The DH and Broken Windows Fallacy

Frederic Bastiat’s broken windows fallacy: if a window maker breaks windows to increase business, he certainly benefits (if he doesn’t get busted, of course). But society is made worse off. Resources used to fix broken windows support window repair jobs, but would have been used in alternative ways and would have supported other types of jobs. Moreover, we’d expect that if fixing broken windows were optimal, people would have gone out and destroyed their own windows.

What the H-E-double toothpicks does this have to do with sports? This:

We’ve heard a lot over the past year about job creation. Everything is jobs, jobs, jobs. Such rhetoric is typically followed up by policy proposals (whether from right or left) that are nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. But since we’re on the topic, the crack staff at the Tax Foundation has come up with one policy that would definitely create a lot of good-paying American jobs:

“The N.L. Should Be More Like the A.L. Act of 2009,” which would “mandate that the National League enact a designated hitter rule or MLB lose its anti-trust exemption; and that the total number of roster spots increases by one. “

At first, this would create 16 new jobs (number of N.L. teams). But think of all the other jobs. There will likely need to be more balls and bats produced because a D.H. is more likely to break a bat or foul a ball off during a plate appearance than a pitcher batting. This will increase the demand for wood and forestry products. Think of all those jobs. We may even need another bat boy. Pitchers will wear out faster, thereby compounding this issue. And pitchers will probably be more likely to be hurt during the season due to more wear and tear (every 9th batter won’t be essentially a free pass). Therefore, more replacement pitchers will be needed. Plus, this wear and tear will create more jobs for medical trainers. That can only be a good thing. More uniforms will need to be produced—more jobs! And Chuck Schumer will be sure that those uniforms are produced in America by a hard-working American as opposed to some “foreigner.” The multiplier effects of this policy are just off the charts.

I realize this is sarcasm, but let me note that the broken windows fallacy applies. MLB roster spots are fixed in number. When a team places a DH on the roster, it comes at the expense of another player’s roster spot, resulting in no new net jobs in MLB.

Moreover, the DH doesn’t play in the field, so he doesn’t need a glove. That means fewer jobs for the craftsmen and women who make baseball gloves. What will they do? They’ll starve or be forced to eat their pets (ew!). Oh, the huge manatee!

HT to Kip via Doc.

Cross-posted at Market Power