John Kenneth Galbraith has worn many hats throughout his life: economist, professor, government official, journalist, ambassador, novelist, antiwar activist. He is considered one of United States’ first public intellectuals and his books, including The Affluent Society and American Capitalism, have sold nearly seven million copies. He is a scholar renowned for his energetic political engagement and irrepressible wit, and his books are models of provocative good sense that prophetically warned of the dangers of deregulated markets, war in Asia, corporate greed, and stock-market bubbles. Galbraith’s work has also deeply—and controversially—influenced his own profession.
At this briefing, co-sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the New America Foundation, panelists will discuss Galbraith’s life and a new biography by Harvard professor Richard Parker entitled, John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics. Parker shows how Galbraith, from his early championing of Keynesian economics to his acerbic analysis of America’s “private wealth and public squalor,” regularly challenged prevailing theories and policies. Parker’s account of Galbraith’s remarkable friendship with John F. Kennedy, whom he served as a close advisor while ambassador to India, is especially relevant for its analysis of the intense, dynamic debates that economists and politicians can have over how America should manage its wealth and power. Panelists will take questions from the audience following the discussion.
PanelistsJames Fallows National Correspondent - The Atlantic, Co-author - "Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into The Heart of America"James K. Galbraith Director, Inequality Project, University of Texas; Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations, Professor of Government, University of Texas