In Becker’s rational model of crime, theorists predict that criminals way the benefit gained from committing crimes with the expected costs of committing the crime. Those costs generally include jail time or fines, but some criminals may not be deterred by those penalties. Shame may be an additional punishment that people are more likely to want to avoid if the punishment is public in nature. In this scene from The Practice, the judge assigns a shaming punishment in an effort to deter future criminals who may commit similar crimes.
The US economy has benefited tremendously from government investment in technological advancements designed to improve the US military’s firepower, but is it worth it? There are a number of equity considerations around the investments, but the efficiency gains are a bit more obvious. The research is funded by taxpayers, so it begs the question of what is the best use of funds. Adam questions how funds should be used, but essentially proposes viewers consider the tradeoffs that are present in each new advancement
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 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.
Sir William Walker (Marlon Brando) is sent to break up Portugal’s sugar monopoly on the fictional Caribbean island of Queimada. Walker goes on to incite a revolt among the slaves with the leadership of a dock worker, José Dolores. Walker simultaneously attempts to convince plantation owners to turn against the government.
This is an inspired movie moment layered with cultural conflict addressing the transition in economic theory during colonialisms transition to capitalism and the economic forces at play in the transition from slave labor to wage labor, or as is implied wage slavery.
Walker outlines the cost of taking a wife and compares that with the cost of slave labor. He outlines tradeoffs of the two in an attempt to convince the men around the table that slaves are the better option.
Thanks to Chris Brennan for the clip recommendation!
In this video, Lil’ Dicky interviews with Snoop Dogg for a position as a professional rapper. There’s one section early in the song that looks at the concept of opportunity costs. Lil’ Dicky (David Burd) was a college graduate from University of Richmond, but decided to become a rapper instead. During the “interview” with Snoop, he mentions that he actually had a lot to lose by becoming a rapper compared to other rappers who became rappers because they had nothing else to do. Another interesting application of the video could be in teaching unemployment and focusing on skills necessary for particular jobs. Lil Dicky needs to apply for a job with Snoop because other people haven’t appreciated his rap skills.
LYRICS (emphasis added)
So real shit you ain’t never had to struggle for much
I wouldn’t say it like that, we just had a different kind of trap
Well I ain’t never had a tool, but I had to be the man at school
Like I was doing shit I had to do so when I finished undergrad
I’m cool and I can get whatever job I wanted
But the job you wanted wasn’t all that bumping
Yeah, and I saw it quick all the flaws that be coming when you grow up like that
Know you been racing them rats, you ain’t been making them raps
Boo hoo what a hardship
How you paid to get the rap shit started?
Man, my Bar Mitzvah money
But don’t diss me buddy, I wasn’t one of them younguns up on the block who had nothing to lose
I must’ve wanted this a lot, I had something to choose
Check out the snippet of the entire song on this tweet:
— Jadrian Wooten (@Wootenomics) February 25, 2019
Olivia is frustrated with the administration because they only allow the library to be open for a short amount of time. She rightly notes that it doesn’t actually cost anything for the library to be open longer, partly because her salary is paid regardless of the number of hours. The administration, though, has used the money for personal reasons and doesn’t understand why it needs to be open longer. Olivia argues that the marginal cost of operating the library is zero, which implies that operating the library is only one large fixed cost.
Thanks to Brittany Pifer for the scene recommendation!
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.
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.