INT. STUDIO - DAY A young, energetic man, KEVIN LIEBER, stands in an open bright space behind an attractive desk. Pedestals and shelves are arranged behind him with a series of PROPS ― a giant pencil, busts of important economists, globes and other object signifying economics. More objects adorn the desk. There is also a GREENSCREEN "blackboard" and an attractive ILLUMINATED SIGN with the Foundation for Economic Education logo on it in the background. SCENE 01: INTRODUCTION We see a quote from Henry Hazlitt on the blackboard. It reads: “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” ― Henry Hazlitt KEVIN Hello, Kevin here! I'm your host for the Foundation for Economic Education's new series, “Invisible Hands" and I'm here to guide you through the incredible and miraculous world of economics. The camera starts lazily drifting away. KEVIN Whoa, whoa! Don't go anywhere. The camera snaps back into place. KEVIN I know you might not think so right now, but I promise, economics is actually really exciting! (beat) Like… in 1900, when the electric light bulb was first introduced, it took 60 hours of work to pay for 10 days of continuous light. A light bulb appears on the blackboard. Today? That same amount of work can keep the lights on for 52... YEARS! Light from the bulb illuminates the frame. Economics can show us how it's possible to live in a world where resources are scarce, wants and needs are unlimited, and yet still cut extreme poverty in half just in the last 30 years. Throughout this series, we'll talk about the incredible benefits of trade, what entrepreneurs really do for the economy, and how incentives affect people's behavior. Kevin picks up a model of Lady Justice from the table. He holds it up and looks at it for a moment, and then adds... KEVIN We'll even talk about the rules and social customs that help us create awesome societies people actually want to live in. And what happens when those rules go away. SCENE 02: ENTER PUPPETS Two puppets pop up into frame. We meet FIONA, a college-aged young woman, cute and precocious, and PROFESSOR FERGUSON, a jovial, bald-headed academic with giant square glasses. Fiona is bubbly and excited, while the Professor stumbles in looking around at the scenery. FIONA (bubbly) Hi Everyone! KEVIN (surprised) Woah… Hey! Hi Fiona. Hi Professor Ferguson. The absent minded professor suddenly realizes he's in front of a camera and looks in the right direction. The Professor pushes his glasses to his face. PROFESSOR Oh, hello, students. FIONA Hey Kevin, we thought we’d drop by to help you talk about all these important ideas. KEVIN Oh, cool, thanks! (to camera) So I bet you’re wondering why any of this matters. What is learning economics even going to do for you, right? (turning to the Professor) You wanna take this one? SCENE 03: WHY ECONOMICS MATTERS A new quote appears on the blackboard behind our hosts in time with the dialogue. It reads: “Economics is everywhere, and understanding economics can help you make better decisions and lead a happier life.” ― Tyler Cowen PROFESSOR Sure! To quote my good friend, Professor Tyler Cowen, "Economics is everywhere, and understanding economics can help you make better decisions and lead a happier life.” KEVIN Awesome! (beat) Wait… What does that mean? PROFESSOR Well... Most of us want a lot of the same things -- To be successful at school, make friends, fall in love, start businesses or find a great job and support our families. We all want to improve our lives and make the world a better place. FIONA Like ending poverty or cleaning up the environment? PROFESSOR That's right, Fiona! But the question is, "How do we all get what we want in a world where resources are limited and everybody has different ideas about what to do with them?" FIONA That is a good question. My friends always seem to know how to solve every problem. But they’re always coming up with different answers! I never know who's right. Fiona puts her hand on her chin, pondering. KEVIN Even though most of us want to see progress in the world, it's not always clear how to get there... PROFESSOR (picking up the end of the sentence) ...but that's what studying economics is for! Economists study human behavior, so we can learn how people can successfully deal with competing goals in a world where there just aren't enough resources to do everything at the same time. FIONA I see. SCENE 04: ECONOMIC LESSONS On the blackboard, we see a hand-drawn IMAGE of New York City before the industrial revolution. KEVIN Consider this. Throughout history, only a handful of countries have managed to raise their living standards to levels we see in America. And that's only happened relatively recently -- within the past 200 years. FIONA You mean, since the industrial revolution. The image is ANIMATED and we progress through the Industrial Revolution to a modern version of New York. KEVIN Yep. And Economics teaches us that there are only a few specific ways for society to escape the kind of extreme poverty we've had for most of human history. New York zooms out to the whole world and a CHART showing the decline of Extreme Poverty appears on the blackboard. FIONA Like what? PROFESSOR Well, for one thing, we need institutions that make trading easier for everybody. We also need high levels of social cooperation and tolerance. And we need the kind of rules that encourage everybody to deal with each other honestly and fairly. (beat) These conditions make all the difference. FIONA The part about ethics seems pretty clear. We can't have a better society if people are stealing from each other and hurting people all the time. But what’s the big deal about trade and social cooperation? Kevin looks at Professor Fergberg. KEVIN Professor? SCENE 05: KNOWLEDGE PROBLEMS IMAGES pop up on the blackboard, reinforcing the Professor's point, settling on a shoe. PROFESSOR Ah, right. Think about all the things you have that make your life better. Computers, smartphones, stoves and microwaves, comfy pillows, backpacks, clothes and shoes, and even food. Even the simplest of those things are very difficult to make from scratch. Even if you can assemble something like a shoe, you probably can’t make the fabric or the rubber, right? Fiona shakes her head. FIONA Of course not. KEVIN (jokingly) I think rubber comes from a tree or something. That's...that's all I got. The Professor continues, as the shoe breaks apart into component pieces -- rubber sole, canvas, metal eyelets, shoelaces, etc. PROFESSOR In fact, not any one of us has enough knowledge or skills to make everything we need. KEVIN That's why most of us specialize in producing some things and trade what we make with other people who specialize in something else. PROFESSOR Exactly! Increasing our standard of living depends on the voluntary interactions of millions of people all over the world -- coming up with new ideas and producing valuable goods and services for you and me. FIONA That's neat. PROFESSOR I think so. But that's why commerce is important... And to have commerce, we need peaceful social cooperation between as many people as possible. SCENE 06: CENTRAL PLANNING We see a new quote on the chalkboard in the background. It reads: "To assume all the knowledge to be given to a single mind... to assume the problem away and to disregard everything that is important and significant in the real world." ― F.A. Hayek FIONA But how do all these people all know what to make? Doesn't somebody need to be in charge of these decisions? PROFESSOR Not at all! People around the world cooperate with each other without anybody telling them what to do. No single person, business, or government has enough information to plan out all this mind-boggling amount of activity. KEVIN We'll talk about this more in another video, but what the good Professor is talking about is called "Spontaneous Order", and it's one of the most important ideas in economics. He looks at the puppets then back to the camera. KEVIN But there's another benefit to trade and social cooperation! SCENE 07: SOCIAL COOPERATION We see a new quote on the chalkboard in the background. It reads: "Having to deal with strangers teaches you to be polite to them." ― Matt Ridley KEVIN Connecting with other people through commerce makes everyone in the world more inter-dependent. And the more we work together and get to know each other, the more we build trust and form relationships with people from all over the world. FIONA Cool! That makes us more peaceful, right? KEVIN It sure does! FIONA So, are you saying that if we all trade with each other, everyone would be more peaceful and no one has to go to war… and we get wealthier?! KEVIN (seriously) Pretty much, yeah. (beat) And that's the kind of stuff that we're gonna talk about in this series. SCENE 08: WRAP-UP We see a chalk ANIMATION of the sun rising behind planet Earth. KEVIN (to camera) Economics can not only help you make better decisions, and get the most out of your own life, it also helps us understand how to make the world a better place for everyone. Using sound economics to improve Human Well-Being is our vision for a brighter future. FIONA Well now I am excited! PROFESSOR Oh... By the way, some things in economics are counter-intuitive. So be prepared for a few surprises along the way! KEVIN You guys ready? PROFESSOR AND FIONA (in unison) We're ready!! KEVIN Let's go!

Invisible Hands


About this show

Popular YouTube host Kevin Lieber (VSauce2) hosts this informative and entertaining video series designed to introduce key concepts of economics to younger audiences through credible arguments, comedy... And puppets!

FEE's Vision of Economics

April 16, 2019

Economics is a superpower. Understanding it is like having enhanced vision. When you look at the world around you—full of human beings working, studying, fighting, falling in love, and just living—economics helps you see things that are invisible to most people.

Join our our host, @VSauce2's Kevin Lieber, and his friends Fiona & Professor Fergberg as they help you see that the best way to learn economics isn’t memorizing equations or staring at charts, but looking at the way humans make choices. By watching our new series, Invisible Hands, you'll have fun gaining mind-blowing economic insight that can radically clarify the way you see society!


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Invisible Hands

Popular YouTube host Kevin Lieber (VSauce2) hosts this informative and entertaining video series designed to introduce key concepts of economics to younger audiences through credible arguments, comedy... And puppets!

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