Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the economics of piracy

From Kevin Schmiesing on the Acton "PowerBlog", an interesting post on the economics of recent (and historical) piracy off the African coast.

By now you’ve read one or more stories about the increasing levels of piracy on Africa’s east coast, brought into the spotlight by the recent capture of a Saudi oil tanker.

Piracy is, of course, simply a specific form of theft....Sometimes there is a fine line between state military conflict and piracy, as the case of Sir Francis Drake attests....

What I found striking about this particular story was the sheer breadth of cooperation in the outlawry, evidently without compunction....seemingly everyone, from small businessmen, to government officials, to the “mother of five,” views piracy as a positive feature of local life. On display is the absence of elements of a moral culture necessary for a free and functional society, such as deference to the rule of law and respect for property rights....

Schmiesing closes by pointing to the exacerbation of the problem given the profoundly corrupt and ineffective governments under which they live.

From the comment section, we also learn that there is a forthcoming book on the broader topic-- by Peter Leeson, The Invisible Hook.


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