Economist and writer John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was born on a farm in Ontario, Canada. Towering at six-foot-eight-inches tall, the deep-thinking liberal was internationally known for his development of Keynesian economics.
"If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error," said Galbraith, who taught at Harvard and had young John F. Kennedy as a student. Named the U.S. ambassador to India for the Kennedy administration, Galbraith also worked passionately on both of Adlai Stevenson's campaigns against Eisenhower.
"One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know," he said. Galbraith's groundbreaking bestseller Affluent Society (1958) coined the term "conventional wisdom."
His sweeping ideas took on the complacency of the wealthy and economy of excess. In The New Industrial State (1967), Galbraith claimed that large corporations, not free-enterprise, controlled the U.S.economy.
A proud liberal, influential statesman, and presidential advisor, he once said, "Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory."
According to the Boston Globe, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev once said to him, "I hear that in your country you are considered a man of the left... I invite you to the Soviet Union so you will have the experience of being a reactionary."
With sharp wit, Galbraith had the unprecedented skill to generate widespread interest in economic issues. He believed that adjustments needed to be made to the patterns of competition among big industry, big labor, and big government.
"Wealth, in even the most improbable cases, manages to convey the aspect of intelligence."
Proof is the bottom line for everyone.