John Kenneth Galbraith

OK. So this is a tech blog, and nearly everyone who reads it probably has no clue as to who John Kenneth Galbraith was. But, I'm also an economist, even if by nothing but degree only, so I can't let the passing of Galbraith go without notice.

More importantly, I have a particular affinity for Galbraith. It wasn't until I read The New Industrial State that I really began to understand Economics beyond just the mechanics of IS-LM curves, money supplies and various "marginal" quantities. His idea that a free market economy is as much a planned economy as was that of the old Soviet Union was a real eye-opener (the difference being not in that one system was an unplanned system and the other planned but that one had decentralized planning while the other had more centralized planning).

Obviously I'll miss Galbraith. I'll miss his pure iconoclasm, but, more importantly, I'll miss is unique ability to translate his ideas into something we call all relate to in our daily lives. Even those who disagreed with him, which includes me on some of his more finer points (he didn't think dairy farms were all that planned, but I don't think Galbraith ever spent much time on a dairy farm either), have always had praise for his inestimable intellect. We've lost a great man, and the world is worse for having lost him.

I'll close with my favorite Galbraith quote, and one I think he'd appreciate. He referred to the trickle-down theory as, "the doctrine that if sufficient oats are fed to the horse, a few grains will pass through to the road for the sparrows."



Currently playing in iTunes: A Long December by Counting Crows