Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Economics from 'Leave it to Beaver'

William Brennan emails:

I came across an old episode of “Leave it to Beaver” from the 1950s that had an underlying economic message that is prevalent to this day.  The episode called ‘Water, Anyone’ is set on a hot, summer day.  The boys in the neighborhood are doing yard work and odd jobs to make money to buy baseball uniforms.  Beaver discovers by talking with water department workers that the water is going to be turned off; as he is also hoping to make a little extra money for a uniform, he stocks up on tap water and begins peddling it around the neighborhood to all the other hard working boys.

At first, the other boys thought it was absurd to have to pay for water, but as their thirst increased, they ultimately succumbed to their desire for water and began purchasing water from the Beaver.

Mr. Cleaver chastised the Beaver for exploiting the other boys in the neighborhood.  It reminded me of when the politicians implement price controls following a natural disaster.  The Beaver justifies his rationale for charging for the water just as any good Austrian economist would.  Here’s a Youtube link if you have a little time:


  1. Reminds me of the East of Eden scene. Found this passage from one of the quote sites

    “Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual
    mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man. And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions,
    forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.

    And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for this is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”
    ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

  2. This is great. I watched this episode just this last Sunday with my 3 little girls, ages 10 (twins) and 12.
    When the dad, (Ward Cleaver) was admonishing Beaver for taking advantage of his friends, one of my 10 years of said, "Dad, Beaver didn't do anything wrong, he's just smart and wants to make money." So we had a little free market chat right then.
    I have read them Maybury's "Whatever happened to Penny candy and Whatever happened to Justice", and more recently Conner Boyack's new "Tuttle twins" series.
    Take time to read and teach your kids about economics, even younger ones, they can and will understand more than most people give them credit for.