2012 Writing Contest: Economics on TV?

Third Place Creative Writing

The Colony: Demands of Survival

Elizabeth Dolinar, Beaumont School, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Teacher, Bob Crawford

John was brainstorming. He had only a few days to create a new source of electricity to charge the power source for the entire colony. Luckily, his travels in Europe had lent him enough knowledge of World War II to know some tricks used by those who were devastated by war. Just as a "wood gasifier" allowed cars to run on wood power during the war, a successfully built gasifier would create a powerful generator for electric power. As an eccentric engineer, John knew his proposed contraption would not fail, and with the supply of electricity running low, his time was limited. Mike's protests, however, forced John to understand that unintended consequences of creating such a generator could include a deadly explosion. Yet John realizes that the opportunity costs of exploring alternative energy sources could be the possibility of having a reliable, working generator. "ls risking an explosion a worthwhile cost of producing energy?" John asks himself repeatedly. "Yes, yes, it is. A trade-off of this decision may be a safer power source, but my gasifier will produce results and benefits that far outweigh this trade-off," he decided after hours of debate with the other colonists.

Other members of the colony began to experience the deficits of resources and feel the pinch of limited supply and high demand. In the pantry, George and Allison discuss the inventory of other vital supplies. As cans of food and buckets of fresh water dwindle, the trauma nurse and doctor must face the effects of demand. Additional colonists attempting to survive the apocalypse threaten the existing supplies. Demand for goods in the colony creates intense scarcity, and the survivors experience difficulties in choosing which benefits are the most important for life. As the two young, healthy medical personnel in the colony, George and Allison are charged with distributing provisions according to nutritional need for survival.

Feeling the pressure to make the food last longer, George desperately divides the remaining cans of food, trying to maximize the benefits of the limited supplies. As provisions quickly disappear in the colony, the value of precious resources like food seems to inflate; the fewer resources the colonists have in their possession, the more valuable they seem to be.

Meanwhile, former convict Joey leads the quest to find food outside the colony's complex. Slashing the air, scaring those that may threaten him, Joey resorts to scavenging and looting deserted areas in the locality. Nearby, John struggles internally with the theft he committed, yet he knows that the cost of survival is defying his moral standards. In order to survive, all of the scavengers must accept the costs of obtaining benefits from goods and resources. The desperation of the colonists drives them to extremes: They fight over how to distribute scarce resources, they compete with one another for positions of power, and they resort to theft and ransacking others’ camps. "I understand that we need food, but we just took vital resources from those campers. How can we steal from others that are just trying to survive, like we are?" John probes Leilani for comfort for his throbbing conscience. "They would have done the same to us," Leilani replies gently. "When resources are scarce and demand is great, there are costs we must pay in order to survive and benefit from others. With supplies so limited and scarce, not everyone's demands can be met, and the strongest live."

"Ah, very well. I guess that supply and demand is a fact of life and that sometimes, your life depends on it."


Beers, Thom, and Philip D. Segal, prods. “Power Struggle.” The Colony. The Discovery Channel.
Los Angeles, California, 28 July 2009. Netflix. Netflix, lnc. Web. 25 Feb. 2012.