A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 11, 2011
“Nothing New York suffers from can’t be cured by doubling its budget” (J. K. Galbraith)

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) said in 1965 about New York City’s budget problems—a paraphrase is neccesary because the precise quotation has not been found—“Nothing New York suffers from can’t be cured by doubling its budget.” Galbraith believed that more money (by taxing the rich and by other means) would cure New York City’s budget problems.

The conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008) ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1965, and he brought up the Galbraith “doubling its budget” quotation in several writings. Buckley noted that New York City had tripled it budget, but by the mid-1970s, New York’s budget crisis became as bad as ever.


Wikipedia: John Kenneth Galbraith
John Kenneth “Ken” Galbraith (properly /ɡælˈbreɪθ/ gal-brayth, but commonly /ˈɡælbreɪθ/ gal-brayth; October 15, 1908 – April 29, 2006), OC was a Canadian-American economist. He was a Keynesian and an institutionalist, a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism. His books on economic topics were bestsellers from the 1950s through the 2000s and he filled the role of public intellectual from the ‘50s to the 1970s on matters of economics.

Galbraith was a prolific author who produced four dozen books and over a thousand articles on various subjects. Among his most famous works was a popular trilogy on economics, American Capitalism (1952), The Affluent Society (1958), and The New Industrial State (1967). He taught at Harvard University for many years. Galbraith was active in Democratic Party politics, serving in the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson; he served as United States Ambassador to India under Kennedy. Due to his prodigious literary output he was arguably the best known economist in the world during his lifetime and was one of a select few people to be awarded the Medal of Freedom, in 1946, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000, for services to economics.

Google News Archive
5 August 1975, Lakeland (FL) Ledger, “Money Solves Some Problems” by William Buckley, pg. 6A, col. 6:
The crisis in New York City has caused some pain to some people and will cause greater pain to more people as the clouds gradually part and the public realizes that all the Democratic rhetoric in town cannot create money out of hot air. What one really shouldn’t have to suffer is the nostrums seriously proferred by men whose ignorance of New York affairs is that critical step behind their ongoing afflatus to inform us how we could remedy the situation easily—by taxing the rich. As usual, professor John Kenneth Galbraith, perhaps because of his great stature, is the leader of this school.

The Good Lord provided me with a miserable memory save the pronouncements of Professor Galbraith, which stick in the mind as if attached there by industrial staplers. When I was running for mayor of New York in 1965, the Professor made the statement that there was “nothing” New York suffered from that couldn’t be “cured” by “doubling its budget.” Well, New York proceeded to raise even Mr. Galbraith’s ante. It tripled the budget. Ten years after making this statement, Professor Galbraith was asked last week what he would do to help solve the problem. He answered: “I think it’s fair to say that no problem associated with New York City could not be solved by providing more money.”

Google News Archive
26 October 1978, Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, “Prophet of the Right is droll, tolerant” by Graham Williams, pg. 2, col. 9:
He (William F. Buckley, Jr.—ed.) also has the unusual ability to like deeply people whose ideologies he rejects. John Kenneth Galbraith, the famous economist, is a good friend, though he says of him: “Galbraith said in 1965 there was nothing wrong with New York that doubling the budget wouldn’t fix.

“Well, the budget has tripled and crime, arson, pollution has worsened. The standard of education has dropped alarmingly. It all shows that you can’t fix things simply by pouring in money.”

Google News Archive
16 September 1989, Boca Raton (FL) News, “New York destined for mediocrity” by William Buckley, pg. 8A, col. 3:
Twenty-four years ago, I ran for mayor of New York City.
(...)
At the time I ran, Professor John Kenneth Galbraith opined there was “nothing wrong with New York that doubling its budget wouldn’t cure.” Mayor John Lindsay saw Galbraith and raised him another 100 percent, and most things became worse.

Google News Archive
5 October 1993, Park City Daily News (Bowling Green, KY), “Conservative bidding for mayor” by William F. Buckley, Jr., pg. 4A, col. 4:
Back in those days, Professor John Kenneth Galbraith intoned that New York City had no problems that doubling its budget wouldn’t cure—score one more prediction for the savant who predicted that George McGovern would be elected president in 1972.

Freeman
Dean Stansel
Book Review: Cities without Suburbs by David Rusk
May 1994 • Volume: 44 • Issue: 5
(...)
Twenty-five years ago Harvard’s John Kenneth Galbraith said that there was nothing wrong with New York City that doubling the city’s budget wouldn’t solve. Apparently, New York City’s leaders took him to heart; since then their budget has nearly tripled (in real terms). Surely, no one believes that New York City is in better shape today than it was twenty-five years ago. In fact, the recent efforts of the boroughs of Queens and Staten Island to secede from the city are damning evidence to the contrary. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Tuesday, October 11, 2011 • Permalink