John Kenneth Galbraith died at the age of 97, shortly after 9:00 on Saturday night.
America has lost a great and iconoclastic economist, thinker, writer and political figure.
As William Greider wrote in The Nation last year, the striking quality about “Ken” Galbraith–the man and his work–” is how forcefully the books he wrote across nearly fifty years speak to our present circumstances.”
Read Galbraith “to recognize the many important matters–society’s condition, for instance–excluded from the brittle, math-obsessed economics that poses as hard science. Study Galbraith’s critical voice in the serious public policy debates of his time to appreciate what is missing from today’s politics and media. Listen to Galbraith address such taboo subjects as corporate power to understand what honest economists and politicians should be confronting now.”
Galbraith, who never shied away from the (relentlessly demonized)term liberal, was also a man of wonderful and droll wit whose fluid prose and pithy notes delighted and inspired.
As Richard Parker’s fine biography, John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics reminds us, Galbraith never lost his critical-minded, unconventional and truly liberal-minded temperament–a quality that ensures so many of his books (a staggering forty-eight) remain remarkably relevant to the present.
As we wrestle with his loss to our society and politics, let’s celebrate how this great man (and at 6 foot seven he did seem great in so many ways) never ceased to act on behalf of the common good, common sense and powerless people.