Monsters Inc. might just be seen as a Pixar animated kid’s movie when you first see it, but when you look deeper into it, you can see many similarities to general economic concepts, as well as our economy today. There are two totally different worlds in the movie; there is the world of the monsters and then there is the world of the humans, however, the monsters have to rely on the humans to survive. The monsters have to steal the screams of human children to use as a source of energy that the monsters use to power their homes, cars and any other electronic devices; and they do this through a corporation called Monsters Inc. Unfortunately, in the movie the world is starting to change and the kids are becoming less sensitive to violence which then causes a shortage of screams in the monster world which then leads to a shortage of energy in the monster world. Surprisingly, Monsters Inc. isn’t the only place that we see an energy crisis; the rolling power blackouts in California in 2001 are extremely similar. The blackouts in California were due to a lack of supply because of the cold winter and the exploiting population in urban areas in California. The cold winter forced everyone to turn up their heat sharply which then caused a spike in demand; and at this same time the entire west half of the U.S was having dramatically less rainfall than usual throughout that winter which didn’t help either because they rely largely on hydroelectric power. Because of this, the nation’s most populous state and the center of the nation’s technology industry couldn’t rely on hydroelectric power, which then in turn caused a shortage. Therefore California experienced multiple blackouts during a few days period due to the lack on conservation of energy (Konrad). Even though the energy crisis in Monsters Inc. is not due to weather problems, it is a very similar situation.
Right from the beginning, we see that the movie starts out with an obvious economic issue, an energy shortage. The energy crisis is what steers the actions of most of the characters throughout the remainder of the movie, and just from this you can see many economic principles at work; such as the concept of marginal costs and benefits, unemployment problems, competition in the business world, and the concept of supply and demand. The two main characters, who both work at Monsters Inc., are Mike Wazowski and James “Sulley” Sullivan. Sulley is proudly the employee of the month, or in monster terms, the top “scarer.” Sulley is a very meticulous worker so in the beginning when Mike wants to drive his new car to work, Sulley encourages him to walk due to the energy shortage. This can be an example of an economic decision in the real world, because when there is a recession or crisis, it affects our behavior and most people take on a different mindset and try to conserve more. People act this way because they unintentionally weigh their decisions using the concept of marginal costs and benefits. This concept says that a choice is based on the expected marginal benefit and the expected marginal cost of the action under consideration, and people as rational decision makers will change their decisions as long as the benefit from the change will exceed the cost. This can also be looked at as the opportunity cost; opportunity cost is defined as the sacrifice forgone by choosing one option over an alternative one that may be equally desired; or in other words, the cost of pursuing one choice instead of another. So for example, if Mike drove his car to work it would cost him energy, which is a scarce resource in the monster world at this time, just for the benefit of being able to try out his new car and have the leisure of driving and getting to work faster. However, when Sulley makes him walk to work, not only does Mike save energy, but he benefits himself in that he gets exercise and the good company of Sulley. In other words, the opportunity cost...
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