Re: Idiot Economic Fallacy
First, while early in the article it seems Goldberg might actually grasp the concept of Bastiat's Broken Window Fallacy, he then produces this gem: "Regardless, my intended point, which most people got, is a simple one: Wars aren't good for "absolutely nothing" as the song goes. They can bring with them benefits, in material terms (from expedited medical breakthroughs to space exploration) and in moral terms (the freeing of slaves, the end of the Holocaust, the liberating of Western Europe, etc)."
Expedited medical breakthroughs? Space exploration? Benefits? Without billions wasted on NASA we never would have discovered Velcro! Memo to Jonah: by definition the State diverts scare resources from more valued uses to less valued uses. If "expedited medical breakthroughs" and "space exploration" provided the benefits to consumers you claim, this would be done voluntarily by the market. Regardless of the products emerging from state production, economic growth (and thus innovation) will still be less than it otherwise would be without intervention. (For anyone interested in an indepth exploration of this, I suggest this.)
Then he says, "The market cannot function properly if everyone doesn't respect the rule of law, particularly property rights." Well of course water runs down hill but the question is a) do property rights exist PRIOR to the institution of government (the answer: yes) and b) which "form" of government bests protects property and thus the workings of the market (the answer: private property anarchy).
Nonetheless, Goldberg still thinks destroying Iraq is a great idea: "Fair enough, that's an intellectually defensible position [the broken window fallacy]. But when you consider the fact that virtually all of the broken windows will be on Iraqi soil, it's hard to see how they can say that destruction of property can't be economically beneficial for the Iraqis (never mind what a stabilized and rational oil market would do for us)." As blogged previously, I fail to understand how a massive, U.S.-created chaos will help the Iraqis or the world. It will, however, divert billions from valued uses to less valued uses as noted above. Since Goldberg seems to be fond of Hazlitt, maybe he should take a look at Will Dollars Save the World?
Which brings me nicely to the final point, Goldberg's ridiculous comment about "all but the most absurdly utopian laissez-faire societies . . ." The real utopian here is Goldberg himself--a person who believes that diverting resources through coercive measures to war around the world will possibly increase prosperity. I guess leaving Americans to pursue their own happiness with their own property absent State expropriation for adventures around the globe is too "utopian" for such a pragmatist.