Have Gun – Will Travel — Bitter Wine

 

Paladin is hired to settle an issue between a vineyard owner and a neighboring oilman. The smoke and runoff from the oil well are damaging the grapes of the award-winning vintner. This is a classic case of externalities and the Coase Theorem would suggest the two could meet and solve the problem on their own (if there were low transaction costs), but the Coase Theorem wasn’t written about until two years AFTER this episode aired.

Check out this Econlib post for more discussion. This clip, and a forthcoming working paper, was presented at the 2019 Southern Economics Association Annual Meetings by Jon Murphy and John Schuler.

Blackish — Castle Neighbors

 

This opening cartoon depicts Dre dutifully maintaining his castle and describing the lengths men go to in order to protect their castle. Unfortunately, we can’t always control what neighbor’s do with their castle and their decision to throw parties and disturb us is (seemingly) out of our control. The Coase Theorem would argue that so long as transaction costs are low, people should be able to bargain and sort out external costs imposed by private actions. The insinuation by Dre in this scene is that the transaction costs may be just a bit too high.

Clip recommended by James Tierney:

 

Life in Pieces — Property Rights

 

Joan and John want to build a gazebo in their backyard, but it turns out the surveyors messed up the property lines and part of what they believed was their property actually belonged to their neighbors, Daryl and Pam. The easiest solution is to ask the neighbors for an easement, which would allow them to take over a portion of their property. The neighbors try to bargain and offer a price of $5000, but it seems past bad blood makes the exchange more difficult.

This is Us — Who Has the Right to Light?

Kevin and Randall are two brothers who share a room. In this clip, Randall is trying to finish his homework by his bedside underneath a desk lamp. Being it is 2:00AM, Kevin is trying to sleep and is annoyed by the added light in the room. An altercation ensues, prompting Rebecca to intervene. After an offer from Randall to move to a different room, Kevin barges out, retreating to the basement.

The cause of the initial problem is Randall’s desk light, which acts as the negative externality in the situation. Randall is the producer of the externality, because the opportunity cost of shutting off the light and going to bed is too high in the face of his other responsibilities, such as football and homework. Kevin’s opportunity cost, however, conflicts with Randall’s preferences, because the opportunity cost of losing sleep is too high in light of his commitment to football. In searching for a solution, Randall makes a transaction cost by offering to move into the kitchen, since this offer acts as a form of negotiation. The problem is eventually ended through Kevin’s internalization of the externality: moving to the basement. It is through this action that Kevin utilizes the Coase Theorem to eliminate any more transaction costs and to end the problem efficiently.

Thanks to Megan Vareha for the clip and the summary!

New Girl – Douchebag Jar

Schmidt has a tendency to be a bit eccentric and bother his roommates with a variety of sayings/outfits. These outburst tend to annoy his roommates so they collectively agree to regular his behavior and force him to pay a tax to a “douchebag jar” when he does things the group considers unfavorable.

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