Jesse is attending a camp focused on people trying to correct their lives after heavy use of drugs or alcohol. Fed up, he questions if the group leader had every really hurt someone. The group leader shares his experience of killing his daughter after getting drunk. He lived in a state with an ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) store that closed at 5 PM. Some states regulate the sale of alcohol in attempts to limit its consumption, but this can have unintended consequences. Because alcohol is not readily available, some consumers purchase more than they might need. The group leader admits to doing so, drinking too much, and then killing his daughter.
There’s a fly in the facility and Walter doesn’t want to proceed until the fly is dealt with. Walter doesn’t want to contaminate the product in any way, but Jesse is confused because the customers don’t care about the quality of the product. If a small fly lands in the batch, Jesse believes it won’t be that big of a deal because the customers are highly inelastic. Jesse cites other examples of contamination in food (like hot dogs and candy bars) where people (and the government) don’t care about the quality.
Skyler starts doing the books for Walter’s drug income and is ready to learn how the money gets laundered. She doesn’t think Saul’s setup is legitimate enough to get past the IRS so she wants to talk to him directly. It turns out that Saul’s ideas seem ludicrous to her. One unintended consequence of policies that outlaw the production/distribution/consumption of drugs is the creation of money-laundering operations such as “Ice Station Zebra Associates”. Walter uses this “company” to launder the money he earns from manufacturing methamphetamine.
Skyler gets Bogdan to sell his car wash under an elaborate ruse where it appears he is contaminating the local groundwater. While the company isn’t actually polluting the groundwater, companies that contaminate groundwater are imposing external costs on society and are not accurately accounting for that cost in their pricing. While the optimal amount of groundwater pollution probably isn’t zero, with negative externalities, firms are overproducing. Governments often take a command-and-control approach to some forms of regulation and insist that companies pay steep fines for violations.
Walter finds a distributor to sell his meth to, but it requires that the two of them produce two pounds per week when they were previously making only one pound. Walter doesn’t see the issue because it wouldn’t take that much more time, but he’s excited for the significant increase in income from this deal. What Walter doesn’t realize is that there are capacity constraints when it comes to the inputs. Jesse is responsible for acquiring pseudoephedrine, which is the necessary ingredient to produce meth. Because of various US laws aimed at preventing pseudoephedrine to be used in meth, customers at drugstores can only purchased a fixed quantity at a time. Jesse drives hundreds of miles to collect pseudoephedrine from “smurfs,” but that can only produce 1/2 pound of meth each week. He doesn’t realistically see how the two of them can find enough pseudoephedrine to produce the two pounds of meth per week their new distributor is requesting. Luckily, Walter is a VERY good chemist!
See more: capacity constraints, economies of scale, government regulation, incentives, inelastic, optimal output, profit, Resource market, scale of production, scarcity, supply elasticity, underground economy