Spongebob — More Drive Thrus

 

After accidentally creating a large hole in the wall of the Krusty Krab, a customer mistakes the hole for a drive thru window and places and order. Mr. Krabs, being a the savvy businesscrab that he is, quickly adds a menu and microphone system to facilitate the drive thru. It becomes so popular people are waiting in line and causing a huge traffic jam (could use this to talk about a negative externality too!) in Bikini Bottom. The police visit and threaten to issue Mr. Krabs with a ticket and then the mayor comes in to complain as well, but Mr. Krabs has a solution. Adding a second drive thru to reduce the line, but that doesn’t work out too well. Watch what happens as diminishing marginal returns sets in.

Thanks to Erin Yetter (Twitter) for both the clip and the description!

Gangs of New York — Fire Departments

Instead of being served by a single public fire department, the area has regional brigades of volunteer firemen who are more focused fighting each other rather than putting out the fires. As the brigades fight for the right to put out the fire, the building burns and looters steal what they can.

Thanks to James Gordon from Elbert County Comprehensive High School for the clip suggestion and description!

Super Troopers — Rivalrous Syrup

 

The boys get into a chugging match to see who can put down a bottle of maple syrup the fastest (they’re in Vermont!), but it bothers some of the other patrons who would like syrup for their pancakes. Not only do they not take into account the costs their actions impose on others, but we see a clear example of the rivalrous nature of private goods. While they don’t possess a property right in order to sell the syrup to other diners (the restaurant would have that right), their use of the product prevents others from being able to consume the product.

Super Troopers — Who Owns the Beach

 

A group of enlightened drivers ponder the ownership of a beach. Beaches are typically public property, but in some areas they may be private land. One of the issues of beach ownership is determining who’s liable for an injury. A lack of clear property rights makes it an interesting argument for public/private ownership of areas.

Adam Ruins Everything — Overfishing

 

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

Adam covers the topic of overfishing and how it forces restaurants to market less popular fish as select or premium brands. Adam’s dad (an actual marine biologist) joins the scene to discuss overfishing.

 

Dumb and Dumber — Most Annoying Noise

 

Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) pick up a hitchhiker, but proceed to drive him crazy with their childish antics. While the two of them see no problems with their behaviors, they don’t take into account the cost they impose on the hitchhiker. The hitchhiker quickly realizes that the cost of the trip may not be worth the benefit he gets from the no-cost ride.

Thanks to Michael Romano for the suggestion.

Life in Pieces — Property Rights

 

Joan and John want to build a gazebo in their backyard, but it turns out the surveyors messed up the property lines and part of what they believed was their property actually belonged to their neighbors, Daryl and Pam. The easiest solution is to ask the neighbors for an easement, which would allow them to take over a portion of their property. The neighbors try to bargain and offer a price of $5000, but it seems past bad blood makes the exchange more difficult.

Brooklyn 99 — Gift Giving Externalities

 

Charles and Gina have been secretly hooking up  for a while, but now their parents have decided to start dating and it’s freaking the two of them out. Charles rushes to the office to show Gina a gift that his dad is planning to give Gina’s mom. At first the two are scared of the repercussions to their lives if their parents start dating, but quickly realize that the planned gift is much worse for their parents than for them. Gina also goes through her process of unwrapping gifts before the actual reveal because she doesn’t want to get surprised in photos. Her risk aversion results in lots of time spent to avoid embarrassment.

Downsizing — Private vs Social Perspective

 

 

A scientist has created a way to solve overpopulation: shrinking people down to a fraction of their size and having them live in small communities. The movie shows a man (Matt Damon) at a company lecture and consulting with a realtor for a home in a small community. The interaction between the two demonstrates the personal and social tradeoffs of a positive externality. The family shrinking themselves down is doing it for personal reasons, namely to save on living expenses and to no longer work, but there are social benefits at play as well. Having everyone shrink to a fraction of their size can help alleviate overpopulation and reduce human waste.

Thanks to Amanda Yaya for the suggestion

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