Pioneering liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith died on April 29 at the age of 97.
Dr. Galbraith was a Harvard professor, the author of nearly 50 books, and an advisor to four presidents. In one of his most famous books, "The Affluent Society" (1958), he depicted a "consumer culture gone wild, rich in goods but poor in the social services that make for community," and warned that artificially created demand for consumer products would weaken the ability of the public sector to provide necessary services.
In that same book, he also asked, "Is the added production or the added efficiency in production worth its effect on ambient air, water and space — the countryside?"
First and foremost, however, Galbraith was an agricultural economist, and one of his main areas of investigation was "how America changed from a nation of small farms and workshops to one of big factories and superstores." He was sharply critical of USDA policies which he described as, starting in the 1950s, promoting a "get big or get out" philosophy, policies he considered to be "sonorous boondoggling."
Rest in Peace Professor Galbraith, and thank you.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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