Christmas Time the Whole Time

 

Cam’s dad, Merle, is fighting with Cam’s mom and they are considering a divorce. After seeing Jay with Gloria, Merle thinks he might be able to do better, but Gloria paints a bleak picture of his future. Does Merle really have better options waiting out there or would he maximize his expected utility by staying with his current wife?

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Hiking vs Hugh

 

The family is visiting Australia and has a hike planned for the day. On their way to the van, Cam and Mitch get a text from an old friend inviting them to join him on Hugh Jackman’s yacht that day. Now Cam and Mitch have to decide between time with their families or time with famous people.

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Stay-at-Home Mom

 

It is career day at Luke’s school, and the teacher asks Claire to speak about her job as a stay at home mom. She points out that she actually has a lot of different jobs, and while she would like to go back to work, it is hard to find a job after you have been out of the labor force for 15 years.

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The King of Coasters, Kind Of

 

Phil and Luke are trying to go on as many rides as they can at Disneyland, but after a while Phil can’t take it anymore. It’s clear that Phil’s utility is diminishing at a much higher rate than Luke’s.

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Phil Buys an Alpaca

 

Phil has to decide whether to leave his own firm and start his own with two old co-workers, but he only has a limited amount of time to decide. He remembers that he is not good under pressure by recalling a time that he bought an alpaca because it was the last one and he panicked.

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Expiring Spa Certificate

 

Phil finds gift certificates to a spa that he and Claire had won in a charity auction in a drawer, but they expire today. He wants Claire to use them because otherwise their money just goes to charity, but Claire doesn’t know how she will. Phil is falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy, while Claire is thinking in terms of the additional costs and benefits of using the certificates.

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The iPad

 

It is Phil’s birthday and also the day the iPad is being released. Phil is willing to spend his birthday waiting in line to be sure he gets the new iPad, but Claire offers to do it for his birthday but instead of getting there early she falls asleep on the couch. When she finally gets to the store, they are all out, and Phil ends up wishing he had handled it himself.

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The Unit Upstairs

 

Cam and Mitchell own a duplex. They usually rent the upstairs unit but Cam’s sister, Pam, needed a place to stay when she was pregnant so he offered it to her (rent free). This has put a bit of a strain on their relationship because she’s stayed longer than planned and they need the money from the rental.

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A Magic Shop for Phil

 

Claire surprises Phil by purchasing the magic shop of his dreams. The previous owner sold it for very cheap, but then Claire starts to wonder if the magician had information she was unaware of. Despite the concern, this is a unique opportunity for Phil to become an entrepreneur.

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Mister Ekshun’s Illusionatorium

 

Claire and Phil go to a magic shop and talk business with the legendary Mister Ekshun. The magician laments that he can’t be at the shop everyday because he’s booking “road jobs” which we should infer have a higher payoff than the shop’s profits.  Phil is curious about how a magic trick works, but they need to make sure Claire (a non-magic person) isn’t able to hear the trick. Phil learns that he had an opportunity to become a magician on a cruise ship earlier in life, but Claire had never told him about the call because of how busy their lives had been.

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Ms. Crank

 

Lily has the tough teacher but Cam and Mitch just learned of an opening in the nice teacher’s class. In this scene, they approach Ms. Plank about transferring Lily into Ms. Sparrow’s classroom. Education is one of the markets where consumers have little choice. Some argue that this creates inefficiencies in the market. Others argue that education consumers may not have enough information to make optimal decisions so giving consumers more choice would not necessarily lead to an improvement in efficiency. This sort of problem is discussed at many levels in education – from school choice to book choice.

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Sock it to Me

 

Jay has a great new invention that he believes will revolutionize the closet industry. It’s a sock dispenser. In competitive industries, product differentiation can lead to short term profits – especially for early adopters. Why is Jay concerned that his son, Manny, has a new friend who has seen this idea?

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Miracle Gloves

 

Phil helped a friend make an infomercial and then his friend served as the videographer for Mitchel and Cam’s wedding. This is an example of a double coincidence of needs and allowed for barter.

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Preferences and Tradeoffs for Cal Tech

 

Alex is graduating from high school soon so Phil, Claire and the kids are visiting Cal Tech. Claire thinks Cal Tech is the perfect place for Alex but she’ll find out soon that she and Alex have different preferences. College is one of the ways that we build human capital. As we learn more things, we become more productive and our labor is more valuable. Alex is already really bright and loves academics so college is a good fit to set her up for doing impressive things in the future.

Claire wants a great school that’s close. Alex wants a great school that’s far away. We also learn that Cal Tech has 5 Nobel Laureates on staff, suggesting that Cal Tech itself has a lot of human capital, making it a highly productive college.

Alex learns why Cal Tech might be a better choice for her than an East Coast school. What is more important: the quality of the program or proximity to home? Choices are tough and everything has a cost. Here’s Alex’s current dilemma: stay close to home and attend the best program in the country OR go to a college on the east coast with a weaker program.

