Supply and demand with a twang

Think, Pair, Share

Title: Keep the Wolves Away

​Artist: Uncle Lucius

Economic Concepts: Negative externalities; Market failure; Social class; Labor economics; Social safety net; Unemployment; Labor force participation rate 

Details: This song tells the story of a young boy growing up in a lower middle class family south of Houston, TX.  His dad works hard, often more than 40 hours per work, in order to provide food, shelter, and safety for his family and "keep the wolves away".  This is a good example of social class and the struggles faced by many poor, working class families. 

        There are also multiple references to market failures and negative externalities.  The skyline where the boy grew up is "colored by chemical plants" and a drawing shows his house overshadowed by smokestacks and pollution.  As a teenager, an oil tanker spilled "poison" into Galveston bay in the Gulf of Mexico, creating large external costs.  A few years later, the family moves away from the greater Houston area "where the sky isn't heavy with refinery clouds". 

        Death and injury in the workplace are important topics in the study of labor economics.  The boy's father is gravely injured when "liquid fire" filled his lungs and his eyes, which caused him to be sick for many years.  As a result, he becomes disabled and is no longer able to work.  This can be related to the discussion of who is counted as unemployed and labor force participation.  

        As a result of the man's disability and settlement money slowly running out, a discussion about social safety nets can also be incorporated.  At the end of the song, the son takes on a greater responsibility and burden to care for his aging father and "keep the wolves away". 

Took my first breath where the muddy Brazos
spills into the Gulf of Mexico,
and the skylines colored by chemical plants
put bread on the table of the working man.

​Where the working man does his best to provide
safety and shelter for kids and a wife,
Giving a little of his soul every day,
making overtime to keep the wolves away.

​I was barely 13 when the company man
tried to dig my daddy's grave
It happened on a french owned tanker ship
spilling poison in the Galveston bay.

Where the liquid fire filled his lungs and his eyes

​silenced any mortal cries.
Codeine the grit but death stang in pain -
He fought like hell to keep the wolves away.

For the next few years dad was sick as a dog,
but he made a recovery just to spite the odds.
Settlement came and we moved out of town
where the sky isn't heavy with refinery clouds.

​Yeah he's still alive he's doing good, he's in his fifties
but the money's running out and he's pinching for pennies
so Im going for broke with every song I play,
cause now it's my turn to keep the wolves away.