On Galbraith

Robert Frank quotes Galbraith from the Affluent Society:

The family which takes its mauve and cerise, air-conditioned,
power-steered, and power-braked automobile out for a tour passes
through cities that are badly paved, made hideous by litter, blighted
buildings, billboards, and posts for wires that should long since have
been put underground.

Frank’s take is that Galbraith was right for the wrong reasons (the correct reasons, coincidentally, are the ones that Frank pioneered.)  My take is that Galbraith had the right premises but the wrong conclusion.

Galbraith’s premise is correct.  The market does provide ever-better products at ever lower prices while the unproductive state forces us to buy its low-quality, high-priced junk.  Galbraith concluded that we need to expand the junk sector and contract the market sector.  Yeah, and Socrates is immortal.

Fortunately, Americans have been a lot wiser.  Since Galbraith wrote, for example, the number of privately owned communities has exploded.  Today some 55 million Americans live in a private community, many of which provide their own roads, garbage pickup, and aesthetic regulations. 


Comments for this post are closed