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Cameron’s Moment

 

Cameron fills in as the drummer in Dylan’s band, and after their first song, performs an impromptu drum solo. Mitchell originally found him impressive, but his drum solo went on so long that he experienced diminishing marginal returns.

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Opposite’s Attract

 

Mitchell complains to Jay about Cam being too nice, and Jay complains to Mitchell about Gloria not liking his dog butler. Jay notes that they are both with people who are very different and that maybe that makes their relationships better.

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Morning Routine

 

Phil thinks both he and Claire get up at 7am to start taking care of the kids, but Claire informs him that she actually starts her day as a stay at home mom at 6am. Because Claire has a comparative advantage in getting the kids ready for school in the morning, Phil gets an extra hour of sleep.

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Great Parents

 

Mitchell is worried that he is a worse parent than Cam, but Cam assures him that they are both great parents because they complement each other. Their decision to specialize in particular tasks allows them to complete more work together and both recognize they wouldn’t accomplish nearly as much if each had to go it alone.

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Bump on the Head

 

After bumping Lily’s head on the doorframe, Mitchel calls his sister for reassurance. Claire lets Mitchell know it’s fine because her youngest son was hit on the head a lot and he’s fine, but that correlation ends up worrying Mitchell more.

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Unlosable Position

 

Alex has landed a dream internship but it’s really high stakes and stressful. Meanwhile, Phil has a tough choice to make in a board game. Every time we choose to do something, we are also choosing NOT to do something else. Does Alex really want the internship? What is its opportunity cost? Also, what should Phil do?

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Growing a Business

 

Jay and Claire discover that Alex and Luke have started a business selling used shoes online. Jay praises Luke for taking the initiative to build a business from nothing. Claire praises Alex for making the business successful. An argument ensues that makes it clear that this is personal for Jay and Claire. Jay built a closet business but retired a few years ago and let Claire take over. Under Claire’s leadership, the company becomes even more successful and receives international acclaim. They fight over who deserves credit for the success and honors that the business currently has. The reality is that both are responsible. They both demonstrate entrepreneurialism and each played a different and equally important role in building the business. Entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. But can they admit this to each other?

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A Life of Leisure

 

While at work, Haley meets a leisure lover searching for a new husband who will die soon. The woman offers Haley a position as her personal assistant that includes getting paid for leisurely activities. Luke tries to convince Haley to stick with work because it’s better for her future, but she chooses the life of leisure.

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Healthy Competition

 

Economics often suggests that competition improves efficiency. Jay seems to agree. He fosters competition within his family to help them achieve their goals. But are they really achieving those goals? Later in the episode, we find out that there were some unintended consequences of his actions.

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Preference for Lake Life

 

Mitchell grew up on a farm wanting to be part of a lake family. He laments that anyone can visit the lake, but only wealthy families can sleep on a lake, implying that lake life if a luxury good. Discovering they own lamps that are on a boat, Mitch likes them less but Cam likes them more.

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Phil Crusoe

 

Phil goes into the wild to live like Robinson Crusoe. In doing so, he provides a fantastic example of the factors of productivity. Productivity (Phil’s ability to survive in the wild) is determined by his human capital, technological knowledge, physical capital and natural resources. He has natural resources in abundance – fish, sticks, blueberries, honey and fresh water. He has some good technological knowledge because he knows how to build a fire. It’s not clear that he has the experience (human capital) to successfully build the fire. But, having lost his physical capital (fancy camping gear), it’s not clear whether or not he will be able to survive.

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Winning at all costs

 

Cam is desperate to win the football game and be a winner. He overhears the opposing team’s coach plans for the next play. Does he act on this insider information? Yes. Using insider information in buying and selling financial securities is illegal because it gives someone an unfair advantage. Similarly, many would consider Cam’s actions cheating. In fact, Cam feels really guilty about it but Mitch encourages him to keep up the facade because winning is also important to him.

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2 Failed Marriages

 

Rainer proposes to Haley at dinner, but then the weather turns outside and he’s unsure if he made the right decision. In his back-and-forth about whether this was the right move, he brings up the fact that he’s already messed up one marriage. He notes that messing up one marriage is okay, but if you mess up two marriages then it sends a signal that he’s the problem in the relationship and it will lead to losing a potential sponsorship.

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Superstitions in Sports

 

The Dolphins are on a winning streak and Cam has to keep doing his superstitious activities so that his team can keep winning. Mitch decides to go to the game, but that’s against the weekly tradition and all of a sudden the team’s fortunes turn. It may be hard to convince Cam, but correlation doesn’t imply causation.

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Alex Ruins Everything

 

The Dunphys are having a great summer while Alex is away building houses for the less fortunate, but as soon as she returns everything takes a turn for the worse. Everything seems to think Alex is the cause of the tension and as soon as she leaves then things start to look better. While these actions may be correlated with Alex’s presence in the house, she certainly can’t be the cause of the tension, could she?

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One Bouquet is Enough

 

Cam and Mitch have been married 3 months, but it seems like their honeymoon will never end. Cam continues to give Mitchell flowers even though he clearly doesn’t enjoy them as much as he used to. He may have loved the first bouquet, but eventually he may start to hate them.

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