14 Apr 2014

Economics at the Movies

Economics, Humor 16 Comments

Tyler Cowen: “When I am watching a movie I often think ‘why isn’t the Coase theorem holding here?'”

Kyle Reese: “Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

16 Responses to “Economics at the Movies”

  1. Andrew' says:

    You misspelled “turtlenator.”

  2. Silas Barta says:

    What a lot of people fail to realize, especially if they haven’t assimilated the deep insights of Coase, is the symmetry between Sarah Connor and the Terminator. Sarah wants to live, but just the same, the Terminator wants Sarah to die. The only thing stopping a peaceful resolution is transaction costs.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Yes, Sarah’s continued existence is imposing a harm on the Terminator’s programming.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        You guys are being totally unscientific.

        You aren’t even taking into account the social benefits and costs here.

        If Connor is relatively less productive, then in order to make it fair, she’ll have to reimburse the T-800 an annual “I’m sorry for being alive” fee.

    • Seth says:

      “Sarah wants to live, but just the same, the Terminator wants Sarah to die.”

      Yes the Terminator wants Sarah to die (actually, the sentient machines that programmed it want that, the Terminator is basically a calculator that doesn’t want anything), not realizing that the unintended benefit of failing its mission is its own existence and the unintended consequence of not wanting to attempt its mission is also its existence.

  3. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    Come with me if you want to maximize your life expectancy, ceteris paribus, compared to what this linear regression model suggests it would be if you remain present and the marginal terminator proceeds to satisfy his most urgent desires.

  4. Josiah says:

    Actually, there is a mutually acceptable outcome for both Sarah Connor and the Terminator, which is that the Terminator doesn’t try to kill her, and in exchange She doesn’t meet Reese and, hence, never gives birth to John.

    • Wonks Anonymous says:

      Which is precisely why she can’t be told that, and in fact must be kept far from the Terminator to prevent him from informing her. Reese also must not be told, since presumably he doesn’t want to go back in time to get killed. John must prioritize his own existence over the desires of his parents, to do otherwise would result a in paradox of the sort abhorred by the latest understanding of the physics of time (and perpetrated by the later, inferior, moves of the franchise).

      • Enopoletus Harding says:

        The Terminator had time to inform Sarah over the phone in the first quarter of the film, so it’s quite certain information wasn’t a part of his mission.

  5. Josiah says:

    On the other hand, the film implies that if the folks at Cyberdyne hadn’t found the remains of the Terminator after he had been crushed, they wouldn’t have been able to make the technological advances that led to the rise of the machines in the first place. So the Terminator would still have to have itself crushed (or the equivalent). It just wouldn’t have needed to try to kill Sarah.

    Time travel is confusing sometimes.

    • Tel says:

      Who did invent that technology then?

      • Josiah says:

        Who did invent that technology then?

        Miles Dyson.

        • Kyle Reese says:

          Actually, Miles was chiefly responsible for the eventual creation of Skynet. NOT time travel, something Skynet developed in the future as a way to take out JC before he was born.

          Also, note the obvious Christian Armageddon parallels:

          humanity getting wiped out
          savior appears with initials JC
          no real father is known, just a mother, who is legendary and looked up to

          it’s like a military take on eschatology.

        • W. Peden says:

          Using technology that he’d invented. A bit of a mess, really, but the first two films are still two of the best action films ever made.

          • dave smith says:

            And the third is vastly underrated, even.

            • Wonks Anonymous says:

              #3 is better than #2, in my opinion. It tries to repair the damage done by the sequel.

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