February 27th, 2012

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…


  1. 1
    Right? says:

    Its better than sitting watching Jeremy Kyle tho

  2. 2
    AC1 says:

    I Hope Mr Pirie learned something. People discount future potential gains rather more than economists think is rational.

  3. 3
    Jack says:

    Difficult to hoodwink those canny Scots at the ASI Guido !

  4. 4
    the truth says:

    There is no relation between rationality and what economists’ think.

  5. 5
    colchester1648 says:

    You learned the lesson well though Guido, you’ve been way over the top ever since lol!

  6. 6
    Dead Wrong says:

    Anti-gun campaigner Narraser Gordon received a standing ovation at the Labour Party Conference last September after talking about the ‘loss’ of eight family members. However it seems her noble intentions were built on a falsehood – after the BBC discovered that most of the people she said were dead were still alive and breathing.

  7. 7
    Stephen Hester says:

    I’ve been pulling that stunt for years and still they give me more. Plus a bonus.

  8. 8
    Some Geezer wot's gonna go for the obvious joke says:

    Did Pirie have to rob Peter?

  9. 9
    No joke says:

    BREAKING NEWS: Costa cruise ship adrift off Seychelles following fire, says Italian coastguard

  10. 10
    Grumpy Old Man says:

    +1. LoL

  11. 11
    Harry Houdini says:

    ‘Ms Gordon was also found to be conversing on Facebook with some of the people she said had been killed.’

    She has a career ahead of her as a spiritualist medium by the look of it.

  12. 12
    Grumpy Old Man says:

    It’s OK to lie if your cause is just. Leftie DNA instruction.

  13. 13
    sockpuppet #4 says:


    Can you imagine doing that sort of thing with the building trade? They’d bleed you dry every time and there would be a big sodding queue outside the door, with grinning blokes in overalls “we’ll sort out how much you owe us later gov”.

  14. 14
    Poo Corner says:

    Ken Livingstone is a fascist

  15. 15
    sockpuppet #4 says:

    PS: did they invent PFI ?

  16. 16
    Anonymous says:

    So still stuffing … and not getting anywhere near £100 for an afternoon’s work.

    Plus ca change,

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Well it's a thought says:

    A think tank that played key role in the transformation of the country, which country was that, how about asking the people of the country and stop assuming friends of politicians know best, we can see what damage has been done to the country, with politicians asking think tanks, no thanks.

  19. 19
    AC1 says:

    No, But Gordo did and he was wasting our money, not his own.

  20. 20
    AC1 says:

    I wonder what Labour’s “get out the tower hamlets postal” vote stuffers are paid for blatant fr4ud.

  21. 21
    AC1 says:

    You sure about the thought bit?

  22. 22
    Unimpressed says:

    Economics = pseudoscience, studied by nerds, paid for by idiots, charged for by extortionists.

  23. 23
    The BBC says:

    Look! – the difference between alive and dead is one we constantly review, especially because it is a relative term. We employ many people dead from the neck up.

  24. 24
    sockpuppet #4 says:

    yeah yeah. Kid yourself it didnt happen before 1997.

  25. 25
    Well it's a thought says:

    I thought I saw a pussy cat a creepin up on me!.

  26. 26
    Winning! says:

  27. 27
    sockpuppet #4 says:

    Does that mean I can put away the violin and stop crying about the death of the NotW ?

  28. 28
    AC1 says:

    Just for a smug grin how many did the loss-making auto-trader leeching news-rag sell?

  29. 29
  30. 30
    yeah, right.. says:

    An economist is a man who knows 98 ways to make love…..but doesn’t know any girls.

  31. 31
    The book is also the story of how a handful of individuals says:

    …completely misrepresented the man whose name they appropriated.

  32. 32
    yeah, right.. says:

    That Tom Watson had better watch his back. A rejuvinated NI with scores to settle is Labour’s worst nightmare.

  33. 33
    practicing GP says:

    And quite correct too. If I need a day off for a round of golf my nurse always fills the diary with the names of deceased patients still on my books. Does wonders for my handicap and my caring Union approves

  34. 34
    Splooge says:

    Most lefties are

  35. 35
    Moose Limbs says:

    we do it for the greater good

  36. 36
    Handycock (Immigrant Trafficker) says:

    Does anyone know what happened to that Moldovan tart, the Captain of the Costa Concordia was shagging? I would happily arrange for her to come to Portsmouth as an Asylum Seeker. Jahbulon.

  37. 37
    Splooge says:

    Decent reply from the prof

  38. 38
    Gonk says:

    Labour translator. Lie = Progressive

  39. 39
    going postal says:

    Not all economists.
    After his day at work stuffing and licking envelopes I am sure Guido got by by giving post graduate lessons in cunnilingus.

  40. 40
    Lord Madsen says:

    That’d be Doctor Pirie.

  41. 41
    Norfolk's Finest says:

    I did some work for the ASI once, in the early 90s.

    I issued my invoice for the prior agreed amount. They never paid it. Actual truth. Take from that what you will.

  42. 42
    Desperate Dan says:

    The Arts Council gave a £mega grant to Jeremy Deller and his friend to travel through five continents to watch Depeche Mode in concert. To justify their taxpayer funded globetrotting he made a pisspoor documentary about his travels.
    Do you think his enthusiasm for Labour and the Arts Council might in any way be influenced by their largesse towards him?

  43. 43
    selective memory says:

    1997? Did another party come to power then? Who?

  44. 44
    Sir William Waad says:

    For every one person stuffing envelopes there are 500 people not wanting to receive them.

  45. 45
    Sir William Waad says:

    Not forgetting his saucy sister Pirie-Pirie!

  46. 46
    Anagram Generator says:

    Adam Smith has been variously known as Madam Shit and Am Mad Shit. Somehow apt for his so-called followers.

  47. 47
    Depeche Toad says:

    That’s odd. The story I’ve read is that ‘Depeche Mode svengali and Mute label founder Daniel Miller commissioned visual artists Jeremy Deller and co-director Nicholas Abrahams to make a documentary about the band’s fanbase.’

  48. 48
    Rt Hon Tom Watson MP says:

    Bring it on, clown. I’m ready for ya.

  49. 49
    Alex Singleton says:

    As a former ASI employee, I find that totally unbelievable. They always pay. I note that you are anonymous.

  50. 50

    Freedom makes for a healthier mind as opposed to Bullying, Exploitive and damaging Big Brother!

  51. 51
    BBC News Editor says:

    Do not use dead because it is a value judgement.

  52. 52
    Jeremy says:

    Envelope stuffers should be shot.

  53. 53
    Have actually read Adam Smith says:

    The real Adam Smith (as opposed to the cartoon Looney Right-wing version invented by the ASI) had some excellent insights.

  54. 54
    Blair, T says:

    Too true.

  55. 55
    Blair, T says:

    I think you’ll find it was Major, J.

  56. 56
    Blair, T says:

    Neocon actually

  57. 57
    Fozzie Bear says:

    Are there really that many thick people in the UK?

  58. 58
    War Economy says:

    Is it funny how government Fu-k everthing they touch. Windmills, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Immigration, Millenium Dome. I could go on and on about the fraudsters, however why dont they ever learn to leave the economy alone. The over Taxation in these bleak economic times are bankrupting the country. Country is in the Sh-t and Camberoon and his mate Osbum have put the TAX up. WELL DONE LADS, who is going to subsidize your Mates Windmills now??

  59. 59
    Narraser Gordon says:

    A black woman who wants to be the first female black prime minister said that 8 members of her family had been killed by gun and knife and now would like to clarify that it was 3 family members and 5 friends.

  60. 60
    Analymous says:

    and surely this is what workfare is all about – finding your true skills and confidence – but of course with this azi government you don’t get paid and if you say no, you lose your benfits – fucking nazis

  61. 61
    Business Cat (Specializing in yarns, Cdn owned & op) says:

    You really have a one-track mind, don’t you?

  62. 62
    Lord Effingham says:

    ‘Fraid so. They’re allowed to vote too.

  63. 63
    We're doomed says:

    Nevertheless he got a cheap laugh today as Boris unveiled London’s new pride and joy. Hailed by Boris as “the very best in British engineering and manufacture” the bus turned up half an hour late, unable to open the rear deck.

  64. 64
    Gary says:

    Think Tanks are where you will find all the dilletantes and preening ponces who “think” but never do any real work. Parasitic scum.

    I don’t care if they are left, right, or down, they are all full of shite.

  65. 65
    Gary says:

    So treasonous corruption in the police are trivial matters, eh?

    So, I guess a FOREIGNER controlling the UK POLICE is not at all disturbing, yes?

    And while I’m doing a Death’s Head impersonation, let me add, “Why is Guido silent about Sue Akers damning statements? Corruption which constitutes a threat to national security is something to worry about, yes?

  66. 66
    Anonymous says:

    a handful of motivated individuals…managed to …play a key role in the destruction of the country

    Fixed that for you.

  67. 67
    Archie says:

    I don’t get it.

  68. 68
    Archie says:

    + several!

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