The Case for Subsidizing, Or Banning, COBOL Classes

I feel dumber just looking at it

G. K. Chesterton and the Case for COBOL

I’m a fan of G. K. Chesterton. As I’ve argued before, his view of traditionalism is an underrated business concept. The basic Chesterton theory is that, if you find some tradition you can’t explain, that’s not a reason to get rid of it — that’s a reason to keep it, since whoever invented it had a reason, and the collective wisdom of everyone in history probably exceeds your own.[1]

Tontines and the Case Against COBOL

Regulation is hit-or-miss, but sometimes we get lucky. There’s a sort of securities law edge case that could force everyone with a legacy software system to upgrade to something more cutting-edge, internal politics be damned.

  1. A group of people pool money (or, in one case study, stolen art).
  2. When all of them but one have died, the survivor gets the money.


Regulations are useful when individual actors don’t have an incentive to mitigate negative externalities. Legacy software creates negative externalities. There is not a good case for leaving things as they are, so we must subsidize or ban teaching people legacy programming languages as soon as possible.



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Byrne Hobart

Byrne Hobart

I write about technology (more logos than techne) and economics. Newsletter: