNP will be hit by the loss of productivity in New Orleans, but will measure every dollar spent on reconstruction. Those dollars may increase measured GNP, but they would not increase actual wealth ante Katrina since each dollar would only go toward getting people back to where they were.

GNP is an imperfect measure of wealth.

No more from me. Thanks Brothers Judd for this use of your comments section to indulge in my free argument.

Posted by: Kevin Bowman at September 7, 2005 2:12 PM


The point is that the central lesson of libertarianh economics is just as wrong as the central lesson of Marxism. All rationalisms are by their very nature wrong. Economic man isn't particularly rational:

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 3:00 PM

Mmmm... I might believe that the optimal longer-term rate for investment in capital projects is short-term impractical for reasons of 'friction'; you can't replace 10% of a bridge each year. Occasional surges in activity like this *might* be helpful if the long-term investment rate in such is too low.

Posted by: Mike Earl at September 7, 2005 3:48 PM

But economic man is more rational than any alternative. Hayek is exactly right.

As shown by this discussion. Bruno makes excellent points.

Additionally, little of the destroyed property has replacements that are sufficiently more efficient than the originals to come anywhere close to warranting their wholesale replacement.

The storm is forcing people to make economic decisions they would not have done otherwise, especially the most rational among them.

The central lesson here is that OJ doesn't comprehend the central lesson of libertarian economics.

Posted by: at September 7, 2005 3:49 PM

Actually, he isn't. He's exactly the same in economics as in everything else. Fallen.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 4:19 PM

Actually, he isn't. He's exactly the same in economics as in everything else. Fallen.

Me too.


Which is WHY you, and I, are even LESS COMPETENT to decide what is best for a third person than that person him/herself.

It just hit me: If OJ is a Calvinist, then it would explain a heck of a lot.

Posted by: Ptah at September 7, 2005 9:27 PM


We dissenters are not arguing that the economic effects of hurrican Katrina are a disaster, merely that they are not a net benefit to the national economy.

As for markets being about more than money, I completely agree. It's why I'm a Hayekian economic liberal. I presumed that we were limiting our discussion to the economic effects of hurrican Katrina. Still, if one considers the efforts of working and building to be "maintenance" activities, i.e. things one does not for their own sake but to provide the wealth necessary to live, then it makes sense to act in a way to minimize the amount of time spent on those activities via specialization. If I can work 80 hours to pay someone to build something it would take me 120 hours to do (even if it takes him 200 hours), then I've gained 40 hours to do the things I think make life worth living, such as type away in the comments section on weblogs.

Mr. Judd;

Man may not be a rational economic actor, but economics itself is rational and we can apply reason to examine the effects of economic choices.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 7, 2005 9:57 PM


But because you mistakenly believe those choices to be rational you biff the effects.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 10:21 PM

If Orrin were correct, then it would make sense for everyone to immediately burn their own homes to the ground, plus every commercial or governmental building.

Obviously, that would be insane.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 8, 2005 5:28 AM

Rational, of course, is a relative term.

Perfect rationality is unobtainable, if for no other reason than information is always incomplete.

Equally, people rarely act perfectly irrationally.

So Mr. Judd's comment above is silly -- nearly all economic choices have at least some element of rationality to them.

After all, regardless of how rational replacing a whole bunch of windows might be -- absent a whole bunch of other, unmentioned considerations -- darn few people are knocking out their windows then turning the AC to full blast.

Posted by: at September 8, 2005 5:51 AM

Yes, yet libertarianism depends on perfect rationality. Thus the error.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 6:58 AM


No, folks would replace any system or structure in their house and life that they would save money by doing so. We rarely do.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 6:59 AM

Mr. Judd:

Nonsense -- libertarianism relies on one thing:

individuals exhibit more rationality when making decisions for themselves then when gov't (or hurricanes) makes the decision for them.

Your assumption of perfect rationality is not only singularly unnecessary, it is also unfounded. Unless, that is, you can cite a source for that conclusion.

And your response to Michael is equally unfounded. Here in my Northern Tier state, window and insulation companies do a booming business by advertising the resulting cost savings over time.

Directly contradicting your blanket assertion.

Posted by: at September 8, 2005 7:58 AM

individuals exhibit more rationality when making decisions for themselves then when gov't (or hurricanes) makes the decision for them.

is false.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 8:50 AM

individuals exhibit more rationality when making decisions for themselves then when gov't (or hurricanes) makes the decision for them.

is false.

Are we then to conclude that "rational" decision-making, absent Katrina, would have led us to destroy half of New Orleans ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 8, 2005 9:23 AM

What New Orleans?

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 10:21 AM

Mr. Judd:

Not only is it not false (you need to read Road to Serfdom), but your blanket assertion about what individuals will do is completely undercut by thriving window and insulation manufacturers.

A point you completely avoided, BTW.

Posted by: at September 8, 2005 10:44 AM

The Department of Energy estimates that only 1% of the installed windows in the country meet energy efficiency guidelines.

Hayek is a secular libertarian, of course he doesn't grasp this stuff. He understood that socialism didn't work because one person making "rational" decisions was a mistake.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 10:46 AM

I don't care what the DoE estimates, or what they use for "guidelines" (you ignore the delta between the efficiency of existing windows and whatever the guidelines are; if that delta is small, it is irrational to replace the windows) -- window businesses in the Northern tier are thriving, and they are thriving due to largely to replacing old but unbroken windows.

Similarly, the local Home Depot sells roof insulation as fast as it can get it. When I did my roof, I stood four deep in line behind other home owners upgrading their existing insulation.

There is hardly a house in my neighborhood (30 years old) that has its original windows. Four of my neighbors have done complete replacements in the last two years.

And they didn't wait for something to come along to break them all.

Hayek grasped this stuff just fine.

It is the patent falsehood of your basic premise you haven't grasped.

Editor's Note: please adopt a pseudonym of some kind so folks can address you when they address your points.

Posted by: at September 8, 2005 12:06 PM

Of course you don't care about the facts, you're an ideologue. Too bad the idea is wrong.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 12:17 PM

BTW, while your talking about facts. The point in question here is whether people willingly undertake "rational" actions like replacing old windows, NOT DOE guidelines. All the guidelines do is tell us what would be rational and then we don't do it.

Posted by: at September 8, 2005 2:22 PM

You appear to have deleted a post.

To reiterate -- your basic premise is wildly wrong. There are many thriving replacement window companies in this state, selling to people who want more heat efficient windows.

Nearly every house in my neighborhood has done just that.

Without knowing the incremental cost of achieving whatever the DOE guidelines are, you cannot possibly pass judgment as to whether attaining them is a rational decision; your tossing that in is at least irrelevant, and possibly self contradicting.

Posted by: Speed McClean at September 8, 2005 3:09 PM

People who are self-absorbed tend to believe that because their own window is new most are. Libertarianism is the creed of the self.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2005 5:07 PM

Mr. Judd:

Thriving replacement window companies do not exist on my business alone.

Those very companies -- which you have never addressed -- completely trash your argument.

I've heard cat fights that make more sense than what you have presented here.

Posted by: Speed McClean at September 9, 2005 11:45 AM


replacing 1% of the windows in America renders both a thriving window business and 99% inefficient windows.

Posted by: oj at September 9, 2005 12:26 PM

Mr. Judd:

From whence did you get 1%?

Replacement window companies do not thrive on 1%, suggesting you pulled that figure out of your rectal data bank.

Posted by: Speed at September 9, 2005 2:57 PM


Yes, it was right next to "thriving window replacement business"

Posted by: oj at September 9, 2005 3:22 PM

Clearly, you are not serious.

Virtually all the homes in my neighborhood have new windows.

Entire sections of Home Depot and Lowes are devoted to new windows and insulation.

Thriving replacement window companies exist only because there are lots of people electing to upgrade their windows based upon rational cost - benefit analysis.

Hence, your assertion is clearly false.

As your laughable inability to support your argument proves.

Posted by: Speed McClean at September 9, 2005 4:14 PM

None in mine are--see how subjewctivism works?

Posted by: oj at September 9, 2005 4:38 PM

"Entire sections of Home Depot and Lowes are devoted to new windows and insulation.

Thriving replacement window companies exist only because there are lots of people electing to upgrade their windows based upon rational cost - benefit analysis."

Your explanation for this would be?

Posted by: Anon at September 10, 2005 8:53 AM

There are yarn shops. Did you knit your clothes?

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2005 8:59 AM

That's no explanation.

They exist because there is a market.

Posted by: Anon at September 10, 2005 10:41 AM

Exactly. The existence of replacement windows tells one nothing about how many windows need replacing.

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2005 10:45 AM

Exactly. It tells you that many windows are getting replacing.

And, just like including that irrelevant DoE fact (without cost information, it is impossible to say what a rational decision would be), insisting your ignorance is proof of other's irrationality is, well, irrational.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 10, 2005 2:50 PM

"many" is meaningless in a nation of 300 million.

Posted by: oj at September 10, 2005 4:51 PM

Mr. Judd:

You must be a math wizard then. Could you tell me, please, what portion of 300 million is many?

Also, above, you said:

The Department of Energy estimates that only 1% of the installed windows in the country meet energy efficiency guidelines.

Source, please? I couldn't find that anywhere, and I'd hate to think you are making it up.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 11, 2005 6:32 AM

Of course I made it up. This is a fact free comment thread.

Posted by: oj at September 11, 2005 8:41 AM

You made a ridiculous assertion.

Backed up by "bogus" facts, and easily refuted by real ones.

You often take those on the left for just such behavior.

Why is it any better when you do it?

Posted by: Anon at September 11, 2005 8:34 PM


That's the point. You haven't offered a fact yet -- "lots of people" is an inanity -- so I joined you in talking out of my butt. It's much easier--I see why you do it.

When you figure out what percentage of windows in the United States actually meet energy efficiency guidelines we can discuss whether it's many or few.

Posted by: oj at September 11, 2005 8:40 PM