Good Will Hunting — Value of a Degree

In this iconic scene from Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon gets into a confrontation at a bar with an undergrad who is trying to embarrass his friend who is trying to impress a group of young women. In the process of humiliating the other student, the two get into a key distinction on the value of a college degree. Someone could obtain the same knowledge of a college degree from accessing a public library, but the lack of an actual degree (a signal perhaps) limits the job opportunities available for many.

Thanks to Charlie Clarke for the post!

Gangs of New York — Fire Departments

Instead of being served by a single public fire department, the area has regional brigades of volunteer firemen who are more focused fighting each other rather than putting out the fires. As the brigades fight for the right to put out the fire, the building burns and looters steal what they can.

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

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!

Super Troopers — Rivalrous Syrup

 

The boys get into a chugging match to see who can put down a bottle of maple syrup the fastest (they’re in Vermont!), but it bothers some of the other patrons who would like syrup for their pancakes. Not only do they not take into account the costs their actions impose on others, but we see a clear example of the rivalrous nature of private goods. While they don’t possess a property right in order to sell the syrup to other diners (the restaurant would have that right), their use of the product prevents others from being able to consume the product.

Super Troopers — Who Owns the Beach

 

A group of enlightened drivers ponder the ownership of a beach. Beaches are typically public property, but in some areas they may be private land. One of the issues of beach ownership is determining who’s liable for an injury. A lack of clear property rights makes it an interesting argument for public/private ownership of areas.

Dumb and Dumber — Most Annoying Noise

 

Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) pick up a hitchhiker, but proceed to drive him crazy with their childish antics. While the two of them see no problems with their behaviors, they don’t take into account the cost they impose on the hitchhiker. The hitchhiker quickly realizes that the cost of the trip may not be worth the benefit he gets from the no-cost ride.

Thanks to Michael Romano for the suggestion.

Horrible Bosses 2 — Probability of a Locked Door (NSFC)

 

Nick, Kurt, and Dale head to Rex Hansen’s house with a plan to kidnap him and hold him for ransom to pay for a past business deal gone awry. When they get to the door, Kurt and Dale try to open it, but are surprised to find it locked because they believed the probability of it being locked was only 50/50. While there are only two possible outcomes, it doesn’t mean the probability of each outcome is the same.

This concept has been mistaken in other shows like Corner Gas and Young Sheldon.

Horrible Bosses 2 — Wealth Creates Wealth (NSFC)

 

Nick, Kurt, and Dale finish production on their new product, the Shower Buddy. After being asked to produce 100,000 units to be sold to Bert Hanson and his son Rex. The three take our a half million dollar loan and start production, but since they have never done this before, they don’t have the Hansons commit to paying for a portion of their order. Hanson cancels his order with a week before the loan is due in an attempt to buy their company in foreclosure. One line is especially poignant as Hanson notes that hard work doesn’t create wealth, wealth creates wealth. One of the issues with wealth inequality is that it’s not a reward for hard work, but rather a reward for previous work. Vox covered the difference between wealth and income inequality in a nicely illustrated video.

Horrible Bosses 2 — Child Labor

 

Nick, Kurt, and Dale start up production on their new product, the Shower Buddy. After hiring some workers, they decide to hold a day where employees can bring their kids to work. It turns out that the kids actually started working on the factory floor and are enjoying it. At first blush, it seems like this shouldn’t be happening, but when Nick finds out how productive they have been, he walks away to change the sign instead.

Up ↑