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!
Plankton wants the secret recipe to the Krabby Patties and hires a hitman to help him. The problem? He tells the hitman that he wants a secret formula that will allow him to gain total world domination. Little does the hitman know that the Plankton believes the secret to world domination is total control over the fast food industry. While these may be correlated, it’s unlikely that total control over the fast food industry will cause Plankton to have total control over the world.
Thanks to Erin Yetter (and her kids) for the clip reference!
There is a feud waging between C and D blocks. It is C Blocks time for some revenge, so the leader “Badison” devises a plan to defecate on C Blocks clean uniforms. Meanwhile, the guards of the prison are involved in a fantasy prisoner league (think fantasy football, but with points for things prisoners might do or get in trouble for). The guards see what is happening and have to decide to whether or not to intervene.
Asymmetric Information – the two guards outside of the laundry room have access to information the other guards in the league do not. Further, their decision to intervene or not will directly impact points in the game. Could use this to talk about how asymmetric information can affect the outcome of negotiations, trade, games, etc.
Cost-Benefit analysis – the guard explicitly uses this term, which I love, when deciding if they are going to intervene. C Block will undoubtedly retaliate so is the possible ensuing violence worth the potential benefit of points in the game. The guards have the compare the options before making a decision.
This scene from Narcos shows Pablo Escobar, infamous Columbian drug cartel leader, at the beginning of his career. Before he gets into drug running he smuggled stolen goods and jewels. He is attempting to cross a bridge with loads of merchandise when he stopped by the Columbian National Police (i.e. FBI).
It illustrates negative v. positive incentives. As the title of the clip implies, Pablo provides both incentives and lets the police chose. They let can let him through and he will reward them with stolen goods (plato aka silver) or they can try to stop him and he will kill them and their families (plomo aka lead).
You could also talk about the economic way of thinking from the point of view of the police. They had to weigh the benefits of a possible arrest and confiscation of the stolen goods against the cost of their lives and families lives. Ultimately, they decide the costs outweigh the benefits and let him through.
And then it could be used to talk about tradeoffs – when you choose one thing you are giving up another — so they chose to let him go, but that means they are letting him get away with criminal activity, forgoing the glory of arresting a high profile smuggling, doing something immoral, etc.