While doctors are likely to be focused only on saving lives, medical insurance companies may be focused on increasing the quantity of healthcare a person receives. In this brief scene, we consider whether it’s appropriate for insurance companies to charge without consent and whether doctors may be incentivized to do more than necessary to increase earnings.
While drones provide a level of safety for US military members, they also create an incentive problem for the military. Now that it is easier (and safer) to strike foreign targets, the US uses drones to attach more targets than they would if they hadn’t been invented. This unintended consequence has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and an increased reliance on deadly technology. This is also another example of a moral hazard in which economic agents take increasingly risky actions because they have been safeguarded against the risk.
A new phone system can replace many of Pam’s tasks. She normally spends her day connecting incoming calls to different sales people and departments, but this new phone system will make it so that anyone calling Dunder Mifflin can dial directly to the department they want. She thinks she still has value at putting our candy, but then realizes a vending machine can do that as well.
Jim swoops in to save Pam and play the role of Michael Scott, the branch manager. Jim is in love with Pam and doesn’t want to see her fired, so he acts like Michael and tells the salesman that they aren’t interested. He’s almost busted, but luckily gets away with it.
Thanks to Richard McGrath for the clip submission!
It’s election day and Cloud 9 has placed pamphlets in the break room encouraging employees to vote for anti-union candidates. Cloud 9 knows that unionization could result in much higher labor costs, so they spend that money to encourage workers to not form a union. This form of managerial opposition is part of the explanation for the decline in unionization rates in the United States.
Mumbai drivers are apparently notorious for honking, even when the light is red and people can’t move. The Mumbai police decided to incentivize drivers in order to reduce some of the noise pollution in the city. The police installed noise meters and if the decibel level reaches a certain threshold, the timer on the lights resets. A message flashes to let drivers know that the more they honk, the longer they wait!
Another fun policy intervention occurred in Europe to help drivers slow down.
In a “puff and paint” party, some patrons of a local dispensary have gone a bit too far in the describing the role of the Federal Reserve. While the stated goals of the Fed are price stability and full employment, this hallucination has the Fed at the center of a universe-wide conspiracy. Bloomberg has a podcast that looks at why so many conspiracy theories seem to form around the Federal Reserve.
My former student, Luke, sent me this clip. You should follow him on Twitter!
Cloud 9 has divided employees into two teams to see who can sell the most stuff by the end of the day. The winning team will earn a pizza party, but Glen is surprised that employees aren’t participating. He didn’t reveal that the winning team also gets $100 per member, which is a much better incentive for the employee. As Amy notes, for incentives to be effective, they need to be announced before the start of the competition.
Newman gets the bright idea to take bottles from New York (where the deposit refund is 5 cents) and return them in Michigan for 10 cents. Kramer stops him quickly and let’s him know that this isn’t a good idea because he’s not thinking about the costs of transporting them. Newman quickly realizes he can get a truck at no cost from the post office, which makes the arbitrage scheme profitable.
The full clip comes from Economics of Seinfeld.
Dina special-ordered a truck with no radio (even though it costs more) because she believes it will be less attractive to potential thieves. Assuming criminals are rational, a truck without a radio wouldn’t be worth the potential punishment of auto theft or larceny.
In the middle of being chased by walkers, Rick and the group decide to break into a home because they believe it to be uninhabited. To their surprise, a man is living in the home and because threatening to shoot them, which would attract more zombies to the area. The group is faced with a decision of whether to kill the man to save their own lives or leave his property and face eminent death.
Thanks to Brian Hollar for the clip suggestion!