John Stossel — Blue Laws

Blue Laws in the United States date back to Puritanical times when local governments wanted to ensure that people were in church on Sunday and observing the sabbath. Today, Blue Laws are a form of prohibition that limits the amount of time that businesses can sell profits. While most states have removed their blue laws, some still remain, like the inability to sell cars on Sundays or more extreme limitations like those in Bergen, NJ. This Stossel clips argues that the prohibition is a restriction of freedom for businesses that want to sell products.

The Beatles — The Taxman

I reached out on Twitter to solicit advice for great music videos associated with different lessons, and my former teaching assistant responded with this great song from the Beatles. One of the great lines from the song goes like this:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

This is a great opener for a lesson on taxes and tax policy.

Thanks to Marissa Reuther for the song suggestion

South Park — Medicinal Fried Chicken (NFSW)

 

Cartman and the gang head to KFC after soccer practice only to find out it’s been converted into a new medicinal marijuana shop. Cartman convinces his mom to drive him to a nearby town for KFC, but that show has closed as well. Cartman learns that Colorado has recently passed a bill that bans fast food in low-income areas, but it turns out KFCs were only built in low-income cities, so there are effectively no more KFCs in the state. The state government has essentially set a price ceiling for KFC in low-income areas at zero dollars. One of the predictable side effects of these price controls is a black market for the item. Items with price ceilings also tend to have inefficiently low quality. The banning of fast food causes Cartman to enter the black market to feed his KFC addiction. In later scenes, Cartman is upset because he catches a dealer cutting the KFC gravy with Boston Market gravy. When the dealer suggests he can take the gravy back, Cartman notes that no one wants fried chicken without gravy, implying the two items are complements.

Thanks to Thomas Jandora for the clip reference

Friends — Rent Control

 

This is a classic example of a price ceiling, where the government comes in and sets a maximum price on what can be changed to consumers. One of the most prolific examples of price ceilings is rent control. In this episode of Friends, Chandler brags about how because the apartment was rent controlled, it was a ‘freaking steal!’

Thanks to James Tierney for the clip and description.

The Daily Show — Wage Against the Machine

This video does a nice job of describing many of the economic arguments for and against raising the minimum wage in a comical way. The clip is a few years old, but it still does a nice job of discussing many of the common arguments. Note: the clip does include a supply and demand graph, but it labels supply and demand incorrectly! This is a good opportunity to discuss economic misconceptions, as well as the labor supply and labor demand curves.

Thanks to Rebecca Chambers for the clip and description!

Demolition Man — Economic Freedom

Should people be allowed to do what they want so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else? That’s the question of economic freedom being presented in Demolition Man. In a more market-based system, people are free to do as they please even if it means that they’ll become unhealthy or do things that others may determine as weird. In a more command-based economy, everyone follows the same rules.

South Park — Uber and Handicar

The characters are complaining about Handicar, a service provided by Timmy and how it is stealing all of the transportation business. Mimsy, another driver, adds his two sense by talking about competition. He includes an economist’s take on incentives and how a certain producer can gain economic advantages in a competitive market. This is important to economics because it includes the topics of a competitive marketplace as well as the concepts of advantage in that marketplace.

Thank you for the clip and the summary Taylor Campbell.

 

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