John Kenneth Galbraith
Who was he: Dr. John Kenneth Galbraith has been called America's most famous economist. A towering figure in American intellectual life, Dr. Galbraith's writings have made him internationally famous. He has written over 30 books, many of which became international bestsellers with a wide popular audience.
Upon hearing a comment about the number of honorary degrees he had received from numerous institutions, Dr. Galbraith commented that 'my only rule in the matter is to have more honorary degrees than Arthur Schlesinger," who was his longtime friend and Kennedy administration colleague.
His many academic memberships included the American Academy of Arts and Letters (he served as its president from 1984-87) and the American Agricultural Economics Association. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Saturday Club, the Century Club of New York and the Federal City Club of Washington, D.C. In 1947, Dr. Galbraith founded and remained active throughout his life in Americans for Democratic Action.
Dr. Galbraith, who made no apologies for being an activist liberal, was a personal adviser to every Democratic candidate for the US presidency from Franklin D Roosevelt to Lyndon B. Johnson. He held numerous public positions including controller of prices in WWII and US ambassador to India (1961-63).
Dr. Galbraith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2000 by then President Bill Clinton. This was a fitting award for a man who practiced condescension and duplicity throughout his life, as the Medal of Freedom is no such thing, but rather an award that actually represents much of the controlling and leveling activities that the Anglo-American elites have been involved with for hundreds of years.
In a sense, Dr. John Kenneth Galbraith was a tool of these elites, a man who wrote with a patrician's tone, advising those of the lower classes to submit themselves to the authoritarianism of the ruling class. His writings purveyed a man who was profoundly anti-freedom and thus it is altogether fitting that the nation that has done much to discourage freedom around the world should honor him.
Background: John Kenneth Galbraith was born in the rural town of Iona Station, Ontario, Canada, on Oct. 15, 1908. He was the fourth child of Scottish immigrants William and Catherine, who ran a small Canadian farm.
He attended Ontario Agricultural College (now the University of Guelph) and thereafter accepted a fellowship in his undergraduate field, agricultural economics. The fellowship took him to the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Galbraith earned his master's and doctoral degrees at Berkley and then went east to spend the summer working in Washington for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration.
On Sept. 17, 1937, Dr. Galbraith married Catherine Merriam Atwater after having become a US citizen three days earlier. Dr. Galbraith had a longstanding relationship with Harvard where he returned in 1948. Starting as a lecturer, he became a full professor the next year and Paul M. Warburg professor of economics in 1959. He retired from teaching in 1975.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, Dr. Galbraith was probably the most widely read economist in the United States. He was a talented writer who could turn a clever phrase and many of his works read like novels. In 1967, Dr. Galbraith published The New Industrial State, an international bestseller, which he considered to be his most important book.
Dr. Galbraith did a multi-part television series on the history of economics for the BBC entitled "The Age of Uncertainty." It gained him a whole new audience when it was broadcast in 1977. He was quite conscious of the fact that his works were more widely read by the public than by economists. To this he commented, "I never imagined that there was any point to being an economist if no one was aware of what you were thinking."
As his liberal interventionist theories became displaced in the 1980s, Dr. Galbraith wrote A Journey Through Economic Time (1994) and The Culture of Contentment (1992) as his rebuttals to conservative fundamentalism. He saw conservative economic policy as a failure in its attempts to revive Western economies from recessionary trends. The books succeeded in bringing many of his theories back into vogue. Dr. John Kenneth Galbraith died at the age of 97 in Cambridge, MA on April 29, 2006.
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