John Kenneth Galbraith

(John Kenneth "Ken" Galbraith)

John Kenneth Galbraith
John Kenneth Galbraith
  • Born: October 15, 1908
  • Died: April 29, 2006
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Economist

115

Quotes

63

Citations

191

Concepts

0

Videos

John Kenneth Galbraith OC, also known as Ken Galbraith, was a Canadian-born economist, public official, and diplomat, and a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism. His books on economic topics were bestsellers from the 1950s through the 2000s, during which time Galbraith fulfilled the role of public intellectual. As an economist, he leaned toward post-Keynesian economics from an institutionalist perspective.

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
... deployed on the sands of Saudi Arabia and facing possible extinction, are young men and women drawn, in the main, from the poorer families of our republic. Military & Veterans
... we've passed from the age of the common man to the common crook. Corruption
A political genius is a man ... who has accidentally been on the winning side in the last campaign and is about to be on the losing side. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
An ... important antidote to American democracy is American gerontocracy. The positions of eminence and authority in Congress are allotted in accordance with length of service… Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Anyone who says he won't resign four times, will. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Communicating to the President through the State Department would be like making love through the mattress. Diplomacy & Diplomats
Conventional wisdom Oratory, Discussion & Debate
During World War II I was put in charge of the nation's price control program. My enemies soon outnumbered my friends. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
Economic development is a great pacifying force. Development & Growth
Failure is almost never at the cost of those responsible. Miscellaneous
Few things are as immutable as the addiction of political groups to the ideas by which they have once won office. Political Parties & Machines
Follow-up questions are always much worse than the original ones. Media, Journalism & The Press
For foreign policy it is necessary to have men who inspire confidence. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Free trade ideas often look great in prospect but less in retrospect. Foreign Trade
Global integration is changing what both nations and business enterprises are becoming, and as a result neither traditional economic remedies of the left of the right nor conventional political strategies can be counted on to work. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
Government becomes a burden only when it functions on behalf of the poor. Poverty
History cannot be reversed. History
I sent the President [JFK] a telegram marked SECRET to be sure that it had wide distribution. Secrecy & Transparency
I’ve never listened to a speech with a greater sense of approval. Foreign Aid
Ideas are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Madmen in authority who hear voices in the air are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribblers of a few years back. Sooner or later, it is ideas, rather than vested interests, which are dangerous for good or for evil. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
In considering economic behavior, humor is especially important for, needless to say, much of that behavior is infinitely ridiculous. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
In economics, the majority is always wrong. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
In the affluent society no useful distinction can be made between luxuries and necessaries. Money, Coins & Minting
In the United States, though power corrupts, the expectation of power paralyzes. Power
It cannot be said that we dislike paying taxes for the welfare of those less well off than we are, so we develop a draping cover of economic and social theory. Political Parties & Machines
It is now widely believed that God is a conservative. Religion & God
It is surprising how few references in our politics there are to the underclass as compared by the middle class. Poverty
Liberalism is, I think, resurgent. One reason is that more and more people are so painfully aware of the alternative Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything. Business, Commerce & Finance ;Management & Managing Government
More die in the United States of too much food than too little. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Nothing so weakens governments as persistent inflation. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
One of our most unfortunate believes is that a person who lives on welfare is not only unfortunate, but somehow defective. Welfare
Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable. Policy & Policy Making ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Politics is the art of the possible. It consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
Senator, I now have doubts. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Speeches in our culture are the vacuum that fills a vacuum. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
The affluent society makes no meaningful distinction between luxury and necessity. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The decline of the trade union is to some extent inevitable and irreversible. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
The emphasis that diplomats of all countries in all capitals accord to entertainment is the result of a conspiracy by which function is found in pleasant social in intercourse and controlled inebriation. Diplomacy & Diplomats
The happiest time in any man’s life is just after his first divorce. Miscellaneous
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. Liberals & Conservatives
The salary of the chief executive of the large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself. Business, Commerce & Finance
The Soviet union was quite good at developing heavy industry, transportation, and large scale enterprises. It was very bad at producing consumer goods including the food that people must eat. That was its great economic weakness. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The State Department is the kind of organization which though it does big things badly, does small things badly too. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it. The process by which banks create money is so simple the mind is repelled. With something so important, a deeper mystery seems only decent. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The threat to men of great dignity, privilege, and pretense is not from the radicals they revile; it is from accepting their own myth. Leaders & Leadership
There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
There are two kinds of economists in the world. Those who don't know the future and those who don't know that they don't know the future. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
There can be few fields of human endeavor in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance. History
