John Kenneth Galbraith (1908–2006) was a Canadian economist and politician. He taught at Princeton and Harvard. His works include The Affluent Society, The Age of Uncertainty and Economics and the Public Purpose. Galbraith’s many honors include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Lomonosov Gold Medal, the Order of Canada, and the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award.

The Rush to Capitalism

That the past months have been marked by the greatest changes of our times is a matter on which I need not dwell. What has been only moderately less evident is the flow of economic advice which has crossed national frontiers in these months. In the common reference communism having …

Viva Mencken!

A few months ago the National Press Club in Washington, an organization committed, along with much else, to the higher principles of the press, moved to retitle its library. Celebrating as the room did the literary and journalistic eminence of H.L. Mencken, the name was thought to have become a …

The Ultimate Scandal

Not before in our history have so many strong influences united to produce so large a disaster as in the current case of the savings and loan scandal. Bureaucratic inadequacy and incompetence, perverse ideology, money in large amounts for the political protection of flagrant rascality, public lack of interest, and …

From Stupidity to Cupidity

One of the less celebrated of the convergent tendencies of modern capitalism and communism, free enterprise and comprehensive socialism, is the way both are put at risk by their best rewarded and most ardent partisans. This is now superbly evident in the Soviet Union in the current resistance to the …

Big Shots

Books, all will agree, are written for a variety of reasons—as literary or artistic expression, to instruct, persuade, or rebuke the reader, or to make money. The last, no doubt, is the most important reason, but there is yet another. There are books by people who, having made a great …

Truly the Last Tycoons

There is a highly predictable sequence in the development of a great industrial enterprise. It begins as the reflection of the imagination, energy, and technical or other competence of some person, and it is strongly identified with a family name. But this does not last. In a generation or two, …

The Stockman Episode

The point has often been made: If you hear someone in public life say that he is going to stand firmly on principle, you should take cover and warn others to do the same. There is going to be suffering. So it is, at least in economic and social policy …

Behind the Wall

Considering its importance in the community, we read and know relatively little about the inner social life of the modern great corporation. I have in mind the way its huge managerial, some would prefer to say bureaucratic, apparatus unites for the purposes of the enterprise, but divides and fights in …

General Keynes

One of the astonishing and little-examined aberrations of academic, professional, and business life is the prestige that is accorded without thought to the specialist. A highly practical design by which a person of everyday energy or competence is enabled to make a useful or anyhow identifiable contribution to intellectual, scientific, …

The Man Who Stayed the Course

Thirty-six years ago, a third of a century and rather more, American liberals, broadly the American left, gathered in Washington to regroup after the war and to heal the schisms occasioned by communism and Joseph Stalin. The result was one of the more durable of liberal organizations—Americans for Democratic Action.

The Wealth of the Nation

During the last two and a half years there has been no shortage of comment on what is at fault in Reagan’s economic policy; the very word Reaganomics has now developed a well-justified connotation of acute denigration. And, however overtly immune, the administration itself has not been wholly unaffected. There …

Recession Economics

My doubts about the Reagan economic program began when I saw that, like other unfortunates before him, Mr. Reagan was bringing his economists to town. Harry Truman, many will recall, yearned for a one-armed economist who could not say, “On the other hand, Mr. President.” Mr. Reagan avoided that problem; …

Up from Monetarism and Other Wishful Thinking

A case can readily be made that the English-speaking countries, the United Kingdom and the United States in particular, are currently getting the economic policy that they deserve. Theology, wishful thinking, and a modest resort to necromancy have extensively replaced practical judgment on both sides of the Atlantic. The results …

The Conservative Onslaught

In economic and social affairs we value controversy and take it for granted; it is the essence of politics, its principal attraction as a modern spectator sport. This regularly keeps us from seeing how substantial, on occasion, can be the agreement on a broad range of ideas and policies within …

Two Pleas at Berkeley

Berkeley more than Paris, more than either Cambridge—more certainly than Palo Alto—has now and for decades been known as the place where things begin. I do not exaggerate; on matters as diverse as the Vietnam war, the civil rights of minorities, the protection of politically significant open space, to the …

The No-WIN Society

Not many will think that government economists and economic advisers have much distinguished themselves of late, but they have succeeded, quite remarkably, in making themselves and their principals ridiculous. This they have accomplished by a combination of innocent hope, repetitive banality, and uncomplicated fraud. The economic system is behaving badly.

Oil: A Solution

The world crisis is now past its peak. The initial quadrupling of the price of crude oil after the Arabs cut output was a temporary response that has been working its own cure. Higher prices induced consumers to economize and other producers to step up output. It takes time to …

The Strategic Mind

A few weeks ago in Washington, there was a small though interesting explosion over the effort by an old Harvard colleague, Samuel P. Huntington, currently on assignment to the White House, to get Daniel Patrick Moynihan, also recently of Harvard, to make a public assault on a presidential decision involving …

The Good Old Days

The author will surely think it appropriate, perhaps inevitable, that I review this book, for it tells, at around the average level of truth, that I both started Richard Nixon on his public career and helped bring his career to an end. The beginning was in January of 1942 when …

A Hard Case

I’ve often thought how pleasant and easy and also remunerative it would be, were one so motivated, to make the case for modern business organization—what many including Irving Kristol call capitalism. One would avoid, above all, the cataleptic and self-refuting litany of the neoclassical market. A thousand or so huge …

Hitler: Hard to Resist

On July 20, 1944, with the Russians fewer than a hundred miles to the east and the Western Allies known by the Wehrmacht to be on the verge of a breakthrough in Normandy, a professional German army officer of great courage and determination, Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, left …