Confessions of a Young Think-Tanker

Westminster tube commuters are currently greeted with advertisements for Think Tank: The Story of the Adam Smith Institute“. The book is the story of how a handful of motivated individuals, without any backing or resources except their own conviction, managed to create a think-tank which played a key role in the transformation of the country. One anecdote that is missing from the book is the tale of an intern once employed in the mid-80s, before the interweb, to stuff envelopes. After a day of stuffing envelopes the book’s author Madsen Pirie decided to give the teenage intern a lesson in practical economics. “Here at the ASI kiddo we believe in applying free-market principles, so why don’t you name a fair price for your labour, if it is too high we won’t hire you again and if it is too low, well that will be your loss…”

The intern hesitated and thought for a moment before responding “£100 please”. Madsen was a bit taken aback, “£100 for an afternoon’s envelope stuffing?” Nevertheless he wrote the cheque paying way over the market price daily rate for an intern in the 80s. That intern never worked at the Adam Smith Institute again. Guido really didn’t like stuffing envelopes…




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