Famous Quotes By John Kenneth Galbraith


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. By all but the pathologically romantic, it is now recognized that this is not the age of the small man.
  4. Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.
  5. 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.
  6. In any great organization it is far, far safer to be wrong with the majority than to be right alone.
  7. In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension and also a deep desire for respectability.
  8. In the United States, though power corrupts, the expectation of power paralyzes.
  9. It would be foolish to suggest that government is a good custodian of aesthetic goals. But, there is no alternative to the state.
  10. Liberalism is, I think, resurgent. One reason is that more and more people are so painfully aware of the alternative.
  11. Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.
  12. Money differs from an automobile or mistress in being equally important to those who have it and those who do not.
  13. More die in the United States of too much food than of too little.
  14. Much literary criticism comes from people for whom extreme specialization is a cover for either grave cerebral inadequacy or terminal laziness, the latter being a much cherished aspect of academic freedom.
  15. Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.
  16. One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know.
  17. Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
  18. Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
  19. Power is not something that can be assumed or discarded at will like underwear.
  20. The enemy of the conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events.
  21. 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.
  22. The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.
  23. The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself.
  24. There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.
  25. There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting.
  26. There is something wonderful in seeing a wrong-headed majority assailed by truth.
  27. Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite.
  28. War remains the decisive human failure.
  29. We all agree that pessimism is a mark of superior intellect.
  30. We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had much.
  31. Wealth is not without its advantages and the case to the contrary, although it has often been made, has never proved widely persuasive.
  32. Wealth, in even the most improbable cases, manages to convey the aspect of intelligence.

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