Thomas Nugent provides a very extended “question” that Republican Congressman Ron Paul asked Alan Greenspan and then notes:
Maybe these politicians simply improvise around the questions their interns write for them. But more than likely they have no clue what they’re talking about. Of course, there’s ample entertainment value to all this. Just look at the faces of the legislators after Greenspan has answered their questions: Their expressions of puzzlement are priceless. Then there are the politicians who use 80 percent of their allotted time to campaign for office, not asking one meaningful question of the chairman.
While I agree with Nugent that politicians often have no clue about economics, let me tick off a summary of the various questions Congressman Paul asked – all of which seem to be important to me – even if I happen to disagree with some of the implied “economic principles” where the Congressman does seem clueless:
Q1: Do high interest rates come more from higher government spending as opposed to higher deficits (as in from tax cuts)?
Q2: Does our propensity to lend to foreign entities provide a benefit to us in the form of interest free loans and exporting inflation?
Q3: “when do you anticipate the next currency crisis in the Mexican peso?” – in reference to the premise that Mexico has not reduced its solvency problems even years after the loan we provided to them.
Q4: Why should we worry about higher wages and not worry about higher returns to owners of capital?
Since Nugent forgot to tell us which of these four implied questions he finds amusing, let me suggest I disagree with the premises in Q1 and Q2, but I have seen some of Nugent’s NRO colleagues utter the same misguided notions. On Q3 and Q4, I think the Congressman has a point. Rather than mocking the Congressman, maybe Nugent should provide his readers a “civic lesson” on his view of the economic issues relevant to these two questions.