Home > Politics > J.K. Galbraith dies

J.K. Galbraith dies

April 30, 2006

John Kenneth Galbraith, 1908 – 2006

- “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”
- “It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled sea of thought”
- “You will find that the State is the kind of organization which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly, too.”
- “All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door. “
- “If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error”
- “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

And my personal favorite…

- “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.”

“…his 1990 book A Short History of Financial Euphoria described the irrational factors that had helped create financial bubbles through the centuries. The architects of the dot-com boom and bust that followed it a few years later clearly had not read it.”
Tony Pobston, writing about J.K. Galbraith

For conservative economists, Galbraith’s ‘spectacular error’ was insisting that the purpose of having an economy in the first place, was the quality of life for those who live within it.

Categories: Politics
  1. May 1, 2006 at 12:54 | #1

    When I was a young man and a big honkin’ liberal, I read many of Galbraith’s books. At some point I became a conservative (though I can’t recall actually changing many of my opinions), but I remained an admirer of JKG for the quality of his writing and his verbal adroitness. He was one of the few people who could use the full range and power of the English language without sounding pompous or affected. Most important, he was a man of principle, and we could use more of those. I’d take an honest liberal over a phony, opportunistic “conservative” any day.

  2. May 1, 2006 at 14:56 | #2

    Back in the olden days when I was in college (think Bicentennial), I made extra cash by typing papers for my fellow students for a small fee.  I learned a lot of stuff that way … biology, history, languages, mathematics, political science and economics.  Being a Computer Science major, none of these were on my class roster, but I had the dubious pleasure one term of typing 17 versions of a report on JKG’s book “Economics and the Public Purpose”.  Having zero interest in economics myself, I nevertheless felt like I’d read the book by the time I was done.  Amazing, the different perspectives that 17 different people can get from the same book.

Comments are closed.