I guess I’d describe reading this book as if I was walking in a strange world…a liberal world…I didn’t like it. It is interesting that liberals, like author John Kenneth Galbraith, from that era (this book was first published in 1960) were not quite as socialistic as they are today. They were socialistic, but not as shrill. Perhaps one of the endorsements on the back cover says it best, “a reasoned attack on the productivity ethic and a concrete, provocative program for altering the economic structure to maintain a new social balance.” [emphasis added]
I found The Liberal Hour to be rather tedious even with the understanding that it was written over 50 years ago and many of its assertions were tarnished by the conservative tax rate cuts by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson, economic floundering by economic tinkerers Richard Milhouse Nixon and James Earl Carter, and mostly by the re-emergence of the United States under Ronald Wilson Reagan. Some notable excerpts with my comments:
“Let there be no mistake. Most of the things we must do to reveal the quality of our society will cost money – public money.” [Society can do great things, but an affluent society can do more and I do not see why public money is more precious than private money. It just enriches the government middle-man who is also the thief. ]
“Investment could be encouraged by stable government and laws which assured investors that profits would be theirs to enjoy.” [the key being the “stable government which often is not achievable]
“We have bee reaping large gains from the application of trained intelligence to our economic life. This is the fruit of one of the world’s pioneer experiments in public education. Surely our advantage will continue.” [or not – it should be noted that this may have been true when the book was written which was also before the establishment of the Department of Education]
“The final reason for thinking that our arrangements for investing in personal development are deficient is that the Soviets have, technically speaking, superior ones. They begin with all resources under public control” [As we all know the “superior” Soviet system collapsed of its own weight – President Reagan had his foot on their scale too.]
By all accounts Mr. Galbraith was a brilliant man and economist, but I would only recommend that you read this for some historical perspective.