Monday, May 12, 2008

The Invisible Hook or ARRconomics

Normally I'd wait for a PW, but this is a short one, plus I've got plans for Wednesday (hopefully I find the time).

The Boston Globe published an article yesterday about an upcoming book by Peter Leeson about pirate politics and economics, arguing that "some of the world's earliest democracies flourished aboard pirate ships."

Yes, those stereotypically lawless rum-chuggers turned out to be ardent democrats. The pirates who roamed the seas in the late 17th and early 18th centuries developed a floating civilization that, in terms of political philosophy, was well ahead of its time. The notion of checks and balances, in which each branch of government limits the other's power, emerged in England in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. But by the 1670s, and likely before, pirates were developing democratic charters, establishing balance of power on their ships, and developing a nascent form of worker's compensation: A lost limb entitled one to payment from the booty, more or less depending on whether it was a right arm, a left arm, or a leg.
It's actually related to my very first Pirate Wednesday post, in which I discussed an example of a pirate code of laws. I think I'll have to get that book when it comes out.

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