Episode 32: Externalities – We’re All in it Together

In this episode, Phil introduces the economic concept of “Externalities”, which is the effect economic producers or consumers have on bystanders. 

It can be on the consumption or production side and can be positive, like a company developing technology that everyone benefits from, like better battery technology, or negative, like a person smoking in a crowded, unventilated room. Someone else is paying or benefitting from your actions.


  • Externalities: See above.
  • Disinformation: a subset of propaganda and is false information that is spread deliberately to deceive. It is also known as black propaganda.[1][2][3] It is sometimes confused with misinformation, which is false information but is not deliberate.
  • Body Autonomy:the inviolability of the physical body, and it emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy, self-ownership, and self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. In the field of human rights, violation of the bodily integrity of another is regarded as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal.
  • Public Goods: a public good (also referred to as a social good or collective good)[1] is a good that is both non-excludable and non-rivalrous. For such goods, users cannot be barred from accessing or using them for failing to pay for them. Also, use by one person neither prevents access of other people nor does it reduce availability to others.
  • MMR Vaccine: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
  • Alex Jones: Crazy conspiracy theorist profiting by selling supplements to gullible/paranoid people.
  • Light Pollution (More detail here): the presence of unwanted, inappropriate, or excessive artificial lighting.[1] In a descriptive sense light pollution refers to any poorly implemented lighting, during the day or night, and can be found as an issue throughout the levels of our societies.
  • Adam Smith (Economist): a Scottish economist and philosopher who was a pioneer of political economy and key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Also known as “The Father of Economics” or “The Father of Capitalism”, he wrote two classic works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776).
  • Organ Transplantation in China (Currently seems to be suffering a DDOS attack): Organ transplantation in China has taken place since the 1960s, and is one of the largest organ transplant programmes in the world, peaking at over 13,000 liver and kidney transplants a year in 2004. Involuntary organ harvesting is illegal under Chinese law; though, under a 1984 regulation, it became legal to remove organs from executed criminals with the prior consent of the criminal or permission of relatives. Growing concerns about possible ethical abuses arising from coerced consent and corruption led medical groups and human rights organizations, by the 1990s, to condemn the practice. These concerns resurfaced in 2001, when a Chinese asylum-seeking doctor testified that he had taken part in organ extraction operations.
  • CFCs (Brand Name: Freon):Many CFCs have been widely used as refrigerants, propellants (in aerosol applications), and solvents. Because CFCs contribute to ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere, the manufacture of such compounds has been phased out under the Montreal Protocol, and they are being replaced with other products such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) 
  • VOC: Organic compounds (VOC) are organic chemicals that have a high vapour pressure at room temperature. High vapor pressure correlates with a low boiling point, which relates to the number of the sample’s molecules in the surrounding air, a trait known as volatility.
  • Reparations (transitional justice; not to be confused with Reparations for Slavery in the USA): broadly understood as compensation given for an abuse or injury. The colloquial meaning of reparations has changed substantively over the last century. In the early 1900s, reparations were interstate exchanges (see war reparations) that were punitive mechanisms determined by treaty and paid by the surrendering side of conflict, such as the World War I reparations paid by Germany and its allies.
  • Carbon Footprint was created by BP (Source): “[…] British Petroleum, or BP, first promoted and soon successfully popularized the term “carbon footprint” in the early aughts. The company unveiled its “carbon footprint calculator” in 2004 so one could assess how their normal daily life — going to work, buying food, and (gasp) traveling — is largely responsible for heating the globe. A decade and a half later, “carbon footprint” is everywhere.”
  • Coca Cola Undermines Recycling Efforts (Source)
  • The Corporation (2003 Documentary; Highly recommended): “A corporation is an externalizing machine in the same way that a shark is a killing machine. Each one is designed in a very particular way to accomplish certain objectives. In the achievement of those objectives there isn’t any question of malevolence or will. The enterprise has within it, and the shark has within it, those characteristics that enable it do that for which it was designed.”
  • Phil Misremembered, Minimum Wage in the US would be $26/h if it tracked productivity (Source)
  • The $100 Experiment with Comparison groups that Phil mentioned: It’s from this video, but apparently their information was found from this book.
  • Socio-Economic Status: an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person’s work experience and of an individual’s or family’s economic access to resources and social position in relation to others.
  • Sampling Bias: a bias in which a sample is collected in such a way that some members of the intended population have a lower or higher sampling probability than others. It results in a biased sample of a population (or non-human factors) in which all individuals, or instances, were not equally likely to have been selected.
  • Stanford Marshmallow Test: a study on delayed gratification in 1972 led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University. In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. During this time, the researcher left the room for about 15 minutes and then returned. The reward was either a marshmallow or pretzel stick, depending on the child’s preference. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures. A replication attempt with a sample from a more diverse population, over 10 times larger than the original study, showed only half the effect of the original study. The replication suggested that economic background, rather than willpower, explained the other half. The predictive power of marshmallow test was challenged in a 2020 study.
  • Michael SandelWhat Money Can’t Buy
  • Indulgences (Catholic Church): In the teaching of the Catholic Church, an indulgence (Latin: indulgentia, from indulgeo, ‘permit’) is “a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins”.
  • Monopoly: a market with the “absence of competition”, creating a situation where a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular thing.
  • Oligopoly: a market structure in which a market or industry is dominated by a small number of large sellers or producers.
  • Markets tend toward Monopolies (Source; be mindful it’s the World Economic Forum and they’re quite left-leaning)
  • The Invisible Hand of the Market:  a metaphor for the unseen forces that move the free market economy. Through individual self-interest and freedom of production and consumption, the best interest of society, as a whole, are fulfilled. The constant interplay of individual pressures on market supply and demand causes the natural movement of prices and the flow of trade.
  • Peter DruckerInnovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
  • Animal Husbandry: the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fibre, milk, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock.
  • Mutualism: the ecological interaction between two or more species where each species has a net benefit. 
    • Not all mutualisms are symbioses. Some mutualisms are non-persistent, like when a pollinator very briefly visits a flower and then never returns to that flower again. Additionally, not all symbiosis are mutualistic. For instance, parasites are also symbionts (Source).
  • Symbiosis: any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different biological organisms, be it mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasitic.
  • It’s cheaper to house the homeless (Source)
  • Spending on Infrastructure Results in Economic Growth (Source)
  • Spending $1 on Early Childhood Education later returned $6 (Source)

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