Tony Dokoupil takes an interesting approach to ask Americans if they understand what their “share of the pie” looks like. While trying to ask directly, many mall goers avoid the topic, but when asked to distribute pie to plates representing various bins, Americans learn how wealth is distributed currently. This is similar to work done by Michael Norton and Dan Ariely who fond that Americans have a hard to defining the distribution of wealth in the United States.
Vox takes a deeper look into the use of ramen as currency inside America’s prison system. Ramen serves a unique function as money since actual cash isn’t allowed in prisons. In order to serve as currency, an item needs to be durable, portable, and standardized, which ramen is. Ramen is the largest item purchased in prison commissaries and once inmates stockpile ramen, they can inflate/distort prices for other goods and services in the prison. The use of Ramen in prison economies is also mentioned in Brooklyn 99.
This Boston restaurant (Spyce) uses robots to cook food for customers and can cook your meal in 3 minutes or less. Customers order from electronic kiosks at their table and a screen displays which robot station is preparing the diner’s dish. The woks are designed in a way to ensure consistency. The only labor used in the kitchen is the “garden manager” who is responsible for adding toppings and ensuring presentation. The bowls are priced at under $8.
Thanks to Peach for the clip suggestion!
A look inside the robotic warehouse of Alibaba in Huiyang, China. The robots pick up the physical items and deliver them to the workers who are in charge of sorting the orders before shipment. The robots can carry about 1100 pounds of good around the warehouse floor all while not bumping into other robots because of a laser guidance system.
Henry Gribbohm lost a few hundred dollars trying to play a carnival game to win an Xbox, but then went home to get his life savings, $2,600, which he then proceeded to spend at the carnival game. Gribbohm claims the game is rigged, but he did walk away with a giant banana with dreadlocks. While humorous at first, it does paint a picture of financial literacy should be an important component of secondary education.
Thanks to Tammy Batson for the suggestion!
Volvo has recently unveiled self-driving garbage trucks in Sweden that are designed to be operated by only on single garbage collector. The trucks match the pace of the garbage collector to allow for differences in worker characteristics. This is just one of the many ways in which automation improves the efficiency of tasks.
Vox analyzes the gender pay gap and explains with how the measure is calculated and some of the issues with the way the gap is calculated. In particular, the measure focuses on the median earnings of men and women across the United States, but that isn’t necessarily the fairest representation of underpayment for women in the United State.
Relative values of wealth are often difficult for students to analyze, primarily given our focus on income. Income is the flow of money while wealth is an accumulation of assets. Different generations perceive the concept of “wealthy” differently, but this video includes nonpecuniary aspects like spending time with family or being able to vacations as markers of wealthy. It would be interesting to survey students what they feel is a level of wealth that they would identify as being “wealthy.” I suspect it could also be a good opportunity to talk about the differences between means and medians.
One of the coolest examples of international trade is China’s use of pandas as a tool for encouraging international trade. While the pandas (and their eventual cubs) may come with a hefty fee, the majority of these pandas accompany major international trade deals that countries sign with China. This quick explainer video outlines the way China uses pandas to their advantage.
In this Stossel in the Classroom segment, Stossel analyzes the issues around common resources and public goods. In the opening interview, many people believe public versions of items are better and often cite the lack of a price as the main reason for selecting that over a private item. The same people are quick to point out that a public toilet doesn’t have the same connotation because people overuse it and don’t take care of the resources because no one owns it.
This clips is beneficial to talk about how tragedy of the commons can be overcome by assigning property rights to a business and turning it into a private good.