Rather than take a stance from my end of the spectrum, I thought I would lay out some principles that I think all economists should agree on (and that more than 90% would agree on), independent of their underlying values. I am thinking of presenting four general principles that would be relevant to pretty much any election campaign I can recall, and two others specific to the issues of this year’s election:
- Decide whether what matters to you is what serves your selfish interest or what's good would serve the social good. If the latter, ask what sacrifices you are being asked to make, not how others are going to pay.
- Pay not attention to a policy that promises to create jobs, unless it specifically mentions labour market policy.
- Ignore promise of goodies to be financed by stronger economic growth.
- Ignore any policy that labels social spending “investment”.
- Capital Gains Taxes versus Asset Sales is a false dichotomy.
- Removing the GST from fresh fruit and vegetables is a truly horrible idea.
Selfish or Social Motivations: This is a plea for an end to "stealing the other kids bat" smugness.
Jobs: The growth in the number of jobs in an economy pretty much tracks the growth in the number of available workers. There are cyclical and structural factors that affect the gap between the two numbers (unemployment) but fluctuations in this gap are trivial compared to the ongoing growth in the workers and jobs. The debate should be about which policies would create a higher demand curve for labour and hence which will promote higher wages, not about which will produce the most jobs.