What's Your Best Externality?

The last two years I’ve run an “externality” contest in my giant intro class, offering $5 to the student who comes up with the best example.

Both positive and negative externalities are welcome. I call on five students to tell the class their examples. My favorite this year was the student whose brother started wearing cut-off t-shirts (muscle shirts) but promptly proceeded to gain 100 pounds of fat. Worse still, the family name being Quackenbush, the brother had a duck tattooed on his flabby upper arm.

By voice vote, however, the class awarded the $5 to a woman who offered the negative externality of the throbbing bass played full-blast on the pickup truck parked in the lane next to you at a stoplight.

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  1. Jenny says:

    Christmas decorations in the neighbours’ front yards.

    One of our neighbours has put up all of these gorgeous decorates on their house and in their front yard. They seem to have a doctor zeus theme. But the best part, which makes me smile every time I see it, is they have put a little red wooden door and tiny window with lights around each, on a tree in the front yard. I can just imagine the tiny creatures that live in that tree. Too cute!

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  2. Cain says:

    Sat Nav.

    Positive due to the time saved on each journey creating an obvious benefit to the environment through less CO2 expenditure by my car (I don’t own a Toyota Prius).

    Negative because it regularly thinks that the road I am actually on doesn’t exist. Then I have an argument with it, and because it can’t answer back I become more frustrated with it, then my driving becomes more erratic on the real/make believe road. Also negative because it takes away the detours that I used to make previously whilst lost on other roads that really do exist, and which have some points of interest on them which I wouldn’t have discovered if Uppity Mrs. Sat Nav had her way.

    In fact, all things considered, I might remove the Sat Nav and go back to the way things were when roads were real and you could have a reasonable argument with the woman you were ‘really’ in the car with!!!

    Anything to do with Reality TV. Now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one. (I mean wrote one).

    Oh and Toyota Prius. Positive impact on the environment. Negatively looks like a slug just after you pour salt on it.

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