Is Stephen Colbert money?


Teaching first year economics can be fairly dry. As a result, some have turned to music to provide inspiration and entertainment, while others draw on the movies.  Especially with the global financial crisis providing seemingly limitless material, another option is to draw on the regular commentary provided by satirists and comedians on their ‘news’ programs.

One of the best recently has been Stephen Colbert’s interview of Niall Ferguson on his new book The Ascent of Money. (Apologies – the link is to the US version, which neither you nor I can actually see, I imageine.)  Best teaching moment: is Stephen Colbert money?  As a currency, just how generally acceptable would he be?  How about divisibility?

[DDET Read on]

But probably my favourite is from John Clark and Brian Dawe, with schoolboy John Howard being dressed down by the principal on his performance on his recent exam performance.

“Question: Who is responsible for interest rates
Answer: The Prime Minister if they’re low … and the bogeyman if they’re high.”

Love it. From the early stages where we learn that after invading another country and creating a power vacuum, you end up with peace and democracy, every time, to the end, where the cheque attached to the exam is explained as a first homebuyer’s grant. It does take a bit of work translating it for a non-Australian audience, though.

This one’s also nice: how the financial system works and why the banks need lots of your money.

“You don’t need to afford the things you buying Bryan; you need to afford the interest on the money you need to borrow in order to buy them.”

The Daily Show and the Colbert Report both have writers who seem to try to get the basics of economics before making fun of it.

Your Tax Dollars at War (February 23, 2006)

Fun for dealing with inflation and debt financing/Ricardian equivalence.

Tax Cuts (May 17, 2006)

The trickle down effect explained – everyone benefits when the rich get more money, from monocle makers to diamond-tipped-cane polishers.

Unfortunately, can’t get them online in Canada any more. Someone really should put together a collection of these things and package them with a textbook or something.

Anyone else got any favourites?

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