Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sadly, I have no evidence that he ever read the Peter Principle, either....

The Galbraith Revival by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal Winter 2010: (which is worth a complete read, by the way...)

There remains, however, an astonishingly gaping absence in Galbraith’s worldview. While he is perfectly able to see the defects of businessmen—their inclination to megalomania, greed, hypocrisy, and special pleading—he is quite unable to see the same traits in government bureaucrats. It is as if he has read, and taken to heart, the work of Sinclair Lewis, but never even skimmed the work of Kafka.

For example, the chapter entitled “The Bureaucratic Syndrome” in his book The Culture of Contentment refers only to bureaucracy in corporations (and in the one government department he despises, the military). Galbraith appears to believe in the absurd idea that bureaucrats administer tax revenues to produce socially desirable ends without friction, waste, or mistake. It is clearly beyond the range of his thought that government action can, even with the best intentions, produce harmful effects.

I have a very good friend, sadly a convinced neo-Keyensian, who starts with my same basic premise, i.e., most people simply aren't that smart, and comes to the completely opposite conclusion about the nature of government and economics. Sad, really. He, as Galbraith does, fails to see the very nature of the beast, even as it is so eloquently described.

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