Sunday, 26 September 2010

Question for a new MP

Kiwiblog writes
Have a look at the questions asked by the ODT of new ACT MP Hilary Calvert:

* Any convictions you would like to declare now?
* Any misbehaviour, non-criminal, that might come back to bite you?
* Any family members involved in criminal behaviour?
* Could you ever contemplate supporting Heather Roy?
* According to a radio report, you have a pecuniary interest in a licensed massage parlour.
For me I would ask just one question of a new MP: name one basic economic principle that the general public don't understand and how would you explain it?

My answer, if I were to be asked the question, would involve a discussion of comparative advantage, but I'm guessing most MPs wouldn't say that.


bk drinkwater said...

Fun game: guess in advance what various politicians would say.

I reckon Roger Douglas would say something about comparative advantage.

Rodney Hide might talk about the Laffer curve and supply-side.

Bill English is trickier: deadweight losses, perhaps? It would reflect his cautious, preferring-not-to-intervene, Treasury background.

Cunliffe would talk about fiscal multipliers.

Turei and Norman would talk about The Spirit Level.

I stress, I'm just making all that up. Someone should really ask these people.

John Macilree said...

Too simple - shouldn't they be expected to explain "new trade theory" and its possible implications for New Zealand as well?

Actually I would settle for a little understanding of economic geography, notably the economic implications of New Zealand's geographic isolation.

Paul Walker said...

bk and John: nice ideas but too sophisticated for my question. Laffer curves, deadweight losses, new trade theory are all too sophisticated. When I say basic I mean basic: if not comparative advantage then incentives or trade-offs. Stuff at that level.

bk drinkwater said...

I have no idea how I'd answer the question if I were an MP.

My favourite 'basic economics stories' (and the ones I can explain) are the ones no sane MP would go near: attacking the minimum wage, praising price-gouging or scalping, or sweatshops. So I don't think I can answer the question :(

Paul Walker said...

bk: if we had some MPs who could talk about "attacking the minimum wage, praising price-gouging or scalping, or sweatshops" we would be better off. Hell I may even vote for such a person!

Horace the Grump said...

I would just ask them all whether incentives matter and then ask they why and what they propose to do about it...

Simple questions for simple people....