When, in 1829 John Claudius Loudon proposed a system of compulsory education for children up to the age of 14, one of the subjects which he expected every child to learn was political economy. In the same year, an industrialist donated £80,000 for the education of the poor children of Kirkaldy, Adam Smith’s birthplace. Loudon expected every educated person to know all about Adam Smith, and it was a little bit shocking, nearly two centuries later, to hear Matt Ridley, one of our generation’s most brilliant scholars, admit, at the Adam Smith Institute that he only became aware of the great man when he was 25. The catalyst which led him on the road to learning about political economy was the original article in The Economist in which “Parkinson’s Law” was introduced. Here is a link to the article, which began: “It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion“, and went on the explain why the number of civil servants will rise inexorably, regardless of the work which they have to do. Parkinson was highly amused by the celebrity status which he gained after his book, “Parkinson’s Law” was published, not least when Ronald Reagan asked him to explain why the number of painters on San Francisco’s Oakland Bridge increased from 14 to 72 once a labour-saving paint sprayer had been introduced.