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The Good Society

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This compact, tightly argued, and eloquent book is the quintessential John Kenneth Galbraith, the manifesto of the "abiding liberal." In defining the characteristics of a good society and creating the blueprint for a workable agenda, Galbraith allows for human weakness without compromising a humane culture, and recognizes barriers that hinder but do not defeat a responsible, stable, and hopeful future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
March 1, 1996

"Nearing 90 years of age and with 30 books to his credit, Galbraith is in a position to sit back and reflect. Contemplating what kind of society we can have and what kind we seem to want to have, he tries to reconcile the differences. Galbraith holds out—and holds out for—"the good society." He knowingly appropriates this frequently used phrase, acknowledging that it was first used in the 1920s by Walter Lippmann in his same-titled "defense" of the principles of liberalism. Timed to stir both voters and candidates, The Good Society calls for compassionate social responsibility. Galbraith suggests that the current political agenda that attacks the poor received the explicit support of less than one-fourth of the electorate, and he makes the case that the "haves" can still have it without having to have it all. Because of who Galbraith is, this will be an important book, and libraries wanting to strengthen collections to cover topics relevant to the presidential election campaign may want extra copies." Booklist, ALA

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this carefully reasoned manifesto, eminent economist Galbraith outlines his vision of the good society. To prevent recurrent stagnation and unemployment, he advises active intervention by the state. Arguing that the federal deficit is being used by conservatives as a pretext to attack social programs, he recommends a progressive income tax that eliminates tax concessions for the affluent, as well as ending government subsidies for business ("corporate welfare") and stopping the vast payments to the armaments industry. His version of the good society also encompasses a strong environmental movement, a more open immigration policy and a sturdier safety net for the poor and disadvantaged. Though there are few surprises here, those who agree with the pragmatically liberal Galbraith that both socialism and complete surrender to market forces are irrelevant as guides to public action will find his primer a useful springboard for planning the future. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In this slim volume, eminent economist Galbraith tackles the question of what, exactly, is a "good society." Most Americans would agree with the components of Galbraith's "good society": economic growth; universal access to education; and protection for the young, old, disabled, and the environment. He parts company with the pundits in his disbelief that the "good society" can be obtained through adherence to a particular ideology, arguing instead that rigid philosophies must be abandoned and each issue considered in all its complexity. With his usual elegance and common sense, the Harvard professor emeritus discusses such issues as NAFTA, the balanced budget amendment, and the flat income tax, always focusing on their economic ramifications and effect on the common good. You will find no numbers or statistics here-just an optimistic, yet realistic, philosophical discourse on social welfare, economics, and politics in the 1990s. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/95.]-Eris Weaver, Marin Inst., San Rafael, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395859988
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/1/1997
  • Pages: 162
  • Sales rank: 733,399
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was a critically acclaimed author and one of America's foremost economists. His most famous works include The Affluent Society, The Good Society, and The Great Crash. Galbraith was the receipient of the Order of Canada and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he was twice awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Table of Contents

1 The Good Society 1
2 The Wider Screen 6
3 The Age of Practical Judgment 14
4 The Social Foundation 23
5 The Good Economy 33
6 Inflation 43
7 The Deficit 50
8 The Distribution of Income and Power 59
9 The Decisive Role of Education 68
10 Regulation: The Basic Principles 75
11 The Environment 82
12 Migration 89
13 The Autonomous Military Power 97
14 The Bureaucratic Syndrome 104
15 Foreign Policy: The Economic and Social Dimension 110
16 The Poor of the Planet I: The Shaping History 121
17 The Poor of the Planet II: What the Good Society Must Do 130
18 The Political Context 138
Index 145
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