Utah State University

Like a Pirate

I think we should all be more like pirates.  Not really the whole pillage and plundering part of it, although that could be fun.  What I am referring to is the racial tolerance that pirates had.  Leeson contends that pirates were more willing to grant freedom and equal rights to black men once aboard the ship.  Because of this we automatically think that pirates were tolerant individuals who did not care about skin color.  As Leeson points out the exact opposite was probably true.  The only difference is that the incentives to treat black men differently were different on a pirate vessel than on land.  They could think about them however they wanted.

People respond to incentives and the incentives on a pirate ship all point to racial equality.  Having a slave on your illegal vessel would only naturally increases your likelihood of being caught.  Not to mention it creates one other thing you have to look after while at battle.  So it is better economically for a pirate to grant a black man the same rights and privileges that you would grant any other man hoping to go on the account for booty.

My question is why was it only pirates that were able to be as economically minded?  There must have been other instances where it was better to have black men free rather than keep them as slaves, and I am sure that pirates were not the only ones to think economically.  It would just appear that at first glance pirates were in the minority.  Were they just much more economically savvy than the rest of us?  Or were they the only ones who were able to put their own self interest above their raciest opinions?  If that is the case I think we should be more like pirates.  We all have our little qualms with people.  why don’t we just be as economically minded as a pirate and move past it?

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