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John Kenneth Galbraith Quotes


A Canadian-American economist and author.
(1908 - 2006)

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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.
 

A nuclear war does not defend a country and it does not defend a system. I've put it the same way many times; not even the most accomplished ideologue will be able to tell the difference between the ashes of capitalism and the ashes of communism.
 

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

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.
 

All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door. The violence of revolutions is the violence of men who charge into a vacuum.
 

Among all the world's races, some obscure Bedouin tribes possibly apart, Americans are the most prone to misinformation. This is not the consequence of any special preference for mendacity, although at the higher levels of their public administration that tendency is impressive. It is rather that so much of what they themselves believe is wrong.
 

Any consideration of the life and larger social existence of the modern corporate man... begins and also largely ends with the effect of one all-embracing force. That is organization - the highly structured assemblage of men, and now some women, of which he is a part. It is to this, at the expense of family, friends, sex, recreation and sometimes health and effective control of alcoholic intake, that he is expected to devote his energies.
 

Both we and the Soviets face the common threat of nuclear destruction and there is no likelihood that either capitalism or communism will survive a nuclear war.
 

But now, as throughout history, financial capacity and political perspicacity are inversely correlated.
 

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

Clearly the most unfortunate people are those who must do the same thing over and over again, every minute, or perhaps twenty to the minute. They deserve the shortest hours and the highest pay.
 

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.
 

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

Even the word depression itself was the terminological product of an effort to soften the connotation of deep trouble. In the last century, the term crisis was normally employed. With time, however, this acquired the connotation of the misfortune it described.
 

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.
 

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

Few people at the beginning of the nineteenth century needed an adman to tell them what they wanted.
[Advertising]
 

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.
[Attention]
 

I have never understood why one's affections must be confined, as once with women, to a single country.
 

I was brought up in southwestern Ontario where we were taught that Canadian patriotism should not withstand anything more than a five-dollar-a-month wage differential. Anything more than that and you went to Detroit.
 


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