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.

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.

The Simpsons — Free Rider

This clip presents a curious problem, class elections take place and one candidate is wildly more popular; however, the election doesn’t turn out the way one would expect. Ask your students what exactly is happening in this clip; and, if they’ve ever experienced it. This clip is good for teaching Free Riding as it pertains to voting and irrational voting.

Luccasen, R. Andrew, and M. Kathleen Thomas. “Simpsonomics: Teaching Economics Using Episodes of The Simpsons.” The Journal of Economic Education 41.2 (2010): 136-49. Print.

Find more at Adrian Fohr’s Critical Common’s page.

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