John Kenneth Galbraith, aka "Ken"

John Kenneth
Galbraith, aka "Ken"

Canadian-born American Economist, Diplomat, Writer

Author Quotes

With the American failure came world failure.

Foresight is an imperfect thing - all prevision in economics is imperfect.

When the modern corporation acquires power over markets, power in the community, power over the state and power over belief, it is a political instrument, different in degree but not in kind from the state itself. To hold otherwise — to deny the political character of the modern corporation — is not merely to avoid the reality. It is to disguise the reality. The victims of that disguise are those we instruct in error. The beneficiaries are the institutions whose power we so disguise. Let there be no question: economics, so long as it is thus taught, becomes, however unconsciously, a part of the arrangement by which the citizen or student is kept from seeing how he or she is, or will be, governed.

Agreeable as it is to know where one is proceeding, it is far more important to know where one has arrived.

It is my guiding confession that I believe the greatest error in economics is in seeing the economy as a stable, immutable structure.

There is something wonderful in seeing a wrong-headed majority assailed by truth.

Wealth, in even the most improbable cases, manages to convey the aspect of intelligence.

Do not be alarmed by simplification, complexity is often a device for claiming sophistication, or for evading simple truths.

People are the common denominator of progress

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.

In the usual (though certainly not in every) public decision on economic policy, the choice is between courses that are almost equally good or equally bad. It is the narrowest decisions that are most ardently debated. If the world is lucky enough to enjoy peace, it may even one day make the discovery, to the horror of doctrinaire free-enterprisers and doctrinaire planners alike, that what is called capitalism and what is called socialism are both capable of working quite well.

You will find that the State is the kind of organization which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly, too.

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite.

There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.

The enemy of the conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events.

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know.

In economics, the majority is always wrong.

In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension and also a deep desire for respectability.

In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

Economics is a subject profoundly conducive to cliche, resonant with boredom. On few topics is an American audience so practiced in turning off its ears and minds. And none can say that the response is ill advised.

All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door.

All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.

Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding.

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First Name
John Kenneth
Last Name
Galbraith, aka "Ken"
Birth Date
Death Date

Canadian-born American Economist, Diplomat, Writer