yo ho ho, a pirate’s life for me

there’s no evidence, [Leeson] says, that the forefathers of British and American democracy took any of their cues from pirate ships. “The Federalists never refer back to pirates,” he says. “I’ve looked.” [link]

he’s done enough research to write a book about it; The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates.

crib notes:

  • crews elected a captain before each voyage, everyone could vote, and a quartermaster was also elected to make sure the captain didn’t have too much power (checks and balances)
  • pirate ships may have been more democratic than merchant ships, which were run like mini-tyrannies
  • pirate ships had some forms of social insurance (disability insurance, specifically)
  • a written charter outlined ship rules
  • notably: pirates usually set limits on drinking. “A drunken pirate crew,” he points out, “would be less effective than a sober crew.”

Dread Pirate St4rbux would insist on at least as much for his crew. Yarrgh!

[tip to marginal revolution]

[update: ms. st4rbux read the title of the post and thought I was ready to become a Bookaneer. seriously, I see Sesame Street twice in the past month, and both times it’s this bit by Tina Fey (brought to you by the letter F and the number 8):]



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2 responses to “yo ho ho, a pirate’s life for me

  1. Karen

    Funny, when I saw the title of this post, I thought you were going to tell us that you were becoming a Bookaneer!

  2. arrrgh, the Bookaneers!! I really like Tina Fey, and that bit takes her down a few notches in my book…
    “and who be Elmo?” come on, she’s funnier than that.

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