The Good Place — Externalities & Unintended Consequences

 

Things seem off in The Good Place, but it turns out that the as the world becomes more complicated, seemingly identical actions (like giving flowers) can have unintended consequences that most people don’t realize. Our private actions can have social costs that we’re unaware of and would probably try to avoid if we were fully informed of their costs.

Thanks to Kalina Staub (Twitter) for the clip!

Moneyball — What’s the Problem?

The study of economics is often boiled down to the allocation of scarce resources, and few media clips illustrate that better than this iconic scene fromĀ Moneyball. The Oakland A’s scouts discuss the selection of players based on their appearance, but Beane recognizes that it’s too difficult to replace players using the old method.

The Simpsons — 3 Kids & No Money

Homer laments of his problem of having no money and three children, but would instead prefer no kids and “3 money.” Kids, thankfully, cannot be used as money, but do represent a tradeoff in that parents could spend their money on other items instead.

Thanks to Nick Covington for the clip!

Wendy’s — Choice is Good

This Wendy’s commercial picks fun at Soviet economics that were notorious for limiting options available to consumers in the name of efficiency, but monopolistic competition in a capital market thrives on product differentiation and the ability to cater to people’s preferences.

Thanks to Rob Szarka for the find!

Superstore — Incentives

 

Cloud 9 has divided employees into two teams to see who can sell the most stuff by the end of the day. The winning team will earn a pizza party, but Glen is surprised that employees aren’t participating. He didn’t reveal that the winning team also gets $100 per member, which is a much better incentive for the employee. As Amy notes, for incentives to be effective, they need to be announced before the start of the competition.

John Mulaney– Salt and Pepper Diner

 

John Mulaney describes a memorable experience of trying to play Tom Jone’s What’s New Pussycat 21 times in a local diner. It doesn’t take long for diminishing returns to set in at the diner as everyone but the waitstaff loses their mind. This is a great opportunity to queu up a song on Spotify and play the same song on repeat before class. Some of your students won’t notice, but many of them will raise and eyebrow on the 3rd repeat.

Thanks to Katie Klinko for the clip reference!

Superstore — A truck with no radio

 

Dina special-ordered a truck with no radio (even though it costs more) because she believes it will be less attractive to potential thieves. Assuming criminals are rational, a truck without a radio wouldn’t be worth the potential punishment of auto theft or larceny.

The Walking Dead — Property Rights

 

In the middle of being chased by walkers, Rick and the group decide to break into a home because they believe it to be uninhabited. To their surprise, a man is living in the home and because threatening to shoot them, which would attract more zombies to the area. The group is faced with a decision of whether to kill the man to save their own lives or leave his property and face eminent death.

Thanks to Brian Hollar for the clip suggestion!

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