Here's an idea for generating discussion in economics and government classes. It addresses the idea that we often have a good idea of what's best for the country, but at election time we vote in our own interest.
In a recent New York Times piece, Greg Mankiw lists what he would put forth as a platform that would be supported by many economists. My suggestion is to use the piece with your students and then ask them these questions.
"What support or objection would you anticipate for each plank? Why?
Do you think a total platform would like this could be aligned with either party? Why or why not?"
I would think this type of discussion would promote some critical thinking, and lead to some discussion as to the economic understanding of the U.S. electorate.
I look forward to your comments.
P.S. I would make a change to one plank. I think any forms of price controls are uncalled for. On the basis of this story alone, I think the elimination of farm price subsidies should be expanded to get rid of any types of
price controls or subsidies. (HT to Mark Perry.)