The Public Interest

The New Industrial State: Son of Affluence

Robert M. Solow

Fall 1967

More than once in the course of his new book Professor Galbraith takes the trouble to explain to the reader why its message will not be enthusiastically received by other economists. Sloth, stupidity, and vested interest in ancient ideas all play a part, perhaps also a wish– natural even in tourist-class passengers– not to rock the boat. Professor Galbraith is too modest to mention yet another reason, a sort of jealousy, but I think it is a real factor. Galbraith is, after all, something special. His books are not only widely read, but actually enjoyed. He is a public figure of some significance; he shares with William McChesney Martin the power to shake stock prices by simply uttering nonsense. He is known and attended to all over the world. He mingles with the Beautiful People; for all I know, he may actually be a Beautiful Person himself. It is no wonder that the pedestrian economist feels for him an uneasy mixture of envy and disdain.

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