Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pirated Goods - A Short History Lesson

This gentlemen (name of William Heath) and his smuggling cohorts & predecessors plyed the English south coast from the 1300's until the mid-Victorian age. As the English Crown levied ever higher import duties on wools & luxury goods in an attempt to control & profit from all trade, our smuggler friend here found himself increasingly popular. And rather than being seen as a scourge to polite society, William was actually lauded as it's supporter. Fine ladies would boast of their smuggling connections as they served tea over lace cloths. In fact, it became increasingly difficult for the Revenue Men (government officials charged with catching smugglers) to get justice in the local courts because the magistrates were enjoying the benefits of smuggling themselves. Finally, after hundreds of years of battles, both physical & legal, the English dropped the tariffs and put William out of business.

It's all Economics 101. You have something I want but the price is high or the supply is low. At a certain point it becomes profitable for a 3rd party to supply me with the same goods either at a lower price or higher supply. For him, the potential profits outweigh the risks (the drop in William's case). Of course, it couldn't happen today, could it?

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