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The FT Has a Good Obituary for John Kenneth Galbraith

The FT's Stephanie Flanders has a good obituary for John Kenneth Galbraith: / Home UK - Obituary: John Kenneth Galbraith: Liberal activists who believed, with Galbraith, that economies neither could nor should be left to an invisible hand lost almost every major political battle of the 1970s and 1980s. Yet while the triumph of free-market economics took his ideas further from the political mainstream, they did not make them irrelevant. Indeed, many of the dangers of untrammelled markets he had described in the 1950s and 1960s, not least the coexistence of "private opulence and public squalor", seem rather more obvious in George W. Bush's America than they had been in Eisenhower's.... The return of an income distribution that looks increasingly similar to that of a century ago must make his work increasingly relevant....

[Galbraith's] earlier, far more influential, polemic, The Affluent Society, published in 1958. No other academic title of that era, (with the exception, perhaps, of the sociologist, David Reisman's The Lonely Crowd) moved so effortlessly on to the bestseller lists, or had such a lasting impact on contemporary debate.... [I]t is important to stress the novelty of some of the underlying ideas. Few had spoken before of a "consumer society", or worried about the implications of structuring an economy solely round consumption. These days, the notion that more may not always be better for the environment, or for the balance between private and public goods, is commonplace.

Time has been less kind to some of his other books: The New Industrial State, for example, a paean to economic planning by government and large-scale corporations, written in 1967, became outdated in the turbulent 1970s and 1980s. But at least two of his historical books, The Great Crash, a layman's guide to the stock market crash of 1929, and his later short compendium of booms and busts throughout history, A Short History of Financial Euphoria, published in 1990, have become classics of the genre, admired by readers on all sides of the political divide. Both works exemplified an abiding feature of Galbraith's writings: a fascination with the power of conventional ideas, especially economic ones (or mass lunacy, in the case of financial booms)....

It puzzles me that the FT does not have a much larger American circulation.