The federal government is responsible for funding a lot of the technological innovation that we often attribute to private companies. While the purpose of some of these innovations is to be applied to the military innovation of the US armed forces, a lot of them also end up as vital components of civilian lives. Private companies may not be willing to invest in technological advancements if they may come at a cost to shareholder profit, but the government isn’t as concerned with profitability.
Even Santa and his sleigh can use some upgrades once the new technology has been developed. Technological improvements allow companies to produce more products using the same resources or to continue providing the same level of output more efficiently. Charlie and the elves help Santa improve his gift-giving efficiency by upgrading his suit and improving the features of his sleigh.
Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.
Kyle MacDonald started with a red paperclip and ended up with a house. Trade and barter requires a double coincidence of wants, but Kyle was able to find people willing to give up something he valued more than his holdings. Mutually beneficial exchange makes both parties better off. This is a great clip to start the process of discussing why trading can grow an economy and why centrally planned economies are harder to coordinate.
Thanks to @AlcovyEconomics on Twitter for the clip!
A look back at a 1981 news segment that covers the Internet and the eventual push to online media. At the time, 8 newspapers were currently part of the network delivering their daily news via this system. The “paper” included all text, but not images or classifieds. Near the end of the segment, they predict that nearly all news will be delivered electronically, but that the time would be a few years away. The segment closes with a look at a newspaper salesman who would potentially become structurally unemployed when the need for physical papers vanishes.
Tim decides to customize his lawn mower in order to get more power out of it. By doing so he’s able to mow his lawn much quicker than he previous did. This technological innovation allows him to complete his task much quicker and spend more time on other tasks that need to be completed around the house.
Sir Harold Evans, the author of They Made America, describes how the shipping container revolutions international trade and made it easier to ship products around the world. This TED Talk could be used when discussing comparative advantage and trade or even when thinking about factors that have led to the growth of countries.