James Lawson signs out


As loyal Free Market devotees, readers must have heard of the Statue unveiling that took place on the 4th of July. Without the generous support of donors this much needed 20ft monument to the ‘father’ of economics would not have possible.

One of my tasks during my stay was to send supporters thank you letters and mementos of the occasion. After hours of collecting and correcting data, filling the packages, and ensuring they would travel across the world, we dumped my labour at the post office.

There are 2 lessons to draw from this:

Firstly, Smith was right when he wrote about the division of labour and specialisation. Just as each worker, labouring alone in the pin factory would have struggled to make one pin in a day, but combined with division of labour could produce 4800 each; I struggled away with the mail-out. Just think of the possibilities and efficiency gains if we could have specialised in mail-outs and divided labour. Our production line could divide between finding the addresses, preparing the necessary documents, collecting the goods, filling customs declaration forms, getting the necessary postage, filling the parcels, and taking them to be sent.

The second point to note is that state owned institutions like the Royal Mail really are inefficient (I hope they delivered all the mail, and the unions don’t strike.)  As the queue to the tills bent round and round and out of the door onto Victoria Street, I knew I was in for a long wait. However there is still hope: privatisation. The queue at the (privately owned) bank I went to afterwards was nice and short.

I must now bid farewell to the Institute and return to the world of summer and studying. I have an economics paper that needs writing, piles of books to read, and holidays to enjoy. I had a great time at the ASI, and everyone deserves my most sincere thanks; they were all very welcoming and I gained a lot from my stay. I wish the Institute the greatest success in promoting free markets.