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People Believe the Damndest Things

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


Your reporters write that “[e]conomists say that rebuilding after a disaster can have a positive effect on a country’s economy, stimulating growth through construction and other spending” (“Beirut Explosion Brings Lebanon to the Brink,” August 6).

Not so. While incompetent economists make headlines by predicting riches from ruination, every respectable economist rejects this nonsense.

Rebuilding following destruction necessarily consumes resources that, were there no destruction, would have been used to produce other valuable goods and services – valuable goods and services that, because of the rebuilding, will never be produced and consumed

As for those “economists” who continue to insist that ruination paves a path to riches, let them prove the sincerity of their belief by fire-bombing their own homes and automobiles. If they refuse to do so, your reporters – and everyone else – should refuse to take them seriously.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030