A Southern Indiana tradition revolves around political candidates’ wives baking pies in a contest known as the Pie-Mary. Leslie has decided to skip the Pie-Mary contest so she can help Ben with his campaign, but it’s turned into a big ordeal. She ties to change her mind and enter the Pie-Mary, but that angers another group of people. Regardless of her decision, someone is upset and it distracts from Ben’s campaign. Leslie and Ben finish the episode with a press conference where Leslie points out that people should be allowed to do whatever the wish. Socially defined gender roles like the ones portrayed in the episode highlight some of the issues facing women in the labor market.
It’s time for some shop talk as Leslie and Ben sit down with Ben’s campaign manager to discuss their strategy going forward in Ben’s election. Leslie takes a brief moment to note that shop talk is one of her favorite types of talk and then goes on to list the other types. This is a cute (and quick) introduction to the concept of product differentiation, where companies sell similar products with different attributes. Product differentiation can allow a company to charge higher prices for their products if people perceive value in the differentiation.
Ben goes back to the accounting firm that he initially quit, only to decide to quit again as soon as he sees his office. In discussing his motivation, he talks about how he wants to do something meaningful with his life, but then he realizes the benefits of being an accountant including stability and above average pay.
Tom needs help learning about basketball so that he can connect with the customers at his store. He believes Ben and Andy can help him since they’re good with numbers and athletic (respectively), but he tricks them into coming into his office by telling them that their favorite items are there. For Ben, he claims that Michael Stipe is in the office, but all he needs to do is offer Andy some free Skittles, respectively to incentivize him.
In a tight battle for City Council, Leslie approaches the President of the Pawnee Senior Citizens with a plan to place wheelchair ramps on every city building to make it easier for elderly citizens to get around. Bobby Newport announces a very similar plan, but instead of ramps, they propose adding chair lifts to each building. Both are pandering to the elderly vote with essentially the same program.
Thanks to an anonymous submitter for the clip!
Ben and Tom aren’t happy with the high tent prices and add-ons at one tent rental shop, so they try to go to a competitor only to find that all of the tent rental places have the same owner who is happy to exploit his market power. While the owner tries to differentiate their product through branding, they have essentially monopolized central Indiana’s tent rental industry.
Leslie shares her opinion that a vendor at the farmers’ market has a crude display, and cites this as a reason to kick them out. Some citizens argue that government should not play an active role in dictating norms in society, but Leslie feels that’s the part of the government’s responsibility. This could be argued from a public choice perspective or as the role of government in correcting externalities.
Leslie is accused of stripping people’s personal freedoms, but there are significant benefits to the community. According to Leslie, obesity is down, test scores are up, and raccoon attacks have decreased, but some citizens aren’t happy with the changes. When determining the appropriate level of government regulation, the costs and benefits of each action need to be considered, which is easier said than done.
Tom incentives the department to come to his club and try his newest drink by threatening to place them on his “done-zo” list. The Parks Department decides to go to the Snake Hole Lounge to try Tom’s new drink, but instead they all have a bit too much and go through the next day feeling terrible. One of the other issues shown in this video is diminishing marginal utility. As the night goes on, each member of the group gets a bit happier, but they eventually peak and see negative returns the next morning.
See more: decreasing utility, diminishing returns, externalities, health economics, negative externalities, negative utility, private benefits, private costs, social benefits, social costs, unintended consequences, utility maximization