There is not alternative to speechwriters. You can’t run for president and write your own speeches. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
There is one policy for recession or depression and another for good times. Policy & Policy Making
There is something uniquely obscene about competition to promote weapons of mass destruction for purposes of improving the stock market position of a corporation. Business, Commerce & Finance
There is something wonderful in seeing a wrong-headed majority assailed by truth Human Nature
Those who believe that our economic competitiveness is contingent upon continued environmental pollution should be consigned to live in the proximity of the pollution—preferably in a confined space. Environment & Environmentalism
Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs ;Business, Commerce & Finance ;Capitalism
Under the privilege of the 1st Amendment many, many ridiculous things are said. Freedom & Liberty
We have depressions about every 10-20 years—just long enough for the current generation to forget the last depression. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
Wealth has never been a sufficient source of honour in itself. It must be advertised, and the normal medium is obtrusively expensive. Money, Coins & Minting
What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
When I first became a civil servant, I had to fill out a form. The form did not ask whether or not I was a citizen of America but I had to certify that I was a Democrat. Bureaucracy
When the Department does respond to telegrams it is invariably to recommend evasion of issues that cannot be evaded. Diplomacy & Diplomats
While 18th century Americans objected to taxation without representation, they also objected equally to taxation with representation. Taxes
A bad book is the worse that it cannot repent. It has not been the devil's policy to keep the masses of mankind in ignorance; but finding that they will read, he is doing all in his power to poison their books. Power
A person buying ordinary products in a supermarket is in touch with his deepest emotions.
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. Time ;Leaders & Leadership
All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door.
By all but the pathologically romantic, it is now recognized that this is not the age of the small man. Romantic
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.
Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
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.
Few can believe that suffering, especially by others, is in vain. Anything that is disagreeable must surely have beneficial economic effects.
Few people at the beginning of the nineteenth century needed an adman to tell them what they wanted.
Humor is richly rewarding to the person who employs it. It has some value in gaining and holding attention, but it has no persuasive value at all. Humor
If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.
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. Life
In any great organization it is far, far safer to be wrong with the majority than to be right alone.
In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension and also a deep desire for respectability. Hope ;Religion & God
In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.
It has been the acknowledged right of every Marxist scholar to read into Marx the particular meaning that he himself prefers and to treat all others with indignation.
It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled seas of thought.
It would be foolish to suggest that government is a good custodian of aesthetic goals. But, there is no alternative to the state. Government
Liberalism is, I think, resurgent. One reason is that more and more people are so painfully aware of the alternative. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Meetings are a great trap. Soon you find yourself trying to get agreement and then the people who disagree come to think they have a right to be persuaded. However, they are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.
Modesty is a vastly overrated virtue.
Money differs from an automobile or mistress in being equally important to those who have it and those who do not. Money, Coins & Minting
More die in the United States of too much food than of too little. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Much literary criticism comes from people for whom extreme specialization is a cover for either grave cerebral inadequacy or terminal laziness, the latter being a much cherished aspect of academic freedom. Freedom & Liberty
Of all classes the rich are the most noticed and the least studied.
One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know.
People who are in a fortunate position always attribute virtue to what makes them so happy.
Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Power is not something that can be assumed or discarded at will like underwear. Power
The commencement speech is not, I think, a wholly satisfactory manifestation of our culture.
The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character building values of the privation of the poor.
The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.
The enemy of the conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events.
The great dialectic in our time is not, as anciently and by some still supposed, between capital and labor; it is between economic enterprise and the state. Time
The Metropolis should have been aborted long before it became New York, London or Tokyo.
The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.
The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Money, Coins & Minting
The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself. Nature
There are few ironclad rules of diplomacy but to one there is no exception. When an official reports that talks were useful, it can safely be concluded that nothing was accomplished.
There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting.
There is something wonderful in seeing a wrong-headed majority assailed by truth. Truth
There's a certain part of the contented majority who love anybody who is worth a billion dollars. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Total physical and mental inertia are highly agreeable, much more so than we allow ourselves to imagine. A beach not only permits such inertia but enforces it, thus neatly eliminating all problems of guilt. It is now the only place in our overly active world that does.
War remains the decisive human failure. Failure ;War & Peace
We all agree that pessimism is a mark of superior intellect. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had much. Money, Coins & Minting
We have escapist fiction, so why not escapist biography?
Wealth is not without its advantages and the case to the contrary, although it has often been made, has never proved widely persuasive. Business, Commerce & Finance
Wealth, in even the most improbable cases, manages to convey the aspect of intelligence. Business, Commerce & Finance
You will find that the State is the kind of organization which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly, too.

Trending Quotes