We tend to think of pirates as bloodthirsty thieves, brutal rapists, and vicious murderers, concerned only with indulging their every whim and amassing as much wealth as possible, forever living at the expense of others. And this is absolutely true. However, in some ways, pirates were bizarrely ahead of the societal curve. In fact, some of their viewpoints would be heartily endorsed by the campus newspaper of a liberal arts college.
5Pirates Had Health Insurance
You probably feel safe in assuming that pirates didn't have much in the way of medical benefits, because the 16th and 17th centuries didn't have much in the way of actual medicine -- the most effective treatment for gangrene was a woodcutter's ax, a bucket of hot tar, and a bamboo reed to bite down on. Beyond that, when a typical workday consists of shooting terrified sailors in the face while rival pirates hurl themselves at you with blood-tarnished daggers clenched between their teeth, you'd imagine you'd be expected to cover the cost of any lost limbs or eye gougings on your own doubloon.
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"Nice try, Timmy. Go play before I spank your ass with a swordfish."
But you would be wrong. In reality, the crew of renowned pirate/liquor mascot Captain Henry Morgan had one of the first comprehensive, all-inclusive health insurance systems in recorded history. Before the assault on Panama, Morgan drew up a charter for his crew that guaranteed certain benefits for any man who was injured in battle. Any one of his 2,000-strong pirate crew was entitled to 600 pieces of eight for the loss of a hand or a foot, 1,800 pieces for the loss of both legs, 200 pieces for one eye, and 2,000 pieces for total blindness -- that's about $153,000 in modern currency. We assume peg legs and eye patches were covered by a joint flex account.
"How much does it pay out if you're turned to wood by a drunken harpy?"
Also, any member of the crew could opt to receive his de-limbing payout in slaves rather than money (we said they were progressive, we didn't say they were paragons of virtue). So, you can probably go into your boss' office right now and announce that your health insurance policy is worse than that of a 17th century marauding sea criminal and be totally correct in your assessment. You would likely also start noticing your photo hanging up everywhere next to a list of emergency page codes for the entire building.