Braveheart — We Didn’t Get Dressed Up for Nothing

In this scene, the Scottish army is waiting to fight the English army. William Wallace (Mel Gibson) is going to “pick a fight” and make sure that the nobles from each army don’t negotiate a peace. His fellow leaders are in charge of passing out weapons. When asked what to do they remark, “we didn’t get dressed up for nothing.” 

They are falling prey to the sunk cost fallacy. Just because they’re all dressed and ready to fight doesn’t mean that is the logical thing to do. The soldiers are not using effective marginal analysis to determine whether fighting is the next best course of action.

Thanks to Luke Starkey for the clip and summary!

Elf — Buddy’s Comparative Advantage

Buddy is a human living in an elf’s world. He finds there are a lot of things he’s not so good at compared to the other elves. Before getting too sad, the other elves point out a lot of things that Buddy is good at compared to them. Even if someone is good at everything, they can still benefit from trading their services with others. Trade is often based on each person’s comparative advantage. For Buddy, that’s changing the batteries in the smoke detector.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Christmas with the Kranks — Skipping Christmas

With their daughter heading out of town, the Krank family decides to skip Christmas and head on vacation. An opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative. While their daughter was still at home, the Krank family preferred spending it with their family and celebrating Christmas. After their daughter announces she’ll leave, the Krank family decides to head to the Caribbean.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Aladdin: A Ring Exchange

In this scene, the King is desperate to find a suitable prince for his daughter, but Jafar offers to help. The cost? The king’s expensive ring. Despite a clear emotional attachment to the ring, the king offers to exchange the ring for Jafar’s services since he believes the Jasmine’s benefit will be worth the loss.

Aladdin: One Jump

Aladdin has stolen a loaf of bread is furiously trying to escape Razoul and his guards. The potential cost of stealing the load of bread is large, but Aladdin notes that he only steals when he has to: “I steal only what I can’t afford.” In this sense, Aladdin is weighing the expected costs against the benefits from stealing the bread and reasons that it’s worth the risk when it means he gets to eat.

Moana: Where You Are

Moana is ready to leave the island, but Chief Tui wants to convince Moana that the village of Motunui is all she needs. The island’s resources are scarce: there are only so many people and so much land. The islanders rely on each other to produce products using the resources that are available.

A second consideration for this video is how it relates to command and control economies or economies that practice arbitrage. There may be other island economies nearby that Motunia could trade with, but they currently only consume everything they produce on their own.

Community — Chicken Finger Trade

Abed is running the fryer in the cafeteria and is in charge of the most popular item on the menu: chicken fingers. The school’s Spanish teacher wants those tenders and trades Abed for a box of tenders. The exchange? A 10% bump in his study group’s grades. Exchanges can be achieved through a barter system when someone has something that the other one values. This double coincidence of wants is required for a successful exchange.

Super Troopers — Sunk Costs [NSFW]

Some young drug enthusiasts are driving while under the influence and consider a fairly interesting application of public goods and private ownership. Eventually, they hear the familiar sound of a police car behind them and scramble to hide the evidence of their crimes. The guy in the backseat eats a lot of drugs in an effort to hide their illegal goods. The guy in the front seat points out that he ate $130 worth of drugs and then lets him know that he can pay him whenever. This same attitude isn’t taken when the drugs are thrown out of the window, which would have been the alternative. Just because the guy in the front seat had paid $130 for the drugs doesn’t mean that’s justification for getting reimbursed. A sunk cost is a cost that is unrecoverable and shouldn’t be considered when making decisions.

Castlevania — The Importance of a Ship Captain

Issac and his friends are in search of a ship and finds a captain who isn’t current sailing. Issac threatens to kill the Captain and take the boat, but the Captain reminds him of how important it is to have the captain on the boat since he knows how to actual sail the boat. Isaac thinks that sailing a boat can’t be that hard, but the Captain points out that sailors exist for a reason. He is willing to sail Isaac and his friends as long as he is paid and promised not the be murdered. This scene is a good example of the double coincidence of wants and the importance of specialization and trade. The Captain has years of experience sailing ships while Isaac does not. It’s worth it to Isaac to trade coins for the Captain’s skills.

Thanks to Bryan Sloss for the clip recommendation

The Witcher — Diminishing Returns

Ciri is in the middle of training while Geralt repairs his armor. She struggles with her technique and becomes frustrated that she isn’t executing as she expects. Geralt calls it for the day and notes that any more training will just suffer from diminishing returns. The implication is that she can keep training, but that each additional amount of time allocated toward training would yield smaller gains to her ability. Ciri would be better off focusing on rest instead.

Thanks to @EconWoodrow for the find!

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