Despite the notion that marijuana is a gateway drug, the world has a history of consuming marijuana until the mid-1930s. People believed that marijuana usage caused a bunch of socially-unacceptable side effects, but scientists disproved those beliefs in the 1940s. Instead, the US government focused on the prohibition of the drug, which resulted in a host of unintended consequences. The Nixon administration used the War on Drugs to target their political enemies.
The G Word with Adam Conover – Malaria vs. the Bald Eagle
In the 1940s, the US created the Center for Disease Control and investments large sums of money to eradicate malaria. The pesticides that were used, however, were responsible for almost eradicating the bald eagle, the US’s national bird.
The G Word with Adam Conover – Unintended Consequences of Drones
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.
The G Word with Adam Conover – Federal Investment in Innovation
The federal government is responsible for funding a lot of the technological innovation that we often attribute to private companies. While the purpose of some of these innovations is to be applied to the military innovation of the US armed forces, a lot of them also end up as vital components of civilian lives. Private companies may not be willing to invest in technological advancements if they may come at a cost to shareholder profit, but the government isn’t as concerned with profitability.
The G Word with Adam Conover – Subsidizing Farmers
A domestic production subsidy is a government payment to firms in a particular industry in an effort to increase production. This can be done as a form of monetary policy in response to recessions or in an attempt to increase trade. Countries might also want to subsidize industries that it believes are important to the growth of the economy. One problem with such subsidies is that they may not necessarily go to their intended recipients. While farming subsidies may have helped smaller farmers during the Great Depression, they are mostly going to large corporations today.
The G Word with Adam Conover – Unintended Consequences of Farming Subsidies
The US has subsidized farm production of grains and corn since the Great Depression, which has resulted in a surplus of production. As a result, the US is able to produce a lot of processed snacks that use grains and corn, but it has the unintended consequence of creating negative health impacts. While the goal of the policy has been on increasing the incomes of farmers, it has resulted in more obesity in America
The Good Place — Externalities & Unintended Consequences
Things seem off in The Good Place, but it turns out that the as the world becomes more complicated, seemingly identical actions (like giving flowers) can have unintended consequences that most people don’t realize. Our private actions can have social costs that we’re unaware of and would probably try to avoid if we were fully informed of their costs.
Thanks to Kalina Staub (Twitter) for the clip!
Bud Light — Swear Jar
Normally a swear jar would be used to curb bad behavior (like in this clip from New Girl), but the folks around this office are using the money to buy Bud Light and have incidentally increased the usage of swear words.
Marketplace — The Problem with NAFTA
A brief background of NAFTA and the problems of exiting NAFTA. A good discussion within the video covers the parties that gain and the parties that loses from NAFTA. A good note in the video is that the jobs that are lost are different from the jobs that were gained.
Conan O’Brien — Louis C.K. Hates Cell Phones
Louis C.K. on Conan really hates technology even though it’s provided significant gains in standard of living. Louis outlines the negative externalities and the unintended consequences associated with the growth.