The State of Piracy

The subject of piracy — real pirates attacking ships on the high seas — has come up more than a few times on this blog, notably with the guest posts of economist/pirate scholar Peter Leeson. His book on the subject, The Invisible Hook, will be published next month. In the meantime, those of you looking […]

Spreading the Pirate Booty Around

Somali pirate town Boosaaso. (Photo: Jehad Nga/The New York Times) Who’s making money from the piracy that’s flourishing off the coast of Somalia? The pirates themselves seem to be raking it in. As the Guardian reports, pirates have made about $30 million from ransom payments this year, according to U.N. estimates; and they are demanding […]

Who Are the Outlaws? A Freakonomics Quorum

Photo: soundfromwayout By now it’s a common phrase: “When X are outlawed, only outlaws will have X.” The X has been filled in by, among others: guns, perfume bottles, and Wonderbras. But who are the modern-day outlaws? Do we still have outlaws or did they die off with the last of the frontier towns — […]

Can’t Keep a Sea Dog Down: Pirates, Then and Now

With the ongoing pirate standoff in Somalia, who better to write about the subject than our economics-of-piracy-loving friend Peter Leeson, who has guest-blogged here before. Can’t Keep a Sea Dog Down: Pirates, Then and Now By Peter Leeson A Guest Post Pirates are back — with a vengeance. In previous work, I pooh-poohed the modern-pirate […]

Can You Make an Algorithm Walk the Plank?

Photo: leadfoot Google shivered some timbers this week when it was revealed that the company is thinking about floating some of its data centers out to sea and anchoring its supercomputers on barges in international waters. The plan would reduce Google’s tax exposure and could drive down energy costs if the barges are able to […]

Three Great Social Contractarians: Hobbes, Locke, and … Blackbeard? A Guest Post

Peter Leeson, the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at George Mason University and author of the forthcoming book “The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates,” blogged here earlier this week about U.F.O.’s and dominoes. This is his final post. From left to right: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Captain Blackbeard (a.k.a. Edward Teach). […]

Bring Your Movie-Industry Questions

Dan Glickman When the Motion Picture Association of America was formed in the 1920’s, its primary mission was to change the public’s negative views toward the movie business. Today its main target is copyright theft. The M.P.A.A.’s home page displays a running tally of the number of pirated DVD’s confiscated, and its international counterpart, the […]

Are Pirates the Key to Understanding the World?

We can learn a lot about the evolution of democracy by studying pirates in history, says George Mason University economist Peter T. Leeson. As early as the 1670’s, pirates were experimenting with elected leadership, worker’s compensation and checks on executive power, the Boston Globe reports in this preview of Leeson’s forthcoming book The Invisible Hook: […]

Scarier Halloween Costume: A Pirate, or Kim Jong-il?

Yesterday, a U.S. Navy destroyer helped the crew of a North Korean freighter recapture their vessel from a band of marauding pirates off the coast of Somalia. It’s an unusual news item, not because piracy is rare — around the world, pirate attacks have surged over the last decade — but because we’re more used […]

The Economics of Piracy (the Real Kind, With Peglegs and Pieces of Eight)

I just received galleys of what looks like an interesting book: The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Reinvented Capitalism, by Matt Mason. I haven’t cracked it yet, but the Mason book reminded me of another recent book about piracy — the real, old-fashioned kind, with peglegs and pieces of eight — called Empire of Blue […]