John Kenneth Galbraith died this week in Cambridge, Massachussetts. Galbraith, the famous Harvard economics professor, was the prime architect of most of the biggest fiascos and failed social engineering plans of the 20th Century. Where Stalin, Mao, and Hitler certainly stand out as the most wasteful of human life in the 20th Century in advancing fatally flawed agendas, it would be hard to point out ANY other human who was instrumental in wasting as many economic resources as the Late, Great J.K. Galbraith. It was, after all, just money... the best kind, too... Other Peoples Money.
From FDR's Price Controls, to Johnson's Great Society Giveaway, Galbraith led a ready and willing Democratic Party over the cliff by his steadfast belief that Big Government Knows Best, a truly profound concept disproven again and again throughout history, but one always guranteed to set of the Pavlovian drool response among those seeking political power... the ability to take property or rights or goods from one group and give them to another grants one the ability to buy loyalty and hold to power. Our "progressive" tax structure owes much to his thinking... the idea that penalizing excellence and fomenting institutional hatred of that excellence is a breathtakingly bold accomplishment in marketing...nearly something to be admired... except for the consequences. Tobacco companies were pikers compared to this guy.
My daily paper this morning lamented that Galbraith's ideals are in a descendancy because he "had failed at developing disciples willing and able to prove them with mathematical models". This is typical of the faith that the deluded still have in his failed ideas that have been tested and performed consistently hideously by any objective standard. He failed at developing these mathematically rigorous disciples for the same reason the Catholic Church has failed to produce mathematically rigorous proofs that Christ is our Saviour... because his ideas were faith-based... not science or even economically based. No... failure is not a word I would ascribe to those unable to prove that 1+1= LOVE AND BUTTERFLYS when it is not. Even Einstein or Feynmann could not have made sense of what was, in the end, sweet sounding gibberish.
Trillions of lost dollars and burned out husks of massive "housing projects" around the major US cities stand as a barely living monument to this man and his ideas. To quote the movie the "Tao of Steve"... "Ambition is really over-rated. I mean, Hitler was ambitious, and I bet most people wished he had decided to stay in bed and smoke dope instead". We can only hope that the next Galbraithian Marketing Genius has discovered the pleasures of that sickly sweet weed. We may not be able to survive another.