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!

Spongebob — World Domination

 

Plankton wants the secret recipe to the Krabby Patties and hires a hitman to help him. The problem? He tells the hitman that he wants a secret formula that will allow him to gain total world domination. Little does the hitman know that the Plankton believes the secret to world domination is total control over the fast food industry. While these may be correlated, it’s unlikely that total control over the fast food industry will cause Plankton to have total control over the world.

Thanks to Erin Yetter (and her kids) for the clip reference!

Orange is the New Black — State of Uterus (NSFW)

 

There is a feud waging between C and D blocks. It is C Blocks time for some revenge, so the leader “Badison” devises a plan to defecate on C Blocks clean uniforms. Meanwhile, the guards of the prison are involved in a  fantasy prisoner league (think fantasy football, but with points for things prisoners might do or get in trouble for). The guards see what is happening and have to decide to whether or not to intervene.

Asymmetric Information –  the two guards outside of the laundry room have access to information the other guards in the league do not. Further, their decision to intervene or not will directly impact points in the game. Could use this to talk about how asymmetric information can affect the outcome of negotiations, trade, games, etc.

Cost-Benefit analysis – the guard explicitly uses this term, which I love, when deciding if they are going to intervene. C Block will undoubtedly retaliate so is the possible ensuing violence worth the potential benefit of points in the game. The guards have the compare the options before making a decision.

Thanks to Erin Yetter for the clip and the description! Check our her website as well.

Narcos — Plato o Plomo

This scene from Narcos shows Pablo Escobar, infamous Columbian drug cartel leader, at the beginning of his career. Before he gets into drug running he smuggled stolen goods and jewels. He is attempting to cross a bridge with loads of merchandise when he stopped by the Columbian National Police (i.e. FBI).

It illustrates negative v. positive incentives. As the title of the clip implies, Pablo provides both incentives and lets the police chose. They let can let him through and he will reward them with stolen goods (plato aka silver) or they can try to stop him and he will kill them and their families (plomo aka lead).

You could also talk about the economic way of thinking from the point of view of the police. They had to weigh the benefits of a possible arrest and confiscation of the stolen goods against the cost of their lives and families lives. Ultimately, they decide the costs outweigh the benefits and let him through.

And then it could be used to talk about tradeoffs – when you choose one thing you are giving up another — so they chose to let him go, but that means they are letting him get away with criminal activity, forgoing the glory of arresting a high profile smuggling, doing something immoral, etc.

Thanks to Erin Yetter for the clip and the description! Check our her website as well.

Joe Dirt — Snakes and Sparklers

 

 

Joe is trying to find his parents and comes across a Native American selling some fireworks. He naively asks if he can help him track his parents, but Kicking Wing tells him that tracking is a way of the past and he is focused on selling fireworks to help him go to veterinarian school. Amazed, Joe Dirt asks where all the good fireworks are, but Kicking Wing only sells snakes and sparklers because those are the fireworks he sells. Joe explains that Kicking Wing needs to focus on selling fireworks that consumers like if he wants to be successful.

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

Adam Ruins — Rent Seeking & Taxes

 

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.

In this segment, Adam reports on the frustrations of taxes and why we don’t see return-free filing in the United States. Because of lobbying efforts by major tax software companies, the tax system is kept just complicated enough that consumers will purchase their products.

Life in Pieces — Thank You Cards

 

Colleen and Matt are back from their wedding, but they haven’t written any thank you cards. Joan tries to drop hints by buying them thank you cards, but now she’s gotten to the point of just telling them they need to write thank you cards. Colleen realizes they need to do this because they want gifts later for their baby shower. This self-interest has sparked an idea! While it may be fair to write each person an individual card, Colleen and Matt realize it’s much more efficient to make a thank you video that people can share. The gesture isn’t well received at brunch. Often, improvements in efficiency (in this case making a video and saving the couple time) come at the cost of equity (many family members feel this isn’t fair).

Life in Pieces — Flight Vouchers

 

Colleen and Matt are at the airport waiting for their flight, but it’s overbooked. They realize that they can receive flight vouchers for volunteering to wait for the next flight. Throughout the day, they continue to volunteer to be moved to the next flight until the last flight of the day is cancelled. The two end up missing their own wedding, but they are compensated with the “free hotel.” The scene outlines the value of time that people have in their willingness to delay their travel, but it also shows the potential risk of not making it somewhere.

Thanks to Peach for the clip suggestion!

Brooklyn 99 — Amy’s Time is Worthless

 

Captain Holt has told his squad not to give him any gifts, but he implies that only means if they are planning to purchase him something. Amy tried to find a loophole last year and got caught, but now realizes that the Captain only said they can’t buy him things. She decides to make him a scrapbook and foolishly believes that this counts as a loophole because she believes her time isn’t worth anything. Amy, who is usually pretty levelheaded, is forgetting the opportunity cost of her time.

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