John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics

John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics

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by Richard Parker
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226646777

ISBN-13: 9780226646770

Pub. Date: 09/01/2006

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was one of America’s most famous economists for good reason. From his acerbic analysis of America’s “private wealth and public squalor” to his denunciation of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, Galbraith consistently challenged “conventional wisdom” (a phrase he coined). He did so as a witty

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Overview

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was one of America’s most famous economists for good reason. From his acerbic analysis of America’s “private wealth and public squalor” to his denunciation of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, Galbraith consistently challenged “conventional wisdom” (a phrase he coined). He did so as a witty commentator on America’s political follies and as a versatile author of bestselling books—such as The Affluent Society and The New Industrial State—that warn of the dangers of deregulated markets, corporate greed, and inattention to the costs of our military power. Here, in the first full-length biography of Galbraith and his times, Richard Parker provides not only a nuanced portrait of this extraordinary man, but also an important reinterpretation of twentieth-century public policy and economic practices.

“Whatever you may think of his ideas, John Kenneth Galbraith has led an extraordinary life. . . . Doing justice to this life story requires an outsize biography, one that not only tells Mr. Galbraith’s tale but sets it on the broader canvas of America’s political and economic evolution. And Richard Parker’s book does just that.”—Economist

“Parker’s book is more than a chronicle of Galbraith’s life; it’s a history of American politics and policy from FDR through George W. Bush. . . . It will make readers more economically and politically aware.”—USA Today

 “The most readable and instructive biography of the century.”—William F. Buckley, National Review

      

“The story of this man’s life and work is wonderfully rendered in this magnum opus, and offers an antidote to the public ennui, economic cruelty, and government malfeasance that poison life in America today.”—James Carroll, Boston Globe

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226646770
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
09/01/2006
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
862
Sales rank:
313,343
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 2.00(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: On First Coming to Cambridge
1. Growing Up in Special Places
2. Harvard in the 1930s
3. American Agriculture and the New Deal
4. Getting Ready for Keynes
5. Going to the Temple
6. Moving On—Toward War
7. Now Comes War
8. Luce, Keynes, and "The American Century"
9. Surveying the Consequences of War
10. A New War Beginning
11. Back to Harvard: New Economics and New Voices
12. Stevenson and the Liberals
13. The Affluent Society: Parting Company with the Mainstream
14. Kennedy, Sputnik, and "Liberal Growthmanship"
15. On the New Frontier
16. India
17. Tragedy, Triumph, Tragedy
18. The New Industrial State
19. Collisions
20. Galbraith and Nixon: Two Keynesian Presidents
21. The Price of Hypocrisy
22. The Great Unraveling
23. The Economics of Joy
24. Joy Fades
25. Century's End
Conclusion: The Galbraith Legacy
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Willp More than 1 year ago
Richard Parker, a senior fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, has written a superb biography of the great American economist John Kenneth Galbraith. Parker sets Galbraith's career in its historical and intellectual contexts and relates the fascinating range of debates he was involved in. In the 1930s, the orthodox response to crisis was, then as now, to cut wages and jobs. By contrast, the New Deal, which Galbraith worked for, aimed to restore consumer demand, not business confidence, so that higher incomes would increase investment. (Similarly now, China, seeing the growing protectionism around the world, has shifted focus from exports to increasing domestic demand.) Galbraith thought that borrowing to fund public spending was fine, so long as the work brought real gains. But the New Deal was never enough to end the depression. Federal spending, 7% of GDP in 1932, was only 10% by 1940. US unemployment was never less than 14% before 1939's rearmament. Only world war ended capitalism's depression. In the 1960s, President Kennedy increased spending, but 75% of the rise was due to military spending and the space programme. Military spending rose from $46 billion to $54 billion, twice all federal social spending. Galbraith repeatedly warned Kennedy that military spending and intervention carried terrible costs, and in particular he warned Kennedy against attacking Vietnam. Throughout his career, Galbraith supported a fair trade policy. He also backed direct and indirect regulation of polluters and of land and resource use, and called for an environmental excise tax to cut energy consumption. Parker reminds us that under Reagan, growth was slower than in the 1950s, '60s, or '70s, as was the growth in the number of jobs, and so was investment in plant and equipment. Under Reagan, growth was lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada or Japan. Finally Parker tells the story of Galbraith's lifelong rivalry with Milton Friedman, adviser to Thatcher and Pinochet, who finally had to admit that monetarism in practice 'has not been a success'.