OPINION: The Affluent Society

Harvard's John Kenneth Galbraith, 49. is an economist who has always found a wider audience than his less articulate colleagues. His American Capitalism: the Concept of Countervailing Power was a bestseller in 1952; some of its ideas went into the 1956 campaign speeches of Adlai Stevenson, which Galbraith helped write. This week, in The Affluent Society (Houghton Mifflin; $4), Galbraith published what he obviously intended to be a searching inquiry into the U.S. economy. Instead, it is a well-written but vague essay with the air of worried dinner-table conversation.

What worries Galbraith is "the myth that production is the...