Vox takes a deeper look into the use of ramen as currency inside America’s prison system. Ramen serves a unique function as money since actual cash isn’t allowed in prisons. In order to serve as currency, an item needs to be durable, portable, and standardized, which ramen is. Ramen is the largest item purchased in prison commissaries and once inmates stockpile ramen, they can inflate/distort prices for other goods and services in the prison. The use of Ramen in prison economies is also mentioned in Brooklyn 99.
Shawshank Redemption — Cigarettes as Money
In this short scene, Red pays an inmate to smuggle contraband with cigarettes. Cigarettes are used as money a lot in prison and it is shown throughout this film. This scene can be shown to talk about medium of exchange, commodity money, bartering, etc.
Thanks to James Tierney for the clip and description.
Shawshank Redemption — Crowding Out
In this scene, cheap inmate labor provided by Shawshank crowds out private investment. The Warden ends up getting bribed to make sure he does not bid on a contract that the private investor needs to have. This can be shown to students to talk about how programs that are meant to help the economy can crowd out private investment. It can also lead into a discussion on corruption and greed.
Thanks James Tierney for the clip and description!