Always Sunny — The Cost of Health Care

After Dee has a heart attach, she heads to the hospital only to find out that she doesn’t have insurance because her dad canceled the policy when they were younger. Mac and Charlie are confused that people have to pay to stay in a hospital because they think of it like a public good similar to police and fire protection, which is nonexcludable.

Frank shows up to get a full body health scan because he’s been having a bit too much fun. This line alone is a great clip for teaching moral hazard when it comes to healthcare.

This is Us — Who Has the Right to Light?

Kevin and Randall are two brothers who share a room. In this clip, Randall is trying to finish his homework by his bedside underneath a desk lamp. Being it is 2:00AM, Kevin is trying to sleep and is annoyed by the added light in the room. An altercation ensues, prompting Rebecca to intervene. After an offer from Randall to move to a different room, Kevin barges out, retreating to the basement.

The cause of the initial problem is Randall’s desk light, which acts as the negative externality in the situation. Randall is the producer of the externality, because the opportunity cost of shutting off the light and going to bed is too high in the face of his other responsibilities, such as football and homework. Kevin’s opportunity cost, however, conflicts with Randall’s preferences, because the opportunity cost of losing sleep is too high in light of his commitment to football. In searching for a solution, Randall makes a transaction cost by offering to move into the kitchen, since this offer acts as a form of negotiation. The problem is eventually ended through Kevin’s internalization of the externality: moving to the basement. It is through this action that Kevin utilizes the Coase Theorem to eliminate any more transaction costs and to end the problem efficiently.

Thanks to Megan Vareha for the clip and the summary!

Always Sunny — Charlie & Mac Can’t Go to the Pool

In this episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Mac and Charlie try to go swimming during the heat wave in Philadelphia. They grab their beer and floaties and head over to the local swim club. However, they are stopped by a worker who makes them put their beer away and then proceeds to tell them that they cannot be there because they are not members of the swim club. Frustrated with this, Mac and Charlie decide to make their own swim club, one that anyone can attend.

This clip relates to economics because the swim club is an example of an excludable, non-rival good, which is a club good. Because Mac and Charlie don’t pay the fee to be a member, they are unable to swim there. And, the worker tells them that they are at full capacity and are accepting no more members because the pool has the ability to restrict the number of members and charge higher prices. The two get disgruntled because they think the pool really isn’t at full capacity. They decide to go to an abandoned pool, one they used to swim in during their childhoods, and revamp it to make it nonexcludable and nonrival, which would make it a common resource. However, since it would become a public good, it would be easy to get overcrowded, making it rival and a common good.

Thanks to Anna DeCecco for the clip and summary.

Superstore — Messy Roommate Situation

Garrett and Jonah became roommates after a tornado destroyed Jonah’s apartment, but it turns out that their habits aren’t exactly conducive to being roommates. Garrett passively aggressively lets Jonah know that he’s messy when it comes to taking a shower so he buys Jonah a bathmat. In return, Jonah suggests that he get Garrett a pair of noise-canceling headphones since he’s so bothered by every noise Jonah makes. The two go back-and-forth listing the various ways they annoy each other.

Bud Light — Swear Jar

Normally a swear jar would be used to curb bad behavior (like in this clip from New Girl), but the folks around this office are using the money to buy Bud Light and have incidentally increased the usage of swear words.

Shameless — Crying Baby

The eldest daughter takes care and provides for most of the family because their father is an alcoholic and mother is absent in their lives. One of the daughters, Debbie, gets pregnant and decides to have the child. After having the baby, she brings it back home and begins to live in her house with her newborn. One morning, the baby starts to cry. Everyone in the house is woken up by the newborn’s cries and is extremely angry. The baby crying in the morning is an example of a negative externality. By crying and waking everyone up, the baby is costing the third party, in this case the family, sleep, as a result.

Thanks to Annie Mae Weiss for the clip and description!

The Simpsons — Prohibition

Springfield residents are clamoring to re-enact prohibition in town, but the City Council feels like the positive externalities outweigh the costs associated with alcohol. The County Clerk finds an old law for Springfield ordinance that actually outlaws alcohol. The new Duff Zero (alcohol-free beer) isn’t as popular as the original and the Duff factory has to shut down.

The Simpsons — Pay What You Want

Homer and Lisa go to the Springfield Museum, but Homer isn’t sure he understands the entrance policy. He checks with the attendant, but doesn’t know why anyone would want to pay the suggested donation when they could go in without paying anything.

Louis CK — If Murder Were Legal

Louis CK works through the rational model of crime by Becker and why he’s happy that there are laws against murdering people. This clips would be great for a behavioral economics course or maybe a funny introduction to principles to talk about incentives, externalities, and public policy.

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