John Stossel — Tragedy of the Commons

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.

The Simpsons — Pay What You Want

Homer and Lisa go to the Springfield Museum, but Homer isn’t sure he understands the entrance policy. He checks with the attendant, but doesn’t know why anyone would want to pay the suggested donation when they could go in without paying anything.

Wedding Crashers — Free Riding

Jeremy and John are seasoned wedding crashers and they are out looking for weddings to get easy dates, open bars, and nice meals. This example of free-riding works well because none of them pay the cost of attendance and they even come up with creative tricks to not have to pay for the cash bars.

Team America — Freedom Isn’t Free (NSFW)

It’s sometimes hard to get across the idea of public services as being a type of public good, but “freedom” may be a simple enough concept for students. This clip from Team America takes a country-spin on why it’s important to pay for public services like freedom. It also can be used to teach the concept of opportunity cost since freedom for people today cost a lot of lives in the past.

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