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.

Life in Pieces — Death and Wills

 

John and Joan go to see Jen about getting a will done since they don’t have one already. Joan points out that she thought they were covered, but John is scared of wills since everyone he knows that has died has had a will. He seems to be mixing up correlation with causation.

Rick and Morty — Bartering for Bread

 

The clip shows a good example of the double coincidence of wants and how a barter system is difficult to maintain. The seller of bread needs somebody to take care of his kids and the guy who can take care of his kids wants extra bread. They need what the other has and have what the other wants. The trouble is determining how much work is appropriate to get a loaf of bread and then managing the system to make sure everyone gets paid.

Thanks to Mathew Abraham for the suggestion

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