EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with the Conversable Economist, Timothy Taylor. Together they explore the topsy turvy nature of public conversation about the respective roles of business and the government today.

Russ thinks we’re living in the “golden age” of economics communication….pose the below prompts to your friends!

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1. In discussing why people tend to turn toward the private sector, or capitalism, for fairness and justice,Taylor warns about what happens when you don’t pay attention to your golden geese. What does he mean by this, and what lesson(s) does this suggest for private firms? For public policy?2.Does shopping more at WalMart really increase the demand for lower-skilled labor, as Roberts suggests? How would an opponent of shopping at Wal-Mart respond to Roberts?

3. Have you ever had a conversation that ended with your partner saying, “I just don’t like to think of the world this way,” as Taylor’s did (or getting up from the table and walking away, like Roberts’s did)? What was the context, and how did you respond? What do you think is the best way to respond in such a situation?

4. Taylor notes several times that he’d like to see the federal government allocate more funding to research and development. How does he justify this? What arguments might be made on the other side?