Writing Contest: Second Place


Lauren Schweitzer, Ellet High School, Akron, OH (Teacher: Constance Smith-Clemens)

One of the most economically influential television shows these days is Lost. Lost is an innovative show on the ABC network about a group of people who were abandoned on an island after their plane crashed in the middle of nowhere. You can find all sorts of examples of economic concepts such as building a new lifestyle and community, incentive, and scarcity.

When I first heard the topic of this essay, and that we were supposed to base the ideas of economics on a television show, the most obvious show that came to my mind was Lost, a show about a band of people who are marooned on a strange, deserted island. Many of these characters are able to find inner strength they never knew they had until they became stuck on this uninhabited island. One of the reasons why Lost is so economically based is that the characters are trying to build new lifestyles. They are trying to build a new community with the same kind of ideas and laws as the United States. There is no definite leader, but some of the main characters are the ones that usually take charge and make the rules. Jack Shepherd was a doctor before the plane crashed, so he is usually one of the main characters who take charge when something goes wrong. The character of John Locke is also an important one. Before the crash, John was stuck in a wheelchair and could not walk, but now he believes the island has suddenly given him the ability to walk. These two men are usually the ones to make the rules and plan things out in order to benefit the community as a whole.

One of the most prominent economic ideas on Lost is incentive. Incentive is something, such as the expectation of reward, that induces action or motivates effort. Since this group of people all got stuck on a deserted island, they must all work together to build shelter and protection. The island is strange, and they believe it has some sort of monster living on it, so everyone must band together for defense against whatever is on the island. Their incentive is the prospect of building a safe community for one another until someone comes to rescue them. When the show first began, the characters would often build fires so that planes could see them. All the people on the island would take turns watching the fire in order to make sure that the fire would not go out. Their incentive also happened to be the prospect of being rescued from the strange island they are trapped on.

Another economic idea portrayed on Lost is scarcity, which arises from people having unlimited wants while there are, and always will be, limited resources. Since these characters are all stuck on this bare and desolate island, they must use all the resources they have. In the first season, it was very difficult to find food; many of the people would go out looking for fruit and some would stay and try to catch fish. Food was scarce, but everyone worked together in order to get enough food for everyone. There was also a scarcity of medicine. After the crash, many people were hurt and needed medical attention. Everyone who wasn't hurt was instructed to look through all the baggage they could find from the plane crash so that they could find any useful medicine or medical tools. The inhabitants were all able to work together in order to limit the scarcity, but of course they could not limit all the scarcity.

Lost is one of the most economically influential shows on television today. On this show, you can find examples of scarcity, incentive, and even the idea of building a new community. These concepts are not new, but this show is able to portray them in a way that makes them understandable to the viewing audience. This show centers on a group of people who have all been abandoned on this island and must all work together in order to start a new society based on traditional economic beliefs. The concepts are broad and simple to understand and the best part is that you can still see these economic concepts in real life, as well as on television.