Monday, May 01, 2006

Private affluence and public squalor

JK Galbraith talked of "private affluence and public squalor".

Private affluence? Think of the rich folks who support Bush and Blair. Think of the executives with yachts. Think of the palaces of the elite in Lagos and Los Angeles.

Public squalor? Think of streets that are run-down and neglected. Think of uncomfortable buses and trains. Think of children dying of TB because there is no money for medicine.

Galbraith, interviewed for The Progressive, October 2000, said:

"We worry about our schools. We worry about our public recreational facilities. We worry about our law enforcement and our public housing. All of the things that bear upon our standard of living are in the public sector.

"We don't worry about the supply of automobiles...

"Things that come from the private sector are in abundant supply; things that depend on the public sector are widely a problem...

"We talk of the enormous virtues of work, but it turns out that that is mostly for the poor. If you're rich enough or if you're a college professor, the virtue lies in leisure and the use you make of your leisure time.

"Next, I go on to the stock market, where I show, I think without a doubt, that what is called 'financial genius' is merely a rising market...

"I would put primary emphasis on a good standard of living equitably distributed. It can't be equal, but one that eliminates the terrible cruelty of poverty."

We should be spending more on getting rid of squalor. The small western European countries may be getting things right.



Kevin said...

no, the fact is that private affluence is what pays for
the public sector.

Kevin said...

The public gets affluent only by parasitizing the private!

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