Sarah Silverman — Stop Telling Girls They Can Be Anything They Want

 

While I was listening to Hi! Bob on Audible, one of the scenes involved Sarah Silverman and Bob Newhart discussing stand up comedy. The clip in the chapter comes from Silverman’s set entitled, “We Are Miracles” and discusses the impact of priming on young women. Telling people they can be anything they want can possible introduce issues they maybe never thought were issues before. How we talk to young women often plays a role in future human capital acquisition and may lead to a form of subtle human capital discrimination.

Good Will Hunting — Value of a Degree

In this iconic scene from Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon gets into a confrontation at a bar with an undergrad who is trying to embarrass his friend who is trying to impress a group of young women. In the process of humiliating the other student, the two get into a key distinction on the value of a college degree. Someone could obtain the same knowledge of a college degree from accessing a public library, but the lack of an actual degree (a signal perhaps) limits the job opportunities available for many.

Thanks to Charlie Clarke for the post!

Ryan Hamilton — Making it in New York

 

One of the underlying assumptions of the improvements to society from ease of migration comes from the fact that the models assume homogenous works. While there may be gains to productivity from easier migration, it doesn’t mean that workers will necessarily adapt to their surroundings. In Borjas’s book, We Wanted Workers, he points out the implications of psychic costs on movers and argues that it’s not fair to assume all workers who move will be as productive as they were at their source. This bit from Ryan Hamilton echoes that sentiment that allowing for migration may not mean productivity gains will occur if workers are unable to adjust to their new surroundings.

CBS TV — Kennedy on the Labor Market & Unemployment

In a 1963 Labor Day interview with Walter Cronkite, President Kennedy discusses his position on handling the labor market of the United States with around 4 million unemployed (about 5.5% at the time). Kennedy notes that the growing labor force in the United States requires that if the US wants to “stand still,” they still need to move very fast. Kennedy’s main policy focus at the time was retraining workers who had been displaced by technology and making sure that significant amount of workers have the necessary education to handle the growing workforce.

Kennedy also speaks to the lost jobs in “hardcore unemployed” industries like coal and steel and how it’s important to make sure those workers are retrained because those workers are no longer needed. He then laments that there’s a different issue with older workers replaced by technology and younger workers who don’t have the education to handle that technology. Kennedy ends this portion of the interview with a very powerful quote about the fear of automation:

Too many people coming into the labor market, too many machines are throwing people out.

You can view the entire interview, courtesy of the Kennedy Presidential Library, on YouTube.

John Mulaney — Majoring in English

 

After receiving a donation request from his undergraduate university, Mulaney questions the purpose of college. After spending $120,000 to major in English, he realizes that he may not have actually gotten out of it what he thought he would (human capital), but instead received a lot of consumptive benefits. He doesn’t mention the signalling aspect of a college degree, but it’s implied through his analysis on the lack of training he received.

Chris Rock — High School Orientation

Chris Rock describes taking his daughter to her high school orientation and hearing the vice principle talk about how students can be anything that they want to be. While optimistic, Rock points out that it’s more appropriate to tell them that they can be whatever they’re good at as long as someone is hiring. It turns out Chris Rock and stand up comedy has a lot of insights on economics.

Thanks to Kim Holder and ECONShots for clip idea!

 

Tarzan — Strangers Like Me

Jane decides to help Tarzan increase is human capital by learning some new “human” skills. After learning these various skills, Tarzan should be much more productive.

Thanks for the clip recommendation  Courtney Conrad!

The Colbert Report — College Credit

Stephen goes through the issues associated with the earning potential of various degrees. This satirical piece points out that college students receive credit for different courses, but they aren’t charged differently for their credit. He then goes through examples of ways colleges could break down credit into three tiers and charge based on potential gains to the students.

The Internship — Trailer

Billy, played by Vince Vaughn, and Nick, played by Owen Wilson, are salesmen whose lost their jobs because of increased computerization. The two don’t want to be left behind so they apply (and are accepted) to an internship at Google even though they are much older than their cohort.

Adam Ruins Everything — Student Loans

Adam Ruins Everything is a half-hour informational comedy were host, Adam Conover, debunks popular myths. Each episode is divided into 3 segments with some common theme. In the Spring of 2018, James Tierney and I sat down to go through all three seasons of Adam Ruins Everything to pick out examples in each episode that could be used in an economics course. If you’re curious about the paper, you can read about it here.

Adam is back to discuss how student loan providers have turned so evil. When traditional institutions didn’t step in to provide loan services to students, the government tried to rectify the situation, but may have made things worse.

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