Inequality · Jesse · Macroeconomics · Walter

Cost of Getting Even

The scene brings forward a discussion between Jesse and Walter. Their dialogue is centered on how their competitors choose to protect their turf and the shooting of their partner Combo, for which Jesse seeks revenge. The scenes within are particularly useful for discussing the importance of property rights delivered by a functioning legal system and the consequences brought about by the impossibility of enforcement, for instance, in the black markets for drugs. For example, when Combo sells “blue” methamphetamine in the competitors’ turf he ends up being killed by an 11- year old boy. The rival gang seizes and sells the “blue” methamphetamine, distributed by Combo and cooked by Walter and Jesse, as their own. Outside of black markets, courts or specialized branches of the police would have handled such disputes. However, when the rule of law and property rights are absent, vaguely defined, or not enforceable, agents resort to other means of enforcement such as violence, which breeds more violence – Jesse is obviously seeking revenge for Combo’s death.

The clip is also useful for illustrating the socio-economic costs and the unintended consequences of illegal drugs and the black markets that form in response. The loss of life and the use of children, often from poor neighborhoods and low-income families, as labor are obvious. A discussion about social mobility and human capital development may also originate within these scenes. In broad terms, children who end up dealing drugs and protecting turfs fail to accumulate the much-needed human capital, which should allow them to fare better than their parents. The scenes within may also be used to discuss how failure to accumulate human capital or make meaningful investments in tomorrow’s labor force diminishes a jurisdiction’s ability to produce goods and services, or, in other words, shifts that jurisdiction’s production possibility frontier inward.

This description comes from Duncan, Muchiri, and Paraschiv (Forthcoming)

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Jesse · Labor · Mike

Squatters

Mike and Jesse need to get in touch with a dubious individual, who currently lives in a blocked off house. Mike’s plan is to wait until the person comes out of the house on his own. However, Jesse thinks he can speed up the process. After he fails to talk the person out of the house, he starts digging a hole in the front yard. Very soon after, the individual comes out and asks Jesse if he can continue digging instead. This account emphasizes that Jesse has skills that Mike does not, and, therefore, he can contribute to the success of the daily operations.

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Jesse · Labor · Macroeconomics · Unemployment

Getting a Job

This clip shows Jesse interviewing for, what he thinks it is, a standard sales position. However, he soon finds out that he is in for a sign-twirler job. Nevertheless, the employer would have considered Jesse for the sales position if he possessed the required skills (i.e., a sales license, two-year and on-the-job sales experience, and a college degree). Even though Jesse has significant (on the street) sales experience, he is not qualified for the standard sales position he thought he applied for. Since Jesse lacks the prerequisite skills, he must continue to be frictionally unemployed (until he can find a suitable position).

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