The Colbert Report — Picketty


Colbert interviews Thomas Piketty regarding his book, Capital. Colbert challenges the notion that income inequality is a concern, but Picketty argues that growth is important. Picketty emphasizes the importance of economic mobility from a growth standpoint. This interview would serve as a good introduction to the topic in a principles course or a quick review of topics for an intermediate course.

The Daily Show — Wage Against the Machine

This video does a nice job of describing many of the economic arguments for and against raising the minimum wage in a comical way. The clip is a few years old, but it still does a nice job of discussing many of the common arguments. Note: the clip does include a supply and demand graph, but it labels supply and demand incorrectly! This is a good opportunity to discuss economic misconceptions, as well as the labor supply and labor demand curves.

Thanks to Rebecca Chambers for the clip and description!

The Daily Show — Ugly People Discrimination

Daily Show correspondent, Jason Jones, interviews Dan Hamermesh about looks-based discrimination. While people traditionally associate discrimination with race and gender, discrimination from an economic perspective is showing priority to one group of people over another. While the correspondent takes a comedic approach, the research by Hamermesh has been covered by a variety of outlets including Wall Street Journal, Freakonomics, New York Times, and US News.

The Colbert Report — Tim Harford

Stephen Colbert interviews economist Tim Harford about his then-recent book, Logic of Life. Harford and Colbert discuss a number of items that people may consider irrational, but actually turn out to be rational like voting, unprotected sex, and smoking. The entire discussion focuses on the central idea of the definition of rationality.

The Onion — Social Security Reform Bill (NSFW)

The Onion takes a satirical look at social security reform by proposing that Americans become riskier and try to die earlier so that there’s more money left in the system for those that survive. They also recommend increasing taxes on items that could save people.

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 Colbert Report: Evan Osnos & Cashmere

Evan Osnos discusses many of the externalities that arise from the increased production of Cashmere in China over the past decade. Osnos explains that cashmere goats in China have sharp hooves that tear up the landscape and create dust, which then travels to the United States and reduces air quality, particularly along the west coast. As cashmere consumption has increased, so has the pollution. Osnos refers to the “real costs” of cashmere items (such as a cashmere toilet seat cover that Colbert has) as including the health care costs for those affected by the dust.

Here’s a lesson plan from SERC:¬†

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