James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and professor of government, presents a lecture based on his book, "The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too".
Robert Kuttner, distinguished senior fellow at Demos and co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, acts as respondent- The New School
James K. Galbraith
James K. Galbraith teaches economics and a variety of other subjects at University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs. He holds degrees from Harvard and Yale.
Galbraith studied economics as a Marshall Scholar at King's College, Cambridge in 1974-1975, and then served in several positions on the staff of the U.S. Congress, including Executive Director of the Joint Economic Committee. He was a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution in 1985. He directed the LBJ School's Ph.D. Program in Public Policy from 1995 to 1997. He directs the University of Texas Inequality Project, an informal research group based at the LBJ School.
Galbraith has co-authored two textbooks, The Economic Problem with the late Robert L. Heilbroner and Macroeconomics with William Darity, Jr. He is the author of Balancing Acts: Technology, Finance and the American Future and Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay. His latest book The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too was published in 2008.
Galbraith serves as a Senior Scholar of the Levy Economics Institute and as Chair of the Board of Economists for Peace and Security. He writes a column called "Econoclast" for Mother Jones, and occasional commentary in many other publications, including The Texas Observer, The American Prospect, and The Nation. He is an occasional commentator for Public Radio International's Marketplace.
Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, as well as a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama's Challenge and other books.
Bernard L. Schwartz is chairman and CEO of BLS Investments, LLC, a private investment firm. He also manages the investments of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation, which mainly supports higher education, medical research and New York City-based cultural organizations. He promotes the development of U.S. economic policy initiatives through investment in think tanks, universities and advocacy organizations. Mr. Schwartz is also Chairman Emeritus of the Third Way Board of Trustees.
Measures employed by governments to stabilize the economy, specifically by adjusting the levels and allocations of taxes and government expenditures. When the economy is sluggish, the government may cut taxes, leaving taxpayers with extra cash to spend and thereby increasing levels of consumption. An increase in public-works spending may likewise pump cash into the economy, having an expansionary effect. Conversely, a decrease in government spending or an increase in taxes tends to cause the economy to contract. Fiscal policy is often used in tandem with monetary policy. Until the 1930s, fiscal policy aimed at maintaining a balanced budget; since then it has been used countercyclically, as recommended by John Maynard Keynes, to offset the cycle of expansion and contraction in the economy. Fiscal policy is more effective at stimulating a flagging economy than at cooling an inflationary one, partly because spending cuts and tax increases are unpopular and partly because of the work of economic stabilizers. See alsobusiness cycle.
As so much in public life today, this presentation is not a search for truth.
It is a presentation of opinion as truth...like so many other firmly held but highly disputable belief systems.
I suspect Kuttner does not recognize the humor when he says: "I took a day off from journalism to be a protagonist". He's ALWAYS a protagonist, as so many journalists are. To adopt a pretense of objectivity only erodes his credibility for intellectual honesty.
A few miscellaneous points:
* Do you hear anyone arguing for "no government" as the presenters claim? I'm reasonably close to this debate and I have never heard that outside of student anarchist types.
Ordinary people want government that can justify its actions on cost / effectiveness grounds - including the loss of liberty as a cost sometimes great, sometimes small.
K-12 education, Social Security, Medicare, the income tax code, and the DOD are all highly suspect on cost / effectiveness grounds...even moreso when one includes loss of freedom for individuals to manage the first three better.
The fourth, the tax code, is a complete mess - a monument to the Washington way. The fifth provides a true "public good" and is best done collectively, but it consumes horrendous financial resources precisely because it is done collectively.
* This argument of the middle class was shrinking before 2007 is silly. The Pickety Saez data that these arguments are built upon is riddled with mispresentation, misinterpretation, and misuse.
See Alan Reynolds in Income and Wealth for persuasive insightes into this piece of particularly pervasive mis-information.
* I sumbit that David Walker is right. US public finances are a mess. A typical US family making $70,000 annually will pay roughly $1.3 million in taxes over its lifetime. In addition government, has run up $650,000 to $800,000 debts of various types that family and its descendents will pay for - in addition to current tax levels.
Galbraith and Kuttner wield socialism as swords in the war of ideas. And they are good at it.
But sustaining the level of wealth the developed world has achieved requires more efficiency than socialism has ever delivered. That includes the American brand of socialism as practiced over the last 40-50 years.