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The Good Society: The Humane Agenda

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Galbraith also recognizes human weakness, differences in ability and motivation, and the formidable obstacles facing those who challenge the status quo. No one else explains the interplay of economic and political forces with Galbraith's exquisite clarity.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published April 30th 1997 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1996)
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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  201 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Galbraith attempts to lay out what a good, humane society might look like, what values it might espouse, how it would treat people within and outside of its borders. He lists general principles and it is cheering that so many of them seem to have found their way into the Obama Administration’s plans. He holds as good things like stable currency, full employment, no discrimination based on race, gender or age, intelligent caretaking of planetary resources, availability of a safety net for all, in ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Finally, an economics book that doesn't confuse is with ought. This book contends that it is possible for people and democracies to make a difference in the economy that governs our lives, to offset greed with justice, and that we should. Why not? It's so good to read an economist who doesn't kneel before the golden calf of the Market. I believe in math like the next guy, but screw you Chicago school...
Glen Stott
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was only 130 pages, but a real slog for me. Galbraith writes in Professor-ese. This is writing where you pull in words nobody ever uses. For example; instead of “nickname,” use “sobriquet” (mildly ok) or “cognomen” (I definitely had to stop and look up that one). Or construct sentences so they sound impressive but are so maladroitly formed you have to read them over to figure out what the point is. Example: “… it is the responsibility of the state so to do few doubt.” When one innocently cr ...more
Cooper Cooper
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
At the age of 86, John Kenneth Galbraith set out his vision of the “Good Society.” In it there is nothing new; he enunciates the conventional wisdom of the practical (as opposed to the doctrinaire) liberal. According to Galbraith, the objectives of the good society are 1) world peace, and 2) the well-being and “the opportunity for a rewarding life” for all individuals. These goals he considers achievable within a captialist system, but only with strong government participation to compensate for ...more
May Ling
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it
A part of me rejected this book a bit as too pie in the sky until I realized the book was written in 1994, when Western political philosophy was still Cold War driven. The book attempts to define good in terms of a highly specific way of thinking about how a country should treat its citizens and those outside it borders. It talks of things we ought to have. Nice. Very fluffy. Painful if you've actually worked a day in your life outside of academia and have to produce.

That said, it's not terrible
Papa Mbaye
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
A good read. I thought that the general premise of the book is sound, the ideas proposed however would have to be revised to take into account recent debates and facts about climate change, an even higher level of inequality, proposals about a better governance of aid, a rising world population and the pressure it puts on natural resources, etc....

A case should also be made for an alternative way of procuring the goods and services needed by society.

The role of non-state actors (such as Al-Qaid
Oct 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
"The Good Society.The Humane Agenda", published in 1996, is an essey in which John Kenneth Galbraith presents some of his economical and social ideas and proposes a perfect society. On one hand he makes a comparison with Mark's and Engels' "perfect society" described in the book called "Manifesto of the Communist Party" and on the other hand, he links with the current society of 1996 from United States of America, Canada, Japan and other economical developed countries and brings some modificatio ...more
D.L. Morrese
Nov 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Although this was written 20 years ago, the topics it touches on remain disturbingly current. America has made little if any progress toward becoming what Galbraith calls a 'good society'. That's not to say that America doesn't have a lot to be said for it, but we could have done better. We just didn't. In some ways, wealth disparity being perhaps the most notable, we've actually gotten worse.

This is a work of philosophy written in an academic style. It's short, but not a light or easy read. Nei
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Galbraith is in rare form in this well-reasoned, constructive and insightful exposition of The Good Society. He is so logical and humane in his reasoning that it is hard to disagree with his views, except for the reality that, even though he claims to be focusing on the pragmatic and possible, by the end of the book, he has too often shared observations without suggestions, theory without implementation, strategy without tactics.

I wanted to rate this book a full five stars (because it is beautif
Feb 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Given the downward trajectory of the current United States economy, this book, which treats heavily the responsibility of the "nation-state" for the care of its poor and employed, may well be more relevant in 2009 than it was when it was first published in 1996. The book is a short one -- just under 150 pages -- but it is a nevertheless complete description of what Galbraith, an economics professor, considers the obligations of a "good" society. In that, the book is something of an economist's m ...more
This was a very interesting book. Basically Galbraith argues that for a truly good society to take over in America, a truer expression of democracy is needed - a democracy in which the poor, lifted up by a social safety net and educated well enough to encourage democratic participation, are impossibke to silence.

This is definitely a liberal vision but not an extreme or far left one. It urges the reader to cast aside political dogma and actually LOOK at the issues in question. it would be truly n
May 24, 2007 rated it liked it
I would have never imagined myself reading a book on economics for entertainment, let alone liking one as much as I did this one. I will be rereading it in the future to absorb more.

for instance, did you know that "balanced budget initiatives" are a terrible idea? if you read this book, you will be a better voter and a better citizen. aside from how onerous that sounds, it's an enjoyable read.

I admit, when I first picked it up, I was unaware that economists could be considered liberals. Those r
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great reminder of the ideals of Liberal Democracy but also very thought provoking in terms of global and social issues that remain relevant today. The book is written at a populist level and meant to be accessible to the majority. It is a great primer for further study on topics like the Military Industrial Complex, mass migration, the environment, and economic equality.
Jan 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: personal
Written after the Republican takeover of Congress in the mid 1990s, Galbraith discusses what a "good society" should be.

Most of his political, economic, and sociological arguments stand up well against today's current events. The only major exception to that is a section on wars and reasons for wars in the late 20th century.

Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
More of the same from Galbraith. It's so bad it's good.
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Finding a lot to think about, particularly in light of the current economic mess. Makes it interesting but slow reading.
Matthew Wilson
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Education & the importance of voting are stressed.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
Had to stop. Incredibly boring compared to some of his other works. Too little of Galbraith's characteristic subtle humor and just-right brevity to make an economics book like this bearable.
Dec 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Another one that I loved reading at the time but many of the ideals were found to be wrong.
Tracy Gwendolyn
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
So good, so relevant, so concise.
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, economy
A good book is one that engages the reader, challenging perspectives and presenting ideas to think on. This short book does that.

See: Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by Schmaker
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Mar 18, 2008
Tj Phillips
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Christopher Duva
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Dec 02, 2016
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Jan 13, 2011
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Peter Mcloughlin
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Jan 16, 2013
Milan Urošević
rated it it was ok
Aug 30, 2013
Scott Campbell
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Nov 16, 2014
Charles Rosentel
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Jun 18, 2012
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John Kenneth Galbraith was a Canadian-American economist. He was a Keynesian and an institutionalist, a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism and democratic socialism. His books on economic topics were bestsellers in the 1950s and 1960s. A prolific author, he produced four dozen books & over a 1000 articles on many subjects. Among his most famous works was his economics trilogy ...more
“Nothing in modern attitudes is believed more to signify exceptional intelligence than association with large pools of money. Only immediate experience with those so situated denies the myth.” 0 likes
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