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Quotes from John Kenneth Galbraith



We are becoming the servants in thought, as in action, of the machine we have created to serve us


Let's begin with capitalism, a word that has gone largely out of fashion. The approved reference now is to the market system. This shift minimizes-indeed, deletes-the role of wealth in the economic and social system. And it sheds the adverse connotation going back to Marx. Instead of the owners of capital or their attendants in control, we have the admirably impersonal role of market forces. It would be hard to think of a change in terminology more in the interest of those to whom money accords power. They have now a functional anonymity.
"Free Market Fraud", Progressive Magazine, January, 1999



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.


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.


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.


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.


We all agree that pessimism is a mark of superior intellect.


People who are in a fortunate position always attribute virtue to what makes them so happy.


In any great organization it is far, far safer to be wrong with the majority than to be right alone.


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.


Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.


If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.

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


The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character building values of the privation of the poor.


A person buying ordinary products in a supermarket is in touch with his deepest emotions.


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.


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.


The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.


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.


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


The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.


By all but the pathologically romantic, it is now recognized that this is not the age of the small man.


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


Few can believe that suffering, especially by others, is in vain. Anything that is disagreeable must surely have beneficial economic effects.


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.


Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.


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