The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ahab's "attaboy"

Here's something I've wanted to check since reading Lemuel's post about the the current purchasing power of the $1.25 he spent on M-D in 1977.

In Chapter XXXVI Ahab memorably takes a page out of the corporate manager's Big Book of Manipulation to offer a gold "sixteen dollar piece" to the first crewman to spot Moby Dick. Using the tool that Lemuel cited to gauge the purchasing power of $16 in 2010 dollars (2011 figures are not yet available), we get the following values. In the novel, Ishmael tells us that the Pequod sailed "some years ago," so I present numbers for the ten years preceding M-D's 1851 publication date.

$16 in 1841 is worth$412 in 2010 dollars

So we're talking about an "incentive" worth something like $450 today (although the coin might be worth somewhat less with a big nail-hole through it).

Not what you'd call a killer bonus for three years' work, but certainly a respectable "attaboy"—particularly since it was coming out of Ahab's pocket, not some productivity-enhancement budget.

1 comment:

  1. $450 would get a fair amount of extra gumption out of me!