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Archive for January 13th, 2011

Pirates, Irrational or a Rational Choice?

            They were know has the “sea monsters” or the “tyrants of the sea”, they were called many names in those days.  Today we know them as the Pirates for which they were.  Before reading a little bit of “The Invisible Hook”, by Peter T. Leeson, I thought Pirates were just savages, trying to find a easy way to make money.  My view on Pirates changed after the first chapter in this book.  Now I ask myself,” did they have any other choice”?  See, most Pirates were English that worked on merchant ships, living and making an honest wage.  During times of war the government would commission what they called “Privateers” to attack and seize enemy merchant ships.  After the war they were not needed anymore so they went  back to working on the merchant ships.  Now this was extremely hard for them, they took half to triple pay cut and many others couldn’t get a job.  Many of the one’s that did were treated unfairly and were abused by their captains.  Some were abused so badly by their captains that they died, and this was allowed.   Many crew members took the captains to court but lost.  It was the captains word over theirs.  So with the government not protecting  the rights of the merchant ship crew members,  why not rebel and have a chance to be wealthy and have the chance to live a better life.  The opportunity cost for them was a great deal higher compared to being a Pirate.  They knew the outcome of staying on a merchant  ship, they were going to be poor and treated poorly.  On the other hand they could go be a Pirate were everyone was treated equal and the pay was disturbed equally.  It was a better deal than working on the merchant ship.  The incentive for these merchant ship crew members to rebel and become Pirates out weighted the potential penalty for doing so, and these were good incentives.  Going this route gave them the opportunity to maximize their happiness.   I can’t blame them for making that decision at that time,  it was a rational choice to do so.  Society didn’t allow them much of anything else to do.

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Hello class. I have gotten the time stamps working so you can now see what time your posts arrive on the site. Please remember they are due the evening before class before 10:00 p.m.