By Jeff Benitz.
John Kenneth Galbraith (economist) has just died (97
years). I was acquainted with him at Harvard. He was
a professor there. I wasn't surprised that he died, I
was surprised he was still alive. In the early 1990s,
he seemed like an artifact then. I worked in a
library at Harvard and used to deal with him. Dr.
Galbraith was one of many living legends. He was an
architect of President Roosevelt's "New Deal" and
President Johnson's "Great Society". I would pass him
in Old Harvard Yard where my office was in Cambridge,
MA. He was vigorous for an old man.
I didn't agree with his Keynesian influenced economic
view, however, he might have been the most influential
economist on U.S. policy in the 20th century. With
President Reagan's "supply-side" economics Dr.
Galbraith fell out of favor. I would argue his
approach influenced the European Union and its
approach to government participating in giving a leg
up to industry. This opposed to the raw capitalism we
see in many industries of the U.S. The notion that
government coordinates and legislates in a fashion to
work with subsidized industry with the cost of greater
taxes to the company but greater benefit, or more
complete social/economic justice to the classes of
society, who also participate in the process of such
development, is considered a liberal idea. His book
"The Affluent Society" is worth a read if your liberal
When I say liberal, it is an old school sort of
liberalism. It is not the liberalism of John Locke
(or the Empiricists), that goes back too far. It is a
WWII liberalism that when things got bad, and with the
evaporation of patriarchs with social responsibility
who captained industry, some thinkers moved to have
the government intervene. This has been carried too
far in our time and gets abused, but then it was the
only answer to coordinate efforts/ prevent revolt in
Dr. Galbraith lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts most
of his life. I have a friend who lived on Francis
Avenue, across the street from him. He always gave a
pleasant, "Hello", when I passed him on the sidewalk.
by Jeff Benitz, Contributing Writer.