John Kenneth Galbraith

United States economist (born in Canada) who served as ambassador to India (born in 1908)

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Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.
The salary of the chief executive of the large corporations is not an award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm gesture by the individual to himself.
If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
A person buying ordinary products in a supermarket is in touch with his deepest emotions.
An important antidote to American democracy is American gerontocracy. The positions of eminence and authority in Congress are allotted in accordance with length of service, regardless of quality. Superficial observers have long criticized the United States for making a fetish of youth. This is unfair. Uniquely among modern organs of public and private administration, its national legislature rewards senility.
Change comes not from men and women changing their minds, but from the change from one generation to the next.
Few people at the beginning of the ninteenth 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 any great organization it is far, far safer to be wrong with the majority than to be right alone.
In economics, the majority is always wrong.
In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.
In the usual (though certainly not in every) public decision on economic policy, the choice is between courses that are almost equally good or equally bad. It is the narrowest decisions that are most ardently debated. If the world is lucky enough to enjoy peace, it may even one day make the discovery, to the horror of doctrinaire free-enterprisers and doctrinaire planners alike, that what is called capitalism and what is called socialism are both capable of working quite well.
It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put on the troubled seas of thought.
It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled sea of thought.
Liberalism is, I think, resurgent. One reason is that more and more people are so painfully aware of the alternative.
Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.
Modesty is a vastly overrated virtue.
Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.
One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know.
People fo privilage will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.
People who are in a fortunate position always attribute virtue to what makes them so happy.
Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
Technology means the systematic application of scientific or other organized knowledge to practical tasks.
The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character-building value of privation for the poor.
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.
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 only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.
The real accomplishment of modern science and technology consists in taking ordinary men, informing them narrowly and deeply and then, through appropriate organization, arranging to have their knowledge combined with that of other specialized but equally ordinary men. This dispenses with the need for genius. The resulting performance, though less inspiring, is far more predictable.
There are few ironclad rules of diplomacy but to one there is no exception. When an official reports that talks were useful, it can safely be concluded that nothing was accomplished.
There is something wonderful in seeing a wrong-headed majority assailed by truth.
Total physical and mental inertia are highly agreeable, much more so than we allow ourselves to imagine. A beach not only permits such inertia but enforces it, thus neatly eliminating all problems of guilt. It is now the only place in our overly active world that does.
Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite.
Washington is a place where people praise courage and act on elaborate personal cost-benefit calculations.
Wealth is not without its advantages, and the case to the contrary, although it has often been made, has never proved widely persuasive.
When people put their ballots in the boxes, they are, by that act, inoculated against the feeling that the government is not theirs. They then accept, in some measure, that its errors are their errors, its aberrations their aberrations, that any revolt will be against them. It's a remarkably shrewd and rather conservative arrangement when one thinks of it.
Where humor is concerned there are no standards - no one can say what is good or bad, although you can be sure that everyone will.
You will find that the State is the kind of organization which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly, too.

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