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.

Hard Knocks — Carl Nassib Teaches Compound Interest

 

Athletes are notoriously bad at saving money and making smart financial decisions after coming into their fortunes. Carl Nassib, a defensive lineman with the Cleveland Browns, discusses the power of compound interest with other rookies. His goal is to convince his teammates not to go out and spend $10,000 on a needless purchase because that means they are giving up a lot more money later in life. While 10% may be an unlikely interest rate, the power of compounding interest is one of the key principles in financial literacy programs.

Star Trek TNG — Data Overanalyzes

 

Data is trying to formulate a battle plan for Commander Riker, but he’s assuming that Commander Riker is rational and knows that Data has analyzed his move. Data takes it a step further and hypothesizes that Commander Riker knows that Data knows that the commander has a battle plan. Full information is a tough assumption about rationality, but bounded rationality lets us assume that people have limitations but still respond to incentives in a predictable way. While perhaps a human failure, most of society does not operate on the same level as Data.

Thanks to Peter Nencka for the clip suggestion!

Adam Ruins Everything — Overfishing

 

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.

Adam covers the topic of overfishing and how it forces restaurants to market less popular fish as select or premium brands. Adam’s dad (an actual marine biologist) joins the scene to discuss overfishing.

 

Adam Ruins Everything — Tipping & Wage Discrimination

 

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 scene, Adam discusses the discrimination aspect of tipping in restaurants. While the segment focuses on the history of tipping in the United States, this scene is poignant because so many students work as waiters or at least have been waited on. Subconsciously, they may be discriminating against minorities without realizing it.

There’s a great scene from Reservoir Dogs that covers the issue of tipping as well as an in-depth Freakonomics podcast asking whether tipping should be illegal.

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).

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