This week sees the launch from Biteback Publications of Madsen's book, "Think Tank – the Story of the Adam Smith Institute." Madsen, with Eamonn and Stuart Butler, founded the Adam Smith Institute "to make a difference." They wanted a new type of think tank, one that would deal in policy innovation rather than trying to change economic thought.
Taking a lead from Public Choice Theory as well as from Free Market and Austrian Economics, they sought to develop creative policies that would address the various interest groups, allying them where possible to proposals that would introduce choice and incentives into an economy heavily dependent on state ownership, planning and controls.
"Think Tank" is the story of what they did. It is a very revealing, almost blow by blow account, of the hurdles they faced and how they sought to surmount them. Without major backers, the ASI operated on a shoestring. It used resourcefulness to turn its chronic under-funding to advantage, developing ingenious and innovative ways of ensuring that its message was heard.
Skills and techniques that Madsen and Eamonn developed at St Andrews were used to good effect in giving the ASI a footprint out of all proportion to its actual size. The book is a very engaging story, lighthearted in tone, unpretentious, and with none of the pomposity or self-importance that sometimes characterize political memoirs. It is actually quite a thrilling read, written in an almost chatty style that takes the reader along with it.