Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jack Sparrow as Economist?

The Powell Center for Economic Literacy has a list of Keystone Principles for building economic understanding. One of the principles is "economic systems influence choices." From my experience, the study of economic systems generally is framed in a large context – nations and civilizations. The discussion of market, command and mixed economies is applied to larger groups. The discussion of traditional economies frequently gets relegated to either historical or small aboriginal groups. Only rarely is an effort made to examine how smaller groups within a larger social context create their own system – their own institutions and procedures for making decisions.

In Sunday’s issue of The Boston Globe, there was a review of a forthcoming book by Peter Leeson, an economics professor at George Mason University. The book, partially titled The Invisible Hook, is about pirates and their economic system. Judging by the review, pirates were a notoriously democratic (lower case d) lot, instituting checks and balances and even a rudimentary workman's compensation plan.

This book will bear investigating once published, if for no other reason than it provides a smaller view; showing how groups "outside" the main stream, establish systems to help with economic choice-making.

Maybe this makes sense. Jack Sparrow was given life by Johnny Depp. Mr. Depp evidently modeled the character on Keith Richards, Richards plays in a band with Mick Jagger, Jagger attended the London School of Economics (albeit studying accounting and finance, and for less than one year).

Please share any other reviews of the book you may run across. (HT to Cafe Hayek.

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