Friday, May 15, 2009

Avast, Landlubbers!!! - Pirates at Reiter's

Law-abiding outlaws. Ferocious constitutionalists. Rational cutthroats. Peter Leeson spun tale after tale of early 18th century pirates at Reiter's Books on Wednesday evening, May 13, 2009. It wasn't the usual story. Peter Leeson is an economist at George Mason University and his book, The Invisible Hook,crisply sorts out the roiling contradictions of early piracy. Pirates, he said, organized their ventures and regulated their crews as profit maximizers, responding rationally to economic incentives. Pirate crews wrote and unanimously adopted constitutions that circumscribed powers of pirate captains, regulated the distribution of pirate booty, and compensated pirates injured on the job - all that more than half a century before the U.S Constitution. Were pirates social progressives? Atrgh! Leeson mines pirate chronicles to show how pirate antics were dryly clear-headed economic actors.

Jim Wood

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