This compact, tightly argued, and eloquent book is the quintessential John Kenneth Galbraith, the manifesto of the "abiding liberal." In defining the characteristics of a good society and creating the blueprint for a workable agenda, Galbraith allows for human weakness without compromising a humane culture, and recognizes barriers that hinder but do not defeat a responsible, stable, and hopeful future.
In this carefully reasoned manifesto, eminent economist Galbraith outlines his vision of the good society. To prevent recurrent stagnation and unemployment, he advises active intervention by the state. Arguing that the federal deficit is being used by conservatives as a pretext to attack social programs, he recommends a progressive income tax that eliminates tax concessions for the affluent, as well as ending government subsidies for business ("corporate welfare") and stopping the vast payments to the armaments industry. His version of the good society also encompasses a strong environmental movement, a more open immigration policy and a sturdier safety net for the poor and disadvantaged. Though there are few surprises here, those who agree with the pragmatically liberal Galbraith that both socialism and complete surrender to market forces are irrelevant as guides to public action will find his primer a useful springboard for planning the future. (Apr.)