The Good Society: The Humane Agenda

By Levinson, Martin H. | et Cetera, Summer 1997 | Go to article overview

The Good Society: The Humane Agenda


Levinson, Martin H., et Cetera


John Kenneth Galbraith. The Good Society: The Humane Agenda. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

John Kenneth Galbraith, perhaps North America's best known economist, has developed a concise and well-argued "humane agenda" to bring about an achievable "good society." In terms of what's good, Galbraith believes it to be a society which provides employment and an upward chance for all; reliable economic growth to sustain such employment; education for all, with particular concern for the poor; freedom from social disorder at home and abroad; a safety net for those who cannot or do not "make" it; the opportunity to achieve in accordance with ability and ambition; a ban on forms of financial enrichment that are at costs to others; and a cooperative and compassionate foreign policy.

To obtain these objectives Galbraith argues against conventional wisdom. He would tolerate moderate inflation to benefit employment and a deficit to expand the economy. He also believes we should limit military spending in light of reduced Cold War needs and increased demand for a better infrastructure and environment.

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