Superstore — Employee Appreciation

After a recent uptick in the amount of union activity in the store, the corporate office has decided to institute Employee Appreciation Day. Jonah is quick to point out that this particular day always seems to occur whenever they are trying to get people to sign union card. He advocates for the union instead and mentions that joining a union may provide more long-term benefits, but Amy and Dina work to convince the employees that a union is unnecessary.

Burn! The Cost of a Wife

Sir William Walker (Marlon Brando) is sent to break up Portugal’s sugar monopoly on the fictional Caribbean island of Queimada. Walker goes on to incite a revolt among the slaves with the leadership of a dock worker, José Dolores. Walker simultaneously attempts to convince plantation owners to turn against the government.

This is an inspired movie moment layered with cultural conflict addressing the transition in economic theory during colonialisms transition to capitalism and the economic forces at play in the transition from slave labor to wage labor, or as is implied wage slavery.

Walker outlines the cost of taking a wife and compares that with the cost of slave labor. He outlines tradeoffs of the two in an attempt to convince the men around the table that slaves are the better option.

Thanks to Chris Brennan for the clip recommendation!

T-Mobile — Ariana or Maps?

The driver of the car faces scarcity (limited data). The driver is forced into a decision between streaming music and using maps with her data. At the end of the commercial she chooses maps, leaving Arianna as her opportunity cost.

Thanks to Brian Devitt for the clip and description!

Could Have Had a V8

One of the classic commercials of the 1970s came from V8 (they have updated ones as well!). Unknowing consumers of snacks and sodas realize mid bite/drink that they could have had a V8 instead of their other choice. The concept of opportunity costs is that by consuming an item, you give up the opportunity to consumer something else. A rational individual will pick the item with the highest level of utility, but sometimes we aren’t fully aware of all the alternatives. The individuals in this commercial only realize when it’s too late.

The clip was described in Joel Waldfogel’s book, Scroogenomics: Why you shouldn’t buy presents for the holidays. Dr. Waldfogel also appears in an Adam Ruin’s Everything episode on the inefficiencies of gift giving.

Goldfish Pinball Commercial

The dark orange goldfish excitedly explains to his light orange friend that he has invented a new board game. He goes over the extremely complex rules to the game and this conversation ensues:

Dark orange fish: Let’s play!
Light orange fish: What do I have to lose?
Dark orange fish: Just the next three days!

This would be a great intro clip to show for opportunity cost / implicit costs. Learning all of the very intricate rules and playing this game will be extremely costly for the light orange fish in terms of the time he has to give up to participate. What else could he do with his time instead?

Thanks to Erin Yetter (Twitter) for the clip and description!

Stella Artois — Change Up The Usual

This Stella Artois commercial features Sarah Jessica Parker reprising her “Sex and the City” role and Jeff Bridges in his from “The Big Lebowski.” Both of their characters had their respective go-to drinks. The cosmopolitan for Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw and a white Russian for Bridges The Dude. We first see Parker choosing to order a Stella Artois, which means she gives up her next best alternative the cosmo. This is a surprising choice, so much so that the entire restaurant comes to a halt. We then see Bridges enter, and the bartender assumes he is going to have his usual white Russian, but instead he also orders a Stella Artois (comically mispronouncing it as well!). Show this clip and have the students identify what the opportunity costs of choosing the Stella Artois is for each character.

Thanks to Erin Yetter (Twitter) for the clip and description!

The Simpsons — 3 Kids & No Money

Homer laments of his problem of having no money and three children, but would instead prefer no kids and “3 money.” Kids, thankfully, cannot be used as money, but do represent a tradeoff in that parents could spend their money on other items instead.

Thanks to Nick Covington for the clip!

Narcos — Plato o Plomo

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.

Thanks to Erin Yetter for the clip and the description! Check our her website as well.

The Big Bang Theory: Xbox 1 vs. Playstation 4

 

Sheldon weighs the pros and cons of buying one gaming system over the other. He quickly realizes that whichever system he buys means that he won’t be able to get the other system. The opportunity cost of a decision is the value of the next best alternative, but sometimes when two items are closely related it means the buyer may have some buyer’s remorse from selecting the wrong item.

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