John Kenneth Galbraith

(1908-2006 / Iona Station, Ontario)

John Kenneth Galbraith Quotes

  • ''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.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. "The American Ambassador," Foreign Service Journal (Washington, DC, June 1969).
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  • ''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.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. Published in Years of the Modern, ed. J.W. Chase. The American Economy: Its Substance and Myth (1949).
  • ''By all but the pathologically romantic, it is now recognized that this is not the age of the small man.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. The New Industrial State, ch. 3 (1967).
  • ''In the United States, though power corrupts, the expectation of power paralyzes.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. repr. In A View from the Stands (1986). "The United States," New York (November 15, 1971).
  • ''Commencement oratory ... must eschew anything that smacks of partisan politics, political preference, sex, religion or unduly firm opinion. Nonetheless, there must be a speech: speeches in our culture are the vacuum that fills a vacuum.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. Commencement address, American University, Washington, D.C.. Time (June 18, 1984).
  • ''The great dialectic in our time is not, as anciently and by some still supposed, between capital and labor; it is between economic enterprise and the state.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. A History Of Economics, ch. 21 (1987).
  • ''Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. Letter, March 2, 1962, to President Kennedy, while Galbraith was serving as U.S. ambassador in India. Ambassador's Journal (1969). Galbraith was referring to Bismarck's celebrated saying, "Politics is the art of the possible."
  • ''Meetings are a great trap. Soon you find yourself trying to get agreement and then the people who disagree come to think they have a right to be persuaded.... However, they are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. Ambassador's Journal, ch. 5, entry for April 22, 1969. Written when serving as US ambassador to India.
  • ''Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.''
    John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), U.S. economist. Letter, March 2, 1962, to President Kennedy. Ambassador's Journal (1969). written while Galbraith was serving as U.S. ambassador in India. See Bismarck on politics.

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