Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Affluent Society - John Kenneth Galbraith

He will never accept it, but Paul Krugmans ideas are far from being original. He stole his entire arguments on taxation and public services from John Kenneth Galbraith, one of the few American intellectuals in the twentieth century who has had the balls to advocate openly for the establishment of socialism in the United States. In fact, Krugman loathes Galbraith on the basis that he is not academic enough. (which is actually one of Galbraiths virtue: the idea that economics should depend on torturing data, most of which is unreliable anyway, is simply stupid)

Having said that, and precisely because Krugman has adapted Galbraiths arguments to the 21st century, The Affluent Society is valuable only as an economic theory relic. The Affluent Society makes the case for a sales tax as a means to finance more public goods (specifically, education, environment, and infrastructure). Whether Galbraith refers to a sales tax à la USA or a VAT à la Europe is not clear (the difference between the two is not insignificant, as can be seen here).

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