We were discussing "externalities" in my microeconomics class the other day, and the time is upon us when I will soon be spending a few days a week on the Banjo Billy Bus, telling ghost stories and bad jokes to tourists from around the world. While those two things may not seem connected, it suddenly occurred to me, while I sit at home attempting to watch hockey and basketball at the same time, that the goofy bus I work on has both positive and negative externalities.
For those of you who don't remember your Eco classes, an externality is sort of a side effect to economic activity, something that effects those who are not involved in the transaction. For instance, education has a positive externality because society in general benefits from a better educated population. So, a student who pays for an education not only helps himself, but all of us. Pollution is a negative externality. When I drive my car, I get the benefit, but you pay part of the cost because I am polluting your air.
So, what externalities does the Banjo Billy Bus create? Well, the negatives are obvious. The bus burns diesel fuel, which means it is not only polluting the air, but is pretty frickin' loud. And sometimes the guides forget to turn the mike down, and the extra noise pisses off the folks in the neighborhoods we drive through. And we occasionally block a road and slow down traffic.
On the positive side is the entertainment factor provided to the folks who see the bus go by. People on the street love to wave or scream at us, or even moon us. They aren't involved in the economic transaction....the folks on the bus paying for a tour....but they do get some pleasure when we go by. They often get a smile when the driver uses our funny horn to bark or whistle at them. I'd say that makes us far better citizens than the other vehicles going through town. They don't entertain anyone.
This kind of thinking is what happens when both games go to intermission at the same time.