John Kenneth Galbraith, 1908 - 2006

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Born: 15 October 1908, Iona Station, Ontario, Canada
Died: 29 April 2006, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Galbraith was the only son of William Archibald and Catherine Kendall Galbraith, Scots farming in Dunwich Township. William was not only a farmer, he was also a teacher, head of the farm-coop insurance company, organizer of the township phone company, and town and county auditor. Galbraith entered Ontario Agricultural College (now the University of Guelph), studying practical farming, when he realized that the economy in which farmers would sell their goods was more important than improving poultry production. He went on to earn a master's (1933) and doctorate (1934) from the University of California at Berkeley. His articles in The Journal of Farm Economics were read in Cambridge, Harvard hired him as an instructor and tutor from 1934 to 1939. In 1939 he became a US citizen and started teaching at Princeton, then joined the Roosevelt administration, becoming administrator of wage and price controls in the Office of Price Administration, forced out in 1943. At six foot eight he was too tall for the Army, so he became an editor at Fortune while holding a variety of government executive positions. At Fortune he learned he had a gift for clearly explaining complex issues to a general audience, three US presidents (FDR, JFK, and LBJ, plus Adlai Stevenson's campaign) had him write speeches for them. He was Ambassador to India in the Kennedy administration, then was an advisor to Johnson until they broke over Vietnam and Galbraith campaigned for Gene McCarthy. He continue to write, both books and articles, his work was popular not only with liberals that agreed with him but was valued by conservatives, although many economists faulted him for a lack of mathematical support for his theories. He was the first to use the term "conventional wisdom," and thus first to declare it generally wrong. He was given over fifty honorary degrees and is one of only four recipients of two Presidential Medals Freedom, from Truman (1946) and Clinton (2000). Galbraith died of natural causes in a Cambridge hospital.

Biography from Wikipedia and New York Times obituary